Tools for a New Year

I read something the other day that was so right on, I just knew I had to share it here.

When I started running in July of 2009, I wasn’t doing it to get “thin.” Yes, I wanted to lose weight, but the real goal was to get healthy. My back was a mess and I was sitting too much and eating too much, and I was depressed about it all. I guess you could say my physical health (or lack thereof) was messing with my mental health. I started slow and soon I was pain-free. Next thing I knew I was running a half, then another, and then training for a full!

Of course, we all know how that ended. But walking the half with Alma and her friend was one of the most fun races I’ve done thus far. So it was a good thing! And I didn’t snap my fractured shin in half. Also a good thing.

Anyway, here’s the passage from Fitness magazine (Jan. 2011). It’s from a short story by reporter Patty Adams Martinez featuring TV’s drill sergeant — The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels (right).

“Going through her own personal transformation taught her what works with others — namely setting goals that make people really want to change. ‘Feeling good in a bathing suit, or seeing your grand-children graduate from high school: Those things are worth it,’ Michaels has said. ‘It’s not just about being fat and then being thin. When you’re healthy physically, you’re healthy in every aspect of life.'”

SO TRUE!

I got some great new tools for Christmas to help me continue my quest to be healthy and fit physically (and mentally!) in 2011. Here’s what I got and a small review of each. Maybe you’ll see something that can help you, too!

JILLIAN MICHAELS 30-DAY SHRED VIDEO

I had this one on my Amazon wishlist and my mom sent it to me. I’d heard good things about it and, so far, I totally agree. It’s a great 20-minute at-home workout. It’s hard — and I’m only on Level 1. I’ve been using this video in between running days since it’s been cold and icy in the early morning here and I don’t feel like scraping my windshield to get to the gym every day. I know I still need to cross-train with the elliptical and bike, though, so this will probably be an evening workout on running days in the future.

All you need with this video is a little space, two 5-pound hand weights and a mat if you are working out on a hard surface, so it’s great because there’s no extra equipment to buy!

YOUR SHAPE: FITNESS EVOLVED XBOX KINECT GAME

This one’s a little different. You need and Xbox 360 and the Kinect add-on (the no-controller, motion sensor thing). We’ve had one for a little while because of Mr. T’s job, and it’s really fun. (Dance Central is a great aerobic workout, too! It’s a lot like Guitar Hero, but for dance moves.)

Anyway, Mr. T got me this particular fitness game because it was the best-rated and it’s really good. It’s sort of like going to the gym with a personal trainer. There’s aerobic-type workouts, like kickboxing, and toning workouts, plus a zen cooldown I love (I suck at it, but it’s great!). You do your workout right along with a trainer and you have to stick with him/her or you lose points. You can see yourself on the screen behind the trainer, so it’s a little like looking in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors they have in gym classes. The game also shows you how many calories you are burning.

BODYBUGG
Speaking of calories. As you know, I am trying to lose weight. I still have about 17 or 18 pounds to go to get to my ultimate goal. I’m hoping the Bodybugg (personal calorie management system) can help me. You’ve probably seen this device before. The contestants on The Biggest Loser wear one. It’s a small device that straps to your upper arm (you get used to it and forget it’s there pretty quickly) and tracks how many calories you are burning throughout the day.

I was a little hesitant about wearing this at first because 1) I felt maybe it was a little silly considering I don’t have 100s of pounds to lose; and 2) I didn’t think I’d like having it on all the time. The thing is, though, it’s really cool to see how many calories I’m burning just walking around all day (or sitting around). It’s pretty motivating. And I like being able to see my calorie deficit (when I enter my food intake in the online program and plug in the Bodybugg device). It makes things simple: calories in, calories out. And I don’t even notice it’s on anymore. I’ve even been sleeping with it on (hey, you burn calories why you sleep, too, okay?)

The only thing I don’t like is that you can see it when you wear a shirt with fitted sleeves. Also, not sure if I will like wearing it out for everyone to see when the weather gets warmer and I’m in short sleeves. Maybe by then I’ll be down to my goal weight and will wear it for workouts and in private.

