Five half-marathons, four 5k races, three sprint triathlons, two 10k races, and one full marathon. All in one year, and all in memory of someone who never knew she was strong.

Friday, March 11, 2011

That Damn Dam Run

I am a fat bitch.

I didn’t really think I was, but according to one of the finer citizens of Aurora, Colorado, who just happened to be driving by the race course as I was bringing up the rear of the DAM Run half marathon this past Sunday, my current size was moving enough to cause him to lean out the window of a green Toyota pickup truck, look straight at me, and yell just that.

“Fat bitch!!!”

The sad part is that he won. I am a grown-up, and I know better than to let insecure bastards like that get the best of me. I was teased all through school on and off because of my weight, which fluctuated from scrawny to chubby through my many growth spurts, and many times because of my height itself. And I always knew that those people were reaching for something out of their grasps. They were trying to find their places in the world by stepping on others to get there. My mom always told me that they were the ones who we should feel bad for because they were so lost. And I believed her for the most part. Sure, comments about my height and weight still hurt me as a kid, but it made me stronger and more secure in who I am. I can now be appreciative of my intellect and my quick wit, and my abilities to succeed at work and in my marriage and in my awesome friendships. I am happy to be the saver of dogs and the meticulous cleaner of my house, and the owner of a big, but strong, booty and a stomach with muscles that show, and to be the girl who makes everyone laugh at work. I know and love and appreciate these things about myself, but that kid kicked me while I was down on Sunday, and he won a little bit.

I started out the race a little rocky. My knees were achy, and my plantar fasciitis had been bugging me all week. I was kinda feeling off, but was still thinking PR, after all, every half marathon has been a chance for me to knock several minutes off my previous time. I was thinking it could easily happen again.

The first seven miles went ok, considering I had started not feeling so sturdy. I had forgotten my watch, but at the water stop right before the turnaround, the guy said to Mike and I, “Nice, steady pace, guys”, and I felt like he was right. It was a fast group. We were in last at this point, which has never happened to me in any race, but this race was definitely full of elite runners with no talker-walkers. I saw Ironman gear everywhere. After mile seven, my left leg began its usual demise. First the butt muscle, then the hamstring, then the foot. I was hobbling by mile eight and feeling totally discouraged.

At mile eight point five is when my new friend was offended enough at the sight of me to become compelled to announce it to everyone. Literally insult to injury. I burst into tears instantly and doubled over on the trail. Mike who was still shuffling along with me at this point, flashed a double bird in the general direction of the moving truck with his gloved hands. I was completely choked up and never got my breath back. I wanted to sit down and quit the charade. But I couldn’t.  I eventually sent Mike ahead of me to warn our friends waiting at the finish line to go get beers with us that I was injured and walking and would be a while; I also just needed to be alone with my thoughts and my apparently giant ass.

I plugged in my iPod, loud, skipped around til I found an artist who was yell-y and angry enough for me, and huffed and stomped and huffed and stomped. And then HP joined me. He was the sweeper, (aka the reaper) and he dismounted his bike and asked me if I wanted company. I didn’t really have a choice because he was stuck bringing in the DFL either way and that was me. It was either walk and talk with him or let him follow me silently at an awkward distance, keeping my awkward pace. We walked and chatted. My breathing was completely ragged, so he tried to get me to slow down my stomping up the road. I explained that I just needed to push until the end and get it over with, and he was down with it.

The truck full of volunteers came by and asked me if I wanted a ride. I thought I was being swept, but the driver said I was still ahead of the cut-off time and could finish. So I finished. Me and HP, the nice guy who refs high school hockey and has two kids and who is really friendly to people after watching them self-destruct and get humiliated by a bully. Then Amy, a friend of my friend who was waiting for me and whom I’d never met, came walking down the Dam Road to meet HP and I. She is a pregnant Ironman who wanted to add an extra mile to her workout that day, so she asked if she could walk with us, too. So we three, plus Walter, Amy’s yellow lab, walked and talked. They were both so nice. 

I forced myself to limp-jog the last 500 yards in. And then it was over. They could finally take down the banners and timing mats (3:15 if anyone is counting at home). They could pick up the trash and reopen the Dam Road to cars. The DFL had crossed the line, with legs and feelings hurting badly and pride barely intact.

DFL is better than DNF. I know that. What I also know is that my right knee has been swollen for five days, and I have major pain and constant bruising over my whole left foot. My hamstring, piriformis and Achilles’ on the left side will not loosen up no matter how much I stretch or get massaged. My lungs are better, but are still full of sludge. And I have lost and gained the same four pounds about 11 times in the past six months.

