Weight Watchers Week 3

...I know, I missed week 2 but that's because I actually missed my meeting! I got asked to come into work at the library on Saturday, during my usual meeting time, and it was snowing early in the morning so I didn't feel comfortable riding my bike to the 8am meeting [for those wondering about Christmas presents, I would LOVE a new brake mechanism for my rear brake, thanks!]. The bad thing about going to Saturday meetings is that if you miss that day, that's the end of the week. [The good thing about Saturday meetings, at least 1pm Saturday meetings, is that they're very small!] Anyway, the weather was decent today [well, raining in the morning but cleared up by noon] so I biked to the meeting. And I'll have a car for the next two weekends so I won't have to worry about the weather!
Biking to Massachusetts for my weekly meeting sounds impressive... until you learn that it's only about 4 miles from my house. Then it doesn't sound impressive. But then you learn that it's literally steep hills the entire way and then it sounds impressive again, right?

Anyway, I weighed in and I was up 0.2 from two weeks ago... eh, I'll take it. Not bad for a week where eating was erratic, between traveling and being in New York and traveling again and then being just plain exhausted. I tracked most days, but some days I ate too little and some days I ate too much. I guess it balanced out, though.

At the meeting, they rolled out the new Weight Watchers 360 plan... all new materials! Okay, I love WW but do they really need to change the program so often? When I did it in 2004-2007, they didn't change the program ONCE, and it worked great. They just changed the program a year ago, and now they're changing it again! Okay, the changes aren't really huge [just additions, really, to the previous plan] but it does have a ton more materials and I feel like it's just an annoying marketing strategy to get people to spend more money every 12 months.

ANYWAY. Aside from my complaints about that, the "new" program focuses on making healthy choices a habit and routine [which is something WW's always been behind, but now it's a definite part of the plan]. Our task this week is to think of one little thing we can turn into a habit, and how, and to start doing that. You know what mine's going to be for the week? Food at work. Since I'm only there 5 hours a day, and we're understaffed, I don't get a lunch break but I'm out of the house about 6 hours counting the walk to and from the library. I eat breakfast before leaving my house at 11:30, but it's not time for lunch yet. I constantly forget to bring a snack or lunch to eat at the library and by the time I get home, I'm incredibly hungry. Lunchtime's long gone, it's suppertime and I should've had both a lunch and a snack before then but I haven't. So instead, I get home and eat so much. Days I work at the library are definitely throwing me off track. So the healthy habit I'm going to work on this week is remembering to bring a snack.

I stopped by the grocery store on the way home from my meeting this afternoon and, in addition to regular foodstuffs I needed, I bought a bag of grapes for one snack idea. I've already got two little containers packed up and ready to grab on my way out Tuesday morning. I'm going to stop by another [cheaper] grocery store tomorrow and get a bunch of apples, too, and slice those up for another snack.

I'm terribly bad at thinking of actual lunches-to-go that will keep me satisfied all day, but I think these snacks of fruit will do better than a peanut butter sandwich or something anyway.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the gym for the first time in 3 months! No, I haven't been slacking [much] on exercise, I've just been running outside these three months. But my asthma doesn't like the cold, and my lungs are working super hard whenever I go out running lately, so I've decided that it's time to switch back to the treadmill for a few months [well, I'll still run outside once in a while but not as often as I have been]. Plus, I'm paying for this membership, I might as well use it. Right? Also, showers! So this will be exciting and a nice change.

What a fun race! Christmas music to pump you up at the start and finish, and thousands of bells to accompany you while you run 3.1 miles. Volunteers singing Christmas carols as they cheer you on and keep you on course, and random pedestrians being startled, and then smiling, when they're suddenly descended upon by 1400 people in Christmas colours. Ahh, it was a really fun race!

Since it was put on by the same people as the Monster Dash, and followed the exact same course, I knew what to expect. I remembered where the mile markers were, the water station, and the one hill and smaller inclines. I was prepared. I was ready to dominate this race.

I have semi-strict race preparation the day before a race, and that all fell to pieces yesterday. As early as possible, I bike to wherever packet pick-up is to get my stuff. Then I bike home. Then I do as little as possible all day. I keep an eye on what I eat [neither too little nor too much], I do some gentle stretching, but I mostly stay in bed, let my body rest, and entertain myself with a book or netflix.

Not yesterday. Yesterday, I actually got up at 6am to make an 8am WW meeting, since I had to work at the library during my normal meeting time. But there was snow on the roads [and still falling], and I don't bike in the snow here [winter biking is very dangerous here, especially compared to Chicago], so I went back to sleep until 8. Then I had to work at the library 10am-3pm. I was on my feet for a good part of that, although it was a slow day due to the weather so I also got to do a bit more sitting than I usually do. Then, packet pick-up was 10am to 4pm so I only had an hour after that to get to Providence and retrieve my stuff. I biked down there… and got a flat about a quarter mile before getting to the running store. Argh! So after getting my stuff [and stopping at Whole Foods, which is right next door, for dinner since I hadn't eaten since breakfast at 8am], I had a nice 4 mile walk back home. Yeah… not really doing a good job on resting my legs.
But I did get my tech shirt and jingle bells!
My legs were TIRED when I finally got home at 6:30, and then I still had to get together my race stuff [I had no idea what I was going to wear!] and pack for New York. A couple hours of that, then dyeing my hair. I still managed to get to sleep by midnight and, with an 8am wakeup, get a solid eight hours of sleep. But I was worried about how far I'd walked that day. I woke up this morning, though, and felt fine. I was excited for the race, and excited for my trip. After triple-checking that I had everything I needed for the next four days, I snapped a picture of me in my race gear and headed out when my mom arrived.

Before the 5K, there was a kids ["elves"] 1K fun run. It's always adorable to watch the littlest ones confusedly make their way down the street. And! A girl won the entire thing this time! That was really exciting! It was actually two girls battling it out towards the finish line.
The one on the left one.
We watched the stragglers come in, and then danced to some Christmas music, and then I headed to the start to line up for the 5K [my mom, once again, wasn't running but was instead on official camera duty]. They again didn't have us line up by pace but I at least knew to expect that this time [thanks to running the Halloween 5K]. I went a lot closer to the start than last time, and actually a lot closer than I thought I should be, but it worked out fine. After the National Anthem, Bruce Springsteen got us pumped up with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" [via recording, obviously, he didn't actually come to sing at our little 5K!] and then we were off!

Despite feeling like I might be lined up with people too fast, I kept pace with everyone around me for the first half mile or so. And then… well, then I started to feel the effects of yesterday's 4 mile walk. My legs *were* tired. Damn. Still, I tried to power through. No sense in stopping until I really couldn't run any more, right? Before I knew it, I had passed the 1 mile marker-- and under 10 minutes, too! I kept going, and then finally decided on a one minute walk break at about 1.25 miles in. I had wanted this to be the first race where I ran the entire thing… and I could have… if yesterday hadn't gone completely off plan. Argh! Well, I guess that's one more thing to look forward to in 2013. Anyway, that one minute of walking gave me a nice break and boosted my energy when I did start running again. They had the water station right after the 1.5 mile mark, and I walked while I drank my water too [I tried running, but I choked, so I figured walking for ten or fifteen seconds was better!], and went strong to the 2 mile mark. I took another walking break after that, just for another minute, and then again at about 2.75 because I was starting to lag and wanted to come down the finish strong. Despite not wanting to walk at all during this race, those walking breaks did really help and I think were a great tactic to keep my overall pace up.