RUNNER’S WORLD SUBSCRIPTION

I love this magazine. My subscription was up, but Mr. T rocks and renewed for me. Yay! I always find helpful tips and inspirational stories in there that keep me moving. Plus, I get great ideas for blog posts in there, too.

A MASSAGE
Mr. T got me one! I’ve never had one and I can’t wait to go!

RIP Trail Running

 T Junior at the park in August 2009.

We live in a pretty quiet community. There’s a park for little kids down the street. A tree-lined trail runs along our neighborhood. There’s a lake for kids to play in.

But now some bad people are ruining it for us. It makes me angry.

Yes, I’ve had a love/scared relationship with the trail, but I usually got over my fears. I just always tend to imagine the worst thing that could happen. So I’ve run the trail with my gut, which means, I listen, watch out and turn off if I feel threatened.

Sunday was one of those days. I took T Junior in his jogging stroller for a 3-miler. I couldn’t decide if I want to take the trail, and eventually decided it might be easier than dodging parked cars (I run on the street — no more concrete sidewalks for me). Plus, T Junior got a camera for Christmas and he wanted to take pictures of the trees.

Once on the trail, I headed in the direction to where it meets up with the main road in town (where I turn around). It’s probably a quarter of a mile from where I get on the trail across from my house to that road. About half way into it, though, I spotted a dude just loitering up ahead near my turn-around spot. He seemed out of place, and since the trail is hidden from the road and behind fences of homes, I decided to turn off at the park and rejoin a neighborhood.

That’ll be the last time on the trail for me and my son.

On Tuesday, there was a gang-related shooting on the trail right next to the little park that’s .1 miles away from my house (I know, thanks to AJII — my Garmin — and past running routes). Nobody died, thank goodness, and arrests were made. But what if someone was in the park with their kids then? What if someone was running by? Now I’m scared. I don’t even want to run outside in my neighborhood.

I makes me sad. And mad. Where did these people come from?

See the news story, go HERE.

2011 Goals: Don't Be a Schmuck

Sometimes you need a wake-up call in order to realize what a schmuck you’ve been.

Maybe it’s an injury that forces you to put your dream on hold. Maybe it’s a simple comment from a friend. Or maybe it’s a heated argument with someone you love.

Or, perhaps, it takes all of the above.

Looking back at the 2010 version of myself, I’m not impressed. And it’s not because I didn’t run a marathon and it’s not because I couldn’t even manage to get a first draft written of my novel(s).

Nope. The problem was focus. I was too focused. Too driven by big, big dreams. So focused, I forgot to look out the window and notice the scenery. Let me give you a little example.

Last spring, I got an email from a friend inviting me over for a Real Housewives of New Jersey finale party. (I bet that’s not what you thought I was going to say. Or maybe you did and I reveal more about myself than I mean to on this blog.) The get-together was on a Wednesday night. Not a great night of the week for me, but I coulda pulled it off with a babysitter.

In fact, I did hire a babysitter that night. But not because I was going to be down the road a few miles at a friends house drinking wine, laughing and rolling my eyes at crazy Danielle. Nope.

I hired a babysitter so I could go to the gym and run seven miles on the treadmill. Why?

Because that’s what my training plan told me to do. Gotta stay on program. Gotta get those miles in. Gotta be faster. Go harder.

About a month later, I would fracture my shin and NOT run a marathon. And, yeah, I know watching the RHNJ finale is not something that would’ve made my life any better, but having some face time with friends would’ve.

That’s just one example of the many, many things I missed out on because I was looking at life through marathon-colored glasses. It’s all I could see: me, a finish line and a medal.

Next week, I’ll post my first goal (of four) for 2011. So many of you are goal-panning now, as well. From one all-or-nothing personality type to another: When you are writing your training plans and scheduling your races, don’t be a schmuck. Don’t forget to leave time for your other loves — family and friends.

After all, you do want someone to be waiting for you at the finish line, don’t you?
 

Note: Each Wednesday in January, I will dedicate one post my Top Four goals for 2011.

A Little Advice On Goal-Making

Hope you had a very merry Christmas!
Here’s to a happy, healthy 2011!

