August 28, 2016

It's Okay to Laugh

You may have noticed that I haven't been writing much lately. I promise it's not because I've been sitting in bed all day, bingeing on ice cream and Netflix (as lovely as that sounds!), haha. I've just really been enjoying the last little bits of summer, and I've been trying to make some fun memories with my kids.

I feel like with my recent epiphany about my summer weight gain, I also had a change of attitude with everything else. I want to really, truly, enjoy moments in my life that seem to be flying by. My kids, for example--can you believe they are 12 and 10 years old now?! For some reason, I've been very aware lately that they are just growing into little adults right before my eyes. And I'm not ready for that.

When I first started my blog, I loved writing every day. I loved taking and posting photos, too.

Looking back, though, I feel like I may have missed out on some things because I was too busy thinking that I had to take pictures, or what I was going to write about--sometimes, I think it's better to just make memories instead of making sure to have photos of those memories. Does that make sense? For the past few weeks, I've been trying to just make memories with the kids, and not worry about anything else.

I'm not ill, or dying--that I know of, anyway--I've just been thinking a lot lately about living in the moment and enjoying as much as I can. A few days ago, I even got a book that confirmed what I was thinking: "It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool, Too)"--a memoir by Nora McInerny Purmort (Amazon affiliate link). She lost a pregnancy, her father, and her husband within weeks of each other a couple of years ago, and this book encompasses all of her feelings and thoughts surrounding the punches that life threw at her. The structure of the book is unlike anything I've ever read before--it's not in any sort of predictable order, but more of a jumble of random thoughts or an organized journal of thoughts.

Yesterday, our power went out for seven hours, so I finished the entire book (some by flashlight). I loved it! It was very funny, sad, sarcastic, witty, and relatable. It also made me want to really savor every moment of my relationships with the people that I love.

At one point in the book, when she knows her husband is going to die (he had a stage IV malignant brain tumor), she mentions that she wishes she could insert a USB drive into him and just extract all of his memories and thoughts so she could keep them forever. All the details about all the stories he'd told her, memorialized.

After reading that, Jerry and I had a great conversation about childhood memories, and I really listened--not just to the main points of what he said, but to each and every detail. I hope that we have several more decades together, but if we don't, I don't want to feel like I could have listened more or spent more time with the family.

Anyway, all of that is to say that I haven't abandoned my blog--I'm just taking a little break. Once the boys are back in school, I'll take more time to write (I do enjoy having memories written down!).

Right now, Jerry is at the movies with the kids. They're seeing a superhero movie, which is definitely not my thing, so Jerry always takes them to those types of movies. They'd been looking forward to their "guy time" for a couple of weeks.

I've been working on our plans for Virginia Beach. It's a LONG drive to get there (12 hours), so we decided to stop about halfway there, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The kids have always thought it would be so cool to go to Hershey, so we're just going to stay there for a night and then finish the drive to Virginia Beach. Eli is looking forward to going to an aquarium and fishing in the ocean; and Noah just wants to walk the boardwalk ;) It's fun to see what the kids get excited over! I'm excited to see some of my old Ragnar teammates, watch the From Fat to Finish Line documentary with them, and have a relaxing few days before school starts back up.

Speaking of Ragnar, the Another Mother Runner podcast that I was interviewed on is already up! The other podcasts I've been on had taken several weeks or months between the recording and airing, but AMR got that done so quickly. I haven't listened to it (I don't like to listen to myself talk), but if you'd like to listen, here is a link. Jen Roe was also interviewed, and she's hilarious (if you haven't already figured that out from watching the film).

I hope you are all enjoying your summer. Only a few more days until it's September!

August 25, 2016

Summer running

Things have been getting very busy around here! Noah started cross country this week, so we've been getting up on the early side for his morning practices. It's a nice way to ease into the 6:00 wake-up times for the school year :)

His team meets at a local park for an hour, so rather than drop him off and pick him up after, I just stay and get in a run myself. I've kind of gotten away from heart rate training lately--not intentionally, but it's just been inconvenient. Renee asked me if I wanted to do a long run with her last Sunday, but she doesn't like to go slower than a 9:45 pace... I wasn't even sure if I could do that pace for six miles right now, in this humidity, so I did a little "trial" run a couple of days before.

I ran a 9:20 pace for just three miles, and it was rough! I told Renee I'd work on my speed a little, and then we could do some long runs together in the fall.

So, this week, I've been running in the "gray zone"--too fast for aerobic work, too slow for speed work--and I know better! But, I have to say, it feels kind of nice not worrying about my heart rate and just running. My pace has been roughly 9:15-9:45, and my heart rate has been about 155-160 bpm. (For aerobic work, it would ideally stay under 146 bpm; and for speed work, it would be over 164 bpm.)

In a few weeks, I'll return to a more formal running schedule, and get back to my heart rate training. Right now, though, I'm just running however I feel like when I'm out there. I've been talking to one of the other moms from Noah's cross country team, and she's super speedy. She does her easy runs at about an 8:00/mile pace! She ran with me for a little while yesterday, but I was gasping for air while she seemed like she was just going for a stroll in the park ;)

Today was incredibly humid, and I was just drenched when I finished. I only did three miles, but I looked like I just ran a marathon.

I had hoped I would continue to improve my cardio by doing the low heart rate training, but the improvement seemed to taper off a bit once I was at about a 10:00/mi pace (at a 146 bpm heart rate) in the spring. I'm sure the heat and humidity have played a big factor in that, so once it cools off, I'll be able to see if there was any improvement. I didn't put in too many miles this summer, though... typically 3-4 days a week, and just 3-4 miles at a time. I got in 61 miles in June, 68 miles in July, and 47 miles so far in August.

Someone asked me about how I was doing on the Summer Running Checklist... and I have been terrible about actually checking them off! I just went through my runs for the past month or so, and filled in the checklist where I could--I've checked off 21 of the 49 items. (My own "rule" was that each run could only count as ONE item on the list, so I can't check off several items on a single run). I'm going to try and finish at least 35 of the items before summer officially ends on September 22nd.

Coaching cross country is going really well. We have a great team, and now that this is Renee's and my second year coaching, we've gotten into a good routine. We practice three times a week: an easy/fun day, a distance day, and a speed work/hill work day. We spend the first 40 minutes or so on the focus of our practice, and then the last 20 minutes we spend playing a game (that involves running). I never imagined how much I would love coaching!

