Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lots to say, but too tired to say it

I started this post a week ago (more?) but never finished or posted it. Tomorrow is my first 10k race of the season, and I have only run once this week - it was all Gilbert & Sullivan, all the time, from Monday through today. My feet are aching from performing in ill-fitting character shoes!

Anyway here's what I wrote on August 22: "I ran nine miles this morning . It was really, really hard. I had planned it all week, found a great rail trail through a nature preserve (in Michigan) but then this morning I was tired, achy, and got out the door late so it was already hot and humid. So I decided to turn around after 30 minutes. Then I decide dto turn around after 45 minutes. Then I decided to go all the way. Then I regretted it because I was hot, tired, and walking more than I was running. But by then it was too late - I had to finish. Luckily the rail trail runs through what is now suburbs, so every mile or two it crosse da main road where I could st0p and buy a sports drink or bottle of water. So the whole run took 2 1/2 hours - by far the longest training I've done. My knee hurt, a sport above the inside of my right ankle hurt, my lower back hurt, and now, 12 hours later, my feet still really hurt.

I had new shoes, too - there's a nice running store here (at my dad's house) where I quizzed the salesperson about whether it's best to keep buying the same pair if you find one you like, vs. alternating with different pairs. She felt it was much better to switch it up, but I have loved these shoes so much I wanted another exactly the same. They've been discontinued, but she had them, in my size, for $25 less than I've seen them anywhere else. A no-brainer. I tried on a few other pairs and kinda liked a set of NIkes, but 2 pairs of shoes is definitely not in the budget.

If I had any energy I'd write something about how wierd it always is to come home. I love to see old friends, but also hate all the emotional tugs - driving past a place that I associate with my first boyfriend - that nostalgia, sadness, wistful memory of being young ... I would rather stay in the common-sense practical present! I visited my childhood house - my sister had discovered it was up for sale so I called the realtor who kindly arranged for me to walk throught it. The family that bought it from my mom 21 years ago still lives there and now that their kids are grown they are moving away (because why anyone would stay in Detroit is beyond understanding - the city is as devastated as New Orleans but the only attention it's getting these days is mocking its ridiculous mayor, not the help it so desperately needs.)"

... there was much more I intended to write but never did! Now a week has gone by, my brain has moved on, and my next post will be, I hope, a happy race report!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Eight mile run: done.

I think it was 8, anyway - I used MapMyRun to find a course that started at my mom's house in Yardley, PA, wound down to the Delaware Canal (just short of a mile) then stayed on the canal towpath for a bit over 3 more. The path is perfect, even though the canal is mostly drained right now - it's very flat, unpaved but well-packed, and not too crowded between 8 and 10am on a Sunday. The other runners, and the other middle-aged exercisers, all seemed to give each other the secret sign of friendly greeting as we went by each other. I also especially enjoyed watching the ducks, egrets and little blue herons fishing intently in the foot-deep mucky brown water.

Having just watched Paula Radcliffe gut it out through what looked like horrible pain in the Olympic Marathon last night, I was feeling especially inspired. She could have quit, and almost did, when it became obvious there there would be no medal for her. But she didn't - the glory of finishing meant enough that she did whatever she had to do, at whatever cost. The perfect role model for us non-medal contenders of any age!

I stuck with my 3:1, had 2 gu's about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way along, and went through plenty of energy ups and down of my own. But at what I think was the 7 mile point, I was 3 minutes faster than the 7 mile run I did a few weeks ago, and I hung in there through mile 8 (the first 10th of which was a steep uphill!)

I had to take a nap after - and I completely violated my no-flour rule as I was RAVENOUS. But one pancake and one English Muffin later, I'm getting back on the plan as it's still working incredibly well - according to my mom's bulletproof, 40 - year old scale, I'm now down 11 pounds from where I started. And that's after a wonderful dinner last night of roast lamb, white bean stew, cucumber and yogurt soup, tomato and fresh mozzarella, and wine (thanks Mom!) and popcorn at the movies! Who needs brownies???

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It felt slow but...

I went faster than on my previous long-ish runs. Today we did six (in preparation for 8 on Sunday). I went out trying to run at least 5/walk 1, but after a few miles started walking a lot more. It seemed like I was just poking along, walking too much, but when I calculated it out, my pace was a hair faster than my previous 7 mile run and much faster than the 6 mile run a week before that. Could being 8 pounds lighter be starting to make a difference?

Next question, and I welcome all advice: I'm starting to think about nutrition strategy for the half-marathon. I want to start trying things out now so I know what I'm comfortable with. What do you eat / drink before, during, and after long runs, and how often do you eat while you're running? I have gu's which are OK but it takes a long time to get the stickiness out of my mouth. The gummi things (moon blobs or whatever they're called by Clif and Luna) are nice. I've seen people talk about eating potato chips. I don't want to carry a smorgasbord with me - what's usually offered on the way at marathons?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Race Report: Denning's Point 5K

Today was the perfect day for a race, and Denning's Point, in Beacon, NY, is the perfect spot. It's mostly trail, through the woods along the waterfront on the Hudson River, so it's shady, flat and gorgeous. A very well-run event, too. There were probably nearly 150 runners, a third or so of whom were from The Marathon Project. I decided to try a new plan: run 2, walk 1, with the idea that the 2 would be a harder run than I usually can manage. It worked - I was able to stick with it the whole way, and ran in 39 minutes. (Comparable to my first race this season, faster than the last 2.) I thought my speed might be helped by the fact that I've lost 8 pounds since I started the no-flour no-sugar plan, though I did have a plate of pasta last night figuring I'd need the carbs for energy.

