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Archive for January, 2012

The first step in my system is both the easiest and the hardest thing I’ve ever done: identify and target your weaknesses.

So, I want to train for a triathlon.  What do I need to do? I need to follow this training plan in order to be able to complete the race.  What are my obstacles?

Here I identify my weaknesses.

WEAKNESS ONE: Excuses

You should have heard the excuses I used to come up with to avoid everything from eating right, to exercising, to cleaning my house and paying my bills on time.  Any other time I had embarked on an exercise plan, it had gone thusly:

  • Week one: following the schedule exactly as planned
  • Week two: one or two days with an excuse for why I couldn’t go to the gym that day (Always totally legitimate excuses, of course)
  • Week three: three or four days of excuses (But I’ll get back on track next week)
  • Week six: Wait, wasn’t I supposed to be following some kind of program?

It never failed – one excuse would follow another until it was easy to quit feeling guilty about it because I failed so miserably that I had to start all over.  By 210 pounds I had given up even trying.

So before I could do the training program for the triathlon, I had to eliminate excuses.  The first thing I did was register for the race.  Then I told every I knew about it, and posted it all over Facebook.

I bought good shoes, a good bra, and a some nice workout clothes.  And then I vowed to never skip a day of my training.  I knew that if I made one excuse it would turn into three excuses, which would turn into 20 excuses and me looking in the mirror in December realizing another year had passed and I hadn’t even gotten around to doing that triathlon thingy.

WEAKNESS ONE: Excuses.  ELIMINATED.

WEAKNESS TWO: Food

Especially desserts and salty snacks, and breads — well, basically every food, I suppose.  From past experiences I knew a diet would last just as long as my previous exercises plans, and be potentially calamitous to my triathlon training.  In other words, there was no way I could convince myself to run 3 miles while simulatenously starving myself. So I put dieting out of mind entirely.  This would be solely about completing the triathlon and nothing else.

Which leads us to my next weakness….

WEAKNESS THREE: The Scale

My goal was simply to complete the triathlon.  Weight could not be at issue.  Too many imes I’d been disappointed by the number on the scale and used that as yet another excuse.  So weight loss would be a side effect, albeit a pleasant one, for completing the triathlon, but certainly not my main goal.

I said this was both easy and hard.  It is easy to identify a weakness – as women we are ingrained with that capability.  We identify weaknesses and falws in ourselves every day.

Here though, we do the hard work of sorting through those criticisms and realizing which weaknesses we have control over, which ones you actually want to and can change, and then putting in place a plan to work through those weaknesses.

It can be done. I promise.

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I spent 3 hours at the gym today.  Three hours!!

There was a time when I wouldn’t even consider spending 30 minutes at the gym, let alone 3 hours — and the kicker is, I actually enjoyed my time there.  Luckily I was able to take my time today as I didn’t have to work.  And I got a lot done.

First, I did a 45 minute Level 1 yoga class.  I love the stretching that it provides as well as working on my balance.  I’ve realized that I need to do yoga at least once a week to keep my hips from tightening up and causing all sorts of problems.

Next, I ran 3 miles on the treadmill, gradually increasing my speed until I was at a 9:45 minute mile for the last half mile.

Next, I did two sets of weights.  I have to say, I really don’t like weight lifting, but it is something I know I have to do for my health, and I’m hoping that someday I might actually enjoy it like I now enjoy running.  Weight lifting the last two weeks has made me feel stronger and more lithe.

I’ve also been doing a lot of core work lately, which today included quite a grueling core workout in yoga, and doing crunches and obliques on the weight machine.

After all of that, I changed into my swimsuit and spent 10 or so minutes in the steam room to relax.

What a nice way to spend the day!

One more thing….

I wore these at the gym today

As I was finishing my last set of weights, a woman on another machine told me how much she liked my outfit and wanted to know where to get it.  These are the Road Runner Sports High Speed Compression capri.  I love them!  Thanks, stranger, for the compliment!

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This was written a few months ago and published in the monthly U.S. Running Room magazine.

