August 31, 2013


Dinner and the Mud Hens game last night turned out to be so fun! Originally, Noah chose Bob Evans for dinner, but my mom suggested Spaghetti Warehouse, which was just a block from the stadium. Noah wanted to try it, so that's where we went for dinner. None of us had ever been there before.

I really wanted to like it, but I wasn't impressed. The food quality wasn't very good at all. I ordered the Wild Mushroom and Chicken Pasta, which is described on their website: "You'll go wild for our creamy sauce featuring a trio of fresh mushrooms, tossed with spaghetti and artichoke hearts, then topped with grilled chicken breast and roasted red bell pepper." It sounded fantastic, and it was 16 PointsPlus, which isn't too bad for a dinner out.

I thought it looked pretty good, but the pasta was really overcooked, and the chicken was very fatty (I ended up giving the chicken to Jerry, but even he wouldn't eat it; and he eats ANY meat). The artichokes were still kind of cold, and tasted like they'd been dumped from a can right onto the dish, so I didn't eat those, either. I really liked the mushrooms, so I ended up eating the mushrooms and pasta, which was very filling.

Anyway, after dinner, we walked around for a little while before heading to the stadium. We got to the stadium about an hour before the game started, so we tried to keep the kids entertained.

The game ended up being a blast! Normally, I am not a sports person in the least sense of the word, but I do like to go to a baseball game now and then. Usually, we go to Tigers games. Well, after going to the Mud Hens game last night, I have no desire to ever go to a Tigers game again! The Mud Hens' stadium is smaller and homier, and they have all kinds of entertainment going on throughout the game. Yesterday was "superheroes" day, so there were tons of people dressed up in costumes. The game was good, and ended up going into extra innings. The Mud Hens finally won in the bottom of the 11th inning. Then we stayed for fireworks after the game, so we didn't leave until 11:00. It was a late night for all of us! Noah said it was his favorite birthday present he's ever gotten, which made my day ;)

When I was losing weight, I remember seeing the scale read 199 one day, and I vowed never to see the number 200 again. Getting below 200 pounds was a huge milestone, and thankfully, I haven't seen the number 200 again in over three years... until today. I'm not talking about my weight, of course, but the number of miles run in one month.

Today, I reached 200 miles run in August!

That's a LOT of miles. It averages out to 6.45 miles per day (or, if you factor in my rest days, it would be 7.69 miles per active day). This is how it breaks down:

My shortest run of the month was 5 miles; my longest was 16. My previous highest mileage month was April 2012, where I hit about 140 miles.

I have to admit, I really like the Hansons' training. I've remained injury-free, which is more than I can say for the last two marathons I trained for (during my first marathon training cycle, I injured my right knee; then injured my left knee while training for my second). I really think my body likes running more frequently, and higher mileage. I'm certainly looking forward to cutting back a bit after the marathon, but so far, I'm glad I've done this training.

Anyway, I was pretty excited to see my August stats when I uploaded my run today:

I burned the equivalent of approximately 302 Oreo cookies... not bad! ;)

Tonight is my wine club meeting, so I get to celebrate with some wine and chit chat with friends--can't wait!

You'll go wild for our creamy sauce featuring a trio of fresh mushrooms tossed with spaghetti and artichoke hearts, then topped with grilled chicken breast and roasted red bell pepper. - See more at:
You'll go wild for our creamy sauce featuring a trio of fresh mushrooms tossed with spaghetti and artichoke hearts, then topped with grilled chicken breast and roasted red bell pepper. - See more at:

August 30, 2013


This morning, I had a five mile easy run on the schedule; however, I planned to run nine miles instead of five (I'll write more about that tomorrow). Since I finished Breaking Bad yesterday, and haven't decided on a show to watch next on the treadmill, I decided to run outside, regardless of the temperature.

It was a VERY humid morning. I headed out fairly early, at 7:00, but it was already really muggy. I just decided to pretend I was running in Key West ;)  I didn't carry water with me, because I usually don't need it for ten miles or less, but since it was so humid, I stuck close to home. I planned to do a six-mile loop and run by my house, stopping for water if needed, and then do a three-mile out-and-back.

It was a GREAT run today. Even though it was humid, causing me to practically drown in sweat, I felt really good. I don't know what planted this idea in my head, but I started thinking about ditching my tank top when I ran past my house, and running in just my sports bra.

I've never, in my entire life, bared my belly in public. I've never worn a bikini (even as a kid, I always wore a two-piece). When I was pregnant, and friends asked to see my belly, I was adamant about saying no. Shortly before I started losing weight, my friend Melissa asked me if I would want to go with her to auditions for The Biggest Loser (couples' edition). I said that I would rather stay fat than let anyone see my stomach.

But once I got the thought in my head, I spent a few miles talking myself into it. I know my belly looks much better than it ever has, thanks to the weight loss and the skin removal surgery. However, I still have stretch marks, and the skin is still loose (the only way to correct that would've be with a vertical incision from my breast bone to my pubic bone, and I didn't want that).

As I ran, I kept thinking about how absolutely terrifying it would be to run in just a sports bra, but how liberating it would feel to get rid of those insecurities. When I was obese, if someone had shown me a picture of my future stomach (what it looks like now), I would have been ECSTATIC with it. I would have said that I'd walk around naked, just to show off my new body! ;) But now that I'm here, in this body, I still have insecurities, although they aren't as bad as before.

So, I asked myself, "What's the absolute worst thing that could happen if you run in just your sports bra?" And the only thing I could come up with is that someone would make a rude comment to me while I was running. Big deal! Sometime over the past few years, I stopped caring so much about what random people thought about me. And I decided to go for it, even though I was super nervous.

At mile six, I stopped at home for a  second to throw my shirt in the house. I didn't want to look in the mirror, because I was afraid I would chicken out. I hesitated at the door to go back outside, but then, before I could change my mind, I opened the door and ran off the porch, down the driveway, and into the street.

