Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Did It!

How horrible that I've waited so long to write this post! But, in my defense, I was in Florida for a week after the race to celebrate and then the post-vacation re-entry into real-life the last week has just sucked.

But.....I finished my first half marathon!

Whoo Hooo!!!!

Wanna hear how it went? I will warn you this is a long post.

I got to Florida late Thursday night and stayed at a friend's house. Friday I spent the early part of the day checking into the Boardwalk Villas, picking up park tickets, and picking up my race packet. This was the first race expo I had been to and it was kinda fun. I loved seeing all the cool gear and mingling with like-minded crazy people.

I got my bib number, picked up my uber ugly race t-shirt that was included with registration, hooked myself up with a spiebelt I had been wanting, and bought a not ugly shirt to commemorate the event. It was all starting to feel very real. The fact that I had to run 13.1 miles (in a row) the next night was making me excited and sick all at the same time.

I passed the rest of the day meeting up with some friends for dinner, lingering in Epcot, and then heading over to the Polynesian to meet some more friends. I have to say, I wasn't feeling very festive. I felt like my vacation really couldn't start until after the race the next night. I called it an early night and headed back to the Boardwalk.

Race Day
Oh man! This was the day I had been planning for all year! I forced myself to sleep in as late as I could - which meant about 7am. My kids were happy to have a relaxing morning and had no problem at all sleeping later than that. So I took the time to finish unpacking and organize the room. I made sure all my race stuff was together and tried to enjoy the morning. But I was really nervous.

Confession time - The two weeks leading up to this vacation were horrible for me. HORRIBLE! You know that 10k I was all excited about? That was the last time I ran up to this point. Yep. 6.2 miles two weeks prior and I thought I could lug my body 13.1 across a finish line? So you see why I was stressing, right? I just had all these crazy demands on my time prior to vacation and I couldn't even manage to get more than 6 hours of sleep each night let alone find time to run. It was really, really crazy and not at all how I envisioned the last two weeks of my training.

So I'm coming to grips with the fact that I'm really not prepared for this, but the race is happening with or without me so I might as well just suck it up and see how it goes.

I kept the rest of the day easy. Met up with some runner friends at the Beach Club, rode a few rides in Epcot, and then returned to the room to decompress and attempt a short nap. My friends were meeting me in the lobby at the Boardwalk to catch the bus to the starting line at 7:30pm.

The line for the buses was crazy long. But the time passed easily since I was able to chat with friends while we waited. Once we finally boarded the bus we were trucked over to Wide World of Sports. At that time my friends all went in different directions. Deb and I had to wait in line for gear check. It was another crazy long line, but I liked having someplace to be and someone to talk to rather than just roaming around aimlessly and dealing with all the worry inside myself.

I was amazed at the number of people there. Wow! There was such excitement and energy. It was great to watch, but I didn't at all feel a part of it. I wasn't sure how I actually made it this far, standing amongst all these fit, healthy, energetic runners. What a poser!

After standing in one more line for the port-a-potties Deb and I said our good-byes. She was in Corral B and I was in Corral C. (This placement would later prove to be the only reason I was able to finish this race! I don't know how I lucked into it - but it was a break I needed.)

Starting Line
So now I'm standing in the Corral waiting for the start. I had about an hour before the race would begin. Leaving me alone with my thoughts for that amount of time seemed rather dangerous. I started dinking around on Facebook to pass the time. I sent a rather vague status update of "is questioning her sanity" and within minutes I had several supportive messages from friends who knew exactly what I was referring to. That made me feel better and their positive messages were starting to drown out my negative thinking.

I was proud that I set a goal and didn't give up on it. But there was still 13.1 miles to go before I could declare Mission Accomplished. I was really worried about just giving up. I was in such a bad place mentally. I was beating myself up about slacking off these last two weeks and I felt so ill-prepared. I decided that I would run each mile for someone important to me. That way I wouldn't want to quit on that person's mile. I tend to give more of myself when I'm doing something for someone else - so it seemed like a good idea.

Finally, everyone was standing. The announcer was speaking. The national anthem was being sung. The fireworks were going off. And we were moving.

Holy crap!

Apology Time - I'm sorry for not taking pictures. I tried. Really I did. I even bought a small little camera to carry with me just for this run! But it was dark and there were so many people and I just gave up. All the pics I took are blurry and horrible. I'm really bummed about this :(

The Race
So we're running. Or shuffling to the start line, as it may be. Once I hit the start I made sure to start the time on my Garmin. I had printed out some pace bands (Thanks Liz!) to help keep me on track and I would need Gary's help since he, as usual, was the only running partner I had.

I ran Mile 1 for God. The Bible says to give our best to God and usually the first mile is the best I've got. I spent the time being thankful for getting to that point and counting my blessings. I was consciously trying to bury all that negative self-talk I had been dealing with all day.

I glanced down at Gary to see I was perfectly paced at a 14 min mile. If I went any faster than that I would never be able to finish this whole thing. But wait! What the heck? Even though Gary was calculating my pace, my time was still set at zero. I was so irritated. I must've hit the wrong button when I went to start the timer. That sucks! So now I was gonna have to guesstimate how long I had been running and how far I had gone. I think it was about half a mile, so I figured I could add 7 minutes to whatever my time was and that should be close. Still. I was not happy about this.

Mile 1 ended up being really hard for me. I just felt so inadequate. Of course that could've been because of the throngs of people passing me. But this was my race and I needed to just stay positive. I seriously wanted to stop after Mile 1 because the thought of running 12 more of those miles, followed by another .1 mile for extra credit, just seemed daunting.

But who's gonna quit on God's mile?

So I passed the Mile One marker and checked Gary to see if my estimate was close. It looked about right and I kept moving along.

Mile 2 was for my daughter Courtney. I love that little girl. She is growing up so quickly though. I'm proud of the young lady she is becoming and also sad for the little girl we're leaving behind. I still felt yucky. I've run much longer than two miles. And I didn't know why I was feeling so bad so early. When they say running is a mental game they are not kidding. Those negative thoughts and worry bouncing around in my head were making this race miserable for me!

After Mile 2 there were port-a-potties. I kinda had to go, but there was a line and I didn't want to take the time. This is Disney. I'm sure there will be more potties soon.

Mile 3 I ran for my son Cory. Cory is pretty awesome. He's only 14, but the man of the house. He takes really good care of me and watches out for his sister. He has somehow figured out how to do things like re-thread the line in the lawn edger without the luxury of having a dad show him how. I don't even know how to work the lawn edger. But there is some male DNA in him that has made such things possible for Cory.

Mile 3 was actually much better for me. I was sticking to my pace and starting to feel more positive. Of course, now I really needed a bathroom.

Note to Self: when you see a port-a-potty and you "kinda have to go" make sure you stop!

I saw some port-a-potties right before we entered Animal Kingdom and I sprinted up to them. Whew! I spent a little more time in there than I wanted just contemplating the fact that I was really doing this. I was also realizing that I still had ten miles left of this thing. TEN MILES!!!!!

Running miles 4 and 5 through Animal Kingdom was kind of cool. They had some really neat lighting I had never seen. People were complaining about how narrow the passages were. I just tried to stay out of the way and keep moving in a forward direction. I ran Mile 4 for my Mom and Mile 5 for my BFF Heather. It did help to focus on friends and family like that, so I kept up the little game.

My friend, Heather, is so amazing. We have both made these huge changes in our lives this year and her support has been pivotal in every success I've had. Thinking of her made me smile and even brought a tear to my eye. I really felt like she was there with me right then.

At the exit to Animal Kingdom I had to use a bathroom again. What the heck?! It had only been 5 miles. And I ran a whole 10k without having to stop once. I think this is where the night racing thing wrecked havoc on me. I was trying to stay hydrated all day and now I was paying the price. When I run in the mornings I'm not drinking the whole night before - but it seemed I was the only person having this problem. All the rest of the people were still passing me. And now my time was starting to stink with all these pit stops!

Exiting Animal Kingdom we passed the relay transition point. Oh how I wanted to run in there and just find a relay partner instead of finishing on my own!

I ran Mile 6 for my friend, Tina. She has been an inspiration in my life. We've lost touch this past year, but I wanted to spend the next mile thinking of all the great times we shared. She helped me through a very difficult situation in my life and I will forever hold a special place in my heart for her. She was with me when I first declared that I would run this race. And when people around her questioned whether or not I would follow through with it she said, "If Kelly says she's gonna do it. You better believe she's gonna do it." I love that she has that kind of faith in me. So as much as Mile 6 sucked - I was not stopping during her mile!

Mile 7 was for my friend, Deb. She is the crazy person who said that I could do this. Her story of how she began running is inspirational and every time I thought I wanted to give up she was there to tell me no. This body of mine had never run further than 6.2 miles and I thought it appropriate that Deb's mile was the one that took me passed the point I had actually reached in my training.

Around Mile 7 I heard a woman encouraging her friend to keep going. She said, "Just push through it now and its gonna get easier." I knew she was right. I've experienced this myself. I hadn't hit that point yet this race. And I was anxiously awaiting the mile after which all the other miles would just start ticking by.