I crossed the finish line just seconds before the gun time said 34 minutes, and then I met up with my mom, grabbed my stuff, and walked around the block to the bus stop [so convenient!]. I didn't have time for a cool down walk, or stretches, or anything, so I expect I'll feel them later. I hopped on the bus, someone commented on all my bells and was like, "Did you just… run a race? And then immediately get on the bus?" haha. I tried to do as much stretching as I could in my seat, and refueled with a peanut butter sandwich I had packed, and then I finally changed out of my running gear. And now I'm almost to New York, where I will spend a few days seeing friends, the Monkees, and Christmas-y things before returning home on Wednesday!

As of the time of writing, I don't know my official results yet. Since I had to hop on a bus pretty much immediately after I crossed the finish line, I couldn't wait around for the results to be posted. I do know that RunKeeper tells me my time was 32:46, but also I crossed the finish line closer to 34 minutes [gun time], and I doubt that it took me a full minute or even close to that to cross the start line. So I don't know [did I accidentally pause it somewhere for a bit?]. I'll be skeptical about what RunKeeper says and wait until I see the official results. No matter what, however, it looks like I beat October's finishing time. It's not my PR, but it's my PR for the past 5 years so I'll take it.

It was a really fun race, and I look forward to doing it again next year [when it will hopefully not be 55 degrees out!], and I do wish I could've hung around after I finished to see some of the outfits I might've missed and to listen to more Christmas music… and to get that post-5K banana I always look forward to! But oh well, getting on the bus was more important. Next year!

As far as this year goes, this is the last 5K for me [I thought of doing one for New Year's because I don't have any other plans, but there don't seem to be any around here]. I didn't beat my PR from 2007 but I did consistently improve with each race. Considering where I started out the year [45 pounds heavier, completely sedentary, in such bad shape that even thinking about running was hilarious], I'm really proud of myself. I actually don't think I'm going to run any 5Ks until March [the Tour de Patrick, 3 5Ks in 8 days] but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop running between now and then! Bring on winter running! And also… ice skating! Gosh, I love winter.

[And yes, I'm still on the bus and still antsy to get somewhere with wifi so I can check the race results!]

Update: It's 11pm and I can finally update the race results! My official time was 33:28, which is 12 seconds faster than the last race [which was, actually, 13 seconds faster than the previous one]. So I'm steadily improving!

One last, unrelated picture: my night tonight, why I got on a bus right after the race:

WW week one

Well, I completed my first week of Weight Watchers. I have to say, getting back into the swing of things wasn't too difficult. I'd forgotten how simple points are compared to counting every macronutrient. I counted pretty much every point [although I did guess on a few things from Thanksgiving] and ended the week with only 9 weekly points left, but still. I also didn't get as much exercise as I'd like, thanks to a persistent sore throat [which is finally getting better!] but given what I could do, I think I did pretty well for the week.

And the scale agreed. I weighed in at the meeting today and was down 3.2 pounds from last week! Not bad for a week with Thanksgiving just two days before weigh-in. And while I didn't super overindulge at Thanksgiving, I did eat more than I usually would. I ate 55 points and I may have underestimated a few things but still, that's not too bad for a holiday. Most of those points came from stuffing... I don't eat stuffing normally so of course I'll have a couple extra servings on this special occasion!

But, back to the subject of WW! I'm so happy to be back at meetings. I really do hope that I can afford to stay around until I'm back to my goal weight. Just sitting in the room every week, hearing other people's stories and knowing I'm not alone, revitalizes my commitment and that's something I definitely needed. Today I stayed for one of the "power sessions" [I guess that's what they're called...? The new "getting started" sessions] and there were two new people as well. One was brand new to WW, the other had joined in the summer but stopped coming due to life. But the brand new person, she's about my age and lives just the city over from me. I hope we can be WW buddies! That would be great! I miss having a real-life WW buddy [I did all my meetings in college with a friend, but haven't had anyone to attend meetings with since], they're even greater motivation and accountability and also, FRIENDS.

I also had a terribly sore throat for a week [until I got a humidifier on Thursday] so that's been affecting... well, everything from my sleep to my voice but most importantly, my exercise. I have not been exercising as much as I'd like to! I finally got out for a run today, for the first time since last Wednesday, but other than that I've just been walking and treadclimbing... and not much of either. I haven't had the energy, due to the busy week and not sleeping well [thanks to the sore throat which only shows up at night], and I didn't want to go running outside and possibly make my sore throat worse. So I played it safe, and rested up. And, well, I'm happy with that decision.

Trying to get back into exercise now that my throat's mostly fine again, I did go for a run this morning before my WW meeting, and I completed 2 miles with no problems. Well, the first half mile was a rough start, both because of the dry air [my asthma does NOT like the lack of humidity, which is why I have this sore throat to begin with] and due to not running for over a week. But the further I ran, the easier it got. And then I biked to my meeting, which is only 4 miles away so I figured it wouldn't be too bad. Well... yeah, those four miles are almost entirely hills. It was ROUGH. My lungs were on fire for a good part of it. But I did it. And the bike ride home was easier, I think my lungs are already getting used to working in the dry air. They usually adapt pretty quickly, it's just a matter of the first few workouts being tough to get through... so hopefully the rest of the winter will be smooth sailing! Haha.

I've got the Downtown Jingle 5K coming up next Sunday [and then off to New York for a few days!] and then I'm going to hold off on any official 5Ks until March. Between now and then, I'm going to work on *gulp* half marathon training! Ahh, I can't believe that I'm actually doing this but... I'm actually doing this!

Anyway, with Thanksgiving over, it's time to look towards winter [aka my FAVOURITE season]. I'm nervous about running outside in the winter but I'm going to do it! I've got a good amount of gear [and hoping for more winter running gear for Christmas, hint hint] and will just take the weather as it comes. LET'S DO THIS!

Is it time for a change?

I'm a firm believer in switching things up every so often in this "being healthy and losing weight" game. You have to, or else you won't stick with it for the rest of your life [or maybe that's just me and the ADD talking]. I've been struggling since September and although I've been lucky enough not to gain any weight [look, I can maintain!], I also haven't lost any. I'm still doing pretty well with the exercise side of things [yesterday I ran 3 straight miles with no walking for the first time in my entire life!], well... at least cardio. I'm getting back into strength training, though [I did pushups for the first time in two months last night and let me tell you, my shoulders are feeling it this morning!]. That's not the problem.

The problem is the food side. I was near perfect [and by "perfect", I mean "within my plan's margin of error", leaving room for treats now and then] with what I ate for the first six months or so. I never went out of my expected calorie range [except on planned "cheat" days], I always burned 500-1000 more calories through exercise than I consumed, I was always moving and sticking to my plan for the day. Now, I overindulge in sweets [I made chocolate chip cookie dough covered brownies this weekend, need I say more?] and find it hard to stick to my calorie goals because I'm eating non-filling foods. And I know what the problem is, I just said it right there, but I still find it hard to eat the right stuff.

On the internet side of things, I'm not as involved as I used to be with sparkpeople. I still log my food and exercise, read the emails, and do a few extra things to get points every day. I read my friends' blog entries, if they have any. But that's it. I used to enjoy reading the articles on the site, which provided health information and motivation and tips, and they were a huge factor in keeping me motivated to stay on track. But after more than six months of 3 articles a day, I've read almost all of them by now [and the ones I haven't read are pretty hard to find]. And a lot of my sparkpeople friends also aren't as involved as they used to be.

