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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The next Team Challenge challenge

In the weeks since the half marathon I've been taking it a little easy work out wise.  Well, that apparently needs to stop because weigh in yesterday was not pleasant.  I had a couple of days where I went over my daily points target and the things that pushed me over were delicious but it really reaffirms that I need to be more active.  On that note, I noticed it started snowing yesterday for a little while with the big white fluffy flakes and so I changed clothes and I headed out for a run.  My original goal was 3-4 miles at a comfortable pace but the route I ran had me a little over 4 miles before I was home.  Since I was so close to 5 miles I took the long way home and ended up at 5.09 miles in 54:17 for a 10:34 pace (a really good pace for me, especially considering the distance).
Oh, how'd this half marathon photo
get into this post?  :)

I'm sure you're wondering what that has to do with the next Team Challenge challenge?  I'm going to be a mentor for the next half marathon season!  The team is training to run a half marathon in Chicago in June and I'll be there - running, cheering and making more new friends.  I am super excited, both to train with the team again and to run the race in Chicago.  I am REALLY looking forward to donning my Team Challenge singlet again to get another chance at running a half marathon.  I believe it'll also help me stay active over the spring/summer.  That's the goal at least!  

Would you consider training with Team Challenge?  You can!  I might even be your mentor!  Information sessions start in February and you can train for Chicago, Napa to Sonoma, Kona, Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon, Tri-Rock San Diego or Rock 'n Roll Edinburgh!  For those that aren't local to Chicago please considering joining a team in your area.  There are fabulous coaches and mentors (many who cheered me on in Vegas!) from all over the country.  Please check them out!

So, will you look for an information session?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seven Layer Cookies

Pre-baked cookies
Seven Layer Cookies
PointsPlus Value Per Serving:  1
Makes:  24

2 large bananas
2 servings (80 grams) uncooked oatmeal
2 T Better 'n Peanut Butter
1 serving coconut
2 servings (30 grams) Ghiradelli Mini Chocolate Baking Chips
15 grams Honey Maid Li'l Squares Graham Crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all ingredients in bowl and use mixer to mix well (if you aren't using a mixer then mash the bananas before adding the other ingredients)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Form 24 cookies into loose "balls" and place on pan
Bake for 15-18 minutes

Since all bananas are different sizes if the dough seems too runny add more oatmeal.

I found a two ingredient cookie recipe before Thanksgiving and they were good but I wanted something more.  Then I saw someone post a note about wanting to find a replacement for Seven Layer Bars.  Seven Layer Bars are a combination of a bunch of toppings (like those in this recipe) held together with sweetened condensed milk.  This recipe isn't exactly the same flavor as the bars but they are a pretty good alternative, in my opinion.  I've also "frosted" them with some Cool Whip Frosting Creations Cream Cheese Frosting (add 1 PP per Tbsp) and they are even yummier.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Before (actually about 2 weeks
after starting Weight Watchers)- July 2010
The weight loss milestones seem to take longer to reach as I get closer and closer to my goal weight.  I don't really mind because I have other goals that I want to hit along the way but it seems like forever since I wrote about losing 175 pounds way back in April.  However I am delighted to share with you that I've lost 200 pounds, actually 205.6 to be exact.  I can't even believe that this has been possible.  I also can't remember the last time I was at this weight.

After (actually a few weeks after I crossed the
200 pounds mark) - December 2012
I think it's clear that the amount of activity I've been getting in while training for the half marathon has been the most likely reason (aside from the healthy eating of course) since I really had to amp up the work outs.  Before the half marathon I was working out 6 days a week either running (distance, speed or recovery runs), biking (my choice of cross training), and/or strength training.  It's strange how your mindset changes regarding activity.  I remember when I started running and I'd run for 30-45 seconds that I thought I would die by the end of the workout.  

This time after the half marathon is an odd time.  I'm trying to let my body recover from the trauma caused by running a half marathon but balancing recovery with trying to stay active for weight loss is hard.  Not having a training plan also seems more difficult than I'd imagined.  Luckily, it won't be long before training will "start" again since my next half marathon (yep - next!) will be in April!  It won't be the same since I won't be training with Team Challenge (this time) but I'm hoping that it will go as well and really have me prepared for the next big race.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reality Check

Since the last post I've had some time to think.  During the half marathon while I was walking I swore that after the race I wouldn't be disappointed about the race.  My mentor tried to convince me that I'd finished the half marathon but I didn't really want to hear it at that moment (sorry Run-stine).  After I got home and spent more time thinking about it I realized I wasn't disappointed I was angry at myself for not finishing stronger.  Until I talked to Mark (my cousin who ran the same race) and he reminded me that it wasn't all about the race.  He sent me this quote:
The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure.
These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.
-Vince Lombardi
He also told me that he signed up to run the race so that he could be there to celebrate the journey with me.  We'd traded email/text/phone calls during our training and the messages were pretty similar.  We couldn't believe how far we'd come.  It should come as no surprise that we were both astonished at how well we did during our 10 mile runs.  Prior to 8-10 months ago we weren't runners.  At all.  The fact that we've come this far is an amazing journey.  When the going to rough we didn't quit - even on race day when everything hurt I didn't stop, I didn't wait for the sag wagon to pick me up.  I covered the distance and that is remarkable.

I'm sure you're wondering why I'm telling you this?  Well, it's two-fold really.  For one, people don't necessarily talk about how hard a half marathon will be.  There is talk of how great it will be and you'll feel so great when you cross the finish line.  That's all true, don't get me wrong, but the big part is that it doesn't matter HOW you cross the finish line that matters.  Whether you run, walk or crawl the fact that you did it all is the part to celebrate!

The other reason I'm sharing this is because the theme at the Weight Watchers meeting is about routines.  It seems easier to adapt a new routine (e.g. pack a snack) than to stop being so hard on myself about things that I think don't measure up.  So that's the routine I'm going to work on (see how this all comes back to what I learned at Weight Watchers this week?) to try to be better to myself.

What routine do you want to work on?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Scales are confusing

After my other long runs (the 15K and the 10 mile) the next weigh-in was always disappointing because I gained.  I tried to rehydrate and refuel in moderation but I always gained.  As I'm sure you're aware I ran most of a half marathon over the weekend.  No?  Oh, go read my race recap.  It's edge of your seat, nail bitingly fun!  After the race we ordered room service (it was so-so but not great) and I enjoyed my birthday cupcake from the team while I sat in the ice bath (that's one way to make an ice bath instantly awesome).  We split a scone in the airport and a protein bar I'd gotten at the expo.  The only other thing I ate all day on Monday was fruit that I'd gotten from Mom before we left. Thank god Tina has talked about the snacks she takes through the airport because I packed my carry-on with plenty of fruit so I'd be able to have healthy snacks in the airport and on the plane!

On Monday, after traveling all day, I was not looking forward to trying to plan out a meal.  Frankly I was just exhausted so cooking (even if we'd have had food in the house, which we didn't) was a non-starter.  We decided to go fetch our dogs from our friends and stop at Chipotle on the way home.  Once home Dan opened a bottle of wine and I thought that since I'd likely gain anyway I might as well make the wine my celebratory "I finished a half marathon" drink.  Yes, I've matured so much since living this plan for the last 2.5 years!

So imagine my surprise when I got on the scale yesterday and my leader said that I lost weight!  WHAT?  Yes, I lost 0.6 pounds and I have no idea how.  I mean I know I had the race but I also know that I ate/drank more Points+ than I should have per day and struggled to get in all the good health guidelines.  So I guess the scale is still a mystery to me...  YIPPEE!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

RACE RECAP: Zappo's Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon

Life needs more cowbell
How do I sum up a race that I've been nervous about and looking forward to for six months?  I'm not entirely sure but I'm going to give it my best shot.  Six months ago I met Coach Barbara from Team Challenge on The Dr. Oz Show as part of the Transformation Nation Million Dollar You contest.  When I met her I was excited to train with a team and nervous about trying to run a half marathon.  I am absolutely in love with the fact that I trained with Team Challenge and would recommend that everyone do it (I'll tell you why in a minute) if you have any interest in training for a longer distance run.  So, here's what happened over the weekend.

