Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Long Branch NJ half marathon race report: Five years of VICTORY!

I'm so happy right now.

It's two days after running my five year anniversary of running the NJ Long Branch half marathon. This was the half marathon that started me on my running journey. What a changed person I am because of that first race.

I will tell you that this year was a great race for me.

It wasn't my fastest. Nor my most trained for but it was such an amazing day.

I went out there with the intent of just enjoying it. The last few years have been tough. I've battled cramping and pain in the later miles of my halves so I guess I've let the negative thoughts really seep in.

Getting ready to run with a few friends :) 

A few weeks ago I found myself already worrying and kvetching about pain and cramps and through talking to my friend Angela and also a little self reflection, realized that I was losing the mental battle big time. And I've been losing it for the last few years. I had no chance of ever enjoying a decent race again if I couldn't take control back on that front. I made up my mind to no longer hate but embrace. Pain was going to come. I had no choice in that but I had a choice in how I could react to it. Previously I had been 'crying' about it and letting it defeat me but now I made a new choice. I chose to embrace it, to welcome it, to say to myself, "this pain will make me stronger" and smile at it. If pain is inevitable then I have to do something about it.  I could let it crumble me and continue to limit me or I could mentally raise my threshold for pain. That simple. 

Yes and when the pain started to come I smiled and welcomed it.  I took it as a sign of getting stronger and more accomplished rather than weakness. 

And because I did that, this was a great race. Instead of hobbling those last few miles I smiled during those miles and let the pain propel me. I knew that I would make it through. I believed again - where  in the last few years I doubted and feared. And it wasn't that painful. I was sore and tight - as most would be after running 13 miles. But I wasn't going to die and I reminded myself that it's normal to feel like that! If it was easy and totally comfortable everyone would do it! It's what makes running these things special - it's why you can proudly take that medal and feel victorious at the finish line. 

What doesn't kill you...

I also didn't over-hydrate. I think that trying to "fix" the pain led me to drink too much water in the days leading up to the race in years past - I think that this over hydration did harm by throwing off my electrolytes so I drank moderately (a touch more than I usually would but nothing crazy.) I think that helped too.

So race day was great. It started brisk but was generally perfect temps throughout the race (sunny and low 50's). I was running with my friend Kerry who is generally super speedy but was slowing it down. She has a half Ironman in June and is recovering from an injury. her slower pace matches the pace I wanted to do this race so it was perfect. We ran mostly, but per the advice of her coach,  walked  through every water station and walked a few times when her injury was acting up, we even stopped to take pics and use the potty. My time on Nike was 11:38 (2:37 half) pace and I'm very happy about that (it pauses when stopped). That was our 'moving' time. Our official time was 12:07  per mile 2:42 / but with all the walking, pic taking and the potty break - I'm good. Especially considering last year's race was long at 3 hours!

Kerry and I pre-race 

I ran my race Sunday. 

And in bigger news - On a whim, I signed up for the FULL marathon next year while at the expo. And I'm excited. I know that 26.2 is going to be tough training both physically and mentally for me but I'm ready to bring it on... 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dealing with Scale Fail

I know I haven't been the best blogger ever lately and I'm sorry about that. I've been struggling with a few things and just haven't known where to start.

Coming off the very exciting Runner's World thing I am feeling a little conflicted.  I am proud of the accomplishments that I have had and the magazine experience was awesome. It was so cool to see my picture and story in my favorite magazine.  I am proud that I've mostly kept the weight off since 2010 and I'm proud of my journey - but what's making me feel so conflicted is some weight gain. It's been happening it's kind of panicking me.

I am 15 pounds higher than my lowest weight, 10 pounds over my Weight Watcher goal weight and 6 pounds over the weight that I was in the RW article and it really is scaring the crap out of me. Up until a few months ago I had been able to "hold between 147 - 151" and I was OK with that but now I find myself flirting with 160 and it's freaking me out.  Over the last few months I can't seem to hold steady and the scale continues to creep up. I'll have a week where I will "buckle down" and shed a pound or two, only to be away from home on business again or thrown off track the next week and back up again. I know I'm eating a little more, having another drink here and there and not maybe running quite as much as I had been in years past. (A tough winter and being on the road to film the show has definitely made things more challenging. And perhaps being closer to 42 years old rather than 38 or 39 when my weight loss was happening isn't helping either?) 

And I'm not freaking out because of the 160 number per se. I don't mean to insinuate that number means someone is fat or not. When I was 255 I enthusiastically rooted for the day that I'd be 180. Yes, clothing feels tight and I'd rather be 150 but I'm not completely miserable at 160. My fear is that the upward spiral will continue, that this is a runaway train headed back to a place I don't want to visit. 

trying to keep this in mind on days where I'm beating myself up

It is annoying. I thought I had this shit conquered. I vowed not to be a "gain back the weight" statistic. And while it's not 100 pounds back, and it's not too much percentage wise, it's really enough to get me feeling yucky about it. It's a daily, constant unease that I can't shake. 

On top of it because of the magazine, I'm getting emails from people looking for inspiration and I feel completely like a fraud. How can I espouse advice when my running pants waist band digs into my belly and with every pound gained my running pace gets slower? 

Interestingly right after the magazine article came out I went on Twitter and discovered that I had THREE twitter impostors!! Three strangers out there created profiles, using my name, my picture and even my "twitter bio description"! It was weird because I don't have the hugest blog following (though the quality of those of you who do follow is stellar ;) ) and I couldn't understand why I would have people posing accounts as me. 

one of the fake twitter people (even stole my wall paper)
My actual twitter account is: https://twitter.com/FatToFinishLine

For a brief moment it struck me ironic because while these people were trying to pose as me, some weight loss success story, I was struggling with feeling like an impostor myself. 

But I don't want to feel like that anymore and I need to stop the weight gain train so I have to figure it out and get it together. 

I do have some ideas for getting back on track and I'll be employing them - nothing fancy - eating cleaner, drinking less alcohol, exercising more, the usual. I will not give-up without a fight. I guess my bigger issue to tackle (even bigger than the weight) is how horribly I'm letting it mess with my head. I have to admit I'm more worried and preoccupied with it than I should be. I definitely am falling into the trap of letting it get under my skin and that's not good. This is contrary to the advice I would give someone else. 

So here's the advice I would give to someone in my shoes:

1. Leave no mile behind. Whether it's an hour or ten minutes get some kind of daily activity in.
2. Eat as clean and lean as possible and eat smartly so you never get to the point of 'starving.'
3. Drink lots of water. 
4. Add strength training.
5. "Track points" or count calories - not to be obsessive but to have an idea of how much you are eating and where your calories come from and if there's someplace you can cut unnecessary calories.
6. Surround yourself with 'birds of a feather' to keep motivation up and for reliable support when you need it.
7. Set goals that force you to move forward and challenge you.
8. Strive for good health always - nourish your body.
9. Cook it at home! Don't order out or eat out more than once or twice a week. (If possible.) 
10. Limit alcohol and empty snacks. Make your snacks meaningful - fruits, veggies, nuts, foods that nourish.

Yep. I'm not reinventing the wheel here people - mostly simple advice that's not so simple to always follow but I'm going to try! 

By the way, even in the face of the annoying gain I've got things to celebrate - I've signed up for a few Triathlons, joined a tri-club, I'm getting ready for another half marathon in a few weeks (did 8 miles today!) And while I may be a little slower I'm still a runner no matter what size pants I'm in. 

How are you doing? What advice would you give someone in my shoes?