I'll tell you now that that point never came for me. I know it was my fault for not training properly. I felt every single inch of those 7 miles up to that point. I was hoping to get to that happy, giddy place where you just fall into a stride and run it out. Its a great feeling - but not one that I had the pleasure of getting for this particular event. Nothing but sheer determination was getting me through this race.

Mile 8 was ridiculously hard for me. I ran this one for Dee and Steen. What awesome people! As if on cue, Dee sent me an encouraging text. I texted back something along the lines of I wanted to die. It almost came apart for me here. I had to make another potty stop. My phone and camera fell out while I was getting all recombobulated and it was dark. I just really wanted to hop on the next bus and meet my friends in Epcot for the party. But I couldn't quit during Dee and Steen's mile. They are this fun, sincere, amazingly intelligent couple who I love spending time with. They've given me advice when I ask for it and love and support when I don't. If you knew them you wouldn't stop during their mile either!

That brings me to Mile 9. Somewhere during this mile I saw a bunch of buses. There were people sitting on the buses and walking over to the buses. Passing those buses could very well have been the hardest 100 yards of that race for me. I wanted it to be over. And I hadn't picked anyone to run for yet. So I wouldn't be quitting on anyone. I slowed down - almost to a stop. I passed the buses and then lingered for a little before I made the curve. I really, really wanted to give up.

But I thought how I had almost gone 9 miles. And I was never, ever gonna do something like this again in my entire life. I didn't believe I would finish the race. But it didn't seem right for me to leave on my own. I was just gonna wait for the sweepers to come get me. As long as I could put one foot in front of the other I was gonna keep moving. But I was defeated and I believed with everything in me that I would not finish this race.

About this time a lady running near me said softly, "Keep going. You're doing great." That was all I needed to just lose it. I started crying. Not just a tear in my eye, getting emotional crying - but a big blubbery mess. To my surprise the lady yelled at me. I was startled. I remember word for word what she said:

"Stop crying! Don't you dare waste one bit of your energy on crying! Do you hear me? Stop it right now and keep moving!"

Frankly she scared the bejeezus out of me and I regained my composure. She told me of how this was her third half marathon and that she twisted her ankle the week before. She was in pain, but she was finishing this race and they would have to carry her off before she stopped. I didn't have much of Mile 9 left after I lost her, but I ran the rest of it for her.

Miles 10 and 11 were run in Hollywood Studios. And to tell you the truth....I don't remember much of it. I was a mess by then. I wish I could've enjoyed this more because there was some cool stuff we got to see. We ran through the tunnel of the Backlot Tour and all the windows were lit up so you could see the exhibits inside. But I was sidetracked by the bicycle medic asking if I was alright and telling me that I only had 5 minutes to get to the next check point. It freaked me out and I picked up the pace so that I could hide amongst a group of Team in Training runners. I knew they wouldn't sweep all of us.

The coolest thing of the whole race was that they had the Osbourne Lights on for us. It was so magical when I turned the corner and saw the street lit up. I've been at DisneyWorld during Christmas when they have the lights on display and it is always packed with people. Here I had the street (almost) all to myself. It was the first time I felt a little of that Disney magic and I sure needed it right then! I've read reports of other runners who said there was Christmas music playing, but I didn't hear it. Either I really don't remember or they had shut it off since I was at the back of the pack. There were still folks behind me - but not too many.

They also put us on the big screen when we ran by the Lights, Motors, Action stage. Again, this would've been a perfect place to take a picture but I was just trying to stay upright for the next few miles.

Mile 10 I ran for you guys! Once I got into Hollywood Studios I was a bit re-energized and I wanted to make sure I didn't have the temptation to quit again. So I ran thinking of the folks who read my blog. There are a few who comment and I feel like they are new friends, but even for those who anonymously read about my plight -  I wanted to be able to write this post about finishing. I thought of other blogs I like to read and supportive comments from strangers. It really helped see me through!

Mile 11 was for friends I made on a travel forum I frequent. Some of those friends were here for this race and they were amazingly helpful. Lynda is loaded with practical advice. Liz posts her workouts on Facebook and inspires me to get off my butt. My dear friends Reid, Karen and Riley have travelled to DisneyWorld with the kids and I on several occasions. I thought of how I had to cancel on them last October and how they ran a 13k without me and how now I was finally running my Disney race. Thinking of all these people - way too many to name - kept my mind busy for that entire mile.

Mile 12 was tough. We ran out of Hollywood Studios and I thought for sure this is where I was gonna get swept. I tried to keep up with a group of girls, but it was getting so hard. I just had nothing left. People kept yelling things like "you're almost there" but it didn't seem that way. It was still almost two miles that seemed insurmountable.

I thought of my family. Some had not been very supportive of me lately. And, frankly, I wasn't gonna run a mile for them. But now in my humble state of brokenness I realized how much they mean to me. Sure, we have our issues. I don't think they will ever understand how hurtful their actions have been. But I was running this mile for them because they are still part of me. Part of who I am.

Once I reached the Mile 12 marker there were a bunch of people cheering. I heard someone say, "You're all gonna finish!"

Holy crap!


This was the first time the whole entire race that I really thought I was gonna finish it. There were still a few folks behind me and I looked back to make sure they were finishing too. Wow! I still had 1.1 miles to go, but I finally felt like I could enjoy it without all the worry and negativity.

I stopped to readjust my shoe. I had a ginormous blister, but didn't want to take the time to do anything about it before for fear the sweepers would catch up with me. I moved my sock around to make it a little more comfortable. And then I proceeded to enjoy the last mile of this race! We were running behind the Boardwalk on the walkway  in front of the lagoon and it was beautiful. I still hurt. Every part of me hurt, but I was running this mile for me.

It was very symbolic of my life. I had given all I could to everyone else and now it was time to do something for me. It was a difficult mile, but knowing that I was gonna finish and that I would get that medal made it worth it. Sadly, I heard a lady go down behind me just as we were entering the Boardwalk. We were almost there and she couldn't make it. I heard her friends and knew she had people to help her so I just kept going. I just couldn't look back or stop. It was so emotional and I knew I would completely lose it if I allowed myself to. I had to be selfish and run this mile for me. I saw her later on a gurney. I really hope she still got her medal. She was so close.

The Finish
I could hear the finish line before I could see it. I started running just as fast as I could. It couldn't have been all that fast, but I felt like I had wings at that point. That last one tenth of a mile went to God again. It turns out that that was the best I had in me that race. And having just seen the injury behind me I was feeling mighty blessed at that moment. I heard the announcer say my name and, in that one moment, I was proud of what I had accomplished.

Once I was in the runners chute I wanted to go to a medical tent to get something for my blister. The entire heel of my right foot was an open wound. A volunteer told me to get my medal first. Once I got the medal I wanted a picture right away. Then I forgot about the medical tent and I was shuffled into the bag check area. Every part of me ached and I just wanted to get into an open space and sit down so I passed up all the amenities and bee-lined for the door. I was pretty bummed when I saw how busy Epcot was. There were a bazillion people here for this party. I just wanted a place to sit.

Good Friends
I hobbled over to the UK and plopped on the ground with some other pathetic looking souls. I texted my friends who were a little surprised that I had made it. They walked over from France since I was firmly planted on the ground and couldn't get up if I tried.

My friends showed up quickly and proved their devotion by hugging my sweaty self. I was so thankful for them being there. I was a zombie. They grabbed my stuff while I made one last potty stop and it was nice not to worry about anything. I noticed that my medal was missing a charm. Suddenly this became a very big deal.

In unison my friends all whisked me back to the runner area. Lynda held my shoes and my phone, Deb held my bag, and Dee held my arm and we went back to try to trade in my less-than-perfect prize.

This was Dee, "My friend just finished her first half marathon. I am very proud of her and I really think she deserves a medal that's not broken." It was so sweet. She was adamant on getting me a new medal. I seriously wouldn't have had the energy to go back and say anything, but she would have none of that.

Deb and Lynda were waiting for me again. I felt so horrible telling them I couldn't celebrate with them. But I was still not feeling the giddy enjoyment that everyone around me was. I just hurt.

Dee walked me to my hotel. I was staying on the Boardwalk which was awesome since I didn't have to deal with buses or any other transportation. But it still seemed like a long walk. We stopped at every available park bench on the way. Here I had just ran 13.1 miles and now I could barely hobble to my room less than a half mile away. I was so grateful for the company. It takes a pretty good friend to carry shoes you just wore for 13.1 miles, hug you when you're all sweaty, and listen to your manic ramblings of how stupid this was all at 3:00am!

Somehow we managed to get to my room. And, true to the events of the last few hours, many people passed us along the way. But wearing that medal on my neck, and walking with my friend in the early morning hours was an experience I will never forget.

Completing that race was hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But I learned a lot about myself on that course. I learned a lot about the power of determination. I have a new appreciation for the strength of positive thinking and negative self-talk. And I'm not afraid to set some more lofty goals.