I was running... without a shirt. Something I never, in a million years, would have ever thought I'd be doing.

And it was SO liberating! The breeze cooled me off much better than when I had my tank on. When I looked down, I could see the skin on my stomach bouncing a little, but I honestly didn't even care. I had thought that maybe I would just run around my neighborhood, so I wouldn't run into many people/cars; however, I was feeling so good, that I went on a busy road and ran a mile and a half out, turned around, and ran home.

Nobody made comments to me, no cars crashed from my blindingly white skin, and people barely even glanced at me as they drove by. It was awesome!

50 Shades of Pale

I thought it was pretty funny when I looked at my splits. I was trying to run an easy pace (high 9:00's to mid 10:00's). You can see just how nervous I was when I took my tank off, because my pace for that 7th mile was 8:58. When I'm nervous, I always run faster!

It was fun to do something that was so scary for me. I don't look anything like the high school girls that run cross country in their sports bras (who I see out training occasionally), but considering I'm a formerly-obese mother of two, I'm very happy with how I look now, and I'm going to keep working on not feeling self-conscious of my flaws!

August 29, 2013

Calibration frustration

I had such a frustrating run this morning! Today was a nine mile run at marathon pace (8:58/mi), and it was a hot morning, so I chose to use the treadmill. I was down to the last two episodes of season five of Breaking Bad, which totaled just about the same amount of time I would need to run nine miles--perfect!

I got everything all set up, and decided not to run a warm-up mile (because my warm-up pace is only slightly slower than marathon pace, so it's really not needed). I planned for this to be a "set it and forget it" kind of run, where I just set the pace and run until I reached nine miles. It didn't work out that way at all.

I noticed that my Garmin was showing that I was going much faster than the treadmill was reading. I have a fairly new battery in my foot pod, so I knew that wasn't the issue. I wouldn't have minded if it was only off by a couple of seconds per mile, but it was reading something like 8:37 when the treadmill said 8:57. Multiply that by nine miles, and it's a big difference!

I didn't want to have to recalibrate it in the middle of my run. I decided to manually fiddle with the calibration number on my watch to try and match the treadmill's pace. Each time I did that, I had to stop the 'mill, stop my Garmin, press a bunch of buttons, start the 'mill, run, and restart my Garmin. I probably tried four different numbers, before I finally decided just to calibrate the thing the long way, by running for a half mile.

After I calibrated it to the treadmill, it was telling me that I was running 8:02 or something ridiculous. I knew that wasn't right, either, and I don't understand how that happened. I should have just thrown my Garmin across the room and worried about it later, but I was determined to find the right calibration number.

I messed around with the stupid thing for over four miles!

Finally, I got it to read 8:45-ish, which was the closest I could get to the treadmill pace. The one good thing about all the hassle was that the first half of the run went by really fast. As soon as I reached nine miles, Breaking Bad ended, so the timing worked out perfectly, even with all the starting and stopping. I'm not even going to post my splits, because they are so inaccurate.

I searched online for some info about the foot pod and why it might not calibrate properly. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find a cool (and very nerdy!) program that gives you a really accurate manual calibration factor based on all of my previous runs done by GPS. I'm not going to get into it, because it truly is the nerdiest thing I've ever wasted my time with (I loved every second of it!), but if you like nerdy numbers stuff, you can find it here. If that is correct, my treadmill shows that I'm going slower than I actually am, which is interesting! I'm excited to try out the new calibration numbers to see what it shows.

I think my body has been craving vegetables lately. I am a self-proclaimed salad-hater, but once in a while I go through a phase where I just can't get enough salad. So the past few days, I've been making big salads to eat for lunch, along with a bowl of soup. I love the Bolthouse Farms ranch dressing (I wrote about it here); and lately I've been adding Craisins, almonds, turkey, and rice noodles.

When I do eat salad, my favorite part is all of the toppings. When the bowl is almost empty, and all the lettuce is gone, and there is just a bunch of random toppings left--those are the best bites! Anyway, I've also been eating vegetables for a snack--I've been hooked on cucumber slices with cream cheese (mixed with Italian dressing mix).

I mixed a whole brick of fat free cream cheese with two teaspoons of Italian dressing mix (a powder). Then I just spread two tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture on cucumber slices for a 1 PointsPlus snack. It's really good!

After running nine miles today, I wanted to balance out those veggies with something a little more indulgent ;)  So after dinner, Jerry and I took the kids to Cold Stone for ice cream. I got a small cup of cake batter flavor--my favorite.

Noah got cake batter with Snickers and Reese's Cups, and Eli got chocolate with Snickers and Reese's Cups (Jerry got plain mint). I still haven't had peanut butter (six weeks and counting!), otherwise, I may have been tempted to get Reese's in mine, too. The cake batter ice cream is only 10 PP for a small, and it's SO worth it.

Tomorrow, we're taking the kids to the Toledo Mud Hens game. We bought the tickets for Noah's birthday last month. The game is at 7:00, so we told Noah we'd go out for his birthday dinner tomorrow before the game, and he could choose where we go. He chose Bob Evans, which was an unusual choice for a nine-year old, but that sounds good to me ;)  We won't get home from the game until late, so I probably won't write a post tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

August 28, 2013

The giggles

I spent almost the entire day today thinking it was Thursday. When I woke up, I knew it was Wednesday, because I did my weigh-in. Which, by the way, was actually much better than I expected:

My weight was up two pounds from last week's 136. From the week I've had, though, I thought for sure it would be in the 140's. I ate out a few times this week (which always causes me to gain weight, regardless of what I order), and I didn't track my food for a couple of days. I've been going back and forth between 136 and 138 for several weeks now, and I ready to get back to goal!

This week, we're going to a Mud Hens baseball game on Friday night (and since it's "Pizza Friday" the kids want to go out for pizza before the game. On Saturday, I have a wine club meeting with girlfriends, and that always involves food. I'm going to make a plan before both of those days so that I don't go overboard. I can't afford to, because I have to fit into a bridesmaids' dress in two weeks!