And while I know in my heart that I am not a fat bitch, I feel really lost right now. I feel like I need to regroup. I feel that I probably jumped back on the marathon train way too fast. And I feel like I don’t know what to do. What I honestly want to do is go back to the days before it was about running and when it was just about getting healthy, and when I loved working out because it felt good instead of painful, and when I could kick anyone’s butt on the elliptical, in the pool or on the spinner, most importantly my own. I was strong and never injured and losing weight steadily and healthily. Running was just something I pushed through to get to the finish line of a sprint tri; it didn’t consume my every thought and worry and concern.

I don’t know where I lost track. But I lost it. I have learned to love running so much, but I feel like it doesn’t love me back right now. And after Sunday, I could really use a little love.

More soon. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Born to Run and Other Random Babbling

I am probably the last one out in fitness blog-land to read Born to Run by Christopher MacDougall.  I finished it this week, and all I can say is wow.  First of all, it was very well-written, and the story and research and science were all super interesting.  Like many others who have read it, I was instantly tempted to run out and try my hand (feet) by barefoot running all over the neighborhood.  I haven't yet, but the author's plight really spoke to me. He is tall and a bigger guy, not built like most of the sinewy, ropy runners you usually see at marathon distance and above.  I obviously relate to that.  He was also struggling with Plantar Fasciitis over and over again, in addition to other recurring injuries.  After getting back into running this week following Bronchitis From Hell month, my heel has been nagging at me a bit.  It isn't as bad as it was, but it is there, and I feel it regularly after running, and it makes me nervous.  I would give anything to run without the fear that every mile could be be the one that stops me in my tracks again. 

While I would love to try barefoot running, and look forward to incorporating short bouts of it into my training each week, I think that six weeks into a marathon training plan is the wrong time to completely change things up, especially after I have been held back by bronchitis am already behind.  What I will try to work on is my stride.  I learned a lot from the book and from watching additional videos of Scott Jurek talking about form, and I realized how much can be accomplished, simply by changing your gait and stride and form.  Tonight I run five miles, and I have a ten-mile race on Saturday, and both runs should give me good chances to work on a mid-foot strike, smaller strides and keeping my body aligned above my legs. So many new mechanics to learn, but I really want to improve. 

I gained almost a pound at weigh-in this week.  I knew that was going to happen and was really surprised that it wasn't more. Official number was 212.8.  Annoying, but that is what I earned.  I ate poorly and, between being sick and feeling a bit sorry for myself, did not move enough.  What does feel good is that, for the first time in over a year, I really feel back in control of my nutrition.  Part of that inspiration came from Born to Run, too, but part of it was just finding my old mojo. I worked SO hard to lose 40 pounds a couple years ago and was so dedicated to counting each calorie and working out five days a week. Then I plateaued and quit seeing results and decided to focus more on running and being an athlete than on the actual weight loss part of it. The problem is, and this is not the first time I have babbled on about this, that it's really hard to be good at running or cycling or swimming when you are still carrying 25 extra pounds around with you. You don't lose weight by exercising.  You lose weight by following the proper nutrition plan. I am well aware of this mantra, but I have been eating too much and splurging because I frequently felt that I owed myself certain treats after running long distances. Very suddenly, and I'm not entirely sure where this came from, I feel that old control again.  I feel like I am the boss of what I eat and not the other way around, when just last week I felt completely owned by a breakfast burrito.  I have been reaching, scratching, begging, struggling for that feeling and just found it again. Now, I am going to make sure that it sticks around.

I use CalorieKing.com to track my nutrition and exercise and maintain a 1600-calorie daily intake.  Calorie King encourages you to eat back your exercise calories, but sometimes, like say, after running ten miles and earning an extra 1000 calories or so, that just seems like too much.  I try to keep it in the mid-range and eat back about half of my exercise calories.  when I religiously record my calories, I lose weight.  Every. Damn. Time.  So why, you might ask, have I gotten away from this practice? *shrug*blink blink*blank stare* I'm back to it now, though, and looking forward to seeing results.

I think working out with a trainer once a week is a little too expensive, however, I do see the value of learning new workouts and tricks and in being accountable to someone.  I have made three appointments with my personal trainer.  One is tomorrow where I will weigh in before working out.  I then do not meet with him until the last week in March.  At that point, I will weigh in with him again. That will be the week before my annual Girls' Ski Trip, and my goal this year is to drop enough that I don't feel too embarrassed to get into the hot tub with all of my muscular, athletic girlfriends.  I have been organizing this trip for 15 of my closest friends for six years, and I have never once shed down to my bathing suit and hopped in with everyone. I always just listen to everyone out there laughing and sharing cocktails in the steam and wish that I didn't feel so bad about myself, even in front of girls!  Girls who care about me as a person and not what I look like.  This year is the last official year of the trip, and so help me, I want in the tub!