I’ve been thinking about goals. It’s only natural this time of the year. Are you making goals for 2011? Do you remember your goals from 2010? I remember a couple of them: write that novel; run that marathon. Neither of which I accomplished. But it was not without trying. However, I think I know why my goals were not met.

They aren’t goals. They are dreams.

I think there is a difference between goals and dreams. A dream is big. It’s life-changing. Goals are steps you take to reach your dreams.

I’m not an expert on this. Obviously. It’s just my observation.

When I write down my goals for 2011, they are going to be smaller, chewable pieces of my dreams. For example, I want to run a marathon. Okay. So what are the goals I need to achieve in order to do so? Follow my training plan. Work on strength. Eat well. Those are goals. Yes? What do you think?

Also, I need your advice. What am I going to do to ensure I am following my goals? A chart? A calendar? Does anyone have any fun ways of keeping track of their goals and achievements? I’d love to hear them!

Six Things Thursday: Ice Cream and Bacon

It’s like a game of Christmas tag! And I’m it.

Thanks to both Kim at (Just) Trying is for Little Girls and Chelsea at Will Run for Food for tagging me!

1. What is your favorite time of day to run?
I like to run in the morning for a few reasons:

A. It gets the run out of the way. My days are usually pretty full, so if I don’t go running before the day begins, it can be difficult to squeeze it in.

B. It reduces the mom-run-guilt factor. I don’t like putting my son in the gym day care regularly or taking away from time I could be spending with the hubs. When this does happen, I feel guilty about it. I don’t want to feel guilty about running. I know it’s good for my physical (and mental) wellbeing.

C. The positive attitude and alert mental state I get from running stays with me throughout the day. I also do a better job of making healthy food decisions when I exercise first thing in the morning.

2. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
If I could get paid to write this blog, I’d say that would be a pretty sweet gig. I mean, I am a writer in my real-life job and stuff.

3. Do you have a guilty food pleasure? (ie What’s your favorite empty-calorie food?)
I have many. But the one that causes the most problems is ice cream.

When I was pregnant, I didn’t keep track of my weight closely. But I felt I was doing a good job of eating healthy. I’d lost about 40 pounds or so before I got pregnant, so I was okay with gaining some weight – you know the 25 or 30 you’re supposed to gain. I knew I’d just take it off after I gave birth. No prob.

My doctor was a fit, stylish woman in her late 30s or early 40s who wore leopard print heels to the office and went on bicycle treks in South America. At my six-month check up she came into the little room, sat on her swivel stool, opened up my file and said, “So, why do you think you gained 12 pounds this month?”

It took me by complete surprise. TWELVE?! A month is only about 30 days, right? But I’d been eating healthy! I told her this.

She looked at me suspiciously, as if to say, “Whaddya think I was born yesterday?” What she really said was, “Can you think of anything in particular that you’ve been eating a lot of?”

And like one of those Rorschach tests, the first thing that popped into my mind was the nightly scoop of ice cream. The nightly scoop of ice cream that had become the nightly two scoops of ice cream, which then became the nightly two scoops of ice cream with a banana that became the nightly two scoops of ice cream with a banana and sprinkles, which then became the nightly two scoops of ice cream with a banana and sprinkles and a drizzle of Hershey’s syrup, which became the nightly two scoops of ice cream with a banana, some sprinkles, a drizzle of Hershey’s syrup and whipped cream topping.

I got a prescription. And it was not for more cowbell. But it was for fat-free fudge bars.

Lame.

4. How and/or why did you start running?
Did you read question three at all?

That was part of it – to lose weight after having my son. But I also had a painful herniated disc in my lower back that was due, in part, from inactivity. You can read about my back HERE.

I chose running because I ran track and cross country in high school. After high school, I ran off and on, but never trained for anything. It was more about getting in shape, and I would just run as much or as little as I wanted to with my Discman. Yes. I said Discman.

