Being Fat and Female in a Gym

When I walked into the gym yesterday morning it was delightfully empty save a few guys and one gal. I was there to lift some weights and then meet up with one of the girls from my small training group to do the stepmill. I don’t know what is about deadlifts that I like, but man, I like them and I was excited to play. The stepmill, well, it makes me feel accomplished.

It didn’t take me too long to notice one of the gym’s trainers working out*. He noticed me too. After my workout, he approached me and introduced himself. Nothing wrong with that. “If you ever want help with exercises or nutrition, I’m a trainer here. Feel free to ask to me any questions. Are you just trying to lose some weight or tone up? You really don’t want to do a lot of that (pointing to the stepmill and meaning cardio.” He was nice and non-aggressive in his tone, but he immediately assumed I was trying to lose weight. Being fat and female in a gym must automatically mean you’re there to lose weight. Or fat. Sure, I wouldn’t be upset to lose some fat, but that’s not my focus anymore. Part of rejecting the fat phobia and diet culture is realizing that there is nothing wrong with being fat. Yeah, guys. That’s right. It’s okay to be fat. It’s okay to love a fat body. What’s not okay is wasting your life hating yourself and your body, not living in some pursuit of the cultural expectation of the ideal woman. (Men of the world, I know you are not excluded from this, but I am a woman so I am writing about women.)

What was really exciting about this encounter, is that I didn’t immediately retreat to a place of shame and self-loathing and “gee, I really do need to lose weight” or “I must have looked dumb working out.” Nope. I say it again. NOPE. I was able to evaluate the situation and take it without emotion. Hey, this guy is still in the mainstream diet world. The world where everyone desires to be thin and thin equals happy and you can’t have happy without thin. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. He was trying to help (and maybe get a new client.) I told him honestly, I was working out to feel good. That’s what exercise is about. It’s a reward for your body. It’s fun. It brings out a primal drive. It makes other parts of day to day life better because it makes your body, heart, and soul happy. And it just feels good.

 


*I work at this gym, though I’m currently taking a summer sabbatical while working on recovery. My gym is pretty great. I’ve met this trainer once or twice while I was working, but it was long enough ago that I probably look different. Also, I wasn’t dressed in my gym uniform (which is seriously the best work uniform ever. It’s a black logo t-shirt with whatever pants I want to wear – yep, yoga pants.) Since I’m talking about my gym, I would be remiss not mention that there are great trainers there. I’ve been lucky to work with one of the best in KC. Yesterday, I even caught myself correcting my wrist position on a lift.


Here are a couple of great blog posts that deal with a similar theme.

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/prescribed-to-fat-people-diagnosed-in-thin-people/

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/tess-holliday-promoting-obesity-and-fat-role-models/

Goal, Intention, Resolution Things for 2015

This year, 2014, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish. It included trying CrossFit (I did it! Loved it until I overdid it and hurt my back [my fault, not CrossFit’s] — more on that later maybe someday.) Here’s my shameless plug for CrossFit 816 in Kansas City.

So for this the next year here are a few things I would like to do:

  • Try a ballet class at the KC Ballet
  • Do more pilates (without creeping out the instructor)
  • Finish studying for my personal training certification and take the test
  • Run another marathon — I have my eye on Chicago or New York
  • Bonus: Run a race every month (Let me know if you want to run one with me!)

That’s the list for now.

Trotsky

Yesterday was my first official “turkey trot.” I usually run or workout on Thanksgiving morning but I’ve never done an organized race before.

Post Turkey Trot 2013
Well, I guess it was worth it since it was a PR. Now I gotta beat that time…and the next one.

This was also my first 5k since last summer. It was COLD. I think that is probably a common theme for a lot of people’s race experience yesterday. Balls. So cold I almost turned around and walked back to my car. “I ran a marathon. I ain’t got nothin to prove to y’all.” Except, I had something to prove to myself and I’m so not a quitter. The only race I’ve failed to attend in the last year and a half/two years was skipped because I was feeling sick to my stomach and running and pukey tummies do not mix.

Anyway, no one needs gory details about how I turn into the crazy lady who can’t handle not slicing through a crowd (I get a little claustrophobic and aggressive at races sometimes.) Once I peed I felt better and got in line to start. This was also my first real cold weather run of the season outdoors and I haven’t  been doing a ton of running since the marathon. I started and I felt good so I pushed and when I looked down at the trusty Garmin I noticed I was on track to be able to run a sub-30 minutes 5k if I could hold my average pace. It would have been kind of a miracle because my fastest recorded time for a race was much slower and while I can run pretty darn fast, I can’t sustain the fast paces.

