Monday, February 22, 2010

Back in the Saddle

It's true, blog family, I have returned. I hope that you have not forgotten about me in my absence. About a week and a half ago, I fell of the wagon--and then it ran me over. I am having a very hard time overcoming my fatigue after long days at work. Once I collapse on the couch, I am done for the evening. My poor husband is beginning to catch on to my little tricks to get him to come in the living room to hand me the tv remote from the coffee table, turn on a lamp, plug in my laptop, or bring me drinks. I have even been attempting in vein to teach my itty bitty dog to fetch me the remote when I need it, but she just looks at me with judgement in her eyes.

After a weekend of soul-searching, I have reached inside and pulled out my buried motivation. I am still signed up for a 5k in just two weeks (PANIC!). I am determined to finish it, even if I am the very last one to cross the finish line. I bought some tight exercise pants to prevent chafing during my training, loaded a couple more playlists onto my IPod, and my sweet husband mounted a tv in the treadmill room. I am back in the saddle!

Thanks for keeping me honest, dear readers. A special thanks to guy I like to call "Gymothy." He gave me a book about ultra-marathon runner, Dean Karnzes. This man is a maniac--he actually fell asleep while he was running. He has run 226 miles non-stop--which puts my 3 mile 5k in perspective! So far, it has been a pretty good read...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Funky Funk

Ask and ye shall receive, fan club. I have heard your pleas for a new blog post, and I have decided to grant your request. The truth is that I have not been blogging for the past several days because I am currently in the midst of a self-pitying, down-in-the-dumps, royal funk. My motivation has plummeted.

My work schedule has been so demanding lately that I have been getting home past 8:00 pm for the past week. I had the most wonderful plan to walk 3 miles with my nauseatingly fit sister during our visit in Chapel Hill this past weekend. What actually happened was that I was out late on a crisis call Friday night and was not able leave for Chapel Hill until 8:00 am the next morning. I arrived in Chapel Hill and was quickly swept up in a whirlwind tour of 5 potential wedding venues for my sister's upcoming wedding.

As a side note, I had the horrific experience of trying on a potential bridesmaid's dress for my sisters wedding. It was yellow, floor length, and entirely too tight. I looked like a lumpy banana. The other potential option was a strapless, knee length cocktail dress covered in blue flowers. It looked really good on the tall and thin Maid of Honor. I, however, would look like a sofa, or at least an overstuffed ottoman. Her wedding is not until next year, so perhaps after I have completed my half marathon, I will no longer look like plush furniture when I try on the dress.

On Monday, I was sidelined with a migraine headache and went to bed as soon as I arrived home from work. Yesterday and today, I arrived home after 8:00 pm from work. I have to find a way to work out during the day or (I am cringing even as I type this) the morning. I think I have actually become one of those obnoxious people that feel depressed if they do not exercise.

Help me, readers! I have lost my mojo and I don't know where to find it!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

High Point

Whereas last Friday was my low point, Wednesday night was/is my high point, thus far. I went to the gym, plugged in my killer playlist, and walked until my legs fell off (3 miles in 1 hour, to be exact). It had been a particularly challenging day at work. I don't know what was in the water, but every client I saw was ridiculously obnoxious. While on the treadmill, I created a very therapeutic visualization activity in which I pictured myself stomping on each and every one of them. I highly recommend this technique.

Once I had successfully stomped on all of my nemeses, I relied on my trusty playlist to get me through the next 45 minutes. I put my list on shuffle and got into the groove. Just when I though I could not possibly take another step, the Black Eyed Peas kicked me into high gear. As my energy began to wane again, old-school Britney Spears (before she was crazy) got me over the hump. For the piece de resistance--at the moment when I was slumped over with my arms braced on the rails, holding up my legs--I heard those familiar sirens, and I knew that I would work through my pain, because P. Diddy had come to my rescue with Shake Ya Tail Feather. Coma victims can't even resist the urge to dance to this song. For the first time in my entire life, I actually enjoyed exercising.

However, my enjoyment was short lived. I quickly understood why women wear tight exercise pants. My loose fitting sweats did nothing to keep the friction created by my thighs rubbing together from becoming potential fire hazard. An hour of constant skin on skin contact reeks havoc on the sensitive area of the inner thigh. I eventually stopped the treadmill and hiked my pants up as far as they would go, thus creating the worst wedgie I have ever experienced (I am sure the man on the treadmill behind me found me absolutely irresistible at that moment). I am still feeling the burn today.