By the way....thanks for keeping me accountable through this blog and helping me through Mile 10 ;)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Soggy 10K

Well, the weather didn't cooperate, but I felt GREAT about this race!

I had a million excuses to cancel on this. It seemed like the entire universe was against me making my way to Chicago this morning. And usually I would take that as a sign to just turn off the alarm and sleep through the darn thing. But for some reason I was determined.

I woke up at 3:40am. It was raining. Not lightly raining. We're talking sheets of rain falling from the sky raining. I really had to push myself to get the heck out of bed and not just fall back to sleep with the sound of the rain. I mean, who wants to drive in this stuff? And then who wants to run in it? It just seemed like a bad idea all around.

But for some crazy reason I got out of bed and got ready. I brought some coffee and a bagel with to eat in the car. I knew something was terribly wrong with the state of my life when the radio mentioned "Late Nights with Someone or Another." It wasn't even early morning programming! I was just waking up and it was still late night programming. That is just wrong. I remember days of just getting home at this hour on a Saturday morning and here I was voluntarily lugging my happy butt across the state line to have the pleasure of running 6.2 miles. In a row. Two hours away. In the rain. Perfectly sober. What the heck has become of me?!

I got over it when I realized that I had the car all to myself with no judgemental kids trying to tell me that A)My music sucks and B)My singing hurts their ears.

Cue the DJ hosting the 80's weekend marathon. Oh yeah!

Whoa....oooo....we're halfway there. on  prayer!

Blinded by the light - revved up like a duece another runner in the night. Blinded by the light.....

My new BFF DJ even played a little Tesla for me. It was a fun drive :)

I got to the train station a few minutes early. I met a really nice lady there. She was on her way to Indiana to see her grandkids. It was such a pleasure to get to know her. I never got her name, but we talked like we were old friends. I love when you meet people like that.

The train arrived downtown just a few minutes late at 7:15pm. I hooked myself up with a cab and 12 minutes and $20.00 later I was at Montrose Beach picking up my race packet.

(I'm not in this picture, so don't try looking for me. Remember? I do these things all by my lonesome. I can't take the pictures AND be in them....sheesh!)

So I pick up my race number and goody bag. I got a race t-shirt, another t-shirt from a vendor there, a shoe horn, a clif bar, a tote bag, and some random coupons for fitness centers and running stores. I do love me some free stuff.

Can I just tell you that Chicago's running scene is just amazing? There were runners everywhere. And not just the ones running the race. There were random runners all over the city. And it was still raining! It was a far cry from my lonely little trail or neighborhood runs. I'm totally moving to Chicago. Or maybe NYC? I'm so over rural Wisconsin....but I digress.

The 10k started 15 minutes before the 5k. So everyone lined up anxious to get on with the show. It was pretty darn chilly out there right next to Lake Michigan. The rain had lightened up, but it never stopped the whole morning.

The first mile was awesome. My handy dandy Garmin had me sticking pretty close to my pace and not going out too fast. But I was able to run for much longer without stopping for a walk break. I think all that time in the car and on the train just made me want to move! By the second mile I was still feeling good and surprised that I was keeping a 12:30 pace. I felt good though. I pushed myself to mile 3.1 so that I could see how much I could beat my previous 5k by. I got the first 3.1 miles done in 39 minutes. I was thrilled by this at the time, but at the end when I was watching the awards for the top finishers of the 10k there was a guy who did it in 40 minutes. Geez, buddy! Way to ruin it for a girl!

Anyway, things got tougher into mile 4. I was feeling pretty crappy. And I was seeing all these people pass me and then I was seeing some of the really fast 5kers already coming around the bend! I trudged through. I kept doing the running/walking thing. We were circling around by the starting line and heading in a different direction for the last 2 or so miles. I saw several people quit around there. I wasn't gonna quit. I was going for Last Place or Better (that could totally be a t-shirt logo, huh?)

So mile 4 sucked. I really had to dig deep to keep running. I was just ready to be done. But then once I hit mile 5 things just got easier. I don't know why, but I started running and had no desire at all to stop. I ran most of mile 5, but then when I got almost to mile 6 I didn't have much left in me. I tried to finish strong, but my legs were like lead. I did muster up a jog for the last .2 miles to the finish line. And boy was I happy to be done! I finished at 1:26:04. The "official" pace had me at 13:51 minutes per mile. But my Garmin said I was at a 13:35 I'm gonna have to go with Gary on this one. Either way it totally blows my 15 minute miles of my last 5k out of the water.

Walking around the park I was listening to announcements and top finishers. They also had some lung cancer survivors there telling their stories. It was very touching and made me thankful for the life I have and the strength I find in this body of mine.

I would've like to have ended my day right there, but there was a little matter of getting home to take care of. Montrose Beach is a pretty big place. And you have to walk at least a mile to get up to a street where you can get a cab. Here's what the harbor looked like on my way back:

It started raining a lot harder and I was just drenched. It took another 1 1/2 miles before I finally got a cab. But another 12 minutes and another $20.00 and I was safely deposited back at Union Station.

I had a little wait for my train. I got myself refueled with a turkey sammie and some soup. (I went with the loaded baked potato....cuz, you know....I just ran 6.2 miles and then walked another 1.5!) I passed the rest of the time updating Facebook and having an awesome chat with one of my friends who wanted to know every detail of my morning. Don't you just love friends like that? :)

The train ride was uneventful. My muscles got really stiff though. Clearly, it wasn't such a good idea to sit for two hours after running. Had it been sunny out I probably would have taken an hour or two to mosey around the city, but I was so ready to get out of the rain. A nice shower and some Motrin have helped with the pain.

And even though I'm still walking like an 80 year old man. I'm feeling more like this: (Thanks Mr. 80's DJ Dude!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Race Logistics

Can I just tell you that I have every single reason in the world to flake out on this 10k tomorrow?

But am I gonna? Nosireebob! I will be there one way or another!

First off I was supposed to stay in Chi-Town tonight so that I could pick up my race packet and then be all fresh and ready to run tomorrow morning. However, my daughter's plans fell through and she has nowhere to stay for the night. I was having a hard time justifying the cost of the hotel anyway, so it seemed like the right choice to just suck it up and travel the day of the race.

So now the plan is to drive in the morning. Now I'm not scared to drive through Chicago, or even to a destination within the city with a parking lot - like Soldier Field or the Shedd Aquarium or something. But I HATE having to park in the city. HATE IT! I'm sure it has a little something to do with the "Great Parking Garage Incident of 2004".

Until the Incident I could manage the city almost as well as a native. And I ventured downtown at least once every couple of months for work without much concern. This particular morning the normally 1hour 45 minute commute downtown turned into about 2 1/2 hours thanks to some extra special traffic on the expressway. Anywhoo, I was going to an attorney's office on Wabash and thought I knew right where I was headed. Short version is that his building was not the one I thought it was. I decided to just park the car and walk. (I think this is a good time to interject that I have Green Bay Packer licence plates on my SUV which seems to bring out the warm fuzzys with all the Bears fans.) I ended up in some shady parking structure that had two open spots clear on the top level. I get into the rickety elevator and it abruptly stops in between floors. Did I mention that I'm already running late? And that I'm claustrophobic?

It was no fun. I had to wait until someone else came to use the elevator. Thankfully it was only a few minutes - which felt like four and a half days!

So. I hate driving into Chicago when I don't know EXACTLY where I'm parking. It doesn't bother me in Milwaukee or Minneapolis or anywhere else I go.

This little phobia of mine has made me a very fond customer of the commuter train. We have a station about 30 minutes from me in a nice rural little town where I can park my big ole SUV with bright yellow Packer plates without worry.

Guess what? The first train into the city on Saturdays doesn't leave until 6:35am. Which means it doesn't get downtown until 8:23am. A little late for the 8:30am start. And, oh yeah, I still need to pick up that race packet.

So I found another rail line about 45 minutes from me. That train leaves at 5:38am and gets downtown by 7:08am. This is much better except for the fact that I'll have to leave my house by 4:30ish in the AM! But it would give me time to cab it over to Montrose Harbor, pick up my race packet, and run 6.2 miles all before lunch.

And, as if on cue, I get an email from the organizers of the race saying that the parking lot nearest the event will be closed on race day. They offered up suggestions of off-street parking and some parking structures in the area.

I'm still considering whether to drive or take the train. I'm sure whoever gets the pleasure of sitting next to my sweaty, stinky self on the train on the way home is pulling for the drive option.

Crazy Fall Schedule

Wow! Time has sure flown. Sometimes I don't know how it gets away from me.

So the last post I had up here detailed a rough run for me. That was followed by two seriously stressful weeks. I didn't completely lose it. I got a couple good runs in, but I certainly wasn't at the top of my game. I'd like to say that its easy for me to separate "real life" from my running regimen - but that just doesn't always happen. There are mornings when that alarm at 5:00am just gets shut off because I have a long day ahead and I need to rest an extra hour instead of zombie-running through the neighborhood. And sometimes, on a long car trip, I succumb to the convenience of a drive-thru meal in a paper bag. It happens. And it happened a little more than usual these last couple weeks. I own it.