Friday:  Dan and I flew to Las Vegas, took a shuttle bus to the hotel and grabbed a quick lunch.  We met up with my Team Challenge team to walk to the expo so we could pick up our bibs/race packets.  This was the first major race expo I'd been to and I was overwhelmed with the amount of exhibitors there.  I was excited to see new products and try a few samples.  I had no idea we'd been walking around the expo for nearly 2 hours - no wonder I was starting to get tired!  As we headed back to our room my mom called (they drove to Las Vegas to support me) so we walked to their hotel.  Mom had brought a ton of snacks and drinks for us so we went to gather them.  We came back to the hotel, enjoyed some of those snacks (she brought A LOT!) while chatting with Mom, Dad and my cousin Jane before heading downstairs to dinner.  Since Friday was my birthday I'd made reservations at Public House.  We met up with more family members, Mark (who was also running the half marathon) his wife Paula, Craig and his fiance Marina.  Dinner was super yummy and I was thrilled to be able to celebrate with everyone.

Yes, that's a cookie in the background
for post-race celebration!  Thanks Dad!
Saturday:  Dan and I met up with Team Challenge Illinois to head out on a short (30ish minutes) group run.  It was my last official Team Challenge training run and I was both excited (because we were running in Las Vegas) and sad (because it was the last group run).  When we were finished we headed to brunch with the group, which is really the best way to end a run!  After brunch we walked back to the hotel to get cleaned up before meeting up with Mom and Dad.  They'd been walking around all day and said that the Wynn (where everyone else was staying) was beautifully decorated so we decided to have dinner there.  We walked through Wynn and I was in awe at the decor - it was so beautiful.  Elegant and classy are not two words that I think of in Las Vegas but the Wynn made it just that.  We met up with Mark, Paula, Craig, Marina and Jane for dinner at Allegro.  Unfortunately, Dan and I were both pretty tired so we headed back to our hotel.  When I got back I found that my team had left me a belated birthday cupcake!  I laid out all of my race gear so I'd be ready for Sunday.

Pre-Race Interview with Coach B
Sunday:  Dan and I headed to Grand Luxe Cafe to meet Team Challenge Illinois for breakfast.  After breakfast I went back upstairs to lay down while Dan went in search of a place to watch the Bears game.  About 30 minutes later I got a major surprise - my sister and brother-in-law flew in to watch the race!  After some more resting it was time to get ready.  I was glad that I had everything laid out because it was easy to put things on and not feel rushed about it.  Once I was dressed we headed down to the lobby where Coach Barbara and I were interviewed by CCFA (how cool is that?!) and to meet my team for team photos.  
Mark and Me
He finished the race in 2:29:49
He's 100% badass awesome for that
(and more)
Then it was time to head to the bus for our ride to the start line.  Once we got there we headed to gear check, I hit the port-o-potties and then we started making our way to our corrals.  Even though the crowd at the start village was HUGE somehow Mark and Paula found me so I had someone to hang out with pre-race.  It was windy at the start village so I was glad that I'd brought a long sleeve t-shirt to wear while waiting to start.  The corrals were marked, however there wasn't any separators between the corrals so somehow we ended up lining up with 28 (our designated corral) but started with 30 - whoops!  The course started near Mandalay Bay and ran down past the airport.  This part was slightly brutal because the wind was really whipping and it was blowing a lot of sand around.  I tried to keep up with Mark (or at least keep him in my sights) but I'd lost him around the first water stop.  The crowds down by the airport were sparse but as I neared the hotels on the strip the crowds were there - and they were loud.  It was so awesome!  People were cheering for Team Challenge - whether they knew you or not they were screaming for you (this is why I think being a TC half marathoner was the best way to train!) and it gave me motivation to keep running.  Someone noticed my name (which was on my singlet) and shouted for me which was so cool!  I had a little trouble with my headphones because I was using a pair that I didn't train with.  They were earbuds with detachable pieces to go over my ears.  Unfortunately one of those pieces detached so I carried it because I didn't want to lose it.  Obviously, this is why you don't try new stuff on race day!  When I saw my family along the route I passed it off to them - thanks for hanging onto that for me!  

So I have to describe my first cheering squad.  Craig, Marina, Brenda, Alex and Mom were hanging out around mile 3 or 4 - I think but am not sure.  The first person I saw was Marina standing on the median screaming her head off - seriously she is the cutest little person ever and she was yelling and cheering.  I saw Craig holding out his hand for a high five but all he got was my ear bud piece (sorry dude, next time?).  Brenda and Alex were cheering crazy mad and since they have both run half marathons they knew how I felt.  Mom was cheering and blowing kisses.  I'm not sure who had the cowbell but I heard that thing clanging and it was awesome!  I kinda wanted to stay and hang out for awhile with these amazing people but I had more miles to run.  

Just shy of the 10K mark
Lots of things had started hurting by this point
There was more cheering from random strangers and I tried to wave or smile at them.  I thanked the water station volunteers (even though I was carrying water I grabbed some at the stations to sip because it was colder than mine) because they were cheering like crazy too.  I don't really remember much else until I got nearer to Stratosphere.  Dan had texted me and told me where he was so I started scanning the crowd for him.  I spotted Paula and her pom-poms first and Jane next.  I saw Dan (who was taking photos) and Dad who was yelling his head off.  Dan said that Dad saw how much the runners responded to his cheering and it made him yell louder!  Incidentally both of my parents were practically hoarse the next day.

I stopped shortly after this point to retie my shoes - why do they always loosen up as I run?  I ran until I hit the 10K mat and then started walking.  I just couldn't run.  My brain kept telling me to run but my legs kept telling me to lay down.  On the strip.  I hated it but kept walking quickly.  I kept thinking of Christine telling me during a training run that if I was going to walk that I had to walk quickly.  I'd pulled my arm warmers off around mile 1.5 and tied them on my belt.  I'd started to get cold around mile 8 so I put them back on.  I tried to run a few times but everything hurt and I ended up walking the majority of the rest of the race.  I met up with Coach Barbara around 11.5 and she tried to get me to run again.  That worked for all of about 150 feet.  I felt very defeated and sort of wanted to be alone but once I crossed the finish line I was glad she was there.  My official finish time was 3:03:31.

Crossing the finish line wasn't the big emotional part that I thought it'd be but that was because I felt like throwing up.  I saw chairs in the med tent and asked if I could sit for a minute.  The medics started to ask me some questions and things kind of got a little fuzzy.  I started shivering - very badly.  Coach B ran to grab space blankets for us but I couldn't get warm.  I tried to drink water but it was cold so that seemed counter productive to me.  The medic told Coach B to sit behind me and bear hug me to try to warm me up and that's when she realized how wet/sweaty I was.  She told me to get my sleeves off (done) and somehow she got my gear check bag brought to the med tent.  They asked me if I'd be comfortable changing and I said I didn't care - I immediately pulled off my singlet and t-shirt and pulled on my sweatshirt.  I got my shoes and capris off and pulled my pants on.  I couldn't get my fingers to work to get my shoes back on so Coach B helped me.  It was at this moment that I was so thankful she'd yelled at me about my gear check bag at the Hot Chocolate race because I was prepared this time!  I pulled on my the gloves and winter hat that I'd also packed (and wondered why since it was 70 degrees outside at the time!) and was then escorted to a golf cart for a ride to the main med tent.  Once there I was wrapped in more blankets and put in front of a heater which felt amazing.  Somehow Dan made it up to main med as I started to feel better.  The girl next to me was not feeling well and she started throwing up.  That's pretty much what made me get up and leave.

We started walking towards the exit and I grabbed some snacks on the way out.  We stopped at the Team Challenge tent to check-in and I got my 13.1 finisher's pin.  Clearly this wasn't the race that I thought it'd be - I thought I'd run much more, if not all of it.  However, I did it.  I did the training and I covered the 13.1 miles - maybe not the way I intended but I did it.

