Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Pound of Doom Is Back

Today’s weigh in: +1.3 pounds. Right back up to where I was at the beginning of this month when I wrote about the pound that wouldn’t go away. I have no one to blame but myself. I was the one that didn’t do any running prior to injuring myself on Friday. I was the one that enjoyed the decadent dinner with my in laws on Friday night (which I don’t regret at all):

Farmer's Market Salad
Farmer’s Market Salad: Local greens & sprouts, sunflower, radish, pea, asparagus, chevre, fresh herb vinaigrette
Pinn Oak Ridge Farm Lamb Loin
Pinn Oak Ridge Farm Lamb Loin: Moroccan spice, ancient grains, eggplant, cucumber, apricot mint gremolata, chickpea fritter
Lime Custard Dessert
Lime Custard Dessert: custard, meringue, citrus sauce, apricot, encapsulated basil, micro basil, strawberries

I also was the one who couldn’t limit herself to a single sausage, purchased at the local Sausage Haus and smoked for a few hours in the backyard:

Smoked Sausage
Bratwurst, Polish, and Hungarian sausages

I had to try each one, of course. And some were so good (bratwurst!) that I had a few. Sausages were part of at least one meal on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I’m declaring the rest of the week sausage free.

Both of those things were treats and totally worth it … although I could have limited my sausage consumption more.

The way I ate today, however (jelly doughnut instead of fruit, the dreaded Twix bar in the afternoon), was not worth it. So, I tagged along with my husband to the grocery store and made sure I had the fixings for healthy breakfasts and lunches for the rest of the week. I’ll be having vanilla chia seed pudding topped with cinnamon and banana for breakfast, and three bean salad on a bed of arugula with carrots and guacamole for lunch. Lunch is out on Friday with some coworkers, and Friday dinner is another decadent “totally worth it” meal at Next in Chicago to celebrate Aaron’s birthday. Given my slip-up today, my meal plan on Friday, and my bum ankle, I will consider it a victory if I maintain my weight until next Tuesday. Then I really need to kick this pound to the curb for good.

I’m considering doing the 30 Day Ab Challenge (although I refuse to join the Facebook event with 1 million+ attendees—that’s just asking for spam) starting June 1. Is anyone else doing it? I think it might be a good intro to strength training while I’m still rehabbing my ankle. I’m also rethinking my race plans for the fall—I want to keep running, but I think the garden is going to demand more of my time on the weekends, and I’m not a huge fan of running more than a few miles in the heat. That makes half marathon training sound like drudgery, rather than fun.

Spraining Your Ankle Sucks When You’re A Runner

On Friday I was at work, minding my own business, walking down the stairs that I walk down every single day … and I misstepped and twisted my ankle. It REALLY hurt. I was on my way to interview a potential intern, so I sucked it up, smiled, said hello to the candidate, and walked back up two flights of the evil stairs to conduct the interview. 30 minutes later I walked back down those stairs, said goodbye to the candidate, and retreated to my cube to take a look at my ankle. Thanks goodness I didn’t take a picture, because I would be obliged to post it here. But be warned, there are pictures later in this post.

The outside of my ankle had a golfball-size lump and was very tender to the touch. I grabbed some ice from the break room fridge and thought about what I wanted to do. Knowing that I had two races scheduled in the next two weeks, I decided to go to urgent care. Prior to becoming a runner, I would have sucked it up and limped around for a while. But now, I wanted to be back in running condition as soon as possible, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to run with a golf ball on the side of my ankle.

I hobbled into urgent care and waited for 90 minutes with my foot elevated and on ice for 20-minute intervals. The doctor looked at it and diagnosed a sprain, but sent me for x-rays just to be sure. Yup, just a sprain. A sprain that required crutches for 3-5 days, and a brace for up to 10- days after that. It sounded like there was a chance I could run again in 7-10 days, but it would be a test, and might not last very long without pain.

I left the office with my ankle wrapped and braced.

