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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?