The boys start school next week, and then I will be able to settle into a routine. I find it so much easier to stay on track with my eating during the school year. I have a few projects I want to work on, too, like painting the boys' bedrooms and possibly the kitchen. As of this Sunday, there will be just six weeks until the Chicago marathon!

Today was my rest day, which I always look forward to; but then I end up spending the whole day feeling weird about not running! ;)  Eli has been really into Uno lately, so I played several games of that today.

Then, I was helping him with a workbook that the school gave the kids to work on over the summer. Eli was really taking his good old time today, writing out his numbers and letters very carefully (and veeeery slowly). It was driving me crazy, but I didn't say anything about it, because I assumed he was trying to make his work look neat. I had told him that we were going to work on the book for an hour. About 20 minutes in, he hadn't made much progress because he was writing so slowly.

Then he said, sounding pleased with himself, "Wow, I'm really good at writing with my left hand!"

I almost died. But the situation made me laugh so hard that I was wheezing. I had the giggles after that, and Eli had no idea what was so funny. It was one of those moments where, long after it stopped being funny, I was still laughing about it.

And I'm going to cut this post short, because I really don't have anything else to write about today!

August 27, 2013

Ladder intervals

According to the Hansons' marathon schedule, my Tuesday runs from now (well, last week) until the marathon are "strength" runs. These are similar to speed work, only the intervals are longer (1-3 miles per interval), and the pace is much slower (10 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace). Today, I was supposed to do 4 x 1.5 miles at 8:48/mi pace. I really didn't want to do that workout, and not because I didn't feel like running; it just feels like a race pace run with a few breaks thrown in, and that isn't very challenging.

The Hansons' plan is very marathon-goal-specific, so if I had my heart set on a goal for the Chicago marathon, I'd follow the strength runs on Tuesdays to the letter. But I don't want to just forget about doing speed work for the next several weeks, so I decided to go back to the speed workouts and continue doing those instead of the strength runs. The speed workouts are shorter, faster intervals, where I really push the pace. These will help me keep up my speed for my shorter distance races after the marathon is over.

So instead of today's 4 x 1.5 mile intervals, I chose to do ladder intervals--something I've never actually done before! This would consist of 400 meters, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, and then 400, at 5K-ish pace (7:30/mi); all of these would have a 400-meter recovery jog in-between. I liked the idea of a variety, and I knew the 7:30 pace would be tough, especially for the 1600 meter (1 mile) interval.

I set up the entire workout on my Garmin, so that I wouldn't have to think much while doing it. It was thunder storming outside, so I chose to use the treadmill (I like the treadmill for intervals, anyway). I've been watching the fifth season of Breaking Bad on Netflix, and it's a pretty short season. I'm almost done with it already!

Anyway, I started with a one-mile warm-up. I set the treadmill at 6.0, and then just kept increasing it by 0.1 mph each tenth of a mile. After the warm-up, I started the first interval. It wasn't too bad! The second one was tougher. By the third, I was thinking, "Oh, man, why didn't I just stick with the strength run today?" I was really nervous about the "top" of the ladder, the one-mile interval. That one seemed to take FOREVER. Once I finished that one though, it was all downhill (er, down the ladder...), because the intervals would get shorter each time.

After the 1-mile interval, I was doing the 1/4 mile recovery jog, lost in Breaking Bad. One minute, I was trotting along, watching the show, and the next second, I almost ran through the wall (okay, that's definitely an exaggeration, but I did run into the front of the treadmill, banging my hip pretty hard). The power had gone out (from the storm), which made the belt on the treadmill come to an instant stop, while I kept running. Bahaha, that was pretty funny.

And you know what my first thought was? "Yes! The power went out! Now I don't have to finish my intervals!" I decided to wait five minutes before calling the workout quits and getting into the shower. At around minute number four, the power came back on. So, I truly had no excuse not to get back on there.

It was a tough workout today! But I really liked doing the ladder intervals for variety. It looked interesting on the pace graph:

Doing the ladders definitely made the miles fly by. Since I was focused on each individual interval, I didn't realize that I'd run nearly seven miles by the time I was done.

I've been really getting into a "fall" mood lately, so I decided to make Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal for breakfast. It's a hefty 9 PointsPlus, but it sounded SO good today. It makes six servings, so I can just heat it up each morning for the next five days.

After breakfast, my friend Jake stopped by with his kids. He has a son Eli's age, and boy-girl twins who are, I think, three years old. The little girl kept asking me, "Where's your girl?" She's so adorable! I just had to keep reminding her that I am the only girl in this house, and she seemed to think that was very strange. The twins were very interested in the cats, and I'm glad my cats are people-friendly, because they definitely got a lot of attention today.

For Taste Test Tuesday this week, I bought these Salted Caramel Biscotti by Nonni's:

Holy smokes, these are SO good! If you like the salty-sweet combo, you will love these. They have everything as far as taste and texture--crunchy, smooth, salty, and sweet. They're only 100 calories, so they make the perfect treat to go with my salted caramel tea :)

August 26, 2013

Motivational Monday #30

This is the last Motivational Monday of August... can you believe it's almost September already?! I feel like the summer just flew by way too fast. But I'm very much looking forward to fall. Fall means settling into a routine, which makes it much easier for me to stay on track. I've been struggling all summer long, but thankfully, have kept the damage to a few pounds (rather than the 15-20 I've gained per summer in the past!).

I think the thing I am most proud of this week is my 16-miler yesterday. I was so nervous about it, but it went SO well, and I felt really strong through the whole run.

Lots of great motivation from readers this week, too!

Brittany ran her first 5K! She'd been running about a 14:00/mi pace during her training, so she surprised herself (in a good way) when she ran a 12:30/mi pace at the race.

Dave's story gives me chills. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may remember when my From Fat to Finish Line Ragnar team was looking for a twelfth member, and people "applied" to be on the team. We eventually ended up choosing Meredith to join our team--her story is VERY motivational.

