Baby Got …

…pants. I bought new pants. They are a size 12. I was a size 22. I feel pretty good about that.

I had a little photo shoot with myself before work in my awesomely disorganized closet.

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Real Talk: Races and Paces

This morning one of the most widely known organized races in KC is happening: The Trolley Run. It’s a lovely course featuring a nice downhill jaunt that winds from Waldo to the Plaza. I’m not sure the last time it was sunny for a Trolley Run, but it sure is today. A bit chilly, but nothing the right gear and the first mile won’t fix.

I am not running this race. I do, however, have race envy now that I see people checking in and posting about it. It’s a route I know and it’s only 4 miles so please. [This week I’ve been reflecting a lot on distances. How only a year and few months ago I was slogging through a mile feeling like everything wanted to burst and create a giant Katie puddle and now I’m all, eh, whatever it’s ONLY 4 miles. You’re just starting to settle in at 4 miles. WHO AM I?!]

Goals and Real Talk

I’m waxing sentimental about how glorious the morning is and how jealous I am of everyone doing the Trolley run, yet I’m sitting on my couch in my jammies under a blanket (with cats of course) trying to gear up for my own run. It took some mental effort to get me out the door yesterday, but once I did I was so pleased with myself. I’m more tired today than usual due to being up later at my sister-in-law’s brother’s 30th birthday party. By the time I left everything in my body hurt — and I was starving. And everything hurt. It was a case for some ibuprofen. Apparently, working out hard for nearly a month and then standing for four hours and not eating dinner and barely drinking water (bad Katie!) take a toll. Even though I drank some water and ate some nice oatmeal when I got home, I still awoke feeling pretty run down.

It makes it a little odd that I’m so inspired to write about the races, paces and goals that have been swirling in my head. I feel like I’m at a point where I need to set some goals for myself. I know I’m feeling fitter and stronger, and this morning’s lack of get-up-and-go is transitory (I have company and le tired from choices made last night) and I can get through it. I can’t NOT workout today. I made a bet. So I give you:

Races, Paces and Goals (did that first part make anyone else think about Reese’s Pieces? just me?)

  • Hospital Hill Half Marathon, June 1, 2013: This race is creeeeeeping up! Holy cow it’s almost time to taper and I feel like I never really settled into the groove of my training. Yet, I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt and I’m running the best I’ve ever run. Though the course is ridiculously challenging with its hiLLs, I’m still going to try for a PR. I know in my heart that I could have PR’d at Rock the Parkway if I hadn’t been in such a dreamy “Look at all the pretty! Puppy!” state, but maybe that’s also what helped me do so well — I was RELAXED and enjoying the experience. My pre-race nutrition was top notch as was my hydration. I took time to thank the volunteers and to high five the awesome kids who were doling them out. My HHHM strategy is to line up with a pace group and make sure those pacers know who I am. I’m still hoping to someday get under a 2 hour half, but for now, I’m shooting for 2:30 and maybe 2:25. Tough with this race because of the hills. But with the up comes the down and that break from the monotony is always helpful. If I can remind myself that when I get tired it actually helps to breathe and pick up the pace at that moment, I’ll be okay.
  • Plaza 10k, September 15, 2013:  This one looks really fun and it’s in the Plaza area which just evokes a certain homeness to me. As much as I like living on the edge of population where it’s easy to slip away to nature, I adore and miss living in the heart of the city. My goal is to get back there in the next 5 years. I’m going for a time goal here too. Maybe when it gets closer I’ll have to set a new goal, but for now, my goal is to do this in under 1 hour. I’m hoping for a 9 min/mi pace or faster.
  • Pink Laundry 5k, October 6, 2013: This is a race I just randomly found while trolling mararunning.org at lunch. Something about the quaint Lee’s Summit location and the story of why it exists — and all the pink — made me feel like this is a race I should run. Check it out, but be prepared to cry a little when you read the backstory.
  • Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon 2013, October 19, 2013:  So, some of you will remember my posts about the Chicago Marathon. I would still love to do it, but I was stressing myself out terribly about it. It’s just not in the cards for this year. It’s funny, it took one conversation with Cheryl about it to make me realize I was twisting myself into knots for no reason. The event will still be there next year. And maybe I’ll be going for a PR. Realistically, I’m just not in a place to do the fundraising or to pay for the expenses of traveling. Money sucks. However, I so thoroughly enjoyed volunteering as a course monitor last year at the KC Marathon that I knew I wanted to be a part of it again this year. My original grand plan was to run Chicago the weekend prior and then volunteer for KC. But, you know, life. I really looked into myself and thought about why I want to run a marathon and why I do not. The do nots are all about fear and self-doubt. The whys are all about achieving a dream and connecting to something greater. The why is pride. I can do it.
    • Running KC makes sense on so many levels and once I stopped making myself sick thinking about Chicago, I started to get excited and feel joy at the thought of running KC. I may not get the incredible crowd support or flat & fast course that comes with Chicago, but I have a higher likelihood of getting friends and family out there on the KC course and man, those hills? I LIVE here. Finding a fully flat route in KC is harder than you’d think. As long as I train hills and run smart, I will be fine. I think I’ll setup with a pace group and they adjust for the hills so, that’s cool with me. Running this race is also helpful for me when it comes to food. I LOVE TO EAT. But with my dietary restrictions and propensity setting off an intestinal war within myself, I have to be really careful. Traveling requires A LOT of prep and planning so I know what to eat. It’s pretty mentally exhausting honestly. And I just don’t want to risk eating something that will trigger outrage in my gut. Also, post race food is CRITICAL. Girl gotta eat! And my gut will be wound up after the race so post-race food is just as important as pre-race food. MINSKY’S PIZZA: I AM COMING FOR YOU! CC. Glace’ Ice Cream.

