Saturday, May 17, 2008

Vancouver re-cap coming soon!

I promise! It's coming! Quick version:

Vancouver is gorgeous.
The marathon was the hardest I've ever done.
The course sucked.
The spectator support sucked.
BUT... I had my fastest time ever.
And the TNT folks are AWESOME! :)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Because Cori asked for it

Here's the most recent full body photo of me. This was taken right before I left for my birthday party last weekend. I still have a long way to go with the weight loss, but I'm pretty friggin' happy with the results so far. I must admit that I love being able to go into a regular store & have clothes there that actually fit me. I don't think I've ever been able to do that before.

(And in you're interested, you can see more self-portraits from my "365 days" project here on flickr.)


I'm a blogging slacker. I keep thinking about blogging, but then life gets in the way & I just never seem to have time. So today I'm making time. Now, let's see... what's been going on?

First off, I had a birthday last week. On Tuesday, April 1 I turned 37 years old. I keep seeing that number & I can't believe it's true. I certainly don't feel 37, which I guess is what matters, right? As of this birthday, I have also lost 60 pounds. I wish I could've lost more, but I'm still happy with this. I've hit a little plateau again, but hopefully I can get back on track again & start to lose even more. My brother is getting married in 5 months & I'll be seeing family for the first time in over a year & I want to be able to wow them. I need to make sure I don't slack off on my training after the marathon. Working out is key.

Speaking of my marathon training, I've still been plagued by little injuries here & there & it's driving me crazy. I haven't had a good feeling about this season & this upcoming marathon for a while now. I just can't shake it. I hope I'm wrong, but as of today, I'm pretty convinced I'm right. It just seems that the second something good happens, something bad happens to "balance it out".

This past Saturday was our big 21 mile practice. My back had been a little sore for a few days before, but I was hoping it wouldn't be a problem during the run. For the most part, it wasn't. I was a little stiff in the beginning, but once I got going, I felt great. I was making good time & wasn't having any problems for the first 13 miles, then I hit the wall. For the next 4 miles, I slowed down significantly. My toes kept cramping up, my left hip & leg were bothering me, & I was exhausted. I went from doing 13 minute miles to about 16 minute miles & all the other runners had passed me. I was the last person left on the course. I felt defeated & just wanted to quit & go home. Just after mile 17 my coach found me & ran with me for a while. She talked to me & got me going a little faster, then left to get back to the finish line. Mile 18 was the Memorial Park water stop & Carmen did a great job of making me laugh by doing a silly little dance, then she told me all I had left was "a loop in the park" (ie: only 3 miles left). Hearing that made me think that maybe I could actually do this. I grabbed some food & gatorade, handed my fuel belt over to Adrienne (the weather was absolutely perfect & I knew I wouldn't need the belt), & decided that I was going to finish strong. I took a deep breath & made myself run stronger. After about a 1/2 mile, I got my second wind. I was running as if it were the first 2 miles instead of the last. When I got to the finish line & saw all the TNT staff & my 2 girlfriends there cheering me on, I kicked it up another notch & bolted past that finish line. I was exhausted & out of breath, but I felt great at the same time. I'd just finished 21 miles in under 5 hours. 6 month ago, that same distance took me more than 6 hours.

The rest of the day, I was tired, but my body felt pretty good. Then Sunday happened. I woke up with screaming quads & a very sore middle back. I took it easy the whole day, but the pain in my back just got worse & worse. Today it was so bad I had to call in sick. It's a different back pain than I've had before. Mostly because it's in my middle back (it's always been my lower back before) but I also I have no problem bending over. It's straightening up all the way & taking any deep breaths that cause me great pain. I'm not sure if it's the actual spine/discs I'm having a problem with, or if it's just the muscles. I'm hoping it's just the muscles. After all, I was pumping my arms pretty hard for almost 5 hours. Hopefully I'll be fine in a day or 2. *crosses fingers* The marathon is in 26 days & I really don't want to have to switch to the half.

Next weekend is the big 2 day walk for breast cancer. Some TNT teammates & friends are walking in honor of our TNT coach, Emily. Emily was supposed to walk with them, but she just can't do it now. She just got out of the hospital yesterday after having a procedure to clear a clogged stent & she's recovering nicely but she's still in a lot of pain. She'll be at the different cheer stations this weekend & I'm sure she'll at least walk part of the way, but there's no way she can go the full 2 days & 39.3 miles. She's a strong lady, but lately I can see her strength is waning. I'm still in denial over everything with her & anything that forces me to see the truth is not welcome. Deep down I know the inevitable will happen, but for now, I can't think about it. I just can't bare it.

