It was two years ago today that I first dressed up as a member of the Silver Snakes from Legends of the Hidden Temple. My friends took a bunch of pictures before we went out. It was seeing that picture that sent me to join Weight Watchers two days later (November 2, 2009).
This year. Being slightly more content in my skin than back then. I opted to dress up in the same costume for this Halloween…
But, there was a big difference. When I ordered the t-shirt in 2009, I needed a men’s XL. This year, I bought a men’s M.
THAT is something to be proud of. I may look at the picture below and all I see is where I need to continue to improve … but I am forcing myself with this picture to admit how far I have come. There has been legit blood, sweat and tears to get rid of over 50 lbs of faaaatttt!!
For this moment, I am not going to look at where I need to go, but rather where I have come…
This concept crossed my mind during my Spin class on Saturday: Am I allowed to call myself an athlete or am I merely posing as one?
I consider myself an athlete, but when I read other people’s blogs/tweets/Facebook posts about their workouts I feel like a complete poser. I can’t do a pull-up to save my life. I cannot do 100 pushups. I cannot lift my own body weight.
I always wonder if people read my blog posts/tweets/Facebook posts and think, “Wow! She could’ve done a lot more today.” “She only went to a 50 min Spin class. She should’ve stayed for another.”
I go to the gym and do what I like to do. Spin classes. Dates with Ms. Stairmaster. Hit up a Zumba class. Attempt to lift what I can.
Side Note: Any sort of upper body workouts frighten me because I hate going down to the free weights level of the gym. I am completely self conscious about how little I can lift due to a past car accident that left my left shoulder pretty weak. I always think people are staring at me. I know I know. They aren’t but still. I feel like Sunny from the Biggest Loser episode a couple weeks back.
When I was at the Lululemon store buying some more workout clothes, I wondered if the people in the store thought I was worthy to be buying the clothes. If they thought I worked out enough to wear their brand.
I know. Most of this is in my head. I shouldn’t compare myself to others. I am doing the best that I can right now. I am pushing myself as far as I can especially as my back still heals from the surgery in January. I need to remember that everyone is on their own fitness/weight loss journey.
Basically … it comes down to the fat girl mentality that I can’t shake. That feeling of not being comfortable in my own skin. I guess the more I confront it – the more it will start to fade away.
Cause you know what I can do? I can run 13.1 miles and survive. I can hold a plank for 110 seconds, where in August it was just 60 seconds. I can rock a Spin class, where as a few months ago I was too embarassed to even step foot into a Spin studio. I can attend a Zumba class and not die of embarassment when I catch my reflection in the mirror. I can … do whatever I put my mind to.
Do you consider me an athlete or a poser? I consider myself … me!
Unfortunately for this post, you will not see me running in a fun Halloween costume! I decided that none of the ideas I had would be conducive to running…
The weather here in Chicago has definitely turned. It isn’t as bad as back home in Boston with the snow, but it was chilly. I am going to have to switch to my new winter running clothes before I know it.
I hadn’t run this race before, but it started in the same place as most of the races I have run here in Chicago … Montrose Harbor. As I have written before, this is a great place to start with an open area for the pre/post race party and there are tons of trails to choose from that each race ends up being different.
I was battling some left ankle pain this week, but was determined to not let it hold me back. I also didn’t want to use it as an excuse if I didn’t PR. I wasn’t sure what to think going into today’s run after how well I did in last week’s 5k. I just had to keep telling myself that you don’t have to PR every time out.
The run kicked off and I felt waaay better than last week’s race. I got to the first mile mark around 8:16, which was slower than last week so I got a little nervous. But, then I thought, well maybe I will pace myself better this way.
I still had absolutely HORRIBLE music stuck on my iPhone ever since I did the update to iCloud and it messed with my records. That was a total downer, but I pushed through.
Mile Two was along the water and entirely INTO the wind. I felt like I was running in place the entire time. I found a girl who was running about the same pace I was and just stuck right behind her. Also, she had the Lululemon winter running jacket I want so I passed time checking out how it looked/flowed while she ran.