My third scheduled appointment with the trainer is for the last week in July.  At that point, I want to be at my goal-weight or size.  We are headed to our year-late honeymoon in Thailand in early August, and then, after a week in bathing suits and sundresses, meeting a friend to travel to Cambodia and Nepal.  I want to be lithe and slim, as much to look good in the summer clothes as to be able to stay on the move, backpack on back, for two straight weeks. 

Anyway, I really babbled today! Hopefully you just scanned this for anything important and didn't read it all word for word, wasting several hours of your life that you will never get back.  I feel better, though, and that is what is what I'm after.  So:
Me- 1
Poor Reader of my Blog- 0

Carry on.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Take a Deep Breath

As much as I’m trying to be positive and keep moving forward, I have to admit, I am in a bit of a rut lately. After getting my first marathon cancelled due to injury, I followed the prescribed medical protocol and then registered for another race and began training again and feeling great. And then I got hit with a month-long (so far!) bout with bronchitis and some other little virus on top of it. I should have known I’d be sick for at least as long as all the people at my work who have had it. People around here have been suffering for eight and ten weeks; one lady has had it since the week after Thanksgiving! Here I am on week six, and although I have been able to do a few two- and three-mile runs, I have been weak and sick and short of breath, and am now officially behind in training and feeling somewhat discouraged. Actually, really discouraged.

Normally, my blog would be my first stop when I’m discouraged, but I am kinda sick of hearing myself bitch, and so I haven't been writing much. I’m not a victim or a martyr, but there is part of me that is thinking, “What the hell?!?! Can’t I get a damn break?!” I feel like every other post is about me having to put off training to heal from something! And I hate feeling like that. With me, what always comes along with the feelings of helplessness and being discouraged is a nice bout of emotional eating. I have been eating like crap lately; I skipped my healthy work breakfast this morning and instead had the second breakfast burrito of the week. They have been bringing in breakfast for our team frequently because we are working long hours troubleshooting our new website, and then the launch was delayed and the excutives are trying to show their support, so they keep bringing in crappy food to apparently ease the stress (it means more stress for me!). So this morning, I headed to the kitchen to make my whole wheat English muffin, and opened the fridge and see a row of ten breakfast burritos left over from yesterday. So I grabbed one and warmed it up and ate it for breakfast, feeling guilty with every single bite. This is so not ok! I have been eating poorly and not moving enough, and my pants feel tight and I feel bad about myself. And I just want to run!

My doctor told me this is the worst year of bronchitis she has seen in her 15 years as a physician. As a consolation prize for being a victim of the Great Bronchitis Epidemic of Oh-eleven, she gave me a rescue inhaler, more antibiotics and some nighttime cough syrup (which seems to do nothing but give me a hangover the next day) and told me to wait a couple more weeks before running anything more than a couple of miles. But guess what? I should be running five miles today and ten this Saturday and I have a ten-mile race next Saturday that I feel horribly unprepared for. And I feel like a giant FAILURE. And I feel fat and ugly and lazy. I am sick of obstacles! I want something to run smoothly. Namely, me.

Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch. I suppose that is my rant for today. I don’t want to be a downer, but am just suffering in the throes of frustration. I WILL do this marathon no matter what. I don’t care if I have to go straight to the hospital afterwards; this is happening. However, I am asking the gods of running to grant me a little favor. Let this get a tiny bit easier, ok? I can handle obstacles, and I will keep trying to overcome them, but just give me a month or two where everything is peachy and I can get back on track? Ok? Ok. I won’t let you down.

Attempting five slow miles this evening with rescue inhaler in hand. Then dinner with a friend, where I will order wisely and drink water instead of wine. I can do this.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Crazy Feminist Rant. Or Is It?

