April 30, 2014

May challenge

I was pretty much expecting to see a five-pound gain on the scale this morning, after the weekend I had. I ate out a few times, and I went WAY over my points on Sunday at Jeanie's party. At best, I expected to have gained about two pounds, but five was more likely.

I think maybe the extra mileage I've been putting in has helped out, because I was very surprised to see that I didn't gain anything this week. I didn't lose, but I didn't gain, either.

After getting the kids off to school, I headed to Weight Watchers. I knew I wasn't anywhere near goal, so I just weighed in with my shoes on. I used to always weigh in with shoes, but I stopped doing it when my weight got very close to goal, because I didn't want to be over goal.

Anyway, I was disappointed to see that Glenda (my leader) wasn't there today. She was home sick, so there was a different woman who led the meeting today. She was very nice, and I felt bad for her--shortly after she started the meeting, a woman walked in, looked at her, and rudely said, "OH, Glenda's not here? I'm leaving then!" The leader (I forget her name) just said, "Glenda is great--I would probably choose her over me, too!"

I find myself really looking forward to seeing the "regulars" at the meetings each week. There are a few Lifetime members, which is nice; I like to hear how they do with maintenance, and all the ups and downs that go with it.

Today, the meeting topic was about plateaus. I've never really experienced a genuine plateau. If my weight stays the same, it's always been because I didn't measure my portions, or I went over my points or calories, etc. I think a plateau is when you're doing everything RIGHT, and the weight stops coming off for a while.

One of the things that the leader mentioned, which I whole-heartedly agreed with, is that when things are feeling stale, it can really help to go back to square one and pretend you're a new member. Set fresh goals and go back to measuring food to make sure you're getting the right portions. I've had to do that lots of times, and it really does help to change my mindset!

Speaking of goals, I decided I am going to go ahead and give up sweets for the month of May. I'm not giving up sugar altogether; just desserts/sweets. No cakes, cookies, candy, etc. But I put a teaspoon of sugar in my tea every day, and I don't consider that a dessert, so I'll still have that. I also won't give up items that contain sugar, but aren't dessert--like ketchup, jam, and cereal.

It's going to be really difficult for me--I love my desserts! But I really like focusing on one particular challenge. In February, I challenged myself to get in 10,000 steps per day, and that was at the forefront of my mind. Since it's "just" 31 days, I should be able to give up dessert for the month of May!

I decided to go for another goal of mine, too--I'm going to train for a sub-1:50 half-marathon this fall. It's definitely shooting for the moon, but I'm hoping that by writing it, I'll follow through and push my hardest to do it (or at least come close) ;)  My goal race will be the Monroe Half Marathon on November 9th--that's my hometown race, and it's very small--which is good for a PR. My current PR is 1:52:07, from 2013. I was about 131 pounds when I ran that half, and losing this extra weight would definitely help me get back to that sort of speed again.

Once I complete the Heartbreak Hill Hat Trick on June 7 & 8, I'm going to take a a week or so off, then do a few weeks of easy training, and then start with the training for a 1:50 half marathon. It's going to be tough, but I feel ready to push myself hard again! I'm actually looking forward to it.

April 29, 2014

Spring has sprung! (finally)

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain pouring outside. It wasn't a light rain, either. I had been hoping to do my strength run outside today, because last week, I did it on the treadmill. I like running in the rain, but not when it's coming down ridiculously hard--and not for 8.5 miles, which was on the schedule today.

The kids got up a little too early, so we watched Cutthroat Kitchen before they had to start getting ready for school. I'd never seen that show until just recently, but it's a great show! I really like Alton Brown, so I love that he hosts it.

Anyway, after I got the kids off to school, I had to hurry and get on the treadmill. I had plans to meet my friend Andrea at 10:00, and I knew my run would take an hour and fifteen minutes or so. Today's plan:

-1 mile warm-up
-3 repeats of the following:
    -2 miles at 8:45-ish pace
    -1/2 mile recovery jog

I set the treadmill at 6.0 mph for the warm-up, and then decided to do the intervals at an 8:34 pace instead (7.0 instead of 6.9 mph). I ran at that speed for about a half mile before I decided to switch it back. Not that it made a huge difference, but I wasn't feeling as good today as I was last week.

I really wanted to quit early--just do one or two repeats and call it a day. But quitting early would have made me feel bad all day about it, because I knew I was perfectly capable of finishing. It wasn't until five miles in that I started to feel pretty good. Still, I was happy when I was done!

I took a quick shower, and then headed over to my friend Andrea's house. We used to get together for tea sometimes, but it had been over a year since we'd done that. We made some tea and chatted for a couple of hours. She's been through quite a bit over the past year, and it was nice to catch up.

By the time I left Andrea's, the sun was shining and it was really warm outside! It finally feels like spring around here. I love being able to open up the windows in the house. Estelle has been loving the sunshine, too. She knows better than to get up on the dining table, but today she figured it was worth sneaking up there.

Tomorrow, I have Weight Watchers in the morning. I wish I could say that I'm hopeful for a great weigh-in, but I went way over my points on Sunday. I also went out to eat a few times this week, just because of my sister being in town and going to Toledo for the race. So I'm not sure where my weight will be tomorrow, but if it's up, I know it's because of the weekend. I don't have anything else going on until June, so hopefully I can keep it together ;)

I was thinking about coming up with some sort of goal for May. I actually like challenging myself to something for a short amount of time. I'm toying with the idea of giving up sweets for the month--that would be the hardest thing I could do! But I think I could probably do it for a month. I'll give it some thought tomorrow and hopefully come up with a plan. If not the sweets challenge, maybe I'll do a no-eating-out challenge. We've been eating out a little too often lately, so it would be good to quit that. I think this nice weather lately has been making me feel ambitious!

