canyonlands half…not the best experience of my life

I will never again be so undertrained for a race. The Canyonlands Half Marathon was really, really hard for me. A number of factors contributed to this (undertraining, higher temperatures, 15 lbs more on my frame than last year, I thought running eight miles two days before was a good idea). I only finished 7 minutes slower than last year…but it was HARD. (The fun part was spending the weekend with Christy. Despite the disappointing race, I did have a fabulous time…although I think we both agree that we missed Jen and Anne!)

So, I have another half in four weeks. I’m on a good training track, considering I just ran 13.1.

Really, I should be happy that I finished. I should be grateful that I have this amazing body that will let me push it 13.1 miles. But honestly, I’m just frustrated…with myself. A year and a half ago I ran a marathon – A FULL MARATHON – at a faster pace than I ran this half on Saturday. Why didn’t I keep that momentum going? Why did I let myself gain weight? Etc, etc, etc.

In order to get myself over this funk, I’ve decided to set some real goals in terms of speed. Now, I won’t be winning any races. Side note: a classmate’s spouse took 4th in women’s overall…yes, OVERALL. She averaged just over 6-minute miles for 13.1 miles! Anyway, as I was saying, I won’t be winning any races, but I will reach my goal. It is going to require some serious dedication and a lot of training (and weight loss), but I’m determined to do it. If I can run/jog/walk 13.1 miles right now, in this shape, at this weight, there’s just no reason to not be able to get to where I want.

In an effort to make time for life, I’ve decided to limit my commitments for next year. I don’t want to ever feel again the way I felt on Saturday when I finished that race (emotionally or physically…I thought I was going to die), so I need to make sure I have time for training so that I don’t let this, something that is really important to me, fall to the bottom of my priority list.

So, here’s to new goals and plans to reach them! Hopefully the five mile run tonight will go well. (Along with the midterm I have to take that I have yet to study for…so busy!) Right now, I’m just working toward a 10-minute pace for five miles. One step at a time, right?

the continual weight loss drama of my life

I know I haven’t written about this much, but I feel like it’s time for an update. I’m still losing weight. The process is very, very, very slow, but something about the slowness of it gives me comfort. I think it might be some psychological thing where I think that because it’s taking so long to get off, it won’t come back. True or not…the psychological comfort is helpful.

You want to know what else is helpful? Getting sick for a week. Or at least I thought it was until all of that weight turned out to just be water. It was quite depressing…gaining 6 lbs over night. Seriously. But all in all the process is going well. I’ve gotten below “mission fat”, praise all that’s good and holy! In case you don’t understand the term “mission fat”, this was how fat I was when I returned home from being on a mission for my church. Over the course of 16 months I managed to put on 35 lbs; “mission fat” was my all time a high…a weight I swore I would never ever see on a scale again. And yet…and yet…

I am now below “mission fat”. It feels great. My goal is to never see that number again (including whenever I end up pregnant) so I have a lot more to lose. I’ve been learning a lot of helpful things in my classes at school (interestingly enough). It’s not that I’m learning about weight loss, but I’m learning a lot about how to change behavior. And actually one of the books I’ve had to read does talk about weight loss specifically. The book is called Influencer and the authors (one of whom is my professor) have found three key behaviors present in those individuals who manage to lose weight and keep it off. Are you ready for this? I think your minds might be blown. They are 1) weighing yourself every morning, 2) eating breakfast, and 3) doing cardio at home. (Seriously, the book is worth reading.)

I know those of you who struggle with any kind of long-term trial/addiction can understand what I’m talking about. Losing weight, in the long-term, is about a lot more than eating less and exercising more. I have years of habits that have to be altered. Not an easy task. But I really do think those three behaviors are helping.

The good news is things are going well. I’ve had some set-backs, but I am managing the discouragement that normally accompanies those much better than I ever have. I’m being patient with myself. It’s kind of nice. Plus, I don’t really have any other option. With as busy as I am with school and life, and as much as I travel (not conducive to weight loss chez moi), I have to be willing to accept setbacks.

But here are my fantastic accomplishments for the week. Push-ups; I can do them and not on my knees. That’s kind of a big deal. The other one just happened tonight. I clocked a mile under 10 minutes. I realize a number of you out there could do that in your sleep (almost), but considering how little I’ve been running lately and how much I weigh right now, that’s a great feeling. Sometimes I think about how fast I’ll be able to run with 20, or 30, or 50 lbs less to carry and I get really, really excited. That’s the best motivation.