Sprained Ankle In BraceI’ve never walked on crutches. I was far from elegant. One of the first phone calls I made was to my Ragnar Relay teammate to ask her advice. The race was in two weeks. She asked if I’d ever sprained my ankle before (I haven’t). In her estimation, I’ll probably be able to run the first leg, maybe even pain-free. Then when I’m tired and have to run the second leg, it will start to hurt. A lot. I might be able to finish that leg. No way will I be able to run the third leg.
So, I’m pulling out of Ragnar. Ick. It goes without saying that I’m also not running the Alpine Adventure Challenge this weekend.
On Saturday night, I took a look at the swelling, which had only gone down slightly.
Sprained Ankle Day 2 Swolen
On Sunday morning, the bruising started to show (and the swelling looks worse from this angle).
Sprained Ankle Day 2 BruisedThis morning, the bruising was more pronounced near the sprained ligament.
Sprained Ankle Day 3 Bruised
Just a few moments ago, I snagged another picture. The bruising from this angle is pretty disgusting. I have similar disgusting bruises under my arms from the crutches.
Sprained Ankle Day 3.5 Bruised
I’ve been wearing the compression wrap and brace most of the day, and elevating my foot while I sleep. I’m obviously not going to be running this week, but I can walk gingerly without pain (if I’m wearing the brace). I thought running would be the cause of any injuries I suffered this summer. Turns out I just need to be more careful when I walk.

Win An Entry To The Alpine Adventure Challenge

I’m been a fairly vocal opponent of obstacle races like the Tough Mudder. I see no reason to run a “race” that requires me to get electrocuted, climb through barbed wire, or do other activities likely to cause injury. However, I was recently contacted by a promoter of the Alpine Adventure Challenge—a local obstacle race/mud run—and I’ve decided that I’m going to give it a try!

Alpine Adventure Challenge Mud Run WisconsinRace Information

The Alpine Adventure Challenge is actually two races held at ski hills in Slinger, WI (May 31 & June 1, 2014) and Wild Rose, WI (July 19-20, 2014). I did a little research and was pleasantly surprised to find the following language on the website:

…our courses are designed to be easy enough for just about anyone to finish.

No, the race is not timed. The Alpine Adventure Challenge is about two things: Teamwork & Accomplishment – That feeling that you have accepted the challenge and conquered it is a truly amazing one.

Any water that you may need to cross will be no more than 3’-4’ deep and will have lifeguards on duty. Duck floaties are accepted if you need them.

This race actually looks like fun! And I can wear my duck floaties! 🙂

Of course, I had to check out the course details for mentions of barbed wire or live electrical wires. Finding none of that, it looks like runners can expect obstacles like:

  • Cargo net
  • Monkey bars
  • Mud (of course)
  • Water (with optional duck floaties)
  • Rope climb
  • Balance beam
  • Tires
  • Cow Mat

What on earth is a cow mat? I googled it and it wanted to auto complete “cow mating.” This is Wisconsin, but I don’t think that’s happening on the course. I guess I’ll have to find out for myself. But, I digress.

Alpine Adventure Challenge Mud Pit
Photo courtesy of Alpine Adventure Challenge Facebook page

There are over 20 obstacles (it looks like some of them are repeated), and every participant gets a race t-shirt. It’s spectator-friendly, and there are food and drinks available for purchase (athletes get one free drink ticket).  The race looks like a lot of fun! My husband and I are signed up to do the Little Switzerland race on June 1, and I’m hoping we can get some friends to join us—some to participate, and others to hang out with the kiddos and watch us get covered in mud.

Registration Discount

Of course, I encourage you to enter to win the free entry below. However, if you don’t win, or if you’re anxious to sign up, use the discount code AACBLOG to get $5 off your registration for either event.

Enter to Win

The race organizers have graciously agreed to provide one race entry (valid for the event of your choice) to a reader of Gross Gets Fit. You can enter up to five times, by completing one or more of the following actions. Please complete each action only once. Repetitive entries of the same action will be deleted.

  1. Leave a comment indicating what you think you would enjoy most about a race like this, or share a story from a similar race you’ve participated in.
  2. Share this blog post as a public status update on Facebook, and post the URL of your update as an additional comment (hint: click the timestamp to get the unique URL for your post).
  3. Tweet a link to this post (use the tweet below if you want) and post the URL of your tweet as an additional comment.
  4. Like Alpine Adventure Challenge on Facebook, and leave a comment letting them know you heard about them on Gross Gets Fit. Add an extra comment on this post letting me know you did that to get the extra entry.
  5. Follow @AAChallengeLS on Twitter, and let them know you heard about them from @LizGross144. Add an extra comment on this post letting me know you did that to get the extra entry.

Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away. To deter spam, I have to approve your post if it’s the first time you’ve commented on Gross Gets Fit.

The contest will run until Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. CDT. I will randomly choose a winner, who will be contacted that evening at the email address provided when submitting the comment. If the winner doesn’t respond by 6:00 p.m. the following day, I will choose another winner. Good luck, and get dirty!

Disclosure: I was given two free race entries in exchange for writing a post promoting the Little Switzerland and Nordic Mountain events, and a subsequent race report once I complete the Little Switzerland event. All opinions stated here are my own. The race promoters did not have editorial oversight of this post.

