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I’ve been running but not according to any plan… I’ve also been lifting, also not according to any plan.  I went to a yoga class today.  I am moderately sore all over.

Tomorrow I am leaving for a week at camp with a herd of eager students.  My first question to the camp director: Will there be internet access? My second question: Will I have time to run?  The answer to both questions is no. And she may have laughed in my face.  It’s going to be a long week.

So, I’m taking a week off from training. I’ll pack my running shoes and do what I can, but I’ll probably be too busy rousting kids out of bed at 7 am, traipsing through the woods, birding, boating, roasting marshmallows over a crackling campfire, guarding my girls against prankster boys from the next cabin over… you know, typical campy things.

A week with NO INTERNET, no training, no scale, no choice of what to eat or when to eat it, NO EMAIL, NO BLOGGING…. it’s either going to be horribly painful or really refreshing. I’ll be sure to let you know.

My long-awaited personal training session finally happened yesterday.  The trainer was very nice and helpful, offered me lots of little tips and ways to remember proper form.  I kind of wish that I could afford to hire a trainer for once a week on an ongoing basis and just turn over my whole health and fitness routine to a “higher power” so to speak.  Alas, at $70/session I really can’t afford it.

I learned a bunch of upper body exercises with the free weights, four different leg machines, a good mat abs workout and two ab machines.  I’m sore today but not horribly sore.  The main benefit was just demystifying and un-scary-ifying the weight room for me.  I’ve always felt really intimidated and self-conscious in there. Once I started workout out I didn’t even notice the other people at all, and I didn’t feel like they noticed me.

I still want to find a solid “program” to follow, mainly because I know how much I enjoy ticking off check boxes and progressing through a program.  Body for Life seems to be popular among some of the blogs I’ve been reading online.  Anyone have experience with that one?

Lastly, when the trainer was asking me about my goals (overall fitness, run a 10k race without dying, improve my 5k time, fit into designer jeans (ok, I didn’t tell her that one but it is a dream of mine)), she asked me to find some pictures of what I think of as the “ideal” body and shape that I would like to work towards.  I haven’t been able to find anything!  I do NOT want to be rail thin.  I don’t want a six-pack like the women in fitness magazines.  I don’t even really care about wearing a bikini.  I’ve looked at pictures of Katherine Heigl, Gabrielle Reese, Kate Winslet? I don’t know!  Help!  The trainer also mentioned that I could send a photo of myself at a younger age… I still haven’t been able to find anything.

In other news, I went for a run after the training session. I’m following the Hal Higdon 10K training program now, so 2.5 miles, out to the lakefront, around the point and back home.  I ran pretty slowly and it still felt pretty intense.  It was in the 70s outside and I’m not used to running in such hot weather or sweating quite so much.  It felt good, though. Lots and lots of flowers are blooming and the new leaves on the trees are just starting to unfurl. I saw some cute dogs and ran up some little hills.  No heart rate monitor, no watch. I didn’t even look at the time when I left, so I don’t know how long the run was. Probably 30-40 minutes.

I’m officially graduated from Couch to 5K.  I did all of the workouts and I ran a 5K race.  I have an idea for a “wrap-up” post where I go back and evaluate my mental state, feelings, fitness level etc. week to week based on older posts… that might take a while, though, so stay tuned!

I finished my first 5K race this morning!!!!!!! It was chilly and rainy, but so fun to be out there with all the other runners. I reached the first mile marker at 11:30, the second at 24:00 and the finish at 38:00. I definitely lost some steam in the last mile and walked a little bit, but I powered up for the race to the finish line, soaking up all the cheers and speeding past lots of folks who were walking across the finish. It felt great! I tried not to cry but it was very emotional for me at the finish line and some tears may have squeezed their way out.

I’ll write more later– gotta shower!

First of all, thank you all so much for the kind and encouraging comments on the last post. They really inspire me to keep on going out there and working and improving.

It’s been an amazing, amazing week. I got a job offer for an AMAZING JOB that I LOVE. I’ve been on tenterhooks for months waiting to find out, and I got it! I got it! I can’t even believe I got it, I’m so happy.

I just got back from a run. I don’t even think of it as week nine, run two. It’s just a run. It was a beautiful, warm, windy day here today. I laced up my running shoes right as the sun was going down and set out for the lakefront. The lake path at dusk seems absolutely magical to me. I passed families with babies in strollers and children riding on their fathers’ shoulders. I passed walkers, mosey-ers, and lovers on evening strolls. Cyclists and other runners passed me. I ran past two campfires. I smelled hot-dogs roasting and smiled at at least ten different dogs. I saw daffodils in full bloom, trees with buds about to burst open into flower, and the deep, indigo blue of Lake Michigan at dusk.

The race on Saturday is at the forefront of my mind, so I pushed myself a little harder and a little faster than usual. I had a lot of energy the first mile, then started to slow down a bit in the second mile. My lower back and the muscles that wrap around the sides of my waist started to feel the fatigue first. The third mile I pushed myself to speed back up, to really focus on gliding forward and forward and not just up and down in little hops. Propelling myself forward is the goal. Forward, onward, forward.

