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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!

Friday, September 21, 2012

AMR's 10 Running Related Questions

The lovely ladies at Another Mother Runner came up with a great group of questions for us all to answer.  Have you answered?  No?  Well, get on it.

1. Best run ever:
I'd have to say Bucktown 5K (are you sick of seeing that URL yet?) because it was truly a race that I felt 100% confident that I could/would have a good race.  I think that was the first time I felt really comfortable with my ability.

2. Three words that describe my running:
Exciting, Fun, Release

3. My go-to running outfit is:
Depends on the weather - after all I do live in the midwest!  I prefer shorts and a t-shirt but that's not really possible all the time due to weather (wind/rain/cold/snow) so I have to be adaptable.

4. Quirky habit while running:
I'm not sure that I have a quirky habit while I run - I think most of my habits are probably quirky in general!

5. Morning, midday, evening:
Morning - I think it sets me up for a good day when I start my day by working out.  I seem to make healthier choices throughout the day after that first thing in the morning workout.

6. I won’t run outside when it’s:
Again, because I live in the midwest I struggle with rain/ice.  I'm also pretty clumsy and fall down a lot so any time when the path I run on is slippery I probably avoid it in favor of something else.  

7. Worst injury—and how I got over it:
Luckily I haven't had any other than just pulled muscles and sore IT bands.  Of course now that I've said that I'm sure that tomorrow when I run I'll do something stupid.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when:
Having lost nearly 200 pounds I think that pretty much anytime I complete a run I am a badass runner!

9. Next race is:
The next race I am registered to run is the Hot Chocolate 15K in November but there are others that I would like to run before but I just have to see because I'm struggling to balance half marathon training with the fun of racing.  As my mileage increases it seems harder to run on back to back days (racing one day and running with the group the other day) so we'll see....

10. Potential running goal for 2013:
I think running more longer distance races than 5Ks would be my goal for 2013.  I think I'd like to find some 5 mile, 10K and 15K races to do because I do like those distances.  Since I haven't run my half marathon yet I'm still on the fence about whether I'll do more so stay tuned for that!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Half Marathon Training - Week 3

Finishing week 3 of half marathon training seems surreal to me - the fact that we are this far into the program already is both exciting and still a little scary.  I definitely felt good about my training this week because I had really good runs and strength training sessions.  I was a little sore last week after doing all that but it's the "hurts so good" kind of pain!

My training schedule called for:
Monday:  Run 2 miles
Tuesday:  Cross-Training or Speed
Wednesday:  Run 3 miles
Thursday:  Strength
Friday:  Run 30 minutes, easy
Saturday:  Off
Sunday:  Run 4 miles

What I actually did for training:
Monday:  Run 3.04 miles
Tuesday:  Bike 11.45 miles/Strength Train
Wednesday:  Run 5.75 miles (5K to 10K training program week 7, day 2)
Thursday:  Bike ~3 miles/Strength Train
Friday:  Off
Saturday:  Run 30 minutes
Sunday:  Run 3.1 miles (Bucktown 5K)

I am still working on fundraising and could definitely use your help!  Please use feel free to donate using the secure website.

See you next week for another update!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's about the long term... right?

So the weigh-in this week was ... eh ... not so good.  I gained 3.4 pounds but it's not about what happens week to week but what happens in the long term, right?  Maybe over the course of a month, two months, six months or a year?  That's what I'm telling myself now at least!

My week was good but seemed to fly by.  My training went well this week as I logged a couple of really good runs including a shiny new PR at the Bucktown 5K.  I also spent some time in the gym working on my strength training.  This is still a little odd to me since I'm pretty new to it but I definitely feel good once I do it.    Overall I know that the increased mileage and strength training is going to help me in my running.

My coach has also given me some new stretches to do because I've been battling a slightly angry IT band.  There is one pose that she wants me to do that has me convinced she thinks that I'm a grasshopper!  Oh well... the stretches (or the version that I am able to do) seem to be helping because my IT band doesn't seem quite as angry even though I'm upping my mileage.  This is quite a big relief!

How was your week?


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Race Recap: Bucktown 5K

This is probably the first race I went into KNOWING that I could run the entire race.  I've run 3 miles plenty of times now so I had that confidence.  This meant I was pretty sure I'd be able to snag a new personal record (PR).  If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook you know that not only did I get a new PR I crushed my old one!  My last PR (37:24) was from the Journey's Marathon/Half/5K back in May.  My shiny new PR (32:28) is from the Bucktown 5K.  But let's back up ...

The start -
it was crowded so I circled my head,
in case you don't recognize me
I went to Deerfield on Thursday to pick up my packet and was super pleased with how packet pick-up was done.  I was in and out of the store within minutes and while I could have stayed longer to shop I had lunch plans that I was already late for.  The fact that I walked in, presented the QR code on my phone and was handed my bib and goodie bag in less than five minutes of walking in made me super happy.