So I'm wondering: Is it time to switch things up? I've always held onto the Weight Watchers option for when I needed a change. Is this it? Sure, going to meetings would require a lot of finagling of my budget, not to mention finding a way to get to meetings because there aren't any immediately around me. [There are a few locations within biking distance but with winter coming, that option won't be around for much longer.] But on the other hand, I'd have a chance to meet up with other people in the area who are going through similar things. I'd have a concrete date and time where I'd be accountable. [Let's be honest, I haven't been accountable in a long time unless I've had a particularly good week.] And, importantly, Weight Watchers and sparkpeople work well together, they're basically the same except WW uses points [and costs money].

I'm starting to think that I need meetings again. I always knew it would come to this eventually, and I do love WW's meetings. I just thought maybe I'd be able to keep the self-propelled accountability going for a little longer. But I've been stagnant and do need something new, and switching up my exercise hasn't been doing the trick. Plus, this is generally WW's slow season so if I start now, I'll get to know the leaders and members before the New Year's rush!

Okay, I've talked it out with myself and it sounds like something I should do. Now there's just the part where I have to come up with money for it... $40 for a monthly pass doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot month after month. Sigh. At least I've got a few jobs coming up in the next couple months. Maybe I should take up a collection? Hahaha. I guess I'll go and figure this out.

Product Review: Treadclimber

I've now had my treadclimber for two weeks and the bruises on my legs from hauling it up the stairs have almost disappeared, so I figured it's time to write this review. Just for reference: I was given this by my aunt, who used it quite a lot over the years. She bought it [new] in 2006, so it is an older model [specifically, model TC5000, which they no longer sell] but most of the features are generally the same. It's not in perfect condition, it does need some oil to quell a bit of squeaking, but it's in really good shape for 6 previous years of use.

First off: I love this machine. Let's get that out of the way. I really, really do. I wasn't sure about it beforehand, because I'd never even heard of a treadclimber before my aunt asked if I wanted it a couple months ago. A treadmill/stairclimber in one? Um, okay. After she offered it to me, I immediately looked it up and was intrigued. I didn't know what year/model she had, but the ones on Bowflex's website looked awesome.

Well, she finally brought it over and helped me set it up a couple weeks ago. For the most part, that wasn't difficult. It was easy to assemble [made even easier by her already knowing how it went together] and most of the pieces were very lightweight. The only problem was the base with the motor in it... that was heavy! It took us about 20 minutes to get it up to my second-floor workout room, pausing at every single step. And, as mentioned, I got some pretty nasty bruises. So if you buy one of these and it doesn't come with delivery, make sure to have some very strong people around to help! I'm pretty sure I've never moved a piece of furniture that heavy in my life. But getting it out of the car and into my workout room was the worst thing about it. If you can deal with that, you're golden.

Space-wise, it is fairly compact [the treadmill ends just a few inches after it's cut off in this picture, about 3.5ft long] which is both good and... well, not bad, but more negative. I don't need a longer treadmill, especially if I'm not running [the speed only goes up to 4mph]. It is, however, also fairly narrow [20in between the two handlebars] so there's really no room to move your arms as you walk. This hasn't been too much of an issue, as I like to do other things [like my online Spanish course] while I'm on the treadclimber but sometimes I do want a more intense treadmill session, complete with arm movement, and then it's not so good. [When I'm doing treadmill + stairclimber at once, I always hold onto the sides because I'm still not super comfortable with my ability yet.] And even though it's compact, it does take up a large chunk of my exercise room so doing some of my workout dvds [you know, the ones that usually have me going all around the room as it is] will be interesting. I'll probably have to figure out a better configuration for this room but I'm stumped at the moment so it stays like this for now.

Function-wise, the machine's really easy to figure out. It has three options: treadmill, stairclimber, or treadmill + stairclimber. You have to lock the treads while it's stopped for treadmill only, but you can easily switch between the other two just by decreasing the treadmill speed down to zero or back up. The lock is also easy, a big red lever in the front of the machine underneath the treads, and can even be operated by foot. It also, as you can see, has very large steps on the sides of the treads which is great for starting/stopping or a sudden mid-workout need to step off.

I mostly use it on the combination stairclimber + treadmill function, but I do want to take some time to talk about the other functions. The stairclimber function is just about what you'd expect-- set the treadmill speed to 0mph and then just step up and down [you can adjust the level/resistance if it's too easy or hard, but only while the machine's stopped]. The treadmill function has a few kinks-- it only works at an incline [I think the manual said 10 degrees], and you have to take care not to step on the middle part of the treads or you might be in for a surprise. For some reason, I have absolutely no problem with not doing this when it's on the combo function but I do this quite a lot when it's only on the treadmill function. I know that I do tend to wander all over the mat on a regular treadmill as well [especially as the ones at my gym are much wider, and I'm incapable of walking in a straight line]. It's not a huge deal, but it's something to be mindful of while you're getting used to the machine. As for the rest of the treadmill function, I mentioned that its speed goes up to 4.0mph so no running for me [the newer models can go up to 4.5mph] but, with the set incline, it still offers a really good workout. I did a 30 minute workout yesterday at 3.0mph and I was sweating by the end, which doesn't usually happen. The incline makes a huge difference.

The combination function is what really sells this machine, though, and it doesn't disappoint. Although I saw on the Bowflex website that they describe it as an elliptical, it doesn't seem like that to me [probably because your feet aren't swinging back on a upward curve as well, and there are no moving arm parts, plus also the speed limit once again]. Now, as you might know, the elliptical is my favourite gym machine and I'd probably cancel my membership if I had an elliptical at home. This doesn't quite do it but, just the same, I haven't been to the gym since getting this machine so I should maybe reconsider that ten bucks a month. Anyway, the combination walking and stair stepping movement is unique, it can be very challenging, and it's not boring. I tend to go on a much lower speed during this [1.5-2mph], both because I'm still getting used to it and because I do other things while I'm on it, and I come off sweating more than just using the treadmill alone. It's low impact, so I can even use it on days when my knees are bothering me, and I haven't noticed any tightness in my calves after a workout [which usually happens after a treadmill workout on a high incline]. I love it.

My first workout with this machine! Calorie burn was 351, FYI.
I'm pretty sure that the display has changed with newer models but even still, it's big and doesn't leave much room for confusion. It alternates two displays for calories/calories per minute and miles/steps [and if you're just using it on stairstepper mode, it alternates total steps/steps per minute]. It has an integrated heart rate monitor, and comes with a Polar heart rate transmitter strap. I'm not a fan of the strap because it comes undone easily [I think my old HRM, which I bought around the same time, had the same strap issues] and it's not very comfortable, but I've had no problems with it besides that. I usually use my own HRM [Polar FT40] and it syncs with the machine pretty well also. The only time I've noticed a blip in the heart rate readings is when my laptop's on the display, then it says my heart rate's a lot higher than it actually is.

The display is also LARGE and flat and has a nice tray/stopper at the bottom, so you can put all manner of items on it and get stuff done while working out. For instance, I have a 17" MacBook Pro and it fits on there with no problem [which I can't often say with this computer]. It's nice because I can hop on in the evening and get through a couple Spanish lessons. I also tend to bring my Kindle over and just read a few chapters of a book while I exercise [even on the combo setting, unlike on the elliptical, you're not bouncing all up and down so reading isn't difficult]. And it has two cup holders, so I can put my water bottle [an essential!] in one and my phone in the other [which then amplifies the sound if I'm using that as my music player/if I'm using Zombies, Run!].

I can't really comment on the noise because, as I said, it does need some WD40 or something due to years of use. Underneath that squeaking, though, it seems to be really quiet [even with the squeaking, it's still quieter than my mom's treadmill!]. Adjusting the treads, if they get off track, is really easy with just a few twists of a supplied tool [I had to do that immediately after reassembling the machine but haven't had to do it since]. So, routine care seems to be easy enough.