April 28, 2014

Glass City Marathon Relay race report

I feel much more refreshed after a good night's sleep last night. I had such a busy weekend with my family! It was so much fun, and I didn't even have a spare moment to write a blog post. If I don't post on my blog, I still usually post on social media--Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram--because that only takes a second. But anyway, I will recap the weekend here, which could end up being a pretty lengthy post!

My sister, Jeanie, and her friend, Jen, drove in from Illinois. We, along with my mom, Jerry, and the kids, went to La Pita for dinner. Jeanie always likes to eat there when she's in Michigan for a visit. On Friday evening, Jeanie, Jen, and I went to a local bar to play Keno. The only time I've ever gambled has been with my sister! It was a fun, low-key evening.

I did my long run Saturday morning, 12 miles, because I knew I wouldn't be able to do it on Sunday. When I got home, I took a shower and packed up my stuff for the race, and then headed down to Toledo with Jeanie, Jen, Audrey, and Debbie (Jeanie's friends). We met up with Cathy (another of Jeanie's friends), Jerry, and Nathan (my little brother).

We went to the Glass City Marathon race expo to pick up our packets. Jeanie was running the full marathon, and there were five of us running the relay at her pace--Audrey, Jen, Debbie, Nathan (who took Cathy's place on the relay team because Cathy injured her back), and me--so she would have one of us by her side for the entire length of the marathon.

Jeanie had booked hotels in Toledo for us to stay on Saturday night. The race's start was going to be bright and early at 7:00 Sunday morning, so we didn't want to have to fight traffic or anything trying to get there. We checked into the hotels, and then headed over to an Italian restaurant called Biaggi's for dinner, where we met up with some of Shawn's family (Shawn is Jeanie's husband, my brother-in-law).

I've been SO excited for Jeanie to run this race! She started running in November 2012 in order to run the Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K on my birthday in January 2013. Once she ran the 5K, she decided to keep going on to train for a 10K, since she was already halfway there. And after that, she ran her first half-marathon (I went out there to surprise her and run it with her, which was so fun!). Eventually, she made the big decision to go for a full marathon--the 2014 Glass City Marathon in Toledo.

I helped her train through it all, and hoped that she'd have a great experience with it. My first marathon sucked, so I wanted hers to be completely different. She had the idea to put together a relay team to run with her, which worked out really well! She would run the entire course, and each member of our relay team would run a leg of the course with her. After 18 weeks of marathon-specific training, she was as prepared as she was going to get for this race.

I got absolutely zero sleep in the hotel, and was ready to hit the road at 6:00 Sunday morning. Jeanie was a little nervous, but she was handling everything very well. She was just anxious to get started. We got the relay team ready to go, and then Jeanie and Audrey went to the starting line (Audrey was doing the first 5 miles with Jeanie). The rest of the team went to the first checkpoint--to cheer on the runners and to wait for Jeanie and Audrey to show up.

I made a couple of signs to hold up at the exchanges while we cheered:

Jeanie is a big Breaking Bad fan... hence the "Yeah, B*tch!" reference ;)
I swapped out the pink number at each exchange to reflect the actual number
of miles left.

Then we started watching the runners come through. I was on the lookout for Dean, from my Ragnar SoCal team, because I knew he was aiming for a sub-2:00 half-marathon. We saw him go by, and I saw he was right on pace for his goal. I also hoped to see Jessica, because I knew she was running the half. I wasn't sure what pace she'd be running, but she she must have been just behind Dean (she ended up finishing in 2:02). I missed seeing her, though.

Just after the 4:40 pacer (which is who Jeanie planned to follow for the first two legs), we saw Jeanie and Audrey. Audrey handed off the relay belt to Jen, while Jeanie, in great spirits, waved to us.

I felt much less nervous after I saw Jeanie go through, because she looked fantastic! She seemed like she was feeling really good, and everything was going well. Of course, she still had 21 miles to go at that point. ;)

We drove to the next exchange point to wait--Jen's leg was 6.1 miles, so we had a little over an hour. Jeanie and Jen followed the 4:40 pacer, and when we saw Jeanie at mile 11, she was looking awesome. She even said that she hadn't even started running yet (my friend Ty had told Jeanie once that marathoners don't even "really start to run" until after mile 10. Jeanie didn't really understand what she meant by that, but during marathon training, it clicked for her).

Jen handed the belt to Debbie. Debbie was really worried about running with Jeanie, because her pace is about 11:30/mile, and she didn't want to slow Jeanie down. But Jeanie told her it was completely fine, and they would run at Debbie's pace. So they let the pacer get a lead, and Jeanie and Debbie ran together for her leg, which was 4.4 miles. Jeanie technically didn't have a time goal, but she hoped for sub-5:00 (and, secretly, sub-11:00 average pace).

