January 31, 2015

New Indy plan

As I mentioned Thursday, I decided to walk at the rec center while the boys played basketball. I haven't walked much at all since my ankle injury, because I've been trying to keep weight off of it as much as possible (hello, jigsaw puzzles!). Open swimming is only from 8:30 pm-10:00 pm on Thursdays, so I couldn't do water running, but after such a lazy day on Wednesday, I was feeling the urge to be active yesterday.

I wore my Altra Paradigms, because those have maximum cushioning. I brought along my iPod, and went upstairs to the track. There were a ton of people on it! Usually, I'm the only one, or maybe 1-2 others. I started walking at a pretty quick pace (slightly faster than a 15:00/mi pace). There are only three lanes, and most people were walking in pairs. The inner lane is for running only, so it was difficult to pass people.

I was so grateful that my ankle felt PERFECT. No issues whatsoever. I decided that after a mile of walking, I'd attempt to run one time around the track (1/12 of a mile) and see how my ankle felt. It was so strange--the second I started running, my ankle started hurting. It must just be the impact from running that is causing the pain. I walked a while longer, for 30 minutes total, and then called it quits. My ankle was a little sore when I got home, but nothing worse than it has been lately.

I woke up a few times during the night and my ankle was really hurting, so the walk and/or brief run really irritated it; in the morning, it was so painful that I was limping! I have an appointment with a podiatrist on Tuesday evening. I'd like to at least rule out a fracture or something else that's really serious. For now, I'm not even going to test it. I'm going to continue to rest it as much as possible, and do the water running for exercise.

It's been almost 8 weeks since I injured it, and with all the resting I've been doing, I would have hoped to see more progress. But the reality is, this is a long-term injury, so I have to reevaluate any running goals I have for this year. Training for Indy is supposed to start in a week! My goal was a sub-2:00 half-marathon, but I am not even going to hope for that now. I'm going to continue to train in the pool, logging as much time as I would if I was running on ground. As soon as my ankle is better, I'll see where I'm at as far as Indy goes.

I've done Indy four times, and each time, I say that I would love to do the race with a camera, and take tons of pictures along the course. It's a SUPER fun course, and I always see so many fun bands, costumes, runners' shirts, etc. that I've wanted to take pictures of. So maybe this time, I'll do just that: run if I can, but not worry about time, and just take lots of pictures and enjoy it. If I still can't run by then, I'll walk it.

My main priority for a running goal this year is now to be able to train for and run the Detroit Marathon, which is in October (training starts in July). I had hoped to train for a PR, and maybe that's still possible. It's all going to depend on what happens with my ankle. But I'll worry about that later. Right now, I just want to do everything in my power to get better--even if that means no running for a few months. I'll just have to bust my ass in the pool! ;)

Today, the kids had their classes at JoAnn Fabrics. Noah has been taking a cake decorating class, and Eli had a pajama pants sewing class. The classes were a gift from my mom for them for Christmas, and she's been the one going with them, but she wasn't able to today, so Jerry and I took the kids. Today was the final day of class for each of them. Noah designed and decorated a Minecraft cake:

And Eli made a cute pair of fleece pajama bottoms:

They both really enjoyed the classes. The cake decorating was super messy, and required a ton of prep work on my mom's part, but Noah is really excited to be able to decorate birthday cakes for our family. And Eli was even taught how to clean a sewing machine, which will certainly come in handy--I don't know that I've ever cleaned mine! hahaha

Tonight, my younger brother, Nathan, is watching the kids, which they are super excited about. Jerry and I are going to my friend Eric's house, where several of my high school friends are getting together. It's been a while since I saw everyone, so I'm really looking forward to it!

January 29, 2015

DIY tether

Whew! Yesterday was a much-needed break from the computer. I was awakened at 4:45 in the morning in the most nerve-shattering way, though. Jerry left for work, and as always, he set the home alarm before he left. Once you set it, you have 45 seconds to get out of the house or it will actually sound the alarm. If the door is opened after those 45 seconds, then the alarm sounds REALLY LOUDLY. The noise it makes is like an ambulance siren, only about 100 times louder.

I have no idea what happened when Jerry left, but I woke up to the noise of the alarm going off. I was so confused, and I yelled, "Get up!" to Jerry, but then I remembered he'd already gotten up for work. Then I thought maybe someone was breaking in the house, but right then I saw the headlights from Jerry's car leaving the driveway, and I assumed he'd accidentally set off the alarm. So I ran out into the living room (while the thing was blasting away at my eardrums) to turn it off.

My heart was pounding like crazy from the adrenaline, and then Noah came into my room to say that the alarm woke him up (Eli somehow slept through it). Needless to say, I couldn't go back to sleep after that ;)

After the kids went to school, I hurried out the door to go to the rec center to do a deep water run. I set my Garmin for a 8 x 2:30 with 0:30 recovery intervals. (Run hard for 2:30, then recover for 30 seconds, and repeat for a total of 8 times).

I really like this particular workout, and I've found it to be most efficient. I've done the 1:30 intervals, but it's not really enough time of hard running to get my heart rate way up before the 30 second recovery. I've also done 5 minute intervals, and those are so long that it's really difficult to keep running "hard" for that length of time, so I tend to slow down for the last couple of minutes. They also have 1-minute recoveries, which I think is too much time and my heart rate lowers too much between hard intervals.

The 2:30 intervals with 30-second recovery are right in the middle--long enough to be very tiring, but not to have to slow down; and the 30-second recovery is just enough time to catch my breath before the next interval starts. They go by really quickly! And my heart rate gets up to about 164, which is about what it would be for a tempo run.

When I was at the rec yesterday morning, there were probably about 10 older ladies in the pool. Usually I'm either the only one in the pool, or there are one or two people swimming laps in the lanes. When there are other people in the deep end, it's kind of hard to section off my own little space. Since I move forward when deep water running, I usually do laps (or rectangles, if I have the whole deep end to myself).