I felt good and strong while going into Mile Three. I was back on my normal bike path by this point so I knew exactly where we would be going and at what point I would really need to kick it into another gear to get to the Finish.
As I rounded past the Mile Three marker, my Runkeeper chirped off that I was at 25 minutes passed. I could see the finish and I just took off. I was so close to passing the 25:36 from last week. I crossed the Finish and they read off my name (nice addition race organizers).
I hit my Runkeeper and it said 3.12 miles at 25:40. I realized last week my pace was 8:15 and this week it had said unofficially 8:14. I knew inside I had a PR, but I didn’t want to get my hopes too far up!
I grabbed a water, bagel and banana and headed to the Finish to watch my wife cross! She rocked it and crossed just after 34 minutes.
I had some lingering pain in my right thigh, but so far it seems to have passed.
I am much happier with the course this week than during last week’s Homecoming 5k. There weren’t really any potholes and there were plenty of volunteers along the course helping direct runners if needed (which helped during the 5k and 10k split).
The results finally posted and the official word is … a new shiny purdy PR of 25:34. You got it: a new PR by 2 whole seconds. I will freakin’ take it. I am so proud of myself. I cannot believe in the last month I have cut off over 2 minutes from my previous PR. Who am I?
Overall, I finished 74th out of 508 (Say whhaaa??) and fourth in my division of 38 (Who woulda thought)!
I realized after the run that I will be running my third 5k in three weeks next Saturday – Hot Chocolate 5k. This is one of my favorite runs and actually the first 5k I ever ran in Chicago (November 2010). It is kind of like this part of my running journey is going full circle and I can’t wait to see how I do. I am excited they are changing the course, but are keeping the super yummy post-run chocolate fondue! Yummy!!
I never wrote about last Friday’s run because it turned into a busy day at work, but El and I knocked out a good 6.5 miles last week. I really wasn’t feeling it. For some reason my ankle was super sore, but we stuck with it and finished what we started. We originally wanted to knock out 7.5, but with a 5k on Sunday we decided to scale it back a little so our legs wouldn’t be too tired for the run. Must’ve been a good call since I PRed in that 5k by almost two minutes.
Due to work stuff, I had to move this week’s run from Friday to Thursday morning. I think the running gods were mad at me for doing that and turned on the rain in protest. It started as just a light drizzle when El and I met at 6am to head to the Lakefront and was a full on downpour by the time we ended.
When I saw the rain, I made a decision to run whatever distance I could muster. I had thought of running 7.5 miles, but the rain squashed that number. So instead, I went into the run with no set goal, but to rather survive.
El and I kicked off the run at our usual spot along the Lakefront and the rain picked up as well. We were running our normal path north, which was directly into the rain. That was uncool rain uncool. It was getting into our eyes and more importantly our contacts. Not the best running conditions. While wiping rain from our faces, we decided to run 2.5 miles north and then turn around and run the 2.5 miles back for a total of 5 miles. A perfectly respectable distance.
Despite the rain, the run was 10 times better than last week’s long run. I felt good, in control and pain-free in my ankle/leg. I finished 5.01 miles in 49:55, which thankfully came in just under 10 min/mile.
Overall, the run was comfortable. I didn’t listen to my music at all. I actually didn’t even have my headphones in my ears. I really just let my feet hit the pavement and chat with El as we went. As always, I felt better physically and mentally when we finished. Nothing like some free therapy from a friend.
The official Half Marathon training begins next week as that marks 12 weeks until the F^3 Half on January 28.
Remember, I am running the race for the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Foundation. I am still accepting donations here!
I feel like I haven’t blogged in ages. I have been so swamped with life. But, here I am. Back at it. What better way to kick it off than with a new shiny Personal Record.
So yesterday I ran the inaugural Homecoming 5k. I didn’t know it was the first until the starting line, but let me start from the beginning.
My wife was out of town for the weekend so I was home alone with the pups. Let me tell you that I am a scaredy cat. I don’t sleep well when home alone. You can now gather that I didn’t get much sleep before the race. I got about four hours of sleep on Friday and five on Saturday. So I felt sluggish when I got up on Sunday.