Meanwhile, the rest of the team went to the next exchange to wait, and Nathan got ready to run. He looked awesome in his (oh so manly) tutu ;)

We saw the 4:40 pacer come and go, and then we started looking for Jeanie and Debbie. My parents showed up with the kids, so there was a pretty big group of us at each exchange point on the course--the relay team, my parents, my kids, Jerry, Cathy, Shawn, and Shawn's family.  It wasn't too much later that we saw Jeanie and Debbie--Debbie was SO proud because she ran sub-11:00 miles! Jeanie knew she'd be behind the 4:40 pacer, and she was totally okay with that. She was still on course for a sub-5:00 finish time.

Once Nathan was running his leg with Jeanie (5.1 miles), I got ready for my leg--the final leg--of 5.3 miles. I knew that around the 20-mile mark, Jeanie would start feeling really tired and run down, so I had warned Nathan of that, and how to handle it. Jeanie's pace slowed a little, but not by much. She never stopped running! They had some really strong wind through those miles, but she pushed through it.

At the final exchange, I was getting really nervous. I just hoped that Jeanie was still feeling good. I kept looking around the bend, hoping to see a glimpse of Nathan's tutu. I saw the 4:40 pacer come and go, and a few minutes later, I saw them...

Nathan was obviously very shy in his tutu, and didn't ham it up or anything ;) Nathan passed me the belt, and I fell into step beside Jeanie. She was listening to headphones, but I asked her quickly how she was feeling and I did a quick once over on how she looked. She said she was getting tired, and her pace had slowed, but she didn't have any major issues--no real pain, no stomach problems, etc.

Jeanie was extremely organized in how she planned to handle fueling during the race. She followed every bit of advice I gave her, and it had worked out really well (to my relief! haha). She stuck with her plan for the Gu/ShotBloks/Gatorade. I passed on the water stations, because I didn't need it for a five-mile run, but there were some people who set up a makeshift beer station with PBR in Dixie cups. I was definitely game for that! ;)

I glanced at Jeanie every so often to see how she was doing. Her pace was around 11:15/mi at that point, so I knew she'd finish sub-5:00. She never complained, or said she was tired, or stopped to walk, or anything. I was completely shocked at how well she was doing during the last five miles! With two miles left, I sent a quick text to Jen to let her know how much longer. About a mile out, Jeanie took off her headphones, and was maintaining a really steady pace.

We started to talk about the finish line, and I didn't want her to get photobombed at the last minute (I hate when people sprint the last few yards and wind up right in front of you for a finish line photo). I wanted her to have a very clear picture of her crossing that finish line! She said she wanted us to hold hands and raise our arms as we crossed.

When we saw the finish line, and ran in that last tenth of a mile, Jeanie started to tear up, which made me start to tear up. We raised our arms and had a great finish!

Jeanie immediately started crying, and almost forgot to accept her medal ;)  It was so emotional to watch her hug everyone--everybody was so proud, and there were lots of tears all around.

We took some pictures before heading home for the after party.

I took a quick shower at home, and then went to my parents' house where we were having an after party. Dean, and his wife, Mandy, came up there, too, so it was fun to get to spend time with them.

Dean crushed his sub-2:00 goal, by the way--finishing in 1:57!! My dad made fried fish, and we had a bunch of other food and drinks there. I'd also gotten a cake from Monica's:

It was too cold to be outside, so we just sat around and talked inside. My older brother, Brian, came in from Minnesota, and it was awesome having all three of my siblings in one spot. That only happens a couple of times a year. My mom wanted to get some pictures of us together, and they ended up turning out so great!

I wish the marathon had been Saturday, instead of Sunday, because we had to make it an early night to get the kids in bed for school today. We hung out over there until 8:30, and then we came home. It was an awesome day to cap an amazing weekend!

My sister's results:

She finished in 4:47:41! That's faster than my SECOND marathon. She did so awesome--she really couldn't have had a better race experience, I don't think. She said she highly recommends choosing a first marathon that offers a relay option, so you can have your friends by your side to help you through it. It made the time and distance go by so much faster. I'm going to ask my sister if she'll write a guest post about the race and her training.

I'm SUPER proud of my sister for all the sacrifices she's made in training for this race. She followed her running schedule right to the tee, and was extremely dedicated to her training. Tomorrow, she's off to vacation at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico--the perfect reward for all her hard work!

April 27, 2014

Uber busy weekend

I'm so sorry that I've been MIA for a few days. I've been super busy with my family, and haven't had a single moment to write. I planned to write a post tonight about the Glass City Marathon (my sister did the full, and I did the relay), but I feel really stressed out about getting up a post (lots of people have been asking if I'm okay because I haven't posted). The whole thing was amazing, and I don't want to rush through the post, so I'm going to save it for tomorrow, and hold off on Motivational Monday until next week.

I did post a lot on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram this weekend, so I'm okay--promise! I just need a moment to catch my breath from a busy weekend. Thanks for thinking of me! ;)

April 24, 2014

Oh, deer!

I got a text from my brother, Brian, this morning, asking if I could take him and Becky to the airport at 10:30. The only thing I really had to do today was get in my half-marathon-pace run, so I asked if he would mind watching the boys while I ran for an hour. I love that it's so light out early in the mornings now; I don't have to wait around to head out for a run.

I took the kids to my parents' house, where Brian was staying, and then headed out. I was aiming for five miles at my target half-marathon pace, which would be 9:00-9:10, maybe a little faster if I felt up to it. I added a mile as a warm-up, and just ran that at a comfortable pace.

