Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trot 5K

As it is Thanksgiving, I have been reflecting on how much I have to be thankful for this year. My daughter is healthy and happy, my family is healthy, I have a wonderful job that allows me to take care of our household as a single parent, and I have a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood filled with wonderful kitties!

I am also thankful that I am in a place health-wise where I was even able to complete a 5K race this morning. I am thankful for the 40 pounds I have lost since mid-June (well, not thankful for the pounds themselves but instead for the fact that they are GONE!). That being said, here's the recap of my race this morning.

First of all, it was not a timed race so I used my own watch. But frankly, it did not matter because there was no way for me to get a good time today. There was a very large crowd, with many walkers, children, strollers, and dogs. And they did not start back from the starting line. Nor did they make it possible for runners to pass without going out of their way on sidewalks and the like. As soon as I realized that my time was going to be a non-issue because I could barely navigate my way through the walkers for the first 1/4 mile, I just did it for the fun of it.

The race course was through neighborhood streets, and there were many people on their porches and on the street watching us (not much cheering, though... but quite a bit of drinking!). I know that my second mile was about 12 1/2 minutes, so that was a PR in a race for me.

One thing that really pissed me off was the number of smokers near the starting line, along the race course, and at the end of the race. I swear I wanted to blow chunks on one guy who was puffing away right next to the finish as I sucked in a huge lung-full of his filthy smoke. Gross. Where is the common sense, people?!?

The other thing that was difficult was all of the dogs on long leashes. I was seriously almost tripped by two of them, and then when you add the YOUNG children weaving around the road while their parents did a half-assed job of watching them... well, it was a bit frustrating.

But it was a good way to get me up and out and active before a big dinner tonight, so I'll take it. And even with all of the distractions and roadblocks, my time was 38 seconds less that the last 5K that I ran a month ago, so there was improvement.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am thankful that you took the time to read about my journey!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

4th Photo Tag!

1. Pick the 4th folder on your computer
2. Pick the 4th Picture
3. Explain the picture
4. Tag 4 others -
I tag anyone who would like to do it.

This was a shot from a session with my daughter as I tried to get a photo for our 2004 holiday card. The lights are LED lights that do not get hot, so I let her play with them for awhile and she had a blast! I never got the perfect shot using the lights and had to do another session without them to get our card photo for that year, but I still love these shots!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It Was a Hot and Smelly Night

I skipped my run on Tuesday because I was home with a fever, so I had not run since Sunday before hitting the track tonight.

I stopped at my favorite tea shop before heading home to change. A nice pot of Winterblend black tea gave me some caffeine (read: energy) and helped me brave the cold Chicago weather. Once I came home, I popped in a lollipop to add some sugar to my caffeine buzz, changed my clothes, and headed out again.

The parking lot at the gym was full. Not like it usually is, where I have a problem finding a good spot... but actually so full that I had to drive around for 5 minutes to find ANY spot. Once I got in I asked the boy at the desk what was up with the crowd, and he told me that there was a Chamber of Commerce event being held at the gym tonight. Ugh.

There were people milling around everywhere, and as soon I entered the locker room I noticed a strange smell. Once I made my way to the track, I noticed that the smell was stronger. And it was hot. Ick.

As I rounded the first bend in the track, I saw the gathering. It was in the main floor of the gym (the track circles the entire gym on the second level, like a loft around it), and there were so many (loud) people. The smell was from the catered food that was out on tables from local businesses, and all of those people seemed to be watching those of us who are members work out as they mingled around. That was not a fun thing for this chubby runner.

But I had to do it, so I did it. It was a decent 45 minute run, and I felt strong and even picked up the pace at the end by working on increasing my stride length. And all of the mouth-breathing helped me to ignore the nasty smell of Sterno and food from the convention.

Smelly, hot, but nonetheless over... and I am glad that I did it because I actually missed it. Usually missing a run or a scheduled workout would throw me into a tailspin and make me feel like a loser, so I was happy that I was able to just get back on track (literally) and keep going. I know that I have to get rid of that "all or nothing" mentality because life is going to throw me for a loop sometimes, and I do not want to yo-yo anymore with either my weight or my exercise. It's time for me to figure out how to take changes in my plans in stride... something which is not easy for this project manager!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


First, I must say that I am pissed at my Nike+. It totally tanked my run right in the middle. I am sorry, but there is no way that I was running over a TWO HOUR PER MILE pace in the middle of my very consistent hour long run. Seriously. It failed to record over a mile of my run, and that just pisses me off.

As for the run itself, it was a hard run in many ways. I was properly fueled, properly hydrated, not any more sleep-deprived than usual... and yet I almost passed out during the run for real.

It started out fine for about the first 15 minutes, and then I hit a wall. My heart rate shot up and was in the mid 170s already, which usually does not happen until later in my runs. I was thinking that I might have to call it a day at 30 minutes. By the time I was 25 minutes into the workout, my heart rate was in the 180s and I was struggling. I couldn't concentrate on anything to distract me from the clock, and time was just crawling.