Also, this was the first 9:30am start time I have had so I felt a little off when I woke up, hung out and then ran. Usually the plan is to just wake up and run.
El and I got to the race about an hour before – the usual. There weren’t that many people there, which seemed odd. Usually a place like that is swarming pre-race, but then again I had no idea how many people were signed up for the race.
Met up with some other lovely ladies running the race and just hung/stretched, listened to the marching bands and watched the cheerleaders do their thang.
If you haven’t gathered, they were there to feed in to the whole “Homecoming” theme. There weren’t many sponsor tents there, which also should’ve tipped me off that this was a newer run.
It was time to line up. Now I have progressively gotten faster over the course of this year, but I still never know where to line up unless it is clearly marked. So, we decided to scoot closer to the front. This made me a tad nervous/anxious since I HATE being passed.
They had what I think was a taped version of God BlessAmericaand then a couple speeches, which is when I learned this was the first Homecoming 5k.
Finally, it was time to actually start. Most of the races I do inChicagostart in the same area –MontroseHarbor– but pretty much all of them work different routes so it isn’t always the same 3.1 miles. I was interested to see where they were going to take us.
I finally started and straight out of the gate felt weird. I just felt like I was going slow even though as I creeped to the Mile One marker the timer said 8 minutes. Wha? I have never run something around an eight minute mile before. For a second, I thought their timers had to be off, but I looked down at my Runkeeper and it confirmed it. Wow! It was as if my body was doing one thing and my brain was somewhere else.
It was just after Mile One that El started slipping back a little way and I knew I was on my own for the rest of the run. Well, I started out strong and I knew I had to keep it going otherwise hundreds of people were going to start flooding past me and I wasn’t about to let that happen.
As I neared Mile Two, the lead runners started passing me in the other direction. Apparently the course was to run about 1.5 miles and turn back on the same path. It was annoying, yet motivating to see the speedy people fly by.
I hit Mile Two and felt like I was slowing. I think my average speed at Mile One was 8:01 and Mile Two was 8:08 so I knew I wasn’t going to hold the same pace the whole way.
What I decided to do for Mile Three was to find a runner in front of me and just lock in on them. I found a girl in a blue top and just made sure I didn’t fall more than 3 feet behind her. This technique got me through the Half Marathon, I figured it would work for 1.1 more miles.
It may have been the smartest thing I did. Once I had the focus point, I was able to take in more of my surroundings.
Funny thing was I ended up finishing before the girl in the blue top.
My previous best was 27:10. I finished the Homecoming 5k in 25:36. Sayy whhaaa?? Who is this person, right?
I was beyond proud of myself. I pushed before my comfort zone and I survived. I proved that I am stronger than I give myself credit. I “stood up and finished what I started.” (Thanks for that Bob!)
I crossed the finish line and immediately grabbed water, half a bagel, half a banana and waited for the rest of the crew to finish.
Overall, the race was tough. I just wasn’t completely in it, but I dominated it!
Here are some thoughts for the Homecoming 5k organizers:
* Maybe bump the start time up by 30 minutes or so.
* Shorter pre-race speeches, if any.
* Different course. The one used had dozens of potholes to run around.
* Have two hydration stations rather than one.
* Offer more post-run food options.
* Also, don’t cut the bananas in half – they are harder to peel.
* Less money on the “alumni” tents that didn’t look like they were really used and instead either add more to the race schwag bag or give out medals.
But overall, it was a great run race for the first one! And either way, I am darn proud of myself for the numbers I put up and would run this race again next year… Go Tufts!
Last night, it was downpouring. I really had ZERO desire to run in the rain and really hoped it would be gone by this morning. Thank goodness it was.
Yes, I know I need to run in all the elements, but I just didn’t have the desire today!
El and I met at 6am in front of my house (so convenient having your running partner live 3 doors down) and walked down to the Lake. It was a cool morning, but perfect Fall running conditions.
