Forming Habits……Again

So, 9 days ago I finally kicked some sense in to myself and got back on Weight Watchers.

I already have the fitness habit formed (albeit a little modified with the car accident injury) so now it’s all about getting my eating habits back on track.
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As you know I work from home, so temptation is surrounding me all day long. Typically I eat a sandwich for lunch. Occasionally I’ll have a salad, except then I tended to have a sandwich for dinner – oops.

This week I focused on changing habits.  I made it a point to NOT eat sandwiches all week. That mostly worked – I had one sandwich all week long!

How’d I do that? It was actually rather simple once I went food shopping, once searched for recipes or attached pinterest for ideas.

I made a salad or omelette for lunch. I had a salad or some other meal for dinner. I made my own cucumber roll-up concoction. I went food shopping so I wouldn’t be tempted with bad food ideas.  I also started making the Weight Watchers Chocolate Smoothie with their shaker as my afternoon sweet treat. It was a great idea. I would make it with water + ice in the shaker. I used cubed ice and it would take easily take me 30 minutes or more to drink it all – definitely a lasting afternoon snack.

This week I also focused on my running. I managed to get 10.25 minutes in over the week. Monday and Wednesday I only hit 2 miles; my lungs have been angry, I have felt quite fatigued this week (not sure where that is coming from) so I listened to my body and ran what I was able.

Friday I hit the boardwalk again for a nice sunset run. My lungs weren’t quite 100% still, but my stamina and endurance were definitely feeling better because I managed 4.10 miles! This was my longest non-race outside training run in the 2.5 years I have been running. Clearly I haven’t been training properly outside for my half marathons. Though I did train hard on the treadmill last winter for the NYC Half Marathon, logging more treadmill miles than I ever have before!

The end result, I lost 2.2 pounds in my first week back. I have no expectations I can duplicate my plans and loss from last week in to this week, but I can try. Habits form slowly, day by day, week by week until you wake up and your habits are just part of your every day life without question.

How do you keep focused on healthy eating when its easier to make a sandwich or go out to dinner?

Finding My Fitness Self Again

endorphinsAs some of you are aware, on March 1, 2015 I was rear ended during a quick, but horrible, snow storm.  The snow came down fast and furious.  It left the roads slick, slushy and dangerous.

Immediately upon impact I realized my neck was bothering me.  We plied me full of advil when I came home thus not requiring a hospital visit, but definitely requiring a visit the friendly orthopedist. At this visit, he informed me I had a sprained neck muscle along with the normal whiplash. Of course, my first concern about hearing this was whether he thought I’d be in OK condition to run the NYC Half two weeks later. (I’ll be honest, from the moment of impact, running this race was my second biggest concern – first, of course being, how seriously injured was I).

Anyway, a week and a half later, he informed me if I felt up to it, while taking proper pre-cautions, I should be able to run this race. He actually advised that aerobic exercise was good for healing injured muscles.

Well, since the accident, that race, plus two more plus a small handful of other days, totaling maybe 10 in all is the complete amount of working/exercises/fitness I have achieved.

I am frustrated because I have gained weight.
I am frustrated because when I cannot do full body strength training.
I am frustrated because my only attempt at the bike at the gym left my one neck muscle feeling sore and fatigued.
I am frustrated because fitness was something that, in the past two years since I have become absorbed in to the running/fitness community, has brought me great happiness.

I was feeling good about myself, about my habits, about my goals. I was happy with my progress. And pretty much, it came to a grinding halt.

Well, after a talk with the wonderful woman who is giving me medical massages (yes they are a thing, and they are amazing) I finally have put a plan in place to work my way up to where I was before the injury.

20-minute-workoutI realized that any movement is better than none. That stopping entirely is not the best way to help push my healing along, I just have to work in modifications and moderations.

Sunday I mentally put a plan in place. A place I felt comfortable with and confident in.
I am ok working out for 30 minutes, even if its low-intensity, because 30 minutes is better then sitting on the couch all day.

Now I just need to  back to 100% health so I can resume my complete rotation: running, full body circuit training with my trainer, kickboxing, pilates…..

