Friday, November 13, 2009

Well Played, Asics!

Asics just got a fan for life. I bought a pair of Asics Gel-Kayanos at my local megamall recently, to replace my worn-out New Balances. I'm very picky about fit (after too many bad experiences) and liked these a LOT. But when my foot doc told me to wear custom orthotics I took out the factory insoles and put the orthotics in.

Turns out I HATE the orthotics and want to try the shoes again with their original insoles, but couldn't find them anywhere. I emailed Asics to find out how to get replacements, and they sent me some immediately, along with: a mesh backpack, reflective armbands, and armwarmers! I don't actually get the armwarmers - why wouldn't you just wear a long-sleeved shirt? At least when you get too warm you can peel it off and tie it around your waist. Under what circumstances would you need arm-warmers, exactly? The other items seem much more useful.

But thanks, Asics!

Monday, November 02, 2009

5K in 40 minutes and I feel proud!

I haven't run a race since June - I've been sitting on the couch, metaphorically speaking. My internet and Facebook addiction has seriously affected my workout schedule and I've overindulged my injuries. So yesterday I just did it - entered a small local race on the rail trail (thus almost flat) It was a perfect re-entry. Turns out I knew a bunch of people there so it felt very friendly and supportive. The course is a very slight downhill slope out, and thus very slightly uphill all the way back.

In preparing for the race, my biggest dilemma was shoes: I brought my old, soft, well-worn New Balances, and my new Asics with the orthotics. I warmed up with both and decided to go soft and comfy rather than heavy and stiff, and was very glad of it. I managed to run the whole course, except for a few very brief walk breaks in the last quarter mile (mostly due to anxiety - when I'm in view of the finish line I often have an anxiety attack, thinking I'm going to pass out or puke from the effort in front of all those people!)

I crossed the line in about 40 minutes - a 13 minute mile. I'm comfortable with that and felt GREAT for the rest of the day.

I think I may give upon the orthotics altogether and just put the regular insoles back in the Asics for a while. (If I can find them - wonder if I can order new ones?) I'll still wear my very supportive chaco's and keep the dress orthotics too. But the running ones have always felt awful. Maybe I can get my money back!

Monday, September 21, 2009

South Beach diet

It's the only diet that's worked for me, long-term, in the last many years. With little fanfare (a week's throat-clearing and ingredient-preparation) I started last Monday, for REAL - i.e. no exceptions. (The last dozen times I supposedly went on it, I didn't stop drinking or really cut out fruit and all bread. So it wasn't South Beach at all.) I've been hungry a lot this week, especially towards the end, but I lost 5 pounds. I know that 5 pounds that disappear in a week can also come back in a week, so I'm not dancing a jig or buying new clothes, but I AM refocusing and doing it again this week. My hope is to lose the 15 pounds I gained over the last year, and another 10 beyond. That would get me to 185 or so - well over what is supposed to be the max for my height - but I think I'd feel and look fine. (Besides, I'm following the zsa zsa gabor theory : at my age, it's better to keep a little more in my fanny than lose to much in my face!)

Plantar Fasciitis still bothering me, so I've asked for a bike trainer for my birthday (this Friday.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back on the road

After about six weeks off for physical therapy, rest, and lots of drugs (Mobic, a strong anti-inflammatory) I ran yesterday. I took it easy - ran 2, walk one, for not quite three miles. I felt GREAT. Legs a little heavy, but not terrible, and I didn't feel like I'd lost too much endurance despite the fact that my swim and elliptical workouts have averaged only about 20-30 minutes, 3- 4 times a week. It was just nice to be outdoors, on a not-too-hot late summer evening, feeling myself work.

After, I stretched well, iced for 20 minutes, took my mobic, and woke up feeling pretty good this morning - very little tenderness. I'm still going to ease my way back in, trying make sure I alternate with bike, elliptical and swimming as much as possible.