Back On The Horse

I took an entire week off from running after my half marathon. That wasn’t exactly planned, but I don’t feel bad about doing it. This morning I woke up without an alarm prior to 7:00 a.m., so I made a deal with myself: If I got up and ran, I could have an asparagus omelet (first asparagus of the year!). So, that’s what I did.

Temps were in the high 40’s and set to rise, so I pulled on some capris and my half marathon finisher shirt and was out the door by 7:30 a.m. I didn’t have any expectations for this run, so I set my Nike+ app to only tell me distance (not time or pace). And, for the first time ever on a solo run, I didn’t take headphones. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and I just wanted to experience it.

I headed out on one of my 5K routes. It took me a bit to get used to not hearing music. I could actually hear my breathing, and my feet pounding the pavement. Early on, I ran into another runner … and he was the only person I saw my entire run. Was it really that early? I felt great when I hit the one mile mark. I kept waiting for my knees to hurt, but they didn’t. I pressed forward. As I ran, I was thinking about the Ragnar Relay, which I’ll be running in less than three weeks. I also thought about how I want to train for my next half marathon.

As I thought more and more about running, I ran faster. Without having my pace in my ear every half mile, I didn’t have any sense of how fast I was going. I was thinking that it would be nice to PR a 5K this morning, which would mean I need to be going about 14:00 or so. Then, after mile 2, I just kept getting faster. I was thinking about Ragnar, which I long ago had estimated I could run at a 13:00 pace. That would be a stretch for me right now. I decided to push it until I reached mile 3, and then walk the few blocks home (no .11 for me, so no 5K PR).

When I saw my average pace, I was a little disappointed. Only 13:49? I felt like I was going faster than that. Then I checked my splits. My last mile was definitely faster than that. It was 1:28 faster than my first mile.

May 18 Splits

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pace chart that continued to speed up so consistently.

May 18 Pace Chart

There was one other thing that was on my mind during the last two miles of my run—how much my torso itched! Note to self: Don’t wear a race shirt before washing it. I’ve done this before, but that was in the winter when I had another shirt on under it. I was pretty uncomfortable most of this run, and my upper body was completely pink when I took the shirt off.

Today was a good run. I need to jump right back into a regular running schedule (3-4 times per week) between now and the Ragnar Relay, and I need to take advantage of Memorial Day weekend to do some back-to-back and/or two-a-day runs.

May 18 Run Photo

Today was a good day! I was home and showered earlier than I got out of bed on Saturday morning. Then, I made a beef curry, cleaned the kitchen, got some gardening done, and made a delicious dinner. We had garlic sea salt sourdough crostini topped with morels, asparagus, and parmesan cheese, with a side of asparagus freshly harvested from my garden.

Morel & Asparagus CrostiniWeight loss update: I weighed in down .7 pounds on Tuesday. I’m still working on the pound that won’t go away. I was .4 pounds down from that before my run today. But, even if that loss sticks around until Tuesday, I’m still .4 pounds away from my all-time low on April 8. I can’t wait to get over that hump, although I’m not acting like it. I’m consistently going over my points each week, and not tracking everything like I should. Getting back to regular runs throughout the week should help jumpstart my weight loss, I think. That, and getting back to meal planning and tracking.

Reflecting On My First Half Marathon

Yes, I said first half marathon. Because I’m pretty sure I’m going to do another one. But more on that at the end of this post.

Surprises From My First Half Marathon

I ran alone most of the time. I know I’m a slow runner. But I assumed that an all-women’s race with an 18:00/mile cutoff time would have more people like me in it. Nope. There were about 25 of us that took over 3 hours to finish. For much of the course, I was completely alone, or could see one or two people far ahead of me. Within minutes of leaving the starting line, it didn’t feel like a race—just a training run with a finish line.

There were virtually no spectators/cheerleaders. This was another symptom of being at the back of the pack. My family was stationed throughout the course, but I only saw a handful of other people. Friends had told me to leave the headphones at home and enjoy the race atmosphere. I’m glad I didn’t, because there really wasn’t any atmosphere to speak of.

I had to watch for traffic. We raced on an open road, running the same direction as traffic. Prior to this race, I’d only done closed-course 5K’s. Just one more reason it felt like a training run and not a race. The race staff were at major intersections to hold traffic for us, but driveways and minor intersections were up to us.