I really hate cancer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Look at that! I finally updated my blog!

Yes, I know. I've been seriously slacking in the blogging department. I apologize to my 2 readers (if you're even still out there).

Let's see... what's been going on?

Not long after the Houston half marathon, my back went out on me (the product of attempting to save my car from a 5 gallon Gatorade spill in the back seat), but I think I'm finally over that. I fixed it by stopping running so much & getting back into the pool at least twice a week. My spine just can't handle all that constant jarring from running 4-5 times a week, so now I only run twice a week with the TNT group. Every Tuesday we have our track/speed practice, then every Saturday we do our long runs. The rest of my workout days are in the pool.

Until last weekend, the farthest I'd run was 9 miles. I felt pretty good after that 9, so the next week I was going to attempt to do 12. (The rest of the group was doing 16.) I wasn't sure if I was going to make it, but the weather was SO perfect (temps in the 40's & not a cloud in the sky) that it completely jazzed me. I ended up doing 14 miles & I felt fantastic! What's even better is that it was the fastest I'd ever run (& that includes the Houston Half marathon)! I ran the entire time with a pace of just a smidge over 13 minutes per mile. I've never been able to sustain that pace for so long. I was ecstatic! Even better than that, I had virtually NO pain the rest of the day or even the next day. (See? Ice baths after runs really DO work!) I had so much energy all weekend. It was fabulous! My co-worker attributes it all to my continued weight loss. After stalling in that dept for about 2-3 months, I've been able to lose another 15 lbs so far, for a total loss of 55 lbs. I'm hoping to be down at least 60 lbs. by my birthday in 3 weeks. *crosses fingers*

Fundraising is going ok. Because I did Nike last season, I can't really ask people to donate again so I have to rely on big events instead. My friend Carissa & I, along w/ another friend, Eliza hosted a bachelor & bachelorette auction at the end of January & raised just over $6400 in one night. Not bad. We lost at least $2000 at the door because the people we had at the door collecting donations left after only an hour. Oh well. Live & learn, right? We're having another auction on April 17 which should be even better. We worked out all the kinks with that first auction, we have the venue for a much longer period of time, & we have extra help, so we think we shouldn't have a problem raising the $8000 we all need to get to our fundraising minimums.

In some sad news, it looks like things are getting worse for my TNT coach, Emily. Her cancer is spreading. I saw her at practice last weekend & she just doesn't look like herself. She's lost weight, she's pale, she looks SO tired & you can tell she's in pain when she moves. I don't even want to think about what might be to come. Yes, I'm in complete denial. Every time I have a little pain & feel like complaining, I make myself think of Emily & what she's going through. It's a big wake-up call.

Cancer sucks.

But it just motivates me even more to continue with what I'm doing. Running is my way of giving cancer the finger.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bangs, bruises, & personal records: Race Day

As I said, I was SUPER nervous about the Houston Half Marathon. I even had a horrible nightmare about it, in which I was 90 minutes late to the start, forgot my shoes, bloks, water, etc. & couldn't remember how to run. It was like I was being held in place by an invisible rope. I was so upset in the dream that I actually woke myself up because I was crying!

The night before the race I laid everything out to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything.

When I woke up race day morning, my back was feeling almost 100% & my knee wasn't bothering me at all.

The weather was clear, cold (about 42ยบ) & slightly windy. I got dressed, gathered all my stuff & headed over to the GRB. Once there, I made a pit stop to the porta-potties, checked my bag, looked for friends (unsuccessfully), then headed to the starting line. There I ran into Adrienne, Carmen, Pam, Angela (who's 5 mos. pregnant!), & Sandi. We huddled together for warmth waiting for the gun to go off. We were in the black corral, which meant we didn't get to start until 7:10 am (vs 7:00 am for the more elite runners). When the gun finally went off, I took off at a fairly decent pace, leaving the girls behind me.

The gloves I had on didn't last a 1/4 mile before my hands were too hot & my long sleeved shirt barely lasted 2 miles before I had to take it off. The first 2 miles we were all packed together like sardines. It was driving me crazy having to weave in & out of people & I almost got tripped several times. Eventually, maybe around mile 4, the crowd thinned out enough to where I felt comfortable ust running & I wasn't worried about getting tripped.

