Sunday, September 30, 2012

My October goals

October is going to be a big month of goals and challenges. First, I have a two challenges to finish up:

1. Half marathon training -- I am signed up to run the Boulder half on the 21st of October. I am currently planning on a run/walk protocol. I had a horrible long run this past week but am not yet giving up. I know I can do it. I just need to stay focused.

2. One hundred pushup challenge -- I am on week 2 of the 100 pushup challenge. So far so good.

Here are my new ones I am starting tomorrow:

1. Whole 30 -- Basically, this will be a 30 day challenge of totally clean eating. My eating has been okay of late but not perfect. I definitely can benefit from eliminating some things from my daily food intake for the next month.

2. Logging my workouts -- I want to log my workouts on my blog so I can evaluate if I am slacking or pushing too hard. I want to be able to see how balanced (cardio versus strength) my workouts are. 

3. Decreasing my coffee consumption -- Over the past month, I have drank a lot of coffee. I just feel the need to back off a bit. I will see how I do, with the ultimate goal of eliminating it completely for a couple of weeks.

I am going to try to blog each day, which is not one of my goals because I am realistic about it and likely will not be able to do this. I want to have a record to review and analyze by the end of the month.

I look forward the challenge of October. What is one your list for the month?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Time for a confession

There are two times that I often let my choices for food not be the best. One is when I am traveling and I seem to be getting a handle on that. The other is when I am alone at home. Well, this weekend Tim is out of town and I am home (mind you with three very protective dogs).

In the past, this would have been a green light to go ahead and splurge on really horrible food choices. I can remember the frozen pizzas, chips and such, and other bad things somehow making their way into my grocery cart. It is true that often these things were the "healthy versions" of things that I know realize were not very healthy (like baked cheetos, the light version of a frozen pizza, etc.). After all, I wanted the comfort of the food without the bad health consequences. Little did I realize that many times these things could have been the worst choices.

One the way home from the airport, I did stop at the grocery store to pick up some grass fed beef that was on sale. I will admit that mind started to wander about what I could buy to "comfort" myself over the next few days. Of course, I know that bad food choices do not lead to comfort so I just told myself to put my head on straight and get what I came for and get out of the store. I did.

Now I will likely pack up a container of coconut aminos and go out for sushi one day as Tim is no longer big on sushi. I will stick to sashimi, which I prefer anyway and only have one sushi roll of some sort. I will get my planned workouts in (kettlebell tonight, 9 mile run tomorrow, a 5K downtown Saturday, and stair climbing on Sunday) and take the dogs out for walks. I did stock up on some healthy protein choices for home over the next few days. I have lots of veggies and my first honey crisp apples of the season.

I know that I can do this and do not need to go off the deep end with Tim gone for a few days. I just need to remember (as I did when I was on the last few road trips) that it is just not worth it. I love how great I feel these days. This is worth more than indulging in any food no matter how bright and shiny the wrapper or how "comforting" the box may appear.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stop putting qualifications on accomplishments...

Yes, I know I posted about skyrocketing confidence and that is still very true. My confidence is definitely at an all time high, but I have noticed something these past few months. I also have to qualify my accomplishments. You know what I mean, right? 

Rather than being proud of all I have done and where I am, I tend to downplay accomplishments or only see how far I still have to go. I need to realize that just a few years ago, I would not have been doing any of these things. I have had to change my mindset about things. I had to step way outside my comfort zone for many things. So, I am working on that inner voice that responds with these qualifications on accomplishments.

Perfection is not required. Progress is.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An unexpected side effect....

First, THANKS to all who commented or emailed on my last blog post. I still am in a bit of state of disbelief that I was able to run the whole 10K and I appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement.

Second, I had yet another epiphany when I was responded to someone about the 10K. It was all about the unexpected side effect of the growing confidence in who I am and who I am becoming. For me, this may be just as important, if not more important, then the better physical fitness I am working towards.

While running on my own has been something I have been working on and off with for the past couple of years, events were not something that were really on my radar...and certainly not the number of events I am challenging myself with over and over again. I certainly was never one to put myself out there on the physical front. 

I remember fretting over the first aqua aerobics class I went to at a local recreation center. I honestly did not think I was going to do it. I made an excuse that I did not a swimsuit that fit and would have to wait for the one I ordered to be delivered; however, I found one that fit in the back of dresser drawer. There was a class the next day and I knew I had to I went. This was in 2007 and I have continued to challenge myself over and over again.