The road I was running on is parallel to a barbed-wire fence that runs the perimeter of a nuclear power plant. On the inside of the fence, there are a lot of deer that live there (pretty happily, because they don't have to worry about hunters or cars). A lot of people even toss fruits and vegetables over the fence to feed them. Anyway, I saw a very young deer on the other side of the fence--she had somehow gotten out of the perimeter fence, and was on the side near the road. 

She saw me and panicked. She started running along the fence, directly parallel to me, keeping the same pace as me. As she ran, she kept bucking the whole right side of her body up against the fence, trying to find a spot to get through to the other side. I felt so bad for her! I wished I could lead her to an open spot, but I didn't know of one (the fence is pretty secure, for obvious reasons). 

She ran along parallel to me for nearly a half-mile, and then I think she decided to give up. She stopped running, and when she turned, I saw that her whole right side was raw and bleeding from throwing herself against the fence. I felt absolutely horrible, but I didn't want to panic her even more, causing her to run into the road or something. I just hoped she'd find her way back inside the perimeter.

Right then, my watched beeped to signal a mile, so I picked up the speed to my target pace. I turned onto my usual route, but saw a loose black lab in the yard that I was going to run by, so I turned around and took a different route. Taking a different route meant a lot of running on the gravel shoulder of the road, which sucks when you're trying to run at a decent pace. I ran on the road when I could, but then I had to keep jumping onto the shoulder when a car came. If nothing else, my ankles got a good balance workout!

When I got back near the fence, I was on the lookout for the deer. I didn't want to scare her, but it was the only way back home. I was completely relieved that there was no sign of the deer (so at least I know she didn't get hit by a car, and she wasn't still stuck on the outside of the fence). I'm assuming she finally found an opening to get back through the fence.

When I hit mile 6, I saw that my average pace (with my warm-up included) was 9:01. I was still almost a quarter-mile from my parents' house because of the detour I took, so I decided to see if I could run fast enough to drop the average pace to 8:59. I ran under a 7:30 pace, for that short little part, and stopped the watch once I was back at my parents' house. Average pace was 8:58 :)

I felt really good about that run! Lately, I've been trying to do my "easy runs" at a truly easy pace, where I almost feel like it's too slow; that way, I can save my energy for my tougher runs. When I got home, I compared today's run with last week's, which was the exact same (one mile warm-up, five miles at HM pace). In comparison, my heart rate was slightly lower today, and my splits slightly faster, so that's a good thing. I hope to see the same improvements next week, too. It feels good to get excited about running again, and see my pace improve.

Andrea, the captain of the Ragnar Relay Cape Cod team that I was supposed to run with, is looking for replacements for Caitlin and me, since we're unable to go now. So if you've ever wanted to do a Ragnar, this is the perfect opportunity! The race is May 9-10, starting in Hull, MA, and ending in Provincetown. 

You wouldn't have to worry about any of the organizational work--Andrea, as captain, is taking care of all of that. You would just have to be prepared to show up, run, and have a blast! She said that pace isn't an issue, so don't worry about feeling "too slow" to do it. I'm so bummed I can't do this race, because I've heard it's a great course! If you are interested in running with them, you can contact Andrea at: agellen7377 (at) gmail (dot) com.

The last two Ragnars I've run have been with a team that I just met the day before the race--something completely out of my comfort zone, but I had the time of my life! I've never met this team for Cape Cod, but I imagine it would be the same. So I'd love to see someone step out of his/her comfort zone and give it a try :)

April 23, 2014

Origami Owl

Thank you all so much for the kind comments on my post yesterday! I was really nervous to post it, and like with most of those types of confessions, I felt a million times better after writing about it. It feels kind of overwhelming to be this far "gone" and having to start over, but in reality, I'm not starting over at all! I'm still over 100 pounds down from my starting weight.

I almost forgot that I was going to do a Wednesday Weigh-in post today, because I haven't done one in so long. But I did it:

I'm down 2.5 pounds from last week. I wish it were down more, but I'm just glad that it's going in the right direction. One weigh-in at a time.

Today was my weekly Weight Watchers meeting, and my mom decided that she was going to join, so I asked if she wanted to come to my meeting with me because I really like Glenda, my leader. My older brother, Brian, is in town for a couple of days, so he and Becky, his fiancé, volunteered to watch the kids while my mom and I went to the meeting.

I weighed in and paid my dues, and then waited while my mom filled out the registration. April, the woman who I usually sit next to at the meetings, reached Lifetime today, so I was really excited for her!

Today's meeting topic was: "Enjoy Every Bite"--meaning to eat without distractions so that you are more satisfied with less food. This is one area that I should probably work on, but honestly, I really don't care to. I like to eat breakfast while I read blog comments and email, and then watch a TV show during lunch. For dinner, I do sit down with the family at the table to eat, so I don't eat with distractions there; but my snacks are also eaten while I'm doing something else. I don't eat too fast or too much (unless it's a binge), but I don't really enjoy doing nothing but eating.

I had a strength run on the schedule yesterday: 4 x 1.5 miles at half-marathon pace minus 10 seconds per mile, with 800-meter recovery jogs. Tack on a one-mile warm-up, and that was a nine-mile run ahead of me. Good ol' Hansons Half Marathon Method!

