Tag Archives: running

Chubby Girls Run – More Than I Have Since 2013

One of the Michigan back roads where Run for CHUM takes you. Most beautiful run I've ever done!

One of the Michigan back roads where Run for CHUM takes you. Most beautiful run I’ve ever done! Sign up now for September!

I just finished my third full week of training for my upcoming half marathon in January. I was a little nervous to move from 3 miles per day (for the first two weeks) to 4 miles per day. But when I saw my stats in Map My Run after my workout, I was tickled pink! I ran at a good pace for me!

Even better – and more surprising – when I wrote in my running journal about my 4 miles, I paged back to find the last time I ran that much. I knew it’d been a while, but what a shock to see the last time was in September 2013! The day I ran my last half marathon, the Run for CHUM charity run for my sister’s therapeutic riding facility in Michigan.

Wow.

Strangely, I was nervous again on Wednesday. What if I was tired now and much slower? I was so nervous that I’d suck, I skipped my circuit training on Tuesday to regain my strength. But Wednesday was great, too! I decided to do my circuit training on Thursday because I must get stronger in order to run faster, but I knew I might be slower Friday just from being tired.

I did great Friday, too! (And so I made up my missed circuit training session on Saturday. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

My body is really beginning to show me that it’s happy to be getting stronger, even though sometimes it’s not fun to try to do exercises I can’t do for the 40 seconds per circuit round. Forty seconds, guys. Sheesh. But…every week I’m a tiny bit better. I can see small changes when I look in the mirror.

And once I started envisioning myself running faster while trying to do a 60-second plank, I was able to stay up and straight for the whole 60 seconds! The more I envision myself getting stronger, the stronger I get. It’s so cool! (For more information on cool things your brain can do, read You Are the Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Awesome book!)

If you’re working on improving your health, exercising more, training for a run, or anything that requires a lot of effort for small changes, keep going! Don’t give up! Together, we can achieve our goals. ย ๐Ÿ™‚

Chubby Girls Run – Even on the 4th of July


Kitty smiling after a run

After a run – notice my awesome new shirt!

If you’re going to sign up to run a race, you’re going to force yourself to practice for two reasons. One, you don’t want to be embarrassed or hurt yourself on the day of the race. Two, you don’t want to waste your money. Race entry fees can be very expensive.

So I’ve been getting up at 4:50am Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so I can get out there and be done running by the time the sun comes up. (It’s as much as 70 degrees in the dark some mornings.) Thank goodness, there is a big hill to the east that shields me from the sun for a few extra minutes. Those are a few extra minutes of sleep for me!

Now, I’m not fast, but I will tell you one secret I’ve found that works for me. Before I go out, even before I go to bed the night before, I think about how great running is, how great the wind feels in my face, what a sense of accomplishment I feel when I run a little faster.

Kitty exhausted after a run

How I feel on the inside!

The reason I keep going with this awful circuit training (it’s awful because I’m not strong yet and I’m just terrible at all these exercises) is that I know I’m going to run faster if I keep it up. Already, I can tell the difference – I’m regularly running at my past fully-trained speed, the speed I run during a race, and I’m only two weeks in! I may not enjoy feeling like a weakling as I work my way up to a strong body, but I already know it’s going to be worth it!

One of the things that I forgot I need to plan for is that I need more sleep with all the extra exercise. I think it was after my second run that I lay down after lunch for a few minutes and slept for two hours! It’s much harder for me to get enough sleep in the summer due to the early sunrise, so I have a dark T-shirt under my pillow that I pull out around 5am and put over my eyes – on days I don’t have to get up early. Hey, whatever works, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Silly Kitty after her run

Even exhausted, I’m happy I went running!

Another thing that’s slightly irritating, but necessary, is that you need to train consistently. Tomorrow is the 4th of July – a holiday and, for many people, a day to sleep in. But me? It’s Monday, a training day, so my alarm is set for 4:50am.

Plus, I’ve got a big conference in ten days with events from 8am into the evening. It’s an exhausting (but fun!) four days on its own. But guess what I’m going to have to do? Yup, get up at 4 or 5 in the morning and run four miles around San Diego on Wednesday and Friday, and then go to a full day of workshops.

Sheesh.

