Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Mental Race

Thank you again to everyone for all of your support in my training for my race on Sunday. I really put myself out there a year ago to get to that day and I can't believe it's already over! I am pretty sure I am going to do it again but I would like to be able to do other types of races before then.

I have focused a lot on the physical part of preparing for the race but there is another aspect that I feel is even more important. The mental/emotional part of it! There were mental and extreme emotional parts to the race itself. There are also mental and emotional aspects of the training. Now it is time to tackle the mental/emotional part of eating.

The race was hard but I was pretty sure I could physically do it, even though the thought of finishhing the second 2 mile loop, without walking, was daunting. I had spent all spring and summer preparing for it and last fall learning how to run. The race was tiring. It was much more mentally tiring than I expected. I had known that I would most likely cry at the finish line but the tears didn't flow there, they flowed when I crossed the starting line and when I way my family and friends cheering for me. I cried just a little because I knew this was what I had spent all those hours preparing for and it was time to put myself to work. I didn't know the course so I didnt' know what to expect. I was worried about not being good enough; I was worried about looking like a fool to the other participants. After a few short minutes, I stopped caring about what strangers thought. I really just cared about making my sister and myself proud. I kept myself talking and was happy when my sister said I was keeping a great pace. I was excited when I crossed the transition line at just over 21 minutes but I didn't dwell on it. I still have two more legs ahead of me. I cruised through the bike course. I might even say it was relaxing for me. I knew this was my stronger sport and that I would be able to pass a number of women who weren't as strong. The next mental hurdle came on that second run when my lelgs started cramping only a few hundred feet into the run. I knew there were still 2 more miles infront of me and that I just had to keep moving. I walked a little but I kept a quick pace. I set mini goals for myself, "Just make it to the next lamp post", "Now keep jogging until you get to the water station." These were the little phrases that kept me going. I was determined to run the whole last mile and I did, even though it was a slow pace and I just really wanted to stop. Towards the end of the race, the course came around a corner and into the view of the spectators. I knew I wanted to end strong, so I picked up the pace. For some reason, my legs didn't hurt all that bad and my sister said I was going pretty well. I cruised intot he finish line and my heart skipped a beat. I was done and I didn't cry!

Now I know the race day emotions were big but what about those months of training? A year ago, I couldn't even jog 2 minutes let along a full mile! It was hard to force myself outside to get that work out in. I was haphazardly training. My thoughts told me when to give up and I did, for two months. I let the excuses get the best of me for two whole months in the middle of Winter. As I started to work up my jogging again in the Spring and into Summer, there were numerous moments where my emotions told me I shouldn't be able to do more than 2 minutes of running. But I committed to the Couch to 5k program. The plan pushed me through those times when I didn't want to keep running. I learned to stop looking at my watch and the time would go faster. When I hit that mental block, it was like a wall in my brain. There were times during my runs that I would talk out loud to myself to keep my body moving. That wall is a frustrating feeling that I have when I'm trying to work out and when I'm trying to eat healthy.

I know this is getting long winded but I promise I will get to my main point now.

I have this same mental block when I am trying to eat healthy but for me the mental block is usually a craving that takes over my whole thought process. When I think about how I feel emotionally when I want to binge, it's the same emotion I experience when I workout. It is really scary that it took me this long to figure that out. I know how to conquer the emotion when I am exercising. Can't I just take those same steps to get over the craving? This is something I am going to try to decipher next. Does anyone have any ideas for getting over that mental/emotional hurdle that comes with binge eating. Or is it really that individualized? I know I need to find alternatives to alleviate my cravings. In the past I have used small Jolly Ranchers to satisfy a sugar craving. Or I have just disconnected myself from the craving completely  and I go for a 30 min walk to keep myself physically away from the want. My cravings seem to be wants of convenience. I rarely will go out of my way to satisfy cravings, but if I can get my hands on the want, it is almost impossible to get away from it. If I think about how it makes me feel when those cravings and wants creep up on me, it is a feeling of giving into the weakness. It's the exact same feeling of giving in to the want to walk during my work outs. I feel weak and regretful after I give in.

