Wednesday, March 4, 2015

TCS New York City Marathon Drawing Day

The day of the 2014 NYC marathon lottery drawing started like it had for the last 3 prior years before. A feeling of hope, excited anticipation and desperate want filled my soul and getting that elusive golden ticket occupied my thoughts.

It's a day where I will obsessively check my email, NYRR account status and credit card statement dozens of times (I now know my AMEX number by heart) like a crack addict waiting to find out the location of my next hit and then the sinking, sickening feeling of getting no update, no obscene credit card charge to my credit card and the slow realization that this, again, would not be my year. The feeling of despair and (I hate to admit) envy as I saw people celebrating online like this:

"Wow! I'm so lucky!! Got in the lottery for the third time to run NYC!" 
"My credit card is charged! I'm in!"
"Who's running NYC with me!?"

And then the final, 'you're not in' nail was in the coffin upon seeing this message on the TCS NYC Marathon Twitter and Facebook page


Well. There was no charge on my credit card, so no dice. I was crushed. Truly crushed. My fourth year trying to get in and I just knew I was getting in. But I was wrong. I was literally in tears and took to social media for a little consoling from my friends.




But then, somehow, a miracle happened.  A big fat, "Miracle on 34th Street" and the rest of the city type miracle because just as I was giving up my dreams this popped up in my email:

Wait. What!!?


Best. Email. Ever.

And then to be sure I rushed to my NYRR account and there was this:


So start spreading the news... I'm running NYC, baby, and I couldn't be happier.




XO,
Jen 



Saturday, January 31, 2015

What I love about marathon training and other things

Hello!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Ground Hogs Day.

I know it's been a while. I'm a terrible blogger but I'm going to work on that.

Things have been going pretty good. It's been a great start to the year for me even though I fricken hate winter and cold. 

I've been marathon training and things are going well. I'm not doing anything crazy long yet (Last week and this week's long run is 10 miles) but it's been going good.

And dare I say I've even enjoyed the many miles... and those many miles have been on a treadmill! I've been able to manage treadmill boredom by really digging into stuff on Netflix.  My longest run on the treadmill was last week's 10 miler and I've been doing just about every other distance on there.  I'm actually learning to really like the treadmill. I don't have to worry about the elements or where to carry all my stuff. I just have to hop on and go. 

Ten Treadmill miles thanks to watching Dirty Dancing
#NoOnePutsMyTreadmillInTheCorner
Here's what I love about marathon training - once you start building those miles it becomes almost like a "light workout" to run 4 or 5 miles. There's something very cool about that.  I'm also loving the feeling of accomplishment as I check off these workouts. 

And I'm super proud of the miles adding up - this month I managed to run 84.27 miles WOW!! 100 miles!! - the most I've run possibly ever in one month. 

the first few days of the year wasn't included in this graph
so I actually ran a solid 100 miles this month on the nose! 
I am now just 'loosely' following the simply filling plan for Weight Watchers. I am still keeping an eye on portion but am just concentrating on eating as healthy as possible. I feel like that is working out for me. I've lost a few pounds over the last few weeks but I'm trying not to be scale obsessed. I had to lighten up, i was making myself nuts worrying about the scale. I'm running lots and eating well. This is enough for me right now and I'm at peace with it.

Other good stuff this month included getting a rough cut of the From Fat To Finish Line film done! The finish line on that is in sight and we are excited! :) I also got to have a little reunion time with my good friend Linda from Fricken' Fabulous At 40

And I tossed my hat into the ring for the NYC marathon lottery again. We'll see and fingers crossed. 

And finally I happened upon a pair of compression running pants from Old Navy on the clearance rack.  They are a little loud for me since I'm a 'stick to basic black' type of gal (OK once in a while I get crazy and wear grey) but at just $9.99 on clearance had to give them a shot.

actual legging purchased
I have to say these are great running leggings (even though both my hubby and son kind of looked at them funny as I left for my run today). They didn't fall down when I ran and the compression feels great. They are on the Old Navy website in black or grey for $29.99 (but there's a 20% off code right now - you type in SAVE at checkout).  I'm definitely going to pick another pair up. This actual turquoise-striped color pair is on sale for $19.99 on the website so I really got lucky finding them for $9.99!