I'm not sure what goal to shoot for now as far as races - I wasn't going to do the Dutchess County Classic (half-marathon, one month from now) anyway, but the Harvest Heart 10k is in about 6 or 7 weeks - that could be doable. I don't see Philly in my future either - a half-marathon in 3 months? Or I could just try for a fall 5k (maybe Falls Village) and then work my way back to longer distances for spring. I guess I'll see how training goes in the next few weeks and decide by late September.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Second Opinion

After feeling so frustrated and angry at the way the "sports medicine" orthopedist dismissed my desire to keep running (and after a record thirty comments in response to a post about it on Facebook, roughly half in favor of giving it up and half in favor of sticking it to the obnoxious doc) I went to a podiatrist yesterday.

He was almost as obnoxious and abrupt as the other guy, but with a dx I liked better. I do have plantar fasciitis and a heel spur, and I do have some arthritis developing in my big toe, but neither should stop me from running in the future if I so desire. He said, contrary to Dr. #1, that yes I do pronate and yes I do need orthotics. (2 sets, one for walking, one for running. Total cost, about $700, no insurance coverage. And no I can't afford that. But I'll deal with that later.)

He didn't think physical therapy would solve the problem but might make me feel better in the short term - but he prefers drugs for that and prescribed a very strong NSAID. We made an appointment to come back and get cast for the orthoses (I think that's the plural of orthotic?) and that was that.

So I've decided to do all of the above. I started taking the NSAID, and it made me feel sorta queasy and weird today. (Maybe compounded by painting the kids' room, and breathing the fumes, in the hot humid afternoon, after very little sleep for two nights running.)

And I went to PT this afternoon, at a place I've not tried before. And Loved it: this woman spent 10 times as much time really trying to understand me, my feet, my legs, my bones, muscles, tendons, fascia, as both those guys put together. She did all kinds of manipulations and put me through a lot of different excercises and test to find out my precise strengths and weaknesses.

I so don't have time to go through this, but think if anything is going to get me back on the road again it's my new best friend, Kim the physical therapist. She asked so many questions about ankle injuries I had when I was 12, the dance training I had as a teenager - it was all important to the big picture.

The doctors made quick decisions based on their preconcieved ideas: the podiatrist knew before he started that people who pronate need orthotics. The orthopedist had already made up his mind that orthotics don't do anyone any good. The physical therapist based her judgements on what she actually observed as she got to know me. Why does she get paid so much less, when the care she gives is so much greater?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Need Second Opinion

I went to the world's meanest doctor today!

Or maybe just realistic. But I definitely want a second opinion. With pain in my heel and in my big toe joint, I went to the only "sports medicine" doctor in our area, with the local orthopedic practice. He gave me about 30 seconds to explain my background, and examined my foot for another 30 seconds. He said he actually didn't need to examine me at all - just looking at me - overweight and past 40 - told him everything he needed to know. He asked, "do you actually like to run?" as if the very idea that a middle-aged woman could want to challenge herself at something that doesn't come naturally was bizarre and unnatural.

His diagnosis (based on the x-ray and the 30 second exam) was: flexible flat feet (not pronation), posterior tibial tendonitis, arthritis in the big toe joint, heel spur, and of course what I already knew, plantar fasciitis. He literally laughed at the shoes I was wearing (reasonably supportive naot's with drugstore arch support inserts), and said I should wear only running shoes or very supportive cushioned shoes, go to physical therapy, bike and swim and come back in a month. No running, ever again.

He's anti-orthotic or arch support (says that a 50-year longitudinal study proves they do nothing) and that the difference between motion control and other shoes is non-existent, just marketing hocus pocus. (Did I mention he's anti-running? He told me he ran the NYC marathon in 1976 but his "wife put 50 pounds on him.") He said that if I weighed 140 pounds I could run, but otherwise I should just forget about it. (I haven't weighed that since I was 14 years old - if I could get to 180 I'd be thrilled.)