Since my ankle is still an issue, and it looks like I'll be doing the deep water running for a while (I'd even like to continue doing it 1-2 times per week once my ankle is healed, because it really works my legs!), I'm becoming a little more invested in it. I had a $100 Amazon gift card, so a couple of days ago, I used it to buy a waterproof iPod (they're $140, but I never would have spent that much on it without the gift card). Soon, I can listen to podcasts while I run in the pool! I miss listening to podcasts--usually I only do in the summer when going for a walk.

Today, I made a tether for the Aqua Jogger belt. You hook one end to the belt, and the other end to the ladder or a clip on the side of the pool. That way, you don't move forward when running. Also, you get the benefit of the resistance from the band (it's elastic), so it makes a harder workout. You can buy the tethers online, but they're expensive! For one 5-foot tether, plus shipping, it's $15. I made two (one for me and one for Jerry) for $9, and they're nearly identical to what you would buy from Aqua Jogger.

Aqua Jogger Hitch

My homemade ones! I just used elastic cording (found with
parachute cording in the craft store) and four clips.
I cut the elastic cording and burned the ends, then just tied them to the clips as tightly as possible. Super simple, and it only took about two minutes!

After my water run yesterday, I spent pretty much the whole day working on puzzles. I finished the one I had been working on:

That one was pretty easy, because there were a lot of distinct colors and words. Then I started a new one. A couple of days ago, I got a birthday gift in the mail from Paige--and I was SO excited when I opened it! It was truly the perfect gift--a puzzle of my favorite picture from Ragnar SoCal! I started it yesterday and finished it up this morning.

The picture is of Paige, Caitlin, Hilary, Thomas, and me. John was out running, and we were trying to keep Caitlin warm before she started her leg. It was FREEZING in SoCal that day! I absolutely love this picture, and to have a 720-piece puzzle of it? Awesome! It was really hard to put together, too--the red and the concrete pieces took a long time, because each piece of that color looked the same.

My mom bought me some sorting trays for my birthday--so when I work on the puzzles, I can sort the pieces out by color, It really helps a lot!

So needless to say, yesterday was pretty relaxing other than my water run. Today, the rec center only has open swim from 8:30 pm-10:00 pm, so I won't be able to run. I'm excited to try out the tether tomorrow to see how it goes! I have to take the kids to basketball this evening, so I think I may go attempt a walk on the indoor track. Hopefully my ankle will do okay. It's usually just when I run that it hurts.

January 27, 2015

2015 Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K RESULTS

Ohmygoodness, this post took me all day to put together, and in the eleventh hour, Blogger stopped working for some reason. It was super frustrating, but everything is good to go now (I hope).

Like last year, I have to truncate this post, because of the long list of names (it messed up my blog feed a couple of years ago). So I apologize if you're viewing this on a reader, because you'll have to click through to view it.

First--the winners of the prizes! The odds of winning one of the prizes were much better than when I do a typical giveaway. The Garmin, for example, had just over 200 entries; if I had just posted it as a giveaway, rather than a virtual 5K prize, there would be well over 1,000! Here are the winners:

Aqua Jogger belt- Michele Anderson
Fitbit Zip- Jennifer Curry
Garmin Forerunner 10- Megan K.

Congratulations ladies! I've sent each of you an email. Great job on hitting your 5K goals, and I hope you enjoy your prizes!

I put together a slideshow of the pictures I pulled from Facebook and Twitter. I didn't include the Instagram ones, because Instagram makes it really difficult to save photos. What I hoped would be a quick project ended up being one big mess...

January 26, 2015

Motivational Monday #95

Happy Motivational Monday! This weekend has been a blur--it went by so quickly. I've been trying to keep up with email and all of the virtual 5K posts, but I've gotten behind. Hopefully I'll get caught up over the next couple of days!

It has been AWESOME reading about all of the people who ran the virtual 5K this weekend. Congrats to all of you who participated, and thank you so much for celebrating my birthday with me! There were lots of PR's, first-time finishers, and people who braved bad weather to get it done, and it was fun to read about.

Here are a few Motivational Monday stories to start your week:

Dana has always enjoyed the Motivational Monday posts, and told herself that she would submit a photo if she ever completed a full marathon--and that day has come! She and her sister, Darcy, ran the Charleston Marathon last weekend. It was each of their first marathons, and Dana's goal was to finish regardless of time, while Darcy's goal was to finish under 5:00. They both met their goals! Dana finished in 5:44:30, and Darcy finished in 4:59:28. Dana just started running in 2011 in order to help lose weight, and she got hooked on it!

Sarah did the "Rebel Challenge" at the Star Wars Half-Marathon weekend--that's a 10K AND half-marathon in the same weekend. Even more exciting, she PR'ed both races! She was thrilled to have finished the half with a great state of mind; just a week prior, she'd had the "worst half of [her] life", and vowed that after the Star Wars half, she'd be done for good. Thankfully, the exhilaration of a PR changed that ;)

Karen has lost 35 pounds over the last 15 months, and has grown to LOVE running! When she first started doing the Couch to 5K plan, she despised running; and whenever the little voice on her Couch to 5K app would say, "Start running" she would growl, "SHUT UP"; but she ran. And by the time she finished, she actually liked it! She finished her first 5K in July with a time of 28:48, and then went on to complete a 10K training plan, and eventually was up to 8 miles! Her next plan is a 10K trail race in April.