After a few months at the rec center, I joined a 24 hour gym to have more pool options available. Soon I found myself doing Zumba, step aerobics, body pump, and other group classes. It was hard to walk into those first few classes as one of the biggest people in class but I soon found out that most people are really concerned more about what they are doing than who else in class (not universally true but I try to ignore the haters). I kept going to classes.

A year or so later I hired a personal trainer. I appreciated Shelby a lot but yearned for more challenge. It was at that time that I started my first Couch to 5K program. I even did an event (a Turkey Trot) but had a horrible experience. I honestly thought that would be the end of my signing up for events.

Then this thing called Groupon and Living Social came along. I bought one for a boxing gym. While I continued to do my cardio and weights at the gym, I also went to boxing or kickboxing classes five to six mornings a week. I loved it. I didn't feel odd going to class. I still stationed myself at the back but I went to class. I learned to hit and hit hard. I decided to keep trying new and different things. I was gaining confidence to try things and not to worry about what others thought.

The next offer I purchased was for 10 kettlebell classes. This was about a year ago now and I loved the workouts from the start. There is nothing like combining the strength training (and I want to be strong) with the intense cardio work. I knew I found something I wanted to continue to do so I signed up for more...and more.  I continue to do kettlebell classes now and love challenging myself to use heavier and heavier bells. I also met some people that continue to be important on my journey. These people helped enhance my sense of self confidence.

I read more and more about healthy eating and changed my lifestyle diet to include real food and avoid processed foods. I no longer dodged questions about what I was doing to be healthy or what I was doing to lose weight. I no longer felt compelled to follow what others thought I should do. I started to listen to my body and figure out what was best for ME.

During this time, I started running again. I started to sign up for events. The first one that I signed up for was a stair climb for the American Lung Association. It was 56 floors at the Republic Plaza in downtown Denver. Honestly, I signed up even though I thought it was impossible and that I would never finish. I trained. My friend Kristin helped me train. I finally decided that I would finish, even if it took me an hour. Well, I did finish and it took me less than half that amount of time. It was quite the accomplishment.

I did more events and I finished them. This included some 5Ks that I did not run completely but I still finished them. I did some more stair climbs and finished them as well. Then, as you read in my my previous blog, I ran a complete 10K. All the time, I felt confidence surging throughout my life. I am ready to challenge myself even more throughout the coming years. It feels good to gain this self assurance while I am gaining physical strength and health as well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I didn't expect to be so emotional about it...

A few days ago, I signed up for a 10K, Fans on the Field. This 10K snakes around Denver in and out of the three professional stadiums. I wasn't convinced it was a good idea as I have not successfully run a full 5K event. I can run on my own and have run up to about 7 miles on my training program for the half marathon; however, events always throw me off. It is for a good cause, National Sports Center for the Disabled, and I am always happy to help out organizations like this.

My friend Kristin was running it (her fourth time doing it) and said that she really liked the event PLUS if things were too bad, I could switch to the 5K if I needed to do so. So, I decided to challenge myself and signed up and the race was today. AND Tim said that he wanted to come to cheer me on. He has never mentioned coming to one of the events in the past and this meant so much to me.

Last night was an awful night of sleep. I kept waking up with various nightmares. The most frequent of the dreams was that they were shutting down the course before I reached the various checkpoints or that I wouldn't finish and disappoint Tim. I was up for hours throughout the night. With me being so restless, the whole family was as well (dogs and husband). It was not a good night. I woke up tired for the first time in a long time but I got up at 6:00 to get ready. I needed to leave by 6:30ish to meet Kristin to get to the run.

Tim also got up and got ready. He really was going to come and sit around for however long it took me to cheer for me at the end. This really meant a lot to me.

We met Kristin, got coffee and headed to Mile High (Broncos -- football), where the start line was. Getting out of the car, I dropped my coffee. Fortunately, I had drank a bit of it on the drive so I had enough to keep me going. Kristin and I walked over towards the event, leaving Tim behind as he was going to run some errands and then come back to see the end.

There were a LOT of people there. I hate crowds and, as we started to line up in the corals, I freaked out a bit. Thankfully Kristin was there and that calmed me down a bit. We also struck up a conversation with someone else from Wisconsin (I was wearing a "Somo Lake, Tomahawk, WI" tshirt). Before I knew it, we were off and headed around the stadium.