So what am I going to do differently?  I am going to set a series of goals, one for each week announced on Sunday nights. Each goal will build on the previous. I announced this weeks goal on Twitter last night: to eat breakfast at home every day. There is a little teeny bit of background on this goal. I always eat breakfast before work. Most of the time it is at home, but sometimes it is on the way to work, usually a breakfast sandwich. I want this to stop. I have found that if I eat at home, I will not eat again until my morning snack at 10am. I will have to make sure to introduce variety into my breakfast plan. Usually I eat a bowl of cereal or and English muffin. I wold like to incorporate some baked eggs or oatmeal. Some of this will require some planning (I found a yummy recipe for baked pumpkin oatmeal, which will need some tweaking to get rid of the heavy cream and butter.)

So tune in on Sunday nights when I will announce a new goal. If you have any ideas for goals, let me know. You may come up with ideas when I'm stuck for new ones.

Happy Birthday

It's been one year since I started this blog. Here's to one more year!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Iron Girl 2011 (pics included)

I DID IT! I completed my first multi-sport event and I actually placed better than what I expected. I had the best group of supporters there to support me and ofcourse my sister stuck by me the whole time even though I'm sure that she could have completed it much faster than I was going.

The 7th Annual Iron Girl Bloomington Duathlon was set to start at 7:30 am. The transition area where I had to rack my bike opened at 5. I thought I was going to have to be there that early just for my sanity. We didn't end up leaving my parent's house until 5 and made it to the event site within a half hour. It didn't feel too cold when we got there but I was glad I was wearing a long sleeved Under Armour under my long sleeved running shirt my sister bought me. It seemed to get colder as the morning wore closer to the start time. After racking my bike, we walked around the event site and relaxed a little as the sun came up over the Bloomington skyline. At one point, it did start raining. We weren't expecting any rain and I think it made the air even colder.

14-29 yrs wave
The wave start for this race started with the oldest competitors first and the youngest age group last. I was in the youngest group of women, 14-29. The woman with the red visor actually won the race. I believe she also won it last year. One of the things I really liked about this race was the range of abilities. There were elite racers mixed in with novices. I'm sure the elites don't really like it too much but they can get passed us slower folks pretty quickly. About five minutes before the start of my wave, I made sure to warm up so that I wouldn't get any shin splints like the last race when I didn't take any time to warm up.

Race Beginning, I look super nervous

Alyssa smiling the whole way, I think I was tearing up.
And we are off! My sister was smiling the whole way through the starting line, or whenever we passed a camera one of our cheerleaders was holding. I admit, I felt pretty good on the first 2 mile run! We passed the first water station without taking anything. I thought the water station was at the 1 mile mark and I was freaking out that I ran an 8 min/mi pace! I was wrong though because we came around the bend to find the mile marker. It was great having my sister there on that run because she pushed my pace and we just kept going. She told me she hadn't seen me run so far since high school. I felt pretty good about that one. I completed the whole two mile loop without stopping to walk.
Finishing the first run, into transition
Transition sucked because we had to run the whole length of it to get to our bikes and then run the whole length again to get out of transition. My bike was one of the last ones on the rack. It was kind of a bummer but I knew running was my weaker of the two sports. I was hopeful that I would pass a lot of people on the bike route.

It was strange my legs adjusting from the running to being on the bike. I found a great pace about 2 miles into the bike loop. I was warned that the loop was hilly, but hilly is relative. I felt like the hills were pretty manageable and nothing compared to the hills in the Madison area. I was right about passing a bunch of people on the bike. It has always been my strongest sport. It was hard for me to pass women that were off their bikes, either from injuries, broken bikes or just plain giving up. I'm sure I would have kept going even if I had to get off my bike and walk it. It was a gorgeous ride. I finished the ride in 1hr 29 min. My goal was to finish it in 1:30 so I was right at goal and I probably passed 30+ people over the course of the two loops.

