Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog post before one week vacay

I'm going on vacation all next week down to my parents, so there will most likely be no blog posts next week.

Goals while at my parents:
1. Run at least 3 times
2. Cross train at least twice
3. Make the best choices possible with food at least 75% of the time
4. Gain no more than 2lbs at my next WI after vacation (doesn't seem like a strict goal, but it is)

I had posted after last WI that this week I was going to be committed and focused and blah, but well, that didn't happen. I still ate out constantly. We had no food in the I had no choice. Sigh. Expecting a gain again tomorrow.

Went running today with my fiance. He does NOTHING in the way of physical fitness, so the run was interesting. His work is doing some physical fitness initiative where if he wears a pedometer and logs over 5,000 steps a day, they will put $100 in his health savings account.

So, last night he said "I may have to run with you. Probably not though, I walk all day at work, so I think I'll get the steps in." He got in 1,700 steps today. Granted, he was in meetings all day at work (which is abnormal) and he only had the pedometer for a half of a day...but I still highly doubt he will get 5,000 steps a day just working.

Ok, anyway. The run went ok. After the first 1.2 mile loop, we walked for maybe a quarter of a mile, then ran the rest of the loop. He did WAY better than I would have done if I had been sedentary for 5+ years and then tried to run 2.4 miles.

He is a slow runner, which I like, since I'm a slow runner. I was actually pushing his pace a little I think. When we were in cross country in high school (different high schools) we each were the slowest on our respective teams. Always thought that was funny.

Well, that's about it. If I have access to a computer and something super amazing happens downstate, I'll blog. Otherwise, see you on the 12th!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

5K Wrapup

My 5K was today. It was AMAZING!

Let me start at the beginning. My fiance and I hada fight last weekend that we never did anything together, so this weekend was a "doing things together" extravaganza. On Saturday, we went to a wedding reception until 9pm, then a ham radio (he loves ham radio) event from 11pm-2:30am. My 5K started at 8:20am on Sunday with check in at 6:30-7:30am, in a town that was 2.5 hours away. So...where does sleep figure into that? It doesn't. (Bonus, we live in a different time zone than the 5K, so we actually had to leave 3.5 hours earlier than the sign in time...i.e. 3:30am).

I had made a promise to myself to break my PR of 37 and some change by just running as a hard as possible. However...I was running on maybe 2 hours of sleep once you figured in some car sleeping. I was pretty skeptical I was going to do anything good.

Factor in the torrential downpour of rain that we had starting at 4am, and I wasn't feeling like this was the race I had planned.

However, as we were all hanging out underneath a pavilion waiting for the start, I made a friend. Her name was Jessica, and she was concerned that she was going to come in last. I explained to her that she couldn't possibly come in last since I was running the race :). Her friend had made her sign up for the 5K, and after some different family problems, could no longer participate herself. Jessica said that she was too cheap to not run in a race she already paid for, so there she was! I myself didn't successfully peer pressure anyone into signing up for the race with it was perfect!

Me and my new friend

With 10 minutes to go to the start of the race, the rain started to clear up to just a light sprinkling. It was about 60-64*F. In short, the weather was PERFECT. This was also my first chip timed event. We lined up and then *bang*! We were off!

Mile 1 was pretty easy. When I passed the marker I looked at my HRM...10 minutes flat! Holy crap, I'm going too fast I thought. I'll never keep up this pace. At mile 1.5 there was water, I walked for about 30 seconds to drink...then right back to running! Jessica told me that she was going to use me to pace her on the run at this point. That was pretty flattering...I've never been anything CLOSE to a pacer before.

Mile 2 came at 21 minutes. This is where the hills started. They weren't huge, but very rolling. My legs were burning as I was running up them, but I pushed through. I think all the stairclimbing I've been doing on my crosstraining days have REALLY helped me. I'm definitely continuing that.

Around mile 2.5 I looked at my watch. 27ish mins! That means If I just could finish my last 0.6 of a mile in less than 8 minutes, I would have a hold of my original non-sleep deprived goal! AHHH!!

The last thing you had to do was to complete a lap on the track. It was a really neat idea, because you got to watch everyone finish. Mile 3 came on the track, and I think it was somewhere around 32:45ish. I hauled ass for the last 0.1 and finished in....drumroll please...


My best by four minutes! FOUR MINUTES!!


