“Sh$t just got real”

This is what Aaron said to me this afternoon after work when he saw the results from the week one weigh in for “The Hungry Games” weight loss challenge we’re apart of. I hadn’t seen the results yet of the 50+ people who are competing for a chance at some serious cash.

When I weighed myself this morning, I was very surprised and happy that I weighed two pounds lighter than my initial weigh in. I was hoping a day of horrible eating and six days of not so perfect eating mixed with some workouts here and there didn’t leave me disappointed. But after seeing that some friends had lost an impressive amount of weight the first week and seeing several people losing three and four percent (weight loss), I became not as proud of my success. Then I started thinking about all the things I didn’t do enough of or could have not consumed. I could have pushed myself more to workout on the days I just wanted to loaf around (thank you polar vortex). I shouldn’t have had that piece of cake at work on Monday. But, then I looked back at all the small changes I made and stuck with since the start. I’ve tracked my food intake every day since the new year, which has helped me make myself more accountable for my food choices. And, by doing so I did hit the goal of losing two pounds a week that I have My Fitness Pal set to. And I’ve been hitting my water intake goals while at work all week. (96 oz of water a day minimum)

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So, after hearing Aaron say we need to buckle down and get serious (not that I haven’t been, but I definitely knew I can improve in areas), I felt like doing this wasn’t going to be this daunting and impossible task. If,individually and together, we focus on collectively eating even better and working out more, we can continually have success over the remaining 11 weeks.

I have to constantly remind myself that this is only the first week. Weight loss isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I’m not on The Biggest Loser and am working out with professional trainers 10 hours a day. I live in the real world. I have to schedule and plan my workouts and meals. It’s gonna be hard work, and I know that I will feel like caving in and giving up when times get tough. But I need to remind myself that I once before shed 50lbs. I can do this again and reach my goals.

So, this next week I am challenging myself to get the workouts in (no excuses) and get back on the running bandwagon. Hoping this, along with continuing to track my food intake, I can have another successful week on the scale!

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What motivates you to keep going to reach your goals? Do you evaluate your progress and modify your strategy?

Fallen off the radar.

I know I’ve fallen off the radar on this here blog. The last time I posted was after my second week of Indy Mini training.

Well, I am proud to say I completed the Indy Mini (my 5th half marathon), and helped my good friend Celina complete her FIRST half marathon! I am super proud of her for this awesome accomplishment.

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Indy Mini 2013 finishers!

Post-race I told her that Indy was gonna be my last half marathon. My reasoning behind it because I felt like the longer distance running was starting to take a toll on my knees. Plus, I really wanted to focus on getting more fit overall. Running is a great cardio workout, but it isn’t gonna sculpt and tone my upper body. I wanted to start weight lifting and focus on toning up and leaning out. She had expressed interest in running another half or bigger race. I suggested that we do the Akron Marathon relay.

But as the weeks passed post Indy and I read more about my CLE friends getting ready to run the CLE marathon, I began to get the “itch.” I had originally contemplated running the CLE half since it was two weeks after Indy, but I decided against it since the race entry fee was just too expensive. After looking more into the Akron Relay, I realized that we would need two more people (not one like I had originally thought) to complete our relay team. When I saw the Akron half marathon shirt for this year’s race I knew I had to run the half. Cute shirt aside, I knew I’d regret on race day if I didn’t run the half.

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Isn’t the half shirt SUPER cute?! Just hope guys like pink too!

So, I convinced my friend Celina to sign up for the half instead, along with her beau. She totally called me out on reneging on my “I’m not gonna run another half” statement. Hey, once you get a taste of the kool-aid, you want more. 🙂

Half marathon training officially begins July 8. I’m gonna be incorporating speedwork into my training this go around which is something I’ve never done before, but my main goal this summer is to regain some of my speed. So that means learning to do a track workout and running with others who are faster than me to help improve my speed. I still plan on lifting during my training. I have learned to love lifting weights, which is something I’d never thought I’d get into.

Until July 8, I’m gonna continue lifting 6 days a week with spinning Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and running Tuesday and Thursdays. Yeah, two a day workouts are gonna be rough in the beginning, but I’m putting my serious face on this summer to improve my overall fitness. And this half marathon training is gonna be balls to the wall, no excuses.

