Monday, November 30, 2015

Motivational Monday #131

Happy Motivational Monday! This week was a GREAT one for me, considering I hit my goal weight on Wednesday :) I also ran a 5K on Thursday (giving my best effort), which was a fun way to kick off my first week of 10K training. All-in-all, it's been an awesome week for me. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

Here are a few Motivational Monday stories for you to start off the week:

Amanda recently registered for an 8K Turkey Trot--a new distance for her. In choosing between the 5K and 8K, she figured it wouldn't hurt to burn a few hundred extra calories for Thanksgiving dinner ;) She did amazing, finishing in 52:26! It started to rain with just about a mile to go, but she still had a blast running the race.

Lucy said that in July, she was "done being fat". She started tracking her calories on My Fitness Pal, and has since lost 36 pounds! She also started the Couch to 5K program, and ran her first 5K on Labor Day weekend, finishing in 42:02. On Thanksgiving, she ran her second 5K, and PR'ed with a finish time of 38:56! (Lucy blogs at Losing Anonymously)

Julie became injured after running six half-marathons in eight weeks. She ran through the injury until she couldn't anymore, and then she just quit racing. Her track club sponsors a Turkey Trot each year, and for the past several years, she's paid for a registration but hasn't gone. This year, she decided she was going to run it--and she finished the 5-Mile race in 42:19! After the death of her husband a couple of years ago, Julie also struggled with binge eating and her weight. She is proud to say that she is on a current binge-free streak of 316 days and nearly back to her goal weight!

A huge congratulations ladies! Keep up the great work!

Also, and this is random... I just noticed that the Garmin Forerunner 620 (the watch I have and love) is on sale for $249 (including heart rate monitor) for today only. Including free shipping! If you've ever been thinking of getting one, you won't see it cheaper than that. I paid $450 for mine two years ago.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

First long run of 10K training

Today, I was scheduled for my first "long run" since August. My last long run was August 9, when I was in Portland. I ran 10 miles while Thomas biked next to me on a hot morning. It was SO HARD! That was before I started losing weight again, and the extra weight combined with the super hot temps made for a very difficult run. My pace was 10:58. I had forgotten to pack my heart rate monitor, which disappoints me now, because I'm curious to know what my heart rate was during that run!

The weekend after that is when my injury flared up again, so I stopped running for six weeks. And meanwhile, I focused on riding my bike and on losing the weight via calorie counting. I started running again on September 28, and I couldn't believe what a huge difference the weight loss made in how I felt! My pace was 9:46 for my first run in six weeks, which really surprised me.

I was so worried about getting injured again that I decided to stick with short distances (2-3 miles at a time). I've been doing that for two months now, and I feel ready to start building my mileage up. I am training to PR a 10K, so my maximum distance for a long run will be just eight miles, which is nice. Today, though, I was scheduled for four.

I feel kind of silly calling four miles a "long run", but technically, that's what it is on my schedule. My target pace for long runs is 9:18-10:35 per mile. It was pretty cold this morning, so I dressed in my Cold Gear tights and a warm long sleeved top. I used to really dread my long runs (probably because they were so, well, LONG), but today, I was looking forward to it. Four miles isn't far, and at an easier pace, it would be pretty enjoyable. I even decided to take my earbuds with me, so I could listen to music with my phone. (I've been doing that for the last few runs for some reason; I hadn't listened to music while running since early 2013, but I thought maybe it would motivate me as I try to build speed).

As soon as I started running, I could tell it was going to be a great run. I felt light and springy, the air was crisp and cold, and my playlist started off with a favorite Eminem song (Berzerk). I had my sleeves pulled down over my hands, so it wasn't convenient to look at my Garmin; and then I decided that I was going to do the entire run without looking at my pace. I felt really good, and I didn't care if my pace was in the right zone or not, so I just didn't look. I did make sure not to push myself hard, though--I wanted it to be an easy pace and enjoyable, without gasping for breath.

I did a simple out-and-back route, and it went by really quickly! When I was racing the Turkey Trot on Thursday, I was dying and kept hoping it would be over at each turn. But today, listening to music and running in the cold, I wouldn't have minded adding a couple more miles!

When I hit mile four, I stopped my Garmin, and didn't feel super tired or anything. In fact, I felt pretty energetic. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that my average pace was 9:06!

After the 5K on Thursday, I was worried about what I was getting myself into with this 10K goal, because it seems like I have SO FAR to go. But I remember when I got relatively fast in late 2012-early 2013, it happened really quickly. Once I started going speed work, my body adapted well and I progressed from a 10:45-ish long run pace to an 8:45 long run pace over the course of about three months. And that was for 12 mile long runs--so, hopefully, considering my long runs are going to be much shorter this time around, I can actually pull this off ;)

Today marked the last day of my first week of 10K training. My first week went really well! I did an easy run; speed work (hitting my target pace); a tempo run (which ended up turning into a 5K race); and a long run. This week coming up looks pretty much the same, except for the race. I'm looking forward to it!

Don't forget to send in your submissions for Motivational Monday! I probably won't be posting tomorrow, so I'm just writing a reminder now. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, November 27, 2015

How I calorie counted my way back to my goal weight

Recently, I've been getting a trillion questions about calorie counting, and how I managed to do so well with it in getting back to my goal weight. The reason I chose to count calories is because it's very simple (not to be confused with "easy")--you just count the calories in everything you eat. I really didn't want to overthink anything... so I didn't.

In this post, I'm going to answer a bunch of the questions I've been getting lately, because it's easier than explaining it over and over elsewhere. I say this all the time, but I want to stress again that everybody is different, and what works for me may not work for others; and what works for others may not work for me. I am not trying to tell anyone how to do things, because I don't know you! I think it's important that each person finds what works for him/herself.