Being as stubborn as I am, I kept plowing through and told myself that if I could get to 45 minutes of the run, then I could call it a day. I also was berating myself with the fact that it not bode well for my goal of doing the Soldier Field 10 Miler race with Delane if I couldn't even make myself get through a five mile run.

Suffice it to say, I made it to 45 minutes and then played mind games with myself to "just go five more minutes". But once I hit the 50 minute mark, I started to have chest pain (nothing crazy, but tightness) and I got all light headed and depleted of energy and though I might actually pass out on the track. Very weird. It passed after a couple of minutes, so I kept going and did end up hitting the magical 60 minute run mark before starting my cool down walk.

I felt bad after the run. Tired, drained, like I needed a serious nap. So I got some coffee instead and went on my merry way. ;-)

I don't know what happened to cause this horrible run, but I am going to chalk it up to some bad planetary alignment and move on to next week. At least I can say that I finished my second one hour run!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Running on Empty

NOTE TO SELF: Must have energy to have a good run.

I had a snack at 2:30 p.m. (baked tofu, for those of you who are very curious!). Then the day got away from me... work, commute home, child pick-up and feeding, parent-teacher conference, and then... finally... the gym. I didn't even start my run until 7:45 p.m. And I hadn't had even a bite to eat for over five hours. That did not bode well for a 45 minute run.

I felt okay in the beginning, but then the fizzle started. I was watching the clock like a hawk, and my heart rate was high even though I felt like I was just shuffling around the track. Yet even though the minutes dragged, I kept going and finished the scheduled run.

And then I came home and quickly shoveled in some chow!!! OMG!!!

Now it is time to go upstairs and upload my Nike+ information. I must say that I am interested to see what it shows because, at the end of my run, Paula Radcliffe came on and told me that I set a new personal best for the mile... WTF??? Yet my mileage was a bit lower than I expected overall, so we shall see what it shows and if it tanked somewhere during my run.

After that bit of Nike+ weirdness, I was having visions of wearing both a Nike+ and a Garmin (complete with footpod and HRM) at the same time to have a check and balance. And then I decided that I really *am* a freak... a freak who wants to run with $500+ of gear strapped to my body to make sure I know exactly how long I am running and how far I am running and thus how fast I am running and at what heart rate I am at and of course how many calories I am burning. Add to that the Fitbit (which I have pre-ordered) and hey, throw in a BodyBugg (the thing they wear on The Biggest Loser), and I could probably pump it up to $1000 worth of electronics strapped onto me during my runs! The Bionic Woman!

Yeah... once I hit the Lotto, that is! ;-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Week 20

I started C25K 20 weeks ago. Almost 5 months ago. And each week I have run 3 times. So I have had around 60 running-centric workouts since I laced up the shoes last summer. And during those almost 60 runs, I have gone from 1 minute running intervals to 60 minutes of straight running.


Tonight I am taking a few minutes to pat myself on the back. :-) But it is also with the realization that I am entering the rough season, and that I have to keep my motivation and my running "appointments" with myself in order to keep up the running that has resulted from all of that hard work.

As the hours of daylight dwindle and the weather gets colder, I am finding it harder to get myself out the door and to the gym. And that is not going to get any better until Spring is fully sprung sometime next year. But it is important to me to continue running, so I am going to make sure that I eliminate the excuses by keeping my gym bag packed and ready in my car so that I do not get into my warm home and then find it hard to head back out for my workout. I need to pull out all of the Jedi Mind Tricks that I have to make sure that I do not fall off the track, so to speak.

Now it is time for Top Chef, so I am going to relax and enjoy while *they* do all the hard work tonight!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

And After... I AM A ONE HOUR RUNNER!!!!

Woo-hoo... I did it! I finished the One Hour Runner program today!!! :-)

I was procrastinating and dragging my feet in terms of getting to the gym today for the run. I was supposed to go with my mom at 11:00 a.m., but then she backed out and I found a million things to do... and the next thing I knew it was almost 3:00 p.m. and I still had not even dressed in my running clothes.

So I got dressed, headed over, and with surprisingly little trepidation hit the track for my last run of the program. I put my iPod on shuffle and started on my way.

The first 25 minutes of the run were like a dream. I felt strong, my breathing was right on, and I felt like I could run all day. I began daydreaming about running a marathon and being on the Oprah show to thank everyone who helped me get my life back after being so sick with an auto-immune disease and everything else that hit me in the last 10 years. I was making a list of names and reliving some of the most horrible parts and comparing them with the happiness that I have now, and the time just flew by!

The track got crowded about midway through my run, and of course it filled with rude non-lane designation followers... but I did not let it bother me as much today because a) I knew that I was going to outlast them all on the track and b) I was on a happy mission to complete a milestone.

I started to tire about 45 minutes into the run, but it was just a feeling and I knew that I was going to be able to complete the run from an energy standpoint. I was so excited! 10 more minutes, 7 more minutes, 5 more minutes, one more lap.. and DING DING DING I WAS A ONE HOUR RUNNER!!! With a shout and a fist pump in the air, I started my cool down walk with a huge smile on my face and a swing in my step!