I know what I’m capable of and I’m not gonna get in my way of accomplishing my goals.

Yes, I am still here.

I know its been a VERY long time since I’ve posted. This bloggy has been put on the back burner this summer/fall due to living life.

So let me catch you up real fast!

June: I changed career paths. I left the newspaper world and joined a photography studio that is part of Lifetouch as a photographer. I still take photos, but in a much more relaxed and enjoyable environment. I get to photograph awesome high school seniors, high schoolers and a variety of other people. I work with some pretty cool and talented photographers. 🙂

July: Aaron and I ventured to Punta Cana to celebrate his brother’s wedding and have a vacation at the same time. It was my first time traveling out of the country and definitely was enjoyable! You can see more about my trip here.

August/September: These two months are such a blur of team sports days and school photo days I don’t think anything monumental occurred.

October: If you haven’t noticed, in the previous months not too much has been mentioned in the way of health and fitness. While getting adjusted and learning a lot in my new job, I tried my best to sneak work outs in when I could. After a disappointing CLE half and only running two 5ks over the summer (both must-do races of the summer for me), I needed to take a hiatus from running because I was simply burned out. But this hiatus kind of turned into a way for me to make an excuse not to work out regularly. Knowing that I needed to get whipped back into shape if I wanted to be able to survive half marathon training for spring, I decided to try something completely different.

Enter in INSANITY.

After hearing my friend Allie rave and go on and on about how awesome this program is, I knew I needed to give this a try. She graciously let me borrow her copy of the 60 day workout program. I knew that if I wanted to transform my body and get into better shape, I had to fully commit to doing this workout 6 days a week (Sundays are the “off” day.).

So thats what I did. After a week or two of being intimidated of starting the workout program, I put in the first DVD and took the fit test. Image

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The fit test measures your cardio and core strength. You have one minute to perform as many reps of each move as you can. You take the fit test every three weeks to see your progress. After taking the fit test the first day I knew the work outs where definitely gonna challenge me, but make me stronger, improve my cardio endurance.

November: I signed up for a 4 mile race a few days before hand because it was an all women’s race and I knew Allie would be running it as well. I had run a 5k the weekend before but hadn’t run since. I was a little nervous since I hadn’t run 4 miles since May, but knew I could manage the distance. The day of the race the course changed from 4 miles to a 5k due to flooding on the part of the course from Superstorm Sandy. Phew! Saved me a bit there. It was an out and back race (ugh!). I felt the first mile out was really slow, but when I looked down at my watch it was just over 10 minutes (holy hell! TOO fast!). Of course the last two miles were slower, but I was able to finish two minutes faster than my 5k the previous weekend. The small push I was able to give at the end was awesome! It was this little burst of energy that came out of nowhere! I was able to visualize powering down the stretch, lifting my knees high and using my core. Which is exactly what you do during the warm up for Insanity. I could definitely feel the affects of Insanity in my running during the race.

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Allison and me before Women Who Run

Skip to three weeks later and the Cleveland Turkey Trot 5 mile race. The week leading up to the race I maybe ran a total of three miles. Um, yeah, definitely NOT the ideal way of preparing for a distance I haven’t touched since May. But, I had progressed through one month of Insanity, so I knew I could run this race. My goal was just to finish.

The morning of the race I was still feeling the fun of the festivities I partook in the night before. I told myself if I could finish this race in under an hour it would be a success!

Running with 6,000 people in a very hungover state was very trippy in the beginning. But I kept my head up and focus forward. I knew not to let the crowd pull me out too fast and just settle in at a pace I could keep up with. Which I found and ran the first 3 miles straight! Such an accomplishment! I was almost all the way up the hill around Browns Stadium when I had to stop and tie my shoe. Got back into my stride until that DREADED uphill known as E. 9th St (its much more enjoyable when its the downhill finish of the CLE half than the halfway point of a race :-(). I ran as much as I could up and then just power walked the rest of the way up. After getting cut off by a woman who was dragging her dog behind and bumped me (I don’t mind if you run with your dogs in a dog-friendly race, but run in the middle, not along the sides to cut people off), I turned the corner down a long straight away and found my stride again.