My best friend and I have been talking a lot lately about weight loss, and our love-hate relationship with it. Both of us have lost a lot of weight over the past few years, and she is even all the way down to her original goal weight and looks amazing.  While I still have a ways to go, I have had times over the past year where I have felt really good about the way I look.  We both feel so much better, and we like the outward attention that comes from looking and feeling better.  However, there is another side to the coin.  So many people attach weight to self-worth and a person's value to society.  Like the whole value.  We are both funny, successful, smart women.  We can both bring down the house with a quick-witted joke; we have both done a million selfless things for others in our lives, we both make great money at great jobs where we climb ladders and impress people with our minds and our performance at work and our abilities to juggle a million things at once. But there is still this inkling that the real respect from others has come only after we have slimmed down. What is that?  And why is it so important?  And why does it bother us so much?  Why am I allowed to hold my weight as such an important part of who I am, struggling with it, obsessing over it, dedicating time and money and effort and lost sleep to it, but as soon as someone else even mentions it, I am on the defensive?

Are women with perfect bodies and teeth and makeup who work at tanning salons or as NFL cheerleaders more valuable than those who work their tails off and compete with the big boys while raising kids and taking out the trash and always managing to know where their husbands' wallets and shoes are? I already know the answer to this.  I swear I do. I think.

I try really hard to not attach my goals to numbers and sizes and looks, and I try to make my goals about feeling healthy and being able to run further and faster. However, tonight I met with a personal trainer for a freebie introductory session from my gym, and, when asked, I threw out my goal numbers and dates without even thinking about it.  I ALWAYS know my goal weight and size, and I always worry about being over 200, and I always freak when it goes up by 2 or 3 in a week, and I always throw a little party in my head when it goes down by that much.  I mean, that's why I'm here, right?  I need the support and accountability that comes with being a fitness blogger.  And I love the compliments and support I get from everyone out in cyberspace.  But why do I get so pissed when someone I care about attaches a little too much value to what I've lost, especially when that person has maybe never acknowledged the fact that I am a success in every other area of my life?  Am I a big baby?  Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth?  Am I freaking certifiable?!

I'm kind of just venting and babbling, but I'm curious how people feel about this.  That is all.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Weigh In and Coming Out of the CRAZINESS

Work, as I mentioned last week, has been insane, but is finally calming down.  I have been SO sick.  Everyone at my work has been sick for weeks with bronchitis, most people for 6 and 8 weeks!  I am assuming that is what I've had, too.  My symptoms have been the same as everyone else's, but I was reluctant to go the doctor because the last time I went, she said I was running too much and was run-down.  And she's a runner!  I get so frustrated with that, because when I was heavy, she would tell me that I needed to lose weight, and now that I have, she frequently tells me that I am run down and need to take it easy, which to me translates into gaining weight.  So, I didn't go to the doctor.  But I have been taking it easy.  I ran just under 4 miles this week in two different sessions and felt pretty decent after both times.  I have a 30-minute personal training session tomorrow (it came free when I switched gyms) and will try to do a 3-miler on Thursday.  I am supposed to do 8 miles on Saturday, but am going to do a 10k instead, and bump up to 8 for next week.

I don't know what the right answer is.  Some people run through their sicknesses and always do fine, some insist on resting the whole time.  I am doing a mix of both, I guess.  I am just so frustrated with how many times I have been sick this year!  I never used to get sick, and now, I consider myself healthier than I have ever been, and I have been really sick several times!  What gives already?  Anyway, chin up, soldier.  Keep calm and carry on.

I weighed in this morning.  Down .6.  That seems to be my usual number.  Feels like it should be more, but I have learned to be happy about any loss.  So yay,  211.9. But if I want those jeans anytime in the near future, I better pick it up, right?  I took the picture of the scale, but had to step off first, that's why there are no toes.  I got a new, fancy camera for Christmas, and when I hold it on the scale, it bumps my weight up by half a pound (can't have that!), and my husband took our point-and-shoot to Europe.  So, anyway, there it is.  Still heading down!

Anyway, life is back to normal unless you count this ridiculous cold weather.  It was minus twelve today.  The high was supposed to be negative 1, but I don't think it ever got up that high.  I just took the recycling out and was instantly frozen.  Yikes.  Thank goodness for indoor tracks.  More this week!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lightning Fast Post, Then Back to Work!

I have ten more days of total and utter craziness at work.  Then I can get back to normal, and most importantly back to keeping up with everyone's blogs, including my own.  I did add the Daily Mile widget to the blog today and am excited to start using it to track my training to 26.2!  As you can see, I haven't used that site in awhile.  The last thing I posted is from almost a year ago.  I like that site, not sure why I ever quit using it.  Never fear!  I'm back.  However, skipping today's 4-mile run due to painful, dry, hacking, annoying cough.  Will do a make-up tomorrow in addition to the scheduled weights and cross-training.

I wonder if Calorie King has a widget.