I have decided that, no matter how ridiculous I look, tomorrow I am going to purchase the tightest, most unflattering exercise pants I can find...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Low Point

Friday night was a low point. My Wii Fit gleefully informed me that I had gained 0.4 lbs. I was devastated--my stomach was empty, my muscles were sore, my burps were fishy, and I had nothing to show for it. I flung myself onto my bed and began to sob loud enough for my husband to hear so that he would come console me. I dramatically informed him that I was a complete failure and was making a fool out of myself by committing to this ridiculous goal. Like a good husband, he gave me a pep talk and coaxed me out of the bed and off the proverbial ledge. The next morning, I weighed myself again and was elated to discover that I had lost 2.4 lbs. Apparently, I had just eaten a big dinner the night before. Although the subject of this blog is not weight-loss, my half-marathon will be much easier if I am not carrying so much extra weight.

I visited my parents over the weekend by accident. My husband and I had planned to visit my nauseatingly fit sister and her marathon-running fiance in Virginia. On Saturday, we were packed up and heading in that direction--determined not to let the blizzard swirling around us derail our plans--when we conceded defeat and stopped at my parents house instead. Since my parents are avid readers of my blog, they promptly asked me if I had exercised yet that day. In that moment, I was reminded of the irritating reality of accountability. I twisted my dad's arm, and he agreed to lead me in a yoga session.

My dad has been doing yoga since before it was cool. I have clear memories of him rolling around on the floor while the rest of the family was watching a movie or playing a board game during family night. He has even been known to take his mat out into the back yard in the wee hours of the morning for some sunrise yoga. During family beach vacations, it was not uncommon for us girls to be sunbathing in lawn chairs and look over to see our dad standing on his head. (As a side note, I have told many people that my dad can stand on his head for two hours at a time because I thought I remembered him doing so as a child. I was recently informed that it was actually more like ten minutes. Apparently, if you stand on your head for two hours, your head will, most likely, explode.) Anyway, I was not disappointed. He led me in great routine and gave me some pointers. I am not even sore today.

Today, I walked a mile in the snow with my mom. After my low point on Friday, I was thrilled when I didn't even get winded when walking up the big hill at the end of my parent's road.

I recently made a killer work-out mix for my ipod, so tomorrow I am back on the treadmill...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Ugly Truth

Yesterday, I was finally able to get in touch with my doctor's office to receive my lab results. As expected, my cholesterol was too high. I was instructed to take fish oil (gross) and avoid high cholesterol foods. I have this favorite food that I call fried lump. Basically, fried lump is anything that is breaded and/or battered, fried, often covered with cheese and bacon, and always dipped in ranch dressing. There are many variations of fried lump, but I am fairly certain that they are all considered high cholesterol foods.

I also discovered that my vitamin D level is too low, which most likely explains why I have been so tired lately. During my physical, I tried in vain to get my doctor to give me a B12 shot, but she told me I was about 30 years too young. I remember these shots from my days working as an activity director at a dementia and Alzheimer's care residence (and yes, that job was as glamorous as it sounds). Every month I would watch with envy as the residents eagerly received their B12 injections. They would hobble up to the nurse's office, get their hit, and happily skip back to their rooms. For the rest of the day, my job to keep them occupied and stimulated became much more interesting. I believe that in addition to B12, these injections also contain a serum of liquid happiness and pure energy. I am not a medical professional, this theory is just a working hypothesis.

As a newly dutiful patient, I purchased fish oil tablets and 1000 mg tablets of vitamin D. My choices of fish oil were original or odorless--the odorless bottle actually said " proven to reduce fishy burps." The odorless fish oil cost $5 more than the original. Consequently, I chose not to reduce the fishy burps. I took the vitamins for the first time today. I will let you know if my energy level comes back and whether I am experiencing fishy burps--this is my attempt to build suspense for my future blogs.

I was not able to walk for 3 miles today as planned due to the havoc last night's yoga session has reeked on my body. Although I did enjoy my yoga work out, I would not exactly call it relaxing. It involved a lot of shaking, stumbling, and laying face down on the floor willing my body to move. At no time during this work out would I describe my moves as graceful or flowing--especially not when I kept falling over sideways during my warrior pose. This morning, I rolled out of bed and immediately crumpled to the floor in pain. I am not exaggerating when I say that every muscle in my body is stilling hurt 24 hours later. I think my ab muscles are in the most agony--which I was reminded of every time I moved throughout the day. During a counseling session today, I actually had to ask my client to help pull me out of my chair because my muscles hurt so much that I could not get up by myself. This is not the impression of professionalism for which I have worked so hard.

