Thursday, May 20, 2010

Error in judgement leads to new determination

Yesterday I ran home from work. Let me say, it was in the mid seventies and gorgeous. My car is on the fritz, as always, and after I picked the SO up, he dropped me off at my workplace and then headed on his way.

Since I work so early in the morning what normally happens is I go to work a little earlier, leave during deadline, rush to get the SO, rush to bring him to work, rush to get back to work to make sure that all of my things for the paper are finished and then I can help other people out if they need it. The night before I asked if it would be okay for him to just drop me off at work (it's only a couple of minutes out of the way) and then I would make it home on my own. He agreed. It worked out perfectly. I picked him up, he dropped me off. I was at work at least 15 minutes earlier than otherwise. Bam, great.

I had more grand plans. Let me tell you that at about 3:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon, an hour after I had left to get home on what was supposed to be a 3.5 mile run, I was regretting my decision.

I had brought workout clothes to change into at work and I had my purse. A water bottle, etc. all the things you need for work and working out. As the time for me to leave drew nearer, I wondered, 'How was I going to get it all home?' I wasn't. I left my purse, brought my wallet and put the keys with the water bottle. Manageable enough. The clothes I left at work. I could pick them up the next day, along with everything I didn't need in my purse. Okay, obstacle one, down.

I headed out after walking to warm up a bit. The course was unknown to me in the way of running. I had mapped it out the night before, 3.5 miles wasn't too far, and it was pretty flat. I drove it all the time, so I should be fine. Well, I should have been fine, but nothing could be easy yesterday, and so I changed my route. At the time, I didn't know that it would be hard. I didn't know I was challenging myself more, but I was.

What I estimate is about a mile into my route, I veered off course. There was a path I passed that followed the river. I thought I knew where the path came out, right by the road I would take up to our neighborhood. It was hot, I was getting hotter (that's what you get when you run at the hottest part of a beautifully sunny day!) and I thought the breeze coming off the water would feel delicious. It did, for about ten minutes. then the lack of trees all along the path that would have been shaded had I stuck to my original route started to wear on me. I figured I had right around 1.75 to 2 miles on this path, I could stick it out. I knew I could.

Time passed, slowly. It felt like I had been on that path for forever! No shade, the breeze had been gone for a while and while the river was lovely with the sun and the trees (that weren't covering the path) and the flowers lining the path, I was tired. Tired from lack of sleep, a long day at work and all the things I wanted to accomplish that afternoon weighing my shoulders down as my wallet and my completely over-sized water bottle pulled on the ends of my arms.

Finally I saw the path coming up to a big curve, a curve I knew met the road near the road I would take home. Relief surged and I turned my then-walking legs into running legs and made it to the end.

Where was I? I had no idea. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings. When things finally settled into context I found out I was a little off course, it turns out I was about 1.25 miles off course! So, since my legs were still the only way I was getting home, I trekked on. I made it home, about 25 minutes slower than I wanted, more tired that I wanted, but with a slight tan from the rays of the sun. I was kind of interested in how far I actually went. I knew it was farther, I just didn't know how much farther. 4.75 miles. I went 4.75 miles! In the heat, in the sun, when I wanted to quit (and when my MP3 player did) and I didn't stop.

If this was a story for the paper tomorrow the headline would read as above: Error in judgement leads to new determination.

I did not have a good afternoon. I was tired and sulky and a little miffed that I caused my extra-long workout, but when I sat down to think about it, did it really matter? I burned more calories, really did enjoy the river even with the extra heat, I just had to walk more along my route due to the heat and the extra distance. I still accomplished what I could when I got home and am no worse for wear today. I proved to myself that I can go further, longer than planned, and I can do it again. Oh yes. I'll be doing it again!

Monday, May 17, 2010

My first 5k!

This is how I looked at the beginning of my 5k, right before they announced it was time for us to go line up. I was nervous. Can you tell? So nervous that instead of my customary oatmeal and banana before a run all I could force down was a banana. A banana is still good, right?