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Sarah and Dimity from the Another Mother Runner podcast. I was super nervous! It's a very popular podcast, and I've been listening to it a lot lately when I do my easy runs. They interviewed Jen and I about the documentary, and just running/weight loss in general. I'm not sure yet when it will air, but I will let you know when it does. Surprisingly, once I started chatting with them, all of my nerves went away and I felt very comfortable.

One more week until we leave for Virginia Beach!

August 22, 2016

Winding down summer

Summer is winding down so quickly, and it seems like there is still so much to do before school starts! I've been trying to pack in some fun times with the kids before we head to Virginia Beach. They start school the day after we return home, so I've also been trying to get everything ready for that.

I can't even tell you how many times I've been fishing in the last month or two. Eli has been kind of obsessed with fishing lately, and even though I'm not a fan, I'm glad that he has such a big interest in an outdoor activity that doesn't involve modern technology ;)

He's actually been getting super creative by making his own lures! He keeps asking for odds and ends around the house (an aluminum can, staples, a wine cork, etc.).

Again, I love that he's taken such an interest, so I oblige his requests. Here is the first lure he made--he made this out an aluminum can, scissors, markers, and a hole punch.

He's actually been doing pretty well catching fish, too. When he's with me, I have no idea where the good fishing spots are (nor do I have a boat... or a clue about lures and bait), so he tends to catch little bluegill or other fish that I have no idea what they are; when he's with my dad, who is pretty much a pro, he catches perch and huge walleye.

Anyway, I've been planning a lot of little outings that involve a body of water of some sort so that Eli can get his fill of fishing. He's been counting down the days until we go to Virginia Beach, because he wants to fish in the ocean.

A couple of days ago, I met up with Emily, a reader of my blog. She lives on the western side of Michigan, but was going to be visiting her boyfriend on the eastern side over the weekend, so she asked if I would want to meet up. We went out for drinks on Saturday afternoon, and it was so fun! I always get so nervous to meet people (it's basically like a blind date--except she knows way too much about me from blog, and I knew nearly nothing about her! ha).

Yesterday, Jerry had his first day off in nearly a month! We wanted to do something fun with the boys, so we decided to go to Elizabeth Park, a nice park next to the lake where Jerry and I used to go frequently when we were dating. We brought Joey with us, and packed a picnic lunch. Yesterday was the first day we've had in a while that wasn't incredibly humid--the weather was GORGEOUS, and perfect for a picnic.

Unfortunately, about a minute after we'd pulled into the park, we got pulled over by the police. Jerry was driving 25 mph, and the speed limit was 15 mph. We had been pointing out a bridge to the kids that Jerry and I had photos taken on (back in 2000 or something), and didn't even realize we were speeding. Thankfully, the cop was nice enough to give us a verbal warning and not a ticket; he also gave each of the kids a little deputy badge sticker and told them to make sure that we drive the speed limit, haha.

Eli brought his fishing pole, of course, so he spent the afternoon trying to catch fish. Jerry and I were happy to just lie on our backs and look at the sky. The clouds were so perfect that the scene looked like a painting.

When we got home, we ended up doing yard work. We have a ton of gravel and dirt next to the driveway from when we built the garage two years ago, and it's been sitting there ever since, driving me crazy. Finally, I decided to start pulling weeds, and then Jerry grabbed a shovel and started moving the gravel to a low spot in the yard that floods when it rains. Eventually, we got the boys out there helping, too, so we had quite the production line going. I was pulling weeds, Jerry and Noah were digging up the gravel and wheeling it to Eli, who was spreading it in the yard.

As not-fun as it sounds, we actually had a really good time working on the yard together. It's still not done, but it looks much better already. Later, the kids went to my parents' house and Jerry and I sat in the garage and watched Making a Murderer. I know, we're the last ones on earth to watch it, but I tried watching it before and just couldn't get into it.

This morning, Noah had his first cross country practice. The team met at the State Park, so I decided to get in my run while I waited for his practice to get over (practice is an hour long, so it was a great time for me to run as well). It was super nice again this morning. I ran four miles at a 9:37/mi pace. That pace felt pretty tough! My average heart rate was 159 bpm, which is in that zone that doesn't really help out much--too slow for speed work, but too fast for aerobic.

I haven't been doing any speed work lately, mainly because it's been so humid that I just don't want to; and I can tell that I'm getting out of shape. I think after we get home from Virginia Beach, I'll start doing a little speed work to get back up to par with where I was a few months ago. For right now, though, it's been nice to just run easy and cut back on mileage. Hopefully that will make me excited to get back to training hard in the spring!

August 19, 2016

Seven year weight loss anniversary

August 19th. To most people, it's just another date. This date is actually just as meaningful to me as my birthday, or wedding anniversary. On August 19, 2009, I got on the scale and saw 253 pounds on the display. I would like to say that I felt completely motivated to change my life, but, in fact, I was feeling drained and like, "Here we go again."

I can't even put a number on how many times I'd tried to lose weight before. I started "dieting" in fourth grade, and was pretty much either dieting or binge eating for the next 18 years or so. I really never even knew what it was like to eat "normally"--it was always one extreme or the other. Sometimes I was successful at losing weight before gaining it back, and sometimes not.

Still, I never ONCE lost weight and kept it off for more than a couple of weeks.

Which is why, when I stepped on the scale this day in 2009, I didn't feel like this time would be different somehow. I figured I would try for a few days, and then go back to my bad habits and continue watching my weight climb higher each year.

To this day, I really can't tell you what made this time different. I got on the scale a week later and saw that I'd lost eight pounds. That first week was SO CHALLENGING, however. When you first start losing weight, it's very easy to say that you'll just start over tomorrow. You haven't yet built up that streak of good habits, or seen a significant dip in the scale. You have to just want it badly enough to see it through until you DO see those changes. And that's the hardest part of all!

There is one thing that I consciously thought of when I started my weight loss this time around, however. I told myself that I would only make changes I was WILLING TO live with forever. I hated exercise, so I told myself I didn't have to do it. I wasn't willing to give up sweets, so I found a way to fit them into my diet. I wasn't willing to eat 1,200 calories a day for the rest of my life, or give up restaurant food, or carbs, or any other extreme measures... so I didn't.

Instead, I chose things that weren't so important to me, and made small changes. I cut calories where I could--I ate much smaller portions, focused on the healthier foods that I liked, and cut out some of the junk food that I really didn't care that much about (french fries, for example--they're okay, but I could take them or leave them). Instead of eating a whole pint of premium ice cream for dessert, I'd have a scoop of regular ice cream with some chocolate syrup and peanuts. I figured anywhere that I cut calories would help me to take the weight off, and I strove for doing it in the most painless way possible.

