Sunday, September 29, 2013

How Running is like Teaching...and Teaching is like Running. PART TWO

Every since I was a little child, I had a fascination with the process of writing.  Going into kindergarten, I could absolutely not wait to start writing (and reading). It was like magic to me. I loved just putting pen to paper. It was therapeutic. However, like many young children eager to read and write, school eventually turned me off to writing. The mechanics and grammar of it all were certainly not for me. To be honest, neither was the creativity of it all.

Eventually, I realized that even though I hated writing in school, I still loved to put pen on paper. So, I settled on list making. Obsessive, somewhat compulsive (alright, really compulsive) list making. I mean, really...what type of writing could be better for a type A, control oriented personality like mine. So I would make lists for everything. Places I wanted to see, things I wanted, lists of favorites, lists about lists to make (ok, not really, but you get the point). I also loved making lists of goals. Now, I'm talking here 2nd and 3rd grade. As summer drew to a close, and the new school supplies would be bought, I would spend my days making lists of goals for the new school year (this would also be repeated as December 31st came into view each year). Goals for extra curricular activities, goals for grades (as a teacher I now shudder at this), and goals for things to do. This became a ritual before every school year.

Many years ago while cleaning out my room prior to moving to Maine, I stumbled upon a very old notebook with some of my "goals lists" in it. I had to laugh at myself. It was so compulsive...and SO nerdy! But it is also something I've come to terms with.

I am an extremely goal-oriented person. To fault at times. This is also why running, and teaching, have been so good for me. They are both about goal setting. Plan, Do, Check, Adjust. Repeat. For the rest of my life (kidding...kind of...).

Last week in Kindergarten Land, I was tasked with the job of making individual goal setting and team work tangible to 4 and 5 year olds. We had spent the last few weeks coming up with our classroom code of cooperation (rules) and unpacking the nitty gritty of what each "rule" meant. Now, students would be choosing one "rule" to work on each week as their individual goal, with support from the team. The answer to this task was pretty obvious. Relate it to running.

So, I brought it some of my race medals, and a few pictures of my trackies/sole sisters at races. I told my kids about my running, passed around my medals that I earned from setting my individual goals, and then told them that I could NEVER have met my goals without the support of my team. I showed them the pictures of my trackies and introduced them to Miss. Alice and Miss. Audrey...and even to Miss. Jim, Miss. Scott, and Miss. Todd (just kidding Jim, Scott and Todd...I said Mr...although it was tempting to say Miss...). They were in awe. I told them we had a team name - "trackies" and that for our next race, we are even going to have team colors - our orange flowers from Fellow Flowers and our white/green track club singlets. We spent the rest of the week voting on our classroom team name (yea, we are "The Cool Kids Club") and our team colors (blue and green baby!). It was an AMAZING week. They were SO supportive of each others goals. On Thursday, I let a little tear of happiness fall as one of my little rough and rowdy scrappers noticed a friend following our code and started yelling "HEY - YOUR FOLLOWING THE CODE - GREAT JOB."
Trackie Love has invaded kindergarten!

Our Code/"Cool Kids Club" board, decorated with "Code
Catchers" Certificates and some of my race medals! 
So, our classroom is now decorated in "The Cool Kids Club" signs, blue and green team pendants, my race medals, and pictures of my trackie loves. This week, we will be making team pattern bracelets out of our team colors. My kiddos will set new behavior goals, and we will begin the long endeavor of setting and monitoring academic goals. They get it.

And then I thought...WHOA.'s two weeks till marathon day. What the hell is MY goal? If you had asked my 2 months ago, I would have said in a second, "Boston Qualifier." But not anymore. Partially because of all those people who qualified and still didn't get in. But also because this has been the most AMAZING training cycle ever. Which is funny, because I said that about the last cycle. How lucky am I that it just keeps getting better.

This cycle has been amazing because of the company. Alice, Audrey, Jim, Todd, Scott, Steve and Deb - you have made this cycle an unreal amount of fun for me. Running is not a chore, or something I HAVE to do. It is something I GET to do. Our runs are therapeutic. They are hysterical. And, they are very inappropriate.

