Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

You may have noticed that I haven't participated in very many races this spring, which is something of an anomaly compared to previous years.  It's partly due to the ebb and flow of local races - several that I've done in the past aren't being held this year (Teal Ribbon, Run For Shoes, Downtown Derby/Love Run, SRPH Fun Run, Joe Conway, Rock the Mind) - and partly because I ended up being in North Carolina for two that I was going to run (GLOW run, Girls Just Want to Have Fun run).

The few others that are being held, well...I'm just not sure about.  The Run for Remembrance that we did last year at the TEEX fire training school will be on May 10th this year at 5:00 p.m.  Let me repeat that start time:  5:00 in the afternoon.  In mid-May.  I don't think I want to subject myself to running when it most likely will be super warm AND with the sun beating down on me.  So that race is a probable no.  The chicken race (Ukraine 5K) that we did last year is May 3rd, but it's mostly on grass this time, which I usually avoid because I'm chicken (haha) about turning an ankle on hidden rocks.  There's a color run in a couple of weeks, but really, that was a once-and-done event for me.  And some obstacle runs are coming up, but again, I'm too worried about hurting myself and not being able to run at all to want to do any races like that.

While I mostly enjoyed participating in the local races (aside from that bout of anxiety about racing), I'm not a runner who HAS to do all the races.  So this year looks like I'll mostly be a runner, period.  And I'm OK with that.

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Last week I ran/walked a total of 8.6 miles.  Can you tell I'm enjoying the off-season?  I'm dealing with some pain so I'm hoping that by not pushing it, I can get whatever is bothering me to heal without having to completely take some time off from running.  After a few walk/runs with Jenny, I've come to realize that running feels much better if I've had a good warm-up before I start.  We walk for a mile before running; on Saturday, I stretched for a couple of minutes and jumped right into my run.  Everything hurt (well, not everything, but a lot), whereas it wasn't that bad on Thursday.  So I'm going to make a point to get to the park early on Saturdays and walk a mile before we all gather for our run.  I'd rather set my alarm a little earlier and do that than feel like everything is falling apart during the first mile I run, you know?

Yesterday, it was freezing when Jenny and I met up to walk/run.  We were bundled up like it was the dead of winter instead of mid-April in South Texas:
BRRRR!  It was 41 degrees, with a north wind making it feel even colder!

I will say that the brisk weather contributed to a very good run, though.  We ran our intervals so fast that we couldn't even talk - it was nice to put out that much effort, for a change.  Normally my runs are at a pretty leisurely pace.  What can I say...I'm a relaxed runner!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Aww.

Sweet Civi, the little pet rat we gave our youngest for Christmas just over a year ago, died unexpectedly yesterday morning.  I know many of you aren't rat people, but she was a dear pet with a huge personality and will be greatly missed.  Rats generally only live about three years, but losing her this early is heartbreaking.  She was a brave little thing - shortly after she went to live in her new home, she escaped from her cage and had a grand adventure, culminating in eating a bunch of Goldfish crackers.  Gotta love a pet who ends an escape with a food binge, right?
 Civi liked everyone but especially loved her owner.  I've never seen a rat sleep on someone like she did with our youngest...it was the picture of contentment for both of them when that happened.  I'm sure there will be more pet rats in the future, but Civi won't be forgotten.  RIP little Civ.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Mishmash

Jeff was out of town this week, and I'm trying to make my meals a little more well-rounded (I've been known to eat Greek yogurt for breakfast and dinner many times) and healthier.  I stocked up on ready-to-cook Jenni-O turkey burgers and 100 calorie packs of guacamole, and I also found a kale salad mix at Sam's Club to try:
 
It was good!  I've not been a huge kale fan, but this was shredded enough, plus mixed with other ingredients (shaved brussels sprouts and radicchio) that the flavor didn't seem too strong.