I ran sub 11 mins/mile!! First time ever for a sustained amount of time!!!! I can't express how excited I am.

Based on my results from today, I should be able to run a sub 2:45 half marathon, which is what I've been going for. Really, I'd like to run a sub 2:30 half marathon, but I don't know if that's possible for me yet.

How'd everyone else's weekends go??

38/52 overall for females
94/113 over for both genders
5/8 for Age Group
10:48 mins/mile average

Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm SO Frustrated right now.

I gained again this week. 0.4lbs. I know it's not a lot...and I had a feeling I was going to gain going into it...but I'm still mad. I know it's my fault. Even though I track, I've been "forgetting" bites/licks/tastes, or whole snacks at times...I'm eating out WAY more than I should...I know. I know all this and yet I'm still mad when the scale goes up.

Because of this, my commitment this week is to track every single damn thing that goes into my mouth, and to only eat out like 3 times this week. My larger commitment is to have oatmeal for breakfast instead of the McDonald's I usually have.

I'm also going to try to honestly use as little WP's and AP's as possible. I want I huge loss before going on my week long vacay at home, where I fully expect to gain.

I guess the good thing is that I'm earning 30-40 AP's each week. That really helps buffer some of the weight that I would have gained. Oh, and I know people say you can "gain muscle" when you work out that much and that can explain some You simply can't gain that much muscle in one week as a woman on a restricted diet. You can lose more slowly, or maybe not lose at all for a week, but gaining almost a whole pound one week and a half a pound the next? No. All of the scientific studies I've ever read basically say this is something dieters tell themselves to make themselves feel better.

Ok, on to good news. I rode my bike 8ish miles on Tuesday. I parked at Lake Antoine and then biked 1 mile to go around Big Lake Fumee.
That's my track from Tuesday. It only says 7.27 miles, but that's because I started the program later into my track.

I also tried my eGel energy gels by for the first time on this ride. I knew I would be out there for over an hour, and I hadn't had dinner yet, so I brought one with me and ate it about half way around. It went down easy (although was a different consistency than I expected, but I've never had a gel and it didn't cause me any stomach upset. I bought a multi box with 4 different flavors; I tried the cherry bomb one. The other three flavors are mountain rush, vanilla strawberry slam, and tropical blast. The flavor of the cherry bomb one was really good...I hope the others are that good! I want to try all four flavors on my training runs before I have to use them for my 15K in August or my half marathon in October.

eGel claims they are the best because they are 150 cals instead of 100, so you get more per pouch, and they have higher amounts of electrolytes than other gels. I tried this brand because it was recommended in Marathoning for Mortals.

Getting excited/nervous for my 5K on Sunday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Internet Was Down ALL WEEKEND!

Frustrating. Anyway, I'm going to do my post in chapters, because I have a lot to talk about over the last weekend, and I don't want it to be too hard to read.

Chapter 1. Friday

Went to Relay for Life after work (rode my bike there and back). The basic premise is that you walk around the track to fight cancer. I don't really understand it- nobody sponsors people per lap that you do (like some other philanthropies do), so why do people walk and walk and walk? But they do. And I'm glad they do- it's great to see people out and doing something that requires burning calories. It's rare in America.

Anyway, I walked. One of the groups were selling buttons that you attached a ribbon to, and everytime you went around the track, you got a bead to put on your ribbon. It was AWESOME. It encouraged so many people to walk more than they would have on their own...myself included. I walked 5 miles that night. The entire time I was walking I desperately wanted to be running. Walking felt slow and cumbersome. It was so frustrating to know I could run that far MUCH faster than I could walk it. One of my friends brought her stepson, and he was trying to beat her in the race for beads, so I sprinted with him for the last 200 yards of each lap for a few laps. It was awesome.

Button and beads from relay

Chapter 2. Saturday

Came back in the morning to run on the track so I could get more beads. You aren't really supposed to run, but it was 5:30am on a Saturday, so there were very few people there. I ran 4 miles and completed my long run for the week. It wasn't arduous at all (like track running normally is) because of the silly bead competition.

I got out of work early and came back an hour and a half before the event was over and walked another 3 miles. I think next year I'm going to take the weekend off of work and just see how many beads I can get (the group that did it this year is going to do it again next year because of how big of a hit it was).

Chapter 3. Sunday

Rest day.