And as if my Blackberry needed more entries in the calendar - I had the bright idea of going back to school this semester. It sounded all sorts of brilliant a few months ago. I have all these credits hanging around in limbo from an unfinished degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. I decided to transfer all the gen-ed stuff towards a Technical Communications program. It won't take me long to pound out the program specific classes and then I will feel all warm and fuzzy inside about actually completing the darn thing.

Like I seemed like a good idea.

This week was the first week of school for me and I severely underestimated the time it would take for studying and homework and all that jazz. I'm a little overwhelmed with it all. But, like everything else, I'm sure I'll figure out how to get it all done.

What actually makes me feel better is a good run. Who knew?

I did my own little private 5k yesterday and got it pretty close to 14:00 minutes a mile. I know I'm not qualifying for Boston with that - but I felt really good afterwards. Once I force myself to get those running shoes on and hit the pavement it does wonders for my stress levels.

Tomorrow I venture to Chicago for the Lung Run 10k. I'm a little apprehensive about this one. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My 5-Mile Rollercoaster Run

No. I did not run through a theme park or do a bunch of hill work. The ups and downs I experienced on this morning's run were purely emotional. I don't know what the heck happened - but I was such a girl.

I woke up this morning knowing that the training plan called for a 5 mile run. I just didn't want to get out of bed. I laid there making deals with myself for a few extra minutes of sleep. But I really wanted to get this done early before it got too hot and humid. Plus waiting for this evening seemed like too much of a gamble with all of the other responsibilities I have to take care of today.

I begrudgingly got out of bed and into my running clothes. I drove to the trail I checked out yesterday. I really like the solitude of running there.

Things started out well enough. The weather was a gorgeous 68 degrees and the sun was out. I doused myself with some sweat resistant bug repellent to ward off the little blood-sucking pests. I did some intervals of running and walking for the first mile and warmed up at a 15:00/mile pace which was just fine with me.

But it seemed more and more difficult to get my stinkin' legs to move. They were like big ol' lead bricks. My running became less and my walking became more. I just couldn't get moving.

Two ladies came up behind me. I heard the perfect cadence of their feet hitting the gravel before I saw them. They probably had 2% body fat between the both of them and were clearly out for their long run of the week. They were super nice, even removing their headphones to say, "Good Morning" and wish me well. Then they flashed me a smile and an encouraging head-nod and disappeared into the distance.

What did I do?

I got all irritated at how badly I wanted to move faster and how my lousy lead legs were not allowing it. I started getting all teary-eyed and was ready to just turn around and spend the rest of the day throwing myself a little pity party.

I kept moving. But mile 2 pretty much sucked for me. I didn't run even once.

Now the good thing about a straight trail like this, is that once I log half the miles of the day there is no other way to get back to my car other than finishing the entire distance. If I were in my neighborhood I would surely have taken a shortcut home at some point. So I told myself I just had to make it to 2.5 miles and then the rest would work itself out.

It took everything in me not to turn around early. Gary the Garmin got stuck on 2.46 miles for what seemed like ten minutes and I was not at all happy with him. But eventually he allowed me to turn around and I was just thankful to be walking in the right direction. I took a look at my pace and it was pretty pathetic. I started thinking of how I have to run this 10k in three weeks and how in 41 days I have to run a half marathon. It was all a little overwhelming and I got all weepy again. This was just seeming like a bad idea.

But I had no other option than to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I wasn't moving fast - but I was moving. I spent much of mile 3 giving myself a pep talk. Here I was out here on a Sunday morning moving my body for 5 miles. Sure I wasn't setting any sort of record this morning and I could barely qualify it as a "run", but I wasn't in bed or in front of the TV. Shouldn't that count for something?

I didn't see anyone else on the trail the whole time I was out there. And the peacefulness of it all was a drastic contrast compared to how the previous week had played out. It had been a tough week with lots of challenges. Perhaps getting out here this morning was just the release I needed.

I thought of this crazy goal I set months ago. Then I got angry at myself for slacking on the training. This would be so much easier right now if I had just worked out more back in June! Images of me crossing the finish line at the Wine and Dine and giving my friend Deb a big, sweaty hug when it was over caused another round of tears. It just seems so far away and so out of reach right now.

I kept walking and trying to get to a more positive place. It must've worked because I felt my legs become a little stronger. I started running again. It seemed easier now. At one point the trail goes under a highway overpass. I thought of the people in their cars rushing off to work or family obligations with paper bags of Egg McMuffins on their passenger seats. And here I was underneath them in this whole other world uber aware of the present moment, my feelings, my goals, my demons. I suddenly felt grateful for the experience instead of irritated with it.

The last mile flew by. I actually ran more of it than I walked and was able to salvage my overall pace a bit. I noticed a sports bottle left by the edge of the trail. I knew it was from the women I had seen earlier. They were still out there running and smiling and probably hadn't stopped to walk even once. By the time they get back to their sports bottle they would be celebarting a great run and would be as happy to see that sports bottle as I was gonna be when I saw my car. I smiled for them instead of crying this time.

Now its done and I'm happy I finished the 5 miles. It was a really bad run, but everyone tells me you will have bad runs from time to time. So I'm thankful this one is over with and I can move onto having a good run next time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Gary the Garmin and I went for our first trail run this morning.

The trail head to a great biking/running trail is near my home. I've never logged any miles on the trail because I couldn't map it out with my car. Well, now that I have good ol' Gary with me, I decided to check it out.

The trail is part of the "Rails to Trails" project that the DNR began in the 1990's to convert unused railroad tracks into public trails. Of course, back in the '90s I was in college and couldn't have cared less about such things. But now that I'm a runner wannabe I think its absolutely brilliant!

The trail is flat and straight and all sorts of peaceful. I loved not having to deal with cars, or dogs, or lawn sprinklers. It was just myself, the peaceful Wisconsin countryside, and a few random cyclists and runners. At one point there was a corn field to my left and a dairy farm to my right. Seriously. Just classic Wisconsin. I half expected there to be a water station with a keg of beer up ahead.

I had planned on four miles this morning, but fell a little short and only managed 3.5 miles. The only drawback of the trail was that the mosquitoes were getting to me and I had forgotten my bug spray. So I turned around a wee bit early.

I found myself running more this time around. The remoteness of the trail made me much less self-conscious. I didn't much care what the birds thought of my huffing and puffing. And I'm pretty sure the squirrels weren't judging the extra jiggle going on. I mean, my sports bra did a nice job of keeping the girls in place....but I'm thinking I need a butt-bra of some sort. 'Cause even when I stop running things are still a little shifty back there. So I appreciated not having to worry about passing a neighbor's house while in full-on jiggle mode.

The only other people I ran into were: a guy straight out of Runner's World magazine sporting a fuel belt and not much else, an elderly couple riding bikes, another runner dude who seemed much less serious than Mr. Runner's World, a woman runner with enough perfume on to choke out the mosquitoes, and two super cute cyclists who were doing their best to add to the beauty of the Wisconsin countryside.

The trail is almost 12 miles long and I suppose one day I should be able to make it from one trail head to the other. But that still seems a little crazy to me.

Unless......maybe there was some sort of prize at the end like a super cute cyclist convention and a keg of beer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My New Running Buddy

Normally I do all my runs solo. I really don't have friends nearby who are runner wannabes like myself. I don't even listen to an ipod when I run. I just like taking the time to unplug and clear my head while I take in all the sights and sounds around me.

Which was all fine and good in the beginning. But after I ran my first 5K I realized that I really need to push myself harder. I also wanted to keep better track of my distance and pace.

That's when I decided to bring Gary into the picture.

Gary is my new Garmin Forerunner 305. He is just the coolest running buddy EVER!

I have a few different routes plotted out near my home, depending on how far I want to run/walk that day. Today I decided to take Gary on my normal 3 mile route. Well, it turns out it was more like 3.5 miles! That probably means my 4 mile route is close to 5.

Anyway, there is a wealth of information in this beauty. I plug in a few vital statistics and, in return, it tells me how many calories I've burned, uses GPS to tell me how much ground I've covered, and tracks my heart rate.

Even cooler is the software it comes with. I was easily able to download this evening's walkish run - okay, wasn't really a run at all. It was more the pace of a Saturday Night Live Travolta strut. But I haven't been for a run in almost two weeks and I just needed to get back in the swing of things. Plus I was distracted by all the blinking lights. Anyway, I was able to download all sorts of cools stats. I can tell you exactly what my heart rate was at mile 2.3 and how high the elevation was at that point. Isn't that cool? Plus it shows me a pretty little map of the route I just took. My inner geek was all sorts of impressed.

The only thing I didn't like about it is the uncomfortable rubber strap it comes with. But I found a Velcro strap they make for it and I promptly ordered it. There is still plenty my new little toy does - but that will require reading the manual - and I'm not sure when I'll get to that. I have a feeling that I'll be figuring out all the features for months to come though.