Made a new promise to myself.  In addition to the rewards that come along with it naturally, I wanted to add some incentive to getting below 200 pounds.  It is only 12.6 pounds away, but it seems so far and I have been STRUGGLING with my nutrition plan.  (why is it so hard for me?!?!)  So, I have decided that the day that scale reaches 199, I am ordering myself a pair of Hudson Jeans.  Ironically, Hudson Jeans cost right around $199.  What?! It's a sign.  It's the circle of life.  At least that is what I'm telling my husband.  Let the self-bribery begin!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stylish Blogger, That's Me!!

So, Julie at You Just Have to Tri awarded me with the Stylish Blogger award, and I am so excited!  I think the rules say that the Stylish Blogger must share seven items about herself and then pass it on to a couple other bloggers that she deems worthy! I wish I could pass it right back to Julie, because I love reading her blog so much, but it just doesn't work that way, however, you should check out her blog.  She does tons of races and trains really hard and is basically one of the nicest people I have "met" in blogland.  For her SB award, she shared seven outfits from her past, and they were great.  The 80's get people all the time.  I don't have a bunch of old photos uploaded, so I will try to share seven interesting things about myself.

1. My husband is an engineer-math-genius-type and I am a writer.  We ALWAYS come at things from completely different perspectives.  Because of that, we are constantly debating on everything from how to organize the tupperware drawer to how we will raise children.  It can be frustrating sometimes, but it is actually really refreshing to live with someone who complements me so well.  We are constantly helping each other out with stuff and work together from a really great happy medium most of the time.  It only took us six years to figure it out!

2. I get the hiccups almost every day.  I get them when I take too big of a bite of something, or when I laugh (I try to do the latter every day, and the former a little less) My sister even gave a toast at my wedding saying that because of my propensity to get the hiccups when I laugh, she wished us a "lifetime of hiccups"  It was very sweet.

3. Most people think I am an extrovert, but I am actually really shy.  I talk so much when I'm nervous that I feel like I come off as a bit obnoxious and annoying.  And then I get so embarrassed for being obnoxious and annoying that I get more nervous and start babbling even more.  I seriously wonder how I have any friends sometimes. Given the choice, I would pick staying in with a book over going out almost every chance I get.

4. Speaking of friends, my best friend, Katy is one of the most important people in my life.  She is amazing, and also, she gets me in spite of number 3.

5. We have two dogs, Blue and Bex.  Blue is named after his one blue eye and is my baby, and Bex is more-recently adopted and her name is short for Bechler, which is the name of the wilderness area where Mike and I backpacked in Yellowstone. When she does something bad, I yell "Bechler Wilderness Area Volle-Schaarschmidt!"  She just bats her eyelashes and continues being adorable.

6. I used to smoke.  After three years without, I can't even stand to be around it.  I also wake up every single day so happy that I feel this good.  I had forgotten for so long that it was possible to breathe in and out and feel like a million bucks.  I also never thought I would be able run a mile because of it.  Who's got the last laugh now?  I wish I could travel around to high schools and walk up to groups of kids outside smoking and explain to them that quitting will be so hard later, and they will probably gain weight when they do it.  And that most grownups whom they might want to date or marry later in life think it's disgusting.  And that, one day, even though it sounds stupid now, they might want to run as far as they can make themselves run, just to see, and that smoking will hinder this.  These are the things I want to say to those kids, who would surely look at me and think, what a crazy old lady.

7. I have been working as a writer and editor for almost ten years, but started blogging only after I lost my mom.  It was a way to dump some stories that I didn't want to forget on paper and a way to share without really putting it out there.  I ended up making a lot of friends with other writers and bloggers and also discovered the weight-loss and racing communities that exist.  It has been a great way to share this journey I am on and such a big part in healing.   Also, just because I am an editor by day, don't judge my blog for grammar and commas.  I seem to go crazy when I'm blogging and decided a while ago to try to let it be.  I do enough correcting at work. :)

That's it.  That is my Stylish Blogger Seven.  Now I would like to pass on the award to some of my faves:

Kristina at Ditch the Tiara, who is my friend and an amazing inspiration.  (48 marathons and 4 Ironmans and counting!)

Christi at Pedestrian Runner who is a great support and who is a pro at keeping to her workouts.  She makes me want to try harder!

And to Maggie at Team Ladybug.  Team Ladybug consists of Maggie and her aunt, a breast cancer survivor and their journey to the next breast cancer 3-Day.  Maggie a great writer and a really cool friend!

I highly suggest visiting all of these super stylish blogs!  Thanks, Julie!