๐Ÿ™‚

And yet, I’m looking forward to a morning run in a new place. Silly Kitty, I know. But…I guess I’ve not only caught the running bug…I think it’s permanent. ๐Ÿ˜€

Chubby Girls Run – A New Column to Celebrate Trying New Things

I asked and you answered – and so here is my new column (for at least the next 29 weeks)!

My runner's journal on the first dayWhy Chubby Girls Run? Well, I first started my running journey when I was 39 and chubby. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d been thinking that I wanted to do something a little wild and crazy before I turned 40, but I couldn’t think of something that I might actually enjoy. Then, the week before my birthday, my friend Dwight said he wanted to run a marathon once just to say he did it. That definitely sounded wild and crazy!

But when I did a little research, it seemed like most “bucket list” marathoners found the experience so brutal, most only did it once. I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt that bad! So I convinced John to do the Couch-to-5K podcast series with me and…one thing led to another. We did a 5K race in Brentwood, CA, and a 10K race in Santa Barbara, CA, and they were kind of fun! John and I both decided a half marathon would likely be a distance we could handle without too much discomfort. So all three of us signed up for the 2008 Pasadena Marathon and Half Marathon.

My runner's journal canceled Pasadena MarathonWe were all so stoked for it! The race was scheduled to be exactly eight months from the date Dwight and John and I all had lunch and decided to do this crazy thing together. John and I were so excited, we rented a motel room a couple blocks away, got special shirts with “Run for CHUM” printed on them (because we were raising money for my sister’s charity), and we both woke up before the alarm went off that morning. But when we walked out the motel room door – smoke! Oh no! A few minutes later, we were told the race was cancelled due to fire in the hills above!

My runner's journal Surf City MarathonCrap! All that training and energy for nothing. But no! We regrouped and found another race as quickly as we could. Finally, Dwight and John and Iย ran our first marathon and half marathon in Huntington Beach, CA, about 7 weeks before my 41st birthday! Woo-hooo!! I made my goal!

And so begins the funny part of the story. I liked it! I liked long-distance running! I never liked to run in gym class, and was relegated to the shot put and discus arena when I tried to join the track team in high school. To this day, the first mile about kills me. I’ve gotten better at slowing down in the first mile, but all I can think about is how I can’t breathe and how slow I am and why am I doing this?! Haha!

But mile #2 – every time – brings in some of that endorphin rush. I find my rhythm, feel the grace of movement, and relax into the beat of good music punctuated by my running shoes on the sidewalk. It’s basically awesome.

I kept a runner’s journal from the first day (pictures of it here) but didn’t record my weight at first. At the time I started, I was probably around 168 or so. A year later (April 2009), I recorded our weight in the journal because we both wanted to lose weight. I weighed 178 pounds (just shy of 81 kg).

Definitely chubby. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kitty crossing the finish line at one of the half marathons I ran in SydneyBut the fact is, I kept running because I liked it. I came in at the end of races – at least once I was last. In the 2010 Blackmores’ Sydney Running Festival’s Half Marathon, I limped/ran the whole 13.1 miles due to a hurt muscle a few days before. I didn’t think I’d finish, but there were two women from New Zealand there and the three of us ended up kind of running together. I came in third to last in a field of thousands of runners, but I finished! And all those people in the picture – they cheered for us! (I high-fived the other two after we crossed the finish line!)

I would guess I was about 165-168 (75-76 kg) at the time. However, you want to look at it, still chubby. ๐Ÿ™‚

Even when life went to hell in a handbasket, I’d find myself running again. I never found a way to lose any weight and stayed in the 165-178 range from March 2008 on. After John got in a motorcycle accident in March 2014, I stopped trying to exercise and spent a lot of time stress eating. By January of this year, I was up to 198 pounds (90 kg)! I actually ran a little bit even at that weight!

I don’t know what happened – why now? – but at the beginning of January 2016, I decided to lose 50 pounds (nearly 23 kg) in 50 weeks…and it’s working!ย I think a big part of my success came from deciding to blog about it (see the first post here) and from posting a picture of chubby me after losing 2 pounds the first week. There was no way I was going to let that be the last picture of me! Hahaha!

