Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blog title change

The half marathon has changed my attitude toward myself completely.

I decided to change the title of my blog.

"Muffin Top Marathoner" is degrading to myself and other overweight runners like me. Yes, I'm not where I want to be with my body. I'm working to change that, and I am determined to do so before the full marathon. Yes, looking good is a perk of losing the weight, but become a better, faster, endurance runner with less minor injuries is the real goal. 

Instead of calling attention to my physical self with this blog; I want to focus on my achievements as a person. Completing an endurance race, whether a 5k or full marathon is a huge achievement, especially for those, like myself, who didn't think it was possible due to the restriction larger runners put on themselves. 

Just because you are not at your "goal weight" or larger than society thinks you should be DOES NOT mean that you are restricted from taking up a sport you are interested in. Back when I was a bit heavier then I am now I thought I needed to lose weight before starting to run. I'm glad I ignored myself.

I recently had a customer come in and tell me that I shouldn't be running due to my size. I recognize that this body type is not optimal right now, but I am working on it. He continued to make remarks and tear me down for the remainder of my time with him. I told him that I was running a half in April and a full marathon in October. He told me to put off the full and focus on losing the weight first. Also, he told me that I wouldn't be running for long at my current weight and it was a matter of time until a serious injury took me out. I know women and men heavier than me train for and complete MULTIPLE half and full marathons without serious injury. My co-workers were very tempted to tell him to get out, but I just tried to brush it off. Sadly, it has stuck with me. 

Overweight and very skinny people know about their body type and DO NOT need "average sized" people to draw attention to it. I'm overweight and my husband is a very slim build. We both have issues with clothing and with people that like to point out our body types. People tell me to eat less and him to eat more. I've made comments like, "eat a cheeseburger" to a skinny person before and now that I live with one I realize how disrespectful that is. We need to stop focusing on the superficial and look at the overall person. I'm more than just overweight. My husband (and several friends and family members I know) are more than just "a bag of bones" or "just need to eat more." Sadly, in a culture that focuses on the superficial this is hard to overcome.

I'm not going to perpetuate stereotypes and a negative body image anymore. And I'm starting by changing the title of my blog. This is the end of my personal obsession with my weight.

No more.
:) Comic relief. That was a heavy post.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Iron Girl Half Marathon Recap

I'm officially a half marathoner! Woo!

As I am writing this, all I want to do is go back to sleep. I slept 8 hours like a log last night but I'm still exhausted. I managed to do some grocery shopping and meal planning so we have some tasty meals coming up this week. Yay!

Enough of boring stuff, onto the race recap!

Short version for those who just want the pics: I ran. It was a challenge. I came in 18 minutes earlier than expected. I was exhausted but extremely happy. I love my medal. I am proud of myself. The End.

Full story:

I slept much better than I expected the night before the race. I woke up at 4:50 AM and started to get ready. Dad was already up and getting ready too. I let Joe sleep until 5:15. We arrived a little after 6 am for the 7 am start.

After standing at the starting line for a half hour, we were told that something happened with the race course (there was an accident, we passed some car parts on the side of the road during the race) and to disband until they were ready to start. Ugh, I just wanted to start already!! Everyone was filled with nervous anticipation and were frustrated that it was taking so long to start.
And we're off! Finally!!

Finally, at 8 am we were lined up and started the race! I walked until we hit the blue mats and then started my watch and started a nice slow jog. Miles 1-3 went pretty fast and I was feeling great. I left the 13 min/mi pacing group a half mile in and decided to stick with the 12:30 min/mi pacing group since I was feeling good with the pace but it also offered a bit of a challenge. The crowd and volunteers were amazing and the best part of the race. I loved reading the signs and high five-ing some adorable kids that came out to support their moms/aunts/grandmothers. I passed up the first water station at 1.5 miles but took a swig out of my water bottle on my water belt just to get some water.

Soon enough we hit mile 4 and I was feeling great. I took my first GU an hour in (lemon lime sublime, yum!) even though I didn't feel like I needed it. I always take some form of nutrition in at 1 hour and then every 45 minutes after that so I decided to stick to the nutrition schedule I was used to.