There are a few negatives to the machine [narrow width, extremely heavy for moving, max speed is 4mph] but overall, I think the positives far outweigh them and that it's a great machine. Would I spend $3,000 on it? Well, no, because I don't have that kind of money to spare and can't imagine ever having that kind of cash. But if you do, I'd recommend considering it. It's a good workout, it can burn a lot of calories, it's something new [just what I needed!], and I can get other things done while I'm on it. Plus, it's in the room right next to my bedroom so I can literally jump on it any time I want. The world of owning exercise machines has just opened up to me and it is beautiful.

Race Recap: Monster Dash 5K

This month's been really hit-or-miss with my running, and mostly on the "miss" side. I had to take a few weeks off, starting in late September, because my knee was bothering me. Then my routine was interrupted and I had a hard time getting back into it. Two weeks ago, I noticed that this race was coming up really quickly and so I had better get back to my regular runs!

Since it had been a while since my last run, I had gone from running 2.5 miles without stopping all the way back down to only 1 mile. Amazing how quickly the skill deteriorates! Well okay, it also had to do with the sudden change in weather and the fact that my lungs don't like the cold [they get used to it but the first few exercise attempts? Not so good]. But once I got into it, adding back the distance wasn't too hard. I added a half mile every run [I'm still just running every other day] but then got stuck at 2 miles because of outside factors [ran out of time one morning, ran into a coyote another day]. Still, I figured I'd be good for today's race and, if need be, I'd allow myself to walk for a bit after hitting the halfway mark/water station.

Aside from my interrupted training, I was really excited for this race. My mom came to cheer me on today, which was exciting because I've never had anyone at a race to see me before! Also, that means that there are actually pictures of me this time! Plus, I love costumes, and I love running, so why wouldn't I love this race? My costume didn't come out at all like I wanted but it still made for an awesome 80s look:
Coming up with a costume that I could run in was difficult! But I took lots of pictures at the race so maybe I'll find inspiration for next year.

Before the 5K, there was a 1K kids fun run, which was adorable. Some of them were super serious runners and then some didn't seem to have a clue what was going on. I was also surprised to see that Ninja Turtles and Mario are still popular costume choices among young children. Well, maybe not Mario so much because it's always continued to be a popular series of games but definitely Ninja Turtles.
This little dude was my favourite.
After that race ended, a group got together and surprised everyone with this:

Finally, it was a few minutes to 11am and I went to line up behind the start line. And... this was really disorganized. Usually races [especially the larger ones, this one had ~3000 people registered] have you line up by pace/estimated finishing time. This one did not. It was basically "Whoever gets there first gets the best spot and then good luck." Which was frustrating, once we actually started, because I was stuck behind walkers [and people with jogging strollers! Those were specifically told to line up at the back!] for a good while. It took a few minutes to break out of the pack and into a comfortable pace. So, that was annoying and if they ask for feedback, I'll definitely mention that.

After the shaky start, the first mile went really, really well. I was surprised to see that I finished it under 10 minutes-- actually, in 9:05. What?! I never run that fast! Well, I sometimes run that pace for a couple minutes but not sustained over an entire mile. So that was surprising, but I was feeling well so I didn't worry too much about it. Maybe it was because, unlike the last 5K, I was actually feeling the entire race environment this time around. There were crowds all along the route cheering us on, it was a much bigger race [and in a much more populated area], and I wasn't listening to music this time. I'm glad I decided not to do that; it was fun hearing the cheers the entire route, and the announcers [and their Halloween music] once I got into the homestretch!

Since I never got up to running the full 3.1miles in training, I told myself that, if I felt like I needed it, I could take a walking break at the 1.5mile mark [where the water station is]. And I did. I walked almost to the 2mile mark, because my knee was bothering me a little and it had also started raining. So that put my pace back a little, but I think it was worth it. I finished the other 1.1 mile strong and my mom got this awesome picture of me coming down the homestretch:
Seriously, can we just take a moment to acknowledge how hot my legs look?
As I ran towards the finish line, one of the announcers saw me and made a comment about tutus being really fashionable this year. Did you hear that? I'm fashionable. That's not something I hear every day! But honestly, there were a lot of people in tutus and I'm all for that.

Official race stats:
33:40, not bad considering my lack of training all month, but I had been hoping for under 32 minutes. If I hadn't walked for so long, I could've done it. Oh well. At least I still beat my time from the last 5K, so I'm improving!

And, the unofficial RunKeeper stats:
After crossing the finish line, I went and found my mom and we watched the rest of the race together... well, at least until the finishers slowed down to a trickle at about 50 minutes in. Then we went inside to the convention center to check out the race swag [huge disappointment at this one, honestly, but I did get a banana] and hear the band play the same two songs over and over ["Dynamite" and "Forget You"]. I checked the official results once they were posted, and then we made our way out and back home [with a stop at Whole Foods for lunch, where I got a delicious Honey Crisp apple. I love those!].
best apples in the world, and totally worth the high price tag
All in all, it was a fun race and I look forward to doing it again next year [and the Downtown Jingle 5K on December 2nd, which is the same route and put on by the same people] but I hope they sort out a few organizational issues before then, particularly the starting lineup. Well, that and the shirts they gave us aren't the best, fashion-wise [I understand black = Halloween but really, you're not helping with the "visibility in the winter" thing] but they're free long-sleeved tech shirts so I'll make do.
I picked up my race packet and snapped this picture yesterday
Next up, aside from the Downtown Jingle, is [semi-leisurely] half marathon training. I've decided to ease into it, but I want to complete a half marathon next spring so this will be a good project for the winter. I'm maybe possibly joining a running club, I have to see if transportation works out in my favour [since biking in the winter isn't really good around here] but that would be a fun thing to keep me motivated through the coming months. [No, I haven't decided on a half marathon yet. There are a few I'm considering, though.]

Also, I FINALLY lost a pound this week, breaking the six-week plateau. I give credit to my new TreadClimber [which I'm writing a review on, don't worry!]. 4 more pounds until I hit the 50 pounds lost mark. And on that optimistic note, good night!

How I Became a Runner

I wrote this post on my tumblr per request of a friend but I'm posting it here too. I’ve gotten lots of other comments in the past few months, on various sites, about how amazing it is that I’m running now but also the commenter “could never be a runner”. While I concede that running isn’t for everyone [some people are dancers but I can’t zumba to save my life without punching myself in the face], a lot of non-runners can be runners if they put their minds to it. The trick is putting your mind to it. Running is as much a mental activity as it is a physical one, especially if you’ve been telling yourself for years that you can’t do it. The other trick is acknowledging that it won’t happen in a day, week, or even month. It takes time. It takes work. But when it happens, it’s kind of amazing. I finished a 5k in 33:53 last month. It took hard work and dedication, and it took about six months, but it wasn’t impossible [even if it felt so at times].

There are programs designed to get you “off the couch and running 3 miles in just two months” but they’re also built with people who have some kind of fitness base. For those of us who don’t, even running 30 seconds/walking 2 minutes/repeating is pretty intimidating. Those programs aren’t designed for us. They’re designed for us somewhere down the line but for right now, we need something more basic.

First off: You have to acknowledge that this takes time. It does. That’s not something that most people want to hear but it’s the reality. It took me about six months, give or take, to get where I am today. This included months of building up my cardiovascular fitness before I even considered running. It also included a few failed attempts at running before it finally stuck. [it also included a sprained ankle but, you know, setbacks and all that.]

Second: You should build a base of fitness with low-impact, “easier” exercise before attempting running. Running is hard work. Nothing challenges your muscles and your mind quite like it. There are loads of exercises to prepare you for it, however. Cycling and the elliptical are the two I implemented the most, but any exercises will help you improve.