I am stronger than I thought I was

I am stronger than I thought. Although I ended up walking more than I had planned (partly because of the hills, partly because of the heat, I think), I never really felt like I needed to stop. I felt strong. I knew I would finish. My knees didn’t hurt, and I didn’t cramp up. I’m fairly certain I could have pushed the pace a bit more, but I didn’t want to risk an injury.

Recovery was pretty simple. I made sure to keep walking for 20-30 minutes after the race, and periodically throughout the next two days. I’d always be sore/stiff when I got up off the couch, but only for a minute or two.

What Does It All Mean?

I didn’t break down into a sobbing mess at the finish line like I thought I would, but that doesn’t mean this hasn’t been a life-changing experience. I’ve always been pretty good at following through on my goals when they were intellectual or career related (just need to finish my dissertation to complete the last goal on my list), but I’ve never been good at accomplishing physical goals. Whether it’s losing weight or developing an exercise habit, nothing ever really stuck with me until I started running. Running has helped me learn that food is fuel. Sometimes I eat crap anyway, but I’m much more aware of it. And, because I’m running, it doesn’t go straight to my hips.

A year ago, the idea that I would run a half marathon was about as plausible as climbing Mount Everest or hiking to the North Pole. Now, it’s just something I did last weekend. It makes me feel confident, and stand a bit taller, because I finished a half marathon. I now know that I can set progressively more difficult physical goals, and I will meet them—as long as I have a plan.

So, What’s Next?

My next immediate goal is to complete my assigned legs of the Ragnar Relay, without walking, at as close to a 13:00/mile pace as I can muster. I’m runner #1 on So You Think You Can Prance for Ragnar Chicago. I’ll cross the starting line in 3.5 weeks.

After that, I think I’m going to do another half, even though last weekend I said it wasn’t in the cards for 2014. Training for a distance race like this gives me a fitness routine with structure, a concrete goal to accomplish, and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment as I complete each scheduled workout. There are a few things I’ll do differently next time, namely:

  • Follow the training schedule more closely (I’ll stick with Hal Higdon’s Novice 1)
  • Pay more attention to my nutrition—every day of the week
  • Learn more about fueling while running

So, whats the race? I think I’m going to register for the Lake Country Half Marathon. It literally runs through my neighborhood, and I’m familiar with most of the course already. The race website says it has “some hills,” but I’ve run those hill before and they’re no big deal. It’s my version of flat. My only reservation is that the race is in August (Labor Day weekend), so it could be really hot … but in prior years runners have complained that it was cold, so I might roll the dice. The price increases in 8 days, so I’ll probably be pulling the trigger on this soon.

Any other runners out there—how long after your first race did it take you to sign up for another one?

Yoplait vs Chobani Blueberry Greek Yogurt Tasteoff

I signed up for Klout a few years ago, and occasionally I’ve gotten some cool “perks” from them, including a Weather Channel umbrella with clouds on the inside.  A few weeks ago, I received a Perk from Yoplait. They were promoting their new blueberry greek yogurt, and wanted people to try it head-to-head vs Chobani’s version of the same flavor. Last weekend, my mom was in town. Since she eats yogurt just as much as I do, I figured she’d be a good person to do the taste test with me.

Yoplait sent me a $4.00 Mastercard and explicit instructions on what yogurt to purchase. Here were the contenders:

Chobani Blueberry Greek Yogurt & Yoplait Blueberry Greek Yogurt

First, let’s explore the differences on their labels:

Serving Size: Both yogurts have the same serving size—5.3 ounces. Which seems strange to me, because a standard serving of yogurt is 6 ounces. Must make for a prettier package.

Fat: Both yogurts are fat-free, although I didn’t notice that about the Yoplait yogurt until I looked at the nutrition label. There’s a tiny “0%” on the container to the right of the Yoplait logo, but it’s so far to the side that you wouldn’t notice it on a store shelf. So that was a pleasant surprise.

Calories: Chobani has 130 calories; Yoplait has 140 calories.

Protein: Even with fewer calories, Chobani has more protein, packing in 12 grams compared to Yoplait’s 11.

Sugar: Chobani has 15 grams of sugar, while Yoplait has 18. Yogurt contains some natural sugars, but for comparison, my fat free plain yogurt has 3.3 grams of sugar in 5.3 ounces. So, Yoplait has about 15 grams of added sugar, and Chobani has 12. A teaspoon of granulated sugar weighs 4 grams. So, both of these choices provide 3-4 teaspoons of added sugar in a relatively small container. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005) say that adults should not eat more than 32 grams of sugar per day. The American Heart Association advises that women should limit sugar intake to 20 grams per day.