Sadly, I did feel the effects of the cold and the lack of consistent running and fell just short of my goal. However, I did run my fastest 5k on the books so I can’t be too unhappy [30:54]. A PR is a PR and I now know my goal is totally attainable and smashable.

Katie Leas Thanksgiving 2013
I cleaned up okay after the race. My hair was curled for about an hour before it fell out. OH well.

But let’s not forget, it was THANKSGIVING DAY! And I have SO much for which to be thankful. I got to spend the day at my sister-in-law’s parents house with my stepdad (Bob), my brother and sister-in-law, my dad and stepmom (they drove in from Ohio!), and of course my favorite baby ever to be birthed, my nephew Henry. And I got my own pie. Let us not forgot the important things — like pie.

Grandpa Bruce and Baby Henry Thanksgiving 2013
My dad and baby Henry meeting for the first time!
Baby Henry Leas Thanksgiving 2013
Henry is very happy about flipping me off.

The Finisher’s Tale: I Completed the KC Marathon

KC Marathon "In Training" picture
This is awesome! I’m super-fly!

I need to make it known that I am super lucky. You’ll read some examples below, but I have to call it out before I relay any bit of my marathon recap.  I have an amazing group of family and friends. They waited on cold corners, ran with me on a torn up street and hugged me after I’d been running for over 5 hours.

I was bright and shiny and excited when training started. “I’m training for a marathon! Gummi bears and rainbows and wings sprouting from my feet!”

Before

A strange thing happened about 5 days out from the race: I became slightly absent-minded and try as I might, I found focusing on anything (other than the race) for more than 20 minutes at a time to be quite a challenge.

By Friday when G and I went to the expo and packet pick-up, I was feeling pretty calm. Sure I was indecisive, “Should I get more than one shirt? Should I get the bling?” but overall, I was in  a good mental place. Something was so wrong with me. I am not the type to be in a good mental place. Maybe it was all the carbs?

And then I tried to start my car to leave the expo…and…nothing. My car was dead in the expo parking garage the day before the race. And I was…calm. I’d planned to spend the day on my couch eating carbs and my plans had just changed to fixing a dead car in 30-something rainy weather the day before running a marathon.  [When I say “fixing” please note I did none of the fixing. Bob did all the fixing. I mostly stood around and wondered why I’d never become a responsible car owner who didn’t let her battery become corroded and die at important life moments, thus having to rely on the fact that I have an awesome stepdad who will do unpleasant things to help me — like wandering around in cold rains.]

I’d stashed some carbs in my purse on the way to the expo (duh!) so I wasn’t starving by the time I got home, but I was definitely behind my fueling schedule. After shoveling my face full of more carbs (and pickles!) I got to put my feet up until Bob showed up to trek to the auto parts store. Once the new battery was installed, I made a celebratory dinner of pasta and bland homemade tomato sauce. I was still alarmingly calm. This alarming calmness never dissipated. What the? Who was I?

The Day!

Being that I had to eat ahead of the race, I set my alarm for 3:51 and fell asleep. I woke up a couple times, but I went right back to sleep where I dreamt that I had to run through a parking garage. When I awoke it was 4:24.  How did that happen? Why didn’t my alarm go off? Generally, when one sets an alarm one intends to go off in the morning, it’s helpful to set it for AM and not PM. Regardless of my alarm oops, I still got my toast and coffee and was ready to leave on time.

The day started chilly, only in the upper 30’s. Thankfully, the starting line was near Crown Center and thousands of my closest friends and I got to stay warm while we waited to get the race underway. Also, we got to use real toilets instead of porta-potties. It was an unexpected race day treat to pee in a real toilet after 10’s of my closest friends who may also have used Body Glide in…areas.

The first 2 miles flew by except for the part where I was pooping Shot Bloks from my FlipBelt (don’t try new gear during a race) and before I knew it we were climbing the first real hill: Kessler. I tuned everyone out and just kept up my light, quick, short step turnover and made it to the top feeling good. We had a quarter mile to half a mile of basic flatness before the short, steep Wyandotte hill and I opened up my pace a little bit, but wanted to stay conservative. After taking that hill the same way I’d silently dominated Kessler, I was feeling confident. Bob was right at the turn from Wyandotte to 31st and I got to wave and smile and mean it!