What I'm about to write is just how I chose to do calorie counting--and who am I? I'm not a doctor or scientist or nutritionist, or anything like that. I just tried to keep it simple and something I could do for the long haul. That said, though, here is how I utilized calorie counting to lose weight...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ann Arbor Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K race report

I'm glad that I recruited my brother to do this race with me; otherwise, I certainly would have said "screw it" and gone back to bed this morning. But, I got up at 5:00, and left the house at 6:30 to pick up Nathan. I wish that I had something festive to wear for the race, but I didn't have anything even close to resembling Thanksgiving to wear, so I just wore plain boring running clothes. I knew that no matter what I wore, it wouldn't compete with Nathan's costume, so it didn't matter anyway ;)

I will start by saying that this race went SO smoothly! Last year, in Detroit, everything was so chaotic and stressful that I vowed never to do another Turkey Trot (but of course changed my mind a few days ago, haha!). We didn't sign up online, but the race offered on-site registration, which was a nice option (if the weather had been terrible or something, I wouldn't have wanted to go).

I picked up Nathan, and we found ourselves driving up to Ann Arbor at 7:00 this morning. There was next to NO traffic, which really surprised me. I had heard this was a big race, so I was expecting it to be stressful to find a spot to park; but we found a parking garage, which was free, and then walked two blocks to the registration tent.

The on-site registration was listed as $35, but they said they didn't have any shirts left for people who hadn't preregistered, so it was only $25. That was awesome! I really don't need any more race shirts, so if given an option to pay less for the race and skip the shirt, I would do it all the time. We did get a nice hat, though!

After we registered, we still had 45 minutes until the start, so we went back to the car to get Nathan's costume. He required a little help...

I couldn't believe he was going to run in that thing! I told him that I was hoping to run my best effort (not a PR, because I'm nowhere near that, but I wanted to do my best). He told me to go ahead, because he had no idea what pace he would end up running in that costume.

When we lined up, I saw a bunch of people with kids and strollers and stuff toward the front, so I actually ended up placing myself very close to the front--something I never normally do, but I didn't want to get stuck behind strollers. Nathan said he was going to line up in the back. I figured this might be my best shot of EVER beating my brother in a race (we'll just ignore the fact that he was wearing a ridiculous costume and running for fun).

Starting line

The announcer was really great at getting the crowd excited and ready to run. At 8:45 sharp, the race started. There was a woman with a stroller right in front of me, so it took me about 20 seconds to make my way around her, but after that, I didn't have any problems maneuvering around people.

I've raced in Ann Arbor before, so I knew it may be a little hilly, and it was. Maybe not impressive hills to most people, but considering I don't have any hills to train on, they were significant to me. Thankfully, they were short enough that I could see the peak, and I knew a downhill was coming. The first mile had a lot of uphill, and then the second mile had a lot of downhill. The third was about even.

I was so surprised at how fast a 5K goes by! After running long distances for so long, racing a 5K feels like it gets done so quickly. Don't get me wrong--it's not any easier than running longer distances, if you're actually giving it all of your effort--but it goes by much faster.

At around mile 2.9, we rounded a turn and I saw the finish line ahead. I knew it wasn't going to be a full 3.11 miles, which was a little disappointing (if I had been going for a PR, I wouldn't have counted it if it wasn't a full 5K distance). But considering I was just doing this race for fun and to see what my current 5K pace is, it didn't really bother me. I crossed the finish line at 3.03 miles.

My pace was pretty much what I was expecting! My main goal was to run each split under 9:00. Bonus if I could finish the race under 27:00. My "official" results:

While I would be thrilled to count my finish time as 26:14, I just had to adjust for the short course. At my actual pace (which, according to my Garmin, was 8:41), my finish time would have been 27:00 even. So, regardless of the course length, I am very happy with that!

I love this app... it color codes the route based on your pace. So, the blue areas were about an 8:00 pace, and the brown areas were about a 9:30 pace (the brown areas are probably where I was going uphill). It even shows where your fastest consecutive mile was (not just the even mile splits, but exactly where on the course you ran your fastest mile--mine was the last mile, from 2.03 to 3.03, which I ran in 8:23). The app is called ConnectStats, if anyone is interested--it downloads your runs from Garmin Connect.

Immediately after I crossed the finish line, I felt like I was going to die (or just vomit and pass out). I had really put in 100% effort, and I was exhausted! I sat on a curb, and worked on catching my breath. A couple of minutes later, Nathan came across the finish line--I wasn't even ready to get a picture, because I thought he'd be another 10 minutes or so!

I teased him for a second about beating him, and then he checked his results:

Say what?! Since he had started in the back, his finish time was faster than mine, even though he crossed the finish line after me. Who the heck runs a 5K for fun, while wearing a costume like that one, and finishes in 24:15?! My very best 5K time, when I was in my very best shape, was 24:04. Running the pace I ran today was extremely difficult! Needless to say, I was super impressed with his finish time. And I've yet to beat him at a race ;)

It's nice to have a starting baseline of my current 5K pace. I have to take about 46 seconds off of my 5K pace and double the distance in order to PR my 10K... that's going to be extremely difficult! But honestly, I am really looking forward to the challenge. I'm going to put in all of my effort during training, and then even if I don't PR the 10K in April, I will know that at least I gave it my best shot. Nathan thinks I'll get my speed back quickly, though, so it's nice to have his confidence.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race, and would certainly do it again next year! Now, I need to roast a turkey... :)  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Week 15 Weigh-in (a good one!!)

I will spoil the ending right off the bat... I am back at GOAL weight!!!

Fifteen short weeks ago, I never would have guessed that I would hit my goal so soon. I am so glad that I decided to give the calorie counting a good hard try, because it turns out that it works well for me and I really enjoy it. Not in a "I hate it, but I still do it" kind of way... but I actually kind of enjoy calorie counting. Probably because I love numbers, and (as of now) calorie counting is still fairly new to me.