The Real-ist Real Talk — Training

I mentioned that I don’t even feel like I’ve settled into the groove of my Hospital Hill training. It’s strange not to be so regimented, but also freeing. I’m running, but I’m also incorporating a lot of the other activities I enjoy and which make me stronger. I don’t understand training schedules that are all running. Isn’t that boring? And isn’t that how people get injured? I took the pilates class at my gym for the first time last week and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t easy, but it was so worthwhile. I did cardio first so I was nice and warmed up. I don’t want to have a schedule that makes me give up my classes. I’m also really committed to keeping my twice weekly workouts with Cheryl. Where I am now? I wouldn’t be here without her support or her pushing me. I see people post things which amount to “you don’t need a trainer.” Honestly, I disagree. Finding the right trainer is such a life changing experience.

That leads me to my next serious, soul-sought thought: I need to work with a group or a coach for this marathon training. I’m excited and I really want to do it, but I need that extra support. I will do better on those long runs if I don’t have to worry about dropping water and pre-planning my course. And when I get to 16+ miles, I’m sure having someone around will probably help. I enjoyed my first few long runs on my own during HHHM training, but they were shorter 6 mile and under distances that didn’t require water strategy. I need that extra accountability. The fact that I know myself and that I am extrinsically motivated (what other people think matters to me) is an advantage in planning. I’m thinking about trying The Runners Edge Group in KC. I’ve been studying them and they seem to be the real deal. They run the Smart Pacing group that participates in a lot of the big races in KC. The group seems large, diverse and something that is really important to me: they have set pace groups for group runs. That was a problem for me with my old group and ultimately, one of the reasons I didn’t have trouble walking away. No one ran my pace and it was really hard to connect with people. They were already in established pods. I couldn’t keep up or break in. I’m hoping a bigger group with better organization might be a better fit. Don’t get me wrong, I like running alone, but having that group of people in my pace might be beneficial. I just need to figure out what my pace actually IS. Also, not having to worry about route planning and water.

I also know that I need to keep some focus on my diet and working on burning off more fat. I can see fitness gains with the changes and I know running will get easier as I lose more of this fat. I set a really aggressive goal for myself (135 lbs by August 1st — last time I weighed myself I was 165), but I am going to be okay if I don’t meet it. Actually, one of the reasons I was stressing out over the marathon was because I want to hit my weight loss goal and I’m afraid race training will really interfere with that. But, you can’t wait for things to be perfect. If I wait until I hit this weight loss goal to go after a marathon, I think I’ll regret it.

Now that I’ve put all this out there, I’m terrified.

Rock the Parkway Recap

If I’d written and published this post when first I started on Sunday, it would be colored only with joy and excitement, pride and confidence. But how do you write a race recap after the horror of what happened at the Boston Marathon?