This was a different sort of run. We got into a good chat about life and I didn’t really listen to my music or the Runkeeper updates at all. I really got into to the rhythm of the conversation and let the counting slip away for once.
We know the trail well since we run it often, but that made the run even better. We didn’t have to worry about veering off the course or going too far North – we had that part down. We could really just let our feet hit the pavement, while we enjoyed the morning.
I didn’t really tune back into the mileage count until we neared our original starting point. We both got our Runkeepers out, figured out who had the shorter distance (since we are somehow always off each other by .03-.06 mi) and kept running until both of us passed the 7 mile mark.
We kicked butt (especially since El has never run that distance before)!! Last week we ran 6.5 miles in 1:06.20 (10:12 min/mil) and today we finished 7 miles in 1:10.00 (9:53 min/mil). How awesome are we! :) We ran under, I repeat under, a 10:00 min/mile. Saaayyy wwhhaaa??
It felt so great to just get up this morning and knock out a 7 mile run without blinking an eye. If you told me back in 2005 that I would ever write that, I would’ve had you sent to a mental hospital … ASAP.
Now, I have about 3 months before my Half Marathon, which is plenty of time to train. So I think for now, I will be making Friday morning my long run day and just add 0.5 mile each week. Just see how that goes for awhile and take it from there. Most official Half Marathon training schedules have you start 12 weeks before the run. So, at any time, I can pick that back up.
But for now, I feel good. I am ready to tackle some Fall/Winter running!
Yesterday, I posted a picture of my butterfly tattoo. I love that tattoo. But, for me – after posting that picture, I just wondered if anyone noticed. If anyone noticed, the lines above the tattoo. If the naked eye, unlike mine, would notice the remnants of cuts. Whenever I look at my wrist, my eyes immediately go to my vein. The vein that is left with multiple scars from … cutting.
It isn’t something I am proud of. But, it is a time in my life I need to recognize. It helped shape me into the person I am today.
As I have written before, 2006 was a really tough year for me – physically and mentally. While dealing with those issues and low self esteem, I didn’t handle the stress very well. When upset with myself, I would lock myself in my room and escape through cutting.
For some reason, the act of cutting my wrists allowed me to release from the surroundings and the pain. I was able to release the guilt I felt over myself one motion at a time. With razor blade in hand, I would think of something I did wrong that day – ate too much, messed up on something at work, got in a fight with a friend – and I would cut for each bad thought. That was my punishment. Seeing the blood drip down my wrist was gratifying. I could go through these motions for however long at night – 15-30 minutes – whatever it took and be able to go to bed with a clear head.
Now the problem comes in trying to hide an activity like this. It obviously isn’t something you go around sharing with the world. So I would buy bracelets – lots and lots of bracelets. They were perfect. They covered my wrists and no one was the wiser. Down the road as the cuts got bigger, I would wear long sleeved shirts at all times or wear sweat bands.
This isn’t normal. This isn’t a healthy way to react/handle disappointment in myself. Thankfully after about six months, my friends sat me down, told me they knew and wanted to help. At this point, I was caught. There was no sneaking around it. I attempted to get into therapy, but the therapists I met with just didn’t get me. Also, I wasn’t a person that talked about my feelings (still hard for me to do that) so therapy wasn’t really for me.
I just really had to work on other ways to let out frustration and how to handle disappointment in myself.
These days I have a much better handle on it. I am still a person working on negative thoughts towards myself, which I have mentioned a lot. But, now I try to take a walk, talk to my wife, hit the gym or head out for a run. It is still a struggle. Do I have urges, for sure! But, for now, I take it one struggle at a time.
There are better options than cutting.
A couple years ago, I got the following tattoo.
It says “Ancora Imparo,” which means “I am still learning” in Italian. I put this on my wrist as a reminder. I am still learning about myself and how to overcome addictions, like cutting.
So if you are experiencing something similar to this, please reach out. There is no reason to go through this type of pain alone.
Well, as you all know, I did not run the Chicago Marathon this weekend. I am going to run one in 2012, but that plan is still in the works.