Third: It’ll take time to learn to love running but if you’ve been running consistently for 3-6 months and don’t love it, don’t force it. Running isn’t for everyone. If you want to be active in some way but aren’t entirely set on running, there are plenty of other things to try! If you just focus on running, even though you hate it, you’ll be miserable and end up doing nothing at all. [Sure, the race swag one gets is nice but it’s not everything.]

Fourth: How and where you run are extremely important factors. How: I’m not just talking about form [although that’s important too, as well as proper shoes], but following a training program and sticking to a consistent schedule. Figure out if you’re a morning exerciser or evening [this might also depend on the time of year/weather]. I love running in the afternoons or early evenings but when I have to run in the morning or skip it, I do it. My results are considerably worse, but it's better than not running. Where: Do you like the treadmill, or find it boring? It can be a good training tool but some people loathe it. Do you like running loops on the track so you know what to expect, or does that get tedious? Do you like getting out on a bike path or your city streets to enjoy the scenery, or would you rather stay inside on a treadmill, away from harsh weather and your neighbors? Everyone has a preference, and figuring out yours will be an extremely helpful tool.

And fifth: Talk about it. Tell everyone you know. Tell your friends that you want to go running at this specific time and make sure they bug you about it if you don’t [I’ve done this more times than I can count]. Make plans to run in races a few months [or more, if you’re on the slow track like me] down the line. Get excited about those races, and about every additional minute/mile you add into your routine. Your friends might get sick of you, or you might inspire them to try as well [and then you’ll have friends to run races with!]. Or find a running community so you can talk about your accomplishments to your heart’s content without annoying everyone else. [they’re also great for accountability. If you’re a regular poster and then stop commenting all of a sudden, people will notice and make sure you’re keeping up with your goals!]

Those are my tips. And now, here’s my story of how i went from “barely mobile” to running 3.1 miles.

two weeks in pictures

The last couple weeks have been super busy so I'm sorry for the lack of updates. I wasn't stellar with my eating but hey, my little brother was getting married and that only happens once [hopefully]! But now the wedding's over and I'm back to work. Just a few days back on track and it's already paying off, so let's hope this trend continues!

As it's midnight and I want to get to sleep soon [and still have to do a write-up for my online book club for tomorrow's chapter], I figured I'd just post some pictures and let them [mostly] speak for themselves.

This t-shirt used to fit snugly. Now it is a tent.
just being silly and dressing up to clean the house
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
trying on the dress for my brother's wedding
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
rocking a skirt and shirt that haven't fit in a couple years!
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
dress for my brother's rehearsal dinner... and fresh dye on my hair!
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Wearing PANTS! For the first time in years! These are a size 11 and I wore them all day [even outside in public on a walk to the grocery store!]
Even the cats are benefitting from my weight loss...
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
This is an odd picture, I know, but bear with me here. This is me and Ginny all snuggled up in my recliner, with room to spare. I feel like I wasn't that big but honestly, there was never room for any of the cats to sit on the side of me. And now there's lots and that is Ginny's new favourite spot!

And, because people are curious, here are two pictures of me from the wedding...
the only thing more annoying than the date stamp is the fact that the date is WRONG
my sister, my brother, and I
Oh yeah, and there was a happy couple too:

Anyway, that's mostly what I've been up to [besides nursing a knee injury so I haven't been running in a week!]. On Wednesday, I go over to my mom's for a week to house sit, so I'll have some new routes to run and bike on. Or new-ish, rather, as they're the roads I spent 20 or so years walking, biking, and driving. A change in scenery, at least.
This week was amazing and full of accomplishments. On Tuesday, I celebrated the six month mark of committing to this healthier life. I honestly can't believe how much has changed in that time. I'm a completely different person and love life now. In addition, this week I ran a full mile without stopping, and completed a 5K yesterday. And then, weigh in today... well. I was completely shocked when I stepped on the scale today. It had already gone down a couple pounds during the week... but I was surprised to see that it went down another 2.5 pounds in the last 24 hours. I lost a total of 5 pounds this week and moved into the 170s! It certainly makes up for the last few lackluster weeks on the scale.

44 pounds down, 42 to go. I'm over halfway there! An awesome way to mark 6 months in. If I can keep this up, I'll be at goal in another six months. That's not likely, because weight loss slows down the closer one gets to goal, but I'll still be really close!

I also took my measurements yesterday before the race, and losses are as follows:
  • waist: 1 inch [total: 4 inches]
  • hips: 1 inch [total: 3.5 inches]
  • thigh: 1 inch [total: 4 inches]
  • arm: 0 [total: 2.5 inches]
  • belly: 0.5 inch [total: 7.5 inches]
And according to this home body fat test, my body fat percentage went from 25.6% last month to 25%. So, that's pretty awesome because I'm close to a healthy body fat percentage [22%]!

As for my goals for August... I didn't do so amazing on some of them.
  • lose 6 pounds [actual: 10.2!]
  • bike 300 miles [actual: 105. Didn't even come close but my bike's been out of commission for most of the month.]
  • accumulate 2500 fitness minutes [actual: 2384. Didn't hit it, but I came close.]
  • continue 5K training, including transitioning to outdoor running [absolutely did this!]
  • sign up for one or two 5Ks in September [completed one yesterday!]
  • continue yoga 2x/week [I did some weeks, some weeks I didn't do any yoga at all. Oops!]
  • strength training 2x/week [Yes! Except for this past week, which I'd purposefully taken off from strength training. Will continue P90X this week.]
September goals:
  • lose 6 pounds
  • lose 4 inches total
  • run 40 miles
  • accumulate 2500 fitness minutes
  • work up to running the entire 5K
  • yoga 2x/week
  • continue P90X
I have a really good feeling about September!

Race Recap: PawSox 5K

So, it's totally normal to cry after a race, right? Right?

This morning was the 5K and I was up bright and early for it. Since I'm not a morning exerciser, and I can't run on a full [or completely empty] stomach, I woke up at 6:30 to have/digest breakfast and give my body plenty of time to wake up before the run. I also set out all my stuff the night before to make sure I had everything, so... that meant that I kind of spent a lot of time being bored and tired before it was an appropriate time to leave my house. 
gear: shoes, heart rate monitor, water bottle, aleve, headphones, shorts, t-shirts [I couldn't decide until the morning], race bib, hair ties, sunglasses
All dressed, I tweeted a picture before I headed out:
I look so tall and thin here! ...I think it's the crop of the picture.
It was only a couple miles to the stadium, a place I'm well familiar with [many summer nights were spent there as a kid!], so I left at 8:30 and still got there long before the stadium opened up at 9 for warming up. As I knew, it was a small race... I think about 600 people, after last minute registrants this morning. There was a tiny crowd when I got there, stretching and warming up already, but most people got there after the stadium opened.

Once inside the stadium, I took a look around the sponsor/vendor tables but decided to get free race swag after the race, since I had nowhere to stash it. Instead, I headed onto the field for an organized warm-up [jumping jacks, mostly, and stretching]. My legs hadn't been feeling 100% yet, even after the bike ride, so that woke them up completely and after that, I felt ready to go.

Then we headed out to the road to line up at the start!
[And thus ends the picture taking... One day, I'll master taking pictures while running but I didn't even try today!]
I lined up right at the 31-34min pace marker... trying to be optimistic! My goal for the race was to finish under 35 minutes, and I was hoping to finish under 34, so this seemed to be the perfect spot. Although I maybe should've started further up since I was run/walking and my running pace is faster... but I wasn't sure. Anyway, the gun went off, we shuffled towards the front, and soon I had crossed the start line and was on my way! The start was a slight, short incline up towards the first street [we started on the side of the stadium] but it wasn't hard. And this is why I think I maybe should've started further up: I had to bob and weave through quite a few people because I was running faster than everyone. Oops! Oh well, you race and learn.

