Friday, February 29, 2008

More obvious musings about weight

It's not just about the weight - the number, the size of our butt or thighs. For me, anyway, it's also about the fact that I am not able to do what I say I want to do - I pledge to eat a certain way, and then I don't.

I feel like I have two people inside me (id and superego?) - one of whom makes plans and rules and goals, and the other who says f&%$ you to the first one, and does whatever the hell she wants. (It doesn't matter how strict or how kind and reasonable the plans or rules are.) I can say to myself, I'm going to order a salad for dinner, and then, out of my mouth comes, "and some chips and salsa, please." Then I think, "I won't eat all those chips, I'll throw half away or bring them home to the kids" then I eat them all. I feel like I have no control over my own actions. For months or years at a time, this will go on, and I gain and gain and gain, and then some switch gets flipped, and I have control again, for a few weeks or months, I lose weight, and then the switch is flipped over again. I have found a hypnotist and I plan to make an appointment with her this coming week - I have no other ideas at this point.

I was so happy to be in New York today - I was visiting with my sister, who is moving to California tomorrow. She recently got engaged so we went to Macy's Bridal Salon so she could try on some wedding dresses - the very epitome of sisterly fun! I get so much energy and buzz from walking around in Manhattan - just a silly grin every time I go. I lived there for 11 years, but have now lived away for 10 - that life seems long ago and far away! (I left there, not because I wanted to, but because it was my husband's turn to decide where we lived - and was miserable and homesick for a long time. Now I love where I live, hence my photoblog, but if I ever got rich - not likely! - I would get an apartment there in a heartbeat!)

Oh, one more thing: I got new running shoes! I've always hated the ones I have (Asics 1120's) but I felt I needed to keep them to get my money's worth. It's been 9 months, and maybe 200 miles or so, not really fully worn out, but I had some time to kill at Grand Central Station so I went into the Super Runner's Shop. I have no idea if the guy waiting on me knew anything, but the shoes he gave me to try were ones that had been recommended to me elsewhere: Saucony Hurricane's, and New Balance something's. (I'd look, but they are downstairs and I am lazy.) They both fit pretty well, but I went with the NB's - (despite being ugly boy colors - blue and orange) - I think they felt a bit better all around. I'll try them indoors on the treadmill tomorrow to see if I really like them (there's a 30 day money back guarantee - an excuse to go back to the city!) Only thing is, if they're the model I think they are on Road Runner Sports, I paid $20 too much!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What my plan doesn't take into account

My plan leaves a little leeway for setbacks, but it's awfully early to have had one! Today was supposed to be: run 3:15, walk 1, for 32 minutes. It was also about 18 degrees outside. After six straight days of some kind of workout or other (though some just swim or yoga) my legs felt like lead from the start. I hadn't had a puff of Advair in 2 days (it's lost in my mess somewhere) so I started gasping for air. I made it through the first couple of intervals, and after that it was more like run 2, walk 1:3o, run one, walk two... I kept telling myself that some workout is better than no workout, but I remember this from last year - my body just wouldn't follow the plan. I know rest is good - I'm all for rest! But I also wonder: is it a good idea to stick to my schedule on the theory that I'll toughen up and get used to more frequent workouts, or go easier, take more days off, with the idea that I run better when I feel fresher? Tomorrow I COULD go for a morning workout class at my gym, but the Friday morning teacher is TOUGH - it will whip my ass. I'm going to spend most of the rest of the day walking (I'm playing hooky in NYC for a day - yay!) so I'll be active. I'm tempted to skip the class, do a little stretching and ab work at home before I leave, and go back to Pilates/elliptical Saturday, long run Sunday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Forget everything I said

I posted a noble, passionate diatribe a few days ago about how terrible it is that we are so obsessed with weight. Then I gained 3 pounds and passed the 200 pound mark for the first time in over a year. WHY??? I've been exercising so faithfully! It can't be that one pan of brownies we baked on the snow day, can it? I've cut back on the wine (it had crept up to a nearly daily habit), I've been eating more salads and vegetable soups... what is going on???

Today at least I did spin AND run again - so far this week I'm on track with my plan (tomorrow I'm supposed to swim). My running buddy isn't training as much as I am, but she has stuck with our little program of adding 15 seconds to each running burst - we're up to 3/1 now, and we've added a couple of minutes to the total. I need to do some math to figure out how much I really need to add each week to get up to a total of 2.5 hours of running (what I think it will take me to do a half - marathon) by November. (Pause while I go do some figuring - meanwhile riddle me this: Is it better, once I get to the point when I can run 30 minutes without stopping to walk, to keep adding to that with the goal of running it straight, or should I continue to extend my long runs with run/walk intervals, with the goal of doing that in the event? )

OK while you answer that question, here's what I came up with:
If I increase my long run by 5 minutes per week, dropping back on the 4th week of each month and then increasing again as follows, I should be there just in time. Some months have a fifth week so this gives me a little wiggle room, but not by much. Those of you with real experience, how does this look?