Plan and simple, I miss it. I took my skipped workouts for granted because those were my choices, this is not, this is frustrating, aggravating, annoying and maddening.

Lesson here: never take a workout for granted.  don't take for granted

You Know You Are A Runner When….

You know you are a runner when a race is part of your birthday weekend festivities!

For the past two years I have wanted to run a race on my birthday weekend. Last year I was injured so it didn’t happen, but this year, everything fell in to place – I was able to run the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon in NYC!

Saturday night I laid out all my gear, took the mandatory ‘flat runner’ photo, taped my neck, climbed in to bed to get a good nights sleep as my alarm was set to go off at 5:15am.
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Well, that sort of backfired on me when I woke up at 3:12am, then tossed and turned for another hour before giving up any hope of falling back to sleep around 4:20am. I chilled, I relaxed, I made sure I was decompressed, then around 5:15 I got up, taped my IT Band with some KT Tape, got dressed, gathered my ‘gear’, got in my car and drove in to Manhattan to run 2 laps around Central Park.

I opted to drive in to the city instead of dealing with the train and subway.  It bought me another 15-20 minutes of sleep (well, it would have if I slept until my alarm was ready to go off).  I used the best parking website to map out what street parking would be available as well as what garages would be best/cheapest. This prep made the morning even easier for me once I came over the Queensboro Bridge, I exited on 63rd street, drove toward the park and found an amazing street spot on 64th street and 5th avenue.IMG_20150419_072701

From there I wandered in to the park eventually locating the starting area on the west side of Central Park at 63rd street.  As I stated from my running of the United NYC Half, I have lived in the NYC area most of my life but had never be in to Central Park, so I knew I had to head west and just kept my eyes peeled for tents, porta-pottys, crowds, anything to note I had reached the start.  The best way to accomplish this, just follow all the other women roaming the park.
I located the start and I was ready. I was calm, cool, Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 8.45.10 AMcollected and not at all missing the nerves and stressed that has plagued me in the past at the start of a race.  I felt free, I was invigorated and ready to smash this race!

Going in I was assuming that this was just a race, I wasn’t going for a PR, I was simply running to finish, I was running for another shiny race medal.

I planned the hills a bit more. I was going to run up some of them this race and walk down some of them instead of walking UP all of them and running DOWN all of them.    I pushed up the hills, I lengthened my strides down the hills.

As we were running I kept wishing inside the park they told us more what streets we were running by, I felt a little lost at times as we were running, where was I with regards to the city itself, how much further up to the top of the park, how far back down.  The mileage and kilometer markers just told me how far I had still to run, or how far I have come, they don’t tell me location within the park itself.

I had my Garmin of course, but I used it simply to tell me my time, where I was for my 5k, 10k, 10 mile, ect.  As we all know, the clock at each mile only tells us how much time as passed since the gun, not since I crossed the start line.

I felt strong during most of the run.  My first 5k was just slightly off pace from my training, IMAG3012but that gets chalked up to hills as I train on flat roads.  As I was coming up on the 3 mile mark, I got lapped by only one of the most amazing people to lap you: Deena Kastor!

Coming around the top of the park between miles 3 and 4 I was settling in, yet coming up was probably the most intimidating part of this race: Harlem Hill!  It was most likely the one moment during the United NYC Half that set me off course, and here, I was going to have to overcome it TWICE.
Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.28.11 AMHowever, I persevered, stuck with my plan and I ran up parts of this.  Maybe because the weather was better, my mood was better, who knows, but the hill did not seem nearly as daunting as it did a month ago.

Coming up on the 10k mark, per the garmin, I realized, that I might be on pace to break the 3 hour mark for my half marathon time.  It energized me a bit, at least to get around the little rolling hills in the south west side of the park.

This was the second loop of the park, the time where the mind games start, where the race becomes much more mental then physical.  It’s the time where your energy levels, your legs, your lungs, all of it starts to get heavy.  The questions start.  This is where you have to dig deep to keep going.
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Again, I stuck with my plan for this loop.  I concentrated on trying to limit my walking vs. running spans.  I fueled.  I zoned out, I sang along to my music, I ran my own race.

