Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How did I get slower?

For real.  I've been training for months now and the best part about running was that I kept getting better and better at it.  Honestly that's 90% of the reason I've stuck with it (the other 10% falling into the category of awesome booty and insanity).  I hate losing and have been known to throw objects fits during family games of Phase 10.

To say I'm a poor sport is putting it nicely.  I don't know why losing brings out the bratty five year old in me, it just does.

I'm sure my friends and family reading this will celebrate in the fact that I am admitting my competitiveness and superiority complex for all of the world (yes, all the tens of people that read my blog).  Friends and fam, I know it's annoying but that's just how I am.  And it's your duty to love me in spite of it.

Which brings me to my point.  My last, oh, four or five runs I have slowed down significantly.  Around 30 seconds a mile.  I ran 5 miles on 4/18 in 41:46, an average pace of 8:22/mile.  Since that run, no matter what the distance (seriously, 3 miles, 5 miles, 8 miles), my pace has dropped 30 seconds a mile.

I've come up with a few excuses explanations:

1.) It's gotten signifcantly hotter and all my runs are outside.
2.) Between my last good run on 4/18 (a Friday) I had a bad long run on that Wednesday, some good speed training on that Friday...and then a four day break.  Not a four day break from working out, just a break from running.
3.) I'm running all my runs too hard and my body needs a break.  I've read a lot about "run slower to run faster" but I choose to ignore this and want every run to be better than the last (see above about obsessive competitiveness).

My plan slower.  This is going to be extremely hard for me.  I've been known to leave 10 year olds in my dust just for the sake of winning.

That's just how I roll.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

There's No Food in Your Food!

One of my favorite all time feel-good 80's movies is Say Anything.  And even though it came from the same era that gave us stretch-stirrup pants and Paula Abdul, I did learn something from it.

Kidding.  Mostly.

There's one scene where John Cusack is running out the door and eating something that causes his sister (played by real life sister Joan, say whaaat?!) to exclaim,

"Why do you eat that stuff?  There's no food in your food!"

Part of the whole healthy lifestyle thing is food.  Gah, food.  My favorite being those of the chocolate variety.  I'm pretty sure I could eat chocolate all the time every day forever.  Unfortunately, neither my pants nor my decision to live a healthy life agree with that statement.  Thus, chocolate is a treat (as it should be).

When I first started trying to be healthy and lose weight, I subscribed a lot to the mentality that all calories are created equal.  I ate a lot of diet foods.  A lot of hundred calorie snack packs.  A lot of Lean Cuisines.  A lot of spray butter.  And a lot of Diet Coke (still inching my way slowly away from this one.  Yes I know it's cancer juice, but this is a process people). 

And you know what?  I was hungry all the time.  I didn't understand.  "Wahhhh, dieting is hard.  Waahhh, I'm so hungry."  There was a lot of whining. 

And then one day I realized something.  There's no food in my food.  I'm hungry all the time because I'm eating high fructose corn syrup, beef extract and maltodextrin.  Yum.

I decided to swap out my $3.00 Lean Cuisine for lunch with a turkey sandwich with lettuce and cheese.  I noticed not only was I not ready to devour an entire cake or seven an hour later...I wasn't hungry again until dinner time.

It took some adjustment and I definitely don't subscribe to any kind of raw or no processed food ever type of lifestyle (though I admire and applaud those that do, I hope someday to be where you are!) but I can happily say that around 90% of the food I eat is REAL food. Breakfast:

Hard boiled egg and Greek yogurt with granola, blackberries, and chia seeds.

and Lunch:
Turkey sandwich with lettuce, cheese, and hummus on sunflower seed bread and a salad with Trader Joe's Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette.
So to those of you out there doing your best to live a healthy life remember this...just because something is "Lite" or "Low-fat" or even low calorie does not mean it is good for your body.  Give your body what it needs to be healthy and strong and to work at its peak level of functionality.