1st week 35 minutes
2nd week 40 minutes
3rd week 45 minutes
4th week 40

1st week 45
2nd week 50
3d week 55
4th week 50

1st week 55
2nd 60 minutes - etc. - by this schedule I hit two hours on the 2nd week in November, leaving 2 weeks to taper. If I added six minutes instead of 5 per week, that gets me up to about 140 minutes by the 2nd week in November - probably closer to where I need to be. It's very intimidating to see that, by June I need to be running over 74 minutes on my long run! But I suppose it's only by planning it out this way that I'll really make it. Is this kind of slow and steady increase appropriate? Can I do this with only three runs a week?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A balance

For the first time since I started my triathlon quest 2 years ago, I am taking the running part seriously - committing to running 3-4 times a week, increasing mileage, adding drills, working on speed, with a long-term goal (Phila Half-marathon November 2008. No time goal yet - in a perfect world, sticking to 12 minutes/mile for the whole way would be a great accomplishment but it's too soon to know if that's within reach.)

One thing I observe about myself is that I tend to sag and trudge - I feel better and get a better workout if I try to feel a string holding me up by the head, off my feet (it's a familiar sensation from my years of dancing.) But I can't push it too hard or I get too tired too fast. When I ran wiht my colleague on Thursday, we did 2:45 run, 1min walk, in cycles til about 26 minutes and then walked the rest of the way back to cool down. Today on my own, I did 4/1 (new, gently rolling course up Rte 41 out of Salisbury) and kept going an extra 1:30 on the last cycle, ending at about 31:30 and walking another 5 or so. (This is still way less than my peak last fall but I'm building steadily.) The challenge is keeping a pace that is hard but not too hard - I could trudge forever, but I want to be really running. So when I get to the 4 minute mark, I NEED that break. I suppose that's similar to using my heart rate as a guide, but my HRM is so unreliable I feel that relying on this perceived effort is, in the long run, going to be better training. (This is all unscientific - just my gut feeling.) I did this run without my mp3 player, just focusing on my surroundings, my breath, my form. I feel good!

So: stats for this past week, Monday - Sunday: 45 minutes spin, 1:35 run total (3 sessions); 1 brief weight workout (home); 2 brief abs / core workouts; 1 yoga class. No swimming because of the snow day Friday, and no elliptical because I was in a hurry yesterday. Pretty good, but I want to get both the missed workouts in next week.

Schedule for the coming week: Monday home weights/core; Tuesday spin and run. Wednesday home weights/core. Thursday run, Friday swim, Saturday Pilates/elliptical, Sunday long run. i.e. something real EVERY day. Eat with awareness, choosing my food, not letting it choose me. Get plenty of sleep (don't stay up late to watch the end of the Oscars - I'll pay for it all week if I do!)

I feel a shift - I feel like I'm in training again after several months of wandering in the mental wilderness. It feels good!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weighty Matters

First some honest statistics. I am 5'8 3/4. This morning I weighed 198. This is considered at the high end of "overweight" by generic BMI ranges, and at the moment I'm just barely fitting into size 16's. (This is after a stomach flu that took a pound or two off!) Last fall, after finishing my first 10k race, I weighed 191 and was feeling awesome, then Injury /Halloween/ Thanksgiving/ Holidays/winter sluggishness happened. Two years before that I weighed 222 and couldn't run a quarter mile without having an asthma attack. Five years ago, after I took off the baby weight from my second child, I was down to around 170 and change, and hope maybe, some day, to get back there again. My goal for this year is more modest: get under 190 again, and run a half-marathon. Emphasis on the second not the first. OK, now the boring part is over.

Yes, it's boring to talk about weight. Boring to read about it. But it seems my fellow female bloggers are all focused on it these days, maybe because it's winter and everyone's gained a few, or is depressed, or has more time on her hands. All these amazing women, true athletes, (and mothers and professionals) who grieve deeply because their bodies weren't made to look like (fill in the blank here with the genetically blessed/eating disordered public figure of your choice). I see the pictures on their blogs of them looking radiant in their bike shorts and singlets, having finished a race that 95% of the population could never even consider, and all they can see is that the shape of their thigh doesn't conform to some impossible ideal.


How can we get this to stop?

How can we keep our daughters from falling prey to this mental illness?

What a waste of time and energy! Lisa, Misty, LBTEPA, I would be SO thrilled to look like you, and more importantly to be able to do what you can do. We are women, we are SUPPOSED to have flesh! Breasts, bottoms, bellies. We have been trained that we have to deny our hunger, to see only our flaws, to measure ourselves against others. We are all mothers of girls - we MUST not let this carry on to the next generation.