I’ve never run a marathon. (No, 3 half marathons don’t count even if the sum of the parts is more than 26.2 miles.) I’ve logged hours on my feet, developed blisters upon blisters and beloved calluses. In those hours I called upon anything and everything that would just get me through the pain of hills and speed sessions or tedium of long runs.

In running we talk a lot about reaching that something inside ourselves. A voice, a desire and tenacity. But I’ve found that there is something extrinsically linked to my running experiences. I melt into a deeper, freer fluid connection to everything around me. When I don’t fight this unity and instead absorb it – breathe it – in, 2, 3, out 2, 3 – I will gush about how good my run was and everything in my life will be brighter and shinier. My ability to show love will be on par with when I’ve had a few too many. You see, I’m not good at expressing affection AT ALL. I’m somewhat bubbly, yet quiet. Sedate, yet jovial. But I’m guarded. Why I’m like this, I don’t know. Why are any of us who we are? We just are.

Running has connected me back to myself. It’s connected me to my joy and lightness. It’s connected me to my deepest, unprocessed grief.

The spectators, most random, are part of that extrinsic motivation. They give you that push as if sending you a boost of energy from their chilled, sign-holding fingertips. Children high five you excitedly even though you are gross and sweaty and spitty and maybe wearing snot you didn’t quite rocket. Dogs sit patiently, and adorably, along the course offering a calming break from thinking about your pace or how many more miles you have to cover. Those dogs man, they are course therapy. I mean, think how great it feels to look at lolcats or YouTube videos? You get them IN REAL LIFE when racing. No need to sacrifice.

I will never understand what lives inside a person and makes them want to so badly to hurt others. To smother joy with a blanket of terror and grief.

But grief drives us. Running is therapy. Did they hope to destroy that? Did they just know there would be a lot of distracted people?

The odds of me running the Boston Marathon as anything other than a bandit are slim. I’m not a fast runner – not yet. I will be someday. I know I will. Still, to BQ I’d need to be able to run a 3:35 marathon. My best half time is one hour under this. Yikes.

Most of the people who were hurt in the bombings had probably already sacrificed for the sport. That makes my heart ache.

And now, my Rock the Parkway recap as told in pictures. It was a truly lovely run. My goal was just enjoying the course and the experience without focusing on time. I could have PR’d if I’d pushed in a few spots, but I finished the race with a smile and cheers for those left on the course. I even had energy to go home and do housework. NO nap was taken! I think I’ll line up with a pace group for my next half marathon and see what I’ve got.

Progress Update

Since I’m doing this no sugar and workout everyday thing, I thought I’d post current picture. Also, the last progress pictures I added were in my workout clothes. So I give you ME, post workout in the gym bathroom on Friday, April 5th. This morning I weighed in at 166.2 pounds. Let’s see where I am in 30 days. (Also still not quite 5’4″ and wearing a medium shirt and size 14 skirt.)

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The Bet

I mentioned in my last post that I gave up sugar for the month of April. Giving up sugar means giving up more than sweets; its giving up foods that contain sugar — and there are lots of them. So far, so good. When I wanted chocolate the other night I blended up cocoa powder with almond milk, ice and a little protein powder (it has stevia but I’m allowing it.)

This brings a certain mindfulness back to eating. It also helps reinforce preparing my own food and relying less on eating out and pre-packaged foods. (Bye bye Amy’s!)

In addition to this I’ve now entered into a bet with Cheryl. She gave me three choices:

  1. Go all month without sugar (but I’m already doing that)
  2. Lose 5 lbs this month (hard to control)
  3. Workout everyday this month (hmm.)

I chose #3: Workout everyday this month. Here’s why I chose it and why I agreed to the bet. (It’s not for the reward at the end.) Oh, but first the terms. Things that don’t count as a workout: walks and stretching. They’re still good (and encouraged) but a workout needs to meet a certain level of intensity. Things that do count include: yoga (but it needs to be a class or a full DVD — just languidly doing yoga poses in my living room does not count), workout dvds, classes, shorter workouts as long as they are intense (like 20 minutes of interval running), walking up the stairs at work (from the bottom to my Floor 22), and other circuit workouts.