I made a whole list of goals before the race.  Let's see how I did:
  • Exceed my fundraising goal - Thanks to the best family/friends ever I did this!
  • Be happy while running this race (you've already done the hard work of training and fundraising and now it's time to have fun) - I did for the first 10K and then I forgot about this goal
  • Run the entire race, even if the pace is slow as hell, keep running - I did not do this
  • Listen to the crowds and enjoy the bands on the course - I definitely loved the crowds.  I didn't mind the bands though I didn't spend much time listening to them either
  • Don't fall down - HUGE SUCCESS!
  • Do not accept anything on the course (food/drink) that hasn't been tried during training - I only took water and high fives on the course, so I guess this means success!
  • Finish the race running - seriously - maybe next time?
  • Finish the race with a gigantic smile plastered all over my face - definitely failed at this one (the official race photos are proof that I didn't smile)
  • Fuel appropriately during the race - this I did pretty well
  • Have a photo taken with my space blanket and race medal - I am bummed about missing this one but the med tent seemed like a better place for me
  • Rehydrate appropriately after the race and then enjoy a beer - I rehydrated but did not have a beer.  Last night we had some wine with dinner so I think that counts as satisfying this goal
  • Eat whatever you want after the race - don't count the points but that meal is it. Then back on track. - I had a bacon cheeseburger from room service.  It was alright.  Eating yesterday while we were en route home was a little off base but I'm glad to be back on track now
  • Have fun with your family who will be there before/during/after the race - Definitely accomplished this goal.  I can't believe all of the people who came to Las Vegas to support me.  I know that I am truly blessed with such wonderful people in my life
If you are considering training for a half marathon find a group like Team Challenge (or do it with Team Challenge) because the coaching and on course support from the entire Team Challenge family was absolutely amazing.  I will definitely run more races with Team Challenge ... it's just a matter of deciding which one.  Anyone want to run/train with me?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All about progress

Last week was incredibly busy so I apologize for not posting a weigh-in update.  We had two road trips last week for the Thanksgiving holiday and while I loved spending time with my family I'd be lying if I didn't say it was overwhelming.  I tried to prepare by picking up extra fruits and vegetables and even packed them so we could eat them in the car!  I also made sandwiches before we left so we wouldn't have to take our chances with finding something on the road.  I had mixed emotions about my weigh-in last week because I stayed exactly the same.  I know that I have to be more mindful about eating less when I'm moving less (brilliant - right?) but I sort of forgot how many temptations there are when I'm away from home.

There were gas stations with sugary drinks, tempting sweet and salty snacks and ice cream.  I'm not sure why ice cream was appealing to me because it was 29 degrees but it was.  There were honey-nut cheerios at Mom and Dad's house not to mention a home made blueberry pie not to mention all of the Thanksgiving dinner favorites!  Plus we'd taken home some of my favorite beer and while I tried to track everything I know that some of those bites and tastes didn't get tracked.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that at weigh-in last night the scale told me I'd done alright.  I gained 1.0 pound but given the amount that I felt like I ate last week I wasn't unhappy with that result.  I know that this lifestyle isn't about perfection so I will definitely accept progress.  

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you make any new healthy traditions?  I didn't run on Thanksgiving but am really going to try to include that in my schedule next year.

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 13

Tapering is definitely an adjustment.  The lazy part of me is loving it because it means there are less miles to run and given our travel schedule last week that was definitely a blessing.  I logged a few runs before leaving for Thanksgiving and ran a couple days while I was away.  The few runs I did when I was home were the spectacular kind of runs where you actually think "hey I feel so good maybe I could go one more mile" and the you remember that it's called tapering for a reason and that you should probably be following the training plan you have.  The two runs I did when I was out of town did not go as well and I'd even considered cutting them short but am so glad I didn't because I know that every time I have pushed through those difficult runs will help me when I get to Vegas.

Speaking of Vegas... here's what my training plan was supposed to be:
M: Run, 4 miles
T: Cross train or Speed
W: Run, 3 miles, easy
T: Strength
F: Off
S: Run, 5 miles
S: Off

Here's what I actually did:

M: Run, 5 miles
T: Run, 4 miles
W: Bike, 9.52 miles
T: Off
F: Run, 3 miles
S: Run, 2.71 miles
S: Off

I have reached my fundraising goal but am still trying to raise more money for CCFA because it is an awesome organization doing very important research for Crohn's and Colitis patients.  Please consider donating using this link.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 12

This week was my longest run.  Ever.  I was planning on being home in Wisconsin for the weekend so I wanted to get the run out of the way before we left.  After the 7 mile run last weekend I planned out my route and tried to get excited about it without getting overwhelmed.  It definitely wasn't working until I got an email from Coach B... she told me to not think of it as 10 miles but to break it up.  She suggested breaking it into 2.5 mile segments but I went a little smaller than that and made it 1 mile segments.  I am so glad that I got this advice (and that I followed it) because it felt so amazing when my Garmin beeped and told me I'd completed a segment.  I kept an eye on my pace knowing that I needed to stay out of the 10's and in the 11:XX pace.  I felt pretty good for the first 5 miles at which point I stopped and took off my sweatshirt (I layered my clothes - appropriately this time) and continued on.  I thought miles 6-8 were boring so I kept thinking about the segment I was in (rather than the total distance) and that helped.  At the beginning of miles 7 and 8 I stopped to stretch and drink water (I paused my Garmin) and at mile 9 I walked for 2 minutes (I didn't pause my Garmin) before continuing.  I was so extremely proud to have finished but I'd be lying if I said it was easy.  I know that the last 5K of the race is going to be tough but I am also beginning to believe that I can actually do this!  YIPPEE!!

So, here's what I was supposed to do last week:
M: Run, 4 miles
T: Cross training or Speed
W: Run, 3 miles, threshold
T: Strength
F: Off
S: Run, 10 miles
S: Off

Here is what I actually did:

M: Run, 4.42 miles
T: Cross train (elliptical & stationary bike) and strength train
W: Run, 4.03 miles
T: Off
F: Run, 10 miles
S: Off (casually walked around)
S: Off

I thought that beginning taper would be awesome.  So I went for my run today and while the starting mile was rough (my legs felt heavy) I ran 5 miles.  As I thought about my workouts for the remainder of the week I realized that I felt really good and considered running 5 miles tomorrow too.  Yeah, that's not in the plan.

How do you handle tapering?  Do you feel like you can run more miles than you're supposed to?  If so, how do you reign that in?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Weigh-in this week went well.  I was down 5.2 pounds so the gain I put on last week is gone (yeah!) so I'm sure some of it was directly related to the race and the fact that I was probably retaining water after the race.  So, let's do a little foreshadowing here - I'm guessing after the half marathon I'll gain ... eh ... about 7 pounds.  Oh yes, I'm planning on having a massive cookie after that race!  Onto other things....

I said when I started this blog that we'd talk about the good, the bad and everything in between and this is one of those "bad" posts.  As I wrote the last post about the half marathon update I realized how far we've come but also that the half marathon date is really close.  Tomorrow I will go out for my longest distance run ever and the truth is that I am freaking out about it.  See... when I did the Hot Chocolate 15K I ended up walking for parts of it and my confidence took a tumble.  I thought I'd recovered during the week putting out some really solid miles but over the weekend during a 7 mile run I ended up walking again.  My confidence is definitely not where I want it to be going into such a huge challenge.

I've read a lot of other posts and articles recently about how to mentally "muscle" through the challenges and I am hoping that I can but I'm really worried.  The fact is that I want to run the full distance (both the 10 miles tomorrow and the half marathon in a couple of weeks) and I've been training to run.  On the one hand I know that in the past it has taken me a few tries before I get it right - when I trained to run my first 5K I ended up attempting that race 3-4 times before I finally ran the entire distance.  Will that be my fate with the half marathon?  On the other hand the fact that I've started running and decided to tackle a half marathon in less than a year is an amazing accomplishment.  But, is it enough?