Anyway, today I was down 1.5 pounds from last week, bringing me to 133--my "official" goal weight. My body fat was 22.7%, which is down 0.2%; and my waist remained steady at 25.75 inches. As of yesterday, I was at 133.5 pounds, so I wasn't sure if I was going to hit 133 this morning; but it was a very nice surprise to step on the scale and see that I actually did it!

I keep thinking of the phrase "Just get it over with" that my friend Andrea discussed with me when she visited in January. I wrote a post about it, but basically, she said that we spend SO MUCH TIME of our lives fretting over losing weight (particularly when we've gained some back). It consumes our thoughts day after day--some of us for YEARS (I worried about it nearly my entire life). But Andrea said if we just get it over with (spend the weeks or months or couple of years it takes to lose the weight), then it's done--we don't have to constantly worry about losing it!

I spent all of 2014 feeling like a failure for gaining some weight back, and I felt an enormous pressure to take it off. I was very hard on myself. I tried to make peace with my new weight/size, but I never felt really good there. For the first half of 2015, I was trying to lose it, but not to the best of my ability. My weight went up and down, gradually climbing to the highest it'd been in five years (since I lost the weight in 2009-2010).

I'm not sure exactly what clicked for me when I started counting calories, but I became super motivated to get the weight off and get back to goal. It was like I put blinders on and just focused on the goal in front of me. In retrospect, I wish I had done this in 2014 right after gaining it! If I had just gotten it over with then (it took all of 15 weeks--not much time at all in the grand scheme of things), I could have saved myself from the mental torture that I put myself through for a year.

Getting back to my goal weight wasn't "easy", even though it may seem like it was, based on how quickly I got there... there were some days where I was SO TORN about whether to binge. I knew it would have made me feel better in that moment to binge (only to feel terrible about myself afterward), so it was really hard to make that decision not to. But, as of today, I am 113 days binge-free!

I'm the first to admit that losing weight does not equal happiness; but freeing up all that mental space that used to be consumed with guilt or feeling like a failure has done wonders for my happiness. I feel really, really good right now--not just with how I look, but with how I feel mentally as well.

I decided to reward myself by booking a trip with my SkyMiles... I'm going back to the Pacific Northwest in April! This time, I'm going to spend a few days in Seattle with my friend Laurel (who is a blog reader that I met when I went to Portland!). Ever since I went to Portland, I've been dreaming about visiting Seattle; and since the two cities are pretty close, I can do both in one trip. I'm going to do a 10K in Washington on April 10th, and I'm making that my goal race for a PR. It's nice to have a race to plan for! It makes me even more motivated to get faster (and maintain my goal weight).

So, now, the big question is... what's next? I clearly don't want to regain the weight, so I'm going to continue to count my calories. I'd like to maintain a weight below 135, so I'll have to experiment with my calories to find out what will make me maintain. I wasn't sure if I should continue to do Wednesday Weigh-ins, because I expect my weight to go up and down by a couple of pounds each week; but I think I will continue to post them. I won't do my body fat and waist measurement every week, since I don't expect that to change much, but I will continue to post my weight.

I know I should say this more often, but I want to express a huge thank you to those of you that have stuck with me through this never-ending journey of mine. I try to post about the good AND the bad, the ups AND the downs, to give a realistic picture of what weight loss and maintenance is like. I've had lots of crazy ideas, and set some silly goals, and changed my mind dozens of times about what I'm doing... but each thing I do is a learning experience. I've gotten SO MUCH SUPPORT from so many of you, and I can't thank you enough for that! Considering tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you for the kindness and encouragement over the last four years.

That said, I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving tomorrow! I'm looking forward to doing the Turkey Trot with my brother, and then making dinner for my family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ahh, speed work

Other than when I was doing the run/walk method to get back to running after injury, the last time I did real speed work was December 2nd of last year. Yikes! It was shortly after that when I developed the stress fracture, and ever since, I was doing all run/walking and easy running. Today was my first day back to doing actual speed work, if only for a short duration. 

On the schedule: 4 x 400's @ 7:08-7:32/mi with a 60-second rest between intervals.

That just means to run a quarter mile at a 7:08-7:32/mile pace, and then rest for 60 seconds. Then repeat three more times. I love the short duration of the 400's, because when I was training for the Chicago Marathon, my intervals were much longer (400, 600, 800, 1200, 1600, 2-mile, and 3-mile intervals!). At my fastest, I used to do the 400's at a 9.0-10.0 mph setting on the treadmill; today, I was hoping I could do 8.0 and keep up. 

I probably could have done this run outside, but I actually prefer doing intervals on the treadmill. It's easy to set the pace and just try not to fly off the back of the treadmill. It was freezing outside, so I dressed like I was going to run outside--and then I went into the garage (where we moved the treadmill). It was kind of fun having a new environment to run in. Jerry hung a shelf in front of the treadmill for my computer, so that I could watch Netflix while I ran. 

First, I did a half-mile warm-up at 6.0 mph. Then I bumped it up to 8.0 for the first interval. It really didn't feel too bad! It wasn't easy, but it wasn't miserable, either. The best part is knowing that it'll be over with very soon, because the intervals are so short. 

I chose to do rests between intervals, instead of walking or jogging. Walking or jogging is probably preferable, but I find that I actually enjoy the speed work more when I rest between intervals. I'm able to run the intervals harder, and I have that little break to look forward to. A one-minute rest goes by so fast! It was just enough time to catch my breath, and then I had to hop back on the treadmill and start running again. 

The whole workout went by really fast. When I was doing the cool down, I had that bad muscle spasm in my abdomen again, so I only did a quarter-mile cool down. I really hope that spasming doesn't continue! It's more painful than any injury I've endured.

After the run, I felt like I had worked hard, but I also felt like I probably could have pushed it harder. Next week, I'll probably try 8.2 mph and see how it goes. I'll also be doing 5 intervals instead of 4. Even though speed work feels totally miserable during the workout, I feel absolutely amazing afterward. 