Even though I plan and expect to be down to 148 (67kg) before Christmas, the fact is that I’ve always been on the chubby side. And I’ve been chubby every single day I’ve ever run. ย And saying I’m a chubby slow runner always makes me laugh for some reason!

And if I can encourage you to do something a little wild and crazy that you don’t know for sure you can do – lose weight, run a race, sky dive (that one’s for you, not me!) – then I want to do that, to encourage you!

Runner Journal signup for 2017CHalfMSo for the next 29 Sundays – that’s when I run the 2017 Carlsbad Half Marathon – I’ll be writing about my running progress, what’s working and what’s not. If I can get some other chubby runners, girl runners, writer runners, or other runners to come guest blog and encourage us both, I’ll do it!

I promise to try to keep future posts shorter. But I wanted to give us both a solid foundation to build on. Now go and build something yourself! I know from experience – you can do it!

Healthy Overeating is Exhausting!

j0182665I know I am so late with my usual Monday blog. It’s not that I haven’t had any interesting ideas. It’s that I am changing my body chemistry and it’s really messing with my mind!

When I ran the half marathon a couple weeks ago, I did my best time so far – yay! But I was also at my heaviest weight – ever! I don’t want to have to stop running because I got too fat for it. Sheesh! And right now, I’m totally ready to finally work on getting healthier in every way.

For instance, if I’m going to have a sit-down job for the next 20+ years, I need to do more kinds of exercise to keep my body healthy enough for that kind of sitting. (Because you and I both know, it’s not good for you.)

Plus, my job requires new and exciting things to come out of my head on a regular basis. So I need to feed my brain, as well as the rest of my cells, high-quality nutrients. So I stopped at my local Nutrition Zone and talked to the wonderful Jen. She printed out a guide for me to use for the next 10 days.

Wait, I didn’t expect Reese’s Pieces to be on the diet, but I thought there’d be something interesting. Three meals with a protein and vegetables, and three protein shakes for ten days. Looks like my new dessert item is half a cup of berries sprinkled with cinnamon. Okay, that sounds good. Could be worse.

j0178844Enter worse.

Knowing on Friday night that I was going to start this diet Monday morning, I ate a great deal of yummy food over the weekend. Things like chocolate-covered almonds, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and Honey BBQ Fritos Twists.

But by Monday afternoon, the sudden drop in sugar intake had developed into a raging headache. I started to feel just plain yucky by evening, and it didn’t go away till after I ran Tuesday morning. And yet, here I am Tuesday afternoon thinking I cleared the big hurdle ย and I’ll feel great from now on – suddenly feeling tired and yucky again.

And totally full to my eyeballs with sugar snap peas. They’re wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But I haven’t eaten so many vegetables in a month as I have in the last 36 hours. (Yes, I know, that means I’m probably on the right track!) In order to get 3 meals and 3 shakes into a day, I feel like I never stop eating! I couldn’t even finish the last half cup of sugar snap peas at lunch and it’s almost time for my protein shake. Stop! Please!

I’m sure this is going to be super good for me. That’s the reason I’m committed to keeping at it for the next 8 days. But right now, my head is a space case and I don’t have any interesting thoughts available to share. Hopefully by next week, I’ll be more creative and interesting than ever! (Hey, a girl can hope.)

Meanwhile, maybe I’ve made you laugh with my whinging and whining over my new healthy eating habits. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Running For Joy

CHM logoYesterday John and I ran our first half marathon in two and a half years, the Carlsbad Half Marathon in Carlsbad, CA. We’d signed up in August thinking it’d be fun to have a race to look forward to and keep us motivated. Plus it was only a few miles from home. But our training wasn’t what it needed to be and, as late as the day before, I think we both would’ve been relieved if the race had been cancelled.

Thank you, God, for such a comfortable car to sleep in!

Thank you, God, for such a comfortable car to sleep in!

Knowing that probably wasn’t going to happen, I prayed for God to help me talk myself into being excited and to look forward to it. Like with any other major effort, success comes more from what is going on in the mind. I also sent out a request for encouragement on Facebook. Boy, did my friends come through with flying colors!