How do you mentally muscle through the long distance runs when your body thinks it wants to stop?

Any songs that you think I should have on my playlist to keep me pumped up?  Tell me, please!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 11

Today was my last group run.  I have terribly mixed emotions about this detail.  On the one hand it'd be nice to not have to get up at 5 am on at least one weekend day but on the other hand it is fun meeting up with the group, warming up, running a bunch of miles and then catching up with folks when we're done.  I suppose I knew this adventure would come to an end but I never thought of how I would feel when it did.

Training isn't over yet, I have two more weekend runs (10 and 5 miles) to do but will do them on my own since the scheduling doesn't work.  I have already mapped out my 10 mile route and I'm oddly excited to tackle this challenge.  The five mile run is already mapped out since I have been running that at least once a week for the last several weeks.  It'll be a little sad to do these runs on my own but I hope that I have learned as much as possible from my coaches to be successful.

Today's run was a 7 mile jaunt in Libertyville (aka the hilly forest preserve) that kind of kicked my butt.  A few days ago while stretching my legs I'd noticed a knot in my calf muscle and tried to work it out.  I might have worked it a little too hard because it started to bother me today.  I ended up walking a few times but Coach B kicked my *ss and got me running again.  I finished the run with an 11:28 pace and 1:19:18 which was 13 seconds faster than the last 7 mile run I did and 1:07 faster than the first 7 mile run.  Clearly this means I'm progressing as a runner?  I really just need to work on my pacing so that I can be more consistent.

My training plan this week was:
Monday: Run, 5 miles
Tuesday: Cross Training or Speed
Wednesday: Run, 4 miles - Start easy build to fast finish
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Run, easy 30 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, 7 miles

What I actually did this week:

Monday: Run, 4.27 miles (pace began at 11:27, finished at 11:16)
Tuesday: Bike, 10.98 miles
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Run, 5.33 miles
Friday: Run, 3.19 miles
Saturday: Bike, 8.05 miles
Sunday: Run, 7 miles

I had to flip my Monday/Wednesday runs around because of the 15K race last week.  My legs were not ready to tackle 5 miles on Monday but I knew I needed to get them moving so that is why I swapped those to runs.  I think it was a fairly successful week except for missing the strength workout.

Any tips for conquering the long runs?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pile on the Miles

This post, while not entirely timely because normally I write my weigh-in post on Wednesday and today is Thursday but I probably won't send this out to the interwebs until Friday.  Gosh that seems really late but I think that the information is still important.  So, first off... weigh-in stuff.  The wheels kind of fell off the bus this week when I got on the scale and had a 4.4 pound gain.  Seriously - I know I ate bad after the race but I didn't realize I was out of control that much.  Oh well - I'm moving on from it because I know it's not about a single week but rather it is about the overall progress.  Also, last week alone I had 4 people tell me I looked good.  So I'm going to try to focus on that rather than the number that showed up on the scale.

Secondly, I've entered a little contest for the month of November called Pile on the Miles.  The contest, hosted by Monica, is to encourage participants to pile on miles in November rather than piling on pounds.  Seriously, this seems like a fabulous idea to me considering that with the colder temperatures I really just want to snuggle up in front of a fire rather than go out walking or running.  However, with the half marathon coming up and now this contest it seems like a fabulous way to keep up the training.  Mileage only counts if it is walking or running - no sneaking in biking miles - and reporting your miles is on the honor system.  So, you set your mileage goal for November and report in your miles by Monday and that's it!  My goal is 100 miles... I hadn't considered the taper as part of the month so that might be lofty but I think it's still good to have a goal.

Are you participating in #POTM (Pile on the Miles)?  Have you ever done a contest like this?  Were you successful?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 10

I can't believe that in less than a month I'll be running my half marathon!  When I started training for this the race seemed so far away and I thought I'd have plenty of time to train.  Now, with one double digit run left on my training plan I'm worried.  My coach assures me that I will be ready and after the 15K race this past weekend I know that physically I'll be able to cover the 13.1 miles in order to claim my medal whether I am able to run the entire thing is a whole different story.  Obviously my bigger challenge will be the mental challenge of completing 13.1 miles... luckily I still have a month of training my brain that I can do this!

So my training last week was supposed to be:
Monday: Run, 5 miles
Tuesday: Cross train or Speed
Wednesday: Run, 4 miles, medium effort
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Run, Easy 20 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, Hot Chocolate 15K race

And here's how I interpreted that training plan:

Monday: Run, 5.15 miles
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Bike, 8.72 miles
Thursday: Run, 4.29 miles
Friday: Run, 20 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, Hot Chocolate 15K

I know that I slacked on the speed work and strength training so I am hoping to get better about that with the time I left before the race.

Do you follow your training plan to the letter or do you change it as necessary?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

RACE RECAP: Hot Chocolate 5K/15K

This was a race I'd wanted to do long before I knew it was on our training schedule as a training run so I was super excited for this race.  However, that excitement diminished a little when, on Friday, I picked up Coach Barbara and we headed to pick up our packets.  We waited... and waited... and waited in line.  Outside.  For 2+ hours.  And I came home with a really nice cold/sinus infection (of course).  The expo was alright - for it being my first expo with vendors I guess I was expecting more but I'm glad I went and got to see it.

I'd made arrangements for us to spend the night in Chicago because this race had an early start time and we learned our lesson after the Bucktown 5K that getting up that early on race day sucked.  So we drove in on Saturday, had dinner and ran to Walgreen's for snacks and then checked into our hotel.  After a quick shower I was snuggled in bed in my pajamas ready for some good sleep.  I'm still waiting.  The congestion woke and fear of missing both of our alarms woke me up about every hour so I wasn't really looking forward to getting up and running this morning.
Team Challengers before the race

We met up with Team Challenge at the Team Challenge tent in the post-race party area and took a few pre-race photos and did some stretching before heading off to our various corrals.  I heard the National Anthem sung by Jim Cornelison (the guy who sings for the Blackhawk's which was awesome) and then they started releasing the first corrals.  They would release a corral every 3 minutes and I was in the S corral so I waited... and waited... and waited... a very long (and COLD) 1:20 before my corral was even allowed to start running.  When we started my toes were completely numb and even though I'd continued to stretch while waiting in the corral I knew my muscles were cold and I was worried about my overall performance.  The 5K runners/walkers and 15K runners/walkers were all together in the same corrals so I knew I needed to go slow the first mile or so and let people pass me because this was going to be a long race.

Here are my splits (and thoughts per mile) based on what my watch calculated.  I know some are wrong because I lost satellite signal and I also don't generally run anything faster than 10:XX/mile so....

Mile 1:  11:40 - a little slow for me but it took about the full first mile for me to get feeling back in my toes so I was just going at a good pace to get warmed back up.

Yeah for seeing family along the route!
Mile 2:  10:40 - Coach Bill warned us that there was a hill coming up so I wanted to be conservative.  I think this time is slightly off because we were underground (lower Wacker Drive?)... felt good - finally warmer and I could feel my toes.

Mile 3:  11:02 - @*$#) that hill up Roosevelt.  It really wasn't that bad but someone had a sign that said that and I thought it was funny.  We hit our first aid station around here and I took a sip of water from my water bottle.

Mile 4:  9:13 - don't even know what to say about that but I'm pretty sure it was wrong.  We went down a hill as we got on Columbus but I really don't think I was moving THAT fast.  I passed bathrooms and considered using them but there was a line and I really didn't want to stop and wait in line to use the bathroom.  Passed another aid station and took more water from my bottle.

Mile 5:  13:03 - ??? again that doesn't seem right but whatev... I finally felt like I was able to have more space around me and I wasn't trying to get around so many people which was nice.  It was around here that I realized my form wasn't quite what it needs to be so I need to work on that.  I know my arms were swinging more side to side rather than front to back and Coach B would have yelled at me.