Various friends have given me advice from 'stick with swimming and elliptical' to a macrobiotic diet. I am dismayed but not discouraged - I have an appointment with a podiatrist on Monday and will explore all the options. Plus try the PT - why not? I think I'll also go to a serious running store - the kind where they watch you run on a treadmill and choose shoes based on your stride. And try to stay fit and not pack on more pounds while I heal.

Other athletes I know have come back from much worse than this - I may not run a half-marathon this year, but I will be back!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I think it's plantar fasciitis, but it's constant, all day - and I dn't even have to be on my feet to feel the pain - like being stabbed in the heel. Plus the big toe joint is extremely sore. I have taken most of this week off from running and am trying t wear shoes with good cushioning and arch support. I think the cause was a combination of: running while fat, and wearing cute shoes. (I'd bought some great sandals at Macy's. They're a cork footbed, contoured, but probably not supportive enough.) So now what? I can't fit pool swims in, most days, because of the kids' summer schedules - by the time I get them to day camp the pool hours are over. (This week might be the one exception.)

I was feeling a bit better so played tennis today, for only abut 20 minutes. Now: agony.

I have two dr. appointments - my sports medicine guy on Tuesday, and a backup appt with a podiatrist next week, in case this appointment isn't helpful. My friend Janet, a dancer who lived through terrible PF, said it can take a year t recover and is always vulnerable to reinjury. (She gave me lots of rehab exercises, though.)

This really sucks.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Boot Camp

My dream come true: I have organized a runner's boot camp for our little Marathon training group. (I arranged time, place and leader.) It's lovely to work out with a small group of people, outdoors in the evening. It's hard - very hard - and lots of fun. I can see that my confidence will come back, and my performance will improve, by sticking with this. There are only 8 sessions - the month of July - and then fearless leader Tina will go on vacation. But I think I'll make a lot of progress. 2 of these, one long run, some bike rides with the kids, and a swim or two if I can possibly fit it in.

I've lost a couple of pounds in the last week or two (not close to what I've gained - down 3 or 4 of the 15 or so I've gained) - not by following a specific program or plan, but by exercising every day and by not snacking between meals. I think the hardest thing is to feel like it's OK to be a little bit hungry - you don't have to feel overstuffed every minute. I have to learn that lesson over and over again in my life. That, and the self-awareness to say: I've had ice cream today, so no wine. Or I want a glass of wine later, so no ice cream now. This week, it's working.

I have two goals: to get under 190 pounds and stay there, and to run a half-marathon in 12 minute miles (about 2:37). Right now I weigh about 205, and I did the half-marathon in 14:15 miles last year. I have four months to get there. I think the weight could happen. Could the speed?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Race Report

the start
Rest of race photos on Flickr

Let me know if it's annoying to have to go to Flickr to see the race photos - it seemed a lot faster than reposting them here one by one.

What's not to love about a hometown triathlon? The start is five minutes from my house. I know the course and all the local volunteers. It wasn't hard to find teammates for a relay (I'm not in shape these days for a full tri myself.)

Kate, whom I know from spinning class, did the bike portion, and Lynn, whom I know from beach and pool, did the swim. Lynn was a bit late and hadn't returned phone calls the night before, so we had a moment or two of anxiety. But she came in plenty of time - the only consequence of late check-in was that they were out of t-shirts! (A very hideous chartreuse, but I want one anyway!)

It was a gorgeous morning - sunny and cool. After 20 straight days of rain and some great sadness in our community we needed a day like that to lift the spirits. Matt, the rec director, had everything very well in hand - check-in volunteers, port-o-potties, and a table full of post-race food and bling of every kind. Most important, he had PLENTY of support out on the lake - all the town lifeguards and the Lakeville Water Rescue Co.

It looked like everyone got off to a smooth start, but it was also clear that there were a few people going VERY slowly. The first swimmers were back by 15 minutes or so, but the last one took 45 minutes and seemed quite shook up when he arrived. (He did finish the event, though - well done!) Lynn took over 25 minutes, which was quite surprising as she's a very experienced and confident open water swimmer - she swam across the Hudson River a few summers ago. But she had gotten kicked in the chest at the start and never caught her breath.