Lo and behold, it worked! I won't get into the rest of the story, because I've written it on my blog several times; but by August 19, 2010 (one year later), I was at a healthy BMI for the first time since the fourth grade!

Over the last six years, my weight has gone up and down several times, but I have kept off the majority of the weight ever since (I wrote in detail about this yesterday). Until I wrote yesterday post, I felt like I was always in limbo--just waiting to gain it all back. Each summer, I put on some weight, and then take it off in the fall and winter months; but before I start losing it, I always feel like I'm just going to continue gaining until I am back up to 253 pounds.

When I wrote yesterday's post, I feel like I finally accepted that the gains and losses are just a normal reality for me. Instead of fighting against it, I'll just go with it, knowing that I have the tools to get back to my comfortable goal weight. I always felt like I had to keep my weight in a very small range to be successful; but now, I believe that my body likes a bigger range, and I'm good with that.

Each of these photos was taken in August over the last seven years (except for my "before" photo, which was taken in May 2009). It blows my mind that it's been seven years!

Last year, I wrote my annual weight loss anniversary post, and I wrote this about going into year seven:
"Going into Year 7: I've gotten to the point where I'm not as interested in racing as I used to be, and I'd like to use running for fitness. My injury has flared up again, so I will continue to look for other ways to stay active. I just started calorie counting (instead of Weight Watchers) to see if changing that up will help me to stay motivated in getting back to my goal weight. I've accepted that I'm far from goal, and while I think I look okay now, I'd still like to get back to where I felt my best. (I'm going to reflect back on this in a year, so it will be interesting to see how Year 7 plays out!)"
For the most part, this remains pretty accurate! I'm still not that interested in racing, especially long distances. With the exception of my 10K training in the spring, I use running for fitness. I have stayed uninjured all year (woo hoo!). I calorie counted my weight back down to goal (and even beyond). I did not look for other ways to stay active, unfortunately--once I was able to run again, I sort of took off with it. But thankfully, I've stayed injury-free.

In addition to those goals, I also crushed my 10K PR in April, which was totally unexpected. I was even more surprised by that than I was by dropping 125 pounds in 2009-2010. It just seemed so impossible at the time (about 10 months ago).

On the difficult side of things, I also experienced depression this year that was worse than ever before. I thought I had gotten past it, but I had a couple of bad days this week. However, I found a counselor that I absolutely love, and she has helped me a lot in the short time I've been seeing her.

Going into Year 8: I'd like to continue with therapy to help with anxiety and depression, which will hopefully also help with emotional eating and binge eating. I'd like to continue to run for fitness, and maybe set one bigger running goal over the next year (likely, the Indy Mini in May). I'd like to calorie count through the fall to take off my "summer weight".

All-in-all, I feel like Year 7 was a success :) Each year that goes by that I'm healthy and I've remained active is a win. I've dealt with a lot of ups and downs through the last seven years (not only with weight, but with life situations as well) and I'm still kicking! I look forward to seeing what Year 8 has in store for me.

August 18, 2016

Accepting the summer weight gain

A few weeks ago, I said that I would post a weigh in on August 19th--the anniversary of when I first started losing weight back in 2009. I'd hoped that I'd use those few weeks to lose some of the summer weight I gained, and I'd feel really good about getting on the scale.

Well, tomorrow is August 19th, and I haven't lost a single pound since then.

In fact, I've actually gained a few more pounds. Recently, my weight has been hovering between 139 and 141. Yes, Friends--that's over my goal weight (133), and nearly 20 pounds over my lowest weight from March! That's roughly a pound a week that I've picked up since March.

Jerry and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. When he got home from work, we decided to walk to the bar near our house with the kids, and on the way, I asked Noah to take a picture of us.

When I saw the picture, I was not happy--I almost wasn't even going to post it here, because I thought the extra weight was so noticeable...

I was thinking, "Ugh, everyone is going to look at this picture and think I'm a failure!" But you know what? I'm so tired of feeling apologetic for my weight fluctuations (not that anyone is expecting me to). Without comparing this photo to a photo from early this year, I'd say I look very "normal" and healthy here. The only thing about this photo that bothered me was the fact that I was comparing it to early this year, when I was at my lowest weight--my racing weight, when I was at the peak of my 10K training and in my best shape. Looking at this photo without any other reference, I'm happy with how I look!

I'm the first to admit that nobody is putting this pressure on me; I know that I'm doing it to myself. And it's time that I stop it! Maybe this is just part of MY "normal"--maybe MY normal is putting on some weight during the summer, and taking it off in the fall and winter. It's happened every year for the last six years! I always think that I need to work on fixing that for the next year, but maybe it's just the way my body works. My appetite is actually much higher in the summer than it is in the winter.

Anyway, I've been feeling so bad lately that I'm letting people down or something because I still haven't been able to keep from gaining weight in the summer--but today, I'm done feeling bad. My BMI is still good, I'm a normal and healthy size for my height, I'm active, and all of my health numbers are great. There is nothing for me to feel bad about! There are so many more important things to worry about.

I'm not saying that I'm "giving up"--I'm still going to work this fall to get back to my preferred weight of under 133, where I feel my best. And thankfully, I'm not too far over my goal this year! I should be able to do it in about 6-8 weeks.

This morning, I went to Kohl's to get a couple of dresses for Virginia Beach. Since I'm not going to be at my goal weight two weeks from now when we leave, I might as well feel good about the size I am now. I found two dresses that I am very happy with!

This pink one is my favorite--I think the color looks good with my hair (of course, I won't be wearing blue socks with it...). I also bought the striped dress you see in the background (each dress was only $14.40, by the way!)

Pretty much every summer, I end the season by vowing not to gain weight the following summer. "I'll learn my lesson from this summer", I say. But, I'm not going to declare that this year. I may be at my goal weight when I go to Indy in May, and run a great race. And maybe I'll put on 10 pounds over the summer of 2017. And then I'll lose it again in the fall. Is that such a bad thing? In my opinion, no :) I'm okay with that.

I always thought that I had to keep my weight fluctuations to a couple of pounds to be considered "successful" at weight loss--maybe five pounds at most. But for someone who has lost (and kept off) over 100 pounds for 6 years, having a greater weight fluctuation range isn't the end of the world. I am one of the roughly 5% of people who have lost a large amount of weight and kept it off! Maybe I'm not the "ideal" scenario, but it's clearly working for me. I just wish I had looked at it this way sooner, instead of feeling like I "failed" at the end of each summer.