I also filled my fridge with fresh pineapple, cantaloupe and strawberries.  I keep saying that once I'm not training for a half, I should cut back on what I've been eating...and well, my last half marathon was the end of January, so it's time to actually do that, especially now that I'm not traveling to other states where apparently I have to try all the new things.  Did I ever mention how much weight I gained when we moved from California to San Antonio, Texas?  Not only did we get to know our new city via restaurants, we discovered things like chicken-fried steak and gravy, puffy tacos, and all kinds of fried foods.  At least now when I am experiencing food in a new state, I stay away from the fried stuff.  Progress, right?

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It was all things Anchorman 2 last week:
I was so happy to get this!  Then I realized that all the good stuff was on the Blu-Ray DVDs...and we don't have a Blu-Ray player.  Well, not yet - Sam donated his old one to us when he moved, but it's still in Plano.  Soon, Ron Burgandy...SOON.

Jeff also found the ice cream:
Would it be weird to admit I washed out the container after we finished the ice cream and it's now on my collectables shelf?

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Now that life has settled down, I am back to knitting a lot.  I had so many ideas and new yarn that I spent several hours on Ravelry, going through patterns and choosing yarn for them:

Most of these are smaller projects, which are nice to intersperse with the bigger projects that I'm doing (the grassy scarf, the pink shawl, and a top made with Utah-purchased yarn).  I made two baby hats already:
This one look me just over an hour - credit chunky yarn and very large needles!  Pattern is Twisted Taffy hat; yarn is Malabrigo Rasta.

I am in love with the colors of this hat, so much that I want to knit a tiny cardigan to go with it:
Stripes!  Blues and browns!  Ahhh.  Pattern is Chunky Organic Cotton Baby Beanie; yarn is Madelinetosh DK and Vintage in Bloomsbury and Teddy Bear colorways.

Of course, these hats would look immensely cuter if I had a newborn baby to model them.  But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the quick satisfaction of making such cute little things.

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I added a new tab at the top of my blog - Recommended Reading.  I've listed some of my more memorable posts, just in case a newer reader might have missed them.  It was fun zipping through my archives to choose these posts, and made me see how much I've evolved since starting my last diet, and this blog, nearly six years ago.  Dang, I kind of miss those days of newness, when trying on clothes and discovering that things fit was such a wonder, and being surprised at what I was capable of, exercise-wise.  I've said that I started this blog so I could remember all the work I was putting into losing weight and I'm glad I took that trip down memory lane, as I had forgotten a lot of my effort.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

It feels like forever, but really, it ended up only being about 2 1/2 weeks where I didn't formally exercise.  I've had a hard time getting back into the swing of things, which is one reason why I don't like getting out of my routine...I know I should be exercising, I like how I feel when I'm done, but actually doing it?  Struggle city on some days.

Last Wednesday, I got in a good "life catch up" walking session with my first running buddy, Jenny.  We did 2.3 miles and the next day we met again to walk and try a bit of running - although she has some foot/shin issues that made her have to quit running a while back, Jenny wanted to see if we could bring back the magic of our runs.  We walked a 3/4 mile warm up, then ran a mile doing 1:1 intervals, then walked a cool down and ended up covering a total of 2.3 miles, which made me laugh because we took a different route, but apparently that was our number for the week.

On Saturday, nine of us from our running club met for an easy run.  This was the first time Jeff ran since he hurt his foot in January...it wasn't pain-free, which was disappointing for him, but in all honesty he probably overdid it.  Most of us set out together, doing an easy pace at 1:1 intervals.  My shins started hurting right away, which was weird.  I don't normally have shin splints, and they weren't bothering me on Wed/Thurs, so I have no idea what was going on.  It wasn't the most fun run for me until about 1.5 miles in; then the pain calmed down and I felt better.  We ended up doing 3.7 miles.  I like the off season - it's nice to pick a random route and not worry about hitting a certain mile before stopping.  After our run, we had breakfast at Blue Baker where the food and the company were equally good:
 

Yesterday I covered 2.6 miles, ALL BY MYSELF.  I am a social exerciser and I do everything in my power to find someone to run or walk with.  But all of my workout buddies were busy, so I decided to go to scary statue park and mostly walk, but also run a bit, on my own.  I was aiming to leave my house around 7:30 am; I actually left two hours later...hey, at least I finally made it, right?  It wasn't that bad, although I was the only person there except for two groundskeepers and a man sitting in his car...I love that park, but it's a little too desolate when I'm there by myself.  