I was going through my Pinterest recipe boards, and through some of my cookbooks, and I really want to start trying some new recipes. I'm going to try to bring back "Taste Test Tuesday", where I try a new recipe and review it here. One of my goals for 2016 is going to be to try a new recipe once a week; but it doesn't hurt to start now! 

Today, I made a crock pot recipe that I came across on Pinterest. It's called Bourbon "Crack" Chicken (Crock Pot Style)--which is an odd name, because there is no bourbon in it. After some searching around, I saw that it was based off of a style of chicken from Bourbon Street in Louisiana. 

Anyway, I know nothing about the name or origin of this recipe; I just thought the ingredients sounded good, and I happened to have everything on hand, except for apple juice. Since it only called for 1/4 cup of apple juice, I just substituted water. I didn't want to go buy apple juice for that tiny amount. 

I love recipes like this where you don't have to do any prep work--you just toss everything in the crock pot. I had to trim the chicken, but other than that, there is nothing to prep. We ate it over rice for dinner, and it was delicious! This recipe is definitely a keeper, and one that I will make again when I have very little time to prep. The kids liked it, too (I decreased the red pepper flakes to 1/2 tsp, because of the kids; but it was very mild, so next time, I'll use the 3/4 tsp it calls for). 

The recipe yielded nine 1/2 cup servings of the chicken, which made it only 176 calories per serving (not including rice). 

Jerry brought home a turkey from work this morning. Every year, the company gives out turkeys to all the employees... but it's always the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and the turkeys are frozen solid. Thawing a 17-lb turkey takes forever! Usually, we don't cook it until the week or two after Thanksgiving, but this year, I'm going to cook dinner on Thursday. I filled the sink with cold water and I've been thawing the turkey submerged in the water (it's still in the plastic). I hope it's thawed in time! Meanwhile, Estelle claimed the box it came in...

We've gotten the same box each year, and in 2005, I found Noah playing in it. I took this picture, which we used for Christmas cards that year :)

How cute is he?!
Yesterday, on a whim, I decided that I want to do a turkey trot on Thursday morning. The one in Detroit was a huge mess last year, and I remember thinking I never wanted to do it again. There is one in Ann Arbor, so I asked Nathan if he would want to run that one with me. He was hoping to do a turkey trot as well, so we decided to go for it. I'm going to try and run it hard, to see what my current 5K pace is!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Motivational Monday #130

Happy Motivational Monday! It's been a very uneventful week for me, and I haven't had much to write about. I "officially" started my 10K training yesterday, so I'll be focused on that for the next 20 (yes, twenty) weeks. I was also just 1.5 pounds away from reaching my goal weight as of my last weigh in, which is super exciting! I was hoping to be there today, so I could post about it for Motivational Monday, but I'm not there quite yet... hopefully by my Wednesday Weigh-in! :)

Here are a few Motivational Monday stories for you to kick off Thanksgiving week... enjoy!

Sarah has made some serious progress on her quest to get fit!
"After breaking my tibia and fibula while mountain biking at the beginning of this year, I was unable to work out in order to lose the significant amount of weight I have gained over the last 3 years. I started working on my strength training and cardio on the first day I could walk in June after my injury. Since then, I started using my Fitness Pal and have been using it daily to watch my intake. Since July 1, I have lost 11.6 kg (25.5 lbs), over 107 cm throughout my various measurements, and logged almost 700 kilometers (430 miles) walking and riding my bike! I still have a long way to go, but I'm proud of my accomplishments thus far."
June 2015 vs. November 2015

Colleen and her husband went to Vegas along with several of the From Fat to Finish Line community members. (From Fat to Finish Line is the documentary that I took part in--finally to be released in January!--and there is a pretty big community on Facebook of people who have gone/are going "from fat to finish line"). I actually got to meet Colleen and her husband at the Detroit Marathon last month!
"We had such a blast running/walking the 5K and 10K in Vegas Nov. 14-15. I PR'ed my 10K and it was by about 40 seconds. It was Ken's first 10K ever! Our 5K, we both had a PR. I was so proud of myself because I beat my 5K time by 7 minutes and 17 seconds.  I can't wait to sign up for more races and especially Rock N Roll ones. Very well organized event and the bling was AMAZING!  We also were able to meet a bunch of the members and followers of From Fat to Finish Line. Great group and such supportive new friends of ours."

Erin is proud of her friend for finishing her first 5K; and she and her husband joined in on the fun!
"My friend Pam has been doing a couch to 5K plan, so when she mentioned she might try the Ferndale Michigan Holiday Hoof, I knew I had to tag along.  Little did I expect that it would be snowing and sticking on Saturday morning!  My husband, Josh, who is a frequent race partner and a big motivator for me, joined us for the race (the attached photo is a pre race shot, I chugged my tea before the run started). Pam did a great job run-walking her first 5k in about the same time that I ran my first one. And, we all got warm at the FestivAle Christmas Beer festival after the race." 

Margaret and her friend, Lori, "conquered the cold" at a race last Friday! (I LOVE the photo)
"Much like your weather, we got hit pretty hard with about a foot of snow on Friday night.  My friend, Lori, and I had registered for a 6 race series called Conquer the Cold.  The series is one race a month from October through March.  The November race (The Elf Run) was scheduled for Sunday.  It was SUPER COLD (4 degrees when we left home) and the snow and ice would have been a great excuse not to run.  Instead we went for it.  I ran 2 minutes slower than my October race but I'm going to excuse it due to the ice and technical issues with my GPS and music.  It was a great race and we are so glad we completed it.  2 down and 4 to go!" 

Ruth uses zero excuses to get in some exercise at work! And it's paying off.
"I've been portion controlling and really trying to make healthy choices for the past couple weeks and I'm down 8 pounds! This is me walking the warehouse aisle at lunch, about 1 1/2 miles for three laps."

A huge congratulations to everyone who had a great week! Thanks for the motivation :)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

10K training, Day One (an icy run!)