Speaking of motivation, are any of you watching The Biggest Loser? (I watch a total of three hours of t.v. a week generally…this and Lost. That’s it.) Seriously, I love that show. It’s so inspiring to me. Now, I would love it if I could commit all of my time to losing weight (and I think I’d kick some serious trash), but that’s not why I find it inspiring. What does inspire me? The fact that I have so much less to lose than the contestants.

And speaking of The Biggest Loser, if you want a great workout I highly recommend Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. Kicks. My. Trash. In less than 30 minutes. Seriously amazing.

And in case you were looking for some new tunage for your workouts…here are my latest favorites:

  • I Hate This Part – Pussycat Dolls (yes…I am kind of embarrassed, but whatever)
  • Welcome to the World – Kevin Rudolf and Rick Ross (I personally like the non-explicit version)
  • Jai Ho – From Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Way I Are – Timbaland (not new…but still fabulous!)
  • Crash and Burn Girl – Robyn (yes…Robyn…the one-hit-wonder of the 90s)
  • Le Disko – Shiny Toy Guns
  • Day ‘N’ Night – Kid Cudi
  • I’d Like To – Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Hypnotized – Big Gemini (this is more of a cool down song…but I’m loving it)

Where am I finding all of these…the radio. Yes, I’m listening to the radio these days and with the help of Shazam, I manage to find and remember the names of all of the songs I want to download.

For some other favorite songs (not necessarily workout stuff), I’ve updated my sidebar!

running…the rebirth

A friend of mine from my missionary days recently found my blog from Facebook and posted the following to my wall:

“OK Chloe, I just found your blog(s) and I love them! (I had to stop myself from commenting. I’m a nerd…) I am so jealous you were in Europe! You’ll have to tell me your tricks for starting to run after being on a break for so long. Good luck with this semester and training!!”

First of all, Sandra, you can comment on my blog(s) anytime. I love comments. And now, for my “tricks for starting to run after being on a break for so long”. I might add, “and putting on 35 lbs”. (Yes, I am being literal…and in case you were wondering, it took about 18 months to do it).

So, let’s begin…only I’m going to call these “tips” rather than “tricks”. There is nothing remotely magical about them…unfortunately.

Tip #1 – Manage your expectations. This is something we talk about daily in b-school in terms of our shareholders/stakeholders, but really, I think this advice could not be any more applicable than when setting expectations for yourself. You haven’t been running (other than the once-a-month “I feel so guilty that I never run” run) in over six months. You are not going to go out and be able to run as far as you used to with the same ease. Get over it. It’s okay.

Tip #2 – Start with cross training. Since this week was the beginning of my commitment to exercise (I had a terrible cold last week), I started slowly, on the StairMaster. Thankfully, I love the StairMaster and can easily read while on it making it much more difficult to use my homework load as an excuse, so that is my current “drug of choice”. I did two days of easy cardio.

Tip #3 – Start with a distance you know you can manage. The worst thing you can do (at least in my opinion) is to become discouraged. Know your limitations and sit with them. Whatever you can do is what you want to go for. On day three, I ran two miles. For some people, this wouldn’t be enough, for others too much. Having been through this yo-yo cycle before, I knew I could do two miles. If you have never run before, or have never been “off” of running, I suggest you start with 1/2 a mile. Not that you can’t keep going if you feel good, but you don’t want to feel like a failure. (Or is that just me).

Tip #4 – Continue to cross train and add mileage SLOWLY. Get to a point where the first distance feels comfortable, then add another mile (or fraction thereof).

Tip #5 – Think about what you are eating and what you are drinking. I think my current lack of Diet Coke consumption is helping tremendously. I drink a ton of water every day and I am being more “running” conscious in my eating. I know I need good carbs to fuel my run and protein for my muscles to recover, and I eat accordingly. And when I say “I need good carbs”, I am in no way referring to any kind of carboloading. No one needs to carboload to run two miles. No one. I’m talking about making good carb choices…like whole grain breads and pastas, etc.

Tip #6 – MUSIC!!! This should probably have been Tip #1, but whatever. For me, a good running playlist makes all the difference. And I have found that it needs to be a NEW playlist if it’s a new season of running. Let me explain. When I listen to my old running playlists, I start to remember how I used to be able to run 5 or 9 or 13 or 18 or 22 or 26.2 miles and it kills me mentally. New plan = new playlist. This tip may sound ridiculous to a number of you, but it works for me.