I'm nervous about posting this--I always feel nervous when posting such personal stuff. I think it just makes me feel vulnerable, because I know that there will be people who disagree with my thoughts. But, I feel the need to post this because it's almost a relief for me. I'm showing that I'm not hiding anything, that I'm just ME--imperfect, but doing my best to be the best ME I can be.

August 15, 2016

A week's catch-up

I didn't realize it had been so long since I wrote! I actually started this post on Friday... and then Saturday... and then Sunday... finally, I'm getting it posted on Monday. Jerry's been working a crazy schedule (crazier than usual, I mean) lately because of a special project at work, and it's been hard to adjust. I've also been stressing to the kids how important it is to limit their screen time (video games, iPads, etc)--so I'm trying not to be a hypocrite by being on the computer for several hours a day ;)

They go back to school just after Labor Day, which is coming up so quickly! We will be heading to Virginia Beach in just over two weeks, and Eli is so excited he can't stand it. In the spring, I remember feeling like it was going to be so easy to maintain my weight over the summer this year, before heading to Virginia Beach.

Ha! I gain weight every single summer, and this summer was no different. However, I am still a good 20 pounds less than I was last year at this time, so I'll consider that a win (or close to it, at least).

We've had an incredibly humid summer, which makes for nasty running weather. This last week was especially bad--I ran Tuesday, and then not again until Sunday. It's times like this that I wish my treadmill was in the house (we moved it to the garage last year). The garage is more humid than outside! I'm hoping to get a new treadmill soon, and when I do, I'm putting it in the house. Meanwhile, I keep forgetting that I can run on the indoor track at the rec center.

I finally ended up getting a hands-free leash so I can take Joey running with me and hopefully not get pulled all over the place. I was skeptical that it would work (I kept picturing that my spine would just snap in half if he took off after a squirrel or something). I took him to the state park and we ran a few miles with the new leash. I was amazed! It was SO much easier to run without holding a leash. I tried to get pictures, but it's hard to take selfies from a distance, so this was the best I could get:

The leash hooks around my waist like a belt

The black part has a bungee cord inside, so it stretches slightly

Of course, we made several stops so he could cool off in the lake
The best way I can describe it is like wearing a backpack--you know how carrying a couple of 10-pound dumbbells in your hands feels incredibly heavy, but if you were to carry them in a backpack on your back, you barely notice it? That's what it was like with the leash. When I hold a leash in my hand, and Joey pulls, it feels SO hard to pull back; but with the pulling distributed around my waist, it felt like a tiny puppy was pulling ;)

Anyway, this is the leash that I bought on Amazon. I'm really happy with it--the quality is great and I was very surprised at what a difference it made in running with Joey.

I had a doctor's appointment last week for my annual physical. My lipid profile and blood sugar numbers are all good, as are my weight and blood pressure. Each year that goes by, I feel a sense of relief that I made it through another year without putting the weight back on. According to statistics, I should have gained back all the weight several years ago--so I feel a little sense of accomplishment each time I have a physical and my numbers are good.

A reader named Lisa sent my family an amazing handmade memorial magnet for Chandler...

(We LOVE it, Lisa--thank you for thinking of us!) Lisa has an Etsy shop with some very cute dog tags, cat tags, and the memorial magnets, which you can check out here.

Jerry's and my 13-year wedding anniversary is tomorrow. It's kind of hard to believe we've been married that long! We've been together for 17 years--HALF MY LIFE. That blows my mind. I bought Jerry 13 gifts for 13 years--normally, we don't do much for anniversaries, but he's been working so hard lately I wanted to do something nice for him.

Cross country practice starts this evening. Renee and I are coaching third through fifth graders. Last year we coached second through fourth grade, but the middle school dropped the fifth graders from their program this year, so we decided to pick them up; and the second graders were a little young last year, so we figured third through fifth was perfect.

Tonight, we're going to do a one-mile time trial with the kids (see how fast they can complete one mile) because it's a great way to measure progress later on. We'll have them do the same trial once or twice more later in the season so we can see their improvement.

I'm thinking that I'll start doing my easy runs during practice while the kids are running--I'm not training for anything, so it's a good time to do that. Since we're doing the time trial today, I'll be timing the kids and won't be able to run; so, I headed out this morning for a 45-minute easy run.

The temperature was pretty low this morning--66 degrees at 7:00 am. I was looking forward to a nice, cool run! The humidity was 100%, so it didn't end up as nice as I'd hoped. I got drenched in sweat, but it was still much nicer than 88 degrees with 100% humidity, like last week ;)  I'm SO ready for fall weather!

August 09, 2016

Future running plans

I can't tell you how different my mood is from just a couple of weeks ago. I feel like I'm back to the "normal me with mild depression" instead of the "me with a bad depressive episode". I don't think I've cried in several days--unless you count yesterday, when I cried from laughing so hard! (There was a post on Facebook that contained several pictures of kids and the funny things they did--I was wheezing from laughing so hard.)

Looking back at July, it almost feels like I was a totally different person for the entire month. I felt terrible (I even toned it down for the blog just how bad I felt, because nobody wants to read that kind of negativity). I felt like I would never get back to the normal me, and now here I am. I feel so relieved.

Yes, I picked up several pounds during the month of July, but I've been doing really well being back on track with calorie counting, so I don't feel too terrible about it. I wish I knew how to handle depression without using food, but that's always been my go-to for comfort. Hopefully, my new therapist can help me figure out better ways to deal, and if I go through another episode next summer, I'll be prepared!

I saw this running shirt by BrainStorm Gear a couple of days ago, and I just had to buy it:

It's like it was made just for me! They have some really awesome cycling jerseys, and it almost made me want to take up cycling just so I could get a Cookie Monster one--but not quite ;)

I've been thinking a lot about what to do as far as running goals go. I think this fall, I'm going to keep it very casual. I'll probably run a few races just for fun, and I'll follow some sort of training schedule to keep up with running; but I'm going to wait until spring to set another goal. And I've already been thinking about what it's going to be...

I'm going to run the Indy Mini again!

It's been five years since the last time I ran it--can you believe it? I walked that race in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The first half-marathon that I actually ran was the Indy Mini in 2011. And plans fell through in 2012, so I didn't get to go. I went to Indy with my Sole Mates last year, but I didn't get to do the race due to my stress fracture.

It has now been almost two years since I last ran a half-marathon, and I am ready to make the Indy Mini 2017 my comeback race :) I'm not sure yet what I plan to do as far as a time goal, but I'm thinking I might as well go big or go home--maybe I'll shoot for my sub-1:50! In 2013, sub-1:50 was a far off goal of mine. Based on my recent 10K race, I think with training, I can get back into shape for a 1:49 half-marathon.