Alice just completed her first half-marathon! She set a goal of 2:30, and finished in exactly that time. She was hoping that her finisher's pic would be one of her holding her medal, but she had to resort to a selfie--in the medical tent! She was falling over, dehydrated, and exhausted, which led to some seizures and an ER trip (she has epilepsy). She is very proud of finishing, and that epilepsy hasn't stopped her! She is training now to run Ragnar Wasatch Back on an Athletes vs. Epilepsy team, which is fundraising to support the Epilepsy Foundation. (Alice's blog)

Last January, Emily started off the year with a 5K and Polar Bear Plunge into the Pacific Ocean. The 5K was a tough race, as it was only her third ever, but she resolved to get faster. She did the Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K a couple of weeks later, finishing in 53:17, and decided to commit to doing 14 races in 2014. She started tracking her food on My Fitness Pal, and bought a Fitbit to track her activity. Over the course of the year, she lost 20 pounds, and is thrilled to be able to start seeing a difference in how she looks! She hopes that by losing the weight so slowly, she'll be able to reach her ultimate goal. (Emily's blog)

Congrats to everyone on a great week! If you have a photo you'd like to submit for Motivational Monday, here are the instructions for doing so. Also, I'm collecting submissions for the 100th MM post (roughly 5-8 weeks from now). I'll be sharing before and after photos/stories of people who have lost 100 or more pounds! So if that is you, and you'd like to share, just use the subject "100" when emailing. I've loved reading the stories so far!

January 25, 2015

2015 Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K race report

A huge congrats to everyone who did the third annual Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K today! When I woke up this morning, I was kind of dreading going to the pool to "run" for the 5K, so I had the thought to see if I might be able to run it on the treadmill--not fast, but just to test out my ankle and see if it's better yet. I hadn't had any ankle pain in a few days, even when I tried to make it painful by pointing my toes, so I hoped that it would be good to go.

Today marks three weeks since my last run, which is officially the longest I've gone without a run since 2010. Even after my body lift surgery, I started running at two weeks and five days post-op. I got dressed to run, and set up the treadmill. I promised myself that if I felt any pain at ALL, I'd stop running and just do the run in the pool as planned.

I started running, and pressed Start on my Garmin. And instantly, I felt the twinges of pain in my ankle. I stopped the treadmill, and had a good, long cry. I spent all of 2014 trying to get excited about running again, and in November, I finally started to get pumped up for 2015. I made all sorts of running goals--really ambitious ones--and was so excited to start training! And now I'm injured, so I can't work on them. It's SO frustrating!

Right as I was feeling really sorry for myself, as if on cue, my phone rang. I hardly ever get phone calls (everyone texts now), and I was thrilled to see that it was Thomas. He had just run a half-marathon in Miami this morning, and was calling to wish me a happy birthday. That cheered me up, so I quit feeling sorry for myself and packed a bag for the pool to do my deep water run.

Jerry had to work today, so I took the kids with me. There really isn't a way to run 5K in the pool, so I just did my otherwise scheduled pool run--5 minute warm-up, 4 x 5 min. hard running with 1 minute recovery between intervals, and 5 minute cool down. It wasn't exactly exciting, but it felt good to be doing something. Doing five-minute intervals are HARD. That's a long time to push my legs in the water! The workout went by pretty quickly, and then I sat in the bleachers so the kids could play longer. I wish I'd have thought to have had them at least get a pic of me for my 5K, but I didn't even think about it.

When I got home, there were TONS of posts from the Virtual 5K up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It was so fun looking through them! I love that my family participates in the Virtual 5K each year--and I was really excited ton see my younger brother, Nathan, do it for the first time!

In his words: "I went out way too fast, so only the last 3 miles sucked!" ;)

My sister, Jeanie, and her friend, Tonya, got up at 4:15 this morning to run their 5K together at the gym. Jeanie had to squeeze it in before work, but Tonya got up that early voluntarily on her day off!

My brother-in-law, Shawn, ran his 5K today as well:

I got a text from my older brother, Brian, who ran the 5K with his wife, Becky, this afternoon:

They are apparently having a "date night" in Florida tonight (they live in Minnesota). The things you get to do when you're a pilot! haha

My mom was even up bright and early to do her 5K on the treadmill...

Jerry worked a 12-hour shift today, but as soon as he got home, he jumped onto the treadmill to do the virtual 5K as well. He pushed himself pretty hard, and finished in 26:45!

This 5K has become a fun tradition that I hope to keep doing each year. And next year, hopefully, I'll be able to actually run it. Maybe even a treadmill PR ;)

Noah had a big surprise for my birthday that he's been working very hard on. My mom has been taking him to JoAnn Fabrics for a cake decorating class (Noah loves watching Cake Boss, which is what gave her the idea). Today, when I went over there, Noah gave me a birthday cake that he decorated entirely by himself:

I was just coming from the rec center, which is why
I look rather frightening ;)

Isn't it great? He is very proud of himself! He said the lettering was the hardest part.

Okay, if you did the Virtual 5K today, please make sure to fill out the Finishers' Form. I'll leave that open until Monday at 8:00 pm, and I'll post the results on Tuesday. Meanwhile, make sure you check out all the fun pictures and stories from others doing the race today. If you go to my Facebook page, and look at the left side where it says "Posts to page", you can find all of the posts that others wrote about the race today. (I wish they were more prominent, but I can't figure out if Facebook will allow me to change the layout, so that's the best I can do for now). You can also use hashtag #RfCVirtual5K on social media like Twitter and Instagram to see other pics.

A huge thank you for all of the birthday wishes, and for all of you that participated in the 5K! Once again, it was a big success :)

January 24, 2015

2015 Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K Finishers' Form

Tomorrow is the big day--the third annual Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K! There are 861 people signed up(!) so I am super excited about seeing all the photos and race recaps tomorrow. There were several pictures posted today on my Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram, so make sure you check those out :)

If you haven't already, you can print off a bib. (If you need a logo for social media, use this one--it has a white background, rather than the transparent one like the other logos).