Tip #7 – Sign up for a race…with a friend. I need accountability in my life, so I create it. Canyonlands, here I come! For you, it may not be a half marathon. It may be a 5K…it doesn’t really matter. What matters is some kind of goal to work toward. That first night when I started running again, I was pretty much dying in the beginning. My legs hurt, my body was itching (am I the only one who experiences this weird phenomenon?), I could feel every muscle screaming its protest to this new routine…and I just kept thinking, “If I stop, there’s no way I’ll be able to run 13.2 miles by March 21st.” Over and over and over and over again, until finally my body realized it wasn’t going to win and shut the hell up.

Tip #8 – Know when you go to bed each night when you will be running/working out the next day. I have found this invaluable. When the plan is in place, it’s much easier to stick with it. With my crazy schedule, it varies every day, but every night I know when it is going to happen the next day and that’s all I need.

Tip #9 – Running has to be a priority. You have to want it…but you don’t have to love it. For me running is not something I do because I love running (I do have those runs when I absolutely do love it, but those are few and far between). For me running is something I do because when I’m done with a run, I feel so good about myself and my body and in the world of women (especially those of us that struggle with weight and/or self-esteem issues), that is motivation enough for me to keep at it. Figure out why it’s important to you and why you do it and make it a priority.

Tip #10 – If you hate it, don’t do it. There are plenty of other great physical activities that will give you the same results as running. The emotional benefits of exercise are a huge part of why I do it and if I was hating every moment of it, well, that wouldn’t be very beneficial now, would it?

the end

If you are visiting from Runners’ Lounge, just check out the training segment (video number three). This is a quick (and funny) what not to do when training for your distance races. If you are preparing for your first long race and want a little knowledge about what it’s like (if you are slow and under trained), you can check out my other videos on this post and this post.

For the rest of you, just a warning before watching. All of these are kind of offensive. I sing in two of them (and it’s awful, out of breath, out of tune singing) and swear in one, and there’s a crazy old guy dancing in another. If you don’t want to watch them, that’s okay. They give even me nightmares. Although, the “training” video is pretty funny.

My personal favorite…the training segment. (Not for young ears…don’t tell my dad). My other favorite thing is the lame-o behind us at the end, hoping for 10 seconds of fame. Where? I don’t know. It’s not like my blog is going to make her famous. I have never understood people like that.

This is just some nut dancing at the end of the race. It’s kind of long and, at first, you can’t see him. But I still wanted to share.

Here we all are, the morning after; exhausted from both the race and our crazy hike after it (yes…we thought hiking to Delicate Arch would be a good idea).

Anne’s parents are my favorite. Seriously. They were fabulous for the marathon (the full in St. George) and it was so fun to drive up to Anne’s house and see this sign in the window! Thank you! Thank you!

And with that, I end my half-marathon posts (I still have some Moab stuff). I hope you have enjoyed the video journey of an under trained runner. If this has not convinced you to train before attempting distance races, I’m not sure what would. Although, hopefully, you can tell that I was enjoying myself.

the race begins

First, for a basic run down of the weekend, feel free to visit Jen’s blog to read her post. She’s included a few things that I will probably not post about, since she already did, but that are funny and note worthy (at least to me).

And now, on to more videos.

First, the start was not the white thing you see easily…that was just a banner where the DJ was. Second, can you hear what’s playing in the background? More importantly, can you name that song? I love the music they play at races.

So, a little race education. In races, they put the slower people at the back. Generally, there is some sort of chip timing (in the bigger races) so it doesn’t really matter because your time starts when you cross the starting mats, but this way, you don’t feel lame when a gazillion people fly past you. And, you really must know I love you, my readers, because this video is kind of gross (not content, but the angle of my face), but I still felt like sharing. Um…how much are you loving my headband over my hat? A lot, right?

This is the beginning of the race…and me singing a little Dixie Chicks. I sing a lot when I run distance races. A LOT. Anne could have vouched for me, but now you will have digital video proof (there’s more to come). Don’t you love technology? I know I do. Also notice the wardrobe. Still with the headband, still with a long sleeve shirt.

So, in case you were wondering, there are several schools of thought on how to run a marathon (or half) and my favorite one is the one that includes walking breaks. Not to mention the fact that the one video I did shoot while actually running makes me a little sea sick every time I watch it. Can anyone name the Eiffel 65 song?

Yes…there’s more, but I have to get to bed. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final video journal (and some awesome training tips).