Friday, January 31, 2014

Oops, I did it again!

Bring it on!!!
I am officially registered to run the 2014 Chicago Marathon as part of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities!! I'll still have to go in and register with the marathon once that opens, but I know I'm guaranteed a spot on the course this year.

Last year was such an incredible experience, and I am so looking forward to training and running it again this year. The support from Team RMHC, and my fellow sorority sisters running with us, was tremendous, as was the support from all of my friends and family that donated to support this great organization.

Along with the perks of having the team leader keep us all up to date on what was going on, we also had access to Coach Brendan, a great pre-race meal, and an incredible Charity Village! They took great care of us that morning, with breakfast for all the runners, and then took care of all of us (and our friends and family) once we crossed the finish line and made our way back.

To top it off this year - Team RMHC is covering our entry fee!!!! Either way I'd run for them again, but this is a great perk. Especially with how tough it's going to be to get in to the less thing to worry about now!

If anyone is interested, here is the link to my personal web page: Carolyn's Personal Donation Page for Team RMHC

Here goes nothing!!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ahhhhh - it was actually over 25 degrees finally!!! The sunrise was beautiful this morning, and I relished the fact that I didn't have to bundle up as I have for the last several days. Of course, it did have to snow a know, to let us know it's still winter.

The great thing about the snow - it provided somewhat of a cover for the ice on the roads in my neighborhood. So I decided to bundle up, lace up, strap on the Yak Trax (which I just discovered are!), and get outside for a couple of miles. It went so much faster than I expected, and before I knew it I was done. It felt great to get some fresh air, even if it was still a little dicey. And I needed the stress relief after riding in the passenger seat with my newly-permitted driver...oy, that was a LONG three minute drive! Actually he's a good driver, and I'm glad he's learning how to drive in the bad weather when I'm with him.

This week has actually gone very well, at least in the healthy habit area. I've tracked all week, have taken my (healthy) lunches and snacks to work just about every day this month, and I've worked out the last three days in a row. Tomorrow I'm planning to do the Shred or yoga, and hope to run Saturday morning. We're expecting another snowstorm, so we'll see if I can get out of my driveway!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby steps

For anyone who doesn't know, the temperatures around here have been colder than the North Pole. That means I have not been able to get outside and run recently. Plus, the sidewalks and roads are icy/snowy/covered in salt, and I really don't want to break anything. I kind of like my whole bones!

I know if I want to keep moving on with my weight loss and getting myself back to a healthy lifestyle I was going to have to step out of my comfort zone. While running isn't easy for me, it has become "comfortable", and was my only workout I did for the most part. I haven't pushed myself like I used to, and my times have slowed waaaaaaaay down. Distance has been the focus for the last year, and I'll be working on it again this year. I'll be adding in speed workouts, along with strength and cross-training.

So tonight, after making and enjoying a healthy dinner of baked pork chops, green beans, and mashed sweet potatoes (no butter...just a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon), I got into my workout clothes before I could get too comfy on the couch. One of my friends had given me the Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD 4 or so years ago, and I haven't done it in a LONG time. Like I mentioned, running was it when it came to exercise.

Even though this workout is just about 25 minutes or so, it's great because it works just about every body part. And yay - it was easier than it used to be!!! Don't get me wrong - I'm sure I'll still be sore tomorrow...but I gave it everything and still had a tiny bit left in the tank. It felt great to break a sweat and work out some stress that's been building up.

Now I'm going to enjoy a nice cup of Sleepytime tea, and relax with a book - and no guilt!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Back to basics

Over the last year or so, my weight has slowly crept back up. Not alarmingly so, but enough that I noticed over the summer that my shorts were getting a wee bit snug. I kept telling myself "everyone gains weight when they train for a marathon"...well yeah, if they eat like I did!

I justified the amount I was eating by thinking it was okay because it was running 14/16/18 miles. But I knew in my  heart that I wasn't eating what I needed to effeciently fuel my body for all of the miles I was logging. And sadly, I got used to the amount of food I had been eating.

So last week I FINALLY went back to Weight Watchers. I know it helped me on this journey in the past, and I need the routine and accountability. Last Monday night I weighed in at 143.6 - yikes!! But I resolved to do better, tracked everything I ate, passed up a lot of desserts, and got some exercise in. That last part wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but between the snow/ice/slush and a business trip, I was happy with anything I got.