I can proudly say I crushed my goal and finished 5 miles in 55 minutes. While its nowhere near what I’ve run 5 miles in before (49 min), it was quite a feat completing that distance without running that far in many months. Never once during the actual race did I feel winded until I made the final push towards the finish line. My legs, on the other hand, by mile 4, were toast and definitely not used to the miles. But that will come back once they get used to consistent miles again.

That race was a great testament to the progress I’ve made in the Insanity program. My aerobic base has gotten stronger. I am so glad I decided to do this program and can’t wait to finish it and get started with 2013 spring half marathon training! I definitely want to continue using these workouts to supplement my training to keep my aerobic base up.

So I bet many of you are wondering what spring half marathon I will be running? I am excited to announce that I am taking my talents to the Indy Mini Marathon! I’m pumped to finally running a race in my home state and running a great race! I’m even more excited that my friend Celina decided to train for her first ever half marathon! I can’t wait to help her in a journey that I know will be life changing for her and provide her with tips and information I’ve learned in my journey of running and training for races.

So, there in the briefest recap possible is what I have been up to.

Oh, wait! I totally forgot something awesome and important!

At the end of October I became a certified SPINNING instructor! After almost two years of loving the mind-body experience I get from a class, I decided that it would be fun to motivate others and teach! (Plus, its a fun way to make some extra $$). I taught my first class a few weeks ago. There were only two of us, but we completed an awesome ride! I will start teaching on a weekly basis starting in December! I can’t wait! Another great way to keep motivated and on track!

One more thing! I won a free race entry to the Santa Hustle at Cedar Point from Heather! When she posted on her blog that she was giving away a race entry, I was determined to win it! My persistent tweeting over a week paid off, and I will participate in Cedar Point’s inaugural Santa Hustle 5k and Half Marathon on Dec. 16! This race is awesome because participants receive a long-sleeved santa shirt, hat and beard to wear during the race! Plus the post-race party is gonna be great with holiday food and music! I definitely plan on running in my IU Santa hat and the shirt provided. I think I’m gonna forego wearing the beard because it might get too warm while running. Jess is running the half marathon as her comeback from injury race! I can’t wait to cheer her on as she crosses the finish line. Its gonna be a fun race for sure!

And I promise I will take photos and blog a post-race report!

If you are interested in my Insanity journey and want to follow me in the final month, check out my Instagram for my daily posts about my workouts. I decided to keep my Insanity Challenge limited to those who follow me on Twitter/Instagram because I was afraid I would quit/fail. Plus, I figured everyone in the Facebook world would get fed up with my daily posts popping up in their news feed. 

Not your average race recap: Cleveland Half Marathon

So I’ve been going back and forth since Sunday whether or not I wanted to do a recap of this race since as those of us who ran Sunday know, it wasn’t the ideal conditions to run a great race.

My half marathon experience was like running through HELL. The rising temps with the blazing sun shining down on us with little shade to find relief made running a challenge. After I went through the first water stop just around mile 2, I was already pouring water down my back and on my head to cool my body temperature down. By mile 5  I could quickly feel my legs growing heavier and not cooperating. By mile 6, I decided that this was going to be a survival race, and not one to write home about with a fast time.

No breeze and very little shade made it really tough on my body. About a third of the way down Detroit Avenue, I took to running on the sidewalk to escape the sweltering sun and grab some shade. But the further down Detroit I ran I was forced back onto the road because of all the spectators lining the sidewalks. My race became a run/walk to the finish line, with a lot of walking. Too much walking for my liking. But my legs did not seem to want to go for long periods of time. I did have some moments where I pushed through and ran comfortably, but then my mind would get sidetracked and I’d focus on the weather conditions and break my streak and begin to walk again. My mental state during this race was horrible. I tried running with one of my friends when we caught each other, but I lost her at a water stop that again was jammed packed with runners waiting on volunteers to fill cups. Which happened at EVERY water stop I came to. I think it was a combination of inexperienced runners and volunteers not having a good system to keep the supply up with the demand.