Okay, so the SO and I work up at 6:15. I got dressed, went downstairs and ate my banana, while searching online to see if my bib should go on the front or the back. I didn't want to be laughed at by all the correct bib wearers. I heard it doesn't matter, though if you wear it on the front you can find any race pictures of yourself easier, so that's what I did. I didn't know if there would be race pictures or not, but I wanted to "just in case." (There wasn't, unless you ordered one previously, which I didn't.)

Did I mention I was super nervous? SUPER NERVOUS? My hands were shaking as I put the safety pins through my shirt to hold my bib. Lucky me I didn't poke myself, sheesh. Then I put my chip through my laces, three laces, to be exact. I didn't want that thing coming off. No way, no how. And then, we left. Off to Orange City to join the other 500 people who would be running the race. 500. I thought that was great. Too many people for me to know everyone, but enough for me to follow them when I didn't know where I was going. Did I mention Nervousness? I was very sure that I would lose my way and never come back. Ever.

We got to the race site and I just kept pacing. I was thinking about joining the organized warm-ups, but decided I would stick with what I knew. Butt kicks, jumping jacks, lunges. I felt foolish and didn't do anything except for butt kicks. Stupid Jessica. Next time I'll just do it. I was warmed up enough, but I think it would have just helped me calm down more! Then they called us to lineup. I handed my water bottle and fleece jacket to the SO to hold and left.

As I stood in a group of people waiting for the 10k people to pass before we lined up, I felt calmer. These were all people who were doing the same thing I was. They might be faster, they might be slower, but we were all here to do this.

As the 10k people passed us the organizers shouted instructions. "Make sure you run over the mat to start your chip." "After you get started, move to the right, you don't want to run over the finish line already unless you're hoping for a super fast time." "Run your best race." "Let's make this a personal best." I laughed at the last one. No matter what this would be a personal best for me. My goal? To finish. I kind of wanted to hit under 36 minutes, but I'm a slower runner. That would be shaving a decent amount of time off of my pace, maybe, but to finish, and under 40 minutes, that was my real goal.

If you look past the two lades (who happen to be former classmates, btw) I'm in the green top and gray bottom. Those lovely ladies helped calm me before the race took off. I had looked up the list of people who would be running. I recognized two names (thought it turned out I knew at least ten more people who were there) and they ended up RIGHT next to me as we lined up! They had just run a 1/2 marathon, ran there first 5k last June and were here! Oh was it great. Silly chatting, great talking. Oh, it's time to run!

Those two ladies took off, but rather than keep up with them at a pace I knew I wasn't ready for, I just pushed play on my MP3 player and settled into my pace. I was running. My stomach was in its proper place, and this is what I had down countless times before. I had run this distance, I had run this pace, now all I had to do was keep going. And I did.

The crowd thinned out and I kept my pace up. People who had started a little too strong were taking some walk breaks. People were settling into their pace. And I passed some people! (I did a little dance, mean me). I looked for a few people who were running slightly faster than me, and vowed I would follow them in closely or beat them. That was another goal. We were at mile one! Mile one? Already? Water was there. I wasn't really thirsty but though, hey, this is good, just a swallow. spilled have it on my shirt, part of it in my mouth, took another swig and washed my mouth out. And ran. Always running.

Aside: This course was described as "The course begins and ends at picturesque Windmill Park, winds through residential neighborhoods on hard surface roads and is flat with a few gradual inclines."

Gradual inclines my butt. I should have known as soon as I saw the course went past my old high school that they were liars. The course hills were not "gentle." And when you start up a hill and END up a hill, you should know what you're in for! Luckily I've been training on hills and as I started up the one near the school all I thought was "I get to run down, I get to run down, I get to run down." and it worked. I ran, up, then down and kept going.