The next few miles were uneventful rolling and pretty gentle. There was a girl who came charging through singing and dancing to Roar and shortly thereafter was “stretching” (posing, she was posing — you don’t wear a flower in your hair for a half marathon or marathon if you don’t want attention), we hit a nice little shady downhill from Westport into the Plaza and my pace picked up naturally. I was feeling really good. I heard my name and Carolyn was soon beside me looking happy and strong. By this time, I was paying attention to the mile split times on my pace band and trying to hit them so I could make my sub-5 hour goal. I just needed to average an 11:27 pace.

And then…Mile 8. The street was torn up and we were running on the ugly, angry underbelly of the road. It was here that I slowed again and decided to KCMarathon_Sarah_Sign_10-19-2013hit the next porta potty. Guys, I never pick the right check out lines or porta potty lines. When I got out, the 5:00 group that I’d been well ahead of passed by. It was much harder to keep running consistently after this stop and I spent the rest of the race alternating between running and KCMarathon_TammiSarah_10-19-2013walking. The thing is, walking hurt as much if not more than running by Mile 18.  My lungs and heart were not exploding. It was truly a mind game and I wasn’t doing so great. Somewhere in the midst of slogging though my run/walk in Brookside Sarah and Tammi were waiting with signs and cheers. A very good pick-me-up that kept me going.

By the time I rounded the corner back toward the Mile 20 marker I realized we were going to have to run on that rough patch again. It hurt more the second time but a friendly face – Cheryl- was waiting to run a bit with me. She was in one of the worst parts of the course (and I’m pretty sure she had a cold); not only was the road destroyed and desolate, but she parked on Troost. You may know Troost as the “just keep driving street” from the cute KC YouTube video. We parted ways and I turned into the neighborhood west of Troost. I kept moving with my walk-waddle-run through Gilliham and passed our family’s first Kansas City apartment. And then the 5:30 pace group passed me and I wanted to cry a little, but mostly, I wanted to finish. The last 4 miles were where I started to get myself straight again. Enough walking, I needed to finish this thing. I have NO idea what pace I was running through the last few miles, but I only allowed myself to walk through the water stops.

Just as I saw the blessed next to last turn from Paseo to 18th Street, I also saw familiar faces. My cheering squad had traveled! Strve even joined me for a few strides. It was just the boost I KCMarathon_RunningBuddy_10-19-2013needed to get through the last mile and change. From there, I was able to tick off street names and each block was one closer to the 26 mile flag and the finish line. The last .1 of that race was the longest .1 I’ve ever experienced. It was uphill into a headwind and it after 26.1 miles of feeling all the emotions. As I sprinted to the finish line (who knows what pace my sprint was at this point — I would know if my data would actually finally transfer from my Garmin) I saw G, Carrie, and Andy who’d already completed their races and then I saw my Aunt Jean and Uncle Mike and sister-in-law Beth with Baby Henry, Bob and my brother, Brian. I raised my hands in the air, screamed something and ran across that finish line in search of water and that damn medal. Then I hugged people and ate an apple.

KCMarathon_Finish_10-19-2013
5:41:23 ROAR! (Also, you can see my Aunt Jean and Uncle Mike on the right in their Mizzou gear)

Beyond…

I want to do another marathon. I am not a one-hit wonder kind of girl. First up, using the rest of the year to work on slimming down more and building a faster base.

My Secret Training Goal

Experts always seem to recommend having more than one goal when you start training for a race. That way, you aren’t totally and utterly crushed with crippling depression if you don’t meet your goal.

For me, my primary goal with my upcoming race is to finish. It’s my first marathon and even though I’ve done 4 half-marathons that doesn’t mean I know anything about surviving the twenty-six point two. Experts also say that it is okay to have a very loose time goal and that you need to be realistic. There are calculators and charts (so many charts!) that try to help you determine what is realistic for you given recent race finish times.

So, yes, my main goal is to finish, but I want to do so in under 5 hours and somewhere around 4:45:59. According to all those charts and calculators THIS IS NOT A REALISTIC GOAL. However, I am following the Run Less, Run Faster training plan. The training paces I’ve been using as part of that plan have not made me feel like I was dying. On the contrary, they have made me feel more alive and connected to running. More flying, more exhilaration, more YES, this is why I’m doing this. Instead of struggling with faster paces, I’m enjoying them*; however, I’m now finding it more challenging to run at long run pace and to actually you know, do my long runs. Some of this has nothing to do with running. It’s just current life circumstance shtuff.