I did pretty good maintaining a pace that I felt I could manage as going out too quickly has always been an issue with me in a 5K. The first loop took us around the outside of Mile High. It was on an incline but not too bad. We then started down the streets towards the Pepsi Center (Nuggets -- basketball). Plenty of people passed me during this portion but I passed a few people too. 

I had my Garmin with me and I kept thinking, if I could make it 3.1 miles, I will have run a 5K. I just kept running. We went into the Pepsi Center, high fiving the Rocky the Nuggets mascot on the way in. There were a couple of basketball players there, encouraging us as we ran through. At least, I think they were basketball players as they towered over the crowd. My Garmin went crazy as I lost satellite reception in there but whatever. It was okay as it really is only a crutch and I had a timing tag for the event.

At this point, I am still running and it has been over 2 miles. We get past the break off point for the 5K and if I want to do a 5K, I must turn left; turning right will continue the 10K. I turn right.

My pace is slow but I know I can sustain it so I keep going. Now we head towards Coors Field (Rockies -- baseball). It is over two miles through the streets of Denver before we get to the field. I am not sure if I am going to make it or not. I pace myself with some people that are doing a run/walk strategy. When they run, they pass me. When they walk, I pass them. It is working well.

At several of the streets, there are police directing traffic. I keep hoping that they will have traffic stopped for me so I can keep running. I am not sure if I will be able to start again if they stop me. Fortunately, I never get stopped for traffic. I loved how smoothly this all worked. Finally, I see Coors Field. We run into the stadium and turn around a cone at the home plate. There was a baseball player there as well as someone I assume was a coach. Dinger the Rockies mascot was there for photo ops. The coach (?) high fived me as I turned the corner and I kept running. I wasn't there for photo ops.

Out of Coors and four miles were done! Now it was just making my way back to Mile High. Again, back on the streets of Denver and heading towards a bike path for the final mile plus of the run. I have run on the bike path previously and I was anxious to get to it as it was a known path for me and I thought it might help. It also helped that I saw a lot of people still running into the baseball stadium as I was on my way out. I wasn't going to be last and course was NOT going to be shut down on me.

Right before the bike path was a hill. There were a couple of other hills and inclines on the course. I had managed them quite well. This one had me worried as I watched it come closer and closer...but I was still running. I started up the hill and passed a couple of people that were walking the 5K course. I kept running until the final few steps when I slowed my pace for a few steps. I then told myself to get going. I really wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get running again but I did. I made it up the hill and knew that there was only one more small incline right before the finish when we were making our way into Mile High.

Finally, on the bike path, one of my first 5K's was on this path so I knew what to expect. My Garmin chirped and I was done to 1.2 miles to go. I started to think that five miles would be respectable but then I thought about this:

I think my pace may have slowed a bit so that I could continue to run and it was okay. I ran past the Children's museum and Elitch's amusement park. I kept thinking about how proud I would be when I could say that I ran every step of the 10K. I kept thinking about how great it would be to tell those people that have supported me in my fitness quest that I had made it.

Since we ran by the six mile mark on our way around the football stadium, I knew where it was. I knew that I had to make to the six mile marker. I just kept running. I wasn't fast (in fact, I probably could have walked faster) but my feet were moving. I was still pacing with the same run/walk team. Finally, I made it over the bridge to Mile High and the six mile marker loomed ahead.

My brain started to tell me that there was no shame in running six miles and I could walk the remaining length into Mile High. WTF???? There was no way I was going to do that. I told my brain to shut up and let my legs just keep moving. As we entered the stadium, we were put on the jumbo tron. I saw myself up there, all sweaty and such (although most of the wetness was from the fact that I would pour water over my head after taking drink at each water stop). I looked up and saw Tim in the stadium with Kristin. I waved and they waved back. 

This is where I got emotional and started to hyperventilate a bit. I knew I had to finish and it was only 50 yards or so to the finish line so wipe the tears and sweat from my eyes and ran. I forgot to turn off my Garmin when I finished and walked so I don't know how long that final split was but I felt like it was faster than most of my previous splits.

I walked through the stadium, picking up the race swag and meeting Tim and Kristin outside. It felt good. I cried when I saw Kristin and was able to say that I ran the whole thing. I cried when I saw Tim and was able to say that I ran the whole thing. I cried when I was able to text faraway friends that I had done it. I cried when I post to FaceBook that I ran every bit of the 10K.