But this race only went as well as my training. I admit while I did all my long runs, I slacked a lot in my shorter runs during the week. The only goal I had for this race was to finish faster than my first half. I didn’t do it. A combination of the weather conditions and my slacking in preparation showed through on race day. I also had time to realize that I need to simply get in better shape. I am not the same runner I was a year ago at this time. I am slower and a few pounds heavier. I realized that I need to put getting back into shape first while working on getting my speed back. Thats going to involve keeping my mileage low and ramping up my cardio and strength training to get the results I want. I also think scaling back my running will help me fall back in love with it. Honestly I did not enjoy racing Sunday. I was relieved to finish and did not experience any runner’s high what so ever. That is a true sign that I need to step back and not make it the only thing I do, but one of several things I do.

But I digress since this is suppose to be your not so average race recap.

When I found out that race photos were already available online, I went straight to see how mine turned out. I took Jess’ “The Logo’s” advice about keeping your eyes open for the cameras and I stayed on the outside of the runners to be seen. I saw plenty of photographers in the beginning of the race and tried to made sure I was seen, basically being a camera whore. haha

(Last year I only had finish line photos from the race and they were AWFUL and cluttered with other runners.)

So when I saw THIS photo, I knew I had to do a race recap, letting the photos tell the story of my CLE experience.

I immediately laughed out loud when I saw this photo.

Yes, I look like a dumb ass. But, there is a back story to this photo. Like I said, I saw a bunch of photographers within the first mile of the race. I knew one of my friend’s from the Plain Dealer was covering this race so I kept my eye out for him in the front half of the race. As I am running along the shoreway, I am quickly approaching a photographer that I believe to be my friend.  So I jump out in his line of vision to try and get his attention. As I pass him I notice that it indeed is NOT him, but a brightroom photog.

Giving me exhibit A. The most ridiculous race photo EVER!

You think Cleveland Marathon will make me the new “logo” with this shot?!

Now this photo is just after the mile 11 marker as you make your way down Ontario in front of Tower City. At this point I was walking. But I saw a photographer up ahead so I told myself I will NOT have a photo of me walking. So I picked it up back into a run and gave the best smile and thumbs up that I could.

This is my “I want to quit right now I’m so hot and can barely run” smile. Pretty good, eh?!

These last photos are my finishing photos. As I was running down Saint Clair mid mile 12, I told myself this is it. You are running the rest of the way, no excuses. I was so relieved to charge down E. 9th St and make the final turn to the finish line. I knew the clock time and my chip time were about 9-10 minutes apart, but it still would be my worst half time to date. But I was just glad I finished and didn’t quit like I wanted to after mile 11.

I give major props to all those people who rocked the full marathon under the brutal temps. You guys are true warriors! But I firmly believe all of us, whether we ran the half or full, are part of a special fraternity of runners who conquered the heat, pains, and mental battles to achieve a goal we set out to do.

“We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” ~Emil Zatopek

I know we all swear we look horrible in 99.9% of our race photos, but have you ever had one that made you laugh or you looked completely ridiculous?

Shaking things up and trying something new

As the Cleveland (half) marathon approaches and my runs are increasing in mileage, I am trying my best to not skip any runs during the week so my long run on the weekends aren’t hell. Last weekend I ran 8 miles on Sunday only having run 3 miles on Tuesday. I didn’t plan to skip my runs on Wednesday and Thursday, but I was dealing with some personal things that just kept me from wanting to run. Thankfully my friend Jenine ran 6 of the 8 miles with me so it made the miles fly by and also forced me to push through the times when I wanted to stop and walk.

As the Hermes 10-miler sneaks up on me this week, I’ve been doing my best to get runs in no matter what. Tuesday was a fail because of a hand full of things. However, yesterday I made myself get up earlier enough before work to get miles in. Today, I wanted to shake things up. I decided to forgo eating lunch during my 30-minute break at work and hit the pavement to get in a 30-minute run. I have never done this before because my lunch break varies from day to day depending on what my assignment schedule is and sometimes I don’t end up taking a proper break until the last 30 minutes of my day. While it was overcast all day, the rain finally stopped early afternoon which gave to the perfect conditions to get a run in. I ran somewhere I’ve always wanted to run, but have yet to make it a route. It was a nice 3 mile loop that had some nice down hills to work the quads, and some small hills to get those in as well. Not too much flat terrain which made for a nice variety. Since I was on a time crunch, I was really forced to push myself to get the miles in before I had to get back to work. While this isn’t something I can do often, but it was a nice change in my routine. I actually felt refreshed and got an energy recharge. It would be awesome if more employers offered an extended lunch period so their employees can have the opportunity to exercise. I think it would make for a more productive work environment.