Once you've finished the 5K, please come fill out the form below. Even if you don't want to enter the drawing, it's fun to see how many people actually completed the 5K versus the number who signed up! If you can, please post a picture and/or brief race report to my Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram. (You can use hashtag #RfCVirtual5K)

Hope you all have a fantastic 5K run/walk! Tonight, I'm celebrating my birthday with Jerry by playing Keno. Maybe I'll win big ;)

January 22, 2015

Final details for the 3rd Annual Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K

This Sunday, I'll be 33 years old. For the past couple of years, I've started my birthday with the Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K--a "fun run" to celebrate turning a year older. This Sunday will be a little different, considering my ankle injury is preventing me from running; but I'll still be participating by doing a deep water run ;)

Thanks so much to all of you who have signed up so far! I'll leave the sign up open until Saturday night. You can find that post here: Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K sign-up.

There are two reasons for signing up: 1) So you state your commitment to actually doing it! and 2) To be eligible to win a prize.

I bought three pretty awesome prizes this year. (A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a reader--who wants to remain anonymous--asking if he could donate $100 toward prizes for the Virtual 5K--how generous is that?! He was clear he didn't want this name mentioned, but I just wanted to say a public thank you! I wouldn't be able to get all three of these without that help.)

Without further ado, here are the prizes you have the opportunity to win for participating in the Virtual 5K:

The first is my very favorite running gadget--a Garmin Forerunner! This is the FR 10. Noah just got one for Christmas, so I've had a chance to try his out a bit. This is perfect for someone who doesn't need all the bells and whistles, and just wants to know his/her pace, distance, time, etc. It's very user-friendly, too. This can be used for walking or running, so you don't have to be a runner to use it!

This next prize is a gadget that I love to use to keep me active throughout the day when I'm NOT running. This is a Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker--an activity monitor that gives you the number of steps you've taken, the calories you've burned, and distance traveled throughout the day. You can use the website or app to compete with your friends (a little competition always gets me moving!). This is the same model that I have. (I will buy this after selecting a winner, so that I can have it directly shipped to the winner)

Finally, this prize is something that I've become very friendly with over the past week. Since I'm not able to run right now, I'm doing deep water running with a flotation belt. This is the model that I use-- the Aqua Jogger Classic. Aqua jogging is a great exercise for pretty much anyone; it's no-impact, so even people who are injured or have a hard time with other exercises may find that it works well for them.  (Again, I'll buy this once I select a winner)

I hope at least one of these prizes will interest all of you doing the 5K this weekend! Like I'd mentioned on the sign-up post, you choose a goal for the race--it can be simply to finish, or you can choose a goal time--and if you meet the goal you set, I'll enter you in the drawing for one of the prizes. I'll do three separate drawings, so when you submit your race results, you can choose which drawing you'd like to enter. (Whether you meet your personal goal or not is all on the honor system--I trust you).

Here are the instructions for the race ("race day" is on Sunday, the 25th; but if you have to do it Saturday, that's fine, too).

1) Enter your info on the sign-up form by Saturday night. (If you forget what you stated as your goal, you can just sign-up again).

2) Print out a race bib. (This bib is the size of a typical race bib--so if you print it at 100%, it should be good.)

3) On Sunday, run or walk 5K (3.11 miles) wherever you'd like: outdoors, on your treadmill, a track, etc.

4) Take a picture! I love to see the pictures from all over the world where people are running. If you don't want your face to be public, then take a pic of your shoes, or your surroundings, or treadmill, whatever you'd like.

5) Submit your results on the form here on my blog by Monday at 8:00 pm EST. The post will be up on Saturday night. It will just ask a few basic questions, including your finish time (if you don't time it, then you can just select "untimed"). On the form, you can state whether or not you met your goal, and if you did, then select which prize drawing you'd like to enter.

6) This is optional, but I'd love for you to post your pic on my Facebook wall with a brief race report. It's fun to read about everyone's experience! You can let us know if this was your first or fiftieth 5K, if you did it in extreme temps, if you share a birthday with me, whatever you'd like to share. Going through the pictures on Facebook was my favorite part of last year's event. It's super inspiring!

You can tag your photos with #RfCVirtual5K on Instagram and/or Twitter, also. (My username is "runsforcookies" on each of those.) Just FYI, if your Instagram or Twitter account is private, I won't be able to see/comment on the photo--wish I could! Just please don't think that I'm ignoring it.

I'll accept the race results on the form until Monday night, and I'll randomly select the prize winners on Tuesday at 1:00 pm EST.

If you want to make a t-shirt, here is the logo download. It's the same as the bib, only without the green border around it. I had a shirt made last year, and I love it! :) (Note: Mine is a little different from the download above. Stephanie helped me with the 2013 one, and I can't edit it to save my soul, so I had to make a new one. Also, the file is much bigger than t-shirt size, so you won't use it at 100%. You can size it however you'd like.)

Okay, I think that pretty much sums it up! Three more days until I'm 33--yikes!

January 21, 2015

Update on the deep water running

Even though I haven't written much about it this week, I'm still going strong with the deep water running. I've gone to the rec center just about every day, and I learn a little something new about the water running (a.k.a. "aqua jogging"--I hate using that term! haha).

The first time I went, last Thursday, I spent 45 minutes in the pool with the Aqua Jogger belt on, just trying to get comfortable with using it. I focused on my form, and tried to replicate running on ground as much as possible.

On Saturday, I went to the pool with Jerry and the kids, and had the intention of aiming for two hours to simulate a long run. We brought the underwater camera, and the first half hour or so was spent trying to get a good video and/or pictures for the blog.