BUT. May is still a long way off. Right now, running in the miserable humidity, I can't fathom doing speed work for a half-marathon. It's hard to get excited about a lofty time goal! We'll see how I feel about it in October or November, and then I'll decide for sure. The one thing I AM sure about, however, is that I'm going to run the Indy Mini in May.

I was kind of thinking it might be fun to have some sort of reader meet-up weekend... would that interest anyone? Anyone who wants to go could come hang out for a few days, and do the race on Saturday. We could do dinner at Buca di Beppo on Friday night (a tradition).

Anyway, if that would interest any of you, it's the weekend of May 5-7. The race itself is PERFECT for a first half-marathon--there are 35,000 runners/walkers. I walked it for three years, and there are SO many other walkers that I never felt embarrassed to be "just" walking (by the way, walking it made me so much more sore than running! It's HARD to walk 13.1 miles.) If you think you'd like to join me that weekend, send me an email so we can work out the details. If there is enough interest, we could even make a Facebook group to plan details, and maybe buddy up for hotels or something.

I've been running lately, but it's been too humid to really enjoy it! I ran three miles with Nathan on Friday. My plan was to run at his easy pace of about 8:45, but once we started running, the air was so thick that we both agreed to slow down. We ended up with a 9:12 pace, and even that felt kind of hard.

For the past few days, I've taken the kids to the State Park to fish while I run. There is a short loop (1.5 miles) where I can see the kids the whole way around, so it works out well. I just run two loops, which gives them enough time to fish for a little bit.

It's interesting how the heat and humidity affects my running pace. I still keep my heart rate under 146, and some days, that means a 10:15 pace (when it's rather cool and not humid); but other days, that means an 11:30 pace. Or, like last week, when we had a the air quality alert, my pace wound up being 12:18! In the winter, it'll probably be a 9:30-10:00 pace... all at the same heart rate.

Today, I ran at around noon, and that was a big mistake--I even wondered if I'd make all the way around the second loop. It was rough! When I was done, I sat down while the kids fished, and just tried to stop sweating.

When I got home, I looked up the weather to see what the humidity was, because that run had felt SO difficult. Turns out we had another air quality alert! I wish I'd thought to look that up beforehand, because I would have postponed my run. It's amazing just how much of a difference that makes in my running.

I took Joey to Lucky Puppy (his doggy daycare) today. It had been several months since the last time he went, but he was SO EXCITED when he realized where we were going. He never whines, but once we pulled into the driveway, he started whining in excitement. I'm sure he's having a blast today! ;)

August 07, 2016

National Sister Day

Well, yesterday I woke up feeling pretty good about myself, so I decided to step on the scale for the first time in about a couple of weeks... and it wasn't good. When my depression was really bad last month, control over my eating just went on the back burner. Since I had already broken my binge-free streak, I didn't care that much about staying on track. Then, when Caitlin was here, we did a lot of eating out--lots of my favorite foods that I usually reserve for a high calorie day.

My clothes have gotten tight, and based on the fit, I guessed that my weight was probably approaching the high 130's--but I didn't want to get on the scale to confirm it. I've had a really good week, however, so I hoped that when I got on the scale yesterday, I would be back at my goal weight. Unfortunately, we all know that weight loss doesn't work that way! ;) We spend weeks or even months losing a few pounds, and then when we so much as smell junk food, we gain it all right back in just a couple of days.

I'm going to give myself until the 19th (the anniversary of when I started losing weight) to continue eating well, and then I'm going to post a weigh-in. Good or bad. Now that I'm doing better as far as the depression goes, I really want to get focused on weight maintenance again.

Anyway, today is National Sister Day, and I thought I'd share a little about my favorite (only) sister, Jeanie.

Jeanie actually played a big role in my weight loss, and when I first started losing weight, she was THE most supportive person in that part of my life.

We didn't have a very close relationship back then, actually. Jeanie would call a few times a week to talk to my kids (she truly is the world's greatest aunt); but as far as the two of us, we just didn't have anything in common. Jeanie is super outgoing and extroverted, while I am as shy and introverted as can be.

Showing the kids the correct way of baking ;)

In August 2009, she asked me if I wanted to do Weight Watchers with her (on our own--no meetings), and we could keep each other accountable. Always having looked up to her, and even being somewhat intimidated by her, I agreed. I assumed it would be like any other time I'd tried losing weight--I'd do it for a couple of days, and then quit. Jeanie called once a day for that first week or so, and I would have been super embarrassed to tell her that I quit, so I actually stuck to it. And once I had a week under my belt, it was easier to keep going.

As I dropped the weight, Jeanie got more and more excited for me. She loved calling me on Wednesdays to hear how much weight I'd lost that week. The next time she saw me was in May 2010, when we were planning to do the Indy Mini-Marathon together for the third year in a row. She couldn't believe how different I looked--she said she never would have even recognized me if I hadn't called to her across the lobby of the hotel.

That year, we walked the entire race together. It felt amazing to be able to keep up with her! I took over 30 minutes off of the previous year's time.

When I hit 100 pounds lost, she took me for a mini-makeover. We got pedicures, and then went to a different salon for our hair. She treated me to a hair cut, color, and blow out. I was STUNNED at the difference in my hair! Then, we went to Macy's, where we got our make-up done and she bought me the make-up that the artist had used on me.

I don't think she knew (or even knows to this day) just how much that day meant to me. I had always wanted to feel girly, and I never did when I was obese. That day, I felt so pretty! I also always wanted to be "cool" like my big sister--but considering she's eight years older than me, I looked silly playing dress up with her clothes when I was a kid. That day we got our nails, hair, and make-up done, I felt like I fit in. It was amazing.

A couple of years later, I felt like I got to repay the favor when I inspired Jeanie to start running. It was awesome to see her progress from a non-runner to running a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and then full marathon. I love that in May of 2013, I got to show up at her house and surprise her by running her first half-marathon with her. And then, as she ran her first full marathon in April 2014, I ran the last five miles with her (she totally kicked that marathon's ass, too!).

Jeanie's first half-marathon

Jeanie's first marathon

Jeanie has always been very level-headed and practical. If there is ever an emergency, she is definitely the one you'd want to be there with you--she can stay very calm and collected in those situations. I, on the other hand, am the last person you'd want to be there! I tend to panic and get overly emotional ;)

She also gives great advice! Because she is able to think practically, she's usually the one I turn to if I need advice about something important. She's very compassionate and empathetic, but she's able to switch over to practical mode when needed--such a great quality to have!