Today I discovered first-hand that, between fishy burps and incapacitatingly sore muscles, this journey is not going to be a glamorous one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Universe Aligns

My sincerest apologies, dear readers, for yesterday's absence of a post. After working very late, I came home, walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes, performed my wifely duties (by which I mean cooking dinner for my husband, for those whose minds reside in the gutter) and hit the bed. I am finally getting over my cold, and my energy has returned.

I am beginning to feel as though there is some cosmic conspiracy to force me into getting in shape. Today I experienced the ultimate betrayal by my favorite guilty pleasure. I opened my People magazine, and too my disgust, there is a 10 page spread entitled "Half Their Size." As if this ridiculous article with the half page pictures of smiling skinny people holding up their amorphous fat clothes was not enough, the next article featured six bulky brides-to-be pledging to lose 40-50 pounds by their fall nuptials. One such subject even stated that she was prepared to call of her wedding if she did not reach her goal. Something tells me that she may be missing the deeper meaning/purpose of the wedding ceremony. I said a quick prayer for her soon-to-be husband.

In the attempt to diversify my work outs, I chose to use my Wii Fit tonight. It has been quite a while since I last used it. As I stepped onto the board, it actually groaned (no lie, it made a sound effect). After scrolling through the perfunctory greetings, I was quickly reunited with my arch nemesis--the scale. When the Wii Fit had finished calculating my weight, it gave me drum-roll and cheerfully announced "You're Obese!" At that moment, I watched in horror as my Mii figure bulked up in front of my eyes, hung her head, and looked at me with disgust. I had just been ridiculed by a video game. My humiliation is complete.

I endured the abuse and dutifully completed a surprisingly vigorous 45 minute workout. All hope is not lost, however. Although my Wii Fit appeared to relish in my obesity, I am nine pounds lighter than I was when I went for my physical. Hooray for small victories!

With my first 5K fast approaching, I am beginning to feel an urgency to step up the pace of my workouts. Tomorrow, I am going to attempt to walk the distance of a full 5K on my treadmill. I am more than a little scared...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Traitor Summit

You are in luck, dear blog family, as I write this update, I am sitting in a room with 4 of the 5 traitor girlfriends. In true traitor fashion, our visit began with a 45 minute exercise session. After an intricate stretching session, the girls quickly left me behind as they jogged ahead, leaving me to wheeze along in their wake. I am still under the weather, so I was not able to keep up with them (at least, this is the excuse behind which I am curently hiding). To my delight, head traitor limped along with me the entire way. At the end of the walk, I was red faced, coughing, wheezing, sweating, and snotting all over the place. I look over and witness head traitor jumping from foot to foot, stating that she is going to go for a "quick run" on her own. Our truce was short-lived. I was back to hating her again.

Although head traitor did not find our training session as vigourous as I did, it was my most successful session to date. I believe that I walked at least 8 miles (at this moment, head traitor is looking over my shoulder and informing me that we actually walked a maximum of maybe 2 miles). I kept my pace up for the entire 45 minutes. Our path was hilly enough to cause my calves to burn, but flat enough to allow for rest periods. I am still not running for any substantial amount of time (so far, 1 minute is the length of my longest trek). Hopefully this feat will occur sometime in the near future.

I am going to cut this blog short tonight in the hopes that I will be able to have some non-marathon related fun with my friends (whom I still love dearly despite their recent unacceptably healthy behavior).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I was informed, via email, today by the head traitor girlfriend that "You all need to sign up for at least a 5k in the spring (deadline: April 15!) Side note: Lynne, these 5k's are not "just for fun" they are an investment in your half-marathon future!!" Ouch! I felt like I was called out by the teacher in front of the whole class. In order to redeem myself in the eyes of the head traitor, I dutifully signed up for a 5k walk/run taking place on March 6th. I also called my mother and informed her that she will be participating in this race with me.

I recently had the horrifying realization that at my current speed of 22 minutes per mile, it will take me roughly 6.5 hours to complete this race. Something tells me that this is not an acceptable time. I have these terrifying visions of finally reaching the finish line of my first half-marathon, only to discover that everything has been packed up, and all of the participants have gone home. I picture wadded up papers with numbers on them rolling through the streets like tumbleweeds. The possibility of this bleak future is currently fueling my slow, but steady, progress.

Two days ago, I began to develop a nasty, phlegmy cough. I even had to leave work early yesterday. I spent most of last night in a cough medicine induced stupor and, thus, was benched from my training. Today, I am not feeling much better, but I did walk a mile and a half on my treadmill. My pace was slower than it has been lately, but I am proud of myself for doing it at all. In my pre-marathon days, I have been known to put on my exercise clothes and tennis shoes, walk outside, experience some menial amount of discomfort (a sniffle, a toe cramp, a hiccup, etc), swiftly pronounce myself too unwell to exercise, and banish myself to the couch for the rest of the evening. Gone are these good old days...