I got a couple of good videos, but I am just too embarrassed to post them! My loose skin--well, let's just say it was very evident in the videos. When I watched the videos, I just kept thinking that I looked like a basset hound--like my skin was made for someone twice my size! My form wasn't all that great, either, because I was still learning. So maybe I'll do another video soon, and just post it, regardless of the loose skin issue. I already posted a picture of my thighs somewhere on my blog, and it doesn't look any worse than that. ;)

Anyway, I only lasted 60 minutes before I was just bored. I realized I was going to have to go into the "runs" with a plan--intervals or something to keep me from being bored. On Sunday, I took the kids and one of their friends to the pool, and I planned out short intervals:

5 minute warm-up
25 x 1:30 hard with 30 second recovery jog
5 minute cool down
(Total of 60 minutes)

Instead of measuring intervals by distance, like I do normally, I have to do it by time while running in the pool (because running a quarter mile in deep water would take a hundred years. Minimum.) I set my Garmin to do all the counting for me, so I just had to switch speeds whenever I felt my watch vibrate on my wrist.

Running hard in the deep water is... well, HARD. It was really tough making it through the 90 second intervals; and then 30 seconds flew by as I recovered. I checked my pulse several times during the workout (my heart rate strap doesn't work in the water, unfortunately), and was surprised how high my heart rate got. The intervals got my HR up to 160-ish. That's 85% of my maximum--what it would be during a tough outdoor run.

Something I learned in all the reading I've done is that your heart rate is aways going to be lower in the water than it would be out of the water. Here is a quick blurb about it:
"A useful rule of thumb is that heart rates during water running are about 10% lower than during land running. If you get your heart rate up to 140 beats per minute in the water, that is roughly equal to 154 beats per minute during normal running. The temperature of the water affects your heart rate during deep water running. Your heart rate will be lower in cool water and higher in warm water. In addition, two studies have found that women have slightly lower heart rates and oxygen consumption than men during deep water running. This is thought to be due to women’s generally higher bodyfat content and resultant greater buoyancy than men." (source)
So my heart rate of 160 would have been equivalent to 172 bpm, which is about 5K race pace for me! After that workout, I realized that you really get out of the deep water running what you put into it. If you run hard, it's going to be a HARD workout; if you just "jog", it's more like an easy neighborhood stroll. This is nice, because that means anyone can do it.

When I got home, I started reading everything I could find about deep water running, and I was thrilled to find a Nine-Week Water Running Schedule from Running Times! I'm going to loosely follow that plan until my ankle is better. The one thing I want to include, however, is a long run--so on Wednesday's steady run, I'm going to go much longer than the time listed. Preferably 90-120 minutes.

Yesterday, I went to the pool by myself after the kids were in school, and did the first Tuesday workout.

Because the workout was only 28 minutes, I decided to give it my all. Holy hell, that was HARD! Those 2:30 intervals were killer--the muscles in my legs were screaming during each interval. My "recovery" consisted of pretty much just floating there, trying to catch my breath before the next interval. Thirty seconds flies by when you're recovering!

My legs were actually shaky as I walked to the locker room. I felt amazing. And I truly believe that I earned every single one of the 5 PointsPlus Weight Watchers gave me for that short workout. That nine-week plan consists of a ton of intervals, so I am going to try and make each workout count by putting in good effort.

I'm going to the rec center tonight for a "long run", and Jerry is going to come keep me company. I just ordered his Aqua Jogger belt two days ago, and it already arrived today! I had to wait 10 days for mine to arrive. I'm glad I had Jerry try out my belt at the pool, because we discovered that he's a "sinker". Jerry has a pretty low body fat percentage (anywhere from 6-10%, depending on his weight at the time)--and according to the Aqua Jogger website, if your body fat is low, you may sink while wearing the classic belt. So we had to order the "Pro Plus" belt for Jerry, which will hopefully hold him up! ;)

January 20, 2015

"Get it over with!"

There is something I've been wanting to write about ever since Andrea was here, but things were busy, and I never got a good chance to.

Like me, Andrea (who has lost 130 pounds) gained back a little bit of weight last year. And like me, she spent a lot of time thinking about and worrying about getting back down to goal. When she talked to her Weight Watchers leader about it, her leader told her to "Get it over with!" so that it stops taking up so much space in her head. "Why are you dragging this out? Just do it and get it over with."

When Andrea told me that, something really clicked for me. I've spent nearly an entire year now talking about getting back to goal, working on getting back to goal, making plans to get back to goal, etc... but I'm still not there. A year was PLENTY of time to drop 20 pounds! The amount of time and energy I've spent toward this simple (not to be confused with "easy") task has been astronomical.

What Andrea's leader meant when she said "Get it over with!" is that the sooner we get back to goal, the sooner we can stop worrying about getting back to goal. I make light of it a lot on my blog, but being over my goal weight causes me a ton of unnecessary anxiety and stress. I think I look okay where I'm at, and I feel okay; but I also know that I looked and felt a million times better when I was at my goal weight (nearly all of 2013).

This is probably my favorite picture of me at goal. Not necessarily because
of how I looked, but because I also felt very confident.
I don't feel like the same person I was a year ago--that person was super confident and determined not to get derailed. Since then, I gained some weight back, and along with the gain, I lost a lot of the confidence I used to have. I used to accept compliments and believe them; but now, when someone tells me I look good, I automatically think, "Why are they saying that? I've gained weight." (This is a self-confidence issue that started when I gained some weight, and not necessarily related to how I actually look.)

It's not that I haven't been trying to get back to my goal weight--I wake up every single day with the plan of doing what I did to lose the weight in the first place (measuring portions, counting points, logging food). But something derails me, and I just think, "Oh, well, I'll just write it off and start over." And that attitude tacks on another couple of days to the amount of time it will take me to get back to goal. If I keep doing that, I'm obviously never going to get there!

