Finally a Real Runner

Back in July, I made an announcement in this blog post here. I had just begun training for my second half marathon. Over the past three months, I pounded the pavement three mornings a week at 5am (7am on weekends), putting in 168.01 miles of preparation. All those miles added up to one great accomplishment: last Saturday, I ran the 13.1 miles of the Kansas City Half-Marathon in 2:02:02. This was well below my previous time of 2:19:11, as well as my goal time of 2:10:00. However, all those early mornings brought about one more grand feat: I became a runner.

Here I am at mile 13.

My dedcated fan club, always there to cheer me on.

My sweet reward 😉

I don’t just mean that I could run. Clearly, after all that training in 2009 for my first half-marathon I was a runner in the sense that I successfully completed the training and race. This time, something was different. Something about running just clicked this time. I’m pretty sure I experienced my first ever runner’s high (and second, and third, and fourth, and…). I began to cherish that peaceful time in the darkest hours of the morning. I could choose to zone out to my music, become entrenched in an audiobook, or go electronics-free and let my mind wander. Progress was addicting; I ran 3 miles in 23:41. My pace on my 8-miler was 8:45 min/mile. I ran through a cold, a tough week at work, and disagreements with my hubby. I greeted familiar faces on my favorite trail, and even stopped to take pictures of the beautiful fall.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been enjoying the running so much, that I registered for another half-marathon on November 20th.

However, what is that Woody Allen quote? “When you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Okay, maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic.

But, at about mile 7 of my race last Saturday, I started to feel a dull ache on the outside of my left knee. I was able to run through it, but after the race, it really began giving me issues. Walking back to the car, I was leaning on B pretty hard every time I had to step up a curb. By the time we got back to our apartment, I needed a piggyback up the stairs. I let it rest the remainder of the weekend, and Monday morning when I woke up it was feeling pretty good, so I decided to go out for my regular Monday morning 5-miler. Mistake. I had to call my dad to rescue me along the side of the road, as I was hobbling after 3.5 mi.

After doing some research online, I self-diagnosed myself with ITBS. Apparently, the IT band is a common injury site for some runners. I vaguely remember it being sore after my first half-marathon, but didn’t notice it as much because I wasn’t trying to run anytime soon afterwards (my first half-marathon left me pretty burnt out on running). Unfortunately for my perfectionist self, there seems to be no easy fix for a sore IT band. A physical therapist friend of mine suggested a foam roller and at least a week of rest. An athletic trainer at the gym said I shouldn’t expect to jump right back into high mileage any time soon. And a personal trainer acquaintance basically said that’s what I get for being a runner. (Hey, at least he called me a runner!)

I won’t lie–I’m feeling pretty discouraged. I spent the week cross-training on the stationary bike, and doing core and upper body work. I was able to add in some easy lower body exercises near the end of the week. Every morning and every evening, I spent 20 minutes ironing my muscles with the foam roller, occasionally cursing or shrieking; according to the Youtube video that taught me how to use my foam roller, the more it hurts, the more unhealthy your IT band. This morning, I was able to run about 2.5 miles before I began to feel any pain. Not wanting to push it, I stopped immediately. I’m going to try slowly increasing my mileage over the next few weeks; I’m still hoping to push through the Nov. 20th half, but if I have to drop down to the 5K, I’m telling myself it’s not the end of the world. (Actually, how “runner” is that to have a real injury?)

So, if you have any IT band advice, I’d be happy to hear it. You know where to find me…



Warrior Dash Photo Story

Many, many months ago, I received a Facebook message from a friend saying, “HEY! I’m signing up for this run, and I think you and B should do it, too!” “Oh, gee golly, yeah, that sounds GREAT!” I responded. (Or something to that extent.)

Well, if you don’t know what the Warrior Dash is, you should definitely click on that there link up there. Because only then will you fully understand the intensity and insanity of this event.

Other than that, I will leave you with this series of photos…

Upon arriving at the event site...

We don't even know what's in our future...

Pumping ourselves up...

Yup, that's me. Going over fire.

Which pales in comparison to the mud pit...

Yuck, yuck, yuck.

What total BAs...

I got by with a little help from my friends... 😉

Love the look on my face in this one...

… and point you toward Amy’s post, where she did an excellent job summing up the event.


My Second Half

During my little blogging hiatus, I reached an important personal milestone: my goal weight. However, in the process of obtaining this numerical value on the scale, I also learned a lot about my body, and realized what it actually  means to be healthy. Although I was thrilled to feel skinny and sexy on my wedding day, I was even more thrilled to be fit enough to dance all evening long in a heavy, heavy dress. I was even more thrilled to be able to enjoy 5-mile runs along the beach with my new husband on our honeymoon. And I was even more thrilled to be able to climb to the top of Diamond Head crater at breakneck speed.