Also, you might notice the slick little box over on the right-hand side that tracks my mileage. I'll be keeping a running tab of how many miles I cover starting from today. I hope it will keep me on track with the training. I have some ground to make up!

But it should be a lot more fun now that Gary's with me!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Next Run

I'm freaking out a little bit about how this half marathon I've signed up for is sneaking up on me. In a mere 46 days I will be standing at the starting line and wondering what the heck I was thinking and how the heck I'm gonna huff and puff my way through 13.1 miles.

I don't feel nearly as confident as I did when this race was five months away. Five months ago I was like, "Bring it on!"......"13.1 miles? Pfft! I laugh at 13.1 miles."

Funny how time (and reality) change things.

The thought had occurred to me to just abandon this little blog and disappear quietly.

But instead I decided to ramp up the training and sign up for a 10k run in September. I picked Chicago's Lung Run on September 11th. It looks like a fun course along the lake shore. And I'm hoping the 8am start on a September morning right by the lake will be cooler than the crazy stupid heat we've got going on now.

And if the 10k kills me I don't have to run the half marathon, right?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Party Slip-Ups

What a week! I have spent 4 out of the last 7 days in party mode.

I started out the weekend very much looking forward to a little trip to Madison to hang out with some friends - many I hadn't seen in a whole year and some folks I would meet for the first time. Friday afternoon I drove the hour to Mad Town with the best of intentions. I packed myself some healthy food, checked out the hotel's exercise room online, and even brought my hand weights with me.

Friday was a crazy hectic day and by the time I got to the hotel I was ready to turn my mind into relaxation mode. Many of my friends were already at the hotel and promptly helped me get my mountain of luggage to the room and set out Round 1 of the food. I stuck close to the fruit, but allowed myself a cotton-tini.....(okay.....two of them). And, yes, they are just as naughty as they sound. A big, billowy cloud of pink cotton candy melted by a mixture of vodka, XR Fusion, and cranberry juice in a martini glass. It may not have been "just what the doctor ordered", but I sure wanted one....(okay....two)!

But this was really my only slip-up for Friday. I had still managed to get in 4 miles that morning and resisted the fast food drive thru and mini brownies like a champ.

This. Sadly, is where any hint of willpower eluded me.

Saturday started out with a bagel and cream cheese from the free breakfast downstairs. More importantly, it started out without a visit to the exercise room. I carried on throughout the day with reckless abandon eating a little of this and a little of that. I must say, I had a great time. I felt like a felon in Las Vegas though.

I find that when I'm disciplined in one aspect of my life, that discipline transfers to other parts of my life too. When I exercise, I eat right, I spend less, and I'm more productive with my time. Unfortunately, this also works in reverse. So when I'm lazy about exercising or eating junk, I also tend to spend more money and just become, overall, more indulgent. Thank God there wasn't a casino with a blackjack table around!

When I got home Sunday night I had great memories of my weekend, but also felt like I needed to spend a few hours in a time-out chair for my reckless behavior. Perhaps that time would've been better spent on a run? Hmm....I should've re-thought that punishment.

So that brings me to Monday. Which seems like a good enough day of the week to start fresh.

You would think.

Except I was busy planning for my son's birthday which was on Tuesday. This meant more food, more cake, a house to clean, and luggage to unpack. I told myself there was no time for exercising, but really I just didn't make the time. And then I threw all caution to the wind and decided to eat party food for yet another day this week.

Physically, I feel pretty yucky. Which actually reinforces that I want to stay right smack-dab in the middle of this healthy lifestyle I've embraced. I feel so much better about myself and I have so much more energy when I fuel myself properly.

You all have seen me through a few of these "epic fails" as my gamer son would call them. But to not acknowledge them would be hypocritical. I used to feel so bad when I would cheat on a diet or something like that. And usually it would end with me declaring failure and reverting back to old habits. But now I know it is not how hard you fall off the wagon, but how quickly you climb back on.

So I will remember all the great memories made this week and not how bad I feel now. I will also take comfort in the fact that I'm still on track - I just took a little detour.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Loser Friends

I have this group of friends I've been hanging out with for the last 12 weeks or so. I don't know any of them very well, they're not even casual acquaintances. Really they are more like friends of a friend of a virtual friend. But over the past 12 weeks we got pretty close. I shared some personal stuff with them and, in return, listened (or read) about their struggles and successes.

This bunch of people formed a private Facebook group and organized a Biggest Loser-type competition amongst them. I was hesitant to sign up, but figured I should grab hold of any extra motivation in the health/fitness department that I stumbled upon. I saw a post for the group on a travel forum I frequent. I figured I didn't know the participants well enough to be too terribly mortified when they were treated to weekly pictures of my bathroom scale - so I took the plunge.

Yep. You heard me right. I had to upload a picture of my scale every week at our "weigh-ins". You should've seen me the first week. I was on the phone with my good friend, Heather - the only person on the planet I would actually trust with such confidential information, while my mouse hovered over the upload button. Now I have uploaded pictures to Facebook many, many times. My Facebook friends who have been subjected to oodles of pictures of my kids in DisneyWorld and Europe can attest to that.

Now, apparently, this group is a private group, which means that the content can only be viewed by members of said group. But all I could think about is random members of my family and a scattering of ex-boyfriends all looking at a bathroom scale clearly depicting my weight. I was a nervous wreck.

So back to me hovering the little arrow and talking to Heather at the same went a little something like this:

"K. I'm gonna do it. Are you on your News Feed?'

Yeah....I'm refreshing.....nothing here.

"I haven't hit upload yet."

Well....are ya gonna?

"Yeah, but are you sure you are seeing current stuff on your News Feed? Here. I'm gonna update my status."

Kel. I can see stuff that was posted 2 seconds ago. You'll be fine.

"Sure. You're not the one ready to tell the whole world that there are NFL linebackers that weigh less then you."

Oh shut up. Its not that bad.

"K. I'm gonna do it. I'm hitting upload."

See. Nothing there.

"I still didn't do it"

Kelly. Its just one click. If I see anything you can delete it right away. No one will even know. Just do it.

"Okay. I'm hitting upload. Oh Man! I HIT UPLOAD! Oh Good Grief!!! Do you see anything? Can you see the picture? Can you see something on my profile page? Oh man....this was a stupid idea."

Kel. There is nothing here. I'm refreshing. You're all good.

"Keep looking."

If I see anything that remotely resembles the picture of a scale or three numbers in a row that could possibly be your weight I will call you right away.

Anyway, eventually I got that initial picture uploaded and there was no fallout or accidental posting on my profile page. However, at the end of the day when everyone had their pictures posted I realized that I was the fattest person there! Are you kidding me? I am involved in a group of people who admit to having to lose weight and I am bigger than every last one of them?

It was so depressing. Not only was I bigger than all of them. I was bigger by an entire 30 pounds! Holy cow! That was a pretty horrible night for me. I was actually irritated. And then sad. And then pissed off. And then I went for a run.

The weekly weigh-ins after that were much less stressful for me.

I found the people to be so supportive and understanding. It was a friendly competition and there was no mean-spiritedness. They also shared lots of good advice and links to informative articles. As the weeks passed those people became friends.

I thought I was doing really well in the competition because I usually lost more weight than anyone else. But because the winners are calculated by percentage of weight lost, I would only manage to come in third or fourth each week. I think I had one week where I came in second place, but I never managed first. It was frustrating for me. But I was starting to feel so good, that I got to a point where the game didn't matter as much.

A week ago today was the last weigh-in of the 12-week round.

Guess who came in first?

Yep. It was my first time coming in first place. And it seems all that consistency paid off because I also managed to snag the overall prize of a $120.00 gift certificate.

More importantly, I lost 42.4 pounds in those 12 weeks, I ran my first 5k, and I registered for the half marathon. I credit my FB Loser Friends for keeping me on track those 12 weeks and I look forward to them kicking my butt the next round too!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

All Registered!

There is no turning back now. I have officially sent in my payment and personal information to the powers that be in charge of Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon. It is a night race that starts at 10:00pm on October 2nd. The race is followed by an after party celebration in Epcot that goes until 3:00am or some crazy thing. I just hope I can finish before 3:00am! And if I do finish...there better darn well be some drinks left!

I was putting off registering just to make sure I could actually do this. And partly cuz I wanted to hang onto my $160.00 just a little longer. I'm still not convinced I can actually run 13.1 miles all in a row - but I have now financially committed to doing so.

It feels good to know that no matter what happens I will be part of that race. I hope to be the part of it that finishes....but I still have a few months to work on that, right?

I wish you all could join me there at the finish line to celebrate.

.......But now that I think about it - it may be better for you just to read all the details here. I mean, I'm sure my words will help you to visualize me sprinting gazelle-style across the finish line in my cute little running skirt, perfect complexion, and beaming smile. If you were in Orlando for my big race you might mistake me for the fat girl army-crawling to the finish line covered in her own vomit, sweating like a pig, and blubbering like a big baby. So, yea, I'll just tell you how it plays out ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My First 5K

Sunday I managed to complete my first 5k. It was a run/walk event, so I knew there was no chance of me getting swept or anything. But I have never participated in a road race before, so I was still a little anxious about how things would play out.