Here is a recent picture of Andrea, Rik, and me. My confidence in this photo was the complete opposite of the photo above. I was awkwardly standing there, worried about my size, wearing a baggy sweatshirt instead of something fitted. "The old me", basically.

I love the idea of "Just get it over with!" because it helps me to imagine that when I'm at goal, I can stop worrying about getting back to goal. It's not a "finish line" per se, because I will have to work just as hard to maintain my weight when I get there; but at the very least, the anxiety of being over my goal will stop taking up so much space in my head. This is really hard to explain, and I'm not sure it makes any sense, but hearing that from Andrea was a big "Aha!" moment for me.

I wrote "Get it over with!" on a piece of paper and posted it on my fridge, so that I see it every time I'm in the kitchen. My goal is simply to stay on track with my eating so that I can get back down to goal, and stop worrying about getting back to goal. Thinking of it this way has certainly changed my attitude toward "going a little off plan" or "just starting fresh tomorrow". Going off plan will take me even longer to lose the weight, which is all the longer I'll be worrying about it.

Andrea also told me that she does best when she plans out her food for the day. In the mornings, she puts all of her planned meals into the online Weight Watchers tracker, so she knows how many points she may have to play with if she gets hungry. If she changes her mind about what to eat, she can always just change it on the tracker. I loved the idea of using the tracker that way! When I was losing the weight, I used a dry-erase board to plan out my day, and it worked really well. So this week, I've been planning out my day on the tracker in the morning, and it has definitely helped me.

On Sunday, I went to the fruit/veggie market and bought a TON of produce for the week. I forgot just how much stuff I can get for super cheap when I go there. I spent $30, and got all of this:

I've been eating fruits and/or vegetables with every single meal and snack for three days now. Gotta use them up! :)

I bought a ton of bell peppers! When I buy them at Kroger, the red ones are usually $1.50+ each; these were four for $1. I love bell peppers for soup, stuffed peppers, fajitas, etc. For Taste Test Tuesday, I decided to use some of the peppers. I wanted fajitas, but since I'm supposed to be taste testing a new recipe, I searched Pinterest and came across Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers. Sounded good to me!

The prep for this recipe takes a while, and uses a lot of dishes, but I hoped it would be worth it. The only change I made to the recipe was that I used 2 teaspoons of oil instead of 2 Tablespoons. (Also, my peppers were very small, so I got 11 pepper halves instead of 10 out of the batch.) They didn't look very appetizing when I took them out of the oven, but sometimes the best food isn't very pretty.

I added a little sour cream and diced avocado, and they were really good! When I tasted the filling by itself, I thought it was kind of bland; but when eaten with the pepper, it was delicious. My only complaint about the recipe is that the peppers were too soft after cooking them twice (you cook them before stuffing them, and then bake them with the filling). Next time, I won't cook them before stuffing them. But other than that, I really liked this recipe and will definitely make it again.

January 19, 2015

Motivational Monday #94

Happy Motivational Monday! I was thrilled to see how full the MM inbox was this morning--apparently lots of you had a great week :)

Last January, Marcie started running for my Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K. Fast forward a year later, and she just completed her first half-marathon! She is super proud for being able to run the entire distance, and it's looking forward to doing another one.

Theresa has been on a mission to lose 60 pounds by her 60th birthday, and she is happy to report that she is halfway to her goal, with 31 pounds lost! Even though it is coming off slowly, she's been steadily losing since last April--even through the weddings of her two sons, and a move that was 3,000 miles away from her family and friends. She said the keys to her success include: walking at least four times a week, logging her food on My Fitness Pal, trying new recipes, reading health/fitness blogs, and a very supportive husband. Her next endeavor is a half-marathon walk in May! (Theresa's blog)

In April 2014, Leona and her husband set a lofty goal: to complete the Disney weekend 10K on January 9, 2015. At the time, the couple could barely walk three miles, and had to keep in mind that Disney had pace requirements to finish the 10K. Come race morning, Leona is proud to share that she ran the entire 10K--no walking or resting!

After losing 60 pounds (and maintaining that loss!) Celeste went from not being able to run a block to being on the cover of a digital running magazine! It came about when she posted the photo on Instagram, and "Marathon Running" magazine saw it--they asked her for more info, and viola--here she is on the cover. They even included her story inside!  (Celeste's blog)

Beth (on the right) started her weight loss journey in 2012, and met her goal in July 2014. She lost 70 pounds, and gained a love for running. When she ran/walked her first 5K in 2011, she thought it would be a "one and done" deal. She ran her first half-marathon in 2013, she was hooked. Last weekend, she and her sister Ashley ran the Dopey Challenge in Disney World--a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and full-marathon over four days!

Jennifer just completed her first half-marathon! She ran the Winter Warrior half-marathon in Rochester, New York, which started at 4:00 pm--finishing after sunset. The temp was in the teens, but the windchill was sub-zero! She was hoping to finish under 3 hours, but nothing could have prepared her for that cold weather. Her legs cramped up and she had to walk the last three miles, but she never quit (although it was tempting!). Thanks to a volunteer's encouragement, she pushed herself and got it done, finishing in 3:18!

Cherie set a goal to complete three 5K races before her 50th birthday in May. The first one was on this past Saturday, and her goal was to not finish last. She did great! She completed the race, and wasn't even close to being last. She's going to do another 5K next month, and is going to set a time goal to aim for.

Tracy had an awesome 2014 as far as running goes. She ran 15 races, including 4 full marathons, and she set PR's in the 5K and 10K. She was even pushing a stroller during the 10K that she PR'ed! She finished off the year by doing the Hansons Marathon Method to train with her mother-in-law for the Carlsbad Marathon. It paid off big when her mother-in-law finished in 3:59, qualifying for Boston! For 2015, Tracy has a goal to run a marathon distance once a month (either a race or a training run). Yesterday, she completed her first of 12--waking up at 4:45 AM to run 19 miles on the treadmill and 7.2 outside!