No worries - Kate took off on the bike and we had an hour to hang out and gossip (and visit the port-o a couple extra times.) An on-site ambulance suddenlky took off from the parking lot - one of the bikers had been hit in the one part of the course that was truly dangerous - the stretch in front of the shopping plaza. Indeed, a driver had pulled out of the post office and collided with a biker. Happily we soon learned that he was banged up but not too seriously

For myself, my only concern was that it was starting to really heat up. I loaded on the sunscreen, filled my water bottle belt, and ate a z-bar while I hung out with old friends and new acquaintances.

Kate reappeared after just about an hour (faster than scheduled). I was almost but not quite the last runner out, and I knew that most of those starting after me would have no trouble catching up. I hoped I wouldn't be last but wasn't very optimistic about it.

The run is a strange one: the first 1.5 miles or so is almost all uphill, some of it quite steep. Then there's an equally long stretch of steep downhill. By the time I'd done that much, my quads were trembling. A little flattish stretch to the water stop (at which the kids working it said we were only 1 and a half-mile in - NO WAY!) and then some hard uphill again to the end. I was passed by a 61 year old woman, a 10-year old girl (go Paris - she's amazing) and at the very end, one more guy was catching up to me. He started to chat from about 20 feet behind me, and I asked him if he was from the area. Silly me: he's someone I'm fairly well acquainted with - I just hadn't looked back. We ran in the last few minutes together. Good thing too because vanity kept me from stopping to walk. And his chivalry let me finish 2 seconds ahead of him. (He's a strong runner and biker, but was slowed down by being an inexperienced swimmer.)

I always wonder if I could have pushed harde r- I never "race" so much as just keep my usual pace. No idea if all my "high intensity interval training" has increased my speed. The hills were so steep, and I walked so much, that my pace was only about 13:30 overall. I'm sure my pretty substantial weight gain was a contributing factor to my slowness.

No matter: it was a ton of fun, we won the Women's Team prize (wine! YEAH!) and will most definitely do it again next year.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Team Hansell

teamhansell, originally uploaded by jahansell.

We were called Team Hansell on the race results sheet at the first annual Sharon Triathlon because I was the one who signed us up on But we were equal partners - Lynn is a fantastic swimmer and Kate rocks the bike. I'll post a longer race report tomorrow -suffice to say we WON the women's relay. (Do I have to mention we were the only all women's team?)

Great job organizing the race, Matt!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is Weight Watchers realistic?

I'm into my third week on Weight Watchers, and it's going OK - 3 pounds down. I know it will be slow and I need to be patient and stick with it. But I was curious - I plugged my various statistics into a bunch of online calorie counters and came up with numbers for how many calories i need to maintain and to lose (based on age, weight, activity level, sex, etc.) On all of them, the number of calories needed to lose is a bit higher than the WW allowance, even including the weekly points and earned activity points. As I always do, I'd been trying not to use all the points, but I think that's a bad idea - I get too hungry and eat too much at the end of the day, or have a "lost day" after which I'm not as motivated to go back to tracking (since I don't know how many banked points I've used.)

I think for the rest of this week I'll try to eat exactly how many points I have - not save any. Wonder how that will feel? Or what if I decide to eat 38 every day, instead of 34 or 36? That comes out to 1900 calories - a reasonable amount to eat and still lose slowly, as long as I'm exercising 5 days a week. Or so at least one calorie counter online tells me. (I'm 5'9 and currently 205 pounds - I walk up and down stairs a half-dozen times a day but otherwise have a fairly sedentary lifestyle other than whatever exercise I do.