When registering for races run by RAM Racing you have to specify your average pace.  Since I registered for this race back in May I used the pace I was running back then.  Today I ran much, much faster than whatever pace I registered with (likely a 12-15 minute mile) back then.  It did, however, give me an opportunity to meet one of my Team Challenge (TC) teammates.  I was wearing my TC training shirt and she came up to me and we had a nice chat before the race which was really nice because it seemed to take a long time to actually start running (20 minutes for my corral to get to the front) so warming up seemed like a waste of time.

What's that?  Thumbs up?  I actually feel good!
Once we were running things were good.  I felt like I was darting around people like crazy so I was a little worried that I'd burn out because I was trying to get around people.  I was amazed (and still a little worried) when my Garmin ticked off the first mile and I read that I finished it in 10:39!  While this pace was comfortable I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep it up and I remember thinking that I needed to slow down.  Imagine my surprise then when Garmin ticked off the second mile and I read that I finished it in 10:17!!  That mile also included the water stop which I did not walk through but I knew I slowed down because everyone else slowed down and because I knew I needed to get some water in my mouth rather than just all over my shirt, like I usually do.  I knew that I'd see Dan shortly because there was only a mile left so I tried to keep my eyes on the crowd and it wasn't long before I saw him and we tried to get a quick photo.  Turns out when running that's more difficult so ... whoops!  Pretty soon after that I saw the last mile marker and knew that I was almost done.  I did another quick check of my form, corrected my arm swing and pushed forward.  I about wanted to cry when I saw the numbers on my watch - Garmin said I finished in 32:31 which I knew was a lot faster than my last PR.

After I crossed the finish I grabbed a bottle of water (seriously they were handing out full bottles which was awesome because I was hot.  And thirsty.), a banana, apple and a granola bar.  I realized I got a text from Dan that he was already at the car because he saw the crowd at the finish and knew we wouldn't be able to find each other so I walked to the car.  After a quick "HOLY CRAP GUESS WHAT I JUST DID" phone call we went to Revolution Brewing for our post-race celebration.  We had some time to kill so we walked around for about 30 minutes and then went in to have brunch.  At this point I pulled up the official race results and was amazed that the chip time was FASTER than my watch time.  I'm not sure why but I'll take it!
Official Results
Overall this race was fun and the goodie bag included a very cool sweatshirt.  There were plenty of port-o-johns available at the start/finish and that was appreciated.  I don't really remember much of the course because I was pre-occupied with making sure I wasn't running into people.  I will very likely do this race again because it was managed fairly well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's ironic... don't ya think?

Growing up we never had name brand clothes unless we found them at a garage sale, which, since I was overweight even in high school that rarely happened.  Before my senior year of high school we were in Oshkosh at the outlet mall and I bought my first pair of name brand jeans.  A pair of Levi's that I'd use in my senior pictures.  I thought that these pants made me cool (wrong) and I loved wearing them and was sad when I couldn't fit into them any longer.  However, I never had the heart to get rid of them because I always thought that one day I'd fit into them again.  A few months ago I pulled them out to try them on and while I could get them on I couldn't button them or zip them so I put them back in the closet and I forgot about them.  Until last night.

I have no idea why I got it into my brain that I should try them on last night especially since I gained so much weight on vacation but I did and I couldn't go to sleep without trying them on.  I pulled them out of the closet and this time they went on with ease and I was able to button and zip them.  Awesome, until I looked in the mirror and realized that the thighs were too big.  I think Jen would be proud of me to know that this is an accomplishment (realizing that the pants don't need to be of the MC Hammer variety) but I was mad that I missed the opportunity to wear these pants again.  Especially considering I went out and bought a new pair of jeans to take on the trip!  Bollocks!

So, when I went to my meeting today I told this story and one of my meeting mates said to me "you can't be mad about not fitting in them, can you?" and I was a little taken back by the question.  It wasn't really the question but the fact that I actually didn't know how to answer it.  I mean, I know that I am not mad that I've lost the weight!  This might take some more thinking...

In the meantime, in case you missed my new pumpkin recipe you should check it out.  It is super yummy and only 3PP per huge serving!!  Even Dan likes it (and he generally hates sweets!)

While you're checking things out don't forget that you can still 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!  http://www.active.com/donate/illinoisLV12/LV_JMcElro

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Cake
PointsPlus Values per Serving:  3
Makes:  12 servings


Pumpkin Angel Cake
A few weeks ago I had a serious craving for strawberry short cake.  When I was little Mom always made shortcake out of an angel food cake mix but I wasn't sure how many Points+ per serving so a quick search on the internet brought me to a recipe of an angel food cake mix + 28 oz. can of crushed pineapple.  This was amazingly delicious (and tasted like summer) so I wanted to see if I could make something similar that would be fall inspired.  So, I present to you pumpkin cake.