These are not newly publicized goals. In addition to the goals I’ve already mentioned in previous posts, I have a super secret goal. My super secret goal that I’ve never said out loud or told anyone:  I want to get my 5k PR under 30 minutes (a 9:40 average pace.) For some that’s a piece of cake. But you have to remember, as a somewhat new runner who is only recently no longer listed as obese (being overweight never felt so great!) it’s no small feat. But I believe I can do it. I believe in myself. Partly because my training paces are putting me in the zone.

*Ask me how I feel about the faster paces after tonight’s track workout — 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 (200 RI)

In Full Swing

RACE ELEVATION. Hospital Hill Half Marathon. Main goal: Don't die. Secondary goal: Finish.
RACE ELEVATION. Hospital Hill Half Marathon. Main goal: Don’t die. Secondary goal: Finish.

So, a little over two weeks ago I ran the Hospital Hill Half Marathon and PR’d. Woo! It was one of my favorite races so far and even though I’d previously feared I was ill-prepared, I glided through the first half of the race joyously. Pain for me came around Mile 10 and I had to drop back a bit, but I was able to gather up the hutzpah to charge through that last half mile well under my pace and pull out the PR. This is a tough course for a PR.

Here I am rounding JC Nichols (fountain in the background) and pretttty ready for that water stop just up the way about 200 yards. [I'm the one on the far left jazz handsing it up and looking really happy for someone who has to get up another 1 mile hill.) Also, pictured: Nice girl I kept accidently bumping into because I was looking around and Brian, one of our awesome pacers. As we were running up one of the earlier hills we learned that he'd finished his first ultramarathon -- I later found out it was the Western States. Woahza.
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Here I am rounding JC Nichols (fountain in the background) and pretttty ready for that water stop just up the way about 200 yards. [I’m the one on the far left jazz handsing it up and looking really happy for someone who has to get up another 1 mile hill.) Also, pictured: Nice girl I kept accidentally bumping into because I was looking around and Brian, one of our awesome pacers. As we were running up one of the earlier hills we learned that he’d finished his first ultra marathon — I later found out it was the Western States. Woahza.

Now, I am in full marathon training mode. MY FIRST MARATHON. Instead of feeling insecure, I’m just really excited. I can’t wait for October 19th!  To make it even better, several people I know are doing the half, including my good friend Gen. Maybe I’m enjoying this training more because I have some confidence built up but I think it has more to do with the fact that I found out how nice it can be to run with someone. An hour goes by much faster, it’s easier to push a longer distance and helps get me out there in my shoes. Once I get into the long, long runs, we’ll check back in on my level of excitement.

I’ve been following the Level 1 training plan that the local running group’s coach built for the KC Marathon. It works well with my training schedule with Cheryl as the days I train with her are actually marked as cross training days. I’ve also reviewed a number of other plans and I will likely adjust mine a tad to accommodate. In particular, I plan to read up on the Run Less Run Faster plan. It appeals to me because I do have trouble with pacing and not running hard.

Because it’s my first marathon, I know the main goal is just to finish and setting a hard time goal might be foolish; however, I am really hoping to finish in under 5 hours and somewhere around the 4:45:00 mark. Faster than that will be the work of the Universe and might just sell me on plant based training forever. (Oh yeah, I’m currently in my vegan challenge — don’t forget it! I am adjusting and I might stick with it past the month of June.) One of my training challenges has been lack of knowing what paces to use. When the workout would say “5k pace” I’d just try to run hard. Thankfully, Runner’s World has a handy little pace calculator that gives you training paces based on your projected distance and time. I will be using this to help me train. I’ve run faster than the paces generated for me, and I’ve been able to maintain all of the listed paces so I should be able to do this.

My training paces based on the Runner's World calculator.
My training paces based on the Runner’s World calculator.

One of the pace hurdles might be the weather. Summer training. In the Midwest. Yesterday, it was sunny, humid and just under 80 degrees. It felt at least 10 degrees hotter. I still got a good pace going by the end of my run and I know if I’m diligent with hydration, cooling (I am not above dousing myself with water to cool down) and giving my body some time to acclimate to the weather, I’ll be just fine.

Fun fact: my old high school chemistry teacher, Mrs Haley, is one of the testimonials on the Kansas City Marathon website!

I am a Winner

I officially hit 31 days of working out IN A ROW on Friday, May 3rd. Saturday I was on my feet a lot hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law (BABYHENRYBABYHENRYBABYHENRY! Come out come out and play!) but I really took yesterday off.