I tackled Harlem Hill a second time.  This time my legs were heavier, my lungs were more tired, I just wanted to reach the top.

I have since realized that between miles 9-11.5 is my downfall.  This is where I really walk a majority of the time, I battle my mental strength, I contemplate if I can actually finish, or what time I will finish in.

Low and behold, during a downhill portion sometime around mile 11, I found some energy. I put a smile on my face and I ran or walked as best I could.  I think part of it was the songs that came on the iPod – namely Christina Aguilera’s Fighter.  Perfect song at the perfect time.
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I picked up my pace, I played with my mental strength, I ate up the spectators cheers and smiles.

I tried to do some math in my head trying to calculate what the difference was in time between what my garmin said and the mileage clocks said. I tried to see if I could figure out how far after the gun I had started.  I was at a loss.

IMAG3013I did some mental calculations and figured I’d just go according to garmin.  I was hoping to finish under 3 hours even with the additional .1 or .2 I had to run on the course over what garmin said.  I was so close!  As you can see here, according to my garmin I ran 13.1 miles in UNDER 3 hours!

However, as I said above, garmin was about .1 to .2 ahead of the route mileage so I still had a bit go. I knew it would be close.  At least at this point I knew it would be close.

Then I doubted myself and thought the difference between the gun and this was to great, that I would be maybe 2-4 minutes OVER 3 hours.

I passed the mile 13 marker, I knew where the finish line was, I tried to pace myself to get there as fast as possible.  I failed.  I ran, then I had to walk just a bit as I was coming in to the finish gates.  I ran again, I tried to sprint, I had no idea what my time was.
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I was mad at myself after the finish.  Of course in hindsight, I could have done a zillion things differently so I came in just under 3 hours instead of 4 seconds over 3 hours.

IMG_20150419_111928But, it the scheme of my racing, this was a fantastic race.  I challenged myself and won.  I realized new potentials with hills.  I shaved 5:52 off my race time from the United NYC Half last month!  It was a good race, I was thrilled with how I ran, with what I achieved.  Now I search for a rather flat half marathon to run to see that elusive sub-3 hour half marathon time as my result!

2015 Goals: To Join Half Fanatics!

2015 game time

Well, it’s official – this year I am aiming to join the Half Fanatics!

As you know, I am already set to run the 2015 NYC Half Marathon with American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team (we are 8 weeks out from race, still time to get your donation in!).

Well, as of yesterday, I am all set to run the Philly Love Run two weeks later!

Not going to lie, I am a bit nervous about this.  In 2013, my first year running and racing, I did 3 races in 6 weeks: Rock ‘n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon September 1, Rock ‘n Roll Providence September 29 and Rock ‘n Roll Brooklyn 10K October 12.

My feet were mad at me after VB (blistered and bruised toe nails!), my IT band was even more angry with me after Prov, by the time BK came around, I was sore, uncomfortable, and of course, dealing with a  sinus infection. But of course, I went out there and ran, it was BROOKLYN! It was a local-ish race, there was no way I was missing it.

After my Miami Half Marathon February 2, 2014, I was sore again, but it wasn’t till month later then I was down for the count with hip issues.

Needless to say, my race history leaves little to be desired. This year I have been training right, actually following a plan, mostly to the letter to (give or a take a modification to time or an unanticipated rest day – I usually make up for that).

I am hoping, fingers crossed, wishing on stars, eyelashes, 11:11, anything that I finish the NYC Half in good shape (even getting a new PR) so that I can enjoy the Love Run – 15 days later!

Last year was the first year this race was ran. It sold out. I have heard good things about the race, about the organization, and of course, about the PERKS! You get a medal, a long sleeve tee, a coffee mug – I mean really, what more does a runner want 🙂

There are a few races I’m eyeing in April also: NYCRuns Queens Half Marathon April 12 and/or More/Fitness Half Marathon April 19.  I would LOVE to do both, but I guess I should see how my body deals with the NYC Half first right?

Do I just suck it up, register for both now, or wait to see how I feel post race in March?

Such a dilemma – but a dilemma I would take over not being able to run anything (like last spring!).

Question of the blog:
What are you race goals for 2015?