I was a little thirsty, but it wasn't terrible. I knew they'd have another water stop at mile 2 and so I just kept pumping my legs. We rounded a corner and I saw a marker for mile 2. I looked for the water stop and saw a lady with a big cooler racing across the street. No. Water. They had run out! So I smiled at the people who held the word "sorry" in their eyes as we went by and kept pumping those legs.

It wasn't hot out. It honestly probably was a perfect race day. There was a slight breeze, the temps were cool and it was clear skies. But that lack of water was getting to me a little bit. Another hill. Then another. I got to the top and walked for about 30 seconds. Rounded another corner and kept going. Took another walk break. Crossed the street and kept running. I heard the girls ahead of me asking each other how far was left. I wasn't sure, but I thought six blocks, I kept that to myself. I didn't want to be wrong and get their hopes up!

Then my guardian angel came. I do say that flippantly in this case. My guardian angel was a man, around age 60, who was telling everyone who passed "Three blocks left." I heard it, smiled a HUGE smile and said thanks and kicked it.

If you look to the far right near the back you can see my green shirt, just rounding the corner.

And then I was through. I tried to remind myself to look up and smile as I crossed, but at that time, my no-oatmeal breakfast caught up to me and I almost stopped right there from a lack of energy, I pushed through, passed the line just over 37 minutes and walked to the left between some trees 'cuz I thought I would puke, not from the hard hard race, but from utter hunger. That's where the SO found me. I came up, big smile on his face, and all I, lovely 'ol' me, clenched his shirt in my hand, said "water" and was rewarded.

Oh how I was happy!

Then we went, grabbed a banana and some OJ. 'Cuz I was gonna faint!

So I finished, I didn't cry like I thought I would, I was too tired and too hungry and too happy. But I finished. I set out a goal and I accomplished it. I have no idea what to say other than I am so proud of myself. I am so excited that it was my first and there will be more. I am so excited that I had the support of my family and friends. I can't wait for my next race. It's July 24, by the way, a 10k this time :D

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The love that shapes me

What makes me happy and makes me feel like I'm in my element and on top of the world, like I can do anything? What pushes me to succeed when I feel like nothing matters, that nothing is worth it and I'm going nowhere?

There are some people who make me feel that way. My family, a few friends, the SO, they believe in me and push me and cherish me. Cherish: To hold dear, to cling to the idea or the feeling of. I love that word. Cherish. It makes me feel held close. It makes me feel warm and comforted. Honestly, the smell of cinnamon wafts through the air when I hear it. (Can you tell it's my favorite spice? I guess that's what makes me feel 100 % me. The knowledge of being safe at home, of the people who care for me allows me to spread my wings.

Would I have been this outgoing if my mother had told me all I could ever be was such-and-such? I don't think I would have had the courage to move far enough away from home that I only see my family a few times a year. If my father had not treated all his daughters with warmth and grace I do not think I would have found a man who loves me like he does who I can love in return. What if my sisters would have never helped me and pushed for my success? I don't think I in turn would be able to reach out to others to try as I can to make their lives, even just a minute of it, any better. And if my friends would not have set out boundaries for me and stuck by me with loyalty and commitment I do not know if I would have reached out to others when I was scared and lonely in new places with no familiar faces.

So many people have not been surrounded by such a wonderful network of people. I am lucky and blessed to have those I can name who surround me and lift me up when I am feeling down, when I have hit rock bottom. When I am convinced I can't do it anymore. When my legs are sore from running and I just want to quit, I hear "I'm proud of you." When I'm tired and I want to quit this journey someone questions me about it. "You look good! How much weight have you lost this far?" And when an acquaintance asks me "What's new?" because they want to hear the running plans they've heard about in passing from someone who loves me, I feel renewed.

Sharing this journey with those who surround me keeps me strong. Laying my plans out and asking for help and guidance pushes me when all I want to do is sit on the couch. I have felt alone, I have felt afraid, but these people keep me going when I don't think I could do it by myself. They have loved me, even when it hurts. I thank them always, even though I don't tell them all the time.