This cycle has been amazing because of how I've felt. After my hip went out of whack a few days before GCI, I knew I had to do something. I started a hip/core regiment 3 days a week and the stability/strength I've gained from it has been unreal. I can feel it propelling me up hills and keeping me strong on 20 mile runs. And, I am down to monthly chiropractor visits, with no pain in between.

This cycle has been amazing, because, for the most part, it hasn't been about goals. It's been about feeling good and having fun, just like we've been doing in my classroom. Making goals FUN and rewarding...not WORK. And if that has been the goal, then man oh man, I've arrived.

So, what is the goal for Hartford? To feel awesome. To finish strong (I really want that "one mile victory lap" that Bob has been coaching us to have at mile 26). To have an unbelievable amount of fun with my loves. To make memories. To not get swept up in a time goal. To run on HEART RATE...because I know that if I run on heart rate, I will run a comfortable, enjoyable race. And, to enjoy the 26.2 mile reward that will mark the end of this training cycle...and, inevitably, the beginning of the next....

So, here's to you sole sisters! (And "Jem!"). Let's rock this 26.2! We are ready!

Sole Sisters helping me celebrate birthday #29!
Wearing our UNITE Fellow Flowers!

Deanne, Alice, Aud and I will be sporting this flower at Hartford in 2 weeks! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Long Run

Today was our last 20 miler of this training cycle. Marathon day is in four weeks, and all we have left are a 16 miler, 12 miler and the Maine Marathon Relay (6-8ish miles, not to be raced). This has certainly been one of my favorite training cycles yet. We have had many long run Saturdays where we have had 7-8 people running and it has been an absolute blast. We all start and finish together, but the miles in the middle are our own game, because we all train on heart rate.

Our long run plan is 10 beats below lactate, with the middle miles at 5 beats below lactate, or marathon pace. This summer, this has typically been between 8:25 - 8:40ish pace for me, depending on the heat and humidity (one of the heat wave days my heart rate pace had me at about 9min/miles for the long run..phew!).

This morning, Alice and I set out alone on our last 20 (we missed all of our long run buddies today!). It was perfect running weather, despite the high humidity at the start. I had an issue with my breakfast this morning, and wound up gagging and burping it up over the friggin' toilet 20 minutes before our run. Please note - I did NOT buy any bananas for breakfast this week...even the thought of one right now is still making me nauseous. Luckily, I pulled through and went to meet Alice. The nausea continued for nearly the first 8 miles of the run, along with 3 miles of an unusually high heart rate. Usually, my HR spike for about 1-1.3 miles when I start running, and then drops. 3 miles of this was very unusual (I blame it on the nausea). After 3 miles, it finally dropped down to 10 below lactate. Mile 6 was a pleasant recovery mile, my HR dropping to 148 - 20 beats below. This may have been one of my only training runs where my heart rate consistently dropped as the miles ticked by, while my pace got faster. The last 4 miles, my legs felt great..and my HR cooperated. My last mile was near marathon pace, at 7 beats below lactate! WOOHOO!

The Last 20 Before Hartford!

As Alice said, this run was definitely a big confidence booster for both of us. The pace was very comfortable, even on some pretty beat up legs. My lactate runs are done for this cycle, and I should only have two track workouts left (two large ladders). The rest of my runs the next two weeks are easy level 2 runs (10-15 beats below lactate for the entirety). I feel like most of the hard work is behind us, and from here on out it is just maintenance and remaining healthy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lake Auburn Half Marathon

So, before I can even get into any type of race report here, let's just discuss how AWESOME it is that this race directly benefits my students. The Lake Auburn Half Marathon raised money for our "Backpack Program" that provides kiddos with food over the weekends and vacations when school meals are not available. Last year, I had four kiddos participate in this program, and I anticipate just as many participating this year. So, THANK YOU LAKE AUBURN HALF MARATHON!

Now, onto the race report. The course is a fairly challenging course - hilly, a mix of road and dirt trail and a super crowned road from miles 5-7. It is the perfect race for testing your fitness right before an October marathon. The weather this year was perfect - low 60s with a refreshing rain from miles 2-6ish. Ya know what else was perfect - the trackie love.