I decided to do 4:1min run/walk intervals and the first three intervals went great. Actually, the first interval went so well that I thought about not dropping down to a walk. But, I figured that would harm me in the long run so I walked a minute anyway. I passed 1.5 miles in about 15 minutes and if I had kept that up, I would've come really close to beating my PR. But... I didn't. The next interval, I ended up running 3 minutes, walking 2 because I passed the water station and haven't yet figured out the mechanics of running and drinking water [as it is, I still got half the water all over my shirt instead of in my mouth but it felt just as good!]. The next interval was better, although slower than the first two... and then, the next interval, I was running up a steep hill! They advertised the course as "relatively flat" but I have to remember, relative is completely different here than in Chicago! So my pace dropped a little during that interval because of that, but I'm proud that I managed to run all the way up the hill [without doing any previous hill work!].

Suddenly, I turned a corner and there was the stadium in front of me! Almost at the finish line! Well... sort of. The route actually ended after a lap around the field, so I had to run to the stadium and then inside it. I started running again as I crossed into the stadium parking lot, and decided to run the entire rest of the way. I had less than half a mile to go, and I was feeling pretty spent but knew I could do it. I felt like my run along the outfield was the slowest thing ever but RunKeeper said differently so, hey, another instance of me not knowing my own speed!

I glanced at the clock when I passed over the finish line but I honestly forgot what it said about two seconds later. I stopped RunKeeper at 34:05 but I knew I'd started it before crossing the official start line, so I wasn't sure what my actual time was. Still, it looked like I finished before 34 minutes so I was very happy. I immediately grabbed a bottle of [warm] water that they were giving out at the finish line, and headed back out of the stadium to my bike, where I had another water bottle waiting for me [it was a block of ice when I left my house so I knew it would still be cold!]. After that, I stretched and checked out the vendors, collecting some free swag. I talked to people from a local running store, which has a running club I've been considering joining, and they gave me a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase [will be very useful because I'll need new shoes soon!]. I won a free pair of sunglasses [cheap ones but still, I need a new pair!], grabbed a free banana from the Whole Foods stand [aww yeah], and picked up a bunch of magnets [not pictured].
race swag! I didn't realize that this picture came out so blurry, sorry! Not pictured: race shirt made of awesome wicking material, which I'm very excited to run in!
Then I wandered around until the race results were finally posted around 10:30. Lined up to see my time... and was so happy with the official results!

33:53! Smashed my goal of 35 minutes and even squeaked by my hopeful wish of 34 minutes. I was 207 overall, which out of 600+ people isn't bad... even if a lot of those were walkers. And I was 14 out of 29 in my division! I was so shocked to see that! So yeah, I'm pretty darn happy about my results! So happy, in fact, that I started crying. Just a weird release of emotions, I don't know where it came from!

Not so happy = flat tire when I got back to my bike. So instead of a quick 10 minute bike ride home to my nice, relaxing bath... I had a 40 minute walk, dragging my bike along. Ugh. But I finally got home, updated twitter and facebook, and got to wash up before heading out with my mom for the rest of the day.
RunKeeper stats
First 5K of 2012: done, finally! Now onto my future running plans... 5 weeks until the next 5K that I'm looking at. I'm going to spend the time working up to running the entire thing, and also running hills. [I also plan on adding morning runs to my routine so my body doesn't get shocked by morning races again.] If I keep my current running pace and run the entire 5K, I should beat my PR in October. Exciting!

A few final notes: I listened to music and RunKeeper coaching on my phone during the race, but I think I'm not going to do that anymore during races. Since I heard music instead of cheering, the environment felt more like any other run by myself and... I don't want that. I want the race environment. I might add music/headphones back in if I start running longer distances but yeah, for right now, I'm going to stick with them for just practice by myself.

I also don't know why, but I didn't focus on my form nearly as much as I usually do. I caught myself watching my feet quite a few times instead of looking ahead. Maybe it was because I was feeling tired, or maybe I was feeling tired because I was looking down and running with poorer form. I don't know. But it's something that I still have to work on.

Onwards to the next race!

two weeks: a summary

I don't know what happened but suddenly, it's been almost two weeks since I've updated this! Well, I've been writing a lot in my sparkpeople blog so there's that. But here are some quick updates:
  • Weight loss has been slow, for a number of reasons. Water retention [due to starting P90X, etc.], a week where I ate kind of crappy [within my nutrient ranges but brownies and stuff instead of fruits and vegetables], and then my body just not letting go of weight despite doing everything right. So in the last two weeks [not counting this week], I only lost 1 pound total. A 0.2lb loss one week and 0.8 the other. Thankfully, this week is looking MUCH better.
  • Still, I'm about to cross 40lbs lost/into the 170s which is VERY EXCITING. Also, this will mark halfway to my free lifetime range at Weight Watchers [my goal weight there is 140, so I can be up to 2lbs above that without having to pay to attend meetings].
  • My 5K is in TWO DAYS. Actually, about 36 hours at the time of this writing. I'm really excited and training has been going great! Well, last week wasn't so great but that's okay, I made up for it this week.
  • I've been doing regular outdoor running and it's much easier than the first couple attempts were. I've also moved to the bike path, instead of doing endless loops around the track, and it's mentally easier as well since I'm actually going somewhere.
  • Today, I ran a full mile without stopping to walk for the first time in... years, I guess. 9min, 12sec. Pretty great. Remember two months ago when I could barely run for 30 seconds?
  • I started P90X a few weeks ago, and I love it! I put it on hold for this week, though, because it was wearing me out a little and I wanted to put all my energy into getting ready for the 5K. I'll pick it back up next week.
  • I officially passed the 6 month mark of being committed to this healthy lifestyle. It feels great!
  • My ankle also feels great and I think it's safe to say that, six months later, it is finally fully healed.
Tuesday's run out on the bike path looked like this [5k in 34:15]: 

So, yeah, that's what's been going on. Sorry for the lack of updates [but feel free to go through my sparkpeople blog if you really want to get details]. Saturday after the race is looking like it'll be pretty busy with no time for blog writing but I promise to get a post up about it as soon as possible! 

I'm super excited for the race and 90% sure that I'll finish under 35 minutes [my training runs this week have ranged between 32 and 34 minutes for 3.1 miles]. Not too bad, considering I'm still walking some. And after Saturday, it's onto training to run the entire distance without walking breaks! I'm looking at another 5K in the beginning of October so I hope to run that entire race. [Meanwhile, my friends are looking towards winter so I stop talking about running all the time! Little do they know, I have plans for winter running as well.]

Yay, running!

I wasn't feeling motivated to do much of anything today [even skipped the bike ride with my meetup group this morning] but I'd promised that I would go out for a run today due to skipping the bike ride. I wasn't aiming for an intense run, just a few laps around the track to continue getting my ankle used to outdoor running. Well, once I start, I can never do anything halfway so I ended up doing an "extra session" of last week's 5K training plan. Six intervals of 3min running, 2min walking. Since I didn't quite complete the training on Wednesday [my first attempt at running outside], I figured it made up for that.