Chapter 4. Monday

Ran- sort of. Had Thai food for lunch, and then went to the beach all day with no fluids. Attempted to run in the afternoon, and just about died. The warm up walk was ok- I could tell it wasn't going to be a spectacular run, but I didn't know how bad. Two minutes into the run, I had to walk. It felt like everytime my left foot struck the ground, a homeless man ran up to me and stabbed me in the gut. I tried running a few more times unsuccessfully, and grudgingly walked the rest of the route. Sigh.

Chapter 5. Tuesday

Crosstraining day. Biked 8 miles and then ran into the lake immediately and swam (90* heat is hot!!). It was SO refreshing. I'm going to do that more often.

Ok, enough of that. Tomorrow is a rest day, so nothing fun to update with tomorrow. However, I'm doing a 5K this weekend in Munising, MI and I'm SUPER EXCITED for it. My plan is to run full out and try to PR. It shouldn't be hard because at my last 5K (the only one I've done as an adult) I could have ran a lot more of it, but I ran with a friend and we took it easy and just enjoyed it. Plus, Nate (my fiance) is driving me to it, and he's never come to one of my races before, so that should be fun.


The stairs I climb on crosstraining days...I wish the picture was bigger so you could see them all!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meeting Results and Other Things from Yesterday

I was expecting a gain, and I got what I expected. Up 0.8lbs to 165.8. I have never been so happy to gain 0.8 in my life!! I was expecting it to be up like 2 whole pounds. 0.8 is nothing. 0.8 is a good dump.

Rode my bike to the meeting and back. Wasn't as bad as I expected- my butt is pretty darn sore after spin class on Wednesday...but my padded gel seal and padded bike shorts took the brunt of it for me. After the meeting I came home and ran 2.25 miles with my running buddy Erica.

I was REALLY not looking forward to this run. So much so that I wanted to call her and be like "don't come over, I'm a wuss". My quads are still (even today) killing me, my calves are pretty painful, and in general my legs feel like they're going to fall off. Running was the LAST thing I wanted to do.

I'm so glad I didn't wuss out!

The run was awesome. It was a great temperature outside. It didn't hurt to run as much as it does to go up and down stairs (or to even touch my legs). It made me feel very powerful. While I was running, I thought back on all the stuff I did this week...particularly the last two days. I thought about how when I told people I climbed the stairs twice their response was "Twice? In a row??" and they gave me disbelieving looks. I thought about how I followed that up by going to a spin class...on the same day. I thought about how I didn't find what I did that impressive or hard...just another day in the life of training for a half marathon.

While I was thinking about all of this, something amazing happened. I ran the 2.25 miles in 26 mins. I had to walk three different times for about 1 min a time. Overall, I ran a pace of 11:30 min/mile for the whole thing. For the running sections, I was really running at 11:03 min/mile.


I know 11:03 isn't fast for most runners. I appreciate that. But for me, that is cookin'. More importantly, I was TIRED. I was SORE. I was NOT WANTING TO RUN. I was WHINY. And yet, I ran WAY FASTER than I should have. I was expecting closer to 12:30 or 13:00/mile with how I felt going into it.

I can't express how this makes me feel. I'm so proud of myself and how far I've come, and I'm proud of my body for taking a beating and coming back for more.

So...I guess next time I don't want to run...I just have to remember that my body is up for whatever I'm going to dish out if I just quit being a pussy about it.

Tonight I have the Relay for Life walk-a-thon. I'm making No-Pudge brownies to bring for our tent. I bought the mint kind as well...the batter tasted like mint fudge! God it was amazing.

Tomorrow is my four mile run!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good Times!

Tuesday I ended up taking a rest day because of the rain we had.

Wednesday I climbed the stairs at Pine Mountain twice in the morning. Then I went to spin class after work. I had never done a spin class was pretty fun! Although the entire time I kept thinking "why would you choose this hilly of a route? Why wouldn't you take a car?" as the instructor was shouting "another hill! Really work it!". The pamphlet said I would burn 600 calories. I only burned 500 calories. Should have demanded a refund! ;)

This morning I was supposed to go for a run but slept in...turns out spin class killed me! I felt fine after leaving and before going to sleep...but today my quads are KILLING me. Tonight I'll go to my meeting (I'm feeling a gain coming on) and then afterwards my running buddy and I are going for a run. I'll ride my bike to the meeting and back like I normally do.