The first 4 or 5 miles seemed to fly by. I was running faster & stronger than ever & I was amazed at how great I felt. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to keep my pace up, but I sure as hell was gonna try. It helped knowing that as soon as I hit Montrose, I would be seeing my friends on the sidelines cheering for me. And sure enough, as soon as I got to the first intersection on Montrose (right around mile 7), I saw my friends Tracy & Jeff. They were shocked to see me so quickly & weren't prepared. They hadn't even had a chance to unfurl their poster. I ran over to them quickly & gave them a big hug & thanked them for coming out. It really jazzed me to see them. :)

Just after mile 8, I saw my friend Don & his wife, Melissa, then a little further down was the TNT tent with all the TNT folks. I saw Coach Bill first, then our honored patient, John Purtee, who gave me a big high five as I ran past him. Then I saw our other honored patient, Jonathan Nitsch, who ran with me for a few moments. I gave him a big hug & wiped my sweaty face in his t-shirt (something I always do after practice because he finishes so much faster than I do & is always changed into clean dry clothes by the time I finish... silly, I know). He laughed & wished me luck. After that I saw Coach Jill, who also ran with me for a little bit. After that I was alone again.

I kept looking for my dad, who had said he was going to try to come out, but I couldn't find him any where. By the time I got to the turn-around point at Montrose & Richmond, I figured he must not have been able to make it. As I headed back up Montrose, I finally saw him standing all alone on the little concrete median in the middle of the road. He was looking all around, trying to find me. I yelled for him & crossed over to where he was. He finally saw me & his face lit up. He gave me a big hug & apologized for missing me earlier. He told me how great I looked & how incredibly proud he was of me for everything I was doing. He tried to run beside me for a while, but his back was too sore, so I stopped. He told me how much he loved me, I gave him a huge hug & a kiss on the cheek, thanked him for coming out to cheer me on, told him I loved him, & continued on my way. He told me again how much he loved me & as I left him, I began to cry. It meant SO much to me that he came out there all on his own to cheer for me. A huge burst of energy came over me & I felt lighter than air. Seeing him was the highlight of my race. :)

Not long after seeing my dad I came upon the TNT group once more, this time seeing John Purtee's mom, Cyndi (who did Nike with me & crossed the finish line with me). She gave me a huge hug & told me I was looking great. Then I saw my good friend, Carissa & her niece, Erycka with their sign & pom-poms. Carissa ran w/ me (in jeans & high heeled boots!) asking me if I needed anything, making sure I was doing ok, that I wasn't in any pain. Again I was just so happy to see someone I loved. :) I said I was fine & didn't need a thing, thanked her for everything, & continued on my way.

By this time I was a little over 9 miles into the race & starting to feel tired, but I pushed on. Just after mile 10, I came across Tracy & Jeff again, only this time they were joined by our friends Jennifer & Christine. They all had signs & noise makers & were screaming for me. I laughed so hard when I saw them & hammed it up for their cameras.
Again I got another burst of energy, just when I needed it most (I was REALLY getting tired). I knew I'd be able to finish & finish strong. After that, it was onto Allen Parkway & the home stretch. There was a decent crowd along Allen Parkway, including the "frat guys" passing out beer. LOL! My favorite part of that section was the huge banner on the Sabine overpass that said "1.5 miles to the finish!" HALLELUJAH!! After that, it was right into downtown Houston. The first few blocks were lonely (no spectators) but I could hear the crowd from the GRB & I could hear the music & the announcer. I was almost there! I made the final turn & could see the finish line in the distance. There was a huge crowd, which of course jazzed me again & made me feel strong. I picked up the pace. When I hit mile marker 13, I "sprinted" towards the finish. My right calf started to seize up on me, but I ignored it & pushed through. I heard the announcer call my name, I threw my arms up in the air, let out a happy scream, & crossed the finish line.

My original goal for this race was to finish in under 3 hours, but with my injuries, I went into it just hoping to finish in 3:15. My final official time:


HOLY SHIT! I finished in under 3 hours!! Not only that, but I broke my last 1/2 marathon record by 31 minutes!! I was ECSTATIC!!! I still can't believe I did it. I have never run harder or stronger in my life. And the thing is, I actually RAN all 13 miles. The only times I stopped running was at 3 water stops when I took my Clif bloks (too hard to run, eat the bloks, & wash 'em down w/ water). I definitely ran slower on a few miles, but the point is, I still RAN. I never in my wildest dreams would've thought I could do that. I can't wait to see what I can do in Vancouver in May!