Since I switched my half-marathon training to reflect a 2:00 time, that would make half-marathon pace 9:00-9:10/mile. Which meant my 1.5 mile intervals should be done at about 8:50-9:00 pace. I didn't have anyone to watch the kids while I ran, so I had to do it on the treadmill. Thankfully, intervals go by pretty fast on the 'mill.

My run looked like this:

-1 mile warm-up at 6.0 mph (10:00/mi)
-4 repeats of the following:
     -1.5 miles at 6.9 mph (8:41/mi)
     -0.5 miles at 5.5 mph (10:54/mi)

Whenever I do intervals, I always try to think of which is the lesser of two evils: several short and fast ones, or just a few long and slower ones. I usually prefer the one that I'm not doing in that moment ;) It reminds me of when I was a kid, and my dental hygienist would ask me if I wanted my fluoride rinse in "four short ones" (30 seconds each) or "two long ones" (one minute each). That stuff tasted SO HORRIBLE that I had such a hard time deciding which was worse. I still had to swish it the same amount of time, regardless, so it wasn't like I had much of a choice!

Anyway, I felt really good after a great interval run yesterday. I was tempted to quit the intervals and just do an easy run instead, but I stuck it out and did what was on my plan for the day, so I felt like I earned my rest day today ;)

I went to the post office today to check the PO Box I'd set up for Mark's cards. I've only checked it once since Mark died, and it was hard then to see a few cards for him. But I decided to keep the box to use for blogging stuff, so I went today and there was a small package in there, addressed to me. I was stunned when I opened it!

It's an Origami Owl locket! Kathi, a designer for Origami Owl and reader of my blog, read about Mark's story and wanted to send me a locket as a gift. She sent a note explaining why she chose each of the charms she put inside. I was especially touched by the smiley face, which she said was to remind me of Mark's sweet smile.

I absolutely LOVE the necklace and everything it represents. I'd seen these before, and even put the bug in Jerry's ear about possibly getting me one for Mother's Day. The cat, the wine bottle, and the running shoe were three of the charms I'd picked out, even! I can definitely see myself buying these as gifts for people--I love that it can be so personal. Here is a link to Kathi's site, and Kathi's info on her business card:

(Kathi, I absolutely love the necklace, and I hope you don't mind that I shared all this!)

I'm getting so excited for the Glass City Relay this weekend! My sister is coming into town on Friday. On Saturday, we're going to dinner in Toledo (the same place as last year), and then staying in a hotel close to the starting line. The race is at 7:00 on Sunday morning, and Jeanie will probably finish around noon. Then we're going to my parents' house for an after-party. Should be a fun weekend!

April 22, 2014

Getting real with myself

I'm not sure if anyone has noticed, but I've been pretty vague about posting actual numbers when it comes to my weight lately. I've gained. And I haven't hidden that fact, but I haven't exactly been writing openly about it, either. 

I can remember the exact moment that it started, too: I was at the hospital with Mark, and he offered me a piece of chocolate. I started to explain that I couldn't have it, because I had to count my points, etc., when I realized how ridiculous I sounded. Mark, who was lying in a hospital bed, dying, offered me an innocent piece of chocolate. I thought about how petty it was to worry about something like weight when he was suffering with cancer!

At that moment, I decided that I wasn't going to worry about numbers or counting my points, or anything like that. I wanted to just enjoy life while I still could! I didn't want to binge; but I didn't want to worry about everything I ate, either.

For a while, I did pretty well without counting. I wasn't bingeing, or overeating; I ate a couple of pieces of candy with Mark, and I never felt guilty. My weight stayed the same, around 139--that was over my goal by 6 pounds, but I honestly wasn't bothered by that, as long as I didn't continue gaining.

In early February, shortly after my birthday, I had my first binge in a long time. That's when the weight gain began, and I really started to feel out of control. I was constantly telling myself, "I'll start fresh tomorrow", and then later, "I'm going to San Diego soon, so I'll start over after that." I had wanted to be in great shape for San Diego, but I was starting to feel like there was no hope of ever getting back on track.

Through all of this, I was feeling really depressed. This was another thing I hadn't wanted to write much about (one of the downsides to having family members/friends read my blog is that I don't feel like I can be as open about sensitive subjects like that). This winter took a REALLY difficult toll on me--the kids were home from school with about 16 snow days, Jerry was working every single day, it was too cold and too snowy to go outside, and the roads were too bad to drive anywhere. I had to do my running on the treadmill day after day, so I wasn't getting any fresh air or time to myself (sans kids). My weight was up, and I felt like I was just one cookie away from returning to my old 253-pound self.

I didn't see my friends very often, and it wasn't their fault for lack of trying; I just didn't care to see anybody. The only person I really saw was Mark, and when I discovered he was on his last few days, I felt devastated. The only time I really felt better was when I was eating, and that made me feel like the "old me". 

My running was definitely suffering from the weight gain and depression. My pace continued to get slower as my weight got higher. I even skipped a few runs here and there, which was completely unlike me. I started to get very, very worried that by next year, I'd be 253-pound inactive, unhealthy Katie. I've had my ups and downs over the past four years, but this time felt so much worse.

The trip to San Diego for Ragnar SoCal couldn't have come at a better time in my life! I made it a goal that I was going to have a blast in SoCal, forgetting all of my worries, and when I returned, I would focus hardcore on getting back to my fit, healthy self--mentally and physically. The day I left for SoCal, I really didn't want to get on the scale, but I did it; I wanted that starting point. The day I left, the scale read 148.