Around mile 5.5-6.5 the big hills started. After passing through the halfway point at mile 6.5 we encountered what is so lovingly referred to as the "b*tch hill." Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy, but I think a few of the hills after that one were worse. There is a moderate incline to a steeper short hill followed by a few steps of flat and then up a moderately steep hill for a much longer distance. And after that it was nothing but up and down until mile 13, but the hills got less intense near the end, or my legs were numb and I just didn't care. Something like that.

During the one hill, I followed this lady with mint green shoes. I just kept chanting to myself "mint shoes, mint shoes, mint shoes" over and over. Then I was thinking about mint ice cream and shamrock shakes, but then I was back to my chant and the hill was over. NEVER stare at the top of a hill you are going up. Looking at how steep the hill is and how far you have to go will just mentally defeat you. So I stared at mint shoes lady for some hills and the pacers for others. I remember looking at one hill thinking, "no way I can run up this the whole way!" I just focused on the next few feet ahead of me and I looked up a few minutes later and realized I was at the top! "Hills aren't that hard," I thought to myself.

I believe it was around the 7 mile water stop I started taking gatorade and water. I was warned by runners and websites that it is not wise to mix gatorade and GU, but since the gatorade was watered down I felt it would be fine. The gatorade was a welcome flavor break and it was lemon lime, my favorite!

I was happy that I had no stomach upset since I usually experience some around 7-7.5 miles. Mile 8 I consumed my second GU (tri berry, also yum!) and all but finished my water bottles on my belt. Mile 9, I started really feeling fatigued. Only 4 more miles to go! We hit a shady section of the course and it was a lot of rolling downhills, a welcome change from the crazy amount of steep hills we just went through. Mile 10 my stomach was not happy. I tried to ignore it and just keep on keeping on. Surely this wasn't the GU+Gatorade no-no stomach upset I was warned about.

Mile 11 I was feeling really sick. I remember thinking, "I'm definitely going to throw up but I just want it to happen already so this pain will go away!" The hills were starting to get to me at this point and I just wanted to be done already! Around 11.5 miles I threw up in my mouth a little bit (sorry TMI!), but I felt substantially better. Just needed that reflux to clear I guess.

Then we rounded on mile 12! I was running with my pacers and they were telling a few of us to kick it into high gear now and it was okay to leave them and finish strong. Around 12.5 miles I thanked them for being awesome pacers and bid them ado as I picked up my pace. There was a substantial incline and I was regretting my decision to go faster, but I couldn't and wouldn't quit now! The final small hill I powered up and was estatic when I rounded the corner to the finishing shute. The last few yards was flat out and I sprinted my booty off passing a bunch of people. I saw the clock at 2:41 and really gave it everything I had and finished strong.

I gave 2 thumbs up to my dad and hubby and dashed across the finish line ecstatic, relieved, and slightly disoriented. I felt bad for the younger guy who gave me my medal since I was all sweaty and then wandered over to the chip removers. I really fastened my chip well on my shoe so it took her some time to get it off. I didn't mind waiting a few extra moments. I just sipped my water bottle and then proceeded to get my big gatorade bottle (lemon lime, of course!) and enjoy the full flavor. Usually I do not like gatorade by itself since it is so sweet/salty, but it tasted like the nectar of the gods, even though I partially regurgitated it 1.5 miles ago. My friend from work was running with her friends but hadn't finished yet, so we went to the food tent. I got some cookies and fruit salad and sat and stretched on some grass for a bit as I ate (and husband stole a cookie).
Yes, yes it does.