Here are my final splits:

Mile 1 - 13:09 (couldn't believe this, especially since I was pretty much packed like a sardine in that huge crowd of runners)
Mile 2 - 12:53 (Wow! Seriously? How is this possible with all these people crowding around me?)
Mile 3 - 12:54 (OK! I'm liking this!)
Mile 4 - 13:18 (first walk to take bloks)
Mile 5 - 13:02 (I've never been able to keep this pace up for this long. Usually it's 3 miles, max)
Mile 6 - 12:58 (Wow! I'm totally amazing myself!)
Mile 7 - 13:56 (2nd walk/blok break & 1st hug break with my friends)
Mile 8 - 13:15 (See? I told you my friends gave me a burst of energy)
Mile 9 - 13:43 (stopped w/ my dad)
Mile 10 - 14:05 (getting tired, 3rd walk/blok break, also stopped w/ TNT gang)
Mile 11 - 13:48 (still tired, but jazzed)
Mile 12 - 14:08 (more tired, but determined to pick things up in the last mile & finish strong)
Mile 13 - 13:33 (there we go!)
Mile 13.1 - 1:26 (Done! WOO-HOO!!!)

And there you have it. My best race to date. :)

By Tuesday my quads were SCREAMING & I was walking fairly odd, but today there's only a slight pain left in my muscles & I can walk just fine. I haven't worked out since the race, but I plan to get back into it this Saturday. I'm still in training so I really can't afford to miss many workouts. I've already bought myself a new swim suit so I can be back in the pool next week. I'm curious to see how much I can improve by the time Vancouver rolls around. :)

Bangs, bruises, & personal records

Wow. Has it really been a month since I posted? My apologies to the 1 (maybe 2) readers I have out there.

Well, after 4 weeks, you can hardly tell I hurt my knee. For quite a while there, I was basically one big bruise. I guess gravity kept pulling the bruising further down my leg until it went from the base of my knee to the top of my ankle. Here's a not so great photo of it. It got much darker a few days after this was taken:
I didn't run for about a week & a half after I fell. When I finally started up again, my knee felt... "off". It was stiff & sore for maybe the first 1/4 - 1/2 mile, then it wouldn't really bother me. However, once I stopped running, it felt like it was just floating around & sort of... out of place? I'm not sure how to describe it. It just didn't feel right. Despite that, I was still determined to get in at least some workouts so I'd be a little more prepared for the Half Marathon. The farthest I ended up running was 8 miles & that was the week before the race. I was SUPER nervous. To make matters worse, 2 days before the race my back started to go out on me. I spent 1/2 of Friday & all of Saturday laying down, icing my back & taking LOTS of ibuprofen. I was so upset I wanted to cry. Between my knee & my back, I knew my dream of a sub-3 hour race was out the window. Little did I know what would happen that Sunday.

To be continued...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I didn't realize it had been so long since I've written here.

Things had been going very well. I was running more & getting steadily stronger, consistently averaging 13 mins. per mile & was feeling great. Wednesday night we had a little Fall season holiday reunion. About a dozen of us met after work & ran through River Oaks to look at all the Christmas lights. I was a bit worried I'd end up alone because I'm so slow, but I was actually able to keep up with a few of the folks. We had a great short run, then drove to the top of the parking garage we trained in all season long for a little party. A big cold front had come through that afternoon so it really made it feel like the holidays. We had hot chocolate, wine, plenty of snacks & lots of good conversation & laughs. It was just what I needed.

Then Thursday happened.

I'd had a long day at work & was extremely tired by the time I got home. I really didn't want to run, but I convinced myself that I needed to, no matter how tired I was.

Big mistake.