Something else new that I am venturing into is participating in two races in one weekend. Crazy, right?! I had signed up for the Hermes 10-miler several months ago as a perfect training run for the CLE half marathon. Most of the Hermes course is part of the half course for CLE so its a nice muscle memory training run. I ran it last year and enjoyed it so I knew it would be a race I wouldn’t miss. Earlier this week I signed up for the Tree Trotter in Wellington. Its a half marathon and 3.5 mile race in the Wellington Reservation. Its an NCN race and I have a free race with them from volunteering at a race last year. I figured signing up for the 3.5 mile race would be a good way to add miles to my week and shake out my legs from the long run the day before. The nice thing about this race is that it will be small and through the metro park on a crushed stone path. Its the first year for this race so we’ll see how the course and race goes.

 

I am really trying not to psych myself out for the 10-miler race on Saturday. Its been 6 months since I’ve ran 10 miles and I’m hoping I can survive without any injury or running out of gas in my tank. I’ve been doing my best to keep hydrated and eat healthy this week in preparation for the race. I know it will be a good bench mark of where I stand for CLE in less than a month. I don’t know what it is, but my heart and dedication to training isn’t in it like it has been in the past. I don’t know if something changed post marathon, but I find it hard to be super strict and dedicated 100% to my training like I was with my first and even second half marathons. I know I can run the distance, but I know my pace and endurance is much different. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have lost a core group of my training buddies that made training more enjoyable. I know life happens, but I miss the camaraderie I gained through running with friends. I’m hoping this summer the #dirtyrunner Ragnar team can get in weekly runs together. I know it will not only help my running by running with these rockstars, but I know it will strengthen our friendships by spending time together.

 

How do you shake things up in your training to keep things new and interesting? 

Have you ever run more than one race in a weekend? Any advice on recovery post races?

Revealing my “secret”

Okay, so in my last post I said that I had a secret that I wasn’t quite ready to reveal because I didn’t want to jinx it.

Well today I can confidently reveal that I, Anna, gave up junk food for 40 days! Say what?! The girl who has the biggest sweet tooth this side of the Mississippi went without all those tasty treats for 40 wholes days? Without a meltdown?
Why yes ladies and gentleman, I managed to kick my sweet tooth for 40 whole days without caving.

After failing miserably during “no sweets” February, I knew Lent would be the perfect time to redeem myself. And after I saw that Jess said she was embarking on a no junk food challenge during Lent, I put myself up to that challenge.
Basically, the challenge stated no:
-white bread
-potato chips
-peanut butter or similar type spreads
-pastries
-fast food
-chocolate
-candy
-soda pop
-ice cream/froyo
-cake/cupcakes

I modified my list by allowing peanut butter since I use it sparingly in fueling my workouts. I do not eat white bread or drink pop, so these two were easy not to consume. Chocolate, I only like in moderation so going 40 days without it wouldn’t be a problem. The toughest part in my eyes would be eliminating the froyo, cupcakes and sweet, sugary candy I love. But, I started out in the right frame of mind so I knew I could make it through without caving in this time.
My secret was all in the thought process. I would find myself wandering up and down aisles at stores aimlessly just looking at what I couldn’t have and didn’t feel the urge to buy anything and pig out. I knew even though my favorite things taste good, but the ever lasting effects on my body weren’t worth the instant satisfaction.
I was put in several positions where food was available in a social setting or the things I couldn’t have we’re offered to me. I could have easily cheated because no one there knew I’d given junk food up for Lent. But I knew I would feel guilty for giving into temptation. After the first two weeks, I noticed that I wasn’t craving the sugary things I once longed for. My taste for them had disappeared and I was getting my sugary fix through fruits with their natural sugars.

As Easter approached, I did start planning what I was going to indulge in and what Easter candy I was going to buy.
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But also as Easter approached, I was very nervous about being “allowed” to have the junk I gave up again. Would I just fall back into old habits and this bit of progress would be for nothing?