How is your winter going? Find anything good that's running or training related lately?

XO
Jen

PS: The legging review is my own entirely, Old Navy has no idea that I bought them or reviewed them - however, Mr. or Mrs. Old Navy - if you are reading this, feel free to send me an old navy gift card or a free pair of black compression running tights in a large. That would be fab. Thanks!! ;) lol




Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Palm Springs Triathlon Race Recap

It's been a few weeks since my last post and thought I would take a little time on this Christmas Eve morning to catch up with you all.

A few weeks ago I participated in the H.I.T.S Palm Springs Triathlon. I was signed up for the OLY but I didn't train as hard as I should have and still new to a road bike, decided it best to drop to the sprint level.

Funny, I always feel the need to say "just the sprint." I have a lot of friends who might be able to do a sprint triathlon with their eyes closed but it's still really challenging to me - and around 2 hours of exercise. There's nothing 'just' about it.

Anyway - Palm Springs itself was interesting. I had never been there. There were some really gorgeous areas and some sketchy ones. I got to spend some time with friends Angela, her boyfriend Dave and our good friend Scott - all who were signed up for the half distance. On day one I volunteered the bike course and Angela and Scott headed out for their race (half and full distance was on Saturday and sprint / OLY on Sunday). That was an interesting experience. You have to run along side bikers as they are coming by to hand off water, an electrolyte drink or gels. The bikers generally shout at you what they need and you try to make the handoff. It was a little tricky at first but it was fun. In the few hours that I volunteered I had racked up over 10,000 steps on my fitbit!

Me in blue and the rest of the bike volunteer crew
Unfortunately, towards the end of my shift I got a call from Scott saying that he was unable to finish his race. He had a head-on collision in the water and suffered a concussion. He tried to press on through the bike and eventually had to call it a day - I headed back to hang out with him and wait for Angela and Dave. Thankfully he was woozy but OK.  Angela and Dave both finished. Angela loved her first experience with the half.

So I was up next.

half ready to TRI half ready to go back to sleep


Nice sunrise
THE SWIM
Sunday morning and an early rise time came and I was nervous but excited. I had to go through the worse part of my day which is the struggle into my wetsuit. Ugh. It takes a village and a lot of trislide to accomplish this feat. It's never pretty. The water was very cold so I was appreciative of that fricken wetsuit and luckily Angela had lent me some booties and a neoprene swim cap which really helped. The first part of the swim was weird. You could literally walk all the way out to the turn around. I would try to swim and my hand would hit the bottom or I would swim into someone who was just walking. Oh well. I worked it out. And then all of a sudden, when you round the buoy to come back it got really deep! I struggled a little bit in the water - I really have to figure out how to swim more efficiently. But all in all it was OK and I wasn't the last out of the water. In fact I think there was a bunch of people after me.

I look crazy - this pic is so funny to me
Look Ma - no hands! I made it! 
Then it was on to the bike. I really took my time in transition. I had no illusions of winning anything (more on that later) so I figured I'd dry off, have a snack, and just get it together. I think my t1 was absurd like nearly 10 minutes! I'm going to work on this in the future. It's a dumb way to burn time in a race. 

THE BIKE


I just got my first road bike a few months ago but never had the chance to really ride it outside. Just a half a block to the park to screw around with my seven year old, so I was a little nervous about the bike. Angela brought me hers to use for the race so I wouldn't have to haul my bike across the country. I am still not comfortable in clipless pedals so I used flat. It's a flat course so it wasn't an issue really. I'm a little slow and I do think that if I can get over my fear of the clipless pedals it would be better. I was happy that I didn't crash and it was a good experience over-all. Along with swimming I definitely have to work on a lot when it comes to biking if I want to continue to TRI.

The good news about not having bike shoes is that my T2 was considerably faster :) Nothing makes me happier in a tri than getting to the run part. I am almost home!

THE RUN
It's getting hot but I'm psyched for the run. Angela got a good picture of me heading out that I'm going to have to try to get from her at some point because I was looking strong! (Probably more relieved that I didn't crash on the bike but whatever.) I felt good. I wasn't running super fast but I did manage to pass a lot of people on the run. Since I was still at the back of the pack at this point, I figured that a lot of the people I was passing might've been stronger than me on the bike or swim but just not great runners. Since running is what I feel most comfortable at, I passed up the walkers and the walk/runners. I managed to run the entire distance (which turned out to only be about 2.7 of a mile according to my garmin... not the 5K as advertised. I was bummed at the shorter distance.)