By the time we woke up Sunday morning, John and I were both in more of a “we can do this” frame of mind. The last time we ran the City2Surf race in Sydney (14k, about 9 miles), we almost missed it because the buses were already so full of racers that none of them stopped at our stop. So we took to heart the race officials’ย admonition to add an extra 30-45 minutes for traffic.

Too cold to take off my sweatshirt yet - but I'm official, I swear.

Too cold to take off my sweatshirt yet – but I’m official, I swear.

So unnecessary. We were parked not far from the Start Line less than half an hour after we left home! It was cold and drizzly so we decided to sit in the car for another hour while we waited for the full marathoners to start their race. John napped a little and I tried to relax.

At 7:05, we decided it was time to get going. The rain was over and appeared to be leaving for good (it did); that was one thing to be grateful for. Now that it wasn’t dark, we could see the signs along the roadway in front of us. My start group, Wave 6, was right in front of our car! If only we’d brought two sets of keys, I could stay warm in the car for another forty minutes.ย John sang, “Na-na na-na-na!” while I complained. ๐Ÿ˜›

My new hat says: You don't have to go fast. You just have to go.

My new hat says: You don’t have to go fast. You just have to go.

We wandered up to John’s start, wave 3 (they break up the runners based on how long the runners expect they’ll need to complete the course), and stood around for a while, watching the other people. Hardly any costumes like in the City2Surf races. No Storm Troopers. No Superman. But we did see three ballerinas and a blue fairy.

About 7:20 we decided we’d better use the bathroom one more time so we didn’t have to stop during the race (which started at 7:45). There were dozens of port-a-potties, but my goodness – the lines! Geez, people, I know you need to wake up but don’t drink Starbucks before you run 13 miles! John and I stretched and kissed each other goodbye and I wandered down to my wave start.

Our usual pre-race photo - yay us!

Our usual pre-race photo – yay us!

I saw at least two women with “Baby’s First Marathon” on their shirts. Wow. And there were a lot of people raising their hands when the announcers asked who was running their first half marathon. I got to encourage other people that they could do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

For me, the best part of this race was the actual running. Yes, it was funny to pass a table on someone’s lawn with a sign that said “Free Tequila Shots.” (I have no idea if they were actually giving them away.) And the various musicians set up along the way were nice. And I loved that many of the volunteers dressed up – there was a superheroes water station, a pirates water station, and others that I couldn’t tell what the theme was. (The volunteers were awesome! THANK YOU if any of you read this!!)

Might not be raining, but it's still cold!

Might not be raining, but it’s still cold!

But the running was really the best part. For almost the entire race, I was thinking how great it is to run on fairly flat land! Even the hills weren’t anywhere near as bad as where we live and have been training (less than six miles away). The tide was more in than out and the surf pounded with a sound like wet thunder. At one point, I could feel the sea spray hitting my body and I giggled.

In order to beat my best time of 3 hours and a few seconds, I needed to run faster than 13.74 minutes per mile. At mile marker 1, I knew I was running too fast – pretty normal for most runners in a race. Instead of doing my usual-for-the-past-year Galloway Method of running for 3 minutes, walking for 1, running for 3, etc., I was just running. Like I said, it felt good.

Pre-start smiles!

Pre-start smiles!

At mile marker 2, I told myself that the only person I was competing with was myself and I tried to take it easy. But the part of my brain that was sick of running on hills was too happy to listen. Yesterday, I ran my fastest 4 miles ever!

At mile marker 6, while running up the biggest hill on the course, I did the math in my head and realized that I was going to come in 10-15 minutes early on this race if I could keep up this pace. Holy cow!

IMG_5641

In the first mile, up the first hill, and there is the ocean!

Now, the thing is, my normal style is to go slow for the first mile, pick up a little over the next few miles, then slowly slow down as I keep going and run out of energy. But the weather was perfect for me for the best run – cloudy and in the 50s. No sun blazing down on me, not freezing cold, not burning up, perfect.

So I decided to see if I could keep up this pace. I’d have about a 14-minute cushion if I slowed down too much, and I’d still beat my last best time.

IMG_5642

Running 5 miles along the ocean, and another 5 back. Love it!