I said yes to the bet because it supports my goals and I like challenge. [Also, the thought disappointing someone else makes me unhappy. ] The languid yoga and stretching and simply not working out have been too prevalent lately. If I want to meet my goals I need to keep pushing myself. A big part of that means not skipping or short-changing workouts.

Who knows – I just might reach that #2 Lose 5 lbs after all.

Finding Fast

Running fast is terrifying. I read once that it feels like controlled falling. Falling kind of sucks and I heartily try to avoid it. In the one trail race I did last fall I slow motion tripped on an errant tree root and almost fell face first into the leafy path. It was sort of crazy and exhilarating.

To me running fast has always meant my heart would have to feel like it was about to explode, my lungs would be choking me and I’d need to shriek like a banshee because I’d have to be insane to be able to do it.

After running that first painful mile last January and training for races (and completing them) I started to obsess over my pace. That’s a lie. I was obsessing during training. Why wasn’t I faster? Was it because I’m still overweight? But there are all these stories of overweight people who start running and slim down and run faster than me. Why was my pace on par with the pace of the old guy in Spirit of the Marathon?* I’m only 32; I work out regularly, drink my water and eat healthy.** Shouldn’t I be faster than him?

Consistent weight training has made my legs and core strong. Why isn’t strong translating to fast? And the most terrifying question: is my fitness a lie?

This past weekend my Saturday long run was emotionally awful. I was feeling off, mentally bleh and I was anxious about my ever special digestive bits. It turned out to be a lovely day for a walk. Which is my way of saying, I did a lot of walking and my pace was extra slow. The aftermath of my 8+ mile run the previous Saturday (that would be pain in the gut region***) I let the miles scare me. (10!) I let the time scare me. (at least 2hrs!) Introspection makes me realize it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought physically — I simply didn’t have my mental shit together.

Towards the end, I got so fed up that I just tried going fast.  I leaned forward, and bent my legs and I churned. I tried to run “light” like the guy in Born to Run. Stop clomping and stomping and bobbing up and down, Katie! Oddly enough, I managed to be pretty fast.

That was my last run before last night. I was anxious about the run because of the slow factor so I decided I’d try to recalibrate my Garmin foot pod. With that, I set off in a light run with sprints and walking breaks when I felt like it. My goal was covering enough distance for calibration, screw the rest of it.  After 3 attempts, I think I got it only…the pace seemed so much faster than what I was used to. I felt like I was running stronger and faster, but could I really be running that fast? There was a “used” feeling in my hamstrings that I don’t generally associate with running. My guts felt fine. Did I actually achieve good form and run with a flexible, whole leg? Is my usual form too stiff and short? Garmin Connect, I shake my fist at you! (Hey, ya’ll feel free to be my friend on Garmin. I have none. I’m trmndsblndtte. I over share a lot because no one reads it but me!)

Next Tuesday I’m attending a “good running form” clinic at Garry Gribbles Running Sports (a local running store.) Did I mention it’s free? My friend Tara recently attended and with modifications she’s already shaved an entire minute off her mile time.

Of course, running fast is about more than form and breathing. It’s about consistency and pushing yourself through the hard and uncomfortable. Despite my exuberance and glee about bonding with nature I’m still having trouble getting myself out for those mid-week miles – and they matter.

So tonight I shall put on my running shoes and practice falling.

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*No disrespect. That guy is AWESOME.

**When it’s not Mo’ Sugar March! So much sugar was consumed by me in March. And with it, fat and calories. Guess who probably didn’t lose any fat last month? Hence why it is now No Sugar April.

***A lot of people get the “OMG I’m GOING TO POOP MY PANTS!” feeling. That’s not generally what I get, though I’ve been there. For me, I get a pain that feels like I’ve seared my intestines like a Grade A steak. It can also feel like someone has inflated my intestines and then bound them with a rope and tied off the ends. Ultimately, I think one of my issues is what and how much I eat pre-run. And I’m not just talking about breakfast. Dinner the night before impacts how I feel. I’ve decided to ban beans from my day-before-a- long-run meal strategy. Instead of my beloved Chipotle bol (brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, corn, mild salsa and guacamole!) I am going to try my fabulous quinoa pasta with homemade sauce (lots of sautéed veggies with organic tomato paste, vinegar, basil olive oil, herbs and spices) and parmesan (because CHEESE!)