Weight Watchers Point Plus: For those of you following Weight Watchers, each of these brands is 3 PointsPlus.

So, labeling differences aside, it’s time for the Tasteoff!

Yogurts in blind taste test packagingYoplait really put some time into this promotion. In addition to the $4.00 Mastercard, they sent me this taste test box. Since I set it up, I knew which yogurt was which, but my Mom didn’t. It was a blind taste test for her.

Before we even got to tasting, there were differences in preparation. When I buy a name-brand flavored Greek yogurt (which actually doesn’t happen often in our house), I buy Chobani. We like it a lot, but recently switched to a generic brand for my husband’s daily strawberry yogurt fix. Both that generic brand and Chobani are “fruit on the bottom” preparations. After opening, you have to stir the yogurt to mix the flavor into it. This isn’t hard, but if you’re a klutz like me, it can be a little messy. The Yoplait yogurt was already mixed, which was nice.

There was also a difference in the consistency of the fruit flavor. Chobani’s blueberry flavor is a puree of blueberries, evaporated cane juice, pectin, locust bean gum, and “natural flavor.” Being a puree, it doesn’t have much of a texture. Yoplait’s blueberry flavor is a mixture of blueberries, sugar, water, modified corn starch, malic acid, vitamin A acetate, and vitamin D3. While it has more ingredients, it does include whole or only partially macerated blueberries.

So, on to taste. Chobani was what I was used to. A smooth, slightly tart, blueberry flavor. Yoplait’s was definitely different. It was creamier, and suddenly made the “slightly tart” flavor of Chobani taste more like an off flavor. The mouth feel was much better, and I enjoyed actually being able to chew on the blueberries. Both my mom and I very much preferred the Yoplait, and I bet she’ll be buying it in the future.

But I won’t, unless my husband wants it. A few months ago, I started flavoring my own plain nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or homemade preserves. The fresh fruit version resulted in no added sugar, and the homemade preserves have about half the sugar of the flavoring used in commercially flavored yogurts. I started doing this because it was an easier option on the Weight Watchers Simple Start program (I didn’t have to count the points for fat-free yogurt), and I continued because it just seemed like a more natural option. If you haven’t tried flavoring your own yogurt, give it a try. If you’re able to do so with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, or with plain fresh fruit, and still enjoy the taste, it’s a better overall option for your health. It’s also a little cheaper than buying the little containers. I prepare a few days worth of 4-ounce servings at at a type and store them in 1-cup pyrex containers in the fridge.

Do you have strong opinions on how you eat your yogurt, or what brand you like? Share them in the comments!

Disclosure: I was provided free yogurt for this taste testing. I was not required to write this post, and I received no additional compensation for writing it.

Race Report: Women Run Pewaukee Half Marathon

Spoiler Alert: I FINISHED!!

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Finish-Selfie

A little background for any of you that don’t know me: I couldn’t run around the block in September 2013. Toward the end of that month, I decided I wanted to run a 5K. I did that on Thanksgiving. Then I decided to run another one, on New Year’s Eve (that was cold). Then I decided I wanted to run a half marathon. For the next four months, I trained. I followed (loosely) the Hal Higdon Novice 1 plan, going from a 4-mile max run to finishing 13.1 miles today. If you want more information about what it was like to train for this race, read the last four months of posts on this blog. If you’re reading this and have any desire whatsoever to complete a half marathon, you can do it!

But, from here on out I’m going to talk about this particular race. In case it’s not obvious from the title of this post, it was a women’s only race. Here’s race website: Women Run Pewaukee.

Race Expo

This is the first race I’ve attended that had an expo, although it was small. I timed my arrival at packet pickup to attend the course talk at 5:00 p.m. Turns out, no one really showed up for that. It was me, my mom, some other girl, and the trainer giving the talk. I had expected a 10-15 minute walk-through, but since the group was so small she just asked what questions we had. I didn’t even know what questions I should have … this was my first half marathon! She walked us through a map of the course, told us we’d be running on open roads, with traffic (which I hadn’t realized before), and warned us of where the hills were. Then I wandered through the expo, but the only thing I bought wasn’t running related. I found Addicting Pretzels and bought two flavors for my husband—Smoke (tastes like sausage) and 5 Alarm Chipotle. The samples were tasty.

Hidden at the end of a row was a poster board where women were encouraged to write why they run. It was pretty awesome. Bonus points if you can guess which one is mine.

Half Marathon Expo Sign
Click image to enlarge

After the expo, I came home and cooked a carb-loaded dinner. Chicken parmesan over whole wheat fusili with a sprouted grain roll. Not pictured: extra tomato sauce, green salad with olive oil & vinegar, skim milk.