Erin set a 2015 goal of participating in a race once a month for the year. She just completed her first race of the year, the MEC Calgary 5K! She's not running yet, but is working toward it. She and her best friend walked the 5K in 55 minutes and had a blast!

Katie took up running last year, and then sort of put it on the back burner during the summer. She is now back to working on her weight loss/running goals, and is very proud of how's she's done so far this month. She's lost weight for three weeks in a row, and yesterday, she did her first hill training run, which definitely gave her a runner's high! She's now training for her first half-marathon in May. (Katie's blog)

If you have a Motivational Monday photo you'd like to submit, you can email them to me anytime during the week.

For the 100th MM post (in about 6-8 weeks from now) I'm planning to share before and after photos/stories of anyone who has lost 100+ pounds--so if that's you, please consider sharing! Just use the subject "100" when sending the email to motivationalmonday (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

January 18, 2015

A visit to Grand Rapids

Oh, boy. While I wish I was writing this post from sunny Phoenix as planned, I am actually still in Michigan.

On Friday morning, I got up at 4:00 to get ready to head to the airport. I was using a buddy pass to fly to Phoenix, and all week leading up to the flights, my brother said the flights looked pretty open. He was very confident I would have no trouble getting on. I had been planning to take a noon flight, but on Thursday, Brian said I should take the earlier 8:30 flight, because the flights were filling up quickly.

Anyway, the weekend was all set--my parents were going to watch the kids while Jerry was at work, I'd stay at Sarah's in Phoenix, and arrive home Monday. Jerry drove me to the airport at 6:15, and I went through security and found the gate. I told the gate agent I was flying stand-by, and she checked the list for me--she said I was last on the list, and the flight was pretty full. She also said if I did get on, I would likely be at the back of the plane (as a nervous flyer, I have severe anxiety about sitting behind the wings; I have to be as close to the front as possible).

I sat down and watched the stand-by screen, hoping that my name would pop up on the "cleared" list. It was looking less likely that I'd get on by the minute, and I was a nervous wreck! Nervous about getting on the plane (sitting in the back) and also about not getting on the plane (and missing out on this trip).

Brian called me and said that the noon flight was even worse. The gate agent told me there was pretty much zero chance of getting on that one. So I could have tried for a late flight (which also didn't look promising), or a flight on Saturday morning, but that wouldn't have given me much time with Sarah. I decided that if I didn't get on the 8:30 flight, I'd just reschedule the trip (and buy a confirmed ticket!).

Long story short, I didn't get on. I was so bummed. Sarah was disappointed, but she understood, and we decided to reschedule.

I started trying to think of somewhere else I could go. I already had a packed suitcase, and Brian could list me on a flight with a moment's notice. But I imagine that nobody would appreciate me just showing up on their doorstep, so I just called Jerry to pick me up ;)

While I waited for him, I had the idea to go with Jerry to Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is a city in Michigan about 2 1/2 hours from home. There are a lot of breweries there, including Founder's, which is Jerry's favorite craft beer. Jerry's been talking about going there for a long time, and neither of us had ever been there (surprising, considering it's so close).

So we checked with my parents about the kids, and Jerry got a friend to fill in for him at work (thanks Steve!) and as soon as we got home, we packed a small bag and headed out the door. We weren't going for the whole weekend--just for Friday night.

We got a hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, so it was within walking distance of the breweries. First, we walked to Founder's. Jerry was giddy with excitement.

I'm not a beer person, but there are a few beers I like. Unfortunately, I've never tasted a Founder's beer that I liked! Jerry ordered a flight, and I decided to take a sip of each of those, just to give them a whirl. Haha, my face looked like this after each taste!

After a sip of "Big Lushious"
We planned to have lunch there, but I wasn't very hungry, so I just had a few chips and guacamole. Jerry said Founder's felt very touristy, and I agreed, so we walked about a half mile to Grand Rapids Brewery. They had a whole wall of wine, so I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio, and Jerry tried another flight of beer. Again, I took a tiny sip of each of his, but didn't care for any of them. The menu at Grand Rapids Brewery was VERY interesting. Jerry ordered a Scotch Egg:

It's an egg encased in sausage, and he thought it was amazing. They even had a burger with bacon, peanut butter, and pretzel bits--?! If I had been hungry, I probably would have braved it and gave it a try.

We just stayed there until I finished my glass of wine and Jerry finished his flight, and then we headed out again. We walked back toward the hotel, where there was another brewery--The B.O.B. (it stands for Big Old Building). This place was AWESOME--we ended up spending the rest of the afternoon/evening there. We got there just before 4:00, so it was pretty empty; but when I saw they had wine for $3 for happy hour from 4-6, I was definitely "happy" about that :)

We found some comfy chairs and sat there to talk.

We ordered some buffalo chicken rolls, and they were SO amazing. They were kind of like an egg roll, but with buffalo chicken goodness inside. Anyway, happy hour seemed to fly by. There was a woman and her son who came in and started playing pool at the table that was right in front of us. It was kind of evident that her son has special needs, and Jerry and I thought it was really cool that she and her son were out together playing pool on a Friday night. He went to the bar to pay her tab (doing something nice in honor of Mark!)--and then we all started chatting.

Jerry ended up playing pool with her son while she and I talked. Her son is 27, and had an accident when he was 18 months old that caused him to lose oxygen to his brain, resulting in his intellectual disability. I told her about Mark, and how sad it was to see some of the men at his group home whose families just leave them there. I loved that she was out spending time with her son. She said they were staying the night there because they were going to see the motocross show that evening.