But, I digress … my friend Piper did in fact run the Chicago Marathon and I asked her to put some of her thoughts down in the first guest blog here on Weight Off My Shoulders!
So Piper, thank you for being the first. To you all, please enjoy…
Bucket List Sunday
First off, you will have to excuse me…this is my first blog entry. Well heck, I guess it was my first marathon too so this has been quite a weekend!
When I was about 21, I made the statement that before I turned 30, I would run a marathon. Most likely this statement was made after a couple of vodka lemonades…but alas, it was said out loud…therefore it NEEDED to be completed. I have always been a procrastinator…my 30th birthday is in about 3 months. Oops.
Training officially began in May, and at first it started off great. I was super excited and dedicated and the runs were shorter and didn’t take much time. As training progressed, it got harder and harder to actually set aside 2-3 hours to go on a long run especially while working on the weekends. So overall, if I were to describe my training in one word, it would be ‘inconsistent.’ Sometimes great, and sometimes not. Overall I felt about three weeks behind prior to race day. But, crazily enough, the race committee didn’t agree to my request of moving race day back by three weeks. Bastards.
The alarm went off at 4am on Sunday October 9th. I had been in and out of sleep all night so it was a bit of a relief when I finally needed to get up. I am not a morning eater so forcing a banana and a peanut butter toast down my throat wasn’t all that easy, but I knew I needed it. We drove down to Grant Park and walked around in the dark. Have you ever tried to use a Porta Potty in the pitch black? It isn’t easy, trust me. We still had about an hour and a half to kill before the start, so we did everything we could to keep ourselves busy. Drank Gatorade, used the Porta Potty, watched the sunrise, used the Porta Potty…you get the point.
Start time was 7:30am. Caroline and I crossed the start line about 28 minutes later. And we were off! The first four miles, Caroline and I ran at about a 12 minute pace. The goal was to keep that pace…and we did…for the first 8 miles that is. At mile 8 we picked up Big Jim, a friend of mine from work. He proceeded to run miles 8-14 with us and was a HUGE help. That was probably the slowest he has ever run and I felt a little bit bad about that, but it was a big help to have him there. Another friend, around mile 10 met us and handed up a banana. It was a lifesaver. Everything was going great…until mile 16. That was my wall. It was that point that the thought of ten more miles was almost incomprehendable. The knees started to hurt and the feet were just throbbing. I started to get a little emotional…and who is the only person that can make you feel better when you are in that much pain? Your Mom. And there she was, standing at mile 18 with Advil and another banana. It was all I needed to kick it up again.
My lovely sister ran with us from miles 20-22.
My step-dad ran with us from miles 22-25.
Family really is the best, isn’t it?
And at mile 25, the tears started flowing. The people. The music. The cheering…it all got to me. The last mile, we took it all in. And there was NO better feeling than making that left turn fromRooseveltontoColumbus Driveand seeing that bright red finish line. Caroline was laughing. I was bawling. I have watched at that finish line the last five years or so. And I cry, ever year. And ever year, I love the people that throw their arms in the arm to get the crowd cheering. I have dreamt of that moment. And now it was my turn. I jumped in the air (maybe a few centimeters) raised my arms, and the crowd yelled…this time for me.
Caroline and I crossed the finish line. Holding hands. One of us laughing, and the other sobbing like a little baby. It was just like I had pictured it in my head for years. It was everything I wanted and more.
The shirt that I wore just said “Bucket List 10.9.11 on it. As we walked to get our medals after crossing the finish line, one of the volunteers yelled “You can cross this off your bucket list!” I walked right over to her. And thanked her as she put the medal around my neck. I understand now why people do this. There is no better feeling than that medal hanging from your neck.
I got to thinking later on Sunday…I wish every day was Marathon Day. It brings out the best in people. Thousands of strangers, yelling FOR, not at other strangers. Good Samaritans handing out everything from Starburst, to oranges, to donuts. Others setting up misters in their lawn. Everyone is cheering everyone on. We need more of this…not just on one day a year inChicago…everyday.
On October 9th, my bucket list got a little shorter…and my confidence and pride a little bigger.