Out of Transition into our second run
Transition number two was pretty much at the same time as transition one at 4 minutes, which is really long. I was having an issue because some other lady put her bike over my stuff and where my bike was supposed to go. So I had to move some bikes to the side to make room for my bike. I was surprised I jogged all the way out of transition and jogged just passed to where my family was standing with their cowbells. I felt my calves tightening hard just after that and I had to walk up the hill.  Just after the hill my sister made a goal to run to the lamp post at the end of the downhill. I made it to that post and kept going. I was taking baby steps on my run. I was running pretty slow but I did run! I walked another 30 seconds or so until we got to the water station where I downed a couple of small glasses of Gatorade to up my electrolytes to make my legs stop cramping. (Next time I will carry some on my bike, lesson learned). I ran the whole last mile without stopping to walk. My sister was talking me through it and encouraging me the whole way. She was giving me pointers to keep my mind off the pain and numb toes. She help me open up my lungs and keep the air moving through them easily. I was finding that I was hunching over towards the end.

Final turn before the finish line
I picked up the pace as I came down the final stretch before the turn towards the finish line. I wanted to look good for the crowd and my family! They had to think I ran that strong the whole way!

Final Stretch
Crossing the Finish Line!

I finished this race with a better standing that what I expected. I really just wanted to finish, and I did,  but I finished 797th out of 1105! I was hoping for the top 1000 of participants and I came in 200 under that! Ok, so here are the official numbers: first 2 mile run: 21:47 (a new min/mi PR, sub 11 min), 22 mile bike ride: 1:29:14, second 2 mile run: 26:16, overall time: 2:25:15. I wanted to say thanks again to my wonderful sister Alyssa who stuck with me the whole time. Also thanks to my hubby Pat, my mom and dad, my greatest friend Christina and Ann from Twelve-In-Twelve for coming to cheer me on! You all pushed me a little harder! Also thanks to everyone else for the huge amounts of encouragement!

I would recommend this event, or any Iron Girl event, to any beginner! It was well organized. The entrance fees were a little steep at $90.

I should be getting ready for work. I hope to write about my mental hurdles in the next day or so and I want to talk about some new goals too!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mexican Chicken Soup

By popular request, here is the recipe for my Mexican Chicken Soup

One crock pot/slow cooker, plugged into the wall
3 raw skinless and boneless chicken breasts
2 cans petite diced tomatoes with peppers
1 can no sodium added tomato sauce
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed **hint hint, its usually cheaper to buy them in the mexican food section of the grocery store, I dont know why**
1 cup salsa, any spiciness you like
2 small cans of diced green chilis **also cheaper in the mexican part of the store**

Combine and cook on low for 6-8 hours or whenever chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken breasts and shred with a fork. Combine shredded meat back in with soup. When serving, top with shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips, if desired. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Look Back

A Look Back

As I continue to look forward to my race on Sunday, I have also taken some time to look back on the
last year since committing to this event. In some ways, I never thought I would be where I am but in
other ways, I thought I would have been further in my journey.

A year ago, the thought of running made me sick. I knew I had never been a strong runner and was not looking forward to recommitting to shin splints, side aches, and numb feet. I remember when I had to run the mile in Jr. High in under 11minutes, I walked about half of that mile. I probably could run the mile when I was in high school, right at the end of ski season when I was taking my gym course in the spring. I was passing people and it felt great! I wanted to embrace that feeling again. It was one of those nonessential high school moments that I will never forget. I started out slow. My goal was to run a mile without having to stop to walk.

So I just started running. I was walking mostly and running a little bit here and there. I had no set
schedule and no watch. I would just run as long as I could without stopping to walk or rest. I would
watch the time on my iPod. I wouldn’t go all that long, maybe 20 seconds and then I would walk until I felt like I had my breath back, then I would jog again for a few seconds. I thought I was going to be able to run a 5k by Thanksgiving. I didn’t quite make it.

I started keeping track of my progress on Dailymile. It was great to have a place to see how much I was improving. It also helped with my motivation. I was working out after work, before I had the chance to go home and sit down on the couch. I did this in the late afternoon light and in the dark after daylight savings time. I did it until it got really cold, when I stopped for 2 months.