Just three days ago, I was wearing capris and a tank to run in; and then yesterday, it snowed pretty much all day long, and the temp dropped into the 20's. The roads were terrible when Jerry drove to work last night--his commute is normally 20 minutes, but it took him an HOUR to get there. I was supposed to go to dinner with some friends, but Jerry had gotten mandatory overtime, so I wasn't able to go; as it turns out, I'm actually glad I didn't have to drive on the roads last night.

Surprisingly, the snow accumulated and stuck around overnight. It didn't stick to the roads, though, so I was glad for that. This morning, I was thinking about running on the treadmill, but decided that I'd better run on the roads while they're still clear. So, I dressed really warm (the "feels like" temp was 14!) and headed out for a three-mile easy run.

It was awful! The roads looked clear, but they were actually very icy, so I was basically tip-toeing around as I ran, trying not to faceplant into the concrete. Thankfully, my pace was just supposed to be easy today anyway--between 9:16-10:12 per mile. With all the ice dodging I had to do, I wasn't surprised to see my pace was even slower than that. I was feeling really good, and wanted to run faster (my legs felt energetic) but I didn't want to fall.

I finished out the three miles, and my overall pace ended up being 10:10, so it was within the easy pace range after all.

The jacket I'm wearing is the Brooks one that Runner's World sent me for my photoshoot last year. I can't remember exactly what I weighed during that shoot, but I think it was about 138-140, and the jacket was definitely snug. I was happy to discover that it fits really well now! I hadn't been able to wear it at all since the photoshoot. This was the picture they used in the magazine:

Photo by the talented Peter Hoffman

Today's run marked the start of my "official" 10K training plan. I made a minor adjustment to it yesterday, in order to get rid of one running day, and only run four days a week. I'd had a fifth "optional" run day on the original schedule, but when something is optional and I don't do it, I feel guilty. I don't want to feel guilty for "only" running four days a week! So, I just adjusted the plan to be four days total: one short, easy run; one interval/speedwork run; one tempo run; and one long run.

Here is what the first 11 weeks looks like:

This is meant to prepare me to run a sub-52:00 10K. I'll probably start at the slower paces for each run, and gradually work my way to the faster end of the ranges by the end of the training plan. Then I have another (similar) plan for the next nine weeks to prepare me to go from a 52:00 10K down to a 49:00 10K. Hopefully, all goes well! The tempo runs and speedwork will have warm-ups and cool downs attached, of course. I may end up having to make adjustments as I go, but this is similar to what I was doing before, when I got relatively fast.

When I was working on my training plans, I realized that 2016 is a leap year. In 2012, I ran the Leap Year 4 Miler, which was an evening race on February 29. The next "annual" race would take place on February 29, 2016. I cannot believe it's almost been FOUR YEARS since that race! I did the race with Renee and Alicia. These were the sweatshirts they gave out for our registration fee:

I love getting sweatshirts for races! I really hope that they have this race again; I haven't seen any info about it online, so I don't know if they will.

I'm getting really excited about the thought of doing 5K's, 8K's, and 10K's again. I have to be somewhat selective, because racing gets expensive, but it's going to be fun to watch my times improve (well, hopefully--haha!).

I'm thinking of traveling for my goal 10K race next year--there is a Cinco de Mayo race in Portland that would be fun, and it's May 1st, so I think I could be ready by then (also before it gets too hot). I know I went to Portland this year, but it has become my favorite city to visit, and I really can't get enough! I could also drive up to Seattle for a couple of days as well, which is another city I'd like to visit. I have a ton of sky miles saved up right now, so it's fun to plan a destination race!

Don't forget, tomorrow is Motivational Monday! I don't have any submissions yet for this week, so if I don't get any, I won't be posting tomorrow. Remember, whatever you share doesn't have to be an enormous milestone like running a marathon or losing 100 pounds... anything that you've accomplished and are proud of is worth bragging about! Here is how to submit a photo (please send it to the MM email, and not my regular email--it helps me stay organized). You can send them any time during the week. Thanks Friends!

Saturday, November 21, 2015


I haven't had much to write about lately, and it feels weird. I don't know what I used to write about every day! Yesterday, Jerry was off work, so I decided to make that my high-calorie day for the week. Noah had a friend come home with him from school, and we went out to Anson's for pizza. Jerry and I shared a small Reuben pizza, which is my favorite. It has all the stuff you would expect on a Reuben pizza: thousand island dressing, corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese. It was delicious!

It looks super messy because it was super messy--the best pizza is a messy pizza ;)

When we got home, the kids asked if we could separate their bedrooms. We have three bedrooms, and the kids had been sharing one because they didn't want to be separated (we tried giving them separate bedrooms before, but they were scared at night). They've been asking lately to have their own rooms, and on a whim last night, we decided to move things around.

We had a futon in the spare bedroom, so we had to move that out. We put it where the treadmill was, and then moved the treadmill to the garage. I kind of like the idea of having the treadmill in the garage! It'll be much cooler in there during the winter, obviously, which is good (I like the cold, but the snow/ice is hard to run on--so now I can run in the cold, but on the treadmill).

We just built the garage last summer, and it is Jerry's pride and joy. Prior to building it, we had no garage, no basement, no attic, and not even a storage closet. Basically, we couldn't store anything at all. Jerry and the kids dreamt up this idea of building a three car garage with one third of it being a "man cave". The garage was finished a year ago, but we hadn't got around to making the man cave part until this summer, when my friend Andrea was moving. She gave us an old couch, a coffee table, and a TV. My mom found a big area rug that someone was throwing away, so we took that. And Jerry turned a corner of the garage into a nice little place to relax!

This is a picture from Halloween (I watched Scream while passing out candy)
Anyway, now we have the treadmill right behind the couch in there. I still need to come up with a shelf or something for my laptop, so I can watch Netflix while I run.