Now, if I could just get back into doing a workout DVD once or twice a week, that would be peachy...

Monday, April 7, 2014

AIM: Are We There Yet?

This month, my fellow AIMers and I are writing about when we each knew it was time to stop dieting and start maintaining.

Nearly six years ago, when I weighed 256 pounds and started this whole diet/lifestyle change thing, I remember thinking that reaching 138 pounds would be a good goal weight for me - that seems like a random number, but I believe it was the top of what Weight Watchers recommended for someone my height, so I went with it.  I wanted something that was fairly easy to maintain without having to be excessively stringent with my food every single day.  One of the 100-pound-plus loser bloggers that I regularly read at the time was, in my outsider's viewpoint, very thin and had to work very hard at staying that way.  That was not what I wanted out of maintenance.  So I kept that in the back of my mind - I wanted the freedom to enjoy my food without guilt, I wanted to keep off the weight that I'd worked so hard to lose, and I wanted to be normal...not a dieter, not someone who'd recently lost an enormous amount of weight, but just fit in like everyone else.

Of course, all that is fine to say when you are a long way from 138 pounds.  Once I hit 150, I started to reevaluate my goal number, all the while continuing to workout with my trainers, plus I was running on top of that.  I decided to see how hard it would be to get in the 140s, and guess what?  It took a lot of cutting back to get there!  The lowest I got down to was 146 pounds, which sounds like a lot for someone my height, but I looked really small - all of that exercise was a huge factor with giving me a lot of muscle.
Circa July 2010, around my smallest weight.  Also back when I used to dress up, too!

I continued trying to lose weight, which was ridiculous, because what was I trying to prove?  Of course, that was when I was still weighing myself, and even though I looked good, I kept going after a lower number.  My body had other ideas, though - I never got lower than 146 pounds - and eventually I realized that I was doing a really good job of maintaining that weight, so I called it a day with the diet and officially transitioned into maintenance. 

So, to recap:  I never actually reached my randomly-set goal weight.  I never picked a day to begin maintenance; rather, my body decided I was in maintenance.  I didn't actively choose to maintain my weight until I'd inadvertently been doing so for a while.  I took a round-about way to get to there, that's for sure - but I'm very happy that I got to that point, seeing as this was the first time in all of my dieting years that I actually thought beyond the diet. 


AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you'd like us to address - here's the link to our Ask Us (almost) Anything form - click here and ask away!

Friday, April 4, 2014

SLC Recap Part 2, Complete With Amazing Race-Style Ending!

Backtracking a bit from my yarn store escapade and the conference recap, here's some more of what we did on our trip to Salt Lake City.

We had the option of paying $8 per person, each way, to ride the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, or we could pay $2.50 to ride Trax (the light rail system).  We were up for an adventure, so Trax it was:
So much entertainment for two suburban girls!  Amy snuck a picture of the RULEBREAKER with her feet on the seat right next to the sign that says "No Feet on Seats" - people also brought service dogs and bicycles on board (which were allowed).  It was a fun way to get around the city, provided it actually went where we thought it was going!

Amy is into craft beer, so on Friday we walked to Red Rock Brewery for lunch.  As we neared the restaurant, we could see that we needed to cross the street - there was a crosswalk, but no signal.  A woman walking ahead of us got to the crosswalk, picked up an orange flag that was in a tube attached to the crosswalk sign, and walked across the street.  What a clever idea, Salt Lake City!  Naturally, we had to have some fun with it:
Doesn't she remind you of a mama duck, leading her goslings across the street?  Alternatively, you can tell she's an elementary school teacher...