I was spending the weekend up in Northern Wisconsin helping my Mom with her new restaurant. This was a big weekend for her since the much anticipated Musky Fest was taking place. Yep....I said Musky Fest. Apparently that's a big deal up here in Hayward. I must say that all this hunting, fishing, camping, and all-out woodsiness is lost on me. And the fact that the kick-off to summer is celebrated with a festival named after a big, ugly fish - well, it just freaks me out a little bit.

So the fourth and final day of Musky Fest started with the 5k. My new summer home is just a few blocks from the registration and start point so I walked down to join the festivities and pick up my free t-shirt. I watched the crowd grow as runners and walkers of all fitness levels joined the masses. I checked out some of the elite runners and made mental notes of all the cool gear. Some of those runners were already running in circles around a couple of blocks that made up the holding area for everyone who was registering. I mean, c'mon, you're gonna get a chance to run in just a few minutes. Whats with the extra credit?

I met a nice couple from Elgin, IL in the group. Elgin is not far from my home so we chit-chatted about the area. I also met a group of folks from Colorado who asked me to take their picture. I suppose I should've had someone take a picture of me to document the experience. But, frankly, I didn't know how this was gonna turn out and perhaps I would need to erase it from the archives. So the less photographic evidence the better.

Eventually the announcer started counting down the remaining minutes before the start of the race and everyone took their places at the starting line. I felt my heart beat just a little faster as I found my place comfortably to the side, but close to the front of the group. There were over 400 participants in this year's race and I was surprised at the turnout of the good ole Musky Fest 5k Run/Walk.

Shortly after I found my place in the herd of 5kers the announcer was counting down the remaining seconds before the official start.

Holy Crap! Here I am stuck in the middle of 400 crazy people who got out of bed early on a Sunday to self-propel themselves around 3.1 miles of Hayward, WI. What the heck was I thinking? And how the heck do I get out of this now?

But before I could come up with a good escape plan the gun fired to signal the start of the race and I was running with oodles of people around me. And everyone was running. Where are these walkers I've heard so much about? Clearly I was in the wrong section of crazy people. I should be somewhere between the dog-walkers and the wannabes. But nope. I was smack in the middle of the honest-to-goodness runners.


I was holding my own and not letting too many people pass me, but I was sucking some serious wind and I think we had gone all of two....maybe three blocks. But no on in front of me had started walking yet and I really didn't want to be the first to tucker out. Then I heard some women behind me say that they really wanted to walk but didn't want to be the first to stop. I figured this was my good deed for the day and took it upon myself to help them feel a little better about themselves. Of course there was the little issue of me not being about to breathe, but lets just say I stopped to help out my fellow wannabes.

So now I'm walking but maintaining a pretty good pace. Sure there were some runners passing me, but I was passing some of the walkers and that made me feel pretty good. I alternated jogging and walking for much of the race. Almost everyone I saw had a friend or a group with them. I was flying solo and just picked out people ahead of me to try to keep up with. After spending all my walking/jogging/wogging miles by myself, I enjoyed having others around to push me a little harder.

The first mile of the race about killed me. I took it way faster than I normally would have. And it took most of the second mile for me to recover. I was seriously rethinking this whole running ambition. How on earth did I come up with this idea without there being alcohol involved? Cuz it really seemed like a dumb idea right about now.

I came upon a water station and one of the volunteers there let us know it was the halfway mark and we were at 25 minutes. Seriously? How was I this tired and it took me 25 minutes to make it 1.5 miles? That's just stupid.

I had a goal of completing the 5k in less than 45 minutes. I normally jogged a leisurely 17 minute mile and shaving off 2 minutes a mile seemed like a good goal. And here I was only halfway done and not at all close to achieving my goal.

I was feeling better after recovering from my initial start with the crazy runners so I picked up the pace again. I was able to pass some other woggers and was now feeling pretty strong. All those miles I logged last month seemed to be paying off. It was nice that I was passing some people, but now I had to catch up to some others in order to figure out where the heck I was going. I didn't really know the course and just planned on following people in front of me. But now there were fewer people in front of me which presented a little problem. It wasn't long before I spied some people around a bend in the road and I jogged up a hill to catch up. My legs were on fire and I wasn't at all sure how I was supposed to function for the rest of the day. I just knew that I had to get to the finish line before I could relax any.

The last half of the race went faster for me. Partly because I actually went faster. And partly because I was just in a better place mentally. I felt strong and confident since I was back in the group of wannabes, directly ahead of the walkers, and safely out of the way of the crazy runners. Before I knew it I was rounding the corner which took me to the final stretch of the race. It was a good four or five blocks ahead of me, but I could see the finish line. I heard a group of spectators cheering everyone on and it got me a little choked up. I was having a hard enough time breathing. I didn't need these stinkin' people getting me all emotional before I finished the blasted thing. Thankfully I had so much sweat pouring off my face no one could tell if I was crying or not. All I know is that if I were crying it would've made it even harder for me to breathe and I might've made some wheezing/wind-sucking sound that may have caused someone to call an ambulance had they heard.

I started running faster and passed all sorts of people on that final stretch. I don't know how anyone could walk across the finish line. All that adrenaline practically carries you over the line if you let it. I heard the announcer say my name and "way to finish strong!" Was he implying that maybe my start and middle were a little weak? Hmmm??? Then I heard him say "just over 45 minutes. Nice job."

I looked at the clock at there is was 45:10. I wanted to complete it in under 45. But since this race wasn't chip-timed and I was at least 15 seconds behind the starting line I am totally giving myself the under 45 minute accomplishment.

I grabbed a water from one of the volunteers who held it out for me and quickly turned away from anyone looking - you know.....for fear of getting all emotional again. I'm such a big sap.

Once I pulled myself together I realized that no one gave me a medal or anything. Are you kidding me? I go to Mardi Gras, drink some beer, and people give me all sorts of beads and stuff. Here I just about killed myself wogging 3.1 miles and I'm rewarded with a bottle of water? Seems a little wrong to me.

So, I have no finisher medal to show for it, but I am able to check off one step on my way to a larger goal. And I do have that t-shirt with a picture of a big, ugly fish on it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Doctor Stress Revisited & Relieved

Some of you may remember me bellyaching about not being able to find a decent doctor in my Lent Success and Doctor Stress post way back in February. I have never, in all my 37 years, had a doctor I liked. And so I rarely visit them. I'm relatively healthy, but they still manage to find something or other wrong with me and the solution always seems to be a prescription of some sort. I really, really hate taking medication. I always have. So I usually take their little scribbled piece of paper, spend the next week worrying about all the doom and gloom that is transpiring inside me, and then get on with my life and convince myself that the doctor was a big doofus anyway.

I know there are good doctors out there. My kids had a great pediatrician. I was so blessed to have found him. So I was uber dismayed when he told us he was moving to Utah last August. And finding new doctors for the kids has only given credence to my theory that there are many doctors out there that rate as big doofuses.

Anyway, back to me....

I decided to wait the ridiculously long amount of time to get into this new doctor. I prepared for the onslaught of medical history forms, disapproving looks, and hushed "uh-huhs" from the doctor while she scribbled notes.

It turns out the worst part of the visit happened before I ever met my new doctor. The nurse did the routine height/weight measurements and repeated the numbers as she wrote them down. I was fine with the weight thing. This was actually fun since I had lost weight and I was happy to see that the scale at the doctor's office agreed with mine at home. But as I was slipping on my shoes and walking out the door it dawned on me that she said 5'-5"......WHAT????? Clearly she has her measurements wrong because I'm 5'-6". I questioned her and she offered to measure me again.


Holy crap. I'm shrinking already?! Maybe I was given false information all those years ago when one of the previous doofuses told me I was 5'-6"? Does she have any idea what this is gonna do to my BMI? Doesn't she realize that Mr. Wii Fit Dude is not gonna have anything at all nice to say about this?

I was stunned - and not liking how the visit was progressing so far. But I dragged myself into the room behind the nurse in order for her to take more of those measurements like blood pressure and pulse and whatnot. Surely those numbers should've mattered more to me, but I just couldn't get passed the fact that I was gonna have to tell Mr. Wii Fit Dude that, even though I had lost weight, my BMI had just got markedly worse.

Stupid doctors.

I was already irritated and I hadn't even met my new doc yet.

She walked into the room and started speaking in a thick Scandinavian accent. I could barely understand her and wasn't sure that my smile and nod response to each question was really appropriate - but she was very personable. Quickly we got past the language barrier and it didn't take long for me to decide that I liked her. I mean, it wasn't her fault that I'm shrinking.

She was thorough, but not too quick to prescribe medications and understood my reluctance to take anything on a regular basis. She had my records and questioned why I didn't have a regular doctor, but didn't lecture me. She also noticed that I had lost a significant amount of weight since my last visit (albeit three years ago) and gave me a healthy round of "atta girls".