Eli moved into the spare bedroom, and was thrilled about it. Even though the room is smaller, he was really excited to have his own space. Apparently, he missed Noah a little though, because sometime during the night, he went back into Noah's room ;)

I'm not sure what possessed me to start this project yesterday, but I am slowly but surely going to update my entire blog before the end of the year. Yesterday, I updated my blog header (the font on the old one was fuzzy-looking, and I'd been wanting to fix it for a long time). I don't have Photoshop, and I haven't the first clue about creating stuff like that, but I managed to figure it all out and use a program called GIMP to create a new one from scratch. It took forever, but I am happy with how it turned out! I also created a new header for my Recipes blog--the old one had a picture from 2010 on it, so it really needed updating.

There are a ton of pages on this blog that need updating, and it's something I'm always procrastinating working on. I'd like to have it all done within the next month or so, though.

Oh! While I was doing the blog headers, I did a lot of Googling about the problem I was having with the Photos app on my computer. Basically, I would download a photo from an email (or upload one from my phone) into the Photos app; but then when I would try to upload it to my blog, or into another email, it wasn't there. It was driving me CRAZY. For months, I've been just taking screenshots of photos for Motivational Monday because I couldn't get it figured out. I got a comment from someone else who had the same problem, so I wanted to share the solution here:

Today, I found the answer. *Cue angels rejoicing* Someone in a forum asked the question, and it turned out that the answer was fairly simple. I leave my browser open ALL THE TIME. I never turn off my computer, and I just put it to "sleep" when I'm not using it. But the browser is always open, because I use it so often. Your browser "thinks" that the current date is whatever date you opened that browser window. So, when you download a photo to Photos, then try to upload it in the browser, the browser "thinks" that it's days/weeks/months ago, so it doesn't "see" the photo. To get the photo to appear, you just have to close the browser and open a new one. I have no idea why it happens with Photos and not iPhoto, and it's still rather annoying, but now I can stop doing screenshots of pictures!

I feel like I just rambled on about a whole lot of nothing... but like I said, I haven't had anything to write about recently. I hope everyone is having a great weekend! (It's snowing like crazy here right now).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

And so it begins...

Last night, I was completely wired at the time I would normally go to bed; so I stayed up until midnight and worked on a training plan to PR my 10K next year. I looked at my training from 2012-2013, when I got relatively fast, and saw that it took 20 weeks from when I started training to when I ran that 10K PR. I wasn't even training for the 10K, though--at first, I was training for Ragnar, and then after Ragnar was over, I just kept in shape by following a half-marathon plan.

My pace for my long runs each week leading up to that 10K went like this: 9:55, 9:53, 9:36, 10:12 (ran with a friend), 9:26, 9:30, 9:20, 9:12, 9:02, 8:48, 9:18, 8:52, 8:44, 8:39, 8:51, 8:44, 8:44, 8:33, 8:47. I started with 6 miles the first week, and toward the end, I was running 12 mile long runs each week, all at a sub-9:00 pace. I only ran a handful of sub-8:00 miles throughout my entire training, but somehow, during that 10K race, I managed to pull off a 7:55 average pace. It boggles my mind now--and it seems SO impossible to ever get to that point again!

This was the best, and most excited, I've ever felt after a run! Probably
because it was so unexpected and I wasn't actually trying to do it. 

Anyway, my current PR is 49:23, so I'm aiming for 49:22 or better. I wrote out a plan that is 20 weeks long--the first 11 weeks will focus on training for a 52:00 10K time (if I was to jump into PR training right away, I wouldn't even be able to hit pace for the workouts). Then, the following 9 weeks will focus on training for a 49:00 10K (assuming I'm successful at getting my 10K time down to 52:00).

I have the schedule written for five days a week, but my Sunday three-mile run will be optional--so I'll most likely just be running four days a week. I'll be doing speed work on Tuesdays and tempo runs on Thursdays. I'm actually looking forward to doing those again, especially because I'm not marathon training! The distance (for even the training) is so much shorter.

Even though I don't have a goal race picked out yet, I'm going to start following the schedule next week (I'm excited to get started). If all goes well, I should be able to shoot for a spring race. I was planning to aim for a fall race, but training through the summer is killer. I think I would have a better chance of hitting my goal in the spring. And if I don't, then I can try again in the fall.

Today, I decided to do a short tempo run--10 minutes at easy pace, 10 minutes at tempo pace (8:23-8:36/mi), and 10 minutes at easy pace. I actually brought music with me today--that was the first time in about two years that I listened to music while running! I hoped it would motivate me a little while I was doing the tempo segment. I thought I sent my workout to my watch, but once I got outside, I realized it hadn't been sent, so I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to set up the workout. Finally, I just set the run/walk function to beep at 10 minute intervals, and I would just manually press the lap button every 10 minutes.

The first 10 minutes, I just kept reminding myself, "Keep it easy, keep it easy..." because I knew it was going to feel really hard for the second 10 minutes. It was SUPER windy, and right around the time I started the tempo pace, I turned a corner and was heading almost directly into the wind. It was tough!

I'm used to running by mileage rather than time, so I wasn't sure exactly where I would end up at the 15-minute mark when it was time to turn around. Turning around gave me a bit of a relief from the wind, but it was still coming in sideways. That 10 minutes at tempo pace felt like forever! Finally, at 20 minutes into the run, I was able to slow down again.

Almost immediately, my abdominal muscles cramped up really badly. This is something that has been happening on the last several runs I've done, and it's never happened to me before, so I have no clue why it is now. My entire abdomen, from the bottom of my ribs down to just past my belly button, gets extremely tight and painful. It's not my internal organs--just my muscles. It even happened the second I started running the Chocolate 5K with Eli, and that was at a really slow pace.

Today, the cramping was so severe that I had to take a walk break. Once the cramping subsided a bit, after a minute or two, I started a slow jog again. When I got home, and checked out my stats, I saw that I did manage to stick to my tempo pace despite the wind--average for that 10 minutes was 8:26/mile.