When I first started running, I would wear headphones every time I went out.  It was all I could do to get outside and trudge out 3 miles.  It was painful, and not at all fun.  Where was this “runner’s high” I had heard so much about?  At least the upbeat tunes of Lady Gaga kept me distracted from my grueling pace.

But at some point, that all changed.  Now, I leave the headphones at home.  At first, it was mostly for safety and training – too many race courses don’t allow headphones.  But now, it truly has become about getting a chance to “clear my head.”  Those 5 miles, alone on the trail, are my chance to think through anything that has been bothering me and come up with solutions to any problems plaguing me.  I’m a bit of a worrier, and at times my anxiety can get a bit overwhelming.  In fact, just last week I had a miserable day.  I was crabby and cranky, easily upset, worried and anxious, and generally unpleasant to be around.  When my running partner didn’t show up that night, I almost chalked it up to more bad luck and called it a day.  But instead, I went out for a short run.  It was only 2.5 miles, but it was in the cool fall air, with a light mist falling, and no one was on the trail.  When I got home, I realized that I was suddenly in a better mood.  I had a chance on the trail to work through everything that had been bothering me.  And that’s when I realized that prior to that night’s run, I hadn’t been out for 4 days.  That’s like a decade in a runner’s world.

When I look back at the person I was a year and a half ago, before I started running, I discover that I’m a completely different person.  Not just in size, eating habits, or physical health, but my emotional health has improved 10 fold.  I’m less irritable now, I don’t get as upset about schedule changes, I’m more patient, and I’m more determined and ambitious than I was before.  I’ve realized my own self-worth.  All of that could have taken years to do on a therapist’s couch.

Now I know that running truly is “cheaper than therapy” and I’ll proudly wear my Running Room shirt with that slogan, if only to send a message to newbies that someday they will feel the same.

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Date: January 7, 2012

Location: Orlando, FL

I’m not sure how it happened.  One minute my sister and I were chatting about how fun it would be to do the Disney half marathon, and the next thing I knew we were actually there, two bodies in a sea of 28,000 people at the start line. Along the way, I’d developed a nueroma in one of my toes and had to get a cortisone shot.  I’d run 10 miles in the snow.  I’d put in my long runs dutifully, week after week, even going for a 10 miler on Christmas Eve day.  Somehow I had managed to get through it all, and here we were, getting on a bus filled with our fellow runners at 4 am.

 

Disney official information had informed us that all runners needed to be at the start and in their corrals by 5 am.  But by 4:30 am we were still firmly in the bus, trying to make it to Epcot — along with what looked like several thousand other cars and buses.  At 4:45 we were still on the bus, this time idling only yards away from the entrance.  The bus driver failed to inform us of much, but we managed to figure out that the bus’ brakes were out (so that’s why it smelled like a rubber plan the whole way here!) – and we were eventually escorted off the bus onto another, and shuttled the remaining feet to the race entrance area.

My sister and I followed the throng of runners through the bag check and down a long road to the start.  When we finally made it to the corral area, we both decided we had to pee.  And while I was in the porta-pottie I stupidly missed the start of the race, which, I’m told began with a fireworks display.  By the time we made it to our corral, the wave before us was starting and we finally crossed the start line around 5:30 am.

In our original plan, my sister and I were going to run the entire race together.  But by the week before the race, we’d both decided our paces were too different for that to work.  So we discussed running the first few miles together and going out on our own after that.  However, only a half a mile in, she took off.  “Sorry,” she said, “this is way too slow for me.” And so I began my lonely 12.6 mile journey to the finish.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  It was about 50 degrees the entire time I was running.  Since the sun didn’t really rise until mile 8, and then it was cloudy, I didn’t even need the sunglasses I had perched on my head.

Along the route, Disney had done it’s best to provide us with visual and auditory entertainment.  At mile 2 I saw Dark Wing Duck  At mile 3, a great display of classic cars.  At mile 5, actors on giant stilts gave us high fives.  Every mile was marked clearly with a clock showing the official time.