Half Marathon Carbo LoadThen, I realized my intended race outfit was dirty, so I had to do a quick load of laundry. I was still able to get my race gear ready and be in bed by 9:30 p.m. for a good night’s sleep.

Half Marathon Outfit

Race Day

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. feeling well rested, but my alarm wasn’t going to go off until 6:00. I slept fitfully for the last two hours, and jumped in the shower right as I heard the alarm. Then I got dressed, applied lots of sunscreen (I just picked up some spray sunscreen and it was awesome), added vaseline to areas prone to blisters and chafing, and grabbed a banana and a cup of tea before jumping in the car. I also wrote this on my arm, for some motivation on the course. I’ve been using this as my running mantra ever since I read about a marathon sign that Katie saw that said, “Remember when you thought you couldn’t do this?”

Half Marathon Arm: Remember When You Couldn't Do This?

We arrived at the starting line at about 7:30, and the gun wasn’t set to go off until 8:00. I was with my parents and my husband, and we wandered around and soaked in the race atmosphere. There were lots of families there supporting moms, wives, and daughters. There were just over 300 women running the race, so it was pretty small. Here’s my pre-race selfie at the race trailer.

Half Marathon Start Selfie

Race conditions were “yellow.” It was 50-ish degrees when we started, but temperatures were going to steadily rise throughout the race, and we were going to be running in full sun most of the time. Good thing I had my visor and wore sunscreen!

And We’re Off!

They had us line up, and then walk down a hill and around a corner to the starting line. It was a little strange, but I understand why they did it. Since this was an open-road course, they had closed the road down to one lane as soon as we stepped foot on it, so they wanted to minimize the traffic disruption. Right before the race started, I ran into a friend I’d made on Facebook but never met in real life. Wendy is a member of the Women’s Running Club Facebook group (highly recommend it if you need some running encouragement, even if you’re just starting). We were both planning on being back of the packers, so we started together. Don’t we look happy?

Running with Wendy at the starting line

I only ran with Wendy for a minute or so. We both just had a goal to finish the race, but we have different running styles (intervals, walking, etc.,) so we separated pretty quickly.

This might have been me saying goodbye to her. I’m not quite sure.

Half Marathon Start SideMy husband was the photographer for all of these photos. He was learning to use a new camera, and switched back and forth that and his old one. This one had a giant lens, and apparently I got too close too fast, so part of my head got cut off.

Half-Marathon Start Smiling Closeup

There are no pictures for the next 6.5 miles. They were the best miles of the race. I surprised myself by maintaining a 14:30 pace, walking the first minute of each mile. During the first few miles I actually passed a couple women, which surprised me. Mostly, I had one person ahead of me and wasn’t aware of who was behind me. Since all but 25 of the runners finished under 3 hours, I was alone on the course most of the time. I have averaged about 15:00 miles on my long runs, so I was estimating I’d finish in approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. The first six miles made me think that I could maybe do it in a little less than that. Even with a short, steep hill (85 feet up in .3 miles) that I partially walked, I ran the sixth mile in 14:28. I was going to murder this race!

Then the hills came.

Starting just after finishing the 6th mile (6.1, to be exact), a slow, steady climb started. It wasn’t so steep that it was scary to look at, but it was so steady that after a while you’d be asking yourself, “Why is this so hard?” if you didn’t know in advance this was a hill. I was prepared for it. And my family knew about it too. As I rounded a corner at 6.8 miles (running, after stopping to walk part of the beginning of the incline while eating some Honey Stinger Chews), I could hear my mom’s cowbell. I’m sure the 25 of us in the back of the pack heard that cowbell many, many times. Mom walked, then jogged (What? Mom doesn’t jog?) with me for about a tenth of a mile. I could see my dad and husband up ahead at what I sort of hoped was the top of the hill (not even close). I knew Wendy was back there somewhere, so I asked my family to stay and cheer for her (for those of us at the back, there really weren’t people out there cheering unless they were cheering for us). Thanks to my family, I ran up a part of the hill I’m sure I would have walked.