The food at Red Rock Brewery looked amazing.  It was hard to decide what to get, but in the end Amy got the wild mushroom polenta while I got the pear and walnut pizza with a side salad:
We laughed because we went there thinking we'd get the highly-recommended burgers, but both of us ended up going vegetarian.  Our meals were really good.

On Saturday, we decided to try another brewery for lunch.  Amy picked one and mapped it out; once we broke from the morning sessions, we hightailed it to Bayou.  Wouldn't you know it, after walking nearly a mile, we got there only to find it closed for lunch on the weekends.  Gah!  So we turned around and zipped over to Squatters - nothing like burning some extra calories before you eat, right?  Squatters was great!  We learned the previous day that you can't order a flight of beer to sample in Utah - the most you can get is two at a time.  Our waitress was pretty cool and brought the three samples that Amy wanted to try all at once - she just put the extra one in front of me to comply with the rules. 
Apparently I was carb-hungry that day, as I ordered a fresh hot pretzel to share, plus my salad was plated on Navaho fry bread.  Yum and yum!  No picture of the pretzel because it was demolished too quickly.  All that walking, you know...

Once we were finished with the afternoon sessions at the conference, we decided to walk over to Temple Square, where the huge Mormon temple is located.  The gardens were gorgeous:
The close up on the bottom left is actually tiny-sized daffodils.  This area had tons of flowers, a huge water feature, cherry trees in full blossom and a large reflecting pool.  Really, really pretty.

We also saw the Temple, and never in my life have I felt so underdressed.  There were scores of women and girls of all ages around us, and just about every one was wearing a skirt or dress, with their hair and make up done.  I later found out that there was a big woman's conference going on that day, which explained the plethora of women.  We took a few pictures at the Temple, but didn't attempt to take any tours there because of time constraints:
 Amy at the LDS Temple.

We went to the mall afterward - it was right across the street.  Amy was looking for something to wear to dinner that night, so we tried on some clothes at H&M - first time for both of us to shop there.  She ended up finding a cute top at Loft, and I'm reminded of how much I wish there was one in our town - such cute clothes, such great sales!

The next morning, we took the Trax back to the airport - this time, helping three other USAFit ladies who'd taken the more expensive shuttle when they arrived.  At that point, we were old pros at it, showing them how to buy their tickets, etc.  Shortly after we got there, we saw that our flight was delayed by nearly an hour.  No worries - we had a huge layover at D/FW.  We had lunch and waited.  Then we decided that Starbucks sounded good, so I left Amy with our carry-on luggage and made the trek four terminals over to get our drinks.  As I was walking there, I heard some high school girls exclaim "look, SNOW!" - and yes, it was snowing, if you tried to see it hard enough.  Mostly just light rain.  By the time I got back to Amy, who was sitting with her back to the window and hadn't noticed the weather, it was definitely snowing.  Which was NOT in the weather forecast that morning - I'd checked!
Iced venti nonfat latte in hand, snow in background.

Eventually, the gate attendants announced that because of the delay and the full flight, they'd check any of our carry-on bags for free, so we happily surrendered our bags - how nice that we wouldn't have to drag them around D/FW during our layover, right?  We watched them get loaded onto the plane...they sat outside long enough that some of my clothes were wet when I opened it at home:
Amy's bag is the black and yellow one going up first; mine is the red one near the end (just in case you needed to know that pertinent information, haha).