Well, Dave is Meredith's husband, and I had the pleasure of spending some time with them both in Key West. Dave has quite the inspirational story of his own! About five years ago, Dave was a severe diabetic, on pills four times a day, and very close to being put on insulin. He was also on high blood pressure meds and high cholesterol meds.

This past Saturday, Dave reached a HUGE milestone--he hit his Weight Watchers goal weight, with 180.4 pounds lost!! In the "before" pic below, Dave weighed 429 pounds; in the "after" pic (holding his EIGHTEENTH 10-lbs lost ribbon at WW), he weighs in at 249. Dave's main form of exercise was walking (he always posts on Facebook how many steps he walked that day, and this guy walks WAY more than I run); but he's now training to run a half-marathon. Best of all, he's off ALL of his medication!

When I first saw this picture from Heather, I thought, "I can't post that--it's too dark!" But it actually makes her post that much better. Heather and her neighbor have been meeting up for a run/walk around the neighborhood each morning... at 4:50 AM! While most people are still sleeping, they are up and at 'em, getting in some exercise to start the day, before the sun even comes up.

In February, Katina decided that she'd had enough--she was ready to make the commitment to lose the weight. She'd tried to lose weight before, but always focused too much on the number on the scale. This time around, she decided to set mini goals to look forward to instead of worrying about the numbers. She listed things like, "Walk a 5K", "Stop using a seat belt extender on an airplane", "Complete a zombie run 5K (including the obstacles)", etc. Since she started her new lifestyle, she's lost 72.8 pounds, and she completed her first goal of walking a 5K. She's also a size 18/20 now, down from a size 30!

Leesa set a New Year's Resolution this year to run five 5K races. She ran her first on January 6th, and this past weekend, she completed her goal by running her fifth! She ran the race with her daughter, and the rest of her family cheered from the sidelines.

Liz ran 15 miles yesterday--her longest distance ever!!

Liz ran her first 5K this weekend! This was a huge accomplishment for her, because she's signed up for races before, but she was too nervous to show up on race morning. She was afraid of not being fast enough, or good enough, or thin enough... but this time, she showed up (even though she isn't at her goal weight, and even though she didn't train as well as she'd hoped) and she finished the race! 

The race was a benefit for Gigi's Playhouse, a Down's Syndrome awareness organization, that benefits Liz's soon-to-be stepdaughter, Joy. Joy told Liz that she wanted her to win the race ;)  While Liz didn't win, Joy shouted with glee that Liz had won when she crossed the finish line. Liz is happy to set an example for Joy about health, perseverance, and overcoming fears!

Melissa had been chasing a PR since January in the 5K, and this weekend, she did it! She finished in 31:17, which also meant she placed third in her age group. There was a man behind her the entire race, yelling encouragement to everyone, and Melissa said that it really encouraged her at the end to push hard and get that PR. Her father (in the picture) just started running a year ago, and at 69 years old, he won first in his age group this weekend!

After losing 45 pounds, and completing the Couch to 5K program, Naomi was feeling pretty happy with her accomplishments. Then IronMan Canada rolled into her town, and she started to feel inadequate--what's a 5K when these people were swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and then running a full marathon? She started to feel down about herself, but then she started thinking about how far she'd come. Several months prior, she was 215 pounds and could barely walk a flight of stairs without getting winded, and now she's dropped quite a bit of weight and is able to run 3.1 miles pretty easily! Watching the IronMan competitors cross the finish line this weekend inspired her to set some new goals for next year--she's going to run the half-marathon in her hometown, and after that? Maybe she'll set her sights on becoming an IronMan herself ;)

Rachel spent her entire life overweight, and never really gave much thought to how it affected her health. Sure, she wanted to be "thin" to look good, but it wasn't until after she had her daughter that she had an epiphany: she wanted to become fit and healthy to be around for her daughter. In the past, her goals were things like, "Lose X pounds", "Do a 5K", "Don't eat junk food",  "Don't drink soda", etc. This time, all she wanted to was to be healthy and fit to be a good mom. She started attending Zumba classes, and making healthy changes in her diet. She's not yet at goal, but she's lost 82.6 pounds, and is fitter than she's ever been! Wanting to inspire others, she just recently became a Sweat Pink Ambassador.

Emily began running just two and a half years ago, and since then, she's completed six half-marathons, several 5K's, 10K's, and 15K's, and four Ragnar Relays! I think it's safe to say she's addicted ;)  She's currently training for her first full marathon, which takes place next month. This past weekend, she had a half-marathon planned, but days before the race, she hurt her knee. She was determined to finish, even if it meant walking the race, and she ended up finishing with her third fastest time yet, despite the run/walking she did! Now she's going to rest up until her knee is better, so she can finish her marathon feeling just as strong. 

After losing 40 pounds, Kim is now able to fit into the same size pants she wore as a sophomore in high school! She's been counting PointsPlus and started running, which has helped her to drop the pounds as well as 25 inches.

Don't forget to check out more motivation (and share your own) on the Motivational Monday Facebook post!

August 25, 2013

A 16-miler

Not sure why I was nervous about my long run today, and it turns out there was no reason to be--I did it!

I set the alarm for 6:20, so that I could be out the door at sunrise (6:50). I got dressed and then prepared my CamelBak, filling the water reservoir with ice and then water. I packed my pepper spray, phone, and a few ShotBloks, too.

I'd mapped out an out-and-back route that actually let me go past my parents' campsite. The boys stayed at the campsite with my parents last night, so I thought it would be fun to see them just before turning around and heading home.

According to the Hansons' book, I should be running my long runs at a 9:38/mi pace. Because I was nervous about the distance, I just told myself that I would aim for sub-10 miles, but I wouldn't look at my watch more than once per mile. I hate when I'm trying to hit a certain pace and I have to keep looking at my watch to see if I'm on target. Today, I just wanted to make this as painless as possible.