Smiling as I'm heading for the finish! 
So I finish and wouldn't you know it that despite taking a lunch break during T1 I actually did win something. I came in SECOND PLACE in the Athena 40+ division! (The chubby older ladies division). WHHHHHHAAAT!? I've never received an athletic award in my life. I grabbed my plaque and ran away before the other chubby middle-aged ladies could demand a recount. :) 

yes, I have the whitest legs in the world
All in all it was a fun day. My swim was about 20 mins for 750 yards, bike was just under an hour for about 13 miles and run was around 29 mins for 2.7 miles. Not fast but not last and good enough for 2nd place. I have a lot of places I can improve on! 

BTW Angela placed in her division too! 


All in all the triathlon was a fun experience. I'm looking forward to doing it again.

The rest of the month has been a little up and down struggle in sticking to the WW plan. I went into that weekend pretty strong but since coming back it's been touch and go. I've decided not to really sweat it through the holidays. I'm keeping an eye on it, making good choices most of the time, getting in some exercise and not flipping out. 

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday!!! How are things with you?

XOXO 
Jen





Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Musings and Making a Comeback

So I'm three and a half weeks back on Weight Watchers and into Marathon training and things are clicking and feeling good. I feel like I'm on a comeback after a long stretch of nothing feeling like it was working.

This past Friday I had my weigh-in and I was down something small like .2 pounds. ALL GOOD. I wasn't even the slightest upset with the mini loss. First, I had lost a combined loss of about 7 pounds in the first two weeks which is a lot for me. Secondly the day before was Thanksgiving and I'm pretty sure that the extra sodium and wine wasn't helping my cause at the scale. As long as that scale is moving in the right direction I will take those .2 pounds proudly. :)

At this point even if I only lose .2 a week for the rest of my journey (annoying as that would be) I would be at peace with that. I'm feeling good. I'm exercising and moving often, eating right (for the most part), watching my portion size and doing a better job at hydrating. 

Starting line at Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving I kicked the day off with a turkey trot. It was a great day. I ran it with a bunch of girls from the running club I belong to and it was great to see those friends. I planned for this race to be pretty much incorporated in as just a general training day. I didn't 'race' per se but I found myself pushing the pace more than usual. It's a tough little 5K because it is very hilly and it's also pretty congested for the first half of mile or so. Lots of little kids and walkers 5 across. This would not be the race to try to PR at. However, even with all that said, I wound up running it faster than I've done a 5K in a long time.  I've been training at around 11'50 - 12'00 min. mile. My hope was to be around 11'30 in this race. I wound up doing better - an overall average of 10'31! I didn't expect that.  It was a beautiful run. A little chilly (but felt great once running) big fluffy snow flakes falling and in a beautiful upscale, Bergen county neighborhood. 

And talking about beautiful - check out these sexy splits: 

9'56!? Wow. Haven't seen that time for a mile in a loooong time! Woo!

After the race we went up to my parent's house for festivities. I did well. I 'counted' my points for all the indulgences and between my weekly points and the points I earned through activity had plenty to cover. I'm happy about how I handled things.

Of course, the irony is that I did well on Thanksgiving and then while visiting a friend on Saturday afternoon wound up falling face first into a bowl of chips, dip and a few glasses of wine. :/

Partially responsible for that empty dish of french onion dip
Ooops. The good news is that I had the points to cover the damage thanks to a six mile run that morning and I had just got all my weekly bonus points back. The bad news is it's not the way I wanted to uses those points. Oh well. Crappy food happens every once in a while and the fact that I was aware of what I was doing is the key. It's important that I acknowledge it so I can learn from it and also adjust my eating the rest of the week to compensate for the slip. 

This Friday I'm heading to Palm Springs to participate in a Triathlon. I am signed up for the OLY distance but I'm going to drop down to the sprint. I'm not trained for the OLY distance - I have been exercising but focusing on running. I just haven't been motivated lately to work on my swim or bike. I don't know what my problem is. Part of me really wants to love triathlon but the other part of me just feels overwhelmed by the idea of breaking my training up into three different things. Just running is so much easier for me to wrap my head around. I'm not giving up on it yet (I just bought that bike!) and I'm already signed up for the Pococnos OLY next year but triathlon definitely continues to be a challenge for me. 

