Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Half Marathon and a Training Plan

Ok, so I'm have a tendency to do this early and registering for a small half marathon three months early might seem obsessive but hey, I saved 20 bucks and I'm guaranteed a spot.

Anyway, the point is I registered for my first half marathon, on the Historic Langley Half on February 21st which gives me 13 weeks, starting tomorrow (I've got a terrible head cold today and can't really breath and just got the swine-flu vaccine last night so I feel like a run might just put too much stress on my body and totally wipe me out) to train. I toyed with running the Mercer Island half marathon on March 20-something instead of this one, but this one is much closer to me (40 minute drive as opposed to three and a half some-odd hours) and therefore I wont have to pay for a place to stay or deal with crossing the US border. Furthermore I plan to run my full marathon in Seattle anyway as the Vancouver marathon is just a bit sooner than I'd like (early May), so I might as well save the Washington trip till then.

So I have a training plan which I feel confident about and I'm working on a food plan as my current one will take some adjusting. For the most part I feel like I do eat pretty well. I have to as I've definitely got one of those metabolisms that hangs on to weight (starvation genes, fat genes whatever you want to call them). This last year, however, I've been focused on losing weight and therefore have eaten the minimum number of carbs to get me through workouts and otherwise tried to focus on lean proteins etc. I'm not perfect, but I did a pretty good job of avoiding processed carbohydrates at any rate. Furthermore I enjoy learning about food and discovering new ingredients and tastes. Much of my nutritional overhaul this last year has been more an exploration in natural foods than a lesson in deprivation. For example Friday night dinner was quinoa with a broccoli pesto and broccoli and a mushroom casserole made from mushrooms onions brown rice cottage cheese a touch of sour-cream eggs and parmesan. Delicious filled with good fats (for the most part) protein packed and full of complex carbohydrates (check out, it will completely change the way you think about natural foods).

But now, I'm going to need to up my carbohydrate intake. I still plan to stick to whole grains and complx carbohydrates but I am starting to wonder what role GUs and energy bars might start to play particularly when I start heading out for 9-11 mile run. Either that or maybe I'll avoid the processed stuff alltogether and start bringing packets of dried fruits, or LARA bars as I have a fear of chemicals.

So here's the plan for next week (which I already know might not work out perfectly as I am graduating on Thursday and heading up to Whistler for the weekend on Friday):

Monday - Spin class (the plan is to register for it BEFORE I head to work Monday morning. If a 5:30 class is full at eight am then I give up)

Tuesday - schedule has an easy 2 miles... which really doesn't feel like much but I WILL stick to the schedule. I will, I will, I will...

Wednesday - weights/cross training (my weekly half hour on the elliptical oh how I hate you)

Thursday - five mile tempo run

Friday - easy 2 miles (again with the not feeling like much but I'll see how this first week goes)

Saturday - day off. I believe in one full stop day, at least for now. It may be eliminated later but I always find myself relieved when I get to take one day off. This week I will likely be skiing but that's not really that much exercise, particularly since I'm a mediocre skier, my boyfriend is a great skier and therefore I tend to spend a lot of time rolling down the black-diamond slopes he can tackle with the grace and confidence of an Olympic medalist (he's not, but he is one of those people with annoyingly perfect form who's never phased by anything on the mountain).

Sunday - seven miles run.

So Sunday's long run may end up being pushed to Monday as Sunday will likely be spent skiing and then driving back down to Vancouver, but otherwise I should be able to stick to it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Balance Fall Classic

So a year ago, I weighed 214lbs. Today I weigh 162, that's 52lbs gone. For any who are wondering, I am 5'7.

A year ago I couldn't run half a mile without keeling over and gasping for breath. Today I run 20-25 miles a week and I have a goal. A goal to run 26.2 miles at the end at the Seattle Rock and Roll marathon on June 26th 2010.

Today I completed my first mile-marker. I ran a 10k. I know its not very far, in fact it is a distance I have run before, but it was my first race. My first time velcroing a timing chip to my ankle and pining on a bib. My first time lining up at the start line and waiting, jumping up an down nervously for the clock to count down. My first time running a set 6.1 mile (10k) course (I know I said I've run 6 miles before, and I kind of have, but I measured the distance by driving the route with my car, I know I need to invest in a Garmin, and I don't run with a watch so I only have a vague idea of exactly how long it takes me to run a 10k distance).

I had a goal, my goal was to finish in an hour, just under a 10 minute mile for the whole race. Not very fast for most people, I know, but for me. For me who a year ago could barley run a 14 minute mile... It's huge.

So I got up this morning, at seven am, had some Irish soda bread toast with almond butter and honey (my favorite pre-run meal in the world), got dressed, stopped by Starbucks because lets face it I can't handle a day without caffeine, and walked over to the UBC student rec center where the race started. It was cold, windy, and raining, but my entire body was bubbling with excitement. This was the beginning, if I could get through this I could get through a half marathon... and theoretically if I can get through a half marathon then that marathon I want to run in June should be possible. Typical me, we arrived before the 10k check in even began, so we waited around, then picked up my bib and timing chip, and then sat down at a table to wait for the next 45 minutes or so. To his credit my boyfriend complained minimally about the amount of sleep he lost thanks to my obsessive, must-be-on-time nature.

I made two bathroom trips because the idea of having to go during the race made me nervous, and finally headed out of the warm gym to the start line, said bye to my boyfriend who headed out with the camera to key race points, and silently cursed myself for not grabbing a watch before leaving the house. Sure, I never run with one, but I don't usually have a time goal in mind whereas this time... This time I really really wanted to finish in an hour. I figured I could ask someone somewhere along the way, and then the clock ran out and the race started.