I used a new app on my phone, since I've been having issues with MapMyFitness. I tried out RunKeeper this time because I noticed that I can set my own interval training and it'll prompt me when to start running or walking, without needing to constantly look at the time. This is awesome! [The other app I'm going to try out, Endomondo, also has this feature but only with the paid app. Which I can't buy at the moment and don't want to buy without first seeing if the app otherwise works well for me.] So I loaded my new running playlists onto my phone before leaving the house and got to run along to my music with occasional, integrated reminders to start running, or that I'd ran another half mile, or such. The "coach" talked over the music, which was great because having my music be interrupted always messes up my beat a little. But not with this app!

The GPS and pace estimates were way more accurate than I'd been experiencing with MapMyFitness, so that was good to see. I kept pretty much on pace during the runs [with the exception of the last interval where I was feeling reeeeeally worn out all of a sudden], my pace stayed between 9 and [about] 10min/mi, which is very close to my treadmill running speed. Not too bad for feeling like I wasn't moving at ALL! [I'm used to the speed of bikes, okay?] When I got home and uploaded the info to the RunKeeper website, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they gave me a breakdown of my pace per interval! This really helps. Okay RunKeeper, you've made me fall in love with you [for the time being, at least].
[And then when I saved the data, foursquare gave me a 5K badge! Totally unexpected!]

I had no problems with my ankle, but my knee did have a slight discomfort at times [but that's nothing new, usually I just take some aleve before I go running but I didn't today...]. Actually, everything's been going so well that I did sign up for the 5K on September 1st, which I'd been putting off because I wasn't sure about my ankle. So, yeah, I will be doing an official 5K in less than two weeks... eeep! Maybe my mom will come and take horribly unattractive pictures of me [because who looks good when they're running, honestly? Well okay, Sheryl does but she looks good all the time]. I'm not aiming to beat my PR or anything, just to finish, preferably under 40 minutes [today's run was 40:59, including 10 minutes of warm up/cool down, so it's totally doable if I keep training the next two weeks]. But honestly, I just want to run and finish the race, and not let my ankle hold me back.

Look, I'm officially signed up!
If things go well with this race, I might sign up for another 5K two weeks later [when my 5K training is officially done!]. The thing is that the September 1st race is reeeeeally small [they're thinking they *might* get a thousand participants] whereas the one on the 16th is huge in comparison [almost 5,000 people ran it last year]. I've only ever ran in one race before, and it was small like the September 1st race, so I'm apprehensive about running with so many people. I'll do them eventually, but I was thinking of saving them until next year when I've gotten a few more smaller races done. So, we'll see. I have until the 10th to decide.

I just really love running and am so glad that I can do it again!

Running playlists!

Believe it or not, I've been pretty much working out to the same playlist since March. I threw in some Girl Talk to mix it up for a bit, but mostly it's been the same music. And I've gotten so bored with it. Also, some of the songs are fine for the elliptical or weights but don't have the fast tempo I really need for running which I'm now focusing on. So, I've been taking suggestions for the past few days and combing through my own vast music collection [which is fun because I always rediscover things that have just been collecting metaphorical dust on my external hard drive for the past few years]. I still have a lot of work to do [my friends all suggested a ton of songs that I don't actually have, so I'll have to gather those in the coming days!] but so far, I've come up with four separate playlists that are all over 40 minutes long [my runs are usually 30-40 minutes]. Perfect!

First up, the 80s playlist:
[Yes, I realize that this is sorely lacking in Beastie Boys. I'm working on that!] I need to mess with the order of this still, but this is basically what I ran to today. I discovered that "Walking on Sunshine" and "Rock This Town" are pretty much perfect running songs, and just built on that with similar sounds.

Next, the geek playlist:
I don't expect a lot of people to recognize more than a handful of these songs. But, they're all up-tempo songs that I love to listen to, and they always put a smile on my face! This playlist is my shortest at the moment [41 minutes], it's severely lacking in wizard rock but I still have about 100GB of wrock to go through. I didn't feel like doing that tonight... so I just pulled the few from my already existing workout playlist.

Then, the punk playlist:
Some of this is folk punk, some of it is punk bands covering pop songs, some might not technically be punk... but it all fits together so whatever. It's no secret that punk is my favourite musical genre [with the possible exception of nerd rock] so it shouldn't be a surprise that this is my longest playlist. And I didn't even dig through most of my stuff, which I still need to do.

And finally, the "miscellaneous" playlist [which will probably be divided into further genres as more songs get added]:
There's no logic to this playlist other than upbeat songs that I'll probably enjoy running to. I mean, from 90s girl pop to [sort of] wizard rock to boy bands to German disco... Nope, no rhyme or reason here. Special shout out for "Even Marathon Runners Need to Nap" because even though it's not really a good running song, I needed to include it and figured it could be a cool-down song or something. Because, come on. With a name like that, I couldn't not put it in.

As for running itself, running outside on Wednesday didn't mess up my ankle [yay!] although I definitely have to build up my ankle strength regarding pavement running. I also finished week 5 of my 5K training, I can't believe that I only have 3 weeks left! I feel great and today I ran/walked a 5K [on the treadmill] in 37:12. Not too shabby!

Yay running! Yay running music! Good night!

outdoor running: attempt #1

Today was just... not working out. I woke up at 7am due to a sudden thunderstorm [the thunder didn't wake me up, the wind blowing the rain into my bedroom and onto me did!] and then couldn't get back to sleep. Finally, at 9am my alarm went off... and then I went back to sleep after that, ha! Slept until almost noon [P90X is really wearing me out, but it's a good kind of exhaustion!] and then finally got up... only to receive some bad news that sidelined me for a bit.

Due to the late start [and super late breakfast], I didn't leave the house for the gym until about 2:45, an hour later than I usually do, and only got about a half mile from my house before getting a flat tire. So instead of dragging my bike the other 2 miles to the gym [and then back home], I just turned around and headed home. But I wasn't going to let this derail my plans! After the bad news of the day, I really needed my endorphins. And, well, I did say that I would try outdoor running this week, so why not today? So after dropping off my bike back home, I headed to the public track to see how this would go.

I'll be honest: It wasn't great. It wasn't terribly bad, either. It was just... different. I've mentioned before that for me, the most difficult part of running is the mental part, telling myself that I can continue on. I've also mentioned that I don't really push myself, pace-wise, unless I have someone else [or the treadmill] telling me to keep to a certain pace. So I could have gone faster, and I felt like I wasn't moving at all [which didn't help with the mental aspect] but I still don't think it was a bad first attempt.
I'm super attractive when I run. And totally don't look like I'm about to fall asleep.
Except for the fact that I didn't stick to the training plan. I was supposed to do 6 intervals of 3 minutes running, 2 minutes walking. I did the first two... well, sort of. Each interval, I did 3 laps of running around the track [which amounted to about 3.5 minutes] and one lap of walking [about 2 minutes]. But then, the third interval, I just wasn't feeling it. I did two laps of running, so, you know... still not bad. But then the fourth and fifth intervals, I only did one lap, and my speed must have slowed down a lot because it took me 1.5 minutes. Then, suddenly, the overcast and slightly cool day turned into a sunny, hot afternoon and I just could not run in that weather. So I did another couple laps of walking around the track, and then walked back home.