I talked to some of my fellow runners, encouraging them and making them laugh. I cheered and clapped with the crowd as the fastest of the marathoners passed us, looping back to the finish line. I waved at a police officer and told him I’d give him anything if he’d give me the encouragement of writing me a speeding ticket, to which he laughed and replied, “You do look like you’re going too fast. You should probably slow down a little.”

Look, it's the blue fairy! Where's Pinocchio?

Look, it’s the blue fairy! Where’s Pinocchio?

Like so many others, I spilled water and Ultima (a drink high in electrolytes with no sugar) down the front of me while I tried to run through the water stations. I happily thanked a volunteer for a Clif Shots chocolate energy gel, then made a terrible face a few moments later when I squirted it into my mouth and realized it was coffee. (Note to self: brown doesn’t always mean chocolate, it might mean mocha. Take the pink one next time!)

I didn't expect the sea spray to reach the road, but I loved the feel of it on my skin!

I didn’t expect the sea spray to reach the road, but I loved the feel of it on my skin!

I took several pictures during the first half of the race when the scenery wowed me, and while I still had the energy to enjoy it. I put them here in the order I took them, so you could experience the race with me. ๐Ÿ™‚ But on the second half, all I could think about was breaking my record by minutes rather than seconds.

At mile marker 10, I was happy to do easy math since I was getting tired. (The time on my watch divided by ten was how fast I was running.)

Beautiful

Beautiful

At mile marker 11, I suddenly realized that I wanted to throw up. Too many Clif Shots? No, I’d only had three. Not enough water? Maybe. It was still pretty cool out and I hadn’t been drinking nearly what I usually do. But I didn’t want to focus on vomiting because that might induce it, so I wracked my brain for something positive to think about.

Then I remembered something the high school track teacher said in practice. (I didn’t run! Too lazy and no one thought I could do it, so no one encouraged me. I did shot put and discus.) He said, if you don’t feel like you’re going to throw up at the end of a race, you haven’t tried hard enough.

Stopped long enough for the picture around the 5-mile mark. Too gorgeous to pass up!

Stopped long enough for the picture around the 5-mile mark. Too gorgeous to pass up!

I used to be glad he didn’t expect that of shot putters, but yesterday I clamped onto that thought with all I had. I was doing it! I was putting everything I had into this race and I could tell by how I felt! Yay me!

Now the race was winding back through more residential areas, then the business district and back to the Westfield mall where it began. There were a lot more people out, yelling and cheering. It occurred to me, not for the first time, that this is what it’s like in heaven, only we can’t see it. “…We are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses” cheering us on in our faith. So “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

"Pet me!! You will run faster!!" So I did - and I did!

“Pet me!! You will run faster!!” So I did – and I did!

These people are cheering me on in my short little race of a few hours, but everyone who has gone to heaven before us is cheering us on in our faith, encouraging us not to give up, to keep going, no matter how difficult the race gets. The apostle Paul said that he tries to forget what is behind, pressing forward to toward the goal to win the prize.

I thought about these Bible verses for the next mile or two, but boy it was getting hard to keep going. According to my watch, I could walk the rest of the race from mile 12 and still beat my time. I told myself I could return to the Galloway Method and I’d probably feel better. But I’d walked about 7 or 8 minutes of the last two and a half hours and it hurt my legs more to walk than to run.

The return view from the other side of the street. And look! People I'm faster than! Shocking!

The return view from the other side of the street. And look! People I’m faster than! Shocking!

I thought about all the great Facebook comments my friends had left the day before. I thought about how good I was going to feel when I saw my new best time. I thought about how the pain would fade in a day or two. I thought about another drink of water, but that made me want to throw up, so I stopped thinking about putting anything at all in my mouth.

Then, just when I could see Mile Marker 13, about a quarter mile from the finish line, a burst of sun beamed through a cloud break, through the trees, and onto the road where I was running. I smiled and shifted up a gear.

Just moments after I crossed the finish line! John is doing the Olympic bite.

Just moments after I crossed the finish line! John is doing the Olympic bite.

I got to the Mile 13 sign, told myself a tenth of a mile is only one block, and I kicked it. I ran as hard as I could for that block! I thrust out my chest as I crossed the finish line, raised my arms in the air and yelled! ๐Ÿ˜€

Let me explain – we didn’t have timing tags on our shoes for this race, which is what I’m used to. The timing device was on our bib, which was pinned to most people’s shirts, including mine. John and I joked on Saturday that we’d have to cross the finish line sticking our chests out as far as we could in order to get one second closer to a good time. So I did! Probably the only time in my life I’ve stuck my chest out like that in public! LOL!