I started too fast, that much I knew, and as we headed over the first hill to the other side of campus I told myself to SLOW DOWN, to stop being so damn competitive and let the faster, fitter runners get ahead of me. It was ok, this was my first 10k, they were probably aiming to finish in 40 minutes or less, I was aiming for an hour.

The weather sucked, and my ipod shuffle headphones got waterlogged quickly which resulted in the voice over going on sporadically and random skips in my music. I was glad for the free throwaway gloves they handed out before the start. I threw them off at around the 3k mark, but they helped keep me warm until my body had warmed up enough to make them unnecessary.

Honestly I didn't think I'd make my time goal. I really really didn't. The middle of the race felt hard, I was fighting wind and rain and my legs didn't feel as powerful as they sometimes do. Furthermore I kept getting side cramps along my right side, not super painful ones, but annoying. At the turn around I said to myself, allright then, lets just finish this, hopefully it will be under 1:10, and at least I'll have completed it, we can look at what went wrong later. At around 7k I saw the boy standing there, soaking wet, smiling with the camera, I gave him a smile and a wave and dug in. At 8k I told myself I had less than a mile in a half left to go. I would finish, and I stared wondering if maybe I would make my time goal.

There were after all other 10k runners still besides me, and what's more, there were a fair amount of half-marathoners around me, glancing nervously at their watches in a way that told me they were trying for sub two-hour finishes, so at 9k I decided to give it my all. I picked up the pace down main mall to university boulevard, and then as I turned onto west mall, the last bit of the race, I was next two this couple, the girl was I think running her first half and the guy was telling her to give it everything she had, that this was it. I decided to listen to his advice and took off, my legs moving faster than I think they ever had before, and as I turned the corner and saw the finish line clock I just about passed out, it read 59:55, I ran even harder and made it in 1:00:06 (I don't have the official time off my chip yet as we left before they started posting them, and I know it took me about 5-15 seconds to get across the start line as I was back a bit in the crowd). I had done it, I had finished my first 10k in more or less exactly an hour. I was absolutely elated. I didn't think I'd care much about the time. I thought I'd be more excited about having finished my first real race, but I felt so incredibly proud of myself for finishing on goal. I got hugs from my boyfriend, his mom and the dog who had come out to the finish line to cheer me on, I couldn't stop smiling and repeating over and over again that I had done it. Because honestly I didn't think I would.

So this is just the beginning, now I look towards half marathon training and then towards a marathon, but I know I can do it. I know I can push, I know I can accomplish the weight loss goals (140) and the running goals I have set for myself. Although I started running to help with my weight loss, it has grown into something else completely. I have, as so many other have, fallen in love with the simplicity of it, the one step after the other, lose yourself in the moment, feeling of running and I don't know why I used to hate it so much, because I did hate it. I was that kid in PE who would lag at the back when we were told to run the mile. I was the one who hated soccer and basketball and all team sports because they involved so much running... and its amazing how much that has all changed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm running my 10k in a week and half, on the 15th...

But I'm continuing to go downhill in terms of food choices etc.

I feel like a year ago when I started this I was at a point where my health was at risk, where I had to lose the weight, or keep going up in to the 220s and so on until I didn't know when. Now I'm 164, and that's awesome. That's really, really amazing and awesome. But I've slowed down since summer.

On the one hand I'm running more than ever, I've gotten faster, my endurance has gone up, everything is getting better. On the other hand in the past four months I have only lost like seven pounds... which is really not very much at all.

I wanted to be 140 by Christmass, but now I know it's not going to happen. Twenty-five pounds in a month in a half is just not going to happen. It could have happened, if I hadn't always given in and gotten that extra cookie, or scone, or muffin, or whatever other slew of terrible terrible food choices I have made in the last three months. I need to get back on track, and I need to get back on track NOW, otherwise I will regain all the weight and last year will have been for nothing.

I need to do this, I need to lose these 25 lbs. I need to stop taking days off of running when I don't feel like going. Yeah, so I make it about four times a week, but I need to run five times a week, with one or two days worth of cross-training. I have to work out six to seven days a week. Why because I want to hit 140. I want to fit into those clothes, I want people to look at me and say wow you look great, and people do tell me that now, but only because of what I used to look like.

Today I cracked as I was leaving work, I got a polar bear cookie and a caramel brulee late. The cookie had 440 calories, the late 310. That's 750 calories, right there and I was already at 1000, which would have been fine if I had just waited for dinner. Then I said fuck it, and got a bag of chips on my way home. Another 300 calories.

I've been doing this about once a week for the past couple of weeks, and it HAS TO STOP. This is what I used to do, this is the way I used to eat. The craziest part is I haven't eaten this way for a year and I haven't missed it. Eating well, and making healthy choices made me feel good, it made me feel powerful and capable and strong. I want to be that healthy person.

My trainer keeps asking me how the food thing is going and I keep being unable to tell him... somehow I'm sure he knows, my weight loss has totally stalled which means having him is a waste of money. Exercise is only half the battle. Food is the other half.

I need to be that healthy person. So I have to find that motivation again.

I'm going to have to start over with food because all my bad habits have returned. I need to refocus and think about what I want to feel like. I don't want to crash in the middle of the day because I've had too much sugar. I don't want to feel nauseous because all I've eaten in a day is processed crap. I want to feel good and powerful and strong and like I'm doing good things to myself.

I need to get it together. I need to get it together badly.