After the mini feast we went and took a bunch of photos near the finish line.
Me and Dad :) He ran the family 5K because guys were allowed in that race. 
Me and hubby <3

My coworker came in with her friends around 3 hours 30 minutes and then it was off for brunch and mimosas. The food was great, but the service was terrible. Since we were a group of over 8 people, gratuity was already included and you can tell that waiter was not concerned about trying to do a good job at all. We had to get his attention to order, get his attention for drink refills, get his attention to get the checks, and then one of the girls took all of our bills to him so we could get out of there. Essentially the only thing we didn't do was get our own food. I wish that tip wasn't included because he did not deserve a dime. But my pancakes were good (banana pancakes!) so the best part was the food and the company. Those of us who ran crooned over our medals and shared our experiences. My dad and husband were sort of odd balls but fit in with the group well as my dad shared his running pedigree and hubby discussed possible plans to run a 5k in August.
One of my many favorite female characters on GoT!

The remainder of the night was spent with some Aleve and a lot of stretching. And then it was time for Game of Thrones!! We were debating watching it tomorrow, but ended up giving in. It was a rather good episode and I was glad we stayed up and watched it. I'm thinking of watching it over again since I was tired and still kind of out of it.

Perfect end to an awesome day! Next week is the start of marathon training!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"13.1 miles: It isn't half of anything."

Ahh the half marathon is only 5 days away!!
I'm slightly terrified but mostly excited. Only allowed two 30 minute runs this week and lots of rest. I did 35 minutes yesterday (oopsie ^_^) but I don't think an extra 5 minutes is going to break me on Sunday. It's going to get real when my dad arrives on Saturday. I'm going to spend some good time at the expo with him and really enjoy my first half marathon experience. Usually I go to races, do my run, and go home. This time I want to stay. I really think my dad will place in his age group (he did last year!) so I want him to get his prize! He's going to do the co-ed 5k while I'm out dying somewhere in the hills of Columbia.The half is women only, hence the iron girl title! Joe will be doing whatever Joe wants to do. I wonder if he's going to get up at 5 am and come out with us for the start. I hope so.
The big one shall be mine!!

The half starts at 7 am so I'll be there at 6 to warm up and shake out some nerves and warm up. My co-worker is running it too so I think we'll be at least running the first half together. She's much faster than me, but hasn't run all winter so we may end up doing the same pace. She has a lot of experience with triathlons and has more half marathons under her belt than I, so I'm hoping she reins me in from going out too fast and running out of steam in the second half of the race.

Yesterday was the Boston Marathon and was a great day for USA! First American man to win the marathon since 1983!! Congrats Meb! We don't have cable yet or rabbit ears so I tracked what I could with my limited mobile data. And in case you didn't already know, we moved this weekend! A bigger place with gorgeous windows and a very friendly running neighborhood. I love it. Pictures to come as soon as the house is all set up! Right now only the kitchen and master closets are 100%. Gotta have food and clothes, right?

Well, back to cleaning the apartment/condo and then work this evening. I love being around running gear all the time. And I get my check since direct deposit didn't kick in yet (argh). Yay money to spend on more running gear!

From one of my favorite running blogs!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Just do the best with what you have, and you'll soon be doing it better." -Gil Hodges

I am a big believer that you are never to young, old, fat, or skinny to accomplish what you really want to do.

The past 25 years I've been exploring what I want to do with my life; what I'm meant to do with my life. PR? Publishing? Management? Technology? Medical? So many fields, so many jobs it all boggled my mind to be happy doing just one thing for the rest of my life. Of course, we can always change and follow a new career path, but, to be honest, I could never see myself in one job/career for more than a year.

Until now.

People say that I'm obsessed with running.
Teehee ^_^

Well I guess I am. I'm as passionate about running and I've been so for over a year now, and that is a big deal in my vagabond lifestyle. Securing a job at a running store was a great idea. I cannot lie, I am having new girl learning trials and tribulations. I don't know everything yet and I'm coming to terms with that. I have awesome coworkers that will keep me accountable, help me out when I am failing, and coach me to do better next time. It's too early to tell, but this career path may be "the one". We'll see in a year or so when I'm all trained up. Until then, I'm happy getting paid to geek out about running!