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thanks to you all for your comments and to those who've sent me notes I appreciate it!

XO
Jen



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Talking Turkey, Weight Watchers and Running

Happy Thanksgiving!

So I'm into week three of marathon training already. It's a long-a$$ training program (24 weeks or something!) So far the runs have been manageable - a few 3 mile runs, a few 5 mile runs and I've been getting them all in - which feels great.

Beautiful park for running and eclectic collection of music getting me through the miles!

I'm aiming to run the New Jersey Marathon on April 26th. In case you didn't know, the New Jersey half marathon is what kicked off my whole "From Fat To Finish Line Journey" back in 2010. It was my first half marathon ever and what started me running.  I've run the half every year since and it's a very nostalgic and special race for me. 

I'm already signed up for it. To be honest with how crazy work has been I can't even guarantee I'll be in New Jersey to run the race! But the journey of training for a race is important so instead of not going for it, "just in case" I won't be here, I'm training. If I can't do that one I might find an alternate race around that time. We'll see. I am just finding a need to have a big goal and challenge right now. 

I'm also well into week 3 of doing the Simply Filling Program (a weight watchers plan) and it's been awesome. My first week I lost 5 pounds and last week I lost 1.6 - almost 7 pounds in two weeks! That's really solid for me. It's been a period of making some changes. The biggest sacrifice has been giving up my nightly cocktail. There's been a few cases of, "I could really use a glass of wine" that I have passed up. I'm pretty sure that the alcohol was a big part of my weight gain and weight loss stalls. I am trying to adhere to a "drink only on a holiday or Friday/Saturday" rule and limit it to one or two tops.  I've also been writing down what I eat and keeping an eye on portions - even of healthy foods. 

However, I also eat when I'm hungry. And that's what I like about the program. Not only can you eat but it doesn't have to be limited to just fruits or veggies. You could grab a bowl of black bean soup or have a little chicken breast with some sweet potato. Tons of whole, good for you foods are options. That makes me happy.

I am proud of myself because I've been striving to make good choices. Yesterday I conquered a challenge. I occasionally work as a freelance producer for a YouTube cooking show. During the course of the day we make 6 - 8 recipes and usually they are pig-out days. Not only do we eat what we make but the company also brings in a really impressive spread of food for lunch. Yesterday I didn't eat the food from the shows and for lunch I had a salad along with something I brought from home. I didn't feel deprived like I thought I might. I felt accomplished. If I felt hungry I took out one of my snacks (like yogurt or a banana). This was a major victory for me. 

On the cooking show set - all smiles no over-eating! 
I weigh in on Friday morning (which is the day after Thanksgiving this week.) And I'm not sweating it.

I've been eating good and exercising consistently. I'm doing it right. My plan for Thanksgiving is to eat moderately and indulge a little bit in seasonal foods that are worth it to me. I have saved some points and earned some activity points so I should be covered. Realistically I know that when I step on the scale on Friday that it might be artificially up simply because of the sodium and foods I eat (and the wine that I will be drinking) on Thanksgiving. I'm going to weigh in and not put too much stock in it - if I happen to show a loss, well, that would be awesome but I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't show one. I know I just have to keep eating well and exercising. 

For as rocky and tough it's been the last year or so weight-wise, I'm at peace with it right now. I don't want to sound like a spokesperson for Weight Watchers (I am not. Though if they'd like to throw me a few bucks we can talk ;) ) but this Simply Filling Program is so good for me mentally. It just brings me back to common-sense eating with a good balanced approach - with a little wiggle room for treats. So far so good. We'll see.

Tomorrow I'm running my very first 5k Turkey Trot. I'm kind of looking forward to it and kind of not. It looks like it's gonna be cold and today it's snowing but I am excited to start the day off right with a good run with friends. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! How are you doing? Are you doing a turkey trot? 

XO
Jen 






Monday, November 17, 2014

Getting My Groove Back: Week 1 Recap

A week ago I wrote a post, "It's A New Day" and so far it's been good. 