I had more fun than I even imagined I would--my Sole Mates team is amazing, and spending a few days in sunny SoCal with them did more for me than anything else could have. I didn't binge while I was there, but I also didn't give a single thought or care to what I was eating and drinking--and still, I don't regret any of it. It was all worth whatever gain I had while I was there!

Thomas and me at the finish line in SoCal--I don't think
I look terrible, but I can definitely see the weight gain.

When I returned home, I "knew" the damage was going to be terrible. I was looking through my teammates pictures of the trip, and I could definitely see the extra weight I'd packed on (not just from the trip, but in comparison to where I was in the fall). I was mentally preparing myself to see a scary number, but I told myself that it didn't matter. When I got on the scale, I was a little surprised to see that I'd only gained 3 pounds in California, bringing my weight to 151. I had sworn I would never see the 150's again, so I was disappointed to see that number; but I wasn't feeling as depressed as I had been before going to California.

First thing, I made sure to get back on plan with my running schedule. I didn't want to skip runs, or cut them short, or anything like that. So I followed the plan right to the letter, and I've been following it ever since I got home. That was a big weight off my shoulders! I had been worried that I'd start skipping more runs, and eventually, stop running altogether. (Maybe that's a little dramatic, but it was definitely on my mind).

And eight days ago, I went back to counting points very meticulously. My weight when I started doing that? This is hard to type: 154. I had gained 15 pounds from February 1st to April 14th! When I had joined Weight Watchers in September 2012, my starting weight was 156. It was so hard to see that I was just two pounds away from being there again.

Tomorrow, I'd like to start doing my Wednesday Weigh-in again. I kept hoping that I'd get my weight back down before posting it again, but the longer I avoid it, the less likely it will be that I actually do it. Getting on the scale at Weight Watchers in early March was really hard, because I was no longer a "free Lifetime" member. So my first goal is to be a free member again. 

I've been doing well for the past eight days--I haven't gone over my points at all, and I've stuck to my running schedule. I came home from California a much happier person, and I've been reaching out to a few friends to hopefully reconnect. The weather we've had for the past week or so has been wonderful for my mood! I feel like I'm starting to get back to the person I was in the early fall. 

The hardest part about all of this is just admitting it. I've been wanting to write this post, but dreading it at the same time. Every time I get an email or comment telling me that I'm an inspiration, I feel a big sense of guilt, and I just don't want it to seem like I'm hiding anything. Right now, I'm feeling very confident that I will get back to goal over the next 3-4 months. Mentally, I'm feeling like I've done a 180 from where I was even a month ago. 

I know that a lot of you, my readers, struggle like this sometimes as well; and I appreciate the emails and comments that assure me I'm not alone! It's not the first time I've struggled, and I'm sure it won't be the last. But thank you all for being here for me, even if you hadn't realized it!

April 21, 2014

Motivational Monday #60

Happy Motivational Monday! It FINALLY feels like spring here in Michigan, and my mood has definitely reflected that. I've been feeling very happy! Today I even opened up all the windows in the house for the first time this year, and the fresh air was so nice. I went for a very nice easy run today, too.

This week, I'm proud of myself for counting my points all week long. There were several times I wanted to quit, but I feel really determined to get back to goal, so I stuck out the tough moments. Next weekend is going to be difficult, because my sister will be in town for her first marathon, but I am going to save all of my weekly points for the after-party at my parents' house. My dad is frying fish (so good!), I'm getting a cake from Monica's, and I'm sure I'll be having a few beers. I'm going to stick with my daily points target + my activity points each day, and try to save all of my weekly points for the weekend.

Anyway, enough of that. It's Motivational Monday! Let's see what you've been up to...

In early 2013, Stacie couldn't even run for 30 seconds without stopping. Now, a year later, she just completed her first 10-mile race! It was tough, and she wanted to quit several times, but she pushed through and crossed that finish line :)

Jennie took a hiatus from running for a couple of years, but was ready to get back into it. She and her 13-year old daughter, Hailey, just completed their first 5K! They did the Minneapolis Hot Chocolate 5K, and finished with a 10:34 average pace.

Last September, Hilary was on a Motivational Monday post for completing her first 5K race midway through the Couch to 5K program. Since then she's done another 5K, a 4-miler, and just last weekend--her first half-marathon! Her goals were to come in under 3 hours, and to cross the finish line with a smile... and she met both of her goals, finishing in 2:50! She's also lost a whopping 60 pounds since July! Her next race is a 25K--15.5 miles--in three weeks. She's going to rock it! (Hilary's race report)

Diane sent me an email last month, and I asked her to PLEASE submit a photo for Motivational Monday, because I was so impressed with her. You would never guess by looking at her picture, but she's 62 years young--and she just ran the Ronald McDonald Big House 5K in 24:22!! (For reference, my 5K race PR is 25:44, and I'm half her age). She didn't start running until she was in her late 40's, and completed 60 races in one year. Her fastest 5K time was a mind-blowing 20:42, and half-marathon time was 1:37:37 at age 52. I could go on and on about how amazed I am by her ;)  Her daughter, Christine, ran the Big House 5K with her, with a goal of sub-23:00... and she finished in 22:28, winning her age group!