Maybe Lloyd could have made it as a kickboxer (a new and exciting sport back in '89) if his diet had consisted of more than beef jerky and slurpees.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Live By Example" 5K recap

So apparently I decided to take a nearly two week hiatus from the whole updating a blog thing.  Time flies when you're working on final projects/booking social obligations nearly every night.  I gotta learn to say no.  Every week on Sunday night, I think about my week ahead and I'm like, "Ah, barring some act of God, I only have to do one thing this week."  And then somehow I end up doing something every night.  Gah.

Enough about my social calendar.  Let's get down to the nitty gritty.  This week I am on week three of Ripped in 30.

This is what loving motivation looks like.
I'm working on doing a full review of the Ripped in 30 complete with before/after measurements.  For now though, just let me say, holy shiz these workouts will kick your butt...but provided you follow a somewhat decent meal plan and add in a little extra cardio you WILL see results.  Trust me on that one.  It's been two weeks and I have seen a HUGE difference.

Okay, next up.  "Live By Example" 5K.  This race was this past Saturday and was to benefit the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad.  Subtract the rain, hail, 20mph winds and add on about 15 degrees to the temp. and this was literally the 5K I did two weeks ago.  It started at 24th street and was the same course down the boardwalk and then back up.  There were a lot more people for this race probably because the weather was somewhat cooperative.  I ran this race with my good friend Carey.

Me and Carey.  She is a rock star!  

The wind was still pretty bad the last mile and half back but not as bad as my 5K two weeks ago.  I ended up finishing in 24:59, with an average pace of 8:07.

Me sprinting to the finish.
You can't really tell, but in that picture there is a 10 year old boy directly behind me.  I caught up to this kid probably the last mile and we were neck and neck until the end.  Did I feel like a jerk for sprinting past a 10 year old and ultimately beating him?  Yes, but that's just how I roll.

I took 2nd for my age group (Female 20-29).  I got a medal...and forgot to take a picture, so...sorry.  Just picture your average medal and that's about it.

Maybe one of these days I'll be able to run a race where the wind isn't beating the tar out of me. 

Wednesday was Long Run Wednesday.  My Nike+ half marathon training plan had me running ten miles but the week before I had just upped to 9 miles for my long run and my goal here is to avoid injury.  Plus 10 miles was really really scaring me.  So yes, I chickened out a little.  But that just means 10 miles is waiting for me next week.

With my long runs I either dread them all day or look forward to them with some weird masochistic giddiness. Wednesday was a dreading day. 

That is until I got this in the mail:
My Tidewater Striders "welcoming packet"
Tidewater Striders is the local running club and I figured since I'm shelling out a small fortune to run all these races I might as well join the club.  So I did.  I was really looking forward to getting a nice, laminated membership card to keep in my wallet (Striders get discounts at a lot of local merchants), but all I got was a business card with my name handwritten on it.  Whaaa?  Am I a loser if I laminate it myself?  Answer, yes.  I also got a sticker for the back of my car and you better believe I'm gonna rock that bad boy.

So that's what I was up to the last few weeks of being absent in the cyber world.  Currently I am working on a post about the myths of what a runner is "supposed" to look like (here's a hint, I don't fit the bill).

4.15.2011 Run
Distance: 8.04 K (5 mi)
Time: 42:01:00
Pace: 8:20/mi
Calories: 601

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Impossible Standards?

It's rare that you hear someone in the fashion industry bemoaning the size of models.  Unless, of course, it is to say that they could stand to lose a few pounds.  I've always found the emphasis on extreme thinness frustrating and somewhat sickening.  I love magazines, but I tend to lean more towards the ones with health elements than the fashion oriented ones.  I love looking at the clothes, but seeing the models is always a downer.

So I was a little surprised when I came across this quote by fashion designer Hervé Léger:
"If I had to go back to catwalk presentations I would be in a panic… Already the models I find are too skinny, too sad. I knew the age of the super top models, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford, who were always lively and smiling. Today you go between several défilés and you will see the exact same type of girl – it just doesn’t inspire me."
I then googled his name and "skinny" to see what I could find...

Same style of dresses, but the models on the left are from the 80s/90s while the models on the right are from today.  It's really shocking to see how the standards have changed over the last few decades.  The models on the left look happy, healthy, and fit.  The models on the right look tired and sad.

It just depresses me that these are the images that are out there.  These are the images that women have to look aspire to?