Now I am home and ordering some pizza for dinner. After burning 924 calories during my workout per my HRM, I think I have room today for a couple of slices. :-)

Thanks for sharing this part of the journey with me. Believe it or not, you have all been my biggest supporters. I am excited to see what 2009 holds for my running!


I am mentally preparing myself for the last run of One Hour Runner. I am going to the gym in about an hour, and am planning to just enjoy the experience and go for the hour at whatever pace I can.

I did a 40 minute run last Thursday without a day of rest between the first run of the week, and my right knee was giving me some grief about that. I am hoping that it feels good for today's long run, or at least that I can run out the pain pretty quickly.

After today, I am going to go steady through the rest of the year with three runs per week consisting of a 30 minute run on Tuesday, a 45 minute run on Thursday, and a long 60 minute run on the weekend. I know that the holidays are going to be busy, and I do not want to set myself up to miss my goals during this time. I also am hoping to increase my speed a bit because "slow as molasses" really is a good description for me right now. Part of this will hopefully come as a result of dropping some more weight because I am still lugging around almost 60 pounds of extra weight, so I am going to focus on losing some of that over the next two months, too. I know that it is hard to do during the holidays so I am not going to set huge goals, but even a loss of 10 pounds over the next couple of months would be great and should be doable.

Well, I am off to get ready for the gym now... I'll be back with the "After" post later today!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Late Run

Yesterday's run was postponed to tonight because I needed some sleep last night. Yesterday I was woken up at 4:45 a.m. by a phone call from an employee telling me that his father had unexpectedly passed away during the middle of the night. Needless to say, I was unable to feel back asleep after the news, so I started my day extra early.

Then, after dropping off the child for all day care because her school was closed for the day, I received a call from my ex-husband as I drove to the train station telling me that his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer the day before, and that her husband had a positive PET Scan indicating that the cancer he had battled last year had returned. A double-whammy for him and his family.

All of this news before I even caught the train to work. I felt wiped out from the emotions.

Then we had a stressful day at work, and I battle crowds to get out of Chicago as people were gathering for the Obama rally in Grant Park. Once I arrived home and picked up my daughter, the gym was out and a Lunesta was in. No guilt whatsoever about pushing out the run.

This morning found me better rested and able to face the day without feeling so raw and upset for those who received the bad news about their parents. I was on plan with my eating today, and looking forward to my 30 minute run tonight.

As I hit the track, I started in on a serious daydream about the most handsome man in the world who just happens to work at the same company as I do... and the 30 minutes flew by! I physically felt on top of the world when 30 minutes came and was wishing that it was the night for a longer run! Who would've thought I would want to run longer than I "had" to???? But I stopped because it looks like I am going to need to do W10D2 tomorrow without a day of rest in-between and thus I did not want to overdo it tonight.

Great run, mediocre time, but VERY enjoyable. ;-)

Tomorrow I have a 40 minute run planned, and then I will cap off the week with a 60 minute run on Sunday. And thus I will complete the One Hour Runner Program this week... woo-hoo! That's AMAZING!!! Be prepared to hear my victory scream all the way at your house when I finish THAT run!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

2 for 1!!!

I didn't write about my last run on Thursday, so this post is like getting 2 for 1!

Thursday night I was suffering from the a case of the guilties because my cat had just come home from paw surgery on Wednesday and he was very needy. In a pitiful blue cone to keep him from ripping out his stitches and everything. So I was tossing around a complete run miss for the week because there was no way I could do it Friday due to Halloween, and I only had time for one run over the weekend with birthday parties and the like.

I came home and noticed that someone had been here... my mother had stopped by and spent some time with the kitty after work... so I felt like I could scoot to the gym for an hour with less guilt. Good run, hurried home, just another day with nothing out of the ordinary.

Today was W9D3 of One Hour Runner, complete with a 55 minute run. Honestly, I am feeling like crap and had some serious doubts on the way to the gym as to whether 55 minutes was in the cards today or not. But I just pushed the doubts aside and started out, making sure to get in a full 5 minutes of walking before I started the run because I felt stiff all over.

The track was crowded today with people goofing around: some guy teasing a girl by taking pictures of her in her gym shorts while she mindlessly ran across the lanes to avoid the camera, some guys racing each other around the track but weaving across all five lanes as they battled each other, two women who refused to respect the lane designations as they sauntered along batting their eyelashes at the guys down in the weight room. And then there was me, plodding along the track for over an hour like some crazed energizer bunny with the batteries dying. I just kept going and stuck to my lane (yes, very stubbornly) and by the time my workout was over the track was clear and I had outlasted them all!

I did the 55 minutes as planned and then went out for Mexican. :-) Nothing like a big old bean burrito after a long run... yes, AFTER a long run LOL!

Next week is the last week of the One Hour Runner program, so here's the plan:

Tuesday - 30 minute run
Thursday - 40 minute run
Saturday - 60 minute run (OMG!!!!)

I keep telling myself that if I was able to do 55 minutes today, I will be able to do 60 minutes next week. And I'm gonna stick with that!