I wish I could say that it was the cold air that made me stop working towards running. In reality, it
was actually a compliment about how much more toned I was looking since I had started working out. Instead of keeping the hard work up, I just stopped. I wish I could explain what was going through my mind when I decided to just stop working out because I had one compliment. I would think it would work in reverse and actually push me to go harder to get even better results. But it didn’t. I thought that because I was looking thinner, I could just take a break from exercising so I did.

Into March, I decided enough was enough and I needed to get my butt out the door. I didn’t belong to
a gym so I made sure I bundled up before I headed out into the cold. I wasn’t exercising many times
a week but I was still doing it right after work before I went home for the day. I started out again not
doing any running plan. I was jogging a block or so and stopping to walk and then jogging another

In early April, I joined a group of bloggers online. We committed to doing a 5k on Memorial Day in the Twin Cities. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was never one to put myself into a situation where I didn’t know anyone. I’ve written about that before. When I started really getting a goal in front of me is when I started training using Couch to 5k. It is an excellent program and I would recommend it to anyone. I ran that 5k in 40 minutes. I was so happy! I had ran 7 minutes without stopping. That was the longest I had gone without walking and I was so happy! 

I had my second 5k race two weeks later. I ran that one a full minute faster at 39 minutes. I was happy about that one too. I still hadn't been able to run more than five minutes at a time. I knew I had a lot of training ahead of me for the rest of the summer. I was hopeful that it wouldn't get too hot. I didn't have another opportunity to run a 5k until Labor Day. I ran that one in 38 minutes. I'm getting faster but I feel like I should be progressing faster than what I am. But overall, i'm pretty happy about my progress.

I just read the athlete guide for my race. I was aware of a time limit on the bike portion of the race (2.5 hours) but I was not aware of a time limit on the run (26 mins for 2 miles). I guess I'm not really worried about the first 2 miles but I am really worried about the second set of 2 miles after I finish my ride. The last time I did a brick workout, my shins tightened up and I could barely walk. So, now im worried because I typically run just under a 13 minute mile when my legs are feeling good. I hope hope hope I dont get pushed off the race!

Tomorrow I will talk about the goals I thought I would have achieved by now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Final Countdown...

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That's six days right? OH MY GOD! SIX DAYS!!!!!

Ok, now that I have gotten my freak out moment over, just about a year ago I made the decision to compete in my first ever duathlon. Specifically the Iron Girl Duathlon in Bloomington, MN. You can read about it in this entry.  I have found in the past that if I commit to something, such as an event, I tend to be more successful in my goals. So in January, I committed. You can check out my entry about that here.

It's been an interesting journey. I've been challenged. I've had great moments :-) and not so great moments :-(. I've been successful. I can run a mile!  I can run 2.75 miles (accomplished on Saturday woohoo)! I've made so many new friends and I've challenged my existing friends. I've had support from everywhere. Thanks to my hubby, my mom and dad, my sister, Christina, Becky, and Kinsey, among others.

There's been pain, shin splints, numb feet, side aches, sore knees...chafing. Ugh! But it has been so worth it. I wanted to go for one last bike ride after work today. I forgot that I had to work until 6pm. I didn't get on the road until around 6:45...it was cold...and getting dark. So instead of the planned 12 miles, I only did 3.5 miles, but it was hilly. I felt pretty good on the hills, ofcourse my legs were fresh.

I hear the course is hilly. My sister says its hilly, but not Wisconsin hilly. Which is good...I think.

I'm going to relax this week. I will probably get another run in tomorrow night after work. I have to get my bike in tomorrow to get fixed. My chain keeps skipping on certain gears.

I dont have a specific goal time for finishing on Sunday. I want to just have some fun and finish. My sister is going to do it with me even though she just finished the Iron Man a week ago.

Now that it has taken me over two hours to type this little entry, I'm signing off. I should be doing another update before Sunday. Yay!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I'm pretty much in love with this song. I don't know if it has anything with getting healthy. It just really touches my mood right now.