I was so happy Tim was there. I hope he knows how much I appreciate the constant support he provides. He is truly my soul mate.

Getting home, my Garmin was a bit screwed up with the time in the stadium and such. Discounting those splits, my 1/4 splits ranged from a low of 3 minutes to a high of just over 4 minutes. Again, I knew I wouldn't be fast but I ran each step of this run (other than the three or four steps on the hill just before mile 5).

I guess I am becoming a runner!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pancake cravings

I awoke with intense cravings for pancakes this morning. I am not sure why but a lot of things have been bringing pancakes to the forefront lately. It started on my trip to Wisconsin where I did have bit of a childhood favorite (baked Finnish pancakes). I decided that I would indulge in a few things so as not to be overwhelmed with the feeling of deprivation. It worked well on my trip.

Friday, we went to breakfast after a long run to a place I have heard about from several people. I knew that choosing an appropriate menu item was going to be a challenge but I made a plan for a poached egg dish with some pico de gallo. I did order as planned. BUT the pancakes called my name. It did not help that the people sitting next to us at the bar had an order of sweet potato pancakes with ginger and pecan sauce. Still I made it through that day and did really enjoy my poached egg dish.

Then this morning, I awoke with intense cravings for pancakes. I picked up my nook and started to read a running magazine. Wouldn't you know that there was an article about pancakes and how many runners use them as a pre or post workout meal? I assure you that this article just brought all those pancake cravings to the forefront again.

I KNOW however that pancakes are not the answer to anything. I also know that consuming them will lead me some not so good feelings and intestinal I am choosing NOT to eat the pancakes.

I have been eating these paleo zucchini muffins of late. It is the first time I have baked a "paleo treat" of any kind. I did use less than half of the raw honey that the recipe called for and I have been using them as a pre workout meal in the mornings. I do know that they have given me a bit more energy on my morning run. I also know that at yesterday's stair climb, I kept moving and did not take a break until over 2/3rds of the rounds were done. Even at that point, the break was just a few seconds. I made it through in good fashion....not fast but consistent. It is possible that the high amount of cardio yesterday added to the cravings this morning.

So, I am still trying to figure out the right combination of cardio and carbs to balance my lifestyle. I know that as I train for the half marathon, I need to think about this in order to get the most out of my training. For now, I will stay away from the pancakes and that's okay.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How I survived a week in the northwoods...

I just spent a week in northern Wisconsin with friends and family. It was, of course, good to catch up with people that I have not seen in a long time. It was quiet and there was time for much solitude. All of this was good.

BUT more importantly, for the most part, I did well as far as my new lifestyle with my food and exercise went. Well, for the most part. I had a four plus hour drive from the airport to where I was staying. Instead of indulging in my usual "healthy" driving foods (baked cheetos, popcorn, sun chips, diet soda, etc.), I stopped at a Target off the highway and picked up foods that more appropriately fit into my lifestyle (bananas, lunch meat without nitrates and nitrites, almonds, and water). All in all, pretty successful.

Once up north, I introduced my parents to my hash made with yams, bacon (again without nitrites and nitrates), brussel sprouts, etc. I had good fresh fish from the lake. Primarily, I ate what I eat at home. I shopped for real foods and read lots of labels. When I indulged, I made the decision to do so and made sure it was worth it. For the most part, I stuck to my lifestyle changes; however, I did have a couple of emotional moments when I started to slip back into old patterns. I am happy to say though that I recognized the issue and know what set me off. I think that I can now deal with some issues that I never realized I had in my life. It was a learning experience.

I also ran and walked a lot. I went fishing. I did body weight exercises. Exercise was good. I enjoyed running by the river. It was quiet and peaceful. Some photos of where I ran.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was to be able to articulate the lifestyle changes I have been making and how much better I feel. However, that didn't happen. As far as people are concerned up there, I am just eating based on another weird diet. I tried to say that I am just choosing not to eat certain things and choosing things that are healthier. I am not sure the point was understood at all by my family.

I was also called "crazy" about all the working out I am doing...but that's okay. I guess I do post a bit too much about it on FaceBook and I am a bit crazy about it all. I enjoy it and do not want to give it up.

It was a long week but it was good in many ways. I am now home again and ready to get back to some normalcy in my life. I have run  again. I did stairs today as well as my first kettlebell class in over a week. Tuesday I have a stair climb to remember those firefighters that lost their lives on Sept. 11th. I am looking forward to being able to do this.