On another topic: for most of the last ten years I've tried very hard not to talk about my weight or diet in front of my daughters - I haven't wanted them to think about it at all or to absorb my unhealthy obsession. Lately that's changed - I've been leaving my "Beck Diet Solution" out where my kids can see it, and they see me blogging on WW.. My 10 year old is unhappy about it - she says it makes her feel uncomfortable (she says that a lot whenever I criticize myself) and that I'm perfect and beautiful as I am. Not sure how I feel about this overall, but I think I'll dial it down again - no need to make a big deal about my wish to change myself.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Originally uploaded by jahansell
I didn't even realize my husband was taking my picture at the Classic! This is me at the end of 5 miles - I think I look pretty good! (Maybe I should have run harder!)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Weight Watchers + Beck Diet = a new day?

To do Beck, you have to choose a plan. I haven't wanted to commit to a plan for a long time. I think it's because I haven't wanted to limit what I eat other than to (theoretically) choose healther things. Until I want chocolate. It's been a long time since I've tried to get to the bottom of why I eat the way I do. I used to blame Mom. Now I have to look at other factors - stress, feeling entitled, feeling like I deserve to be indulged. (Maybe it is still all about Mom?)

I want to stick to positive self-talk, not catalogue my failings. So I can say this:
- I've exercised regularly for a long time now. I can run five miles.
- I tend to eat on the healthier side - there's at least some fruit and veggies every day, lean proteins, legumes, a decent amount of calcium. (I keep thinking of caveats and "buts" and deleting them. Positive things only.) I don't eat McDonalds or any fast food. When I have treats it's usually something worth it - dark chocolate.

I'm not finding a lot else good to say right now so I'll stop here. Tomorrow I weigh in (it will be somewhere around 207) and begin Weight Watchers online. (I may try to catch a meeting too - the timing might actually work out - the only meeting around here is Tuesday at 5:15 - right after I drop my daughter off at softball practice, one mile away.)

What choices I will make:
  • Plan my day's food in advance. One tip I read: write it all down in pencil at the beginning of hte day, and copy over in pen as I actually eat it. I have a new journal I bought just for this, and I'm putting points values of foods I usually eat for reference.
  • Choose exercise every day. The 20 minute workout plus: walking at lunch, or swimming, or an evening walk with the kids... something real, at least twice, every day. No excuses.
  • Follow Beck. (i.e. eat sitting down, no mindless munching, focus on why (that picture of me that recently appeared on Facebook with the worlds' most unattractive double chin is a good motivator!)
  • Not give up.
My first goal: 5% of my weight. That's a lot - over 10 pounds. So 2 pound increments are my intermediate goal. And to think positive!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sharon Classic Race Report (and a Star is Born)

I love the Sharon Classic. It's our hometown race - 5 miles around gorgeous country roads. It's a fundraiser for the day care center, and they make quite a nice little festival - bouncy house, bake sale, silent auction, etc. All the locals come out, as well as a couple of really good runners from the region. There are kids, parents pushing babies in strollers, and lots of walkers. It's supportive, friendly, and well-managed for those who are more competitive (and they never run out of water or food, even if you're the last one in.) I've never enjoyed any race more than this one.

However, each year I get a little slower. In 2007,, my first time running, I did it in 1:01; last year it was 1:02. This year, 1:04 and a half, or so. I don't think I should feel too bad about it. I'm heavier than I was last year, by at least 5 pounds, and my training has been very different - I've basically stuck with the overall high-intensity, low-volume plan, so haven't run more than about 2 miles in at least 2 months. (But have been doing significant sprint work, alternating with weight training.) I am going to check in with my friend and fitness mentor who gave me this plan and ask him if he thinks I could add something more that would help.

It was a gorgeous day for a run - cool, lightly cloudy after a night of rain, no breeze. I felt less anxious than in past races - I'd slept well, and felt calm, if not confident. My 10-year-old daughter was running for the first time in the (not-quite-one) mile race, and I was focused on helping her get ready - she took it VERY seriously. She expected to do a mile in about 11 minutes. I didn't know what to expect - she's slender, fit and fast, but was also just diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and she hasn't been running - I didn' t know how long she could sustain a run.