Of course I still had to do all sorts of labs and blood work. I was thrilled that all the important stuff like blood sugar and cholesterol were right where they should be. She did find that my thyroid is "all out of whack" as she put it. And in the understatement of the year she said, "It has probably made it pretty easy for you to gain weight".

Um...yeah. That and the chocolate cake.

So anyway, we got off to a great start. I will go see her again in a couple weeks. She's monitoring my blood pressure. Mine is pretty high and I have a family history of high blood pressure, but she is still letting me try to lower it on my own before she prescribes anything. She was actually supportive of my efforts rather than trying to persuade me to take the medication which is what every other doctor has tried to do. So I like her.

Its about time!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Do!

Do you, Kelly, take this blog for better or for worse?
In sickness and in health?

Do you promise not to forget about it and leave your poor readers hangin' for weeks on end with no stinkin' updates?

I do, I do, I do!!!

Can you tell I was just at a wedding this weekend? I'm not a big fan of weddings. I get all weepy and pathetic. And usually all the cool kids leave early and then there is no one left to dance with except for some drunk guy who no one really knows. This one was nice though. And I thought it good timing to re-commit to my writing here.

Did ya miss me?

C' missed me just a little, didn't ya?

Actually, I was really touched by several folks who contacted me via Facebook, email, and IM to inquire about my well-being. I suppose the first thing that would come to one's mind when seeing a dormant blog about running/weight loss/and grand lofty goals would be the thought that perhaps the crazy goal-setter has come to her senses and is camped out on the couch with her good buddies Ben and Jerry.

One might think that....

But they'd be wrong!

While I have allowed the busyness of life to take over the spare moments I used to set aside for writing, I have not allowed it to sabotage my healthy new lifestyle. I've munched on berries during road trips up north while the kids ate pizza in the back seat. I've eaten a veggie burger at the baseball stadium in lieu of my usual order of a brat with a side of cheeseburger and a nacho chaser. I've increased my wogging speed enough to have to purchase a new sports bra for "the girls" in order to avoid injury and/or embarrassment. And just this past weekend I actually gave up my piece of wedding cake. Oh yea...I'm in this for the long haul, my friend.

Those of you who have followed me from the beginning might remember I had originally planned on running the Madison 1/4 marathon on Memorial Day weekend. But I was needed up north to help my Mom open her new restaurant. So, instead, I spent a week slinging fast food and surrounded by oodles of toxic temptations like chili/cheese dogs, Italian beef sammies that weighed more than a small dog, and sugar cookies the size of my head. Somehow I still managed to lose weight that week - so I was pretty proud of myself. No stinkin' chili dog is standing between me and that shiny medal they will be giving me when I finish that half marathon. Nosireebob!

So the change in plans resulted in me rescheduling my first "official" run to be up in Hayward, WI on June 27th - 4 weeks from today. Its only a 5k. I know I can run that. But it will be interesting to do it in an actual, official, real-live race event.

Thanks for stinking around. And special thanks to my cyber friends and real-life friends who expressed interest in me continuing this blog. I have lots to tell you guys.


Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My New Normal

These last two weeks I've embarked on a new relationship.

Admittedly, I've been a bit distracted. I apologize for the infrequent posts. I've met a guy who is a little controlling. He's smart and confident and looks great in a pair of jeans, but he's kind of demanding. So I've been spending all my energy trying to make him happy and live by the principles he has laid down.

Now before you get all women's lib on me, its not what you think.

Turns out I'm a little in love with Dave Ramsey. Yes, I know he's married. But I can admire from afar can't I? I'm not sure what it is about him. Anyway, my friend, Heather and I were watching one of his DVDs one morning over a cup of coffee. We were captivated by the man's common sense approach to personal finance and were hanging on his every word. Every so often we would glance over at each other and share an "a-ha" look of approval after a particularly poignant principal - but we dared not speak and risk missing the secret to life, or world peace, or whatever other brilliant nugget the man would throw our way. About this time I was sizing Dave up and realized he is a nice looking guy. He oozed confidence, intelligence, and common sense all at one time. (A rare combination, indeed!) I was smitten.

Reality, in the form of my son, walks upstairs, glances at the screen and says, "Who's the old bald guy?"

Nothing like ruining the moment.

Sure, the moment consisted of two 37 year old women sitting on a couch with a mediocre cup of coffee and gazing at a 52 inch screen, nodding in agreement to a guy who hosts a radio talk show on personal finance. But I was enjoying it right up until that old, bald guy comment. Sheesh!

Once I got over the pathetic-ness of the situation I pressed ahead with his plan for debt-free living. Like any new relationship, it is all rainbows and unicorns in the beginning. But when the harsh reality of my shiny gold Macy's card getting mutilated set in.....well, it stung.

What does all of this have to do with my running goal?

Well, as much as I would like to separate one part of my life from another, its not always possible. And the drastic change in my approach to finances has seriously sucked all energy and focus previously reserved for calorie counting and mileage logging.

Its been a little painful. I don't do well with simple living. I like stuff. I have lots of stuff. And I want more stuff. But I also like to travel a lot, keep a flexible schedule, and don't do well working for others. So it seems prudent that I work on eliminating debt from my life in order to carry-on with my "laissez les bons temps rouler" style of living.

The good news is that my new-found discipline in regards to my health seems to be translating well into an extra dose of discipline regarding my finances. I actually think it is a natural progression that would've happened regardless of how Dave looked in his jeans.

And while Dave demanded a bit more of my attention for awhile, I am sure to find a way to integrate all these changes into my new normal.

Just give me a little time to mourn for Macy's.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lessons in Contortion

In my effort to build up core strength I shuffled through my vast collection of workout DVDs to find something that met the need. Many were still sporting their original shrink-wrap as if to mock me and previous attempts (or non-attempts, as it may be) to strengthen my body.

I stumbled across one entitled, "Yoga for Weight Loss". I figure this would be the perfect answer. Yoga builds core strength, right? And if you can lose weight in the process what's not to love?
Now here's a shocker.....I've never done yoga. But surely if they make a yoga DVD aimed at weight loss it will be suitable for fat people. I mean, that would be the target market for such a product, right? And I would think that most fat people are not yoga masters so certainly it starts at a beginner level.

I'm all pumped up. I'm gonna lose weight, build some abs, and transport myself to a zen-like state all with one DVD. I'm proud of myself for taking this training seriously and this is exactly what I need. I even used some new hair product and I'm having an incredibly good hair day. I'm oozing positivity and ready to take whatever Little Miss Yoga Chick throws my way.

I make sure the house is empty for this first attempt. Because, really....have you ever seen a fat contortionist? And why would you want to? It can't be pretty.

But I'm convinced that in no time I'll be mastering all these silly poses and I'm anxious to see how they marry weight loss and yoga together. So with the house empty, my confidence soaring, and my hair looking even better than Little Miss Yoga Chick I hit play and wait while the secret to all my problems is revealed over the next 53 minutes.

The relaxing music fills my living room. I can almost smell the flowers and feel the spray of the ocean depicted in the beautiful scenery. I listen intently as my instructor tells me of all her credentials, important celebrity clients, and unique philosophies. Bring it on!

We start sitting Indian-style on the floor. This is brilliant. Exercise where you sit. I'm a model student and concentrate on my breath and my tail bone. Soon we're standing up. So far so good.

My first moment of concern was when she instructed me to "fold forward". I look up at the TV for direction. Yep. She folded alright. Right in half. Like the clamshell DVD case where she lives. I don't necessarily "fold", but I manage to bend over some. That sitting muscle is getting in the way. This was my first clue that I may have not been the target audience for this particular DVD. But I'm sticking with it. No way am I throwing in the towel yet.

Now I'm bent upside down, my arms are behind my head, and I'm shaking my torso side to side. I'm not entirely sure how I got here. And I'm wondering how exactly I'm supposed to follow along when I'm upside down and looking at my inner thighs. But, dutifully, I wait for instruction. She is giving me a good, descriptive play-by-play so that I can keep up.

Thankfully we return to standing position and I'm praising God as she spends a little time on neck rolls. Neck rolls are almost as good as sitting. She continues to instruct me on the perfect mountain pose. I'm good at this one. Its a standing one again.

Then all of a sudden my calm instructor turns into the Auctioneer from Hell. With the cadence of a jackhammer in overdrive she rattles off a sequence of poses that have me "swan-diving" into a folded over position again. Then I'm in a push up position, then a cobra, somehow from there I've got my butt sticking up in the air in the downward facing dog pose. At the same time I'm trying to adhere to her orders to spread my toes and breath and stretch and lengthen and rotate this or that inward. Eventually I'm standing up again, but I'm not really sure how I got there. I find myself embracing every vertical moment.

Then she utters two short horrible little words.

"Two more."

I turned to the TV and asked, as if she were really in the room, "Are you kidding me?"

She didn't answer and was in full-on auctioneer mode by now.