There was no procrastinating this morning; I wanted to get this done before the sun got unbearable! I started running at what felt like a comfortable pace, and just focused on getting to the campsite. The ice in the CamelBak was pretty loud as I ran, but the noise didn't bother me. When I hit a mile, I saw my pace was 9:35--almost spot-on to my goal pace today, so I was surprised that I hit that without really trying.

Every time my Garmin beeped at a mile checkpoint, I looked at my pace and then I took a drink of water--probably only about an ounce, but I didn't want to get as dehydrated as last week, so I made sure to drink often, even in the beginning. Other than that, I just let myself space out and daydream.

When I got to the campground, I was surprised at how crowded it was. Every single campsite was occupied. I wondered if I'd be able to find my parents' camper, but then I saw it. My mom was sitting outside reading, and I stopped to talk for a couple of minutes. She said the boys had just left with my dad to go fishing, so I figured I'd run down to their fishing spot to say hi before heading home. My mom wasn't exactly sure where it was, and since I'm very familiar with the trails there, I made my best guess. I was wrong.

I wanted to see the boys, but I didn't want to add any mileage to my run (16 is plenty!), so I didn't look very long. I just made my way back to the front of the park, and realized that if I went straight home, I'd arrive back home at mile 15.25, not 16. So on the way home, I made a couple of detours to add on a little mileage. If there is one thing I hate, it's running PAST my house or car, because I didn't calculate the route correctly.

I was surprised at how good I felt! Sure, my legs were feeling a little tired toward the end, but I honestly felt like I could have pulled a 20-miler today and been fine. It's funny--last week's 10-miler nearly killed me, but today's 16-miler felt great! The last mile was actually my fastest, which shows I still had some energy left in the tank. When I got back to my house, I actually did have to run past. It was at 15.97, and as anal as it sounds, I had to make my Garmin read 16. So I just ran to the neighbor's driveway and turned around. I sat outside for a couple minutes before going inside to shower.

I love seeing a calorie burn in the thousands!

The kids were still with my parents, so after I showered and had a huge protein shake for breakfast, I literally sat in the recliner and watched two full Lifetime movies. A very lazy morning! It felt awesome to sit and relax after getting my long run done. Paolo was thrilled to sit on my lap the entire time, too. ;)

I chose not to get a long run treat today, which was kind of a bummer. Yesterday, I had the munchies really badly, and said to hell with counting PointsPlus. So I'm sure I ate all of my activity PP yesterday, before I ever even earned them. I'm really hoping that I don't gain this week, but with eating out a couple of times, and then yesterday's free-for-all, I just might.

The winner of the KIND bars giveaway is lucky number 159:

Allison, please e-mail me ASAP at SlimKatie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com with your shipping info, so that I can pass it along to the kind people at KIND ;)

Just a reminder that tomorrow is Motivational Monday! If you have a pic of a health/fitness accomplishment that you completed this week, you can send it to me at SlimKatie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com and I may include it on tomorrow's post.

August 24, 2013

Post-marathon plans

Sure enough, I was asleep the second my head hit the pillow last night. I was SO TIRED from the very long, sleepless night in the camper. I slept until about 6:30 this morning, and then I got out of bed to go out and run before I could change my mind. I knew I wanted to get it done before it got too hot outside.

I had 8 miles at easy run pace (10:00-10:40) on the schedule. I chose an out and back route, because I knew it would be tempting to cut the run short if I passed by my house. I started running at what felt like easy run pace to me. I wanted to see if I could hit my target pace without looking at my watch.

When the watch beeped for mile 1, I saw that it was a 9:43/mi pace. Close. So I tried again. Mile 2 complete in 9:53--a little closer. And so it went, for the entire eight miles. I've discovered that it's  actually gotten pretty difficult to run a pace over 10:00. When I'm focusing on it, I can do it, but when I space out (which is what I do on runs), I find that my pace automatically goes into the mid-9:00's. I was happy that my pace was pretty consistent throughout the run, though!

The Garmin site is down right now, so this will do.

Today's run made me really nervous for tomorrow's run--I have to do 16 miles tomorrow! It's supposed to be a hot day (high of 88), so I'm going to have to head out as early as possible. I'm going to wear my CamelBak and do an out-and-back run. I'm not sure why I'm so nervous! I did a 15-miler two weeks ago, so it's just an extra mile on top of that.

I saw my little brother, Nathan, yesterday, and he's doing really well with his training. I wasn't sure if I was going to be running with him during the half-marathon in November, or just doing the same race. Yesterday, he said he is kind of thinking he'll run it in just under two hours. I was surprised--that's pretty fast for a beginner! But his training paces show that he probably could do it. So I may not even be able to keep up with him ;) It's four weeks after the marathon, though, so I'm sure I'll be fine to run with him, if he wants me to (he probably won't, even though I'd like to!).

I spoke with my big brother, Brian, yesterday, also. He said that he and Nathan were talking about putting together a "family" Ragnar team for next year. They were hoping for Tennessee (November 2014), but since I'm doing TN with my From Fat to Finish Line team, I said we'd have to pick a different one. Regardless of what one we do, I think that would be SO fun! Brian, Nathan, my sister (Jeanie), her husband (Shawn), Brian's girlfriend (Becky), Jerry, and me--not sure who would fill in the other five spots--on a team would be a blast.

Speaking of Ragnar, John (Runner 12 from my From Fat to Finish Line team) had an awesome idea. He lives in San Diego, and wants to put together a team for Ragnar SoCal, made up of people who have never run an overnight relay race before. I volunteered to co-captain (in the other van, so that each van would have a relay veteran). I think that running a race with 10 relay rookies would be great! We just started talking about this a couple of days ago, so we're still figuring things out, but I'm excited about it. I would LOVE to go to San Diego! I went once, but I was only 17 at the time. The race is in April, so we have some time to plan.