As close as I could get on our finisher's medal.

As close as I could get on our finisher’s medal.

John – awesome guy that he is – met me at the finish line and hugged me hard. He’d already eaten the snacks and drinks they handed out, changed into a clean shirt, and had his heavy sweatshirt back on. We sat for a few minutes while I tried to drink some fluids. I had a chocolate milk – best chocolate milk I’d ever tasted! – a coconut water – yuck, but it must be good for me, and it’s hydration, so okay – and a water. Got the milk and half the coconut water down before my stomach quietly warned me to stop trying to help.

Mmm! Thin Mints! Thanks, shy little Girl Scout.

Mmm! Thin Mints! Thanks, shy little Girl Scout.

We walked a little and I stretched a little, and John took me over to a Girl Scout with a wagon full of cookies and bought me Thin Mints to celebrate. (Awesome, isn’t he?) Then he drove home. (I was so glad I drove there and it wasn’t my turn!) When we were driving 70 mph down the 5 freeway to our exit, all I could think about was – I ran this. We’re driving 70 miles an hour and I ran this.

I fell onto the living room floor while John showered, sent a few texts and a Facebook post, and hoped that John would take a loooong shower. I did not want to get up. But I did. And by the time I got out of a hot shower, having soaked my feet in cold water at the end, John had made us our traditional post-race brunch of steak and eggs. And, after living in Sydney and running so many races there, we also had a beer with our steak. (Cider for me.) Best. Meal. Ever.

Post-race tradition - steak and eggs, with water, Ultima, and Hornsby cider (Guinness for John). Yum!

Post-race tradition – steak and eggs, with water, Ultima, and Hornsby cider (Guinness for John). Yum!

Then there was a lot of TV watching and groaning when we got up off the couch. I couldn’t stay awake any longer and we were in bed by 7:58pm. We both slept long and well. (Thank you, God!) And this morning I checked our official times:

John – 2:03:58
Kitty – 2:52:45

John ran just over his best time of 1:59:53, and I ran nearly 8 minutes faster than my best time of 3:00:47! I am so excited!!

A great motto for a lot of things in life! (onemoremile.net)

A great motto for a lot of things in life! (onemoremile.net)

And that’s our story. I hope part of it made you laugh, and I really hope something about it encouraged you in whatever you’re doing. Maybe you even liked the pictures. But I have to tell you, I am feeling so good about my achievement, I would still be happy if I’m the only one who ever reads this! ๐Ÿ˜€

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you’re having as good a week as I am, but without the sore muscles.

Ready, Set, GOAL!

I’m so excited because John and I are now officially signed up for the Carlsbad Half Marathon. Woo-hooo!!! Not only that, but when we signed up I saw that there is a Triple Crown event – run three half marathons in the same year and get a Triple Crown finisher’s medal! I am SO doing that!

But now I have to get in shape. I lost a lot of the athleticism I had when we came back to America and practically never walked again. (Very sad. You walk everywhere in Sydney.) So I need to gain the ground I lost plus I want to get in better shape than ever. I gained about ten pounds when we returned to America. Heck, we arrived the day before Thanksgiving! So now I want to lose 20 pounds before the first race,ย 159 days from now.

With moderate effort, I should be able to lose the required one pound per week before the race. But I also want to add at least five pounds of muscle, ten would be better. So if I meet my goal to lose 20 pounds, and I gain five pounds of muscle, I’ll have actually lost 25 pounds of fat. Happy day!

To gain the muscle, I’ll have to go work out at the fitness center in our apartment complex. They have an elliptical machine that I’ve just started using, as well as several weight machines. Unfortunately, I can’t do some of them yet because the lowest weight is too high. But I’ve got some hand weights here at home I’ll start with. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do, but I’ll come up with some kind of plan and write it down. Then I can keep track of increases and see how far I get in the next five months.