About a mile & a half into my run, as I was crossing the street, I came upon a bump in the road. Only thing is I couldn't really see that bump because it was so friggin' dark outside. My right heel caught the bump in mid-stride. It was like it was all happening in slow motion. I tried to get my other leg out to try to keep running & steady myself, but it was no use. I was going down & I was going down HARD. I stuck out my arms to try to break the fall but it just scraped up my arm instead. My right knee smashed into the road & the rest of my body followed. I was sprawled out in the middle of the road with a car coming. I didn't know if they saw me, so I quickly jumped up & moved to the sidewalk. I could feel my knee & ankle begining to swell almost immediately. Of course I didn't have my phone with me so I had to walk (well... hobble) over a mile home. The knee popped with every step & if I tried to bend it even a little bit, it was excruciating. By the time I got home, my knee was already twice its normal size. The pain was terrible. I sat on the couch for a good 4 hours icing & elevating it.
By the time I went to bed, it felt better & I thought maybe the damage wasn't as bad as originally suspected. Then, around 2:00 am I woke up to change positions. I guess I'd forgotten about my knee & as I tried to move in my bed, I bent my knee. I screamed in agony. OMG it hurt SO f'ing much. I actually began to whimper & cry because it hurt so much. I got up, hobbled to the kitchen, took 4 more Ibuprofen, wrapped another ice pack around my knee & hobbled back to bed. I ended up calling in sick that morning because I just couldn't walk very well at all & figured it would be best for me to stay off the leg for a day & just ice it.

Thankfully today it is all much better. The swelling has gone down significantly & I can now bend & move my leg without wincing in pain. I have a lovely bruise forming around the entire knee, going down to my shin, & I still can't bend it all the way, but I don't think I did any serious damage. I'm pretty sure it's just really badly bruised. Thank goodness! Still, I won't be able to run for what I'm guessing will be at least the rest of this week & that is driving me crazy. The Houston 1/2 Marathon is only 3 weeks away & I need to be back out there training. If I can't work out, I think I'll go crazy. I keep thinking back to what it was like last year after my back injury & I vowed I'd never be in that position again. Then I go & do something like this. Hopefully I'll be a fast healer & be back out there in a few days. *crosses fingers*

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Trying not to let the holidays get to me

It's a good thing I did the Turkey Trot last week because I didn't run again until this past Monday. The weather was terrible all weekend (freezing cold & thunder/lightning storms). Thankfully now the weather has been GORGEOUS (cold, yet sunny) & perfect for running. I ran 3.2 miles in my neighborhood Monday & 4 miles tonight & to my delight I averaged about 13 mins/mile both nights. I really hope I can keep that up all the way through to the Houston Half Marathon. (I can't believe it's only about 5 weeks away. Eeeeeek!)

The new season of TNT begins this weekend with the big kick-off party Saturday morning. Not only have I signed up to do the Vancouver Marathon with TNT, but I will also be mentoring again. I haven't officially mentored in over a year so it should be good to get back into it. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. So far I only have 3 mentees. I have a feeling this will be a very small group. We'll see if they get any more to sign up this weekend. *crosses fingers*

I really need to get back on track. Those few weeks I had off from running took its toll. It's been a lot harder to get myself motivated again, especially with the holidays here. But I can't let myself go back to what I was. I've worked too hard & I've already thrown away all my old "fat clothes". Having this new season start should be just what I need to get my ass back out there on a regular basis & back to eating the good foods.

Here's hoping!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Turkey Trot

Yesterday was Thanksgiving & as tradition in this city, I joined a few thousand runners & did the Turkey Trot in the Uptown Galleria area. The weather was awful! The temps had dropped overnight & it was in the low 40's with HUGE gusting winds, making it feel like it was about 30 degrees. My hands & arms were practically numb.

I was supposed to do this race with my best friend, Kelly, but she developed a nasty upper respiratory infection so I went alone. I ran into my TNT teammates, Sandi & Tim, said a quick hello, then went to look for a few other friends (which I never found). While huddled in the starting line, trying to keep warm, I ran into my friends, Adrienne & Julie. They were as miserable as I was & regretting not staying in our warm beds. They were running the 10K but Adrienne decided right there at the starting line to run the 5K with me. It was nice to have someone to talk to during the race. We were freezing our butts off so I ended up running faster than usual just to try to get my body temp up & to finish as fast as I could. My first mile was 12:48! I couldn't believe it! The 2nd mile was about the same. Woo! The last mile was the worst because we were in a headwind. Sweet JEEBUS was that ever c-c-c-cold! Brrrrrrr! When we saw the finish line, we kicked it into high gear. As we crossed the finish line, I looked at my watch & couldn't believe my eyes... I finished in 37:56! WOO-HOOO!!! PR baby!! My last 5k was something like 46 minutes.

I'm really amazed at how much I've progressed these last 6 months. Even Adrienne commented during the race how strong my running has become. I can't wait to see how much more I can improve in the future. Bring on that half marathon! :)