Mile 6:  11:19 - Yeah - 10K... cool... I can run 10K no problem.

Mile 7:  11:45 - Nearing the longest distance I've run to date left me feeling a little anxious.  At this point I realize that finishing another 2.3 miles is going to be hard.  And I got a side stitch.  Awesome.

Mile 8:  8:07 - We were underground for what seemed like ever and there were some guys screaming and yelling... the dark and the yelling freaked me out.  Not because of my safety ... I just didn't feel in control and I stopped to walk a little (probably about 1/8 mile) and re-tie my shoes.  My foot started hurting during this mile and that didn't help me... plus I ran out of water and I was pissed about that.

Oh my god everything hurts - are we done yet?
Mile 9:  15:23 - More walking past Soldier Field.  There seemed to be hills here and I felt tired on the way up and worried that I couldn't stay on my feet on the way down so I walked to be safe.  However, I knew I was getting close to the finish so I started running again.  As I was coming down a hill and around a corner Dan actually stepped out and held out his hand to high-five me.  I was so grateful because I knew I was close to the finish and I almost started to cry but then realized that crying would not help my side stitch and I had to suck it up.

Mile 9.01 - 9.7 - 9:21 - I'm not sure how I ended up running 9.7 miles but that's what Garmin says I did.

The finish was disappointing ... no big crowds and it just sort of ends but then  you have to walk about another mile (or it seems like 10) to get to the post-race party.  They were making an announcement that they'd run out of chocolate bars (really?  WTF?  You know how many people registered for a race how do you run out?) but they had a lot of Gatorade and water.  I gulped 3 cups of gatorade (I normally don't drink any), a cup of water and then a full size bottle of water as I walked to the post-race area.  I saw where they were taking official finisher photos and stopped for that.  Finally, I was getting closer to the Team Challenge tent when Coach Barbara saw me and ran out to hug me and I broke down.

Team Challenge post race!
I was exhausted and excited and disappointed all at the same time.  Having no control over the thoughts that come out of my mouth after running for nearly 2 hours I immediately blurted out that I walked some and she told me it didn't matter that I'd finished.  I was worried she'd be disappointed... apparently it was only me that was disappointed.  She helped me put on pants and my jacket (I'd forgotten a shirt to change into so I could warm-up post race as well as fresh socks.) but I was so happy to have my jacket and fresh gloves/hat that I didn't care.

My mentor, Christine, helped me stretch out my very angry IT bands and even though I sort of hate her while we're doing that it feels so much better when done that I feel super lucky that she's willing to help me like that.  I was so tired and sore that I really just wanted to get my finisher mug and go back to the hotel so I could shower or lay down.  I quickly gobbled the treats in my finisher mug as we walked up to Michigan Ave and in the cab on the way back to the hotel.

Once showered and packed up we checked out and headed over to our regular post-race refueling spot.  Revolution Brewing Company.  They said there was going to be a 30 minute wait and I sort of dreaded that but we really love that place so we waited... luckily the wait was shorter than they said and we were soon seated at a table.  We shared an order of Wild Boar Meatballs which were heavenly.  I wish I'd taken photos of all of our food because it was all amazingly delicious but I was SOOOOO hungry I didn't care.  For my entree I had the frittata with a side of fruit instead of potatoes.  It came with a delicious salad and a biscuit and both were absolutely spot-on fantastic.  I also ordered a pint of Eugene Porter which might be my favorite porter of all time.

All in all the weekend was a ton of fun.  However, with the long wait times to pick up packets and actually start the race I'm not sure I'd do this one again.  I think I'd prefer to do smaller local races... but who knows?!

Who else raced this weekend?  Good times?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Great Businesses

So you've heard about the half marathon I'm training for, right?  Oh yes, I may have mentioned one or two gazillion times.  However, in case you're new to the blog I'm running the strip at night for the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas with Team Challenge.  Not only do I get some fabulous coaching and mentors for the race but I am also raising money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (a cause very near and dear to my heart).  We decided to host a fundraiser dinner and we were lucky enough to have an award winning BBQ chef prepare pulled pork and brisket for our guests.  The party was fun but it would not have been nearly as successful without a whole lot of local businesses and fabulous people that donated items for the silent auction. I hope if you're a local reader that you will consider patronizing these businesses. 

And to these fabulous individuals who also donated items:
Pete G.
Karen A.
Noreen H.

Parties and races...

Saturday night we held a fundraiser for my half marathon fundraising campaign.  Between weigh-in on Tuesday and Saturday I just kept thinking - eat clean because Saturday probably won't be on plan.  I did just that - I got in all my good health guidelines, worked out every day and chose fruits and vegetables instead of sweet treats.  When Saturday afternoon rolled around and it was time to set up the buffet of food I let myself eat - not to the point of eating so much that I wanted to unbutton my pants but I had a little bit of everything and it was all delicious!  We'd had the pulled pork and brisket prepared by an award winning BBQ chef and it was amazingly delicious.  Either the working out or the clean eating worked because weigh-in went well on Tuesday!  *yeah*

This of course brings us to this Sunday when I'll run the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago.  This will be the furthest distance I've ever run and I am really terribly excited and a little nervous.  We are using it as a training run for the distance but our coaches also wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to race before we head to Vegas.  It should be fun because a bunch of my teammates and coaches are running and some friends are running/walking the other various races.  Plus, Dan is coming to take pictures which always makes a race nice when you get to see friendly faces along the course.

Did you survive Halloween?  What'd you do to get through the seemingly endless bowl of candy?  What do you look forward to for a race?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Half Marathon Update - Week 9

Believe it or not another training week has come and gone.  This week was crazy busy for me because in addition to my usual training activities I was also busy putting the last minute touches on the fundraiser that we hosted last night.  It was definitely a busy week but I felt really good about my training and then I had a blast at the party!

So, here's what I was supposed to do:
Monday: Run, 5 miles
Tuesday: Cross train or speed
Wednesday: Run, 4 miles, medium effort
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Easy 30 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, 7 miles

And here's what I actually did:
Monday: Run, 5.4 miles
Tuesday: Bike, 10.46 miles
Wednesday: Run, 5 miles (avg. pace 11:29 -- pretty good effort!)
Thursday: Bike, 12.43 miles
Friday: Run, 3.12 miles
Saturday: Bike, 6.87 miles (it was FREEZING cold so we stopped early)
Sunday: Run, 7 miles

I feel like I had really solid training this week and feel good going into Week 10 and the Hot Chocolate 15K race that I'll run on Sunday.  This will be my furthest distance to run, ever!  Dan is coming to spectate and photograph the race so I'm excited about that.  I'm going to try to keep a good pace but not go out too fast (which I usually fail at) so we'll see how that goes.  Wish me luck!

As a side note - you have until 10/31 at 6 pm CST to place a Wildtree order.  The company has so generously agreed to donate 20% of all the sales from my party to my fundraising campaign.  Wildtree products are all natural and very delicious.  How about a delicious new rub?  Or dip mix?  These items could sure help out during the upcoming holidays to get those meals prepared and served quickly, couldn't they?  In order to place and order please shop on the Wildtree website.  Or you can donate money directly to Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America via this secure website.

How was your week?  Who ran?  Who raced?

Big shout out to my very dear friend, Ryan, who ran the Marine Corps Marathon with his son this weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random Thoughts

Normally after a weigh-in, especially when I gain, I will think and analyze to try to figure out what I've done wrong.  When I stepped on the scale this week I knew that I gained and I was disappointed but I wasn't overly concerned.  It's not that I don't care about the gain because I do but I'm also aware that these things happen.  Ironically I usually end up with a gain right after I reach a milestone.  This is not meant to be an excuse even though it sounds like it.  I did, however, notice something while looking at my tracker (here's another example of why tracking really does help) and I realized that the week before last was the week I was sick and I only got in 38 activity points vs. the almost 70 that I log most other weeks.  So, I suppose that has something to do with it!  So I'm hoping this week will be better.

