A Space Princess Walks Into My Head

Part of finding wholehearted wellness is devoting time to things that align with my values, goals and overall life desires. I want to be a published writer. It is the only vision I’ve ever clearly seen for myself when people ask what I would do if I could do anything. I’d write and people would pay to read my writing. And there would be a home office with a wooden desk overlooking lush, old trees.

When I was in high school and college I found a talent for writing personal essays, a skill that translated well to the adaptations of the internet and blogging. I get to write micro-essays. However, I have a heart for fiction. People may consider me patient while I contentedly wait in lines or traffic, but all the while I’m making up stories in my head. Sometimes they are about me — around Oscars time they tend to involve me winning an Oscar and hob-nobbing with my new celeb besties (they are just like everyone else!) and sometimes they are about the people around me.

My problem with fiction, other than sitting down and just writing, has always been plot development. I just don’t know what to do with people sometimes, though I seem to be good at figuring out movie and book plots. Go figure. I decided to work on this challenge by not working on it. Instead, I’m going to focus on writing regularly and creating characters. I figure if I birth interesting people, a story might create itself.

So, good luck to me. I’m starting with a character profile of me. Or maybe a space princess. I guess we’ll see who wants to come alive.

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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.

18 Mile Long Run Mantra

I sit here now freshly shaved and showered with my calves encased in bright pink compression sleeves. Like a girl less than half my age, I’ve just used a sharpie to write on my right arm and my left foot. A poorly scribbled bird with the words “faith, hope, pride” occupy the slim inside of my wrist while only a single word is scrawled on my foot: everyday.

I can most closely compare my emotions of late to a deflated, over-used bouncy ball. It can no longer reach the highs it once did and finds itself more quickly plunging to the ground. I wrote a post yesterday going into great detail about some of the reasons I feel this way, but in the interest of internet attention spans and keeping on topic (maybe someday I’ll be an editor — even if it’s a night school writing class) I will give you the following summary:

  • Working two jobs is emotionally taxing. Not only do I have less free time (I’m an introvert remember) but the reasons behind the need for the second job add their own level of stress: money.
  • Marathon training. I feel like I’m not doing enough. Between feeling terrible and achilles pain (which caused me to back off training) I’ve been worried that I’m not doing enough to prepare my body (and mind) for 26.2 miles of work.
  • Health issues. I haven’t been feeling well. I mentioned mental health, but physically, I’ve been feeling off. Why?
  • My lady bits are out of whack. I’ve had issues in this department for a long time, but this year they’ve been worse. I’ve missed work and it’s impacted my life. My last pap was abnormal and showed atypical glandular cells. This is apparently a pretty rare result and warrants a colposocpy from an OB/GYN (which is not rare). I had that on Tuesday. It also warrants an endometrial biopsy. I was prepared for the colposcopy and the possible cervical biopsy (which they did because there were spots seen), but the endometrial biopsy was a surprise. No need to imagine any of it, it’s not pleasant. What I did not expect was the intense emotion I would feel after the appointment. I’ve spontaneously cried in the ladies room at work, I’ve yelled, enraged, at other drivers and I’ve contemplated every bad thing this could mean.  THANK YOU, INTERNET.  The thing is, if they say “nothing is wrong” why have a felt so terrible month after month? Anyhow, name an emotion (other than the joyous ones) and I’ve likely felt it this week.  And if I even so much as think about “I wish my mom was here to talk to” I start to cry.

Okay, so there is my summary. But that’s not even the real topic of the post. That’s your back story.

Tomorrow, my long run is 18 miles of which 6.2 will be run as part of the Plaza 10k. I’ve been very anxious about this. However, tonight at the ripe hour of 7pm as I was working on my pre-bed night before a long run ritual – expanded race edition — I started singing and dancing. I felt…relief? What I was singing was Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” While not the most mellifluous, my voice gradually opened and soared — like birds (if birds sound like chipmunky frogs.) I kept repeating “don’t worry, about a thing…every little thing is gonna be alright.” Singing is believing.

I shook my booty — unafraid (okay a tiny bit afraid) of pulling a muscle or using too much stored glycogen the night before a big run! But I realized, there isn’t anything else I can do. I can’t make biopsy results appear any faster or change their result, I can’t get out of the run, I can’t change the weather or my body or anything really. But I can control my thoughts and my attitude. I can sing about those three little birds and hope my neighbor doesn’t think I’m drowning in my bathtub.