She partnered with a good friend who is very athletic. They went out easy, but quickly found themselves in front of just about everyone. She walked for a few seconds up a hill at about the half-mile point, but then got going again, and finished approximately 5th out of at least 25 kids, in about 6:33. I don't know how long the course is - how far short of a mile - but whatever it is, that's FAST! She felt fine afterwards - her lungs felt a little "empty" but she wasn't wheezing or coughing at all. I am so proud of her ability!

For my race, I was feeling stiff and sore, so stopped at the massage table for a pre-race rubdown. He got all the kinks out of my lower and upper back so I felt pretty comfortable starting out. There is nothing I love more than the first minute of a race when it is all possibility and camaraderie! We set off down the green and onto the road, which is all downhill for the first third of a mile. I had no plan - no intention of running and walking at particular intervals. I was just curious to see how this training plan would affect my endurance in a longer run, and decided to just run as much as I could and walk when I had to. The second part of the first mile is mostly uphill, and they put the mile marker (a person with a stopwatch) at the wrong spot - she was at the 4th mile point, which is a little beyond the one mile point (the course is a lollipop - the last part comes back along the beginning.) So my time there, of 13:40, was meaningless. The second mile is always the fastest - it's mostly flat or downhill. SO I wasn't surprised to hit the 2 mile point in 24:03.

The elderly gentleman who always runs just ahead of me was out on the course again, but the 60-something woman who also always just beats me was not here today. (I hope she's OK!) I kept pace with himf or a few miles, always just ahead or just behind, but he never walks, even on the hills, so he pulled way from me eventually. There were tonso f kids out on the course - 4th graders through about 8th grade - and one gaggle of them seemed to be determined to stay ahead of me. They'd sprint ahead, then walk for a while, and when I caught up to them and passed them they'd sprint again. I thought about saying something snarky but kept my mouth shut.

Many aches and pains - my left achilles, which has bothered me for years, both knees at one time or another - but nothing that really slowed me down. My back was fine. The road is very slanted most of the way, and the older gentleman always runs right down the yellow line, I assume because it's flattest there. I do start feeling the strain of the slant.

Psychologically I never went through a big slump - I had low expectations of myself going in, but decided as I went along that I wanted to push myself a little and try to at least match past times. I wish now I'd pushed a little harder - I'm not tired enough now!

I need to figure out a new training plan, and figure out how to commit myself to it. I want to better. I want to go faster. I want to equal or improve my performance from past years. I don't want to have peaked yet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Power of Negative Thinking

How do I do this, over and over again? I convince myself that I can't run, that I'm out of shape, slow, useless. And then it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yesterday's race was called Sean's Run, and it's a very inspirational event. A promising young man - great athlete, honor student, good and kind to all - was killed in a drunk driving accident. He was the passenger, and wasn't wearing a seatbelt. The driver had been caught driving drunk less than three weeks earlier, but there was no law on the books allowing his license to be revoked. After Sean's death, his parents decided to address both issues: seatbelt use in teens, and drunk driving laws. They succeeded in getting stricter laws passed to take drunk drivers off the road, and have done a great job in this area educating kids about the importance of buckling up (as the vast majority of teen deaths are a result of car accidents in which there was drinking, no belt use, or both.)

The race was scheduled after a bunch of preliminary events - a 1-mile fun run, an informational expo and the "Battle of the Belts." So the 5K didn't go off til after 1pm - normally not a problem on a mid-April day, but yesterday it was nearly 90 degrees by that time. (Or so it felt on the blacktop!)

Having gained a LOT of weight recently, and having done only my intense-but-short workouts for quite a few weeks, I wasn't feeling confident to begin with. The heat put me over the edge. I didn't want to go, didn't want to run, didn't want to do anything but putter around at home. (I've been working insane amounts of nights and weekends, and this counted as work since it was part of The Marathon Project.)

Somehow I made it to the starting line, figuring that wimping out would not count as good mentoring for all the teenagers in our program. And I felt OK - chugging along at what felt like a decent pace, not too many walk breaks. So it was a bit of a shock to hit the 1-mile mark at about 14 minutes. I wasn't running hard, but I wasn't taking it easy either. Oh well... what to do but carry on. I had plenty of water and nuun, and I was by no means alone -there were lots of other slowpokes on the course.