Tomorrow's assignment is to walk for 30 min and run for at least 1 minute.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Gym

Just as the concept of running/walking a half marathon in nine months is no longer triggering an anxiety attack, my traitor girlfriends are upping the ante. It is not enough that I have committed to this fool's quest, but now they are bombarding me invitations for 5k races and 10k races "just for fun."

Whatever happened to the days when peer pressure involved fun things like drugs and alcohol? When I attended the DARE program in the 6th grade, the police officer never warned me about the hooligans that pushed horrific things like exercise, unprocessed food, and water. Had I been fully informed, I may not have found myself in my current predicament.

Never the less, I am a girl of my word. I committed to completing a half-marathon this year, and I will prepare accordingly. I have downloaded a training schedule for beginners and began following it on Monday. Coincidentally, Monday's assignment was to rest (I have chosen to ignore the fact that I also chose the previous Saturday as a day of rest). I have made a science out of resting, so I completed Monday's task with flying colors.

Today's task was to walk for 30 minutes at a comfortable pace. This task presented a dilemma. I am fairly certain that the pace I consider as "comfortable" is much slower that that of the average person. My mother describes my usual pace as "lolly-gagging." I never walk with any sort of purpose and am often distracted by various shiny things along my path.

I ventured into the gym with my friend Sara. As a general rule, I hate gyms. They smell like sweaty feet and are full of skinny athletic people who grunt a lot and prance around like peacocks displaying their tail feathers. Plus, the combination of fluorescent lighting and floor-to-ceiling mirrors does not inspire confidence in those of us who could go a lifetime without seeing our extra flesh in motion.

My boss provides a gym membership as one of our benefits at work. In return, he expects us to actually use the membership. He once ordered me to go to the gym at least once a week for a month and informed me that he would be checking to make sure I went. Instead of actually using the gym equipment, I went three times a week and used the free tanning bed.

So here I am at the gym. Sara and I chose side-by-side treadmills. I selected a treadmill setting of 3 (don't laugh, on Sunday my speed was 2, so I am improving). I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my legs felt stronger today and I was able to keep a steady pace for most of the 30 minutes. I successfully beat my previous mile time by 7 minutes. I walked a mile in 22 minutes.

When my 30 minutes were up, I stopped the treadmill and stretched my legs (in hindsight, I would have gotten off of the treadmill before I stretched). Somehow, the belt began to move again, thus causing me to lose my balance and roll toward the front of the treadmill. I looked to my ever supportive friend for help, but she could not see through the tears of laughter that were clouding her vision. I eventually untangled myself from the treadmill and made a hasty retreat to the locker room.

Tomorrow's assignment: walk 30 minutes, run for at least 1 minute

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

Friday evening, after I wrote Day Two's blog entry, I made a plan for Saturday.
The plan was as follows:
1. Get up early
2. Clean the living room
3. Go to the Gym

This was my actual Saturday:
1. Get up at 1:00 pm
2. Move to the recliner with pillow and blanket
3. Watch everything saved in my DVR list
4. Move back to the bed to sleep for the night.

Needless to say, Saturday was an utter and complete failure. No gym, no walking, really not much movement at all. However, my husband was productive. Later in the afternoon, he walked into the living room looking very satisfied with himself. He announced that he had cleaned out the refrigerator. As I expressed my delight, his expression changed to one of sheepishness. He admitted that he had actually just finished off the last of a bottle of firefly vodka in the fridge and threw the bottle away. It was 4:00 pm. I laughed so hard that I almost fell out of my recliner. Thank goodness I didn't, it would have required movement to get back in it.

Sunday was much better. I made up for my lack of movement. I decided to walk on the treadmill. After my five minute warm up, I cranked up the speed and got into the groove. I was sweating, breathing hard, and really working it. At that moment, completing a half-marathon seemed like child's play. I looked down at the timer--3 min and 23 seconds had elapsed. Are you kidding me? I felt like I was going to die, and I had only been walking for 3:23?

This is going to be harder than I thought. I did finish my mile. It took me 29 minutes, but I finished it.

Day 5 Assignment: walk 1 mile in less than 29 minutes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh, The Horror!

Day two began with a complete physical, for which I was 20 minutes late. I actually arrived at the doctor's office on time, but sat in my car for 20 minutes debating whether or not to enter. Actually, I considered abandoning ship, entirely--refusing to participate in the half-marathon, deleting this blog, and hiding from my overly persistent girlfriends. I was perfectly willing to throw it all away, just to avoid the horror that awaited me within those walls.