Woman come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.  I'm not trying to say that if you're skinny, you're obviously sick and starving yourself.  I know women that are a size 0 and perfectly healthy.  That's the size their body is happy at.  And I know women at the other end of the spectrum that are equally as healthy.

But to see a side by side comparison of how the so-called "standards" have changed is shocking.  These are the women that are plastered on billboards.  These are the women whose pictures fill magazines.  These are the women we're told we need to look like.

I think the worst part of all of this is that there are young, impressionable girls out there that see these images and learn to hate their bodies for having the very curves that make them womanly.  I've worked a lot with kids, and I've literally had girls no older than eight telling me that they think they're fat and want to lose weight.  Eight year olds.

It's no surprise in an industry where a size 6 or 8 is often considered "plus size."

I don't know how we change this other than embracing our bodies for what they are and what they do for us.  And look to models like this for inspiration!

So I know this is kind of off the whole "running" theme, but I think positive body image is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle.  About my run today: I ran 5 miles today in about 42 minutes which means I'm right on my way to my goal of finishing 5 miles in under 40 minutes by mid-June.  That's the goal and I definitely think I can shave 2 minutes off my time in 2.5 months!

3.31.2011 Run
Distance: 8.04 K (5 mi)
Time: 42:08:00
Pace: 8:30/mi
Calories: 597

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Always show up...5K recap

I live in Virginia Beach.  At the end of March, the weather is usually beautiful.  Sunny, breezy, and high 60s.  Spring really blossoms at the end of March.

Apparently, the last few days have missed that memo.  Sunday in particular.

I had a 5K race Sunday morning that I had really been looking forward to.  The last few months of my training have been going really great.  I went from a 10 minute mile average to an 8 minute mile average in about two months time. 

You see, the thing about me is I am competitive.  I think that's why I love running so much.  I love competing with myself.  Is that weird?  What I mean is with running I can constantly improve, constantly go faster, harder, longer.  The feeling of beating a personal record (PR) is almost as good as the feeling of beating a real flesh-and-blood competitor.  Almost.

Having the obsessive personality disorder that I do, I was constantly checking for the 10 day forecast.  The week leading up to the 5K I watched the weather go from sunny and mid-50's to cloudy and mid-40s.  On Friday, I saw that the high was 41, but I thought, "Hey, that's cold, but I can still do it."  When the graphic changed from a little cloud to a little rain cloud, I felt disheartened. 

Saturday night when the final forecast was a high of 38, rain/snow/wind I felt downright defeated.  Especially considering two weeks ago I got a sunburn when I ran outside in the afternoon.  Oh Virginia Beach.  Yous' crazy.

Sunday morning I got up early in order to eat breakfast and let it somewhat digest before the race.  Knowing the forecast, I dressed warmly and left the house.  I was unprepared.

It was freezing!  It was freezing and the rain was freezing and I was miserable. 

And of course the race was being held at the oceanfront on the boardwalk.  With the windchill it had to have been around 25 degrees.

Within minutes I was soaking wet and completely numb.  I checked in and got my bib number and then I waited.  I got thanked about twelve times by the volunteers for coming out.  Because of the weather it was a pretty small turnout.  Around 50 people.

After what seemed like a million years it was finally time to start.  I went right to the starting line with the boys.  My goal was to place in my age group (Female 20-29) and I wasn't going to let anyone get in my way.  The horn sounded and we took off.

We had started in the middle of the boardwalk and were basically running to one end and then coming back.  This means that one way the wind would be at our backs and the other way we'd be fighting it tooth and nail.  Unfortunately the wind was at our backs the first leg of the run.

My body was completely numb but I knew from my Nike+ that I was easily maintaining under an 8 mi/min pace.  The wind was literally pushing me.  Aside from not being able to feel any of my extremities I felt great.  I passed a few people...but no one passed me.  I was feeling really confident.

Until I turned around.  Running into the close to 20 mile per hour wind was not what I expected.  It literally felt like I was running through hummus. 