The other random bit I have to offer this week has to do with Halloween.  Given that I'm trying to be healthy I don't like to buy Halloween candy because I don't need the temptation in the house.  Plus, have you calculated the PointsPlus values on candy?  I'm also a little surprised to admit that most candy is just too sweet for me anymore.  Clearly this is a surprise to me considering that I love junk food but whatev.... Anyway, this leaves a big question about what to do about Halloween?  This year I've ordered a whole lot of glow-in-the-dark bracelets, and a novelty assortment.  So these are the things I'll be handing out on Halloween as my alternative to candy.  The trick-or-treating hours in my town go from 3-7 pm (I think) so I'm hoping that most parents will be thankful that my house is one less house giving out sugary treats.  I guess we'll see, won't we?! 

What do you give away for Halloween?  If it's candy, how do you manage to keep your consumption of it under control?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Half Marathon Goals

As half marathon training quickly ticks away I can't help but think about the goals I'd like to accomplish with this race.  I figure I need to start writing these things down so that on December 3 or 4 when I want to write my fabulous half marathon recap I can identify whether I was successful or not.  These are listed in no particular order ... and I'll probably update/adjust them up until race day.

  1. Exceed my fundraising goal
  2. Be happy while running this race (you've already done the hard work of training and fundraising and now it's time to have fun)
  3. Run the entire race, even if the pace is slow as hell, keep running
  4. Listen to the crowds and enjoy the bands on the course
  5. Don't fall down
  6. Do not accept anything on the course (food/drink) that hasn't been tried during training
  7. Finish the race running - seriously
  8. Finish the race with a gigantic smile plastered all over my face
  9. Fuel appropriately during the race
  10. Have a photo taken with my space blanket and race medal
  11. Rehydrate appropriately after the race and then enjoy a beer
  12. Eat whatever you want after the race - don't count the points but that meal is it. Then back on track.
  13. Have fun with your family who will be there before/during/after the race
If you were running your first half marathon what would your goal be?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Half Marathon Update - Week 8

Why does it feel like I just finished writing the week 7 update?  Oh right, because I was a little late with that one.  My bad!  Week 8 went much better than week 7 did and I'm really pleased with that.  Last Sunday I was supposed to meet up with the Team Challenge Group for a 7 mile run but the weather was crap - it rained all night and was still raining when my alarm went off.  I checked the weather and it didn't appear like it was going to clear for a few hours and I did not want to spend over an hour out in the cold/rain.  Having dealt with the cold/sinus infection all week I decided to email my coach to let her know that I was going to back out on the group run that day.  The weather report showed clear skies on Monday so I had already started planning to hit a new trail (actually it's the path where Dan and I have biked a bunch this summer) just so that I'd get a different view than the same view I have running all around my town.

I programmed my Garmin for a five minute walk, then 3.5 miles of running at which point I'd turn around and run 3.5 miles back with another 5 minute walk to cool down.  I also decided that it was time to break out my headphones and I'd started creating my half marathon play list.  For the shorter runs/races I sort of enjoy being unplugged however I've started to notice on the longer runs that I do start to get bored and I thought it'd help me stay on pace/upbeat about running for so long.  The trail was nearly empty on Monday so I happily mouthed the words to quite a few songs while I was running.  I even kept up a pretty consistent pace throughout the run so I was pleased with that.  I was also pretty excited to text Coach B when I got home to report that I had tackled 7 miles!

So here's what I was supposed to do during Week 8:
Monday: Run, 4 miles
Tuesday: Cross training or speed work
Wednesday: Run, 5 miles, Medium effort
Thursday: Strength train
Friday: Run, easy 30 minutes
Saturday: Run, 8 miles
Sunday: Rest

Here's what I actually did:

Monday: Run, 7 miles
Tuesday: Bike 11.69 miles, Strength train
Wednesday: Run, 5.5 miles (includes warm-up/cool-down walk)
Thursday: Speed work and bike (in the gym)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Run about 4 miles, walked the rest = total 8 miles
Sunday: Run, 3 miles

I am super disappointed in my performance during the group run.  My stomach had been bothering me all day to the point where I took some Tylenol (I rarely take anything) and I just couldn't seem to get it together last night.  On top of that I tried some Gatorade chews around mile 6 and shortly after that my stomach started to feel even worse.  The last few group runs we've done I've struggled but when I run on my own I seem to be fine.  I might try running on my own during the group run next weekend so I can just focus on running and go at my own pace.  No excuses.

I am still fundraising and have quite a ways to go to reach my fundraising goal.  Can you help?  Please use the secure website to donate to CCFA a registered 501(c)3 charity.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Half way to another goal

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the Under Armour #WhatsBeautiful challenge.  When I signed up for that challenge I had to state my goal and it was to run my first half marathon after losing more than 200 pounds.  I've read quite a few blogs where people started training for races (some half marathons some full marathons) and that they gained weight.  *gasp* I didn't want to gain weight... obviously.  The week that the group ran 5 miles (and coincidentally after I'd had a couple of weeks of gains) I was running with Coach Bill and I asked him if he thought that because of the increased amount of training that weight gain was unavoidable.  I was surprised (and frankly relieved) when he said no and encouraged me to stay away from the pre-run binge on pasta/bread and instead continue to focus on getting my carbs from fresh fruits and vegetables.  When he said that I was like YES!  This I can do because all of those things are FREE POINTS!!!

Fast forward a few weeks and I am happy to report that half of that goal has now been accomplished.  When I went to weigh-in today I was a little nervous.  My last weigh-in was only last Thursday so really how much weight could I lose?  Additionally, after stepping on my scale this morning and seeing that I was only down 0.2 pounds I thought I might not even have a loss this week.  Imagine my surprise then when I stepped on the scale at my meeting and realized that I lost 2.2 pounds for a total of 201.0 pounds.  It's awesome and trust me when I say that I am aware of the awesomeness because I can do stuff that I could never do before.  Like run SEVEN miles.  At one time.  Without stopping.  Also impressive?  Being able to shop at basically every store (ironically except the plus sized clothing stores) without wondering if I'll fit into the clothes.

I have lots of other thoughts rolling through my head right now... I can't quite explain how I feel and apologize if this post is all over the place.  I'll try to gather my thoughts a little better before I post again...

So what do you do now that you couldn't do before?

Half Marathon Update - Week 7

Week 7 of half marathon training sucked because I was sick.  I only got out 3 days last week.  I suppose the good news is that of those 3 days all 3 of them were days that I got good solid mileage in from running rather than cross training but I was still disappointed with the lack of training that I was able to do.  Between battling a cold/sinus infection and the rainy weather over the weekend I was really looking forward to ending week 7 that is for sure.  So, here's what I was supposed to be doing last week:

Monday: Run, 4 miles
Tuesday: Cross training or Speedwork
Wednesday: Run, 5 miles, Start easy build to fast finish
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Run, 30 minutes, Medium Effort
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, 7 miles

Here's what I actually did:

Monday: Run, 4.66 miles (the extra distance was part of warm-up/cool down)
Tuesday: Sick/Rest
Wednesday: Sick/Rest
Thursday: Run, 4.69 miles (again, warm-up/cool down is the extra distance)
Friday: Run, speed work (3.03 miles)
Saturday: Sick/Crap Weather/Rest
Sunday: Sick/Crap Weather/Rest

I hope that week 8 goes better than week 7 and that it won't impact my performance in December.

How do you deal with getting sick during training?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Being sick sucks

Dan and I used to go on long and somewhat luxurious bike rides on Saturday mornings.  It wasn't uncommon for us to log 20+ miles before most people were up for breakfast.  However, since beginning half marathon training I try to be careful about what I'm making my legs to do the day before my group runs.  Since most of my training is done solo I still get excited when I get to run or bike with someone else though and this past Saturday was no different.  We planned on doing about a 10-12 mile ride but I woke up and felt like crap.  I bailed on the bike ride knowing that I needed to rest because I couldn't bail on my group run the following day.