The race plan was to run miles 1-7 at lactate (168) then miles 7-11 three-four beats above lactate (being careful on the steady climb from miles 9-10.5ish), then giving it my all from 11 to the end. That didn't happen. But at least it didn't happen for a good reason! My heart has **finally** beat out my legs (in good running weather conditions where I am not dying of dehydration). My legs couldn't move my body fast enough to get above lactate and stay there. In races prior, all it took was one mile above lactate, or one hill that pushed me above lactate, and that was it - I never dropped below. Fingers are crossed that I am beyond that. I hope my legs have enjoyed the last few months of training, because after Hartford, they are not going to now what hit them. I can't avoid strength training anymore, it is my obvious next step.

Split Elevation Gain Elevation Loss Avg Pace Avg HR
1 56 53 7:23 169
2 77 42 7:24 169
3 20 60 7:21 168
4 29 19 7:31 167
5 25 40 7:21 165
6 33 31 7:17 172
7 33 59 7:23 166
8 6 0 7:20 170
9 22 23 7:20 164
10 101 30 7:50 169
11 26 15 7:36 169
12 0 95 7:22 161
13 84 57 7:23 174
14 0 0 7:03 181
 Summary 512 525 7:25 168

My overall finish time was 1:38:12, good enough for 7th female overall and 1st in my age group. I was really pleased with not only my time, but also how I felt during this race. I felt strong at the end and was able to kick it in the last quarter of a mile (my garmin said 13.25 miles overall). I tried out a new nutrition/hydration plan during this race and I think it also may have made a difference. Typically, I only use 2 gus on a half (one before and one half way)...this time I used 4 (one before, mile 4, mile  8 and mile 10.5). I also made sure to drink at every mile marker, as this is the plan I hope to use for hydration at Hartford (in 33 days!).

Finishing it up.. 

First place in my age group.
A bag of yummy apples and a new chocolate milk mug.

Race Bling...need to learn how to make apple pie or apple crisp now! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Post that Kinda Hurts to Write...

I'm putting a lot of myself out here on this one...I'm a little nervous...but it is time...

Bob on WMTW the morning of the Lake Auburn Half Marathon
(borrowed from the LAHM facebook page). 

See this guy here. He kinda rocks. He is my coach. Not only is he an amazing athlete and race director, but he is also a straight shooter. He calls it like it is. There is no sugar-coating when working with Bob. It is, what it is. 

I've been training with him for a little over 2 years now, but have been running with the Tuesday night track group he coaches for 6 years now. He has taught me how to run without my shoulders touching my ears and without swinging my arms across my body (still a little work to go on this front). 

But his biggest contribution to my running hasn't been to my running form, or his pushing me out of my comfort level by scheduling me on crazy lactate runs (even though those have been of killer benefit). Nope. His greatest contribution has been to my diet, and hence, my overall health. 

Right after I started training with Bob, I scheduled a consultation with him(courtesy of Donna - thank you!) to have him help me with my diet. I knew I ate junky food and in way too much quantity. I knew my diet was bad. But I kept getting stuck in the same rut - count the calories...try to be the over-achiever and reduce by more (type-A personalities can relate to this)...end up overeating a few days later. I needed a wake up call. 

I got it. (Thanks Bob). 

He started by taking my weight (145 - my highest, I wanted to cry) and then by taking measurements of my belly, legs, arms, everything you could think of. But then, the real kick in the gut came. The look on his face when he took my body-fat measurement is burned in my head to this day..and I NEVER want to see that look again. Honestly, it hurts too much to even write the number here, but let's just say it was VERY high...I had no muscle...I was a jiggly blob of 145lbs. You may think that it harsh, but that is how I felt. If I thought I wanted to cry upon seeing my weight, now I really wanted to cry. And like I said before, there was no sugar-coating. My body fat measurement was way too high. 

So Bob gave me a lesson in weight loss 101. Don't count calories. Make 5 "eating rules" for yourself and follow them. Focus on eating when your hungry, eating quality food, and keeping a healthy proportion of protein to starch each time you eat. 

I did great for about 3 weeks. And then failed. Again. But the seed was planted. I was not happy and I felt like crap. But I kept researching online about nutrition. I have come to call this next year in my life my "gathering information phase." Then, a year later, it all clicked...and I haven't looked back since. This past week, nearly 2 years and 3 months after that dreadful meeting with Bob, I have finally hit my goal weight Bob gave me. 127 lbs. And, I did it all safely. No starvation. No skipping meals. No depriving myself (you do NOT want to know how many trips I took to The Whole Scoop for ice cream this summer). 