5. Do you have any special Christmastime traditions?
Oh, yes. On Christmas morning, we have Christmas Breakfast Strata, a casserole made of bread, eggs, milk, cheese and…wait for it…bacon. I think the fact that we only eat it once per year makes it even yummier. This is a tradition we’ve carried over from my family. I don’t think Mr. T minds. It’s really easy to make. We put it together on Christmas Eve then refrigerate it over night. (Email me if you want the recipe.)

6. What race/event are you most looking forward to in 2011?
Last June, I cried a little as I rang my cowbell for the runners at the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon. I was supposed to be done with my 26.2 by then. I was supposed to be a marathoner. But it wasn’t meant to be.

This June (barring injury), I will be running the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon!

Let’s Get to Know More About:
Zoë at Run, Zoë, Run
LB at Muddy Runner
Wifey at Run, Wifey, Run

The Best Christmas 5K Ever!

Note: Video of T Junior’s first ever race at the end of this blog, so stick around! And turn up your volume!

The wind beat against the side of our house and the lights blipped. Friday night’s storm was making me nervous for Saturday morning’s race because it wasn’t going to be just any race.

It was going to be T Junior’s first 1K and my first real race since being injured waaaay back in May. And it was going to be with my family, friends and with costumes. But the weather was threatening the fun factor.

Saturday morning came and I heard wind gusting outside my bathroom window as I got dressed. But when I went downstairs I saw that sounds can be deceiving. It wasn’t bad.

Then we drove through Auburn. Heavy rain and wind. My heart sunk. I wasn’t going to make my kid run in that. But wouldn’t you know it, by the time we got to T-town the rain had mostly passed…and the sun would come out during the race and stay there for the kids! It was perfect!

From left: Janna and her friend, Jill’s friend Jamie, me, Mel, Jill, Chelsea and Kadie!

Saturday was the Santa Runs Tacoma 5K, 10K and the kids 1K. Several of us local bloggy, running ladies were there: Alma, Chelsea, Janna, Jill, Kadie and Mel. We wore striped socks and found fun Christmas shirts for cheap. There was a lot of hugs and excitement. And, of course, pictures.

Goodwill shirt with Target tags still attached: $2.99!
Elf ears from my MIL!

Alma’s aunt and Alma, Chelsea and me post-race.

The fun morning was about to get even better as we crossed the start. I felt good. I’d barely been thinking about the race. I guess I was more excited about T Junior’s race to come. Once I crossed the start, though, I realized my friends weren’t with me. I turned around and ran backwards for a few feet and couldn’t see them.

I realized I didn’t really have a plan. Was I going to stick with them or try for a PR. It only took me a second to decide. PR.

I took off, but I was way in the back and had to weave in and out of people as I tried to stay steady and strong up a freeway onramp. Please, please, please do me a favor: If you need/want to walk, pull off to the right…or at least look behind you! I can’t tell you how many people came to a dead stop right in front of me. Be conscious of other runners. Please!

Also, I love dogs. You know this. (I saw two boxers, by the way.) However, if you are bringing your dog to a race, please keep it on its leash close to your side. One runner’s dog was at the end of his leash running in a crowd. The dog darted in front of me and I almost tripped over the leash. It was scary.

Oh, and be prepared for poop. Just before the end of the race, one runner’s buddy had to go and stopped to do his business right in the middle of the road. But that smart runner/dog owner brought a baggie and was quick to clean it up! Thank you!

Besides those couple of things, the race was pretty uneventful. Except.

Except I kept looking down at AJII (my Garmin) and seeing a sub-9 pace! The course had the hill/onramp at the beginning then was flat until a hill just before the turn-around, then it was flat again until the hill/onramp toward the finish/start line again. At least this is how I remember it.

At 2 miles, I started to wonder if I could hold the sub-9 pace I was pulling. But I saw it hadn’t even been 18 minutes yet and I knew I could slow to a 10-minute pace if I needed to and probably still PR (although, I have to admit, I couldn’t remember what my 5K time was at the Jingle Bell 5K last December — I thought it was 30-something and…it was a 30:16).

I was tiring a little and my pace was creeping up. I remembered my shuffle step (Jeff Galloway’s tip) and the pace came back down again! Up the final hill I went and then down, where I spotted Mr. T and T Junior yelling and waving at me. Mr. T took pictures, which I will post later. I waved both hands at them frantically.