Plus, I’m going to change how I’ve been running/training. I thought it was all about mileage, but I can run more miles without getting any faster. I’m reading through some of our running books and finding things I missed or forgot about. So now I’m going to try to make a schedule of not just adding more miles, but doing interval training, too (run fast, then run regular speed, then sprint, then slow down, etc.).

John and I weren’t able to run the City2Surf race in Sydney this year. (Very sad, we loved it the last two years!) So we had a pretend race day here at home that weekend. We ran 8km – the C2S is 14km – with hills in a half decent time. My best time for a half marathon is 3 hours 47 seconds in the Sydney Running Festival half marathon in 2010. I want to run the Carlsbad half marathon in under 2 hours 45 minutes.

Yeah. I’ve got my work cut out for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then I want to run at least one second faster at each of the next two races. The second one is in La Jolla, CA, in April. The third one is in San Diego in August. The August one will be the hardest for me because of the heat. Give me a 40 degree (F) race start anytime! Part of the reason John and I haven’t been training much this summer is because the coolest it’s been in the mornings is 68 degrees. Running in that temperature saps your energy.

So I’ll try to gain 5-10 pounds of muscle and lose 20-25 pounds of fat in the next 159 days. (Yikes!) Then I’ll try to gain a little more muscle before April. Because I’ll need to be in far better shape to run a summer race and beat my January and April race times, I’ll need to lose more fat and gain more muscle by August. If I could lose ten/gain ten I’d be in the best shape of my life!

Of course, having been in “this” shape for so long, it’s a little hard to imagine actually achieving these goals!

BUT…

They aren’t unreasonable goals. And I don’t have to think about next August right now. Today, I only need to think about losing two pounds this week, working at the gym, and getting 2-3 runs in.

One day at a time. Starting now.

Back to Running

After running the City2Surf race, John and I decided to take a couple weeks off. Monday, we started up again. Wow. Amazing how much muscle you can lose in fourteen days! But as much as we moaned about that first run, I think we both felt better that we were back.

About to take my first run in Central Park, NYC

Endorphins aside, I had much more energy on Monday than I’ve had in the last two weeks. I got almost twice as much work done that day as I often do. Amazing. Of course, that’s partly because I worked for ten hours on Monday. But still, I haven’t had the energy to do that for a couple weeks so… There you go.

But John worked late on Tuesday and only got a few hours of sleep, so we didn’t get up to run on Wednesday morning. That’s okay, always Thursday. But we slept so well (for a change) that we slept in a bit on Thursday. And I had asked John to work on my book cover again one morning when he got up early, so we did that instead.

Ran past the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park

That brings us to this morning. Finally! Got up and ran – though only the second time in a week. Still exhausting, but there’s something about how good you feel afterwards that makes you glad you did it. I’m sure the fact that it is now officially the second day of Spring here in Sydney helps. Something about Spring that gives you energy.

So…not really the jump back into it kind of routine we planned for. But right now we’re doing our best and feeling good. And sometimes that’s not only all you can do, it’s just right.

Going Faster by Going Slower

Kissing our finisher medals at Bondi Beach

On Tuesday, the official times came out for the City2Surf runners. John and I were pretty well shocked! Last year he ran the race in 1 hour, 31 minutes, 42 seconds (1:31:42). I ran it in 2:13:27. We both ran the whole way, including up the 2km Heartbreak Hill. (I thought I was going to die, but I ran it.)

This year John ran the 14km race in 1:16:49! That’s 14 minutes 53 seconds faster! And we were both whining about how we’re in worse shape this year. With the encouragement of my friend Camy, I used the Galloway method, a series of run/walk intervals, up the hills so that I walked a total of about 10-12 minutes of the race, coming in with a final time of 1:52:44! I went 20 minutes and 43 seconds faster!

Cold and wet before the race even starts - the banner says, "Here for the long run"

Now, if you’re like us, you’re wondering what in the world we did differently, especially if we say we were in worse shape. (And that’s a fact – we were topping out at about 11km during our training runs, but last year we were running hills and doing about 15-20km big runs.) We figured out that probably the biggest factor was that last year we were also entered in a half marathon in September, about five weeks after the City2Surf. We’d never run this course before, we’d heard how horrible Heartbreak Hill was, and we were trying to save ourselves and not hurt ourselves before our bigger race.