But today, I can gladly (and surprisingly) say I didn’t go hog wild like I thought. I can thank that to a grumbly stomach I’ve had all day thanks to consuming 3 bud light platinums last night without having dinner.
My first indulgence was an apple fritter from Kiedrowski’s Bakery. O.M.G! So. Good! I ate it slowly and savored every bite!

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After church, we (Aaron and I) had Easter Brunch with Jess and her family. I brought PACZKIS and snoogles from Kiedrowski’s to share. I only had half of a half cut and a view Starburst jelly beans (the best!). I filled up on awesome egg bake, stuffed french toast and fruit.

The amount of available sweets in the house right now is crazy! But I am perfectly confident they will be able to last for a long time because I’m not planning in going on a binge fest.

So where do I go from here?

A couple weeks ago I decided to continue on my no junk food quest indefinitely. With one exception. I will allow myself one day a week ( Sunday) to pick a treat to indulge in. A serving size of something, not the entire amount of something. I know I can easily kill a bag of Twizzlers, Sour patch kids or any other sugary candy, but I’m trying to teach myself portion control. Enjoy a little of something to satisfy without going overboard. This is something I believe I can achieve now that I’ve gone an extended period of time without.

Trying to retrain my brain how to think in certain situations where I would reach for the junk to calm or comfort myself and replace those bad habits with positive, good habits. 🙂

Day 1 of CLE half marathon training

Even though Mondays on my training schedule are reserved for cross training, I couldn’t pass up this AMAZINGLY beautiful February day so I sneaked in a short run. A 2-mile run outisde, which was my first run outside in probably a month. I need to get my body reacquainted with running outside again since its that time to start training for the Cleveland (half) Marathon. I can’t believe I’m training for my fourth half marathon! I really enjoye this race last year and can’t wait to run through Cleveland’s west side again and (hopefully) score a PR! It felt nice to run outside again and feel one with the road.

Excited to run outside again!

yummy post run snack

I definitely need to map out some routes around Aaron’s house so I don’t get bored running the same routes during the week. Weekend runs are easier to spice up and change locations since I have a little bit more time.

As for my cross training today, its off to bootcamp tonight as I enter my third of four weeks bootcamp session. I really like bootcamp because its a challenging workout and is different every time I go. I really would like to keep up with this bootcamp because it focuses on plyometrics.

As I start training again, I hope it will help me to slim down in some areas that I am currently not happy with. Yeah, I’m looking at you thunder thighs and mid-section!  Aside from toning up and slimming down, I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to meet up with running friends and running in groups and not solo. So if you live on the WAY west side and interested in trying to meet up for a run, either during the week or weekend, let me know and we can try to make that happen.

 

So, I proclaimed last week that I was giving up the sweets for February in hopes to kick my sweet tooth. Well, now on day seven, I am happy to report that I am still going strong on my goal. The second and third days were kind of tough, but with some support and drinking TONS of water, I was able to stay strong. Saturday for work I had to photograph people and tasty treats at a local chocolate festival. To my surprise, I did not feel the urge to sample any of the treats! Yes, they did look tasty, but I wasn’t anxious or antsy dying to cheat. Superbowl Sunday was definitely challenging. Aaron and I went to a friend’s party and of course there was a TON of food! And with that there were a TON of tasty desserts and treats! I was sad the only fruit there was strawberries filled with whipped cream. :-\ The berries looked tasty, but since they were filled with a “sweet” I had to pass. Aaron even offered to suck out the whipped cream so I could have the strawberry. As sweet as his suggestion was, I told him no thanks. I made sure to fill up on green and red peppers on the veggie tray to curb my want for something sweet.  (Confession: I told Aaron that when we go to the Paczki ball, I will allow myself ONE Paczki because its right before the start of Lent and Paczkis only come once a year.;-))

23 more days left of the challenge. I don’t think I will never eat a sweet again, but I think since I won’t have a taste for the sweets or the need to run to it in a moment of stress, anxiety or comfort I will be able to occasionally enjoy something sweet without feeling guilty.

 

Here’s to a great first week of official half marathon training and another successful week of all sweat and no sweets!