I should've seen this coming. I mean, you did - right? When I started this entry you probably knew this couldn't end well. It was like watching a horror movie and telling the stupid blond girl not to go into the woods. But I ran willingly.

I tried. Really I did. I figured 53 minutes isn't that long. Surely I could stick this out a little longer. Then I looked at the counter. It had elapsed a mere 7 minutes and 45 seconds. And I wasn't feeling very zen-like.

I figured it best to salvage the good hair day and admit defeat.

I may take on Little Miss Yoga Chick again someday. But in the meantime, I've got this Pilates workout that might work. I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh Look! Shiny Object!

It is the thought that counts, right?

'Cause I've been thinking about you guys a lot. And now here I am, a week since my last post about missing a measly hour and wondering where the heck the last seven days went! I'm pretty sure I can still blame that on Daylight Savings Time.

This week has brought about many demands on my time. And now that the honeymoon phase of this whole self-imposed challenge has worn off, I'm finding I have to work harder to carve time from my schedule for exercise, food prep, and calorie logging.

The trick is staying focused. Early on in the game I had laser-beam focus. Nothing could deter my attention from my goal. Hence, those first couple weeks were just easy peasy

Have any of you ever been to Filene's Basement? Its like a bargain hunter's utopia. You must go early in the morning when new shipments are brought in, and it helps to know the layout of the store. Once those doors are open you have to high-tail it to the purses - 'cause that's where the good stuff is! You might notice the other cute displays, but you breeze right past them because you don't want to miss out on a good deal. Sure, you may look at that stuff on your way out....but for now you just want to find yourself a new Coach bag for 70% off. Or, if all the planets align just right, there will be a pair of Louboutins in just your size.
That's the kind of focus I'm talking about. Eye-on-the-prize, run-over-granny-to-get-there, mommy-needs-a-new-pair-of-shoes, elbow-to-the-gut-if-you-don't-get-out-of-my-way, focus.

Things were a wee bit different this week. I was still focused on the goal - but maybe only with one eye. The other eye just caught a glimpse of a shiny object in a store window on my way to Filene's. So I just had to wander in, take a look around, and then get back to the matter at hand. Its not like I maxed out the credit cards or got stuck in a book store or anything....I just got distracted by all those blasted shiny objects vying for my attention.

While I'm sure ladies reading this know exactly what I went through last week, I imagine the guys might not have such a great handle on it.... Its kind of like when you first get to the football stadium. You need a beer, right? You go straight to the nearest vendor and hook yourself up. You don't really notice much else. The first beer is the most important of the game and tastes the best. Once you have your beer you are focused on getting to your seats to scope out the view, until one of the Hooters girls walks past. Focus momentarily redirected. Shiny object.

You'll get to your seats eventually.

And you get my point.

So I made a few changes to "the plan" to tweak what is and isn't working for me. First off - I found a different site to log my food diary. While I really love all the information that nutridiary has, I found myself manually entering nutrient counts for much of my food. It was time-consuming. I started with myFitnessPal today and it has an extraordinary database of foods. I haven't had to manually enter even one thing yet. It doesn't show as many stats as nutridiary, but maybe simpler is better for now. I need something that will take less time in order for me to keep up with it.

I've also decided to add more core work before I ramp up the running. My walking/jogging sessions are up to 4.5 miles, but when I push it to more of a running pace my back gets really sore. I believe this is because the "sitting muscle" I've built up around my abs is not doing much to help the poor back muscles out. So instead of pushing myself and being miserable, I'm gonna stick to a slower pace and take this week to work on more core-strengthening. I think this will benefit me more in the long run (pun totally intended).

Little successes include: smaller pants (yay!), my Wii Fit age is now 5 years younger than my actual age (I'm sure there is no actual science here - but it makes me feel good), and I found it is possible (and satisfying) to have just one bite of chocolate cake.

So this week I need to get just a little more selfish about things. I need to take more time to exercise and sleep. I have REALLY been lacking in the sleep department.

More sleep. More exercise. More focus. Less laundry. That's the plan. (Although some Coach bags strategically placed along my running route wouldn't hurt either!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Want My Hour Back!

I'm all for "springing ahead". I'm the first one to enjoy those extra minutes of daylight as the wintry grayness melts away to make room for the greenness of Spring. I'm anxiously awaiting weeks of dinners prepared outside and retiring my stove in favor of a 50 pound bag of charcoal.

I look forward to drinking a glass of wine outside on the deck without donning long underwear.

And washing my car without fear of the windows freezing shut.

Really, I'm not that hard to please.

I love me some summer.

But today. In my present state of grayness......I really need that extra hour. I tried to prepare myself to part with the precious minutes today. I did not waste it on sleep. I got up extra early, in fact. As if to laugh in the face of the Daylight Savings Time people. I don't need an extra stinkin' hour of sleep! Nosireebob.

But it is 11:15pm as I type this. It should only be 10:15pm. Do you know how many things on my To-Do List could be crossed off if I just had an extra hour? Today was just not a good day for me Daylight Savings Time people!

I was really sick last week. I would've gladly given up an hour of that time. Heck....I would've given up five if you would've just left me my lousy 60 minutes today.

So something had to give. I still had to feed the kids. The dog still had to go out. There was that laundry that wasn't gonna wash itself. And really? Do you think I'm gonna give up my online chatting time? We must keep up with the social networking.

So, as much as it pains me, I had to give up the run today. I wanted to go. Really I did. But those darn Daylight Savings Time people ripped it right from me. And even without logging my running time today, I'm still behind on "The List".

I don't see anyone trying to take an hour away from Monday. Cuz that would make too much sense. Why do they have to mess with my Sunday? And, since I brought it up.....what is with the whole mysterious missing hour at 2:00am? Why can't "they" say we lose an hour at 4:00pm on Monday? 3:58....3:59.....5:00!!! Time to go home! I don't even have a 9-5 job and I'd be all for it. I imagine there are lots of working folks who'd think that's some brilliant thinking right there.

You're welcome.

But, sadly, no one in authority at the Daylight Savings Time headquarters listens to me.

They should though.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I just love that the weather is getting warmer. Love, love, love, love, love it!!!

The snow is almost completely melted from my yard and I have stowed the shovels and salt in the garage - not too far out of reach though, we are in Wisconsin. I'm sure I'll be rummaging for a shovel again before the May flowers show up, but for the time-being it is beginning to look a lot like Spring.

There is a whole winter's worth of dog poop scattered across my lawn and the melting snow has revealed the gray deck that needed to be stained LAST year. Winter is good at hiding things like this. But when the summer sun shows up the sad-looking deck and poop minefield will have nowhere to hide.

I'm thinkin' the same can be said for my "new quasi-running" body. I mean, right now I'm safe all bundled up in some long pants and a hoodie. I may look a wee bit out of place running down the block dressed that way in July! So I'm ramping things up again. The thought of subjecting my poor neighbors to images of me in moisture-wicking tech shirts and (gasp!) Spandex while training seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I'm sure they appreciate me thinking ahead on this one. I'm considerate that way.

I like being on this side of summer - especially when there is still a good bit of time to prepare for it. There is so much to look forward to. Even the work seems exciting right now. I can't wait to mow the lawn again and break out the pressure washer.

Right now I'm dying to start Spring Cleaning. Can I just count that as part of my training? Cuz I'd really rather clean out closets than Turbo Jam or check in with the Wii Fit. But there are the neighbors to consider.....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Falling Off the Wagon

Not only did I fall off - but the darn thing hit me and ran me over!

Now I know I had the birthday slip-up.....but that really wasn't so bad. I was still aware of what I was eating and managed to get a few minutes of exercise in.

These last two days involved a monumental fall from grace.

As I mentioned before I had a little road trip planned. My daughter and I drove up to Wausau for her birthday. She had an interview with a talent scout (which went very well) and she wanted to take the trip instead of having a party. So I felt obliged to make the whole two days feel like a party for her. Of course this involved a dinner of Chinese food, a late-night snack at Arbys, a little cake for the room, breakfast at the hotel, and lunch at Fazolis on the way home.


Now usually I am a big proponent of going online to find the best choices before dining out at such establishments. But, frankly, I just didn't take the time. Couple the fast-food extravaganza with a busy schedule that involved much sitting and no exercise.....well, it was not a productive couple of days for me.

As a matter of fact I managed to find a couple of the pounds I lost earlier in the week. I was off to a great start walking/jogging four miles each day Sunday through Tuesday. But Wednesday and Thursday were worlds away from my beginning of the week effort.

Today I'm climbing back on the wagon. I'm a little bruised from the fall, but still intact. Thankfully I have a weekend that involves lots of work and no birthday celebrations. That should help! So I'm still hoping to salvage the week as far as the weight loss/exercise mileage goes.

I'm not letting myself feel too terrible about it. I had an amazing time with my daughter. We shared a great couple of days together and I know she will never, ever forget her twelfth birthday. Not to say I couldn't have had a equally amazing time with a little more planning and some better choices - but it is what it is.

And I never would've seen her try to suppress that giggle had I not ordered the Pu Pu Platter.