Anyway, they were lovely people, and it was great meeting them! Shortly after they left, a couple of guys came in and started playing pool at that table. Jerry pulled up a picture of Tim Tebow on his phone to show me (I had no clue who Tim Tebow is) and said, "Look at that guy. He's obviously not Tim Tebow, but he looks so much like him!" And sure enough, they were pretty much identical!

I asked him (I learned that his name is Aaron) if anyone ever told him that he looks like Tim Tebow, and he said yes, he's gotten that before. I asked if I could get a picture. Check out the resemblance!

Jerry and I went to a comedy show upstairs at 8:30, and then headed back to the hotel after that. It was SUCH a fun night! We didn't do anything crazy--just mellowed out at the bar--but we met some great people and laughed a lot, which was a blast.

I was bummed about missing out on Phoenix, but maybe it'll work out better this way. Since my ankle is injured right now, I wouldn't be able to hike in Sedona, which is something I wanted to do. If we reschedule, hopefully my ankle will be good to go. So while Grand Rapids wasn't exactly Phoenix, Jerry and I had a great night!

I will be doing a Motivational Monday tomorrow after all, so if you have something to submit, please email it to me as soon as  you can. Hope you all had a great weekend!

January 15, 2015

My first deep water run

I slept so good last night! I really needed that. It's very rare that I sleep through the night without waking up five or six times. I had a bunch of weird dreams, and when I woke up this morning, I was totally confused for a minute.

I was kind of excited to use the AquaJogger for the first time today. It feels like I haven't run in MONTHS, but it's actually only been 11 days. I keep feeling this pit in my stomach, thinking that I'll never get to run again. I've been resting as much as possible, and have probably only gotten 4,000 steps per day max. It's like I can feel my muscles wasting away (dramatic, yes). I can't do squats or lunges or anything like that, because it bothers my ankle, so I haven't done any cross-training since I've been injured. But I'm really determined to get my ankle back to normal before I start marathon training.

And of course, I miss earning activity PointsPlus! I was used to earning about 50 PP per week from exercise, and cutting back on that much food is hard. So the deep water running will help me to earn some of those points.

Anyway, I've been reading so many great things about deep water running--people have used that to continue training for important races, and have done well (even setting PRs) in their races. So, I am hopeful that if I use this as a training method, I won't have such a hard time going back to running on ground when my ankle is better. I'm still going to ease back into running; I just hope the transition is easier. Here is the backstory to the AquaJogger:

After I got the kids off to school, I got ready to head to the pool. One of the reasons I really dislike swimming is because of all the stuff it requires--bathing suit, towel, change of clothes, hair brush (I always forget this, and then my hair is in a huge knot), lock for the locker, etc. But maybe if I start packing it the night before, I won't feel so rushed in the mornings.

I had to renew my membership at the rec center, so I'm good for another year--someone please hold me accountable to getting my money's worth this year! ;) I changed into my bathing suit, and brought the AquaJogger belt out to the pool with me. I was really nervous to give it a try, because I thought that the lifeguard would surely know if my form was all wrong or something. I had tried doing deep water running without a belt before, just for the heck of it, but it was really difficult to stay upright. So I hoped the belt would help.

There were a few people in the swimming lanes, so I was glad I wasn't the only one in the pool! I put on the belt and quickly got into the deep end of the pool. I just tried to focus on my form and then started "running" in the water. I read the workout guide book that came with the belt, and it gave some tips on form, so I was trying to make sure that I was doing that correctly.

Surprisingly, it actually felt pretty natural! It was much easier than I imagined it to be. It was easier to focus on my arms, and as long as I was doing the arm motion correctly, my legs did a natural running motion. It felt kind of like running in place, only I wasn't touching the ground. I wasn't really expecting to move forward, but as I ran in place, my body just kept inching forward.

The thing I was most surprised about was that the time flew by! I discovered that it took roughly one minute to cross the deep end of the pool; so I just kept "running" across, and then turning around and running back. I was planning to do 30 minutes, but I liked it enough that I wanted to go longer.

The hard part was seeing the people above me run on the track. I saw my friend Alicia running, so I waved to her. From the pool, it's very easy to see one end of the track, so I kept watching the people run by as I ran in place. I wanted to be up there running so badly! But I really did enjoy the deep water running.

It was a REALLY good workout, too. Occasionally, I would run hard for a minute or two, and then slow down (intervals, basically), and my legs felt so tired after the hard intervals. Another bonus to running in the water is that I wasn't dripping with sweat--the water kept me cool, which was nice. I had pulled my hair into a high bun, so it didn't even get wet (yay) and I just had to rinse off when I was done (I had taken a shower when I woke up, and I really didn't want to have to re-shower). So even though it was a little bit of a hassle to pack a bag to go to the pool, it made up for it in that I didn't have to come home and shower (again).

I was really surprised to see that Weight Watchers actually lists "water jogging" as an exercise. I had done 45 minutes, which gave me 8 PointsPlus! That's the same as if I had run outside. I don't know if I really feel I deserve that many, so I may try to just eat half of them, but it's nice to see those activity points.

I'm going to order a belt for Jerry, too. I think it would be fun for us to go "run" together, and would certainly help the time pass. Even after I'm able to run on ground again, I think the deep water running would be good cross training. Next time I go, I'll bring the kids' underwater cameras and see if they can get a video of it.

I have to say, I think using this AquaJogger belt would be awesome exercise for ANYONE--not just runners. The book shows different exercises you can do, but for anyone looking to exercise, it's a good workout without any impact. By wearing the belt, you are basically suspended in the water up to your neck. The floatation part is on the small of your back, so it doesn't impede movement at all (like a lifejacket would). I only used it for 45 minutes today, but already, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, the first day of deep water running was a big success! I'm actually really looking forward to going again. I leave for Phoenix tomorrow morning and don't come home until Monday, so I'm not sure how much I'll be posting over the weekend, if at all. Hope you all have a great weekend!

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