So anyway, spinning is fun, and now I have something for cross training if I can't get outside to train because of maybe I can actually take rest days on the days I'm supposed to so I don't have a million days of training in a row.

Monday, June 14, 2010

18 Weeks to Go!

Apparently I have 18 weeks until my half marathon on 10/23. For some reason, I thought I started my 14 week program perfectly on time to finish the weeks when I need to for the half marathon (meaning I would have 11 weeks left). That's a ton of cushioning time!

I have mixed feelings about this. I mean, obviously it's nice to have extra time in case I need to repeat weeks and what not (and I probably will, what with me getting married in the middle of all of this). At the same time though, I thought I was so much closer to being able to run the half marathon! It's kind of like a kid looking forward to Christmas forever, and then being like "No Billy you idiot, Christmas is in December, not November. We shouldn't have dropped you on your head that one time." Le sigh.

My run today Mondays are easy recovery runs in my program and they would like you to keep your heart rate at about 65-75% of your max. Figuring my max is 195 (based on that stupid 220-25 and the fact that I did my own "max heart rate test" by running as hard as possible, and only could get it up to 195) this would mean keeping my heart rate between 126-146 for the run. Today my heart rate when running was 155 (80% of my max). I was running 13 min/mile for a lot of it (although I did get up to as fast as 9:30 min/mile).

So I guess what I'm trying to say the hell am I supposed to keep my heart rate that low? Honestly, when I'm walking (doing NO RUNNING) my heart rate is around 120.

To top it off, I felt like today was a large waste of time because the run felt so slow and so sluggish. I know its a recovery day. I know. But mentally I feel like I should be going harder. I feel like I can without doing any detriment to my body. I know I just have to trust that the people who wrote the program (that have ran dozens of marathons) know more than me...who has never ran in a half or full marathon yet.

The other way you can do this program is to use the I-Rate scale (on a scale of 1-10, how hard is it). I would have counted this day as a 5, tops. Using the I-Rate scale, today was supposed to be a 6.5-7.5. So what the hell should I go by? The HRM or the I-Rate scale?

I don't know. If anyone reads this, please let me know what you did if you were in a similar situation.

The run itself was pretty. I ran through that man made marsh that I mentioned yesterday, and it was pretty relaxing. Unfortunately, the loop I was talking about taking yesterday was WAY shorter than I had thought it would be- I thought it would be about 1 mile around it...and it was about 0.25 mile.

This is a picture of where I ran today. If I would have turned to the right, you would have seen gas stations and a McDonalds. It's a marsh right in the middle of town...pretty cool!

Tomorrow is a 30 minute cross training day. I may do the stairs at Pine Mountain again. Not positive yet.

Here is my schedule for this week:
Monday: 30 min run
Tuesday: 30 min cross training
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 30 min run
Friday: 30 min cross training
Saturday: 4 mile run
Sunday: Rest

Wednesday's blog will be about the products I like to use for my running since it's a rest day.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fun Times Exploring a Mapped Route

Today is Sunday, which is supposed to be a rest day in my half marathon training program. However, yesterday was supposed to be my long run day (this week, 3 miles) which for various reasons I wasn't able to do. So I figured I'd better do something today.

My friend Angie is training to bike in the Tour De UP, which is a bike tour of the eastern UP around St. Ignace. Bikers participating in the tour typically will ride about 60 miles a day. She is training pretty hard for it, so when I called her up to bike the Norway city trail with me, she was more than up for it.

This is the map that is supplied by the city. As you can see (if it isn't too blurry to read), they list that the Strawberry Lake loop is approximately 1 mile around (it's actually 0.9miles according to my GPS), and the City Loop is approximately ___ miles. Well, that's not very helpful for someone who wants to know the distance they're setting out to do! That was our mission- to track the distance so when my long runs start getter longer, I could do this loop as an option.

We parked at Strawberry Lake and headed out from there. She has a really nice road bike that she bought recentally to make her long rides easier for her. I have a really nice mountain bike that I bought last year because...well, I didn't have a bike. She was a little nervous heading out on the bike trail since she didn't know the condition it was in, but I assured her it was good enough to rollerblade on, so surely her bike could handle it, and she quickly agreed. Besides, the map lists that the entire route is paved, so there won't be any problem.