John pretends to run when the gun goes off - too many people to move quickly, you have to walk at first

Due to our schedules, we aren’t running the half marathon this year. We decided to just relax and have as much fun as we could and if we came in 10 or 15 minutes slower than last year, so be it. We never dreamed relaxing and having fun with it – and me walking part of the race – would improve our times so drastically.

My friend Lauraine pointed out there’s a good life lesson here. Sometimes we have to slow down in order to move faster. When I was feeling winded, I stopped running and walked at a leisurely pace for 60 seconds. By then, I had my breath back and when I started running again, I was moving faster. I kept telling myself when I was tired – particularly up Heartbreak Hill – that I only had to run for the balance of the five minutes and then I could take a breather. That promise helped me to keep up my pace.

Soaking wet before we start - but happy to be there

I wonder in how many areas of our lives we can apply this. I know I can apply it on overly busy days. Sometimes I have to just sit down for as little as fifteen seconds and close my eyes and think of only the next three things I have to do. It helps me to focus, which helps me to get those three things done just a little bit faster and/or better.

I’ve tried several different writing routines including the “write as fast as you can and fix it later” approach that so many people tout. But over the last few years, between National Novel Writing Month’s 50,000-word spree and my many homework assignments and due dates, I’ve found that really does not yield me the best long-term results.

Wringing a stream of water out of my sweatshirt after the rain dumped on us

For me, I have to write the scene in my head until it’s done. Then instead of moving on, I go back and add in all the parts that were still in my head because I was typing too fast to get it all out. Once the scene is pretty well written, I can move on to the next scene. When I come back to do the second draft, there is far less work to be done. I may take longer to write a first draft, but I can finish the whole book more quickly by taking my time.

The other thing that made me think about its life application is this. I ran slow enough last year that I had to move into a slower group this year, the Yellow Start. The only people starting after the Yellow group was the Orange, people who didn’t plan on running or who were going to push baby strollers. I was pretty bummed about having to be in the slow group.

Why did it have to rain NOW? But did we run faster because of the weather?

But then I got an email before the race. The Yellow Start group was going to try to break a Guiness Book of World Records record for the most people stretching at one time. The last record was 9000 people in London. A few minutes before the start gun went off for the Yellow group, someone led us in group stretches. The old record was broken – more than 20,000 people stretched together on Sunday! And I was a part of it! It made me think I shouldn’t whine when things don’t go my way. Instead I should look for the silver lining, the little extras we wouldn’t have had if things went as planned.

What about you? Does any of this ring true for things in your life?

City2Surf 2011

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole day since we ran the City2Surf 14km fun run here in Sydney – and I’m still tired! (Exhausted might be a better word.) But it was so worth it!

We won’t find out our official times until tomorrow, but right now it looks like John shaved about 15 minutes off his time from last year, and I shaved off about 20 minutes! Shocking! We think it’s because last year we were training to run a half marathon (21km) a month later and we were probably trying to save ourselves a little bit for it. Still, we are stoked about our times! Look at these happy faces!

 

9 Days Till City2Surf!

John and me before last year's race

EEK! I am sooo not ready! After eighteen months of grad school, a month of traveling, then a month of having my mom here, I’ve barely been able to keep up with our 4.25 mile run a few times a week. How am I going to make 14 km (about 8.7 miles), including 2 km uphill??

I’m going to make it because I’ve decided to. I’ve decided to have fun, even if it means I walk part of the way. Even if it rains and it’s cold and miserable, I’m determined to enjoy the race. It’s a fun run, after all. And why run – or do much of anything you don’t have to – if you can’t find a way to make it fun?

City2Surf last year - a cold start

This is one of the many life applications that running has taught me. I can choose whether I move forward or stop. I can choose to feel positive and confident or negative and scared. Even if I walk part of the race, I’m moving forward. And even if it’s raining or I strain a muscle, I can choose to enjoy the experience for what it’s worth.

I seriously doubt there is any hope of me making my time from last year. And that wasn’t a good time to begin with. But I’ve got nine days to keep trying to get in better shape. Then I’m going to wake up at 4:30 Sunday morning and join the biggest foot race in the world!

How can I not have fun?