Julie is proud to say that she is 10 days binge-free, and she just ran the Prospect Park 15K in 1:18! She even followed up the 15K with a spin class ;)

Jen shared in December that she'd run her first 15K... and now she is proud to announce that she completed her first half-marathon! She and a friend ran the KY Derby Festival miniMarathon in Louisville. She didn't have a set time goal, but was aiming to finish around 2:30--and she crossed the finish line in 2:35! (Jen's race report)

In September 2012, Sarah joined Weight Watchers, and shortly after, she started running. She's since lost 85 pounds, reaching her goal weight in December 2013! She's been doing races, and increasing her distance, and just completed her first half-marathon: The KY Derby Festival miniMarathon! Her goal was to finish sub-2:00, and she finished in 1:52:36! She had a great race, and is planning her next goals. Her next race is a sprint triathlon in June!

A huge congrats to everyone with something to celebrate today, big or small! Don't forget to check out the Motivational Monday Facebook post for more stories.

April 20, 2014

Easter morning long run

Normally, I have a "long run treat" on the days that I do my longest run of the week (lately, it's been Sunday). Yesterday, though, I was really craving ice cream, so I decided to just spend my weekly PointsPlus on some Phish Food in the afternoon. It was 31 PP, and completely worth every one! ;)

I wasn't really hungry for dinner after eating that, though, so I just counted that as dinner. For some reason, some of my best runs have been after having ice cream the day before, so I just considered it as carbing up for my long run today! Yesterday's food log looks horribly unhealthy, but in keeping it real, I'm going to post it anyway:

This morning, I wasn't really looking forward to a long run, but I pepped up a little when I saw how nice the weather was. I chose do to a route I haven't done in a long time. The last time I did it, a blackbird dive-bombed my head, and it scared me away from wanting to run there anymore! But the regular long run route I do is on a busy road, and I was in the mood for some quiet, so I hoped the blackbirds wouldn't be out for blood today.

I dressed in a super bright orange shirt and yellow hat to make myself visible to cars (and protect my head from birds) and headed out at around 8:15. The weather was perfect! I took a few pictures:

There were only maybe three cars that passed by the entire length of that road, and it was definitely peaceful. But just for the fun of it, I was imagining that I was in a zombie apocalypse. When it's super quiet, and there are no cars or people anywhere, it's hard not to let my mind wander; and hey, it passed the time ;)

My target pace for my long runs is 9:53 per mile, so I was just aiming for anything between 9:45-10:00-ish. I didn't want to look at my watch over and over, so I didn't. After the first couple of miles, I started to feel really good and just felt so happy to be out there. I thought about Mark a lot, too. I really miss him! This weather would have been perfect to take him somewhere outside for a walk or a picnic.

It ended up being such a nice run today; one of those runs that just made me feel good all day!

We went to Jerry's parents' house last night to visit with them for a little bit, since Jerry had to work today. And tonight, we're going to go to my parents' house. We did Easter with the kids a couple of days ago, so today was pretty laid back. The kids are off school all week long, so I'm going to be trying to come up with some things for us to do this week!

April 19, 2014

Running questions

Katie at "Katie is a Runner" nominated me for a Liebster award. A Liebster award is usually given to those with less than 200 followers; I have more than that, but I have never participated in these before, so I thought it would be fun. Besides, I have nothing notable to write about today anyways! 

Here are the questions that Katie posted, and my answers: 

1. Who was your biggest role model as you first started running? 

 *When I first started running, I looked up to my friend Renee. She was one of "those runners", who had done something completely crazy--like run 26.2 miles for the heck of it! ;) When she saw that "Run a 5K" was on my bucket list, she wanted to help me reach that goal. 

Deep down, I never really had intentions of actually doing it, but she kind of made it hard for me to say no. She chose a race, and even said she'd run along with me the entire way. She helped me when I had questions, and she assured me I was a "real runner" when I certainly didn't feel like one. She's super fast, and I still look up to her! 

Memorial Day Run 2013 (we each won an age group award!) 

2. What is your best running memory? 

*My best running memory... this is a tough question! The most memorable (not to be confused with "best") would be my night leg of the Ragnar Florida Keys. It was the scariest run of my life, in a running-next-to-alligators-and-prisons sort of way, and I pretty much had to check out of my mind and think happy thoughts until I was through the worst of it. My favorite run was probably when I ran with my sister, Jeanie, for her first half-marathon. The Rockford Marathon was an awesome race, and I loved being able to share that moment with my sister. 

3. The time you now spend running; what was it filled with before you started running? 

*I have absolutely no idea! It's so strange. It's like when you have kids--you wonder what you used to do before having kids, and it's hard to come up with anything. My house was cleaner before I started running, so I probably cleaned more ;) 

4. What is your favorite TV show? 

*I love TV, and I watch too many shows. But my very favorite, hands-down, is Shameless on Showtime. The producers could not have picked a better name for that show! I continue to get completely shocked every time I watch it. 

5. What is one habit you won't give up, even though you know it is not the healthiest? 

*Sweets! I run so that I can eat sweets, and I "spend" my calories burned on cookies and ice cream. I'm not sorry for it, and I don't feel guilty for it! ;) 

6. If you could have lunch with someone famous, who would you pick? 

*Alton Brown. I've always wanted to meet him! And something about the way he talks... I would love to have a nerdy conversation with him about food. 