Half Marathon Mile 6 Hill

But it wasn’t the end of the hill, so I took a walk break after I passed them. There would be a lot of those for a while, because that hill didn’t stop until the 8 mile marker. You read that right—the hill was 1.9 miles long, and rose 150 feet. Mile 7 was 15:23, and mile 8 was 16:10. My stomach and head were feeling a little weird at this point. I’d eaten my Honey Stinger Waffle at mile 3 as planned, but when I started to eat my Honey Stinger Energy Chews at mile 6, they seemed like too much for some reason, so I only ate a couple. I’d also been drinking Gatorade from the aid stations every other mile … this was something I hadn’t planned on because I didn’t get a chance to do a test run with Gatorade before the race. But it was so hot that I was afraid of sweating all the salt out of me, so I took it for my own good. I walked a bit more through mile 9 until this feeling passed (16:43 pace). Towards the end of mile 9, I heard that crazy cowbell again 🙂

Women Run Pewaukee Half Marathon Mile 9

This was my normal face. Even feeling queazy, light headed, and noticing that my fingers were swelling, I mustered up a smile for the camera as I got closer.

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Mile-9-Smiling

After walking at the beginning, I ran to finish out most of mile 10 (15:48). My parents were at that mile marker (they had just leapfrogged me), and I saw a giant hill ahead. I yelled, “We better get to turn before we have to run up that bitch. I thought it was downhill from here!” Luckily, we turned. 🙂 I may have been yelling that in this picture.

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Mile-10-Ouch

From there, I was on my own until the finish. I tried to run as much as possible, but wasn’t afraid to walk because I wanted to avoid an injury. I had run 10 miles and my knees didn’t hurt, which I considered to be a small miracle. I wanted to keep it that way. I would challenge myself to run to a certain point before walking, or run the entire length of a song, or just pass the person I’d been leapfrogging for the final time. I knew I was going to finish, and I didn’t want to kill myself to get there. Mile 11 was 16:03, 12 was 15:38, and 13 was 15:25.

When I turned the final corner, the finish line was still a quarter mile away. After running for almost 13 miles, that seems like the longest run ever. There were two women ahead of me walking that I actually caught up to, so it had a little bit of an element of a race to it. I thought I was going to be crying like a baby when I crossed the finish line, but I wasn’t. I was just happy to be done, and proud of what I’d accomplished.

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Finish-LineMy official time was 3:20:08. I came in 307th out of 320 finishers, and 49/51 in my age group. But I was done, still standing, and still able to move. That was my only goal.

Being a women’s only race, we were greeted by men in tuxes at the finish line, given a rose, and a glass of champagne. I downed that champagne like it was gatorade.

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Finish-Rose

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Finish-ChampagneThere were organic cookies and fruit at the finish line as well. My kind of race! I took a few pictures with family, and then waited for Wendy to finish.

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Finish-Mom&DadWomen-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Finish-Aaron

Wendy knew this race was going to be a challenge for her. At the starting line, she told me her only goal was to finish and not get swept. At that point, I assured her that even if they did have to pull the supported course, she could finish this race. Turns out she didn’t have to worry about that—she made it in under the cutoff pace. She did a great job, and my mom had a blast ringing her cowbell for her.

Women-Run-Pewaukee-Half-Marathon-Finish-WendyI expected to cry when I finished. I didn’t. People have already asked me if I’m going to run another half marathon. I’m not sure. I think I need some time to gather my thoughts and process what this race really meant to me. But for now, at least you know how it went.

 

Last Run Before Race Day

It’s almost here. My first half marathon is in 2 days! I’ll be crossing the starting line in approximately 36 hours. Yesterday, during my lunch break, I got my athlete’s guide for the race in my email. For some reason, I started crying. It finally, finally sunk in that I’m running a half marathon. I’m sure this means I’ll cry when I start, when I finish, and multiple times in between. I’m generally not an emotional person, but I’m about to do something I never in a million years thought I could do. I honestly didn’t think I had the lungs to run any substantial distance. I have asthma, and in school I used that as an excuse not to run in gym class. Turns out, once I got past the uncomfortable wheezy runs in the first two months of running (with my inhaler, of course), it really wasn’t an issue any more. I’ve truly trained my body to work better. After this race, my next task is to strengthen my leg muscles so my knees can take the constant pavement pounding better. I never would have thought it would be my legs, not my lungs, that would give out on me.

The race has a small expo tomorrow, and I took the afternoon off so I could get there in time to attend the last course talk. One of the trainers that worked with some runners before the race is going to go over the course in detail so we know what to expect. Planners like me must really appreciate this 🙂 I’m sure we’ll here all about the giant hill at mile 6.5. The race director has dubbed this “Husband Hill” (this is an all women’s race), because we should tell our husbands to be there to cheer for us so we can make it up.

So….ahhh! It’s really happening! I’ll be sure to have my race report up no later than Sunday night, because I totally want to be included in Katie’s Motivational Monday report on Runs For Cookies.