I’m so grateful to be one of those rare “crazy” people who actually enjoys working out. Setting–and meeting!–a fitness goal is so motivating to me. And, although I find those numbers motivating (since beginning to work with my trainer, my body fat has decreased by eight percentage points), nothing compares to the sense of accomplishment that comes from picking up a larger dumbbell, running a faster mile, or completing my first unassisted pull-up.

So, what’s up next? you might ask. Well, I’ve taken the plunge and paid my $60 to register for the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Half-Marathon. Two summers ago, on June 6, 2009, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon.

B was there to cheer me on

Last year, B ran his first half, while I chose to stick with the 10K.

A sweet reward after a sweaty run

This October, we’ll both be pounding the pavement on the course through downtown KC–although separately. The legs on B’s 6’1″ frame are a little too long for my 5’5.25″ pair. (Side note: Isn’t it funny how women always know their height to the quarter-inch??)

Yesterday was my first official day of training. My trainer helped me to come up with this  Half Marathon Training Plan, which allows me to adequately prepare for the race, yet still lift often enough to maintain my recent success in the weight room.

Although I’m not setting any specific goals for the race besides wanting to finish, it would be pretty cool to beat my time from 2009 (2:19). Also, a friend of mine who is an avid runner recently got me thinking a little more about age groups. In 2009 I was 81/98, so I feel as though I have room to improve there. (By the way, in self-defense, I’ve since been higher in the ranks, like 29/49 and 41/86.)

Anyway, wish me luck as I embark on this journey–just me and my new ASICS. Yeah, they’re pretty awesome.

Sticking with the Plan

“Unfortunately, everything the experts tell us about diet is aimed at the whole population, and we are not all the same.”
~ The Scientist magazine

I thought I’d give you a quick update on my new fitness plan. Since my original blog post, I’ve met with my trainer twice more, and attended two more small group training sessions. Although I can definitely see an impact on my bank account, I’ve decided that trading two random clothing purchases for two personal training sessions is probably a pretty good swap–and definitely a healthier one.

I always thought that if I hired a personal trainer just once, then I could use the workout they created, well… forever. But, besides getting just plain bored, I would now insist that variation and progression is the key. Every time I do a workout, I try to tweak one thing–at least one thing–to make it a little more difficult. Maybe squeak out an extra push-up on every set, or increase the weight on a machine by five pounds. Or maybe I do an extra minute or five of cardio. This is all well and good, but it gets to a point where you’re cranking out 5,000 reps of each exercise and running for 3 hours. And, personally, I like to change it up before getting to that point. That’s exactly why I’m continuing to work with my trainer. Every two weeks, I get a brand new workout to try–and, again, one created for me, with my goals (wedding arms and Hawaii abs) in mind.

I’ve also tracked my food in my own food journal fairly regularly. If you’re not a fan of calorie counting and tedious number crunching, I challenge you to just keep a food journal. It can be as simple as jotting down what you eat each day on a Post-It note. Or, you could keep it in a Word document. Or, heck, create a private blog and record your feasting. Somehow, just writing it down holds me enough accountable that when I spy a plate of Oreos in the teachers’ lounge, I can pass it up.

Another thing that’s helped me a lot is to set a goal each week (P.S., I don’t think you should ever make your goal weight loss related, i.e. “Lose 2 pounds.” Our bodies do crazy things when it comes to weight. You don’t want a little water weight or salt retention to kill your motivation. Your goal should be something you control, not a little electronic box). Two weeks ago, my goal was to plan ahead. I actually went through my food journal and wrote in my “splurges” for the week ahead of time. Then, I could keep in mind when a certain event, occasion, or trip to Orange Leaf was coming up, and it would help me keep focus. Last week, my goal was to get my eight servings of fruits and veggies in each day. Alongside my journaling, I just numbered each serving to keep track. Plain and simple.

This week, my goal is back to plan ahead. That’s one I have trouble with. I’m always happy to splurge, so if I work them out ahead of time, I have an easier time turning down other tempting goodies.

So far, I’m loving this easy-going plan. The scale is showing good news (I’ve lost about four pounds since the beginning of the year) and I’ve shrunk by a few inches (about 1.5 from my waist and hips at last measurement).

I’m not going to lie to you. I do have weight goal in mind for the wedding day. But, even more so, I want to feel like I’m at my best. So, if I’m not quite down to my secret number, I know that by continuing to be health-conscious and do what I know is right for my body, I’ll feel strong, sexy, and confident as we start our married life.