1 Pillsbury Angel Food Cake Mix (may use others but PointsPlus value may vary)
28 oz. canned pumpkin
1 t. pumpkin pie spice

Mix well to combine and pour into a 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  The cake is very heavy (from the pumpkin) and needs to bake a long time or the center will be very soft.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Half Marathon Training - Week 2

As the second week of half marathon training comes to a close I have mixed emotions.  I had a few really good runs and a few days that I didn't do anything because I wasn't feeling well and the weather was less than cooperative.  Let's talk about the good runs rather than the not feeling well part because that is just going to be a lot more fun.  I decided to head across the border to Wisconsin to spend a few days with my parents before they head to Texas for a reunion.  I was planning on hopping on the bike to get in some good cross training on Wednesday (the day I left) but when I woke up it was storming so I couldn't do that.  Not wanting to spend the time in the gym I decided it'd be another rest day.  However, while I was driving to Wisconsin I realized that I could NOT go three days in a row without doing SOMETHING.  So, I figured if the weather was nice when I got home that I'd head out for a run before dinner.

Mom asked me when I arrived how my bike ride went and I told her that I bagged the ride but was going to go for a run before dinner and hoped that the temperature would drop a little.  It was close to 80 that day so the weather wasn't bad but I was hoping it'd be better.  As I was getting ready for my run my dad asked if I was going running (he's perceptive that way) and I asked him if he wanted to come along (on his bike) and he agreed.  So, away we went.  Dad pedaling ahead of me and watching in his "rear view mirror" either to make sure that I was still back there, still running or maybe checking that I hadn't fallen over!  He'd go on ahead of me for awhile, turn around and ride a ways behind me and then catch up.  He warned me about trucks that were coming, deer that I didn't see and just made me smile having someone to "run" with in the country.  I know this run will be one of my favorites for a long time because I got to spend that time with my dad.

The other run I did was part of my 5K - 10K training plan that I've been following.  I didn't mind running in the country however going much farther on the country roads would have meant some serious hills would be involved and I didn't want to navigate hills on such a long run (it would be about 6 miles).  So I decided to head to town and had mapped out a pretty good route.  Dad told me that there is a path around Memorial Park that was 3 miles long so I figured I'd just run that loop twice and that wouldn't be so bad.  However, I missed a part of the path because the loops I ran were only one mile long.  After two and a half laps I decided to venture out of the park and run through town.  It was a great run with the most perfect running weather - cool and sunny, exactly the way I like it.

So my training schedule was supposed to be:
Monday:  Run 1 Mile
Tuesday:  Cross training or speed work
Wednesday:  Run 2 Miles
Thursday:  Strength train
Friday:  Easy 30 minutes
Saturday:  Rest Day
Sunday:  Run 3 Miles (Group Run)

What my schedule actually was:
Monday:  Rest Day
Tuesday:  Rest Day
Wednesday:  Run 2.68 Miles
Thursday:  Run 5.84 Miles
Friday:  Rest Day
Saturday:  Bike 9.2 Miles/Strength Train
Sunday:  Run 3 Miles

I am hoping my actual training schedule is a lot closer to the planned schedule next week but I also know I logged some solid miles with good pacing so I feel good about that.  So, while I'm training how about you go and donate a few dollars to my fundraising campaign?  You can donate by clicking on the Team Challenge logo at the top of the page, by visiting my fundraising page or even by mailing me a check!  Donations are tax deductible because CCFA is a 501(c)3 registered charity.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Finding motivation

I have to admit that I struggled this week.  I found myself dipping into my activity points more than I normally do and used some friends coming over on Sunday as an excuse to go crazy food-wise.  We had drinks at a new place up the road from us and shared an appetizer between the four of us.  Then we went to a sushi restaurant where I definitely ate more than I should have because I wasn't paying enough attention to what I was eating so I lost track of exactly what I ate.  Then I decided that after dinner I wanted a cookie so we walked next door to Panera.  While I looked at the pastries I thought to myself... gees these don't even look good enough but I bought an orange scone anyway and shared it with my friend.  We shared a few more drinks that night and when I tried to tally up the PointsPlus values on Monday morning I was shocked.  First of all, an orange scone from a restaurant is 11-13 PointsPlus?  Yikes!

I suppose that the meeting topic this week was especially timely when we talked about the ways to use Weight Watchers to be successful.  All of the things I know encourage me to keep going and that I can make good choices no matter what.  So, I am recommitted to working this program and getting back on track.

What makes you re-evaluate what you've done?  How do you get re-engaged to get back on plan?