People who have seen my transformation over the last year or so may think I have an ego right now. And (I am sorry for this...), but I do. I am damn proud of myself. From the 14 year old girl who hid food (not well either, I thought I was so sly, I know mom knew), used any excuse to skip a meal and refused to go hang out with friends for fear that there would be food there - I have come a long way. My hands shake and my heart is beating out of control as I write this...but I know it's time. It's time to recognize the journey, and the ups...and the downs...that have brought me to this point.

 I do not remember what made to eat again 2 years was very similar to the switch that went on last year when I knew I had to change my eating habits. It just happened. All of the sudden. Too fast. And then...I struggled the other way. Overeating. Too much. The cycle of not eating, overeating lasted until my move to Maine..and from then on it was just overeating. 

But ya know what. That cycle is done. And I am confident it is done. I feel great. I eat when I'm hungry now...not because I am sad, upset, name any emotion here. And I don't deprive myself. Food is my energy source. I have a healthy relationship with food. And yes, I am proud of myself. I actually enjoy food now too, instead of just "enjoying eating" (not sure I would call it enjoying...but I thought I needed was a drug). 

I have no idea why today was the day where I needed to get this off my chest, but it felt right. Maybe it was seeing that 127 on the scale this week and knowing it was a good number for my health and that I was healthy. Maybe it was because I ate ice cream three times this week and didn't feel guilty about it one little bit. Maybe, it was because I keep running into more and more people who are struggling with food, in one way or another, and my heart goes out to them in a way I cannot describe. I've been there. I get it. You are not alone. And as I sit here, finishing this post, my hands are still shaking. And I am just hoping, that maybe, just maybe, someone out there will read this, and it will make them think. Life is too short. Take care of yourself. And, don't be afraid to be proud. Ever. 

Me at 16. Near my lowest. 

At my heaviest...a picture
I've shared before.
Running the Lake Auburn Half today.
127. Bob's goal for me. HEALTHY!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Veggies Galore

One of my big goals this summer was to get my garden up and running. Sadly, it never happened. We need to replace the old fence, completely clean out in between the boxes (and the boxes themselves) and need new soil for six huge boxes. This was not in the budget for this summer. However, it WILL be priority number one come next spring. We have already started taking down the old fence and will be digging up the old fence posts shortly. If we can get it cleaned out this fall, I am hopeful to get most of the boxes planted next spring.

Because honestly, we need to. Since Nate got on board with the veggie eating, our grocery bill has skyrocketed. I am buying double the veggies we did a month ago, not to mention the crazy amount I spend on fruit each week.

Veggies were never eaten in big quantities in our house, as dinner was always a struggle. We aren't big meat eaters - chicken maybe once a week, my cooking skills are limited at best, and we always tended to rely on meals heavy with pasta. It took me 11 months of transitioning to a clean(er) diet to figure dinner out. But now, I think I'm moving in the right direction. I have been trying to live by the rule of 80% - 80% of my diet is clean, unprocessed food. With the exception of the starch that we have with our vegetables (quesadillas, panini bread, pizza dough) and dairy products which I refuse to give up as as a runner (I do eat them in portions now though!), I am now happy to say that our 20% is mostly only dining out meals, and even those choices have changed considerably.  Everything we eat at home is pretty darn healthy. Here are a few of our new favorite cleaned up dinners...

Veggie pizza on the grill! DELICIOUS! We use the multigrain dough from Hannaford.
My side is the spinach side! 

The final product. Spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers and chia seeds.
Sometimes, I don't use sauce on my half, but put hummus down instead. It's yummy! 

Veggies quesadillas on the panini maker! Spinach, tomatoes, green pepper, mushrooms and avocado! 

I forget to take a picture of these loaded with veggies before I cooked em up!
Paninis on multigrain bread with spinach, tomato avocado and mozzarella. These are super yummy! 

We pair the quesadillas and paninis up with a yummy salad for extra veggies as well! My favorite part about these veggies meals - they are SUPER quick and easy. By the time I get home from school and squeeze my run in, I am ravenous and have little time for meals with long prep/cook times. These 3 meals are done in less than 20 minutes. If you have any super easy meals with tons of veggies, please send them my way! I'm ready and willing to try!