<3 My love <3

Yesterday was my big dress rehearsal run. I was so sore from working the day before (I am constantly kneeling and getting up and down) so the first 3-4 miles were the worst trying to shake out all the aches. It was a beautiful 60-some degrees and sunny. I tried out Clif shot blocks margarita. The margarita flavor has added sodium to help bust muscle cramping. The blocks delivered on that claim and helped my poor legs feel better. The only downside was it didn't sit well in my stomach. I also tried out GU Roctane. Also, did not sit well. So it is normal GU and PowerGel for this girl! You never know unless you try, right? Pictures of these products are below for readers wondering what I'm talking about.
Delicious but not for me :(

^Okay, but again tummy did not like^

^^The winners^^

My pace was 13:30 overall, which isn't bad and definitely helped with the post leg pain. I'll probably run 30 seconds faster than that in the actual race. I'm finding that training long distances has less to do with speed and more to do with endurance. I can run a 11:28 min mile (10:55 at my absolute best) but only for 3 to 6-ish miles. Once you crest 10 miles, the game changes considerably. Until I get used to running 13.1-26.2 miles, speed improvement is not in the cards. That's why people train for years. Of course there are the lucky ones not fighting extra pounds and have a natural ability for it, but I'm doing the best with what I have.

Soon I hope to be doing it better.

Friday, April 4, 2014

So I'm really doing this...13.1 & 26.2.

I've been running for a year and four months. In that time I've done about 13 races ranging in mileage from 5k to 9 miles. I blogged quite a bit during that first year. My first running blog can be found HERE. That blog is full of posts about my successes and failures with running, weight loss, and trying to build some upper body strength.

Now I find myself in a new stage of being a new runner: the marathons. My first half marathon (13.1 miles for non runners) is coming up in 22 days. For the first time since December, I feel ready for it. I managed to run (and walk some of the awful hills) 12.5 miles last weekend. That 12.5 miler was the most painful thing I've done to this point in my training. My legs were screaming with pain and exhaustion. I couldn't fathom why I would want to put myself through this again. And then the next day I wanted to do it again!

Runners are a masochistic bunch and they have somehow converted me into it as well.

So last night I found myself registering for this:
Yeah. My first FULL marathon. In October. In good ol' PA. Running the same streets my dad did, even though he told me not to. My dad knows first hand how painful a marathon is, and is very experienced with the physical and (mostly) mental strength you need to get through it. In a way, I want him to run it with me. On the other hand, I'm more worried about what would happen if he did. I'm sure he can do it if he fully commits to training this summer. Training for a marathon is rough. And slightly mental. Either way, I know he'll be damn proud of me for dragging my booty out of bed at 4 am on a Sunday morning to catch a bus in Scranton to the starting line. And I have to pay him back for all of the times I hugged him as a little girl right after a marathon and he was so sweaty (and slightly smelly)! Watch out dad, you're first on my hug list!

Training has been great the past 2 weeks. I'm finally getting back into the swing of things after the less-than-stellar winter training. This week is recovery week from last week's huge 12.5 miler. My long run this week was only 7 miles and I did a 2 mile tempo run and a 4 mile hill training today. One of the neighborhoods by our place has the BEST hills. They hurt and are hella steep, but slightly sore legs are worth it now if they are going to be stronger later.

In order to fund my awful habit, I find myself employed at a local running store. I adore the company because it is still small and serves a niche market. A niche market I am also a customer in. During training I learned so many things about shoes and gear. In the future I will lecture about the importance of multiple pairs of training shoes and other things, but for now you are spared. After trying to figure out what I want for a career, this seems to be a wonderful answer that will let me not only keep running, but help others learn a love for this crazy, painful, awesome sport. We'll see.

On the weight loss end, I've given up for the most part. I'm just trying to control portions and eat foods that will help me get through and recover from training. I'm done obsessing about food. And I'm sure training will take a few pounds off, especially when I'm running 14, 15, 16, 17+ miles for a long run.

There you have it! Welcome to the crazy training journey to my first 26.2! I hope someone sticks around to read this and I really hope I can inspire women (and men) who think they are too fat to run to get out there and do it! I'll drag this muffin top over the finish line no matter what!