I wish that she lived closer (she lives in Illinois, about a six hour drive from me) so that I could see her more often. My kids are always thrilled to get to hang out with Aunt Jeanie. She even accompanied us when Jerry and I took the kids to Punta Cana a couple of years ago! Jeanie did all the planning for that trip, and it was so nice not to have to worry about anything. It will remain one of my favorite trips of all time!

Anyway, I am so grateful to have a sister as great as Jeanie. Happy National Sister Day!

August 06, 2016

Success Story Saturday: Lucy's Story

I am so excited to share this first post (hopefully of many to come) of Success Story Saturday! Over the past several years, I've gotten so many emails from readers who share their own success stories with me, and these stories are just so inspiring. I've read about people who have overcome injuries and tragedies, bounced back from pregnancies, defied medical odds, lost half their body weight, went from couch potatoes to marathon runners, and so many more.

I had the idea to start sharing these stories periodically in a series called Success Story Saturday. While Motivational Monday focused on the small goals and accomplishments on a week to week basis, Success Story Saturday is for those big accomplishments that we put lots of blood, sweat, and tears into. The culmination of all those smaller goals leads to one big success story!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading the first installment of this series... here is Lucy's story, in her own words:

"One year ago today, I was fat – 232 pounds of it. I felt like I was wearing one of those big character costumes that got in my way, slowed me down, and forced me to limit my mobility. Since I come from a family of fat and happy Italians, I figured that was my lot in life. It didn’t feel like something I had any control over – it just was. I was fat. 

Then I found your blog.

It was the first time I’d ever read about someone losing weight and keeping it off. It was the first time I ever found myself wondering if I could change things, and part of me started to believe that it might actually be possible to succeed at it. Hope was born.

I figured if you could walk 13.1 miles before you lost your weight, I could certainly manage 3.1. On July 20, 2015, I registered for the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach 5K (6 weeks away). I started the Couch to 5K program, signed up for MyFitnessPal, and committed to 6 weeks. I still wasn’t fully convinced that change was possible, but I figured at the very least, I’d end up with proof that I was doomed to be fat and nothing I could do would change that. 

In that spirit, I decided to be completely honest with myself and stick with things for 6 weeks – no matter what. I viewed it like a science experiment, where my main goal was to collect calorie data and see how it affected my weight. I used an old analog scale for those first 2 weeks, and when it showed I’d only lost 2 pounds (at most!), my belief that I had no control over my fat was reinforced. But I didn’t give up! I went out and bought a new scale to ensure accuracy and was shocked to drop 3.5 pounds the following week. 

It took me more than 42 minutes to run that first 5k, but I loved it so much I immediately registered for the half-marathon for this year! Even though my weight was going down, I still wasn’t seeing much difference in the way my clothes fit. I still wasn’t convinced that much would actually change, but I kept going. 

In October, I crossed my legs at the knee for first time! In November, I ran my second 5K. In December, I bought my first pair of size 12 pants (the previous July, I’d been an 18 or 20). In February, I hit 50 pounds lost. I logged everything I ate, every single day – no matter what, and I kept running.

50 pounds down

In May, I ran my first 10K. I came in dead last, though I finished in 1:07, having beaten my goal time by more than 10 minutes! (Having a police car follow you while picking up cones behind you is great motivation to run faster.) My students reminded me that I always tell them that doing their best is always good enough, and I kept going. By the end of the school year, I’d hit 75 lbs lost!

Then summer vacation came. It’s been really hard. My right knee has been giving me problems, so I’ve had to rework my training plan a bit. Travel has thrown off my eating – a lot, and there are many days when I start to wonder if I’ll ever lost these last 20-25 pounds. But I haven’t given up.

July 20th was my first FITiversary, and I’m realizing that not giving up is my biggest win. After all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every trip and adventure we’ve had this summer! I’ve not felt deprived, and I haven’t gained any weight. I’ve logged my food every single day for a whole year – a leap year, no less! I’ve run as far as 10 miles. I enjoy roller blading with my son and going for bike rides with my husband.

75 pounds down
I still have weight to lose and about four weeks before I run my first half marathon, but I’ve proven that I can change what I weigh and my ability to be physically active. I have 383 days of evidence that bad days are ok, holidays happen, vacations can be enjoyed, and I can choose to be healthy. As long as I don’t give up, forward progress will happen. 

Thank you for taking the time to write and being willing to share. Thank you for allowing me far enough into your life to see that change is possible."

You can read more about Lucy on her blog, Losing Anonymously. (She's chooses to remain anonymous because she is a teacher, and she wants to be able to blog honestly instead of worrying about whether it's "middle school appropriate", should one of her students find it.)

If you have made a big healthy change in your life, and would like to submit your story for Success Story Saturday, this post explains how to do so

Congratulations, Lucy! You have done something amazing, and should be so proud :)

August 04, 2016

Air quality alert

As you can see, I did not do my Wednesday Weigh-in yesterday. I actually haven't gotten on the scale in over a week! I've been doing really well the last few days as far as my eating goes, so I'm afraid if I get on the scale and see that my weight is up from eating out all last weekend, I'll just have that "screw it" mentality. Usually, I'm pretty good about not letting the scale get to me (mentally), but right now I feel kind of vulnerable, considering everything that's been going on lately. So I'm going to give it a little more time, and then I'll do my regular weigh-ins again.

August 19th will mark SEVEN YEARS since I started this weight loss journey! Maybe I'll do a big comparison post then--not just my weight, but all that has changed in the last seven years. It's so hard to believe it's been that long. While my journey is more like a roller coaster with the ups and downs, I still have to pat myself on the back for maintaining such a large weight loss for this long. It's been far from perfect, but I've still defied the odds!

I took the kids to the county fair on Tuesday, and I can't even describe how tempted I was to eat all sorts of junk and then "start over tomorrow". I didn't buy ANY food there, though! I ate one of Eli's french fries, and that's the only thing I had. I was most tempted by the elephant ears--they looked and smelled so good. I probably could have gotten one, and worked it into my calories, but it was more about the mindset--I wanted to prove to myself that it was perfectly okay to go to the fair and not eat junk food. Instead, I had a piece of homemade zucchini bread when I got home. 

I had a hard time getting out the door to run this morning (running after a rest day is toughest for me). I procrastinated as it got hotter by the minute, and then finally headed out at 9:30. It felt so much hotter than the numbers showed, though.