So, tonight, I went out for a two-mile run, which was the extent of my taper (my last run was the 11-miler on Sunday). We had a heat wave today, which felt great all day—until I went out to run. I started running in late September, so 82 degrees + humidity was a foreign environment for me. Holy sweaty, batman!!

May 8 Run Photo

Given the heat and humidity, I was actually pretty speedy!

May 8 Run Splits

My plan between now and the race is to:

  • Drink lots of water and lay off the soda
  • Consider everything that goes in my mouth a potential fuel source
  • Get 8 hours of sleep
  • Make sure all my race gear is laid out and ready to go before I go to bed tomorrow night
  • Buy bananas so I have my normal pre-run breakfast on Saturday morning

See you on the flip side!

The Pound That Refuses To Get Lost

I haven’t been writing much about weight loss lately. Perhaps that’s because this is what my weight tracker looks like:

Weight Watchers eTools Weight Tracker

If graphs aren’t your thing, maybe this will get the point across:

Weight Watchers eTools Weight Tracker Table

Since March 25, I’ve pretty much been gaining and losing the same pound. It’s not hard to figure out why. In the last 4 weeks I’ve only tracked my food 14 days. And, I’m pretty sure there were days in there where I veered off course and didn’t track 100% accurately.

Now, I’m ELATED that I still weigh pretty much the same that I did seven weeks ago. At least I haven’t gained (I probably have the running to thank for that). But if I want to get to goal (which is at least 35 more pounds below where I’m currently at), I need to be more disciplined. I set a goal earlier this year to be at 160 before I go on vacation on September 6. That’s four months from today. Four months to lose 14.6 pounds…during prime ice cream season. That’s 3.65 pounds per month, or approximately .9 pounds per week. It’s doable, but would require discipline.

Discipline does NOT look like taking a delicious, home quinoa chickpea salad for lunch (like this)…

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Kalamata OlivesBut then making impromptu plans to go out to lunch. To the Indian buffet. And taking two trips up to the buffet followed by FOUR SCOOPS of mango ice cream. Nope, that’s not disciplined. At least I ate the salad for dinner. Oh, but then I had two pieces of Aaron’s pizza. BAD LIZ!

In all seriousness, work (while continuing to be awesome), has gotten increasingly stressful, and I believe that’s led to some of my less-than-stellar eating habits. I’ve also been skipping the unofficial Weight Watchers meetings at work. So, Internet, I’m telling you that I need to be back on track. I will log my food daily, and I will schedule walk breaks into my day to help increase my activity and reduce my stress. I would like to weigh in next Tuesday at 173.7 so I know I’m on track to hit my goal.

My Next Long Run Is A Half Marathon!

I made it 11 miles on Saturday!

May 3 Run PhotoDon’t you think my husband could have told me my hair was sticking straight up before I had him take that picture?

I did it. And I felt pretty darn good most of the time. I picked a route that just looped around and around my neighborhood—rarely doubling up, but never focusing on how far I was going…just that I had to keep running. I want to make it through my half without seriously injuring my knee, so I started walking a minute at the beginning of each mile right away (slightly longer if I was consuming fuel). After three miles, I ate a honey stinger waffle (yum!) After six miles, I had some honey stinger energy chews, and stopped at a stranger’s house and asked him to refill my water bottle (you can do that when you live in small towns, I guess). As I ran away from his house, I felt awesome. Miles 7 & 8 made me think I could run a half-marathon like a badass—I was running 14:30 miles, which I’m pretty sure would be an all-out-awesome pace for my race.

May 3 Pace Chart

Then, my knee started hurting, and I took more frequent, longer walk breaks. Two walk breaks in mile 9, three in mile 10. The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure my knee felt better while I was actually running…it’s a soreness I can push through that’s more pronounced when I walk (especially on stairs). I think this is mental, and I hope the race atmosphere allows me to push through it next weekend.

I took two walk breaks in mile 11, and ran the last .3 miles at sub-13:00 pace. Without intolerable pain. I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do in a race atmosphere.

May 3 Splits

 

After this run we went to the farmer’s market, I had a protein-packed lunch & showered, we had family picture taken, went out for ice cream, and then attended a Kentucky Derby party. We were home and in bed by 9:30, but for the first time during training I didn’t take a nap after my long run, let alone lay around completely useless for the rest of the day.

If anyone reading this has experienced sore knees while running longer distances, is there something you can do to treat it? Friends have suggested KT tape, or a brace….I’m thinking more about some sort of painkiller, since I don’t seem to be injured.