Today was humbling in that I realized that I have a LOT of work in front of me if I am going to PR the 10K. I'm in nowhere near the shape I was in then. Since I did it before, I know it's possible... it's just going to take everything I have to make it happen! ;) And in some ways, I'm really looking forward to putting all of my effort into this goal. (Remind me of that when I'm complaining about speed work in a few weeks, haha).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Week 14 Weigh-in

Yesterday, I spent pretty much the entire day driving. I drove Joey to and from Lucky Puppy, his doggy daycare (three hours total); and I drove with a friend of mine to the boudoir photographer's studio to look at her pictures (two hours total). I also had to drive to get the kids from school, which is another 40 minutes or so. I had nothing to write about yesterday, because I spent so much time in the car ;)

Anyway, I had another awesome weigh-in this week!

I was 134.5 on the scale, which is down two more pounds from last week. My body fat was 22.9%, which is down 0.5% from last week; and my waist was 25.75 inches, down half an inch from last week. Every pound makes a huge difference in my body at this point, and it feels awesome (kind of strange, but awesome). For example, I have a couple of pairs of jeans that are too tight in the thighs at 138 pounds, but they fit well at 136-137 pounds. Then at 135, they are too loose in the waist.

My average daily calories for this week was 1457. I wasn't able to do a high-calorie day this week, which kind of threw me off. I planned to do a high calorie day on Saturday, but my lunch plans fell through, and I wasn't sure what else to eat to make the high-calorie day "worth it". Anyway, I plan to average 1500-1600 per day this week, and have a high-calorie day. Only 1.5 pounds until goal!

A lot of people have been asking me if I include my high-calorie day in my average daily calories--at first, I wasn't including it, but it was difficult to explain over and over; so from now on, I'll just include all seven days in my average.

My daily steps averaged just under 8,000... still not great, but up about 1,000 from last week. I did deliberately try to get in more steps, so I'm going to try and do that again this week. Maybe I can get in over 8,000.

I can't even describe how good it feels to be back at this weight! I went to the thrift store today to get a few pairs of jeans and a couple of cardigans (I'm on a cardigan kick right now--I like wearing a tight t-shirt and jeans with a cardigan). I probably tried on a dozen pairs of size 3/4 jeans, and all but one pair fit me. I feel like I did when I was losing the weight in 2009-2010... I would look at a pair of jeans and think, "Those are tiny! There is no way I can squeeze my butt into them!" And then I put them on. And I still didn't really believe it. When I was at the cash register to pay for the stuff I was buying today, the cashier held up my jeans and said, "Did you get these from the kids' section or the women's section?" Haha!

I've been looking for a goal 10K race for next year. As I mentioned before, I am going to keep my distance at or under 10K, but I am going to try and get faster--and if I could PR my 10K, I would be thrilled. Getting back to goal weight was the first step. Next, I need to pick a goal race and come up with a training plan specific to a 10K. I'm glad to have this goal to focus on, so that once I reach goal weight, I won't feel like it's "the end" and I'm done. If I keep working on goals, hopefully I can keep the weight off.

After a great weigh-in today, I'm feeling optimistic! :) Anyone else want to check in on how you're doing with your goals? I know there were several people who said they wanted to stay accountable on Wednesdays as well!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Motivational Monday #129

Happy Motivational Monday! This has been another good week for me as far as calorie counting and exercise goes. I'm super close to my goal weight now, so I'm being extra diligent where I can. I'm hoping to see 133 before the end of the month!

This post is going to be super short, because I only got one submission this week for Motivational Monday. I almost decided to save it for next week, but it's super inspiring, so I figured one story is better than none. I'm sure you will find it as inspiring as I did! Enjoy :)

This is an email from Jennifer:
"In August 2014, my doctor informed me that I was on the verge of being diagnosed with onset diabetes. I weighed 288 lbs, I was barely fitting into size 24 clothing, I had developed severe sleep apnea, and could barely walk around the block without terrible pain in my legs and back. I decided it was time to take my life back and dedicated the next year to improving my health and doing something I have always wanted to learn to do…RUN!!! 
With support and encouragement from my husband, daughter, family, and friends, I joined the Running Room in Ottawa. In September 2015, I ran my first 5K in the Army Run; and one month later, reached my goal of losing 100 lbs, fitting into a size 14! In 2016, I hope to run a 10K and reach my final target weight of 150 lbs!"

Congratulations on your weight loss and your running accomplishments, Jennifer! You look amazing.  Make sure you update us when you run your 10K and reach your goal weight :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kona Chocolate Run 5K

Jerry's employer pays the race entry fees to some races for employees (and/or their families), which is really great for a family of four! They had a sign-up at work for the Kona Chocolate Run, so Jerry signed the four of us up. He had to work last night, so he got home at 6:30 this morning and then we headed up to the race at 7:00.

The kids were both nervous, even though I told them there was no reason to be. Noah was hoping to run a good race (possibly even beat his time from the Halloween 5K last year) and Eli's goal was to run the entire race without walking. Since I ran with Noah for the Halloween race, and Jerry ran with Eli, we decided to switch this time; Eli and I would stick together, and Jerry and Noah would run together.

The morning started off on the wrong foot for sure. We were told that parking was going to be $5, and I wanted to stop and get some cash (I only had $3 on me). First, though, we had to go to the Middle School to pick up our packets. We had requested a men's medium jacket for Jerry, a women's small for me, and two men's small jackets for the kids with our registration. The registration said that if you sign up by a particular date, then the jackets were guaranteed, so I wasn't worried about getting to packet pick up yesterday.

Well, Jerry ended up getting the very last men's medium, which was good; but they didn't have any men's small jackets for the kids. So the race wanted to give them a women's small (which is cut for a woman--tapered waist) or a men's large... seriously?! At $200 for our family to do this race, they really should have "guaranteed" that we would get the sizes we requested several weeks ago. The kids ended up with the women's small jackets.