Anyway, if all these plans work out, it looks like next year is going to be the year of the overnight relays. Definitely won't be doing any marathons next year! I'm really looking forward to a more laid-back approach to training after all the marathon training.

I haven't mentioned this before, because I wasn't sure how long I would last... but it's been almost six weeks since I've had peanut butter! I'm not giving it up for good--I just decided to challenge myself to go without it for a little while. On July 17th, Andrea and I started a bet with our PointsPlus (if we go over for the week, we owe each other money). We did it to get to/stay at our goals until the marathon. I made a little deal with myself, as well (after a peanut butter-induced food coma)...

If I could give up peanut butter until the marathon, then I can buy a new set of dishes. We've had the same dishes since our wedding shower in 2003, and I would love a new set! I never really felt justified in buying them, so this way, I feel like I've earned them. It's been super tough without my beloved peanut butter! But Wednesday will mark six weeks since I've had it, so I've actually been sticking to my goal. It's really helped me to stay on track with my eating, because whenever I binge, it's almost always peanut butter-related.

Last year, I gave up peanut butter for the six weeks prior to the Detroit Marathon, and it really helped me to start (and stick with) Weight Watchers. It's weird that it's almost been a year since I joined! The older I get, the faster time goes by.

August 23, 2013

Slow's BBQ

Camping last night turned out to be kind of a bust. Not awful, but not the greatest night for camping. It rained all evening. At around 9:00, the rain let up, so we tried to make a campfire. We were able to light the paper, but the logs wouldn't light. I think the boys had a lot of fun trying, though! It's not often they get to play with matches ;)

I slept terribly in the camper. I was hot and just uncomfortable, and could hear lots of trains. I was tossing and turning. Sometime in the night, Noah actually got up (sleepwalking) and was trying to open the camper door to go outside! That was pretty scary. I was really glad that I was awake and saw him doing that.

This morning, I woke up before 5:00, and just laid in bed, waiting for the sun to come up. As soon as it was light enough, at around 6:30, I got dressed to go for a run. I had a five-mile easy run on the schedule. Since we were already at the state park, I knew a five-mile route on the trail, so I headed out for that. I was aiming for a 10:00-10:40 pace, but I really just wanted to get it done, so I ended up going a little faster, with a 9:37 average pace.

I was hoping to run into Jessica, since I figured she'd be doing a long run today, but didn't see her. When I got back to the campsite, though, I thought I caught a glimpse of her on the trail. Turns out I was right! She sent me a text and said she saw me a ways ahead of her for a while, but too far ahead to catch up. She ran 12 miles today.

We were able to get the logs to light this morning, so we made a fire and sat around for a little bit. At around 11:30, we headed to Detroit for lunch. The kids had been asking us to go to a restaurant called Slow's, known for its BBQ. I'd heard really good things about it, and the kids had seen it on The Food Network and Man vs. Food (which is why they wanted to go there).

Jerry was thrilled to see that they had 55 beers on tap! I ordered the pulled pork (I had looked up the menu before we left, and it had pictures of the food. The portions looked fairly small, so I assumed that's how they'd be in the restaurant. I was very wrong!). I got baked beans and cornbread for my sides (there really weren't any "healthy" sides at all). Jerry got a trio of the pulled pork, chicken, and brisket, with black beans and potato salad. Noah and Eli shared a dinner of ribs, pulled pork, waffle fries, and macaroni and cheese. When the food came out, the portions were ginormous...

I was absolutely starving, and couldn't wait to dig in. But I have to admit, I was disappointed in the food. The cornbread was amazing, but I ate one bite of the baked beans and couldn't even stomach a second bite (they tasted very perfume-y, like flowers or something). The pork was okay, but I am very picky about meat; I don't like to see ANY visible fat, and the pork had quite a bit. So I picked around and ate the pieces that didn't have fat on them. I gave Eli about half of the pork, because he loved it and plowed through his.

I tasted a bite or two of everything at the table, just to try it. The mac & cheese was decent, but I like my homemade mac & cheese better. The only thing that really wowed me was the cornbread (and I gave half of it to Jerry, because he didn't like his black beans). Jerry and the kids loved all of the meat. I'd expected to spend a lot of PointsPlus there, but since I wasn't crazy about the food, the damage wasn't too bad. I ate about a third of the pork, two-thirds of the cornbread, half of Eli's mac & cheese (he didn't like it), and a bite of everything else.

I'm glad we went, because it was fun to try something new, but I wouldn't go back there. Jerry, on the other hand, said he would love to go back. Although, we both mentioned that we've been eating out too much lately (probably once a week, sometimes twice), so we're going to cut back on that. When we left, we drove by the old train station in Detroit to check it out. It's such a cool looking building!

The picture (through the windshield) doesn't really do it justice. It's a shame that it's just an empty building now.

We were super full all day long from lunch, so we didn't even eat dinner. I did have a cupcake for my mom's birthday, though. Three birthdays today--my mom's, Andrea's, and Rik's (both from my Ragnar team).  We went back to the campsite for a little while to hang out with my parents, and then came back home for a relaxing evening. I'm SO going to bed early tonight, after my sleepless night yesterday! Eight miles to run in the morning.

August 22, 2013

A #KINDAwesome review and giveaway

I never really considered myself a "bar" person--I can't stand protein bars, which eliminated pretty much all of them until the past couple of years or so. I discovered some bars that I liked, and I started eating one (I like Larabars, Fiber One bars, and Clif bars, mostly) almost every day for my afternoon snack.

Recently, I was contacted by someone from KIND snacks to try out some of their nut and spice bars. I'd seen these bars a million times at the grocery store, and sometimes would even get as far as putting a couple in my cart, but I never ended up buying them. The packaging is clear, and the bars basically look like hard, sticky nuts; and I think I assumed they would taste the way they looked. They didn't look bad, but they didn't really look like anything special, if that makes sense.

Anyway, when given the chance to try them out, I was pretty excited. There were lots of flavors!

Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt
Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan
Madagascar Vanilla Almond
Dark Chocolate Chili Almond
Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt
Cashew & Ginger Spice

I was given three of each flavor, so I gave one of each to Jerry to try also, and give his opinion. The first one I tried was the Dark Chocolate Chili Almond. Holy smokes, I was in love at first bite!! When looking at the bars through the package, I pictured the texture to be very hard--almost like a nut brittle. But that wasn't the case at all. They weren't gooey, either. The bar was pliable, but the nuts were crunchy. It wasn't too sweet, or too sticky, or too anything; I thought it tasted like chocolate covered spiced almonds--so good!

Jerry tried the Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt first, and he told me I had to try it next--he loved it. The flavor of that one reminded me a lot of a Snickers bar, only without the chocolate (and not as sweet). It was really yummy! I tried out all the flavors over the course of a week, and I really liked all of them except for one--I wasn't crazy about the Madagascar Vanilla Almond. It had the flavor of vanilla ice cream, but the texture of a nut bar, which seemed a little odd to me. But it wasn't bad, especially if you like vanilla!

Each of the bars was about 200-210 calories (5-6 PP). Even though the bars aren't huge, they made me feel satisfied until dinner time. You can see the size of it against my hand (well, minus one bite, hahaha):

The bottom is a layer of chocolate
When I was overweight, I was addicted to chocolate-covered nuts. Unfortunately, I've never found a single-serving bag of chocolate-covered nuts. I would buy the bag that serves seven (yes, 7) and eat the entire thing myself without batting an eye. I found that the KIND bars with chocolate reminded me a lot of chocolate-covered nuts, but in just a single serving.

Over all, I really liked the bars (so did Jerry), and have already begun eating them instead of my other bars, on most days. I wish I'd tried them sooner! My two favorite flavors are the Dark Chocolate Chili Almond and the Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt.

KIND snacks has been super generous in that they are allowing me to give some (okay, a lot) away! One winner (from U.S. or Canada) will receive 24 bars (12 each of my two favorites!). To enter, just answer the question, "What makes your workouts #KINDAwesome ?" in a comment on this post. I will use to choose a winner on Sunday, 8/25/13, at 2:00 PM EST.

You can find/follow KIND snacks on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Disclaimer: The bars were given to me for review, but I was not required to give a favorable review. Opinions, as always, are honest.

August 21, 2013

Wave pool fun

Jerry was off work today, so we made plans to take the kids to the wave pool. When I went with my mom last week, there were literally about five people in the pool. I was hoping it would be another day like that, but when we got there at around 11:15, it was already pretty crowded.

My dad was able to get us free wristbands again, which was really cool. I wish I'd known that he was allowed to do that! We probably would have taken advantage sooner. It was hot and humid today, so a perfect day for the pool.

Even though I'm not a big fan of swimming, I brought my bathing suit and spent the whole time in the water with the kids. Because it was so busy, I was worried to let them out of my sight (the lifeguards there rarely look like they're paying attention to anything). At first, Eli and I were sitting on tubes in the deep end when the waves came, and we were just rocking up and down.

After a while, we started making our way to the shallower water, where the waves got pretty rough. A wave came and crashed over us, flipping us both off of the tubes. I was expecting Eli to come up crying, but he was laughing hysterically, so we spent the rest of the time letting the waves wipe us out. Jerry got up on his tube to relax, and I playfully yanked his tube into the rough waves--which was funny until he wiped out really hard and wound up with a big bruise on his back. Oops.

After we were done with the pool, we each went down the inflatable slide a few times. I didn't get to try it last time, so I was excited to go down it this time. It was fun! Halfway down, my whole body slid sideways, and I had no control over what was happening. Jerry took some (very flattering) pictures of me:

Hahaha, he always manages to catch my picture when I'm making the worst faces.

It was a super fun afternoon, and I was exhausted afterward. Today was my rest day from running, so I just spent the whole evening relaxing at home.

Today is Wednesday, which means weigh-in day. Last week, I'd gained a couple of pounds, and said I hoped to be about 135 this week. Close, but no cigar...

I was 100% on track all week long, and was down 2.5 pounds from last week, so I can't complain. Maybe I'll see 135 next week. I'm just very happy to be on track, and not having gone over my weekly PointsPlus.

I've been eating for maintenance (32 daily PP, along with my 49 weeklies and all of my activity PP), but I tend to still lose a little when I eat for maintenance. So I'll just continue doing this until I'm back at goal weight. Even though I'm over goal right now (my "official" goal is 133), I'm very happy that I'm only 3 pounds over. Last year at this time, I think my weight was in the 150's. Summer is the hardest time of year for me to stay on track, and each summer, I've gained 15-20 pounds (only to take it off again in the fall)... until now. So to be up just three is pretty good! ;)

I may not get a chance to write tomorrow, because we're taking the kids camping (just for one night) in my parents' pop-up camper. I haven't gone camping in YEARS--I'm definitely not an "outdoorsy" person, so this should be interesting! ;)

August 20, 2013

What made this time different

I always get a little nervous when someone learns about my weight loss, and then asks me what was different this time--how I've managed to lose the weight and keep it off. This questions makes me nervous because I don't know when I'll feel it's safe to say, "I lost all this weight and I kept it off!" All of the statistics pretty much guarantee that I'll gain the weight back sooner or later.

Every day that passes adds a little to my confidence in keeping the weight off. But sometimes, on a particularly hard day, I think, "This is it--this is the start of gaining back every pound." The problem with maintenance is that it NEVER ENDS. When you're losing weight, you have a finish line that you're working toward--your goal weight! Once you reach that line (which is also the starting line of weight maintenance), you're just running a race with no finish line. It's very overwhelming when I think of it that way!

Yesterday, when I posted that it was the four-year anniversary since I started losing weight, someone asked me what made this time different; since I'd tried dozens of times to lose weight, what made this time successful? That's a very good question, and I really don't have a definitive answer. But here are a few things that were different this time:

1) I started a regular exercise program (first walking, then running), and I stayed very disciplined in following my only rule: I must walk/run at least three days a week, for three miles each time. Three miles, three times a week is not a lot to ask, and I knew I could do it. I just didn't give myself an option to skip it.