I felt great at mile 6 when we finally entered the Magic Kingdom.  All along the route, I had been dodging slow runners and walkers, and as the course narrowed through the main entrance to Disney, I had to slow to practically a crawl.  The Magic Kingdom was still decorated for Christmas, and in the early morning light, with the crowds and music, and Disney characters around every corner, it was practically magical.

I stopped a few times for pictures and approached Cinderella’s castle at mile 7.  Here the running crowd went wild.  As we passed under the castle, a runner threw his hands in the air and let out a celebratory holler.  It was contagious and pretty soon everyone was hooting and hollering in Cinderella’s echo-chamber of a castle.

Nearly out of the Magic Kingdom, I ran past Princess Tatiana, a Chipmunk, and Captain Jack Sparrow before the course dumped us out the back door and onto the (relatively) empty road.  I’d made it 8 miles and still felt good, but as I started calculating, I could feel my spirit start to fall a little bit.  I still had 5 miles yet to go, and even though we were on our way back to Epco, it felt like these last 5 miles could be an eternity.

By mile 9, the excitement of the whole thing had worn off.  I could feel blisters forming on what seemed like all of my toes, and my legs were getting tired.  I could feel myself slowing down, but I knew I only had 3 miles left – or a 5K – or 30 minutes – whichever way you looked at it, it wasn’t much longer.  And I’d already done 9.  I could easily do 3.

Near mile 10, we were running on the highway outside of the Disney campus.  As I rounded a corner, I saw a stream of people running on an overpass ABOVE the highway.  How the hell were we supposed to get up there?  By taking the exit ramp, obviously.  You don’t realize how steep those things are until you’re on foot.  I trudged up the hill, gave up half way, and walked to the top.  A Team in Training coach at the crest of the hill shouted, “Great job! It’s all downhill from here!” And so I felt a little better about my achy legs and increasingly painful toes, and picked up the pace for a bit.  At mile 12, an announcer was asking the runners where they were from.  I heard shout outs from people from all over the world and from every state in the naion.

And that’s when I saw it.

Another hill!

At mile 12!

That woman had lied to us!

I wasn’t about to go back and correct her, and so at my breakneck speed of a thirteen minute mile, I made it to the top  What goes up, must come down, and at the bottom of the hill we were greeted by a band singing, “I could run 500 miles, and I would run 500 more…”  At mile 12.5, as we re-entered Epcot, a gospel choir in sunshine yellow robes re-energized me.  Only a half a mile to go!

I ran faster through a throng of people, most of whom were shouting, “You’re almost there!”  We made a loop around the Epcot ball, rounded another corner, and there it was, the finish.  Disney had pulled out all the stops for this.  A large grand stand on the left allowed for spectator viewing, and a giant jumbo-tron showed everyone crossing the finish.

I admit – I was tired as hell, and I went over the finish line more relieved than anything else.  When I watched the video of myself crossing the finish line, which was made available online a few days after the vent, I was one of only a handful of people not raising my arms in the air and cheering.

I was immediately presented with a giant Donald Duck-shaped medal and gratefully accepted a space blanket, before being funneled through the food station, and dumped back out into the parking lot, where I immediately texted my husband and sister to try to find them.  All around me, people were reuniting with their loved ones; collapsing, exhausted on the ground; sighing in satisfaction for having completed an amazing feat; and I felt AMAZING.

My finish time might not have been ideal – I was shooting for a 2:30 finish and actually came in at 2:44:56 – but I had just run 13.1 miles.  And that was an eternity for me. A little over a year ago I could barely finish 4 miles in tact.  A before that… I would have laughed at you had you suggested I get up off the couch and go for a run.

I’ve accomplished a lot.  And I have so much more yet to do.

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Blog Update

Yes, I’m still here.  And yes, I’m still running.  And thanks for asking, yes, I am still writing!

And yet this blog has been terribly silent of late.  So sorry about that!  But no fear, I have several new posts already written and a race report from Disney coming, as well as a couple of product reviews that I’d like to do.

I promise I’ll try to do better this time around!

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