But it gets even better.  As I was fighting with the wind (my pace dropped from 7:50 mi/min to 9:20 within seconds) I noticed a flock of seagulls up ahead (an actually flock, not those guys with the weird hair) I am petrified of seagulls, but that is a tale for a different day.  There were these little white things falling from the sky up ahead and I remember thinking, "Oh great are the seagulls pooping?"  But no it was not poop.  It was worse than poop.  It was hail.  Little white pellets of ice.  And because I was running into the wind, the wind was blowing them into my face.  I've never been shot with a BB Gun but it has to feel similar to being pelted in the face with hail.

There came a point where I was so cold, so numb, so wet, so sick and tired of being hit in the face with hail that I felt like quitting.  And not just a fleeting thought of, "Oh I'm so tired I could quit."  I felt like everything was against me and it wasn't worth being so miserable over a stupid 5K that I had paid $15 for.

But then I remembered.  I had started at the very front of the group.  I knew exactly who was in front of me.  And it was all men.  The only girl that was any competition was slowly falling farther and farther behind me.  I could not only place in my age group, not only take first in my age group...I could take first place overall out of the females.

So I pushed on.  I saw the finish line getting closer and closer...and I may be imagining this, but I'm pretty sure the winds died down, the rain let up, the clouds parted and the sun appeared.  Oh and a rainbow appeared in a perfect arc over the finish line.  Yeah right.  I think the winds did die down a little.  All I know is I picked up my speed and sprinted the last 400 meters to the finish.

And guess what?

I won!  I took first place overall female.  Not sure exactly what my time Nike + says 26:19 but I started it before the horn sounded and it ended about 5 seconds before I crossed the finish line.  My goal was under 26 minutes but considering the conditions I think my time was pretty good.  Oh, and everyone else agreed with me because I won!

One of my is gigantic so I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with it 

My other prizes were a $10 gift card to Tijuana Flats (burrito place kind of like Moe's which I already used) and a $15 giftcard to Road ID to purchase an ID bracelet in case there's ever an emergency when I'm running outside.

Okay so here's my whole point of this race recap.  Always show up.  Even when it seems like everything is against you just get out there and do it!  There were a lot of people that didn't show up to the 5K on Sunday, but guess what?  I did.  I showed up and I won.

No excuses.  I know them all.  You're tired.  You're busy.  You worked all day.  Your kids are running you ragged.  Whatever it is that is holding you back, stop letting it own you.  Find 20 minutes each day to do something active.  Chances are you'll feel better once you do.  You'll have more energy, less stress, more gain a lot with exercise.

Just not weight!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Gym Smells like Cake...Or The Importance of Cross Training

After my long run yesterday, I knew my body and my mind needed a break.  Running takes not only a physical toll on your body but a mental one as well.  Too much of a good thing (yes, in this scenario, running is the good thing.  I know.  Seriously).

With that in mind, I knew it was time to head to the gym and take it easy on the elliptical.  Plus I had some torture in the form of Jillian Michaels waiting for me at home later.

The second I walked into the gym I was not met with the usual stench of sweaty bodies, chlorine, and staleness.  Instead I smelled...cake.

And not just any cake.  Cake baking in the oven.  Warm, sweet, delicious cake.  I thought that the closer I got to the cardio and weight room the less pronounced it would be.  But this wasn't so.  I can only assume that it was some kind of new cake scented air freshener that was meant to motivate (as in, it smells like cake, I want cake, NO I must work out!).

But all it did was make me want cake.

I managed to knock out an easy 30 minutes on the elliptical (read: boring).  I push myself.  I'm a pusher.  I like working hard.  Making myself take rest days is hard.  I feel like I'm not getting a "real" workout if I'm not going as hard and as fast as I can.

But here's the thing.  Rest days are important.  Your body needs that time to recover.  And for your own's important.  If all you're doing is running all the time, you're going to get burned out.  You'll be more susceptible to injuries.  And worst yet, it will probably make you hate hate HATE running (since yeah, you probably really love it, right?)

And the pros of cross training?  Your running will actually improve!  You'll get faster, stronger, and if you're trying to lose weight, it'll probably be a little easier.  When you constantly do the same workout every day (running, biking, underwater ballet, whatever), while initially you'll see results, eventually your body will adapt.  Your weight loss (if that's your goal) will plateau.  You'll possibly get an overuse injury.  And you'll be bored out of your freaking mind.