But as I got close to 2 miles, a woman leapt off the sidewalk and grabbed mee - she was with one of the other TMP groups and had come across one of our kids who'd gone down with overheating. He was moaning, semi-unresponsive (wouldn't tell anyone his name, wouldn't let them take his shirt off) and very frightened. Luckily I know him well and know his mother, who was out on the course behind me. The woman, and a paramedic who'd stopped to help, got him to lie down (eventually) and poured water on him. I took his shoes off and assured him his mom was on her way. A policeman stopped and called an ambulance. The boy was nauseaus and completely freaking out - every time they poured water on him he moaned that he was drowining.

All hail the good samaritians of this world - lots of people came out of their houses with cold water, gatorade and offers of help. The ambulance never arrived - turns out there was no EMT coverage for the race so they were called from a town quite a few miles away, and there were at least 5 other incidents on the course (including a man who crossed the finish line, started to shake, and would have hit the ground except that another man stepped in and grabbed him just in time.)

My little guy's mom arrived, hung out for a while til the policeman came back, and then got a ride with him to the starting line. I jogged back without finishing the course (there was probably a turnaround another quarter mile ahead of me) and found him in an ambulance at last, getting attended to. (He eventually went home with his mom and she told me later that he was feeling fine.)

It turned out that another one of our girls had a problem too: she is medically unable to sweat, so overheats very easily. Her parents were both there and kept an eye on her, whisking her into an air conditioned car as soon as she got too hot.

So I had an honorable DNF. Next week is the Sharon Classic. It will be much cooler, but I find it hard to imagine how I could run a decent 5 mile race after the weird spring I've had. I didn't run today (someone stopped in to see me just as I was heading out to meet the group) so I'll get one or two training runs in at most before the race. How can I start learning to think positively instead of so negatively?

Michelle asked how my new routine is going. I feel it's still too soon to tell. I want to stick with it for another full month before I render a verdict. But for anything to work at all, I have to get a grip on my eating. I am 15 pounds up from October and still going in the wrong direction. I feel awful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A New new plan.

An old friend (my first ever almost-boyfriend from high-school!) has reconnected via Facebook, and turns out he's a very serious fitness trainer. After quite a bit of getting-to-know-you-again chit-chat he's offered to give me some long-distance coaching (he lives most of a country away from me and don't worry, there's no chance of anything untoward happening!)

So his whole program is too complicated to go into right now (I will eventually), but I did the first workout today. It's based on the theory that, ahem, older exercisers should follow a high intensity, low volume plan, so it was ONLY 20 minutes of running, alternating a 30-second all-out sprint with 60-90 second active recovery - which is really just an easy walk, not even a jog. It was really fun, but not as easy at it seemed at first - the last few sprints were a real challenge (especially on our hills.) There are strength sessions, yoga/stretching session, and a fairly different approach to eating than I've been doing. But I think I'll try it for a month or so - what the heck - what I'm doing now is REALLY not working, and I would like to look not-awful at my sister's wedding in August!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Decision made

No half-marathon at the end of April. Turns out that's a VERY busy weekend - there is an Earth Day event I have to bring some children from our programs to on Saturday, and then that evening is the annual Fireman's Ball - the social event of the year in Sharon. This year they invited me to donate a picture for the auction - very flattering - and my daughter is performing in a ballet there. (The theme is April in Paris - my photos is of a Paris street, and the ballet is a CanCan.) So the only way I'd be able do to a race on Sunday in NYC is it did NOT start at the crack of dawn. Went to the NYRRC website and lo and behold, it's sold out.

So: considering I had the world's worst (not-quite) 6 mile training "run" yesterday, only 6 weeks before the race, it's probably just as well. I'd have completed the 13 miles, most likely but in a time way slower than my race last November. So I'll train for the Classic (5 miles) the following weekend but still look for a half-marathon to do early in the season as a motivator to continue increasing mileage.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Better breathing = better athletic performance?