The flight crew was near us, and I heard them talking to the gate attendants about being good to go with the weather.  I didn't think much more about it until we got on the plane...and sat there.  Finally they announced that we needed to be deiced before we could take off.  We first taxied to one area where the deicer man in a truck came out and sprayed the engines; then we went to the main deicing area where the entire plane was sprayed - first with an orange solution, then with a green solution.  By the way, I've decided that one of the most miserable jobs has to be a plane deicer - the poor guy was out in the wet snow, in a bucket on a truck, holding a hose of whatever chemicals they use...that cannot be fun:
...and now I know what it takes to deice an airplane.

As you can imagine, this all took a while.  I kept looking at the clock, and calculating how long our flight was supposed to take vs. when we were supposed to board our flight to College Station - which, incidentally, was the last flight there for the evening.  Yep, living in a small town does not get you a lot of flight options.  We finally took off around 5:00 pm SLC time, which was 6:00 pm Texas time.  The flight was scheduled to take two hours and thirty-five minutes, and our next flight was scheduled to board at 8:30 pm, so after landing at D/FW and taxiing to the gate, we'd miss our flight.  Here's our faces once we realized this:
Great.  We're going to miss our flight and end up spending the night in the airport.
But we quickly saw the absurdity of the situation - there was nothing we could do except laugh at this point, which we did...

The flight was pretty uneventful, although I did get to hold a baby(!!!) for a while.  At one point, I remarked to Amy that it felt like we were speeding - I don't know why I thought that, except for the engine noise, maybe?  It made sense, though, if the pilot could get us there quickly, as most of the passengers had connections that they were going to miss.  And sooner than I expected, they announced we'd be landing, and gave out the gate connections - we were going to taxi to a gate in the C terminal and had to get to the B terminal via Skylink (their monorail).  We had hope!  We might actually make our flight!  It was then that we realized we'd checked our running shoes when we let go of our carry-on bags, and we'd have to run in our Danskos, oof.  At least we only had to deal with our USAFit backpacks, instead of dragging our bags. 

It really felt like The Amazing Race - we got off the plane as quickly as we could (which wasn't all that quick seeing as we were in row 26) - it was 8:27 pm.  We sprinted through the terminal to the escalator, got to the Skylink just as a train was arriving, and got on, where we had a couple of minutes to catch our breath before arriving in terminal B.  We got off and sprinted again...let me just say speedwork has never been a favorite thing of mine, but I'm glad I can turn on the afterburners when I need to!  We got to the gate, and it was the weirdest feeling to see no one but the gate attendants there.  They checked us in and we got on the plane:
WHEW!!!  We were spent.
Now this is the look of relief.  Two thumbs up for making our connecting flight home!

About 45 minutes later we were back in College Station.  What a wild end to our Salt Lake City adventure!  By the way, despite what we did, these are NOT running shoes:
Two-inch platforms, rigid soles...pretty to look at, but I never want to run in mine again!

One last picture of The Amazing Racers with our backpacks:
Home at last!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WWU - USAFit Organizer's Conference Recap

As many of you know, I've been a member of USAFit since 2010 - I joined our local club when I was training for my first half marathon, and never wanted to leave.  USAFit started 25 years ago in Houston and has expanded all over the United States - their general philosophy is to be safe and have fun while changing your life as you challenge yourself with running whatever distance you choose to train for.  Of course I'm all about the fun when it comes to our running club, so no wonder this has been such a good fit for me.  USAFit holds an Organizer's Conference once a year and since I'm an organizer, I got to go.  I brought Amy with me as she's interested in taking on more of a leadership role with our club eventually, and am I ever glad she came!  Not only did we have many adventures during the course of the three-day event, but it helped to have someone to walk into the room with...I'm a pretty shy person and it was intimidating at first, especially because so many people have been coming to this event for years and they all seemed to know each other.