Don't worry if you don't have a gym membership.  Almost anything can count as cross training.  If you usually run, take your bike out for a ride.  If you're a serial walker, try popping in a yoga DVD.  And if you're kinda insane, try picking up one of this lady's DVDs:

Holy crap was this a hard video.  Silly me.  I was all, "I'm in pretty good shape.  I've done her videos before.  Week one will be a cinch." 

The amount of sweat alone...oh jeez, I don't even have words.  I'll try again tomorrow.  I'd like to give a thorough review of this program, as I plan on doing it for the next 30 days.

I know there are mixed opinions on Jillian Michaels, say what you may, but that woman knows how to beat you to the ground in 30 minutes or less.

I definitely didn't want cake after that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Long Run Wednesday

Today was my scheduled long run.  A "long run" for me means I run slow and steady and it's the farthest I run all week.

Here's the funny thing about a long run.  It's exciting up until the exact moment you start running it.  I spend all week thinking and daydreaming (yes, daydreaming.  Welcome to the excitement that is my mind) about my long run.  But the thing is, a long run is still just that.  A very.  Long.  Run.

Today's scheduled long run was 8 miles.  Can you believe I was actually looking forward to that?

Pre-8 Miler.  Happy and naive.

Lately my IT band in my left knee has been bothering me during long runs and after doing some research I decided that it might be due in part to running on the road, and more specifically, always running on the left hand side of the road.  The road slopes down gradually from the's hardly noticeable, but apparently it can do some serious damage to your knee.  Booo.

I love running in my neighborhood but I was too worried about my knee to risk it.  I didn't feel like going all the way to the beach (sorry landlockers, "all the way" for me is ten minutes...and that seemed WAY too far).  I couldn't fathom running 8 miles at the middle school track (32 laps.  Are you kidding me?).  So I opted for best out of my options.

Mt. Trashmore.  Yes.  A pile of trash seriously won that competition.

Mt. Trashmore
I should preface this by saying that I am not making up the name Mt. Trashmore.  That is the park's legitimate name.  I also am not making up that it is a pile of trash.  That is true as well.

Once upon a time, Mt. Trashmore was a landfill.  I might be making this up, but I'm pretty sure it has to be the highest elevation in Virginia Beach, due to the fact that it is literally the only hill around.  So anyways, Mt. Trashmore was a huge landfill that any tourist driving to the beach could see from the highway.  I'm guessing it was only a matter of time before the geniuses in the Parks and Rec. office were all, "Let's add a playground and a walking path and call it a day."  Months (years?) later Mt. Trashmore park was open for business.  I can only assume that whoever named it is entirely unoriginal or perhaps ironic.

Mt. Trashmore is actually really nice and clean, and you sometimes even forget it's a landfill.  There's a nice lake and everything (do not under ANY circumstances get anywhere near the water though).  Kids play on the playground or roll down the hill, and aside from the occasional soggy area roped off with orange fencing, it's really not so bad. 

I arrived at Mt. Trashmore pumped and ready to knock out my 8 miles.

Awkward pre-run face.  The sun was really bright.

I started my Nike+ and took off.  And then I was all, "Aarrgh, eight miles is going to take forever!"

I wanted to go home, but instead I ran and ran and ran some more.  I watched the people walking their dogs.  I watched one lady carrying her dog in a BabyBjörn.  Seriously. 

Pretty much I was creepy and watched people for a little over an hour.  Some people were nice and smiled at me.  Other people awkwardly made eye contact before looking away.

All in all, it was a good run.  Slow and steady.  My IT band didn't start hurting until about mile 6.5 and then the pain just came and went randomly.  Actually, not randomly.  If I thought about the pain, it was killing me!  If I got distracted by BabyBjörn dog wearing ladies, it didn't hurt at all.

Awkward post-run face.  No excuse, I'm just that awkward.

  I have a 5K race on Saturday for Alzheimer's, so my Friday run will be a tempo 5K to prep.

3.23.2011 Run
Distance: 12.08 K (8 mi)
Time: 1:14:20
Pace: 9:17/mi
Calories: 961