It's a Small World

I just hate it when I meet someone and I think I've met them before but I just can't place them. Does that happen to anyone else? Since meeting a bunch of amazing people from the healthiness blogging world, I have had this happen a couple of times.

A few weeks ago, my closest and bestest friend Christina asked me how I knew Unstoppable Mariah. I knew where Mariah worked and I also knew that she works at the same place as my friend.  It turned out Mariah's husband and my friend worked on the same team at some point...I think. So small world there!

The latest happened last night when I saw that Meredith from Making Over Merbear had commented on a friend's Facebook page. *Congrats go out to Meredith for having a PR on her 5k yesterday, she is one of my motivations!* I knew I had to ask her how she knew our mutual friend. It turns out her boyfriend has been best friends with my friend since elementary school! I have met her man before and I KNEW I had known him from my past but I couldn't place him.

It's just so strange to me how little this planet is...or even how little the Twin Cities crowd is. This group of so-called strangers I met through a random blog have connections I didn't know about. I am so happy I went out on a limb that one night to ask if I could join the group. It has really changed my life..for the better of course!

Safe Harbor Labor Day 5k

Yesterday I ran the Safe Harbor Labor Day 5k in Madison. The money went to benefit Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center. It's an organization that I had heard little about. Really I was just looking for a Labor Day 5k to compare to my Memorial Day Challenge Hearts and Minds 5k. That race I finished right at 40 minutes. My goal for this race was to finish faster than that. I finished at 38:36! It wasn't as fast as I had hoped but it was still reaching my goal AND I ran most of it. I would say I didn't walk anymore than 5 minutes during the whole race.

My husband joined me on this race as well as my good friend Kinsey and her husband Keith, he did the 10k race. They have all been a great support and Kinsey crossed the finish line by my side. I definitely ran faster than her but she would keep running when I would stop to walk. Each time she caught up to me, I would make sure to get up and run again so I could mostly stay ahead of her. I had never run further than 2 miles without stopping. I was unable to go that far without stopping yesterday. The course was hilly and I wasn't prepared for that. Overall I felt pretty good. I really wish I would have been able to run the whole thing! Looking back on it, I could have worked through those moments when my shin splints hurt or the side ache under my ribs. I should have been able to work through those! I just kept telling myself it was mental and I could get through this.

There was a father/daughter duo in front of me, well they passed me at one point where I was walking. I kept up with them for a while and could hear bits and pieces of their conversation. Dad was definitely a better runner than the daughter but it was so beautiful to hear him encouraging her to keep working through the urge to stop to walk. She was talking to him about things that were unrelated to that moment and he told her that it wasn't important to worry about, that she should just concentrate on what she was doing, to keep the pace, and just keep moving. I wondered what my dad would say to me in that same situation?

The last mile of the run was hellish long! But atleast it was flat, unlike most of the route. Kinsey and I finished it out together, for the most part. This was when the mental fatigue was kicking in. I knew I was pretty good up to the two mile mark because I had done that before. I was unsure about that last mile. I found myself telling my self that I had gotten through the first two miles and that I could do that one last mile! I couldn't feel my left food and my shins hurt...a lot! But I just kept putting one foot infront of the other foot, over and over and over again. That was all I had to do to get to the end. Once I saw the finish line, I did put a little bit more effort into it, just to shave off a second or two from my time. I'm proud of my 38:36 as I should be! 

This coming weekend I get to cheer my little sister on while she competes in her second Ironman Wisconsin! I'm extremely excited and nervous for her. I'm excited about watching her come out of the lake water and getting on her bike, I'm excited about her insanely fast biking through Verona... Twice! I get to ring my cow bell through the streets of downtown Madison while she runs a full marathon. I am nervous about the weather! The last time she did this race in 2006, it was cold and it rained all....day....long! It did not make for great racing and it definitely did not make for great race watching. I've been watching the weather since September 11th first started showing up on the 10 day forecast. As of right now, the low is 54 and the high is 77 and the sky is supposed to be sunny! Please pray that she has some great weather for her second Ironman!