Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Off sugar!

So the diet is getting easier (especially now that I'm letting myself have some vegetables). I haven't gone over 1200 calories in a day - even if I go out on the weekend and drink alcohol (vodka and soda is my poison of choice right now).

And it's totally working - I fit into my clothes again, I'm sleeping better, waking up more easily, and most of all, just way happier!

Like, I go to work and can totally tolerate people I normally can't stand. And annoying things happen and I take them in stride.

I attribute this change in attitude to being off sugar. My head just feels more clear.

So, it's all worth it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Full, but not satisfied

Well, the diet is going really well. I have managed to consume fewer than 1,200 calories each day, and I eat every time I feel hungry.

But, tonight is tough. Friends are over, one of whom makes amazing fajitas and rice and beans and homemade salsa - and I'm eating the fajita meat (flank steak) and...nothing else. Well, shrimp cocktail, too. So, shrimp and steak. And the fact is, I'm no longer hungry. My belly is full. But how I would love to have some chips and salsa right now.

But I'm down eight pounds since Monday. People are noticing already. So this is going to be worth it.

In other news, on Thursday I ran by myself for the first time in forever, and on Friday I did cardio and weight lifting alone. I haven't been able to motivate myself to do these things without friends in a year; it felt good to get through it alone (but I'd still prefer to do it with friends).

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Day 3 of 20/20, take two

I said on Saturday, before the marathon, that Monday morning I start back on a 20/20 diet.

I meant it, too! I allowed myself to not work out Monday and just recover from the race - my legs and back were sore, but mostly fine if I didn't sit still for too long.

But I did go straight to the Pro Club Monday morning and bought a case of ready-to-drink shakes and a couple of hard-boiled eggs, and started the new diet.

It works something like this, for me:

  • 3 nasty shakes a day
  • Nuts (1 teaspoon at a time)
  • Strawberries (1 cup at a time)
  • Protein (eggs, turkey, chicken, ham, shrimp...pretty much plain, maybe a tiny bit of mustard with it)
So, yeah, gross and boring. The shakes pretty much make me gag, and I pity the food that has to enter my stomach after it and share space with the nasty stuff.

But the amazing thing is, it works. I'm not hungry. I eat five or six times a day, little bits at a time, and reward myself with real food for downing the shake.

And my mood is improved and already I feel better about myself.

I saw the pictures Danielle's boyfriend took of us while we were running; they reminded me way too much of my fat pictures from "before."

I don't want to be a "before" ever again - and finally, I'm properly motivated to get back to where I belong. 135 pounds or less and a much faster runner.

I'll do this diet for a week, maybe two, and then I'll add vegetables back in. I don't think I'm going to add dairy for a while, and definitely not grains, beans, or other crazy carbs. I just want to focus on weight loss.

It's a slippery slope; now that I'm dieting again, I remember how easy it was to feel full on 1200 calories a day when I eat the right 1200, and how it took a few years before I had slipped back into poor eating habits (but never as poor as before!).

Now that I've had the slide, I think I know better how to prevent it. So we'll see what happens this time.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Portland Marathon race report

So, I did it. It wasn't even that bad, despite the unpromised rain!

I went to bed early and slept until 2 a.m. pretty well, but from 2 to 5 I tossed and turned and had nightmares about being late. Finally I got up and started getting ready.

Usually on race mornings I take a shower to wake myself up, but since my hair is such a pain in the behind right now (it gets wet and bleeds pink), I decided to forgo the shower and just clean up and get dressed. The hotel was serving breakfast downstairs, and happily they had perfect runner food: for me, a cup of coffee, a bagel and cream cheese, and a banana with peanut butter.

I could only choke down half the bagel, but it was fine. I finished getting ready upstairs, then headed out to Aleks' hotel to meet her, Danielle, and Heather.

Danielle, Heather and I were all wearing pink skirts and tops and pink cowboy hats. We were a sight.

We headed down to the race start with just enough time to say goodbye to Aleks, who needed to line up ahead of us, and find a place close to the pace we planned to run. Right when we got close to the starting line, a woman behind me totally stepped on my shoe and pulled it completely off!
Fortunately, it was easy enough to get back on, but that was a freaky moment - all these bodies moving forward and my shoe isn't on my foot!

We started out running a comfortable pace, and pretty much never left it. I knew from the first mile marker we were running between 11 and 12 minute miles and we were a little more than 10 minutes back from gun time.

Between mile 4 and 5, both Danielle and Heather had to go to the bathroom, but there was a pretty significant line. I turned my watch off so I would capture only our run time, but at the next mile marker I figured out that we lost about five minues waiting. I decided then that if I were to really enjoy this race, I needed to stop playing with math and figuring out pace and projected finish time and all that. It's not like I was going to be fast no matter what; why would I torture myself with something totally irrelevant?

So I put my HRM on heart rate/time in zone only, so I didn't know what time it was or how long we'd been running. They still announced the time at every mile marker, but I stopped working so hard to do the math and figure out where we were.

By mile six, I felt like being done running...but weirdly, from mile 8 to 18 time just flew. Seriously, suddenly we'd see the balloons for the next mile marker and I'd be like, wow, we just past the previous one a minute ago!

This was probably for a few reasons. When we stopped for five minutes, we ended up behind a lot of slower runners; so for much of the rest of the race, we were passing people. So we always had someone new to look at.

Another reason is just Danielle. She was singing, yelling, being crazy, and just thoroughly enjoying herself. I tend to get quiet and inward when I race; she becomes super-fun and her energy is just infectious. It's amazing.

It started to rain maybe around mile 7 or so, which was unexpected. But it was a light rain, and it felt refreshing. It rained until past mile 20 - almost to the end, but not quite.