So, I ran on Sunday (6 miles of hills) and on Monday (4.66 miles with few hills) but by Monday night I was feeling worse.  At this point Dan said to me that I needed to take Tuesday as a rest day.  Like a legitimate rest day - no running/no errands.  Just rest.  What?  No cross training?  No strength training?  No.  Not even if I drive to the fitness center (instead of biking there) and warm-up, strength train, cool down and then drive home?  No.

I thought about what he said as I went to bed early and thought he was just being ridiculous.  Until I woke up on Tuesday morning and felt even worse.  Ugh... so I took a rest day.  I slept practically all day, waking up only to feed the dogs and let them outside periodically.  I was awake long enough to eat toast for breakfast and lunch before going back for more sleep.  It was nearly the same story on Wednesday except with slightly less sleeping and a slightly more fruits/vegetables.

I'm not sure if it was all the running (including the hills) or the day of eating that I basically took off while I was sleeping but I was happy to go to a Weight Watchers meeting tonight.  It definitely encourages me to stay on track when all I really want is to eat a bunch of crap because I don't feel good.  So I'm determined to make good choices.  Even if it means I also have to take it easy the next few days to really make sure this cold is gone.

How do you deal with being sick?  Do you power through or do you rest?

Product Review: Yurbuds

When I first started being active (aka walking) I used music to occupy my mind so I wouldn't constantly think about how far I've gone (or more likely how much farther I have to go) but when I got my Garmin I stopped listening to music so that I could hear the tones of the watch.  On the shorter runs I really don't mind disconnecting from most everything technology related because I spend so much of my day using some form of technology.  However, as half marathon training progresses I'd started to think about needing to use music as an escape on the long runs.  So I was really excited when this package arrived the other day!

Included in the package:  A set of Yurbuds, a sweat band, Luna bar and a Yurbuds towel.

Yurbuds are made for women by women and are designed not to fall out because they have twist lock technology.  Having not worn headphones in awhile for working out I found the video to be really helpful!  Unfortunately I took two days off from running while battling a nasty cold - so today was the first day I felt like I could even breathe through one mile much less the five miles that I was planning on running.  It was pretty early on in the run when I realized that five miles might be too much and that I might still be a little sick (aka dehydrated) to run.  I enjoyed having music though after having run without it for so long I know my mind ended up wandering a lot.  A few songs really pumped me up though and that a was nice distraction.  They were definitely comfortable enough to wear although since I was running alone I only wore one bud to ensure that I could hear the sounds around me.

The one criticism I would have for the product (and this might just be how I ended up wearing them - because I only wore one ear bud so I could still hear my watch and other noises around me) is about the cord.  I plugged the Yurbuds into my iPhone and then tucked my iPhone into my water belt.  A few times I realized that the cord was getting tangled around my water bottle or on the keys that I had hooked onto the belt.  It could also be that I just need to figure out a better way to put everything together so that doesn't happen.  I am planning on taking these with me on my long run with the group this weekend to try them out again.

Do you wear headphones while running or working out?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Half Marathon Update - Week 6

Yesterday (Saturday) morning I had planned to go for a short (e.g. an hour long) bike ride with Dan but woke up really congested and feeling pretty awful.  Sinus infections are nothing new to me but this is the first one that I've had during half marathon training.  I decided not to go for a bike ride yesterday and I was a little nervous about how the group run would go today because not only was I sick but we were running hills.  Six miles of hills were on the schedule.  I spent quite a lot of yesterday thinking about running strategy and knew that since we were running six miles of hills that my pace would be slow.  I would be happy with a 12:00/mile pace that I could maintain for the entire run seeing as how six miles would be the longest distance that I've run.  I ran most of the distance with my teammate, Ed, until he pulled away at the last half mile to push toward the end.  The overall time was 11:42/mile and I was pleased with that given how I was feeling.

Here's what was on my training schedule:
Monday: Run, 5 miles
Tuesday: Cross train or Speed
Wednesday: Run, 4 miles, medium effort
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Easy 30 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, 6 miles, hills

Here's what I actually did:
Monday: Run, 5.58 miles
Tuesday: Bike 7.26 miles, Strength train
Wednesday: Run, 4.55 miles
Thursday: Bike 13.08 miles
Friday: Run, 2.93 miles/Speed
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, 5.90 miles, hills (that's what my watch said we ran)

I thought I did pretty good sticking to the training schedule though I know I need to work more on speed because I'd like to run faster I just don't know that I can and maintain the pace.  Towards the end of the run today I just didn't have it in me to go faster and that was disappointing to me.  I should probably remind myself of this fact when I go out to do a tempo/speed run this week and hate it the entire time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I shocked myself this week

After a disappointing weight gain last week I was determined not to continue down this path.  Jen and I made a pact that we'd work really hard and lean on each other when we need and we WOULD lose weight this week.  I weighed myself twice during the week and knew I was losing and I was definitely excited about that.  It wasn't until I got on the scale at the meeting today that I really believed it though because nothing is true until it's in my Weight Watchers weight record!  Not only did I shock my leader but I shocked myself when Karen told me that I lost 7.6 pounds.  WOAH.  That's a lot.

She asked me what if I knew what I'd done to lose the weight and I knew EXACTLY what did it!  The previous weeks I'd been eating 20-30 activity points.  I know that sounds like a lot but I was earning somewhere between 50-70 activity points per week.  Last week I earned a whopping 77 activity points having worked out, literally, every single day.  It was the first week (ever) that I'd worked out every day since freshman high school basketball.  At the end of the week I was tired and sort of wishing that I'd taken one rest day before my long group run but you can't change the past, right?  Anyway, last week out of the 77 activity points I earned I only consumed 5 of them.

The best part was that I didn't really even feel hungry throughout the week.  I really ate (probably my weight) in fruits and vegetables to bulk up my meals and snacks.  All in all, I feel even more energized to continue with the intensity and frequency of my work outs through the end of half marathon training (at least) and to continue eating this way for the rest of my life.  Or at least as long as I can get fruits and vegetables in mass quantity.  :)

While you're preparing your own variety of fruits and vegetables there is still time to donate to my fundraising campaign.  I have already raised some money but need to raise even more.  The donations are tax deductible because the money is going to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) which is an "A" rated charity.  Please take a minute to donate and feel free to share the link/information with others!

Ways To Find Motivation

There are some weeks where I struggle finding the motivation to stay on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon so I am always looking for new things to keep me going.  Whether it be a new healthy living blog, a race or publicly stating a new goal it really helps me to work towards something smaller rather than a big goal (like hitting my goal weight!).  When I heard about the What's Beautiful challenge that Under Armour was putting out there I was intrigued so I signed up.  The What's Beautiful challenge provides women a place to state a goal, post photos/videos about challenges completed, and the coolest part is that you can give encouragement to others and/or receive encouragement from others!  At the end of the challenge 10 women with the most epic journeys will be selected to go to Florida to work out at the Under Armour Camp Sweat to train with the best trainers.  Seriously, how cool is that?!

One of my challenges

When I signed up I stated that my goal is to run my first half marathon after losing more than 200 pounds.  I've uploaded photos for a couple of the challenges and have gotten some really nice support from people I've never met!  This definitely helps keep me going on those mornings when I'm sore or tired (or both!) and don't want to work out.

Do you think this is a way you could get/give motivation on your healthy living journey? 

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign.
All opinions are my own;

Monday, October 1, 2012

Half Marathon Update - Week 5 & Raffle WINNER!!