Interestingly, I am not an unhealthy person. My fear of doctors is completely unfounded--especially considering that my mother is a nurse, and my nauseatingly fit sister is in her third year of medical school. (Side note: I promised that I would mention my youngest sister in this blog. We will call her the "irritatingly pretty sister.") Perhaps I can best explain my cowardice by comparing the process of the physical to that of a particularly diabolical obstacle course:

Obstacle 1: The receptionist:
As a rule, the receptionists at physicians' offices are not kind to the habitually tardy. This one was no exception. We have met before--she hates me. I could sense her disdain as I signed the ubiquitous clipboard. She glared at me and informed me that she would ask my physician if she would still see me. For a brief moment, I sensed imminent escape--if she won't see me, then I am free! My hopes were dashed, however, when the delightful receptionist grudgingly informed me that I would be seen.

Obstacle 2: The scale:
This ruthlessly unforgiving monstrosity has been taunting me for many years. Just when I begin to believe that my dryer shrank every piece of clothing I own, my eternal foe jerks me right back to the harsh reality of the most dreaded number imaginable--my weight.

Obstacle 3: The Reckoning:
As I faced the she-devil I call my physician, I braced myself for her wrath. I had gained 20 lbs since my last appointment six months ago. I took my lecture like a man and assured her that everything was about to change. I filled her in on my new endeavor. I was pleasantly surprised when she gave me some tips and pledged her support. Perhaps she is not the demon I once thought...

Obstacle 4: The Pap Smear:
Enough said.

Obstacle 5: Lab Work:
Needles, blood, and urine--these are not a few of my favorite things. However, I did experience something new. While drawing my blood, the lab tech discovered that I am a counselor. She actually followed me into the bathroom, closed the door, and proceeded to ask my advice concerning a personal dilemma. During our conversation, I actually caught myself gesturing emphatically with my urine cup. After an impromptu therapy session, I obediently filled the cup and was on my way.

Freedom! I made it out of this medical house of horrors safely with a dose of the H1N1 vaccine, a clean bill of health, and my physician's blessing to begin training.

As promised, I completed my mile walk. I opted for a walk outside with my hubby and dog instead of the treadmill.

Day three's assignment: venturing into the gym...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day One

My journey begins with me reclining comfortably on the couch, my laptop resting on a pillow in my lap, and will end on Labor Day 2010, when I cross the finish line of the Virginia Beach Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. Even as I type these words, self-doubt is nagging at my stubborn, if not always realistic, self-confidence.

As the title of my blog not-so-subtly suggests, I am not the paragon of physical health that embodies most marathoners. My sadistic physician likes to use words like "obese" and "significantly overweight" when referring to my physical stature. However, I prefer using more gentle words like "fluffy," "plump," and "over-achiever." My level of athleticism falls somewhere between that of a paraplegic and an inactive senior citizen suffering from arthritis.

So why, you may ask, would I even consider participating in a half-marathon? I assure you, dear reader, I am not the masochist that I may seem. Rather, I am simply a victim of the worst kind of peer pressure--guilt.

I subscribe to the motto that one should always "friend-up." "Friending-Up" is a common strategy in which one chooses friends that are smarter, thinner, prettier, etc. than him/herself. Many are avid proponents of "friending-down," thus always seeming better by comparison, but I enjoy a challenge. I have five very thin, very pretty girlfriends. We all went to college together and vacation together every Labor day weekend. Usually, we spend these weekends drinking way too much and talking about ourselves ad nausea. I love these weekends. Imagine my horror when one of my beloved ladies suggested that next year (2010) we spend Labor Day weekend participating in a half-marathon. I admit that my initial reaction involved an incredulous expression and a few well-placed expletives. It appeared that my dear friends had turned against me. I watched in shock as each one of them heralded this asinine idea and eagerly committed to it on the spot. At that moment, I hated each of them just a little bit.

Well, they wore me down. I begrudgingly agreed, and here we are. I bought a pair of tennis shoes, brought the treadmill out of storage, and made a training schedule. I decided to write a blog about my journey to promote accountability. This story would not be complete with out a charming cast of supporting characters. My equally "fluffy" husband, my nauseatingly fit sister, her experienced runner fiancé (who has actually run a whole marathon), and my traitor girl friends will all appear in this blog throughout the next 9 months.

Day two will begin with a physical (boo!) so I am under the supervision of a medical professional during my journey. I will also walk at least one mile on my treadmill.

Wish me luck!