I went into my meeting feeling pretty confident, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. Luckily I was actually down - 2 whole pounds! felt great to see the numbers going down!

Now I need to keep tracking, drinking lots of water, lots of fruits and veggies, and kick up my exercise. It might actually crack into the 20s later this week - woo hoo! I can't wait to get back out for a run!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Polar Splish Splash Dash

Back before our winter had "really" hit, and gone to hell in hand basket like it did this past week, I jumped at the chance to run the Polar Dash with several of my friends. They had three different distances to choose from, and since I hadn't run more than 4 miles since Chicago I figured the 10K sounded like a good idea. Ha! Oh, I love how optimistic I can be after a glass or two of wine (that *might* have influenced me a bit as well).

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the weather around here this past week was less than stellar. The snow that had piled up over the last 10 days started to melt thanks to the rain we has last night - and started to freeze up again. Luckily the roads were clear this morning, other than the pothole that just about took us out on 90 on the way down to the city. Some places for walking were still a little sketchy, but we made it to the starting line (with about 10 minutes to spare for my friends running the 14 miler) without anyone biting it.

Photobombing Melissa!

Michelle, Melissa, and I right after crossing the start

The organization for this race was fantastic! They were great about updating last night and early this morning with information about the condition of the course. We had a head's up that there was going to be lot of standing water, and they were right on about that. Less than 1/4 mile in we encountered our first water hazard....and it suddenly became a trail/obstacle course. I could have been pissed about the slow going, or having to climb over snow piles, but I was running with friends....for I embraced all of it and laughed as we jumped/slid/ran/walked our way for 6.2 miles. Our good friend Deb made us some awesome tutus, which got us a lot of compliments, and really amped up our "cute" factor. The penguin hats were the icing on the cake!
Michelle and I hamming it up for the camera

Perfect spot for a photo op with Michelle!

Michelle and Melissa - looking great ladies!
The last 1/4 mile was probably the diciest part of the race. When we came back around behind the Shedd Aquarium, it was pretty much single-file thanks to the frozen slush and deep puddles. We obviously weren't going for a PR - this race was for fun - but I was getting chilly and was ready to be done. Once we got past that part, we just had to go up a slight hill and run through the finish. We had already decided we'd run through together, so we grabbed each other's hands and smiled and laughed together as we made it across the line. 
Love my awesome ladies!
Yeah, today was cold and not the best running conditions. But as one saying I've seen floating around says, if we wait for the perfect conditions we'll never set foot out the door. I may not have been fast, but I made it further than I've gone in the last three months - and it felt GREAT! And really, in the end, it's all about enjoying the miles, and being fabulous in the process.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

So is this how winter is going to go???

It's certainly been an interesting start to 2014, at least weather-wise. First we had a snowstorm New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, followed by another several inches of snow Saturday into Sunday. At least the snow made for some awesome sledding at the Fabyan Windmill! We even saw a couple who had just gotten married, and stopped by the hill to take pictures in the snow. Going up and down that hill was a great workout - especially when Nathan wanted me to pull him on the sled.

Luckily I made it out for an amazing trail run at St. James Farm with Pat, Melissa, Chris, and several other runners on Saturday morning. You know it's a challenging run when the ice-covered road was my preference for running! I did probably 1.5 miles through about 6" or so of fresh snow, and it really showed my how out of shape I am...yikes!! At least it gave just about my whole body a great workout, and I'm so glad I got out of bed for it.

Sunday afternoon was when the bottom dropped out. The temperatures started dropping quickly, and the wind picked up. By that evening the school district had already cancelled school for the next day. Between the falling temps, the bitter wind, and the drifting snow, it was definitely the right call. It was -25 or so when I woke up Monday morning (thank goodness I was able to stay home with the boys!), and with the windchill factored in, the temperature felt like about -45 to -50. This kept up all Monday, and into Tuesday, so we had another weather day at home. We finally thawed out to a balmy 15 degrees on Wednesday, so it was back to school and work for all of us.

Even though I didn't get a chance to log any miles this week, I still worked on being healthy and active. I made an oh-so-tasty batch of low-fat whole wheat chili mac, and healthy banana muffins and banana bread. Plus I got all of our Christmas decorations down, packed away, and stored for next year. There was a lot of clean-up that followed, but our house if finally back to normal.