7. What is your favorite season for running? 

*Fall! I complain about Michigan weather a lot, because it's ridiculously humid in the summer and this past winter was effing freezing, but fall is absolutely gorgeous in Michigan. The leaves are pretty shades of orange, red, and yellow, and the air is really crisp, with temps in the 50's. I just love fall! 

8. Describe the one route you would be okay running over and over for the rest of your life. 

*I don't think there is any route that would never bore me, but my favorite route I've ever run was in Cade's Cove in Tennessee. It was super hilly, and it poured rain; and sure, there were tornadoes later that day, so the wind was a little much... but other than that, it was a nice run with fantastic scenery! ;) Running with my brother, Brian, in Cade's Cove- April 2011 

9. If time and money were not object, where would you choose to go on vacation? 

*Well, I'm sure this is just because I just got home from running Ragnar SoCal, but I would LOVE to spend a weekend in Vegas with my Ragnar SoCal team. This team was SO much fun, and I think we'd have a blast in Vegas. Especially if money were no object--I'd gamble it all away! ;) I've never really had the desire to travel to other countries, and there isn't one particular place I am dying to visit. But Vegas with my Sole Mates would be fun! 

10. What is your favorite pastime other than lacing up the running shoes? 

*Other than eating, you mean? ;) I guess it's another vice of mine, but I like TV--and one of my favorite things to do is work on a craft while watching TV. I like to sew, so I'll spend time watching a show and cutting fabric for a project. 

Thanks, Katie, for nominating me for the Liebster award! Even though I don't technically qualify for it, it was fun to answer the questions :) I nominate all of you who are reading! ;) If you answer the questions on your own blog, feel free to share a link to your post in the comments here. I'd like to read them!

April 18, 2014

Dried cherries!

The kids are on spring break today through the end of next week! Eli's friend spent the night last night, and the boys were wide awake at 6:15 this morning. A great way to start off spring break, right? ;)

I had six miles easy on the schedule today, but Jerry was working this morning, so I couldn't leave the kids to go for a run. It was so nice outside that I didn't want to run on the treadmill, so I decided to just wait until after Eli's friend went home, and take my kids to my parents' house while I fit in my outdoor run.

For breakfast this morning, I was really craving something with the dried cherries I bought at Sam's Club yesterday. I adore dried cherries, but they're a binge food for me, so I had to be careful about even buying them. But they're okay in my trusty Kitchen Safe!

I ended up making a really tasty combination: an English muffin topped with Coconut Almond Butter and chopped dried cherries.

That was only 1 PP-worth of cherries. They go a long way when they're chopped up!

I spent most of the morning reading a book that Runner's World sent me to review: The Runner's World Big Book of Running for Beginners.

Now, I'm not exactly a beginner, but a lot of people ask me for recommendations about books on running. The ones I read are usually about a particular training method (like Hansons Marathon Method, for example), so I never have suggestions for a book about the basics. Most of what I learned about running during the first year I was a beginner came from Runner's World magazine--so I was curious to see what this book was all about.

I've now found the perfect book to recommend! This book is like everything I've ever learned about running all condensed into one book--and it's easy to read, which is even better. I especially liked the "Running Etiquette 101", which has a list of questions and answers about things that people email me to ask about all the time; things like: passing on the right or the left, wearing a chip timing device, where to put your race bib, which direction to run on a track, etc. They're questions that you don't really think about until you're in that situation and totally unsure.

It has training strategies for people who want to 1) start walking, 2) start running, 3) run nonstop, 4) run faster, and 5) run longer. There is advice on nutrition and fueling for runs; proper running form; advice on injury prevention; and what I found most interesting, real life stories from everyday people on "How Running Changed My Life".

Overall, this book is pretty much everything a beginner would want to know about running. The only downside is that it truly is very basic information--if you've been running for a few years, or do a lot of reading about it, then you probably know most of the info. But if you're hoping to start running, or you have only recently gotten started, it's a great read!

(Here is a link with info on where to get it. Just FYI, I don't get commission or anything if you buy it. I just think it's a great book for beginner runners!)

So I finally got to head out for my run at around 3:00 this afternoon. I hate running in the afternoons! And I definitely overdressed. I was really cold at home, so I was wearing long pants and a long-sleeved top, which is what I wore on the run--and it was 64 degrees outside! I should have been wearing my capris and a tank top.

I drove the kids to my parents' house, and then I decided to just run from their house around the neighborhoods for six miles. Instantly, I felt too hot, but my plan was to run slowly, at the recommended "easy run" pace of 10:15-11:00/mi, so I hoped the heat wouldn't be too bad. I stopped at each mile mark to take a photo from my point of view. Nothing very interesting on this route, though.

Everything looks so brown and gross now that the snow has melted. It was odd, but right after I took this last picture, it started raining. The sun was out, and it rained for about a mile. I could see steam coming off of the streets from the sun heating up the pavement and then the rain hitting it. You can kind of see the steam in this photo:

The rain felt SO good! I haven't run in the rain in a long time, and it really felt heavenly. Anyway, I wasn't feeling very good for most of this run, and I think it was because I had eaten lunch at 2:00. I'm not used to running with a big meal in my stomach, and I'd eaten cheese grits with Brussels sprouts and an egg on top. My stomach just wasn't feeling that great, so it was nice to be able to go at a slower pace.

Jerry's working all weekend, so we're going to do Easter with the kids tonight. They're ridiculously excited to see their Easter baskets! ;)

Oh, I almost forgot! Yesterday's food log:

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