I know losing 8 pounds in about a week sounds crazy, and I also know I can't keep that up. (and it can't really be 8 pounds of fat- some of it must be water and general bloat.) But I feel good! My energy is great, I'm eating plenty of other food (peanut butter when I'm hungry, wine at dinner...) and I'm not craving things. I love the simplicity of it. A rule is a rule - there's no "I'll just have one taste" which always leads to another and another. (For example, last night when I relaxed the rule pre-race, one taste of Nutella led to five more! Back to "No Choice" as the Beck Diet Solution puts it. I cannot be trusted with treats!)

It's very noticeable - people are complimenting me, and clothes fit that haven't in a long time. Now the trick is to use the CBT techniques to avoid falling into the mental traps that always have derailed me before. (It is easy, too easy, to start dreaming - 'hmm, I could weigh x by x date, and x by x date..." and forget about what I have to do TODAY. Or to go a few days or a week without a loss and decide it's hopeless. Or to slip a little, see no gain on the scale, and start to believe that I can do that every day and still lose weight. The ways to delude myself are endless!) The book emphasizes you can't skip any of their steps -- you have to do all the techniques, and though I'm resistant to anyone telling me I HAVE to do it their way, I take the point that, while you may not need it now, it's good to have practiced it for the day that you start to falter and need more arrows in your quiver. (I find I'm using a smorgasbord of techniques - ones from the book, AA-type sayings like "just for today," and one I read in some women's magazine where the writer tells herself "I can have that brownie tomorrow, it will still be there" and is able to convince herself not to eat it today.

I'm going away for various short vacations for the rest of the month so will miss some of the group runs that are so important including the "time trial" leading up to the Dutchess County Classic half-marathon. I'll miss that race too as I have a full-day meeting that day. Next weekend on my own I want to run 8 miles (at my mom's - she lives near a lovely trail along a canal) and 9 the following weeked at my dad's in Michigan. His area is very hilly so I'm not quite sure what route to choose. The weekend after that is Labor Day - I'm thinking of the Mad Dash 10K in Rhinebeck. That's a good goal and milestone to work towards!

One more topic for today. I took my 9-year-old daughter swimming at the pool yesterday. She just learned to really swim this year - last year she was still just doggy paddling. We had a race doing breast stroke and she beat me by a LOT! How can that be? I thought fat was supposed to make me more bouyant? It must be offset by the fact that she's shaped like an arrow and must just fly through the water! We did freestyle and backstroke and even though she can barely do either of them correctly she still kept up with me! And that's after 2 years of steady swimming using TI technique. Unfair! Though I'm delighted that she's so effortlessly athletic. She's a soccer queen, skiing speed demon, has a helluva throw in softball (and always got a solid hit, though she is built like a twig - no power!) - I am in awe of her! She's giving up piano lessons and ballet, both of which break my heart, especially because she's so talented in both - but she is very clear where her passion lies and it's on the field of athletic competition!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What I'm learning

I got frustrated with Weight Watchers and ran aground after about 2 weeks - after six weeks my weight was only 2 pounds down from where I started and I was eating out of control again. I decided to do 2 things: try the "no flour, no sugar" plan, which is basically the same as South Beach phase 1 only you can have fruits and non-flour grains like barley. The idea is to calm my body, reduce cravings, and keep it simple, stupid. Well, after one week I'm down 5 pounds, at my lowest weight in many months (still 5 above my low last fall). I'm hungry, but not TOO hungry - I try to eat and keep satiated.

The other thing I'm doing is really concentrating on the cognitive behavioral stuff - self-defeating thoughts, patterns and habits that aren't serving me. The ones that are helping the most are simply reminding myself as often as I can why I'm doing this (because there isn't really a payoff - I don't see how I'm going to have a happier life or achieve some huge goal from being thinner - it's just the small pleasure of liking how i look in photos, in the mirror, and wearing clothes I like.) My reasons are: my thighs, my double-chin, my ass. (But I don't usually see my ass, so the first two are more urgent!) It sounds shallow, but again: keep it simple. I think about my double chin, and then that brownie doesn't seem so important.

I tell myself, I can have one tomorrow- there will still be chocolate in the world if I pass on this. I tell myself, I can do the no flour no sugar thing now, and if I really need a scone I can have one in the future.

Now here's where the CBT stuff is so important: I've had one week of success on a diet a dozen times, maybe a hundred times. Then something shifts in my head and it all falls apart. I hope to use these techniques (and a lot more like them in the book, The Beck Diet Solution) to stay on track for the 4 or 5 or 6 months (or more) it will take me to lose the 20-30 pounds I need to lose, and then keep it off forever.

I have also been running very consistently, 3 times a week. I think that's too much for me: the last 2 times I've felt tired and achy and heavy. I'm not sick, and it's not the food - I know I'm getting plenty of calories. I think I just need more rest time between runs - 3 days, not two, and 4 if I'm doing a longer run. That doesn't mean no exercise in between - I need to be swimming more.