So what's up next??? The Chicago Polar Dash 10K...woo hoo!! I can't wait to run this with several of my friends...we're even going to have tutus thanks to Deb! And thank goodness it'll be around 30 degrees, so hopefully the roads will be clear. I honestly have no idea how I'll do. The furthest I've run in the last couple of months is 4 miles. But I truly don't even care. I just want to have a good time and finish. I'm happy to say that my hip/hamstring really has improved quite a bit, I think due in part now to the trail and snow runs. Now bring on the miles!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections of 2013 and looking forward to goals for 2014

I say this every year, but it seemed like 2013 just flew by. I sit at the end of the first day of 2014, and I can't help but look back at all that happened over the last 12 months. My kids can only tolerate small amounts of my reminiscing, so I'm putting it down here.

I started off 2013 with a 5K run with Sue Stein in Chicago. It was a cold but sunny day, and I was hoping it would be the first of 600 miles for me. 3.1 down...only 596.9 to go! I didn't do as much running outside during the winter, though, and sadly kind of gave up on running much for a bit. The Shamrock Shuffle was still on my radar, so by mid-February I started to get back to it. I ran it a bit slower than 2012, but still finished in less than an hour.

In May I ran the Great Western Half Marathon. My time wasn't as great as I was hoping for, but the heat had kicked in and there was very little shade due to a late spring bloom for the trees. I had so much fun training for that, though, so it was a win in my book. Once I was done with that it was on to getting serious about marathon training. Boy...I had NO idea what I was in for when I signed up in February for the Chicago Marathon!

May also marked the beginning of the Fox Valley Marathon committee meetings. What an amazing group of people to be part of!! I signed up to the be the Kids Marathon Expo captain for the first day of packet pick-up, and can't wait to tackle more this year. I lived for our Wednesday night was so great getting together with everyone. And the post-meeting margaritas and wine didn't hurt!

Training for two marathons during a hot and humid Chicago summer was definitely a challenge. If I hadn't had the Fox Valley Marathon training runs and running on the off weeks with Pat L., there is NO way I would have made it through. It's pretty amazing to look back at the support I received from everyone, and I actually looked forward to spending hours on the trails with Pat. We never ran out of things to talk about, and Pat kept my feet moving even when all I wanted to was curl up on the side of the trail and take a nap.

Even with all the training and actually running two marathons, I fell about 200 miles short of hitting 600 miles. I had to take about 5 weeks off after Chicago due to hamstring/hip issues, so I might have gotten about 50 miles closer without that time off (although it was much needed...both physically and mentally). I'm finally getting back to where I can run with very little pain, and with that has come the joy I had felt about running in the past. And getting to run with my incredible friends, who I love dearly, makes it even better.

One other thing that was so wonderful about 2013 is the amazing friendships I've made now. I've mentioned this before, but when I was overweight I honestly didn't have one close friend here. Sure...there were people I was friendly with, but there wasn't anyone I could really turn to - for good things or bad. There wasn't anyone I could call up and say "hey, let's meet for coffee". Now I thank my lucky stars for the wonderful friends I have. I don't even have to ask them to meet week was particularly rough for me, and Christine knew a girl's night out was just what I needed for that weekend! And I realize that I need to be much better about being the one to initiate the same way. I hope my friends know how much I love them.

So what do I have to look forward to for 2014? Luckily it started off with a 3.1 mile run and brunch with 40-50 of my running friends, thanks to Jj and his wife. It's been snowing here for over 24 hours, and it was absolutely stunning out there this morning. Yes, it was cold - but the beauty of the snow and being surrounded by such a great group absolutely warmed my heart. As I sat at the table at brunch, looking around at the love and friendships in the room, I was getting misty-eyed. They were happy tears, though.

What I'm planning for in 2014 is to be a better friend, and make sure they all know I'm there for them no matter what. The support I've gotten from them will be returned, as I know many of them have amazing plans this year. I look forward to sharing many races with them, and we'll be starting that off on January 11th with the Polar Dash. Some of us (myself included) are running the 10K, so I'll get to cheer on those running the 14 miler. I can't wait!