Trying to get from the packet pick-up to the starting line was a big mess, too. Jerry and I were both frustrated and said we'd never do one of these races again (we will, of course, but it was not fun until we got to the starting line! ha). We had to go find somewhere to get cash for parking, so we went to a CVS where I bought M&M's and got cash back. Turns out that we didn't end up needing any money to park!

There was a wave start, but we weren't told what wave to get into, so we just hopped in the middle of the crowd and hoped we were in the right place. Both of the kids were super nervous! I kept reminding them that it was just for fun, but I always get nervous before races, too, so I understood.

Once the race started, we split off from Jerry and Noah, and I let Eli set the pace. When we weren't even a half-mile into the race, Eli asked me, "How much farther?" Hahaha, I knew it was going to be a long race after that!

We knew there would be one water station at around mile 1.5, so I just tried to get him to focus on that. I told him that walking through water stations doesn't count as a walk break, and he liked that. So every time we turned a corner, he was on the lookout for the water station. At mile one, he said he wanted to do a walk break. I told him that we could if he really needed it, but that I knew he could finish the race without walking, as long as we went slow.

When we got to the water station, we walked through nice and slowly so he could drink a couple of cups of water. Then, we started running again, and he said he felt much better. He still asked me how much farther every quarter mile or so. I tried to take a selfie of us at one point, but he just wasn't having it ;)

I was trying to talk to him the whole time, to keep his mind off of the fact that he was running. I told him the story of my sub-50:00 10K, where I chased down the pacer in the last few miles and passed him just before the finish line. I reminded him of funny stories about Joey or the cats (I've never seen Eli laugh so hard as he does when Joey does something funny).

Finally, we had just a half mile to go, and he was really struggling. The course does a lot of turns, so you don't actually see the finish line until it's right in front of you. When we got close, though, he said he was thinking he might sprint to the finish line. I told him to go ahead, and I'd be right behind him. He took off, and ran as fast as he could at that point. He finished in 35:42, and I was right behind him in 35:43. He ran the entire distance without walking (minus the aid station, which, as I told him, doesn't count)--and he was super proud of himself!

We walked over to meet Jerry and Noah where we planned to meet up after the race. Noah wasn't feeling very well, but he finished in 30:32 (Jerry in 30:34). We got in line to get our chocolate goodies (hot chocolate and chocolate chip bagel slices from Panera, pretzels, and rice krispies treats to dip into melted chocolate, and chocolate milk). The kids wanted to sit down on the spot and eat.

When they were done eating, we headed out. It was a good race, and the kids really enjoyed it once they got over being nervous. Eli said that even though it was hard, he had fun.

The medals were pretty cute! They were shaped like a chocolate bar with a bite taken out of the corner.

I just looked up the kids' times from last year at the Halloween race (it was the same exact course as today's) and Noah had finished it in 30:31--just ONE SECOND faster than this year! He's bummed, because if he had known that during today's race, he would have picked up the pace just a little ;) Eli's time last year was 36:24, so he beat his time by 42 seconds.

I really like doing races as a family like this--it's a fun, active thing to do together and feel good about all day afterward!

Don't forget, tomorrow is Motivational Monday, so if you have a submission, please get it to me tonight if possible. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Michigan Beer Mile

First, I just want to say that the following is a very light-hearted post; but I am not trying to ignore what's going on in Paris right now. I'm just not sure what to say about it. I'm sad and tired of these horrible things happening. It makes me afraid for my kids and the world they have to grow up in. Each time something like this happens, it just plants another seed of fear in my stomach. So, while it may seem insensitive to go on like nothing is happening, I'm just not sure how else to react. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those people affected by the tragedy in Paris.

I've heard of people doing "beer miles" before, but I'd never seen one or even knew of any around here. The thought is completely unappealing to me: Drink a 12-oz beer, run a quarter-mile lap; repeat three more times, for a total of four beers and four laps (one mile). No vomiting allowed ;)

My brothers are stupid crazy enough to do it, though. And of course, I had to go watch!

I picked up Nathan, and my mom drove Brian there. It was at Flat Rock Speedway, which normally has car races. I was surprised at how many people were there, because it wasn't heavily advertised. My brothers registered on the spot, and we stood around for 40 minutes or so while we waited until the race started (3:00 pm).

Nathan said his plan was to run his best, while Brian said he was just going to run for fun--and clearly, he wasn't planning to try and win the race, considering his choice of clothing ;)

Brian is in the jorts and boots
I was very curious about how the whole race would work. For the $45 registration fee (it was $35 yesterday, but when you register on-site, it's $45), you get a shirt, hat, a couple of beer koozies, and the four beers for the race. Not bad!

To keep all the runners' beers organized, they gave each runner a piece of paper with their bib number, so you could set your cans on top of that:

I think there were a total of about 25-30 runners. There was a 10-meter area just before the official start line, and that was the "beer drinking" area, that didn't count toward the quarter-mile lap. Everyone started just before that line, and then when the announcer started the race, everyone opened their beers, moved into that area, and drank them. Then they had to turn the beer upside down over their head, to prove that they drank the whole thing, and then they could start their first lap.

Nathan was actually the first person to finish his beer and cross the official starting line! I knew he'd be pretty fast, but there was a guy that blew past him in the first lap. The race was fun to watch! There were some people who took it pretty seriously, but there were also a lot of people that were obviously there just for fun. Brian was one the latter:

I watched a couple more people pass Nathan. He said he started feeling pretty crappy for the last two laps, and the hardest part was running with all that carbonation in his stomach. Brian was running at an easier pace, but he said it was harder than he expected it to be.

Nathan came cruising through the finish line in 8:07! (Drinking four beers AND running a mile in 8:07? That's really fast!) He placed fourth overall. The winner finished in around 7:30.

I'm not sure what Brian's finishing time was:

Both of them said the race was much harder than they expected it to be, and that the worst part was the carbonation of the beer making them burp as they started each lap. It was fun (and interesting) to spectate, but I still have no desire to do a beer mile!