I was in the mood to run long(ish) and slow, so I could listen to a couple of podcasts. I wore my heart rate monitor to keep my heart rate low, and my heart rate was so high today! I felt like I couldn't possibly run any slower, but my heart rate monitor was beeping constantly from being too high. I did an out and back, listening to a couple of podcasts, and my pace was the slowest it's been since I started heart rate training in December. 

A 12:18/mile average pace, and even then, my average heart rate was 148 (I was aiming for under 146 bpm). When I got home, my clothes were totally saturated with sweat. 

I didn't notice the "air quality alert" until after my run, so I decided to look it up online and see exactly what that means. I was kind of surprised to see that it could very well be why my run felt so hard today. Here is a quote from the Environmental Protection Agency about one of the problems that could happen:
"Reduce lung function, making it more difficult to breathe as deeply and vigorously as you normally would, especially when exercising. Breathing may start to feel uncomfortable, and you may notice that you are taking more rapid and shallow breaths than normal."
That's so interesting! I've never paid attention to the air quality index before, but I'm definitely going to start.

With everything going on with Chandler, I totally forgot to write about this: we officially adopted Monica! We made this decision before Chandler died. Monica is just such a sweet cat that I couldn't imagine having to give her back.

I felt a little guilty about it after Chandler died, because I certainly wasn't trying to replace him. Chandler could never be replaced! But like I said, we made the decision when we thought we'd have several more years with Chandler.

Tomorrow, I'm meeting Nathan for a run early in the morning. I'm planning to run at a tempo-ish pace of 8:30 or so, but if the air feels anything like today, I'll just nix that plan and run easy! The air quality alert is supposed to expire tonight at midnight, so hopefully tomorrow's run will feel easier. 

August 02, 2016

It's FINALLY here!

It's been over four years in the making, and I am relieved to say that the documentary, From Fat to Finish Line, is FINALLY available! I had nothing to do with the making of the film, other than the fact that I was one of the subjects (and I put together the team of runners)--but this is a big day indeed. It was so crazy to see the documentary on the iTunes movies page today!

I've been writing about it on my blog for, well, YEARS now; but, if you aren't familiar with the documentary, here is a brief explanation: In 2011, a reader of mine named Rik contacted me about my lower body lift surgery. One thing led to another, and, in short, we put together a Ragnar Relay team of 12 people who had all lost a lot of weight and become runners (our team lost about 1200 pounds total).

The documentary shares a little of each team member's history, and shows how we all came together as a team to run the 2013 Ragnar Relay Florida Keys. This was filmed over a period of a year, and then hundreds of hours of footage was condensed down to a single film. If you'd like to watch the film, on Amazon (digital or DVD). I think it may be available on some other VOD platforms, but I'm not sure. It will be on Netflix later this year (we don't have an exact date). (If you pledged money toward the film, you will get your DVD shortly as well).

I hope you enjoy the film if you choose to watch it!   I learned that producing a film is an actual art form, and the producer is the artist. Angela (the producer) has been fantastic through all of this--I can't even begin to imagine how much work it was to make this film!

The best thing to have come out of this film is that I have met some of the most amazing people that I never would have met otherwise. I've also had some crazy opportunities that never would have come my way--being on the Today Show and in Runner's World magazine, for starters! This whole experience has been so surreal. Sometimes, I feel like I'm not deserving of all these opportunities, but I have to remind myself that I earned this. I worked SO hard to lose the weight, to become a runner, and to keep the weight off. I've had so many successes and struggles over the years, I've lost count of each ;)

Speaking of struggles, I've been feeling a little better the past week or so as far as this depressive episode goes. It's interesting, because you would have thought that Chandler's passing would make me feel even worse. Before Caitlin came for the weekend, I was worried that I would be a terrible host considering my mood lately; but almost as soon as she arrived, I busied myself to make sure that she was having fun, and I almost forgot about my depression. I had so much fun over the weekend--it was just what I needed!

I don't feel 100% back to normal yet, but I do feel like that dark depression cloud is lifting, and I'm hopeful that I'll feel back to normal soon (a few weeks ago, I felt like it would never end). It's interesting--I've cried over Chandler several times over the past few days, but it felt like "normal" crying, from grieving a beloved pet; but, when crying from depression (for no reason at all), it doesn't feel "normal". I hope that makes sense--it's hard to explain!

I wasn't eating well at all while I was feeling so bad, and I've actually been afraid to get on the scale--I think it's been over a week since I weighed myself. Over the weekend, I took Caitlin to a lot of my favorite restaurants, so I was eating junk then, too. I don't feel bad about what I ate on the weekend, because it wasn't emotional eating; where before, I was eating to make myself feel better.

Interestingly, after Caitlin left, I was craving some healthy foods (probably because of the junk I ate over the weekend)--I made a giant fruit salad (just cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and grapes), so I've been eating tons of fruit. I've also eaten more salad in the past few days that I have in the last six months, haha. For dinner last night, I made a recipe I found on Pinterest for Southwestern Chopped Salad. It was SO good!

Anyway, Jerry started a super crazy project at work yesterday that will continue over the next few months; and since he's going to be working so hard, I promised myself that I would work just as hard at being my best self. I'm back to counting calories how I was doing before, and I'm following a running schedule again. I'm going to finish our bathroom project, which will take a while. And I'm going to do my best to ensure that the kids have a great last month before school starts!

I am beyond thrilled with my new therapist--I've seen her twice now, and I actually really look forward to going again. She validates my feelings, and I love that I can tell her anything without feeling judged. She gives me "homework" to do, which has been helpful in keeping me focused.

I haven't really decided on a running goal for fall, but I'm following a half-marathon training plan for now. If I decide that I don't want to do that distance, then I'll switch to a 5K plan in the fall. Right now, I just want to get back into a running routine. Also, my therapist suggested that I replace one of my runs with swimming each week (I have chronic back pain due to arthritis and a couple of bone spurs). I think I may take an adult swimming class this fall. I've always hated swimming, but maybe if I learn how to swim properly, I'll actually enjoy it. If nothing else, it will be good cross training!

I am so glad to report that I am feeling better, and I hope that those of you who could relate to what I was going through are feeling better as well--if not now, then soon! Thanks for being patient with my not-so-happy posts lately. I tried to keep them positive, but it's hard when I'm not feeling very positive. I can't even tell you how much I appreciate the support from so many readers!


August 01, 2016

A weekend with Caitlin

Thank you so much for your kind words on my post about Chandler. I'm still sort of in disbelief that he's actually gone. He's usually the first cat to come running into the kitchen when I feed them, and it's been so strange not to have him there. This morning, Monica jumped up onto my bed, and for a second I thought it was Chandler, and then remembered that it couldn't be. Having  my friend Caitlin here for the weekend helped my mood a lot, though!