The hill flattened out and the finish line was near. There was a dude cruising on in and I thought I might be able to pass him. I thought of Zoë and I knew I had to “chick him” for her! I sprinted as hard as I could and I passed him.

Except he must’ve not appreciated that because he sprinted and un-chicked himself right at the finish line! Darn it!

Thank you, Mel, for this awesome shot!

I don’t know. He might’ve been officially chicked. We’d have to go to the replay. But whatever.

I’d seen 28-something on the clock as I crossed and knew I’d PR’d! I was so excited I forgot to turn AJII off until after I got my water and my very cool race mug. I was a little nauseous. I guess I really pushed myself. But I held it together. I didn’t see Mr. T and T Junior anywhere, but I found Mel and her awesome mom at the finish.

(They eventually suggested I borrow their phone to find my family, who happened to be right on the other side of a van from where I was standing. Oops. Note to self: have a meeting place planned ahead of time. What a dummus.)

After everyone had finished the 5K and 10K, it was time for the kids race! Mel snapped a shot of me and T Junior, who had his “race face” on along with his Washington State University track suit, and his warm hat and mittens.

He smiled almost the entire race! I got it on video, of course (at end of post), but Alma got a great shot of the whole fam!

T Junior, me and Mr. T!

At home, I waited FOREVER for race results and FINALLY they came in:

27:27

That’s an 8:51 pace. An 8:51 pace! Booyah! (A little weightloss, slow running and strength training can go a long way!) I also placed 14th in my age group out of 89! Wearing striped socks…and huge elf ears!

Basking in PR glow.

Okay, enough of that. Here’s the video of T Junior’s race. Don’t worry I cut down the time. It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s fun and set to music!

Thank you Janna, Jill, Mel and Alma for the photos, and Chelsea for the yummy treats!

5 Things that Made Me Faster(ish)

You might want to sit down for this.

Okay. Ready?

I ran an 8:09 mile. I know!

How did this happen? There are a number of things, I think, that contributed to this historic and exciting event:

1. I actually tested myself.

I started Jeff Galloway’s marathon training program a few weeks ago (I’m training for Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll at the end of June). It’s a really long training program that stresses slow running with walk breaks on long runs and only includes two mid-week runs that are just 30 minutes each. This, I believe, is a very manageable training schedule, especially for parents with busy schedules. Go HERE if you’re interested.

Anyway, a few times throughout the course of the program, Galloway has you test your speed with something he calls “magic miles.” Sunday was a “back off” run (in lieu of a long run) and was only 2.5 miles, with one of those being a “magic mile.” I left my music and my phone at home. It was just me, my capris, a light jacket, my favorite hat (that Amanda gave me!) and buckets upon buckets of rain.

I walked for five minutes to warm up (in the pouring rain), then ran a slowish mile trying to keep myself at a 10:30 pace or slower (in the pouring rain). Then, over the same route as my slowish mile, I freakin’ hauled a$$. I went as fast I could manage (in the pouring rain) without throwing up as per Galloway’s instructions. (I was very nauseous afterward, I admit, but not quite to the hurling stage.)

Then, I jogged slowly for another half-mile to cool down (in the pouring rain).

2. Slow running.

I’ve been trying really hard to keep my pace slower so I don’t hurt myself again and to take off some of the self-imposed pressure.

It’s hard not to compare my pace with all of the amazing runners around me, you know? Now (as compared to last spring), when I see the pace inching up on AJII (my Garmin) a little too fast, I’m more apt to back off. This is especially important on long runs, and I have been taking it really slow during those in addition to using the run/walk method that Galloway preaches.

3. Not running.

Less running, more strength and cross training. Giving my shins time to recover between each run and building muscle through lunges, squats, etc.

4. The shuffle step.

This is another Galloway tip. Go HERE to see.

5. Weightloss

I weigh at least 15 pounds less than I did last spring. Getting injured was sort of a blessing in disguise because it got running out of the way and let me focus on losing some pounds.

Have you been getting faster? If yes, why do you think?