My loved ones have helped me become me. Because of seeing examples of the strength they have, even if they don't know it, I am able to keep on. I have seen the quiet strength that is my father persevere through long days and hard nights when other men have given up. I have seen my mother put a smile on her face and continue through her day when she is in daily pain. I have seen my sister go out and explore the world, leaving all she knew and coming back a stronger and wiser person. I have seen my other sister struggle to smile in a day and still manage to do it because of her incredible strength. I have watched them deal with some impossible circumstances and have seen them come through stronger in faith and stronger in family. I have seen the love shared between my SO and his father, holding on when everyone told them they should let go. And they all have taught me.

Love may not make me richer, but love will fill my life with riches. When things are hard, when I'm running and my legs want to give out, I think of my father and keep moving my legs. When a car passes and the people in it stare, I think of my mother and I smile to show them warmth. When I try a new route and I'm afraid I can't make it, I think of my sister and explore my surroundings. When I'm hurt and I don't know if I can go again, I think of my middle sister and put a smile on my face, my shoes on my feet, and I head out that door. When people tell me not to try, not to push, that it's too far or too fast, I think of the SO and his dad and I hang on to my dream. I run.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Challenges in the mirror

Sometimes the thing that gets me down is the very thing that gets me excited throughout my weight-loss mission. That mirror man, that mirror. I see myself passing and my reflection insists I look fit, trim, ready to go and on top of the world. I see myself passing and the blob isn't recognizable. Who's stomach is that? Wow, those bulges are embarrassing.

My perception of myself often dictates my mood. I know that's not a inspirational thought or something most of us want to think about, but when I feel better about myself I feel able to take on anything. Those three miles? H*** yeahs I can run them. That gardening? You just WATCH me do it. I'll rock this out. I can do anything, be anything. But that other image creeps in sometimes and all the power I have going on just deflates. It's all I can do then to keep on going, to remind myself that I look amazing and I've come so far. But I do.

My last week has been that way. Honestly, what set me off wasn't the mirror, it was a photograph. I photo where I looked lumpy and larger than the me that's in my head. What am I doing in it? Participating in a physical activity. I am on my feet, off my butt helping myself battle the bulge that I don't appreciate in the picture. I am active, I am smiling, I am having a great time. The only thing that's "wrong" is my perception of how I look. I'm not looking at my smiling face, except to comment on my double chin. I'm not looking at my moving feet, but the thighs above them that I'm still not happy with. I didn't think about the activity when I saw the picture, I just thought about how it wasn't enough. How I wasn't enough.

This is the mindset that I'm working on even more than I'm working out or watching the food I put in my mouth. These are the thoughts that aim to prevent me from getting on my feet and out that door and these thoughts are not healthy. They are not helping me reach the goals I'm shooting for and they're not honest to boot. I know I am not a sz. 6. I cannot lie to myself that I am, but I know I'm smaller than I was and my path hasn't come to it's conclusion, yet.

Sometimes I shove the thoughts aside. Sometimes I try to sit down and argue with them. But they are not going to keep me from being healthy. Just because I feel fat does not mean I'm going to eat a pan of brownies. Just because I feel fat does not mean I won't go on a run. It's harder, but every day I learn to deal with negative self talk is another day where I can keep going. Every day is another day, a bright and new creation, a blank slate to make it whatever we want it to be. Today, I want it to be a butterfly, gorgeous, beautiful and flying away from a tight tight cocoon. Butterflies rock.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How life changes

Every now and then I like to look back on where my life has been and where it might be going. So much has happened in the last year when I think about my health. I realized what a destructive path I was on with my eating and exercise habits. I want to be healthy and on this planet for many years to come. I know I can be overweight and still live for many years, but I want as much life in those years as I can get.

I want to be able to think about running down the block and do it. If an idea comes up to go hiking I want to be able to. I want to have less pain, fewer aches and I want to feel better about myself. As time goes on and I continue with this goals I expect them to become a part of who I am.