Here are the results for week one... (cue confetti) In the first week I dropped five pounds! Yippee! 

Pretty unheard of for me!  I am usually lucky if I drop .5 pounds in a week.

To be fair I started off probably artificially elevated a pound or two in water weight because the day before my last week's weigh-in I flew across the country and then ended the day with Chinese food. But still, I'm pretty sure it was at least a solid 2.5 weight loss and I will gladly take that! :) 

For the first time in a long time I feel like not only am I back on track but that I'm not going to fall off track so easily. I know there will be blips and set-backs but not for weeks or months like what has been going on.

In that last post I reported that I was returning to Weight Watchers and focusing on the "Simply Filling" technique. Going that route has proven to be such a great call! I'm not sure why I hadn't thought to go back to that sooner - I did lose most of my weight following "Core" which was Weight Watchers first version of Simply Filling. 

I'm loving it. I'm loving it for all the reasons it worked the first time. The program is basically based on eating healthy foods until satisfaction with a little room for indulgences along the way. If you're hungry, eat something that is on the approved list or use your weekly points. No need to ever feel hungry on this program. It's been great. I also started week one of Marathon training - nothing too stressful - a 4 mile run, two 3 mile runs and one five mile run. Got the runs in and some strength training. 

I just kind of finally had a 'did things right' sort of week. I drank more water, I didn't drink alcohol during the week (I left my wine behind during the week but definitely enjoyed on Friday and Saturday), I wrote down my foods, and made a real effort to make good choices even in tricky situations. 

newest member of my household
silly but it's making me drink more water! 
For example, on Friday I had this thing with work and we had a pre-set menu to choose from for me (as a gluten free person) I could have gf pizza, gf pasta primavera, gf penne with vodka sauce, a cheese burger with no bun and fries, or a grilled chicken caesar salad. Now trust me, this is a really good Jersey Italian place and I know their pizzas and pastas are awesome. In the past even if I was trying to watch it, I would've just jumped for the pizza or pasta but I also know that if I did these meals would eat up most of my weekly extra points. 

I decided to get the caesar salad (no crutons) dressing on the side. I will not lie. As my co-workers received plates of pasta and pizza and I got my little dry salad with chicken, I had pangs of regret and food jealousy. But then I started to eat my little salad and it was tasty and I got full and felt good. No  it was not as tasty as penne with vodka sauce but you've gotta decide what you want in the big picture every once in a while. A mid-day work-lunch was not where I wanted to use 'indulging' points. And I also passed on the cheesecake and requested a plate of fruit. I'm happy I made that choice. 

delicious lentil soup I made for some easy SF lunches
RECIPE HERE 
Those were the types of choices that I used to regularly make years ago (2007-2010) when I lost my weight. Those choices become easier and easier as you make them. I am realizing that this weight crept up because I forgot about doing all that. I got too comfortable going for the delicious choice rather than the healthier one. I had fallen back into the habit of indulging perhaps more than I realized. If this lunch was two weeks ago, I  would've had the pasta and the cheesecake. I would've thought my pretty healthy breakfast and pretty healthy dinner (with a martini) "wasn't so bad" and scratch my head as to why I keep gaining weight. 

So, sometimes an old dog has to relearn old tricks. Guess that's just how it goes on. The journey never ends. :)

How are you doing? 

XO
Jen

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's a New Day

Why yes I have disappeared off the face of the earth for a bit.

Sorry about that.

It's been a time of reflection for me. I've been humbled by a gradual weight gain that I've been trying to nip in the bud.

My run has slowed, my jeans are a little bigger.

I have tried a few diets to get a kick-start loss but it seems I lose five and gain back 6. Kind of like how it seems to go for people. 

I guess the overall problem is I wasn't paying attention and I let a few bad habits come back.  I was in denial about that because I still exercise and eat pretty clean for the most part. This weight didn't come from all of a sudden scarfing a pint of ice cream every night or slopping mayo on everything. The weight has crept up because of the handful of potato chips a few times a week instead of salad with lunch. Or the extra piece of cheese on something instead of being cheese free. Oh and the nightly glass of wine after my son goes to sleep probably hasn't helped either. 

For a minute I felt doomed. I blamed my age and just kind of accepted that being 25 pounds overweight is the new me and I should just deal with it.