I ran a little further than I did last time, north on the lakefront a block or two further, around two giant oak trees planted very close together, and then back home. When the bus stop shelter at the corner near my house came into sight, I thought “finish line” and started to run faster and faster. I sped up and really conquered those last few blocks, panting loudly and trying to smile. Will I know when the race photographer is taking my picture on Saturday? Will my hair looks as wild as it did today running into incredible wind? Will I have a chance to smile? I hope to run the whole race with a smile on my face.

After thirty-five minutes of continuous running, I passed the bus stop and walked the rest of the way home, feeling really physically exhausted, flushed and sweaty, twitchy and achy and tired and happy. Happy, happy, happy.

I just got back from an EXQUISITE run by the lakefront. Early on, when I was out there running in -19 degree weather, freezing my face off, huffing and puffing and aching and toiling, my dad told me to remember exactly how that feels, so when the weather gets better and the runs get great, I can really appreciate how great it feels. I remember laughing at him– great? Running feels great? I mean, I know people who seem to like it, but I always figured they were just wired differently from me. For me, running had always been hard, painful, and humbling.

Well, that’s starting to change. I went out from my house and ran along the lakeshore. It was cool and quite windy outside. I ran slow, slow, slowly, and even though the time went by slowly and I glanced at my watch from time to time, I did NOT feel the urge to walk or stop. I felt perfectly content to just trot along, listen to “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” on my iPod, breathe in the nice fresh air and take in the twilight view of the downtown skyline. After walking for 5 minutes and running for 15, I looped around and ran back towards my house. There is something immensely satisfying for me about running towards home. I want to get there, it draws me in. Unlike on the treadmill, I can’t hit “stop” two minutes early and be done– I have to get home, and the faster I run the sooner I’ll get there.

I reached the bus stop near my house right at the 32 minute mark (see, I ran two minutes extra, that’s how much I was enjoying myself!!) and then walked the last few blocks to cool down. I put together a pot of split pea soup before I went out, and left it to simmer on low. The whole house smells wonderful. I’m sweaty and my muscles are twitching and I feel really invigorated. I hope I can run my race next weekend with the same sense of delight and wonder that I felt out there today. Two workouts to go before I officially graduate from the Couch to 5k program.

Completed at the gym right before closing on Saturday night. Right after the run I was brave enough to go into the weight-lifting area (a few times I’ve started to go in there and been scared away by varsity athletes grunting and lifting huge weights and staring at my tush, or so I imagine). I did two sets of curls, then some shoulder exercises with 5lb free weights, then I did a few sit-ups on the fitness ball, then they turned the lights out and I went home. That’s about all. Countdown to RACE DAY: 6 days!!!

I was just about to cancel with the personal trainer, when she called me and apologized for being so slow to get back to me and offered to meet with me right away. I was apprehensive, but agreed. I’m so glad I did! She was warm and friendly and encouraging and inspiring. She did a comprehensive fitness assessment on me, which was quite humbling. I know that I’ve come a long way in my fitness already in the past 9 weeks or so since I’ve started running, but I still have a long ways to go. I’ll probably post a chart with my results soon, but the main things were:
Body fat 36%. When I started it was 40%. The top of the “healthy” range for women, and the number that the trainer thinks should be my goal is 21%. That’s still a LONG way to go.
Upper body strength: Poor. I was able to do 14 “girly” pushups before I had to stop. And it was hard.
Flexibility: Average
Cardio: GOOD!!!
This was a pleasant surprise because I’ve always thought that my cardio fitness was very, very low. Nine weeks ago it was. Today it is categorized as “good”!! For this test I had to step up onto a step for three minutes. By the third minute my heart rate had climbed to 173 and I was panting and starting to sweat. It was embarrassing, the trainer had to ask if I was okay. Then I got to sit in a chair and rest for one minute to see how my heart could recover. Guess what? In just one minute my heart rate was down to 69 bpm (resting was 60) so I was almost fully recovered in just a minute! The trainer said this was “awesome” and really impressive.

The trainer wants me to meet with her assistant instead of her for training since she knows I want to get started right away… I’m tempted to tell her that I would rather meet with her instead of her assistant, even if I have to wait a while. I’m really focused on my race in NINE DAYS so I wouldn’t mind starting a strength routine after that, anyway. I’ll think about it and call her tomorrow to discuss.

Anyway, after the fitness assessment I got on a treadmill and walked for five minutes, then ran for 28 minutes. It was very hard. It’s been a while and I’ve been sick and am still not 100% healthy. I paused the machine after 14 minutes of running to take a short break and get a drink. Then I cranked it back up and finished the rest. OOF it was hard. The race is coming up so soon I really want to do whatever I need to do to be ready. Also I am in an EXTREMELY STRESSFUL situation at work and I think running really helps me blow off some of that steam.

Anyway, if I can continue to run every other day up until my race I should be able to finish the Couch to 5K program by race day, or maybe count the race as the final run. I’ve been tempted to just sluff off these last few runs, workout however I want to and move on to some other training plan, but I do want the satisfaction of having really, truly completed this program for real. So I’m going to keep doing it. Four workouts left!

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