Completion of those 31 days also means I won The Bet! Hello, I was so not in the mood to fail. There were a few days I’m sure I wouldn’t have worked out if not for the bet, and I’m better for having pushed myself and gotten myself back on track. In addition, I also finished my no sugar April, though a bit less successfully as I had sugar the weekend of Rock the Parkway. I also apparently learned nothing from the no sugar challenge because I ate sugary things all weekend (not in obscene amounts or anything, but definitely not a good level for me.)

Oh well. I lost a bit of weight and my clothes are definitely looser and I felt fitness gains in my running and with pilates and yoga — so April was a good month for me.

As I was nearing the end of the month, I decided I needed to do another challenge for May. You see, I love peanut butter. So creamy! So salty! So satisfying in oatmeal, on bananas, on apples, off a spoon, straight out of the jar! And the problem is I was enjoying too many of those experiences each day. I wasn’t eating sugar, but sure was eating extra peanut butter. Sigh.

So, with this self-knowledge, I knew what I needed to do for May: reduce my reliance on peanut butter. But, I can’t have just one thing! I must be obsessive!  I give you my list of May challenges and goals:

  • Reduce my reliance on peanut butter. This means limit myself to one serving per day, at most. I ended up running out of peanut butter a few days before the end of the month so I made my own nut butter (which ended up really being nut paste.) So far, I’ve only used it a few times in my oatmeal and never more than 1 tablespoon at a time. It’s a proprietary blend of plain old peanuts, almonds and a teaspoon/tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • Because I obviously didn’t change my habits, continue with my sugar challenge. This time, I’m not going 100% no sugar, but I’m putting boundaries on my “treat” consumption. No more than one treat per week. I’m also still going to avoid foods with added sugar (except for an occasional Chobani because those are delicious or protein bar.) I generally feel gross if I eat foods that are packaged or processed and oh, I’m in major budget mode, so I need to limit my food spending and processed foods are spendy.
  • Decided yesterday: I’m going to do a plank a day. I think I should work on building up the time. I had to do 3 this morning as part of my workout and I should have asked how long the holds were. Probably a minute. When I started they were 15 seconds. I know I can hold longer than a minute, but I should set a numeric goal to hit by the end of a month.
  • And the funnest of the fun, a group challenge! Cheryl and Jason decided to do 45 minutes of cardio 6 days per week for 4 weeks and if I succeed at this also, I get a free session! Most of my workouts in April were at least an hour, so I have a good base.

Since it’s already May 6th I’m going to keep this challenging going right up to the day before Baby Henry’s due date*: June 6th.

*June 7th — MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

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.

Like a Hurricane

 

*Important Disclaimer: Use of this title in no way serves to imply that hurricanes are anything less than life-changing, severe storms. It is only my lame attempt to profit from the popular song “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”*

HERE I AM! Sitting at my desk at lunch chair-dancing to the Scorpions. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE. HERE I AM.

“Katie,” you may be asking, “why are you rocking?”

Well, You, I am in training for a race. Proper training in running is important. It not only prepares you physically and mentally for race day, but it can determine how you feel before and after the actual race. For those you who don’t know, I ran my first mile last January (2012.) It hurt so much but I was so proud.  After that mile I decided to run a few 5Ks. After that second 5k I knew I wanted to run a half marathon. I ended up running two.

After all that running, I took some time off and focused on cross training and what I would call “playing” at the gym. Essehospitalhillrun-logo-2013ntially, I just did what I wanted to with no real goal other than to get a good workout and enjoy myself. I tried spinning for the first time, I revisited an old favorite class, I varied my cardio and started working out with a buddy on the weekends. Essentially, I loosened the reigns and it felt goood. But after a while, something was missing. I needed to run again.

There were two major races in 2013 for which I really wanted to register. I already wrote about the Chicago Marathon (I’m a 26.2 virgin!) but the other one is a nice half marathon at home in Kansas City called Rock the Parkway. Sadly, I couldn’t afford the registration before it sold out so I resigned myself to missing out and signing up early for 2014 before all my money was eaten up by end of year and beginning of year expenses. I ended up registering for another great Kansas City race (one that actually got a nod in Runner’s World) for June and started training.  Hospital Hill Half Marathon is one of the toughest races in KC. It was also on my list to complete so I could proudly wear my gear reading “I conquered the hill.” [I need to find a way to be an elitist. To prove that I am a real runner who runs real things.I might not run it fast, but I’m going to beat those hills.]