When I'd dieted/lost weight in the past, I did it without exercise. Sure, I would try a workout video or going for a walk here and there, but I never had the discipline to stick with a plan. I think that my becoming a runner has been THE KEY to my keeping the weight off.

2) I stopped trying to be perfect. In the past, I always tried to follow my program (whatever it was--counting calories, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, etc., etc.) right to the tee. If I strayed at all, I thought "Well, I screwed up, might as well start over tomorrow." And we all know that just led to a binge with a promise of getting back on track the next day.

Now, if I eat too much, or even binge, I just get right back on track.I learned that in the never-ending race of maintenance, there are going to be pit stops along the way; I'm going to screw up, and it's really not that big of a deal as long as I get right back at it.

3) I didn't make changes that I wasn't willing to do forever. I say this ALL the time, but it's true. In the past, I would come up with some ridiculous plan to drop weight as quickly as possible, and tell myself that I'd worry about maintenance when I got there.

This time was different because I started out doing exactly what I planned to do for maintenance. I didn't give up any of my favorite foods; I eventually made a commitment to walk/run three miles, three times per week; I started measuring out my portions and logging my food (something I didn't necessarily want to do forever but I was willing to). These were changes that worked for me, and I stopped caring about how fast the weight would come off. I knew that if I stayed on track, the weight WOULD come off. It wasn't a matter of "if", but "when".

None of this is new information, but when I really ask myself what was different this time, that's all I could come up with. If anyone else in maintenance wants to chime in with what was different for you the last time losing weight, feel free to comment!

For Taste Test Tuesday this week, I was really excited to find this new flavor of Clif Bar at the store. My favorite flavor is White Chocolate Macadamia, but this Sierra Trail Mix sounded really good!

Peanuts, chocolate, and raisins are a favorite combo of mine, so I had high hopes for this flavor. It didn't disappoint! I think I found a flavor that I like even more than the White Chocolate Macadamia. There weren't very many chunks in it, which surprised me, but the whole bar itself really tasted like trail mix. Definitely a thumbs up from me!

August 19, 2013

Motivational Monday #29

Today marks the four year anniversary of when I started to lose weight (this final time). I'd attempted to lose weight dozens of times before, and I really thought it would be no different this time. Surprisingly, over the next 16 months, I lost 125 pounds. I also became a runner, which was something I never imagined in my wildest dreams.

It's so strange to think that just four years ago, I was 253 pounds, I'd never run a mile in my life, and I was binge eating several times a week. I was ashamed of who I'd become, and even more ashamed that I couldn't make myself get it together (if not for myself, then for my family).

I feel like I'm a completely different person today, but I know I wouldn't be "me" if I hadn't gone through all that I did. The person I was in 2009 made me who I am today, and I'm very happy with who I am now. I'm not perfect; never will be! But I wouldn't change anything.

August 19, 2009 vs. August 19, 2013

I'll probably write more about this tomorrow. I didn't want to take away from Motivational Monday!

Allison's husband, Jake, has always supported her as a runner--going to her races, and cheering her on from the sidelines--but wasn't a runner himself. Allison recently confided in him that she was very nervous about her second half-marathon in October. Her training and eating habits were suffering, and she worried she may not even be able to finish the race if she continued on like that. In order to calm her fears, and offer even more support, Jake decided to run the half-marathon with her in October! He's progressing in his training very well, and even admitted that he kind of enjoys running ;)

On Mother's Day, Lindsay's son, Cody, told her that he wanted to run a 5K race. She was thrilled, because she and her husband, Bill, had just completed a half-marathon. The three of them signed up for The Color Run on July 20th, and Cody was very happy to train for the race. Just a week before the race, Lindsay and Bill were in a horrific motorcycle accident (a truck carrying bales of hay had some come loose, and one hit Bill in the face, causing the accident). They both spent time in the hospital, with multiple injuries. Cody, bless his heart, didn't want to run the 5K without them; but Lindsay told him he should go ahead and do it for his daddy (who was still unconscious). He ran the 5K, and had a great time! Lindsay and Bill are both recovering, and she says they can't wait to get back to running so that they can run a race together.

Colleen and her husband went on an 11-mile hike. She said there were SO many times they were ready to call it a day, but they kept going, and it was totally worth it!

You may remember Dean from when he ran his first 5K in April, and then when he ran his first 10K. He's been in the process of losing weight and training for the Detroit Half-Marathon in October, and I love that he's updating his progress! Anyway, Dean had 10 miles on the schedule, and he was having a great run; so great, that he decided to run an extra 5K and call it a half-marathon! ;)  He's now down 60 pounds, too!

After spending three years battling the ups and downs of weight loss, Katie finally reached her goal weight at Weight Watchers! She's very excited (and a little nervous) to finally be at the maintenance phase of her journey. The first pic was from 2010, and the second is a current picture.

Laura just ran her first 5K on Saturday! It was the Run or Dye race, and she said it was the perfect pick for a first race, because she had so much fun. She just started the Couch to 5K about 5 weeks ago, and was able to run almost the entire 5K distance during the race!

Rhonda (left in photo), and her friend, Margene, just completed the Iron Girl Seattle triathlon! Rhonda set a PR (and a new goal for next year), and Margene took second place in her age division of 70-74!

Schellen just completed her first 5K race! She (obviously) did The Color Run, with a combination of running and walking. Six months ago, she was too self-conscious to run in front of people at the gym, let alone in public; but at The Color Run, she ran along with 10,000 other people!

Kara had an 18-miler on the schedule for her marathon training, so she ran the Hobble Creek Half-Marathon in 1:56:25 (very close to a PR!), and THEN followed up with five more miles to get in all 18!

Don't forget to check out the Motivational Monday Facebook post for more stories!

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