The one major hill was completely no big deal. You go up before going over the St. John's Bridge, but we just powered up and it was over way before I expected it to be. The bridge itself was gorgeous and reminded both me and Danielle of the bridges of the NYC Marathon.

Plus, we knew that after the bridge, the course was largely downhill. Heather's boyfriend Ben met us on the other side of the bridge to run the last eight with us, and at one point he ran to a friend's house to get a beer. The four of us took turns taking swigs until it was gone; I used it to wash down a GU. Way better than water!

We realized around mile 23 that not only were we likely going to break five hours from our start time, we could also break five hours gun time, if we hustled. We picked up the pace pretty significantly from there, with cheerleader Danielle egging us on. But man, at this point, it hurt. I'm sure we weren't running that fast, but my heart rate was 10 bpm higher than it had been all race, and I was nervous that I'd burn out before the end.

When we hit the chute, Danielle wanted to run hard. She grabbed our hands and basically pulled me across the finish line. I barely remember this part - I was totally in a daze. When we stopped running, I felt completely out of it - people were coming towards me with space blankets and medals and I was confused. They kept putting things in my hands, like water and chocolate milk. I was worried someone would try to take me to a medical tent.

But within a few minutes, my head cleared and my heart rate dropped, and all I wanted was to see the family. I couldn't eat or drink; nothing sounded good. I picked up my finisher's shirt and called John to see where he was.

Well, he and the kids hadn't bothered to come out and see me race, at all. I was so hurt. I said goodbye to the girls and walked alone back to the hotel.

When I got there, I burst into tears. I just couldn't believe John would think that I wanted him to come all the way down to Portland and that I'd think it was okay for him and the kids to just wait for me in the hotel and not see me at least finish. I know it was raining, so I didn't expect them to be all along the course, but you'd think they could show up towards the end and just see me go by. It hurt that John actually thought I would want the kids to stay in because of rain.

I'm like, no way! We live in the rain capital of the world. I've always lived here with the belief that if you were going to do something, and it rains, you still do it - otherwise you'll never do anything all winter! So of course I wanted him and the kids out!

So, anyway, we got over that. I guess.

In re-reading this, there's one thing I failed to mention. The cowboy hats and pink outfits got us a ton of attention - duh. But the nice thing about it was that it seemed to make other people - like onlookers - happy. They cheered for us and yelled out to us, and it gave us a boost every time (in fact, it made Heather and Danielle run faster!). I think there's something good to not being anonymous in a race - it makes you keep moving, and it makes things just a little more fun.

And the cowboy hat, after the first couple of miles, wasn't even annoying. I don't like running in hats usually, but once I got used to it, it was fine. I'll post pictures when I get them.

So, our final time was 4:49:41 - not my slowest marathon, but the slowest (outside of Ironman) in which the pace was totally within my control (meaning, I was the slowest of a group that was staying together). And interestingly, Danielle and Heather hadn't trained at all for this race. But since they're both personal trainers and extremely fit, they had no problem getting through it.

Now I'm focusing on weight loss. I've been heavier than I want to be for more than a year, and I'm ready to commit to fixing it now. This week I'm back to shakes and protein - the week 1 of the 20/20 program - and perhaps I'll do this for a few weeks to kick-start some weight loss and start feeling better about myself. We'll see.

I don't feel bad about this race; seeing all the people out there of all shapes and sizes running faster and slower than me made me remember how amazing it is to run a marathon at all, whether it's in four hours or five. But I just know I can be better than I am right now, and I won't be satisfied with myself until I am.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Marathon eve

The last three weeks, as I've allegedly taped for this race, have been crazy busy at work and in my personal life, with school starting and routines changing and all that.

I'm reflecting, though, on this training period and whether I accomplished what I set out to do - regardless of the race's outcome tomorrow.

I wanted to put back some discipline and balance in my life. I think instead I learned just how far I could push things without going over the edge.

Sure, I had some successful long runs; but I weigh more now than I have since I became athletic, and I certainly did not regain all of my "speed" (I was never fast, but I'm less so now) during this training. In fact, I think I slacked off about as much as I completed what I planned to do.

So I know the taper period is supposed to make you feel restless - wanting to go, go, go right now! Not wait until race day! - and at the same time rested. I feel rested, sure...but not excited.

In other seasons, I arrived here feeling nervous and ready: today, I honestly feel a little embarrassed. I didn't train like I should. Yeah, I'm going to go out and jog a marathon. I'm trying to tell myself it's enough to dress up and wear a silly hat and go play in the streets of Portland and run a five-hour marathon, but it's not. No matter what, I'm not going to feel good about tomorrow.

So I'm going to go out there and put on a smile and try to have fun. I might even have fun for a while. But in the end, I know I'd feel better about a performance so strong I don't have the energy left to smile than one where I'm skipping and running into the crowds and goofing around. I know that I'm going to wish my name weren't right there in the results with some really long time next to it, and know that I could have done better, but chose not to.

I am trying to remind myself of the girl who never thought she could run a 5K, let alone a marathon. She's going to complete another marathon tomorrow, and that's cool and inspirational no matter what the time.

I guess I'm just so competitive with myself - and to know that I got here without doing the most I could to prepare bothers me. Even though I wasn't fast on Ironman Canada, I did every hour I planned to for my training. I'm sure for this marathon I've done a third of what I said I would do.

Anyway, I'm writing this all out to expunge it from my head, and it's leaving me as I type. Tomorrow is going to be fun, and I am going to be proud of being able to have that fun. So there, little voice in the back of my head that tells me constantly how not good enough I am!