Well, no. See, the map lists that the trail is paved "except for the lake street portion". Somehow I didn't see that.

But I'm jumping ahead in the story. I totally skipped the part where we got lost and doubled back for a portion. Let me illustrate.

(mapping courtesy of Cardio Trainer App on Motorola Droid)

See that part that is circled on the right? See how it doesn't match up with anything from the picture that the city provides? Yeah. That's because it's not part of the trail. Unfortunently, the trail is not marked AT ALL in this section, so if you don't have a map or knowledge of where the hell you are going, you are going to do what we did. And, bonus, on the part we doubled back on, there was a HUGE long drawn out hill that made me want to punch babies. We did get to see a doe and her fawn on this section, so I guess it wasn't a total loss.

Anyway. So, we figure out where the hell we are going, and start to head that direction. Well, then it turns to dirt. Rocky, non-road bike friendly dirt. Luckily that only lasted for about 0.25 of a mile or so. Then we were back on pavement for the rest of the trip!

Referring back to the first picture, the part on the left where the text is pointing to is a man made marsh that the bike trail winds through. It was very pretty and relaxing. We also saw a fox snake!

This wasn't the actual snake I saw, but is a good representation of it. They are so pretty. When I first saw one up here, I didn't think it was a native species because of how bright the yellow is- it looked tropical to me.

The marsh area has an option to continue through it, but it turns to dirt and is VERY rocky, so we didn't want to risk popping a tire on Angie's bike. Next time we will take her mountain bike!

Well, mission accomplished. We figured out how long the trail is (roughly 7 miles, it mapped as 7.48, but I figure we doubled back for around 0.5 mile). Plus, the marshy loop itself would be fun to run. In fact, I think I'll do that tomorrow for my run. Fun!

What did everyone else do today?

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Introduction to the Tortoise

Well, Hi!

Introductions are in order. My name is Steph, and since June of 2009, I've been living a healthier life through the help of Weight Watchers and running.

I wasn't always so healthy. One year ago, I was 193.1lbs. At 5'7'' that is nowhere near a healthy weight. I was sluggish, unhappy, and unhealthy. My asthma was horrible and at times unmanageable.

The killer part? I had been this weight before. Oh yes. In 2004, I ballooned from the high 150's/low 160's to 197lbs. I joined Weight Watchers, and got down to 152lbs in about 4-5 months. Then one weekend, I stopped counting points and paying attention to what I was eating. I never would count again until that fateful day when I rejoined in 2009. Over the next 5 years, I gained all 45lbs back. It came on so slowly that I had time to get used to being overweight again, so I didn't realize just how much had some back on.

How did I realize I needed to do something? I went to visit my friend in May of 2009, thought the weather was going to be warm and only packed shorts/skirts. Of course was really cold, so I had to buy pants. Well, turns out I needed a size 15/16!! Never in my life had I worn that size (even when I weighed that much in 2004). Something had to be done. When I came home, I registered for WW online that next week.

When I did WW in 2004, I didn't do any form of exercise at all. This time around, I knew I had to do something or I wouldn't stick with it (because I need the extra points you get from exercise to not go batty and eat everything in sight). I had done cross country in high school and hated it...but I knew that running was the best exercise for torching calories...and I always had this lofty dream of someday running a marathon in the back of my mind.

Enter the Couch to 5K program, which I started doing in August of 2009. When I first started in August running for 60 seconds at a time KILLED me! A funny thing happened though. The program built me up so slowly (and there was no one there trying to make me run faster than I physically could) that I actually liked what I was doing. I liked the way I felt after I ran. I liked how in tune with my body I was. I liked how much easier my day to day life was now that I was in shape. Now I'm training for a half marathon in October on Mackinac Island using the running program detailed in "Marathoning for Mortals" by John Bingham. (So excited for my first medal!)

Oh, so why "The Tortoise" for my site name? Well...I'm slow as hell when I run! My average min/mile time ranges from 11:30-13:00 depending on the length of the run and how I feel that day. I will never be fast. That doesn't mean I don't care about PR's, because I do...but I know I'll never be on the podium. I'm ok with that. I'm pretty happy if I just beat SOMEONE that is running the race against me. I'm super excited if I beat someone in my age group. But no matter what, just running the race is exciting to me.