In eleven months what I wished for has happened. I'm not at my goal weight yet, I may not be for some time, but I'm healthier and happier because I changed my life. A typical week now consists of running 9-10 miles, playing softball or volleyball at least once a week and additional exercise thrown in here and there. I have more energy, I think I need more sleep, but overall, I'm less crabby, less sad and more me.

Sometimes I wish I didn't struggle with my weight. That I didn't overeat unless I watch myself and that I was just naturally thin and athletic. Right now, when I think of where I have come from in less than a year I think of how lucky I am. I know myself and understand the amazing things I can do more than I ever did a year ago. I can run. I can spring even. I can swing a bat and hit a volleyball and I'm putting myself out there to succeed or to fail.

I have more confidence and I know that even if I do fail I have the ability to pick myself up and continue without a breakdown, without losing my sense of worth and my feelings of accomplishment. I don't wish to be fat again, I do not wish to hurt or to feel pain because of some extra insulation around my midsection, but I am glad that through my weight loss and through my journey to health I have learned that I love me, no matter what size I am.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The good, the bad and the pretty

So I'm ecstatic and at the same time really nervous. Let's start with the nervous news. My quads.

The good. I'm playing softball with people at my work this summer. The SO is doing it too and I'm better than I thought I was. I can hit the ball almost every time. I can catch grounders and flys and I'm getting better even though we've only had two practices and one game as of today. The Bad. My base running. My base running isn't even the real problem. My real problem is that every time I start out at a sprint after hitting a line drive down third (it's my sweet spot I guess) then I strain my quads.

The first time it happened was the game last week Tuesday. It hurt. I could tell I strained it and so I just took it easy jogging in and out of right field and didn't run quite as hard from first to second after my at-bat. Then when we got home I iced it and the next morning it was better, probably even better than better, it felt pretty great. I went on a couple runs and stretched and everything and all through last week it was fine.

Then yesterday rolled around. It's practice and I hit a line drive and go. I took off and made it about five steps before I got to do a special hop skip jump to not take another step on my right leg. Quad. Bad. I walked around for a good ten minutes, trying not to break into tears in front of my co-workers. Then I accepted it wasn't going to feel better for a while and decided to head home. Ice. More ice. sleep. This morning they're still stiff, still slightly sore. I'm so not happy. I have a walk planned for this afternoon so I hope that rids my legs of some of their stiffness, but I'm worried.

This just worries me. I don't know what's happening. My runs are fine. Four miles and I'm good to go. With volleyball this winter it was still fine. I had no problems other than getting smacked in the butt with the volleyball after a few off-mark serves. I'm just worried that there is something else going. Something that's wrong and it's just rearing it's head with the sprinting. I'm going to try warming up more before I'm up to bat, keep moving in the outfield and hopefully it's just cold muscles going from 0 to 20 in a second. Tomorrow is our second game, I'll keep you posted!

The pretty. Okay, I'm so super excited I just turned valley girl and I don't think I can really contain the high pitched giggle that may erupt from my mouth. I just bought a jean skirt. It's a pencil skirt, super cute. The SO and I went to the store yesterday. I knew I wanted a jean skirt. I knew it had to come down to my knees and that I wanted it for casual wear this summer. They were having a 30% off sale and I really wanted to find it that weekend so I could get the sale.

We go in, I find the perfect skirt. Problem. It's a sz. 12. I wear a sz. 14. Some are lose, some are tight, but I have a pair of 12's I've been holding onto for three months, just waiting for the day they fit. I knew I wasn't a 12. I took them anyway. I decided I would be a 12 by the middle of the summer and then I could wear them anyway. So I took them home. Went and played softball. Came back home and iced, and in the middle of watching a movie (The Wrestler) during a water break I tried them on. And cried a little. They fit!

I looked in the mirror and it hugs curves, like I think a pencil skirt should. I gave the SO a hug and he laughed at me. I'm funny like that, and then told me he was proud of me. I'm proud of me too, and that skirt? It's pretty cute.