Ha. NO. I can't accept that. 

Right after eating about 10,000 calories worth of Chinese Food on Sunday night I get this.
Oh. Good news.

For a long time I thought to myself, "but I train now. I should be able to have a glass of wine or a slice of cheese." Yes. I should but only depending on how hard I'm training and how often I'm eating the foods. If I'm having one slice of cheese in the morning, a few chips at lunch and a glass of wine a night that's 350 extra calories a day -2,450 calories a week! Without thinking much about it, then add a nibble of chocolate or a healthy heaping of guacamole to dinner and well - this is how the weight creeps back. Something has to give (or be given up) so I'm buckling down and cleaning up my act. And I do not mean I'm hard-core dieting per se. I'm revisiting the idea of balance and moderation. I have to get on a scale once a week. I have to track my food. I've decided to go back to what helped me take the weight off originally and that was Weight Watchers. More specifically the "Simply Filling" technique.  Of course back when I was losing my weight it was called "The Core" program. 

I like this program. It's based pretty much on clean eating and you don't have to count many calories or points. You base your meals around "power foods" (most lean proteins, veggies, fruits, whole grains, fat free dairy and a little healthy fat like olive oil) and then you get 49 'points' for the week and can earn even more points through activity. You use those points for treats - like if you want a glass of wine, some cheese or something that's not on the power food list (I like to try to use some of my points for healthy stuff that's a little more caloric like avocado in my salad.) 

FYI wine is 4 pts. for 5oz. :) 

You don't weigh or measure your food, you eat until satisfied. I am not sure why I haven't gone back to this sooner. I lost my weight with the core program. I like that I don't have to obsess about serving sizes and can eat if I'm hungry - it gave me structure without feeling suffocated. Anyway... 

This is what my day looked like yesterday: 

Breakfast - 2 scrambled eggs, 1/2 cup of black beans and salsa on a corn tortilla (certain corn tortillas like "Mission white corn" are considered a power food - so the whole breakfast was Simply Filling)

Snack - banana

lunch - steamed shrimp and broccoli with brown rice and a cup of egg drop soup (2 pts for the soup) 

pre-workout snack - small lean turkey burger (no bun) topped with salsa

Run 4 miles - (earned 6 activity points) 

Dinner - Lean pork chop, steamed broccoli with 2 tsp. of olive oil, sweet potato with 1 tsp. of ghee. (1 pt. for ghee).

snack - 1 tsp of cashew nut butter (licked off the spoon lol) 1 pt. 

= used 4 points for the day (And by the way if I was hungry during any part of this day I could've eaten more - and anything on the Power Foods list - like ff greek yogurt with fresh strawberries might've been another snack or a cup of homemade lentil soup - I could've also used points if I wanted a non power food treat.)

Now this day isn't "WW perfect" technically the plan calls for 2 servings of FF dairy to fulfill the guidelines they provide. 

You might remember that I did Whole30 earlier this year and some of you might wonder why I don't go back to that. Looking back I felt it was a bit restrictive for me. I think it's a decent plan and I know many who are successful on it. I enjoyed my journey while on it but it's a lifestyle too and not the lifestyle for me at this time. I lost a few pounds with Whole30 but because I felt a little deprived on it, gained the weight right back. 

I like the WW Simply Filling Program because I can strive to eat healthy most of the time but use a few points on indulgent foods and drinks too. I have kept a few of the habits I got from Whole30 like using ghee, eating avocados, using cashew nut butter, etc - I just don't use them without abandon and keep an eye on the servings. And even though WW considers fat free cheese and some other processed foods "power foods" I, myself, will be avoiding the few processed items that make the list. I'd rather spend the points on a real piece of cheese for taste and I try to avoid foods with ingredients that I cannot pronounce. 

I'm on day 3 of the program now and feel happy. I'm not hungry, I'm eating foods I enjoy and for the first time in a long time I feel like I'm truly back on a good tack. For the first time in a long time I'm not afraid about the future of my weight and feel positive again. 

In other news - I started day one of a new marathon training program. 24 weeks until race. 

24 weeks to go, 25 pounds to lose and 26 miles to run...

It's a new day. I'm back on my path and once again going 'From Fat To Finish Line.' ;)

XO
Jen