Oh, and the track wasn't that soft, sort of squishy material that most tracks are made of, which I was hoping for to help absorb the impact on my ankle. Nope, it was plain old hard pavement:

So, that was a disappointment. In addition to that, running around the same quarter mile loop is... boring. Which didn't help with the mental struggle. And the GPS on my phone didn't seem to be entirely accurate because it was such a small loop. So as excited as I was to find this track, I think I'm going to abandon it in favor of running on the bike path when I run outside. If my ankle doesn't have any negative side effects from running outside today, I'm planning on doing outdoor running once a week. This might be an additional running day, at least at first, considering how well I didn't stick to the 5K plan [I'm thinking of going to the gym tomorrow to get the actual training in?]. We'll see how this all works out. Here's hoping for no ankle pain tomorrow!
bicycle crunches: 2 sets, 12 reps
crunches: 2 sets, 15 reps
pushups: 2 sets, 15 reps
bridges: 2 sets, 15 reps
low adduction with band: 2 sets, 15 reps
low abduction with band: 2 sets, 15 reps
lying single-leg raises: 2 sets, 15 reps
modified plank: 2 reps, 60 seconds each

biking: 13 minutes, 139 calories
treadmill: 45 minutes, 543 calories
biking: 17 minutes, 189 calories

biking: 98 minutes, 1074 calories, 21.64 miles
pushups: 5 sets, 9 reps

biking: 17 minutes, 172 calories
treadmill: 45 minutes, 526 calories
biking: 13 minutes, 141 calories
walking: 34 minutes, 255 calories

pushups: 4 sets of 8 reps

biking: 15 minutes, 164 calories
treadmill: 45 minutes, 550 calories
biking: 17 minutes, 179 calories

decorating: 2 hours, 773 calories
pushups: 5 sets, 7 reps
crunches: 2 sets, 15 reps
bicycle crunches: 2 sets, 12 reps
modified plank: 2 reps, 60 seconds each

I kind of slacked this week. I was busy and had some knee discomfort, so I didn't get out for my usual ride on Thursday or Saturday. I didn't hit my calories burned goal for the week [but only by about 60 calories!], and I didn't get any yoga in. On the plus side, I did get plenty of strength training in [although I only did legs one day] which I've been struggling with lately. Also, I finished week 4 of 5K training and it was surprisingly really easy. I decreased my speed a little, from 7.0mph to 6.5, because I was apprehensive about the schedule this week [5 intervals of 3 minutes running/2 minutes walking] but it turned out to be no big deal, I felt like I could've kept running and I probably could've increased my speed back up to my regular 7.0mph. It seems like my body has adjusted back to running and the tips I'm trying from Chi Running are helping. Or, maybe I was just having a freakishly good week and I'll really struggle during week 5. We'll see tomorrow.

As for weigh-in, I guess my body made up for skipping its "no loss" week last week, because the scale barely budged at all this week. Official weigh in today, I was finally down 0.7 pounds from last week... yes, it's still a loss and I'll take it. But here's hoping that this next week is better!

I've also almost [95%] decided on starting P90X tonight. I've been looking toward it for a while, it looks like a great structured way to do my strength training in addition to cardio, but I was hesitant because of my ankle [what else]. I wasn't sure how it would hold up. But after a conversation yesterday with someone who's doing it, who also recently had a badly sprained ankle, she's convinced me to at least give it a try. I'm actually sure that at this point, my ankle's totally healed and I'm just babying it but still, it's hard to get myself out of that habit. But I ran 5 miles on it this past week, so I'm willing to bet it can handle this. She said I might have trouble with the plyo sessions but other than that, it shouldn't be a problem [and I can always modify during that]. We'll see.

So, goal for the week:
  • start P90X
  • yoga twice a week!
  • week 5 of 5K training
  • run outside on the track at least once
  • bike at least 70 miles

Blueberry Buckle

When I was a kid, we lived right next to an area that had wild blueberries. Lots of wild blueberries. We'd head down at least once a week during the summer and pick to our hearts' content. It was wonderful and a great family outing. It also led to my untamed love of blueberries and everything made from it.

Now that I'm all grown up and living far from those blueberries [and blackberries and raspberries as well, I should note], I'm disappointed to find that blueberries are actually pretty expensive, so fresh blueberries have sadly become a luxury that I indulge in just a few times a summer. During those indulgences, however, my face may or may not get as messy as it did as a kid.

When I was 13, however, and free blueberries were abundant, my mom was faced with yet another yield of blueberry pickings and whipped up this recipe that she called "blueberry buckle". And let me tell you, I was in love. She only made it just this once, but I remember that night so well. I spent the night [well, evening] up in my treehouse in the far backyard, only venturing to the house for yet another helping of this delicious concoction. A couple neighborhood friends were hanging out and they were as wowed as I was. It was a hit! But, as my mom never made it again, and then I became vegan [and unable to afford blueberries], it stayed in my childhood with my treehouse and blueberry rambles.

Until now! I present to you... vegan blueberry buckle! I made it, intending to say "Fuck the calories!", and then put the nutrition info together and realized... it actually wasn't that bad at all. So yay!

1.5 tsp cornstarch + 3 Tbsp water
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup nondairy milk
2 cups blueberries, divided

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup Earth Balance

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease 7x11 cake pan.
  2. Whisk together cornstarch & water for about 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In large bowl, cream together oil and sugar for 1-2 minutes. Add cornstarch mix and vanilla, beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture and nondairy milk, beat until combined. Fold in 1 cup of blueberries. Spread batter into bottom of prepared pan. Spread remaining blueberries on top of batter.
  5. Topping: In large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in the Earth Balance until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 
  6. Sprinkle the topping over the blueberries and bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes, best served warm.
Nutritional Information:
12 servings per recipe, amount per serving:
Calories: 202.7
Total Fat: 9.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 117.2 mg
Total Carbs: 28.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 1.7 g

[If you're on sparkpeople, you can find the recipe here to enter it into your tracking for the day.]

I'll probably experiment with the ingredients to get the sugar and fat content down [applesauce is my baking BFF] but I'm still surprised as to how low everything is for how delicious the dish is!

The Love List

I have this running commentary in my head of things I love now that I've lost 37 pounds and vastly improved my fitness. I'm going to write down all that I can think of right now.

I love:
  1. No more back pain! 
  2. I can *literally* jump out of bed in the morning [I did today!] 
  3. Better sleep, and having enough energy throughout the day
  4. Being able to put more and more miles on my bike every month 
  5. Carrying 20 pounds of groceries home doesn't make my arms feel like they're about to fall off. It also doesn't slow down my pace anymore! 
  6. My legs. I really, really, REALLY love my legs. Have you gotten that memo yet?
  7. I've rediscovered my love of whole foods and cooking 
  8. Being able to do any workout I want [not always wonderfully, but still a decent effort] 
  9. Going through my "cannot wear" closet and getting to move a few more items to my "can wear" closet every few weeks 
  10. Looking at myself in the mirror and enjoying what I see 
  11. Walking around my house in short shorts and/or a sports bra and not feeling embarrassed [which was ridiculous because I live by myself!] 
  12. Running! 
  13. Inspiring my friends to be healthier
  14. Being happier in general [yay endorphins!] 
  15. Never being obese ever again 
  16. Getting to put a new charm on my bracelet every few weeks 
  17. Better posture 
  18. That feeling of working hard for something and achieving it 
  19. Having a large selection of dresses to wear to my brother's wedding in September, whereas a few months ago I had NONE 
  20. So much self-confidence! 
  21. Rekindling my friendships with my runner friends and starting new friendships with other fitness-minded people 
  22. Having an excuse to get out of my house every day to go to the gym or for a bike ride 
  23. Exercising instead of wallowing in my anxiety and depression 
  24. Being able to move fast enough to catch Felix [my half-feral cat] within a minute instead of a 20 minute chase that leaves both of us tired [and her scared] 
  25. Going further in yoga poses and doing sequences that used to be too difficult 
  26. Feeling like I could possibly beat my spin-maniac mother in a bike race [even if her bike *is* better than mine and has clipped pedals] 
  27. Just feeling so much better overall. I LOVE everything I can do now! 
  28. Being strong, healthy, and happy. 

So, those are 28 things off the top of my head. What are some things on your "love list"?