Aside from the heartbreak of losing Chandler over the weekend, I did have a lot of fun with Caitlin. I met Caitlin because she was a reader of my blog, and she emailed me back in 2012 to thank me for my posts about my skin removal surgery. She said she had lost well over 100 pounds (I later learned it was actually 240 pounds!! She's very modest, haha) and she had skin removal surgery as well.

The following year, I emailed her out of the blue to ask if she'd be interested in joining a Ragnar SoCal team made up of several of my blog readers. She agreed, and I actually met her in person the following October. We were both running the Chicago Marathon, so we met up in Chicago the day before the race. If not for her, I likely wouldn't have even run the race--I had a panic attack when I arrived in Chicago, and was very tempted to just turn around and go right back to my sister's house. I ended up hanging out with Caitlin, and I am so glad that I stayed!

We ran Ragnar SoCal together in 2014, and then I visited her for a day in Boston when I went out there for the Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival for Runner's World. That was the last time I saw her, so it had been a couple of years.

Caitlin had never been to Michigan, so it was fun getting to show her around a little! She arrived on Thursday, and we took the kids out to lunch. Then, we drove the kids to my brother's house, because they were going to stay the night over there. Brian was making guacamole when we got there, so naturally, we stayed for a little bit ;)

That evening, my other brother, Nathan, came over to my house. He hadn't yet seen the documentary, so Nathan, Caitlin, Jerry, and I watched the film. (It is being released tomorrow, by the way! It will be available on iTunes and Amazon.)

On Friday morning, Caitlin and I went to the State Park for a long walk, while Jerry took Chandler to the vet. I already wrote about that yesterday, so I won't get into it again. But after having a good cry in the park, I decided that I would try not to think about it much while Caitlin was in town--I didn't want her to feel uncomfortable about the whole situation. (She went through the same thing with her cat, though, so she was totally understanding.)

We had sandwiches from Erie Bread Co. for lunch--their 13-8-on-9 is probably the best sandwich on the planet, in my opinion. We went back to Brian's to pick up the kids, and ended up hanging out for several hours. Brian had some model rockets that he and the boys put together, and the kids wanted to launch them. So we went to a big field for the launch, and Brian brought his quadcopter to film it. It was actually really fun to watch! The rockets went about 1,000 feet in the air, and then the kids ran to try and catch the parachute on the way down.

The rocket actually almost hit Brian's quadcopter

We left to go to dinner before heading to a Mud Hen's (baseball) game. I had been debating when I should tell the kids about Chandler, and I decided to tell them before dinner. I didn't want to ruin their time at the game, but I thought maybe the game would be a good distraction. Otherwise, if I told them right before bed, they would just be upset all night. It was heartbreaking to give them the news, and they reacted just like I thought they would; but I'm glad that I told them before dinner, because going out to eat and to a ball game was a good way to take their minds off of it. (Except for the fact that the kid sitting in front of us happened to be named Chandler! What are the odds?!)

We went to El Camino Real in Toledo, which is my favorite Mexican place. Then we headed to the Mud Hen's game. After we parked, we were walking to the stadium and we actually bumped into my friend Renee and her family, who were going to the game also! We found our seats, and I was grateful that it was slightly overcast, because we didn't have shade.

The weather felt perfect, actually--until the fourth or fifth inning, when it suddenly just started down pouring! Everyone ran for cover, and we ended up going down to where Renee's family was to wait it out.

We chatted for a while, and the rain wasn't letting up (they had called the game off) so we headed home. We watched an episode of Shameless (Caitlin had never seen it) and then went to bed. That night in bed, I got to talk to Jerry about Chandler--I had a ton of questions. I still just couldn't believe what had happened, and it was hard to fall asleep. When I got up, I decided to head out for a short run. Caitlin woke up as I was getting my shoes on, so she came along, too. We ran at a very easy pace, but it was so humid that it actually felt hard to breathe. We only ran three miles, but we were both really sweaty when we got back.

After showering and getting ready, we headed up to Detroit for the day. I knew Caitlin would love Eastern Market (an enormous farmer's market). We walked around for a couple of hours, sampling (and buying) several things.

Eventually, we took our goods to the car, and then walked to Greektown. It started raining fairly hard on the way, and we both got soaked, but we agreed it was better than walking in the sun. Caitlin mentioned she likes pulled pork, so we went to Redsmoke, my favorite barbecue place. I'm normally not a salad person, but I do love their caesar salad with pulled chicken!

After lunch, we walked to Greektown Casino. We lost our money, but we had fun! ;)

This is blurry because I was SO cold from be wet (from the rain) and then
being in the air-conditioning--my hands were shaking so badly!

We headed over to the Riverwalk, which is one of my favorite parts of Detroit. It's so pretty! I was excited to see that they put chairs out along the walk, so we stopped and sat for a few minutes with a gorgeous view of Canada.

I told Caitlin she looks like a celebrity in this photo for some reason--maybe it's the black clothes and sunglasses? I love that picture of her, though!

It was a very long walk back to the car, and by that time, it was already after 3:00. I wished I'd been wearing my Fitbit, but I looked at the Health app on my phone, and it said that we'd gotten in over 20,000 steps--nearly 12 miles (including our three mile run). That's a lot of walking!

We picked up the kids and Jerry, and then went to Anson's for dinner (our favorite pizza place). I showed Caitlin how to play Keno, because she'd never played before--and I actually won $75 on a $10 ticket! It's always fun when someone hits all their Keno numbers--even more fun when it's ME ;)

After dinner, we hurried back to my house, because Dean (one of our SoCal teammates) was going to come over, too! He just lives about an hour from me. (I met Dean because of the Motivational Monday posts on my blog--I watched as he went from 317 pounds and running his first 5K to weighing 171 pounds and running a sub-4:00 marathon!). Jerry made a fire, so we sat around the fire and chatted for a couple of hours before Dean had to leave. It was great getting to see them both. Dean was injured for a while and couldn't run, but he has done an awesome job with keeping the weight off--I am very impressed!

Between the three of us, we've lost 517 pounds. Kind of crazy!

On Sunday morning, I took Caitlin to the airport to head home. It was a super fun visit, and a nice way to help me take my mind off of Chandler. I hope we get together again before another two years passes!

By the way, sorry it has taken so long to get the winner of the cat-lovers giveaway up here! I had a very busy weekend, as you can see. But congratulations to Laurie R! I have sent you an email to get your info, so I can pass it along to Purina :) Hope your kitty (or kitties) enjoy!

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