OK end of rant. Sorry if I've insulted or misunderstood anyone who I mentioned by name.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First Brick of the season

Yesterday, went to spinning class, there TGT (Triathlon Goddes Tina) has been whipping our butts lately. Then went running with my colleague Sara who will be doing the Marathon Project with me. (Both of us have a half-mary as our goal.) We did 30 minutes - run 2 1/2, walk 1. I felt fine - wobbly at first, but settled in comfortably, and I think we can step it up pretty quickly from there. She's a little more out of shape than I am but a LOT younger! The plan: I will run 2x week with her, once on the weekend ("long run") plus 1 spin, 1 swim, 1 Pilates, 1 weights at home, and 1 something else (elliptical after Pilates, usually, or an outdoor bike ride when the weather improves a bit.) My goal is to be back to running 5k without a walk break by the time the official training season for TMP starts in April.

OF course, there's always a wrench in the works: Last night I got the stomach flu my daughter had all weekend - ugh. I'm on the mend now - just had a few bites of saltine to see if I could keep it down, and so far so good, but I'm exhausted.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A month and a half...

...since my last post. Am I still part of the triathlon blogging community? I have been completely consumed with my photography show, which has been an amazing and thrilling experienced - I chose, printed, framed and hung nearly thirty of the best photos from my Sharon,CT daily photo blog. The opening was last weekend and a ton of my friends came, as did my mom and stepdad. (They bought my best picture!) Since then interesting things have been developing - ad agencies and magazines have been making inquiries into buying my photos - which leads to more time spent on this project instead of on last year's project, training for triathlons!

I think I've also been fighting a mental battle (several, actually.) I always seem to revert to "completely out of shape" after even a shorty layoff - it feels sometimes like the last year's worth of work - almost 2 years - was for nothing. I've gained about 6 pounds, and my injury is still bothering me. And the swimming - sigh. I was on the fence about whether I could brave deep-water swimming again for too long - the Pawling Triathlon is sold out.

However, here's the good stuff. I've still been working out regularly - spinning, elliptical, Pilates, conditioning class and weights; I've been running about 1-2x a week, and I even got back in the pool last week (and will go again today.) Yesterday's run was my best since i hurt myself last October - I kept going for 40 minutes (and didn't take my first walking break until nearly 20 minutes in.) I was slower than ever - I covered about 3 miles in a total of 50 minutes (the last 10 was a walking cooldown) but - it's a start.

And, I've committed to a half-marathon next November in Philadelphia. I'm signing up as a running mentor to middle-school and high school students through The Marathon Project, which my community center is sponsoring in our area. Now THAT will be motivating on so many levels!

Right now I need to address the gear problem - I've HATED my shoes since the day I got them, and I think I have finally put enough miles on them that I"m entitled to buy a new pair. I also don't have quite the right combination of lightweight but breathable but very warm layers for outdoor running, though I came close yesterday - spandex tights under stretchy pants (a GREAT Target buy - heavy and supportive and cute) and my Target fleece top under my Sugoi shmoo top - sort of tight and awkward but warm and snug. (Shmoos were a cartoon character that looked like a roly poly white ghost), hence the illustration above. The one thing I don't like about it is - no pockets. But the sleeves roll over your hands for warmth, or can roll back onto your wrists, which creates a little pocket for a gu or tissue.

So: I'm still here, quietly fighting the good fight. I wasn't quite able to get my New Year's attitude together on New Year's day, but it's starting to come now. At last, my list of 2007 Accomplishments (athletic, only):

Ran a 5 mile race in record (for me) time
Finished TWO sprint triathlons without drowning and enjoyed the hell out of it
Completed a 30 mile bike ride - longest ever for me.
Completed a 10K race - my personal record for distance.
Timed myself at a 1/2 mile 'sprint' in 10:00/mile time. A personal record.
Spent more time bicycling with my children than ever before.
Overcame assorted psychic demons telling me I wasn't capable of doing any of the above.
Found a friendly and supportive community of amazing women (and men) online who are struggling with the same pressures I am - work, family, inertia, injury - and kicking ass - they inspire me!

In addition to the half-mary, my 2008 goals (athletic) include:
Conquering my water fear and doing another tri (probably the Waramaug tri in August);
Being able to do the plank (on my elbows) for 2 minutes
Being able to do the side plank for 1 minute on each side
Doing the 5 mile and 10k I did last year, shaving a minute or more off my time in each.
Getting my weight back to where it was in October, and then losing another ... well, how ambitious should I be? I REALLY want to lose 15 more from there, but I'd be happy with 5 if I could keep it off!

Gotta zoom!