When I finally got in bed to carry out the official “wind down” I thought, “why not give myself any inky reminder of that kitchen karaoke performance?” Why not draw on myself like a twelve year old. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo on my wrist ever since my mom died last year, so why not test it out? A bird tattoo and/or a meaningful word or phrase is exactly what I had been considering. But I haven’t been able to decide between several words: faith, hope, pride. In the last voicemail my mom left me she said “I’m proud of you every.day. of my life.” It’s stuck with me. I hear her voice without even having to listen to the recording. It’s carried me at times the way knowing she was always there carried me.

Three little birds: faith, hope, pride — everyday, I’m alive.

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!

Those Challenges Sure are Challenging

I sure do like those monthly challenges! So, for June I decided to go completely vegan. I’m already a vegetarian and have basically given up all animal products except dairy and honey (and occasionally eggs.) But after picking up a copy of a book about another vegan ultra runner I decided I should try a full on plant only diet to see what happens. Ultimately, I’m hoping to feel better, look better (my skin has not been a fan of my poor choices aka sweets and cheese) and maybe lose some body fat before I start hardcore marathon training. I felt rough in the last couple miles of the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. I know I have to run some of those same streets in October. Less body fat = faster.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

The other part of this challenge is NO PROCESSED FOODS! I think this is actually going to be the big key to feeling better. I noticed my reliance on processed foods increasing over the last few months and as that happened I felt less awesome and my progress seemed to falter. Additives, sugars and gunk in my food meant gunk in my body.

GOODBYE GUNK! SO LONG JUNK! *awkward hula hoop dance*

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So how did I do with my May challenges and goals?

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. NAILED IT!
  • 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. FAILED THIS ONE SO HARD. 
  • 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. TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THIS ONE AND THEN JUST DECIDED TO SKIP IT.
  • 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. ANOTHER LOSS. I WAS ON FOR A COUPLE WEEKS AND THEN DROPPED OFF. IT DID MAKE ME MORE MINDFUL OF DOING CARDIO AND I DID STILL ADD MORE THAN I WOULD HAVE HAD I NOT COMMITTED TO THE CHALLENGE.

The Darkside

So mainly randomness today.

I’ve spent the last few days feeling very unmotivated and far from my “I want to hug the world” self. This generally happens once a month (ahem) but differs in intensity. This month for whatever reason is one of the more intense months. My irritability is near the surface and my attitude in the pot. I can usually hold back on food cravings during this week unless the emotional side is off kilter. So this week I’ve had gelato, candy, macaroons and accomplished none of my chores!

The only thing that seems to excite me is the anticipation of a new running route. The only time I’ve run through downtown KC was for a race. The streets are closed down and there’s hundreds or thousands of other runners. It feels safer. You don’t have to worry about traffic so much and you can just go. Tonight’s run is a different story. I’m setting out on the streets of downtown Kansas City because they offer a challenging terrain (hills) and a change of pace (ha!) My next two major races also start and end in downtown KC (Hospital Hill Half Marathon and Kansas City Marathon) so I need to get some practice running in the area.

I’ve been feeling pretty negative about my running lately. After my non-stop workout challenge I had some pain in the back of my leg (still feel it in the morning) so I decided to take a week off of running. When I did run again, I felt so slow and off. Flashing back to my training the last few weeks, months whatever, and honestly, I haven’t logged that many running miles. I’ve been doing tons of cross training: yoga, Pilates, personal training, elliptical, spinning. While these are all great for overall fitness and I truly enjoy them, I know that to improve in running and get past some of the blahs, I need to actually RUN.

Anxiety has been playing a part in my performance. As has negative self talk (why are you so slow? so-and-so is better than you.  is that my fat bouncing? gazelle, you are not.) Instead of enjoying the challenge of running, I’ve been indulging in the darkside of running. The doubts. The fears. The lazy. (Okay, I know I’m not “lazy” — but I’m not dedicating myself as much to running.) I dread my long runs. DREAD. Hours of boredom. Alone. Where will I run? Having to drop water. (I might get a belt but as a gal with a sizable midsection, belts are pretty unappealing.)

Anyway, this post is dripping with negativity and I know I need to KNOCK IT OFF. I still enjoy running. I do! I hope switching it up today will be a good step towards getting back into a routine. Hospital Hill is only 2.5 weeks away! And soon after, I need to start my training schedule for my first ever full marathon! I mean wow. I’m still excited and hopeful about that so not all has been tarnished!

P.S. Somehow I was lighter on the scale this week when I totally expected to be the same or heavier (after all that eatin!) Bodies are weird.

P.P.S. I said this stuff to someone today and I really need to take my own medicine:

“At least you got out there. Some day you will look back and realize how far you’ve come. Never feel bad about your stats. They just are. They reflect the workout not you.”

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.

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.