So far, the training has been going well. I feel good and I’m enjoying my runs. I’m looking forward to Hospital Hill in June — bonus, my uncle is also running the half marathon! While I’ve been excited, part of me was still sad that I wasn’t going to get to “Rock the Parkway”. I’ve run bits of the course during training runs and they’ve been some of my favorite. I’ve felt light, strong and grounded. Truly connected.

I take you to Wednesday, March 20, 2013. It’s late afternoon and after struggling to stay awake I finally gave in and drank some coffee. [I am pretty strict about drinking caffeine after lunch –no bueno and if I drink it, it’s usually tea. I’m not a huge hot tea fan** (though I keep trying.)] As my mind starts to revive and my limbs feel less corpse-like, my phone vibrates. Someone is selling her Rock the Parkway registration, do I want it? My immediate reaction was “HELL YES!” In fact, I would have responded in the affirmative much quicker had my brain not done the quick, “will I be ready? how will this impact my training for Hospital Hill?” Once I remembered that I’m fit, have run distance and am not out for a PR I pounced. I’ve been in a happy running place ever since. Who knew that getting to run one race could make me so happy?

rtp-logo

Now I’m in dual training. I’m adjusting my long run schedule a bit to account for the addition of Rock the Parkway and I’m firmly committed to devoting a good portion of time to working on my “rocking.” So far today, I’ve sung  “Rock the Casbah” as “Rock the Parkway” and of course, there is the “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” I might have to make a “rock” song themed playlist.

Here I am after last night's training run. It was about 28 degrees and snowing lightly. So rock 'n' roll. Isn't my closet messy! Also, say hi to my cat (Baby) Oliver. "Hi Ollie!!!!" (he's a really good cat.)
Here I am after last night’s training run. It was about 28 degrees and snowing lightly. So rock ‘n’ roll. Especially the interior pocket full of Kleenex. My closet IS messy and that mirror IS dirty (hairspray maybe.) Also, say hi to my cat (Baby) Oliver. “Hi Ollie!!!!” (he’s a really good cat.)

This race is all about FUN for me. Joy. The goodness of running and loving the city in which I run. The course starts at the south end of the street near a major shopping center and winds down one of the loveliest residential (suburban-urban) areas in Kansas City. You run past well manicured lawns, beautiful Tudor and Colonial style houses and finally, you loop around one of the most well-known parks in the city — Loose Park (a few pictures below.) All the while the median is like one long park with quintessential Kansas City fountains peppered throughout.

The race is in mid-April so I’m hoping the weather is going to cooperate and it will be green and pretty. We’re preparing for another snowstorm this weekend, but this IS the Midwest where one minute it’s snowing and the next it’s 75 degrees so it could be a whole new KC in a few weeks. Regardless, it’s going to be great!

Let’s rock!

 

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**Side note: I adore iced tea. I’m a sun-tea makin gal. I think it came from the time we lived in the South (Alabama and Georgia). I’m guessing that’s where my mom picked it up. If I’m wrong I don’t really want to know.

I’m also practicing eating while rocking; however, I doubt I’ll be ingesting salad while on a long run any time soon.

The Lottery

I entered the Chicago Marathon lottery. They regretted to inform me that I was not selected. The morning of the lottery announcement this happened:

Now I must decide how badly I want to run this race. I can still gain entry through a charity. I just have to raise a certain amount of money and they not only get me a registration, but they will pay for my entry fee.

Last year, I chose Chicago for three reasons:

  1. It’s consistently ranked as a great course for first time marathoners.
  2. I saw a glowing review for the 2012 event on Fiterature.
  3. It’s in my mom’s hometown (with “her people.”) [This likely means crying because I am a baby.]

Oh yeah, I actually decided I was going to run a marathon while I was training for my first half. Being consumed by running and surrounded by people who were running them and training for them, it just hit me that I wanted to do that. I was reading books about running, I was running, I was talking about running, I was writing about running. (I was punctuating badly.) Running a marathon is also like the ultimate way to say “F’ YOU! I’m not the obese girl lacking confidence and afraid to try anymore. [I’M NOT JOSIE GROSSIE ANYMORE!]  F YOU FEAR.

After I entered the lottery, I really thought I was going to get in. I just had a feeling that it was supposed to happen. Now I’m a little less certain. Watching Spirit of the Marathon certainly inspired me as I cheered on the regular guys and the elites alike. That could be me.

Here’s my dilemma:  I am a terrible fundraiser. Remember those candy selling fundraisers? I ate the candy. I ATE IT ALL.

What do you think? Can I raise $925 for Girls on the Run? Can I run a marathon?