Since beginning half marathon training 5 weeks ago I often find myself really looking forward to my weekend group runs.  It's a time to learn new things and sometimes meet new people.  This week was no exception.  Except that it was a little bit different because my Sunday (group run day) began at 3 am.  I'd volunteered to go to Chicago to help put flyers on cars on the marathon course.  Unfortunately, I woke up no less than a zillion times throughout the night to check to make sure that I hadn't missed my alarm.  I hadn't and would go back to sleep but given the number of times I woke up clearly I did not have a very restful night.  Anyway ... I think I was so worried about getting to Chicago on time that I'd completely forgotten about thinking about the run.  Once we started running I realized that this was going to be a VERY long run.  It sucked.  I completed the five miles as planned but it was slow because I ended up walking part of the route.  This was completely mentally defeating and even while it was happening I hated myself for it.  On my way home from training and throughout the day I kept wondering what I'd do tomorrow (aka today) - take a rest day, run or bike?  I finally decided to run and since the training schedule had another 5 miles on tap I decided to knock it out.  It went spectacularly, probably because I actually mentally prepared myself for this run.  When things got a little hard out there I just kept thinking how cool it'd be to text my coach after and tell her I ran all 5 miles with no walking and no stopping.  For the record - sending that text was as awesome as I'd thought it would be!

Let's talk about the rest of the training week:
Here's what I was supposed to do:
Monday: Run 4 miles
Tuesday: Crosstrain or speed
Wednesday: Run 4 miles, medium effort
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Run 30 minutes, easy
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run 5 miles

Here's what I actually did:
Monday: Run 4 miles
Tuesday: Bike 13.46 miles
Wednesday: Run (5K to 10K Week 8, Day 1) 5.93 miles
Thursday: Bike 4.36 miles, strength train
Friday: Run 30 minutes
Saturday: Bike 10.29 miles (Failed at the rest day)
Sunday: Run/Walk 5 miles

Ok ... enough about training.  Let's announce the winner of the SPIBelt Raffle!  Thank you everyone for donating/entering my little giveaway.  I'm thrilled that I've now raised more than $2000 for CCFA and your contributions are so much appreciated!  The winner, as chosen by a random number generator, is
 <insert drum roll please>


Again, thank you so much for participating.  I have another raffle to put up in a little bit so stay tuned because if you already donated you're already registered for that giveaway too!

Friday, September 28, 2012

SPIBelt Giveaway

Are you a walker/runner/hiker/biker who always wonders where to keep your keys/phone/cash/fuel when you're out?  Well, look no further because I have the answer for you!

Image borrowed from SPIBelt because
I couldn't make it look this good! :)
The fabulous folks at SPIBelt have donated one of their very fabulous belts to help me raise money for Crohn's and Colitis Foundation!  I got my SPIBelt for Christmas last year and have LOVED having it.  I've used it while walking, running, biking and hiking.  Pretty much anytime I'm going out alone I have that handy little belt with me.  At first I thought that it wouldn't be big enough to hold both my phone and my house key/cash/ID etc.. but I've been able to store my iPhone, a full size CLIF bar, car/house key, ID & Cash with no problem.  Even with all of that in there the belt stayed securely on my waist and didn't bounce at all!  These things are AMAZING!

In order to be entered for the raffle you just have to do one thing!  For every $5 donated to Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (using that URL) you get an entry to the raffle.  Please share this with everyone you know so we can share the SPIBelt love and raise a lot of money for CCFA!  The contest is open now through next Monday, October 1, 2012 at which point I'll pick (using a random number generator) & post the winner with next week's training update.

I have a few more raffles to do this year and once you've donated you're entered in all of 'em!  So donate now and please share this with everyone!

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oh look, another gain... awesome (insert sarcasm)

Tuesday afternoon I go to my meeting and yuck it up with the ladies.  Then I hit the grocery stores (yes, two, one for produce and one for everything else) and go home.  My patient (and usually hungry) husband waits for me and we make dinner together with the bounty I've scored at the grocery store.  After dinner I usually can't wait to blog.  Some weeks I struggle finding a topic while other weeks the topic just slaps me in the face.  The fact that I'm posting this on Wednesday is not because I couldn't find a topic but rather because I feel like a failure, again.

I weighed myself at home yesterday morning and my scale showed me up 5 pounds.  Given that we celebrated Oktoberfest over the weekend I wasn't surprised but I was disappointed.  When I got to my meeting I sort of dreaded getting on the scale because as long as I didn't weigh-in I could still hope that I'd pulled off some sort of miracle and lost weight.  However, no.  Though the WW scale was a little more forgiving than my scale registering only a 1.4 pound gain.  Instant disappointment and frustration set in.  The other thing that set in was determination.  I will NOT let this derail the work I've done.  I know that I can get past this and I will.

It is 8 weeks until Thanksgiving (not to sound like the comic strip Cathy ... ack!) and our meeting topic was about setting goals we want to achieve before Thanksgiving.  I was apparently not listening to the instructions because I set four goals and apparently all you had to do was set one.

  1. Run my 15K on Nov 5 (this will be my longest race to date and I'm super excited about it)
  2. Hit 200 pounds lost (might be a stretch because it's about 11 pounds)
  3. Stay within my daily points target
  4. Include more strength training (this is actually kind of fun for me yet I only do it once a week)
So, my bestie Jen and I are going to really buckle down and focus.  Not necessarily go crazy because we know that won't be long term but I also know that I've tweaked the program slightly and maybe I tweaked it a little too much (see: #3).  I am hoping to be able to report back better results next week and naturally have an instant topic built in!

On a completely unrelated note ... in case you missed my last post I am hosting a give away!  All you have to do is donate to my fundraising campaign for your chance to win a SPIBelt (see the original post for more deets/photo).  Every $5 will get you one entry to the raffle and since I am going to have more than one raffle you'll want to donate early so that you're entered in all of them!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Half Marathon Training - Week 4 and a RAFFLE!!

This week I was coming off my shiny new PR high from the Bucktown 5K.  Being able to run that fast for 3.1 miles made me realize that all the training is paying off and that I really need to complete all the required training elements every single week because on December 2nd I'm going to need every single ounce of that training to work in my favor.  So, here's what coach wanted me to do this week:

Monday: 3 miles
Tuesday: Cross Train or Speed
Wednesday: 3 miles, start easy build to fast finish
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Easy 30 minutes
Saturday: 5 miles, start slow last 3 fast
Sunday: Rest

Here's what I actually did:

Monday: Bike 9.31 miles/42 minutes
Tuesday: Run 5.88 miles (W7D3 of the 5K - 10K program I've been doing)
Wednesday: Bike 11.91 miles/56 minutes
Thursday: Speed (10 minutes slow, 20 minutes fast, 10 minutes slow) & Strength train
Friday: Off (I thought I'd be running on Sunday so I took an early rest day)
Saturday: 5 miles with the TC Group
Sunday: Bike 12.4 miles/54:13

Overall I feel really solid about the training I did and feel like I'm making good progress.  The run on Saturday with my TC teammates did not go exactly as planned.  I'd intended to run an 11:00/mile but the first two were in the 10:XX range.  I struggled to hang onto that pace so the last 3 miles were slower, especially the last one because I ended up walking about a quarter mile.  I was disappointed with this but I was talking to Coach Bill who gave me some advice about speed training (it's necessary even though it sucks) and I really appreciated that.
Photo by SPIBelt (because I couldn't make it look this good)

Now for the fun part!  The fabulous folks at SPIBelt have donated one of their very fabulous belts to help me raise money for Crohn's and Colitis Foundation!  I got my SPIBelt for Christmas last year and have LOVED having it.  I've used it while walking, running, biking and hiking.  Pretty much anytime I'm going out alone I have that handy little belt with me.  At first I thought that it wouldn't be big enough to hold both my phone and my house key/cash/ID etc.. but I've been able to store my iPhone, a full size CLIF bar, car/house key, ID & Cash with no problem.  Even with all of that in there the belt stayed securely on my waist and didn't bounce at all!  These things are AMAZING!

In order to be entered for the raffle you just have to do one thing!  For every $5 donated to Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (using that URL) you get an entry to the raffle.  Please share this with everyone you know so we can share the SPIBelt love and raise a lot of money for CCFA!  The contest is open now through next Monday, October 1, 2012 at which point I'll pick (using a random number generator) & will post the winner with next week's training update.

Edited to add:  I have a few more raffles to do and once you've donated you're entered in all of 'em!  So donate now!!

Good luck everyone!