I've had asthma for more than half my life, and this winter it flared up particularly badly. I happened to hear of "breathing excercises" for asthma, and found after a little digging that there was a teacher of the Buteyko Method in our area - he came highly recommended by an alternative health practitioner I deeply respect. I went to a 2 1/2 hour introductory session this morning, and learned the basic technique. Apparently it will take quite a bit of practice, but the impacts it could have are tremendous - not just improved breathing, but better sleep, more energy, reduced allergies, stronger immune system and.. greatly increased athletic performance. He said he had one client who went from a 12 minute mile pace to an 8-minute pace after a few months. While that seems impossible and out of reach for me, if I could just sustain a 12 minute pace over a couple-mile run (and then slowly improve from there) it would be huge for me.

The basic technique is simply to breathe through your nose, all the time, in as relaxed and shallow a way as possible. There's more to it, which I'll describe if anyone's interested - I'll ceratinly report back regularly on how I'm feeling and what changes I'm experiencing, athletically and otherwise.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

It Ain't Gonna Be Easy

Getting to be half-marathon ready in 7 weeks will not be easy, if today is any indication. My first outdoor run, last week, was 30 minutes; today I did 42. If I increase by 12-15 minutes every weekend with great discipline I'll get to a little over 2 hours by race day - knowing my actual race time will be somewhere over 3 hours. So I should just look at this event as a fun outing, do my best, and use it as a jumping off point for the season - the Sharon Classic is the very next weekend. ITt's the five mile race in my town - I do it every year. If I really train well for the next 8 weeks maybe I can beat the elderly lady who usually whips my butt! (On the other hand if I'm in recovery from a half-marathon maybe I won't be able to do it at all! Hmmm...what's a higher priority for me right now - pushing myself for distance, or working on performance in important races? Suggestions?)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What it would take

Thanks for the encouragement to just go for it! Since we just got about 8 inches of snow and it's 16 degrees outside today, the prospect of going for a run any time soon seems daunting. But I did get in 40 minutes at the gym - half on elliptical, half really pushing myself on themuch-hated treadmill. Ugh ugh ugh. I recently got a hamster, and I am always amazed at how many hours it spends on that little wheel - he goes all night long, from about 10pm til 7am or even more. Crazy! (He takes frequent snack breaks - that I can relate to.)

So, working backwards, to train for a half-marathon that's 8 weeks away, I need to work up from a 3 or 4 mile long run this weekend (I'll be at a conference in Schenectady - not sure what the weather will be like there!) and add a full mile every week, with no cutback week, to get to about 10 the week before the race.

Meanwhile the weight keeps piling on - I honestly don't see how I've been eating THAT much, but the scale and my tight clothes don't lie. So - I think it's time for Weight Watchers. Plans where I cut out this or that, or just watch the overall balance, are not doing it - I need to plain old count calories (disguised as points.) Let's see if a week without red wine helps, too!

I'd like to lose at least 6 of the 12 (or more) pounds I've gained by race day. That would feel like a real accomplishment!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

winter blahs

Ugh. I've gained 12 pounds since October. I've been eating everything in sight, drinking too much too.

So, what better way to jar myself out of the blues/blahs than by setting my sights on a very ambitious race? I'm thinking: the More Magazine half-marathon at the end of April - only 8 weeks from today. I have been running outside exactly once since New Year's - my excercise has been limited to spin, Pilates, the elliptical and the occasional treadmill - no more than 2-3 times a week, 40 minutes or so. I ran outside for the first time a few days ago and could just manage 30 minutes. So to work my way up to 13 miles that fast will take someserious commitment - do I have it in me right now? Based on today's evidence, probably not! (I had an hour and a half to myself and decided to read the Vogue Magazine with Michelle Obama on the cover instead of run!)

Should I do it? Or am I setting myself up for disappointment or injury?