The first event was a social hour on Friday evening.  We were nervous going into this, but the National Program Director, Debbie Mercer, greeted us with a hug and made us feel welcome.  We got a drink and some appetizers and schmoozed our way around the room, eventually meeting up with the peeps from USAFit Montgomery, which is another small group on the outskirts of Houston.  This was the group whose member, Amy, ran the USAFit Half Marathon in January, and who had the signs that said "GO AMY!".  Our Amy told them how much she appreciated the signs, and I asked that they please include my name next year, lol.  We hung out with them and a couple other ladies for a while longer, and then a lot of the group left to continue the party, while we went upstairs to our rooms - we'd had a very early start to our day and were pretty tired.

The next morning, we went downstairs to the conference room, where we had a small continental breakfast and then the meetings began.  It was nice to put faces to names, and get to know in person the people I've only dealt with online (for creating the schedule, or updating our website/Facebook page, and the graphic designer).  We broke for lunch, and then in the afternoon they had a couple of seminars - one was on race walking and the other was on a pretty intense cross-training program; neither of which we will be doing with our group.  They also had a shirt exchange - generally you end up with extra program shirts at the end of your training season, so the organizers brought their shirts to trade.  I only had three unclaimed shirts, but many of the bigger groups had a bunch.  Amy and I each got several shirts, plus I grabbed one for Jeff.  It was fun to see all the different designs that other groups chose and possibly steal some ideas for our shirt this season.
Clockwise from top left:  Breakfast on day one; shirts laid out for the exchange; the view from the back of the room; Amy beating the men during the racewalk demo!

We had a few hours off in the late afternoon on Saturday, and then we reconvened for dinner.  It was fun to compare stories with other USAFitters, and toward the end of the meal we were asked to share any inspirational stories about our members from the previous season.  My shyness took over and I couldn't bring myself to stand up and talk, but I would have talked about our youngest member, Love, if I had been brave enough to address the crowd.  After dinner a bunch of people left to go out again - I swear, I don't know where they get that kind of energy!  I was ready to relax in my room.

On our last morning, breakfast was scheduled for 8:00 am with a Q&A session beginning at 9:00 am.  Amy and I weren't enthralled with the breakfast or the coffee from the previous day, so we decided to go to Beans and Brews, a local coffee roaster.  Only (and good thing we checked ahead of time) the nearest location was closed on Sunday!  On our way out of the hotel, we found Michelle from Montgomery and Scott from Katy, so we all set out together.  Scott suggested a French bakery that he went to the day before.  Perfect!  Off we went, only to find that it was closed:
Oh, we were sad.  Scott talked this place UP as we were walking to it.

Guess what WAS open in Downtown SLC on Sunday?  Starbucks.  Nice, dependable Starbucks.  We sat for a while, with our coffee and scones, and quizzed Scott about how he runs his program - it's very different from ours and Michelle's as he has well over 600 members.  I got some good ideas that I think will translate well to our smaller group, plus Scott was pretty funny to hang with.  We went back to the conference before 9:00, but discovered that they had started the Q&A session already.  They were talking sponsorships, which was the one thing I was really interested in, as I didn't do anything with that last season (shoot, we were lucky to get the program up and running with the short time-frame we ended up having).  So that was a little frustrating, to know we'd missed about 45 minutes, but we were going by their schedule.  I think this was the most informative part of the entire conference, actually...at least for us and where we are with our program.  We had to cut out of the session a little early in order to get to the airport; maybe next year they can schedule this on Saturday so more attendees can participate - we weren't the only ones who had to leave early. 

We were given some goodies for coming to the conference - a nice backpack that ended up being perfect for traveling home, a conference t-shirt (I misjudged the sizing and mine is a little big, oh well), and we each got a Fuel Belt handheld water bottle or belt (they randomly set each one at our places while we were up watching a demonstration and I lucked out with getting the belt - I've been thinking about going back to using one so this will be nice to have):
Organizer perks - sweet!

Overall, this was a great experience and I'd probably go again next year, depending on the location (it changes each year).  I came into it thinking that ours was one of the few smaller groups but discovered that there are more like us than I realized; I just wish we could have had a dedicated time for like-sized groups to exchange ideas.  Maybe that will happen next year.