31 July 2014

Here Goes Nothing


Over the past several months, people have been commenting to me that I was losing weight. I usually nodded in acknowledgement, but seeing as the scale wasn't budging that much, I really wasn't getting it.

In May, when I decided to get serious about getting fit and being the best I could be, I decided I was going to take pics at the end of every month so that I would be able to see my progress. So I pulled out a favorite bikini, grabbed my iPhone and clicked.

Meh. I realized I had some work to do to get back to where I wanted to be.

After 30 days, I took another shot at the end of June. At this point I had begun running again after being shut down due to an Achilles injury. The scale was fluctuating +/- 5 pounds for most of this time frame.

In early July, I started working with a personal trainer twice a week with the goal of getting strong enough that I would be able to complete a Spartan next year as well as becoming a better/stronger runner. I went into this knowing there wouldn't be dramatic changes overnight, but that it would be slow and steady progress to getting stronger.

Today, I grabbed my bikini and iPhone to snap another pic.

I was amazed at the small but significant changes in my body - particularly in my midsection. As much as I hate some of the exercises he puts me through (turtle spins, anyone?), there is definitely progress being made.

The scale is down 10 pounds from when I started working with my trainer, but I'm more impressed with the fact that I'm getting stronger and losing inches.

I'm a girl who couldn't do a single push-up before - and in the past 30 days, I'm managed to do more than I care to count. Yes, I still rest my knees, but baby steps.

I can't wait to see what another 30 days brings.

11 May 2014

Flying Pig Recap

Last weekend I was back in Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon weekend. I was coming off an injury and not sure if I was going to be able to run all the races I had registered for, but I did! I did the Little Kings Mile on Friday night and both the 10K at 8a on Saturday followed by the 5K at 10a.

I went to the expo early on Friday to pick up my bibs, etc. with my parents. It was total chaos in the Millennium Hotel where we picked up our packets, but the expo was a little less so.

I enjoyed browsing the various booths and picked up a few new things including a special Sweaty Band. I should have grabbed more that were Cincinnati-Flying Pig themed, but one only has so much money. I had also hoped they would have had the sorority bands available for purchase, but they didn't. However, I spoke to someone they gave me a business card and told me to email them for free shipping. Win!

There were a ton of vendors and several races had booths as well. I enjoyed getting a sneak peak at the medal for the Air Force Marathon. I am running the 5K and the half that weekend and they had the medal for the marathon on display; the 5K and half medals are same design, just smaller. The Queen Bee Half also had a booth and I managed to snag a few goodies (lip balm, mirror, and chocolates) from them. I'm really looking forward to coming back to Cincinnati to run that in October. I swear I need an extra set of legs and a money tree to run all these races I am interested in.

Along the way, I managed to get this photo op with Jimmy Hart. Yea, I'm at a race expo, and I take advantage of a photo op with a WWF legend. Go figure.

Two friends came down from Dayton to run with me - the 1 mile on Friday night and the 5K on Saturday. Obviously they were not as insane as I was to do two races in the same day.

We checked into our hotel and browsed the expo together before heading down to catch the shuttle bus to the starting line.

This race started up in Over The Rhine and was a downhill course ending at The Banks. I was a little nervous as it was my first time running in 2 weeks since my ortho shut me down due to achilles tendonitis. However, I taped myself up and felt good.

I wasn't as fast I would have liked, but I finished (12:14) and earned my first medal of the weekend. It's a big honking medal too. Next year I want to make sure I get back for all three races in the Moerlein Beer Series and earn Brew Hog status.

On Saturday morning, I got up earlier than my friends since I was running the 10K that went off at 8a. I found my way down to the start and found my corral (or pigpen as they call them during this event). I actually dropped back into a later corral since I wasn't sure I'd be able to maintain the pace I stated when I registered.

I ran the 10K with Olympian Ryan Hall - although just a little bit slower, finishing in 1:32:19. Having lived in Cincinnati, I was aware that there were hills, but living on the Jersey Shore now, I wasn't ready for them. The approach to the Clay Wade Bailey back into Ohio seemed like it was never going to end. When I turned from 3rd Street to Broadway and saw that incline I screamed, "Cincinnati, I hate your hills!" and got a few laughs from others around me.

My mom and step-dad came down to cheer me on during the race and mom had her cowbell which she rang for me. They met me at the finish line and I handed off my shirt and medal to them and went back up to the start line of the 5K to meet my friends.

I had about 25 minutes between races and I was glad it wasn't more. I connected with my girl friend and we started out together, but as we turned onto 3rd Street, I told her to go on without me and I'd meet her at the finish line. I was quite frustrated with the number of walkers in the 5K and trying to dodge them was irritating me more. I ended up walking more of the 5K than I intended and finished in 51:30.  Still, I collected my medal for that race as well.

It was a great weekend and I'm glad I pushed myself to do both races. I look forward to coming back next year for the Flying Pig weekend and attempting the 3-way challenge (5K/10K on Saturday, half on Sunday). Now that I know better what to expect, I can train accordingly. With a little luck, I'll not be injured and able to run at my usual pace.

01 May 2014

Run Pig Run

I'm back in Cincinnati this weekend to run in some of the Flying Pig Marathon events. Not the full or even half on Sunday, but the 10K and 5K races on Saturday and the Little Kings Mile on Friday night. 

I've been battling an Achilles injury and thus have been shut down for a bit. While I'm feeling better, I know I need to take it slow as I don't want to injure myself more severely. However, I want to run! 

I got some KT tape yesterday and after taping myself up, I'm already feeling a difference. I'm hoping this will be enough to get me through the races. I don't plan to go out hard, but I do plan to use Friday night's mile to see how I feel and determine how I will attack Saturday's races. If I end up walking, I'm ok with that. I just want to finish and get my medals. 


13 April 2014

Always on the Run

Another weekend, another race.

So my racing season has begun in earnest - three weeks in and I've got a half, a 5K, and an 8K under my belt.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day to run. I had been toying yesterday with switching to the half in lieu of the 8K, but am glad I stayed where I was.

I finished in 1:10:30 - a little slower than I wanted to do, but I finished.

The first two miles of the race were tough. My legs did not want to move and working through miles 2-3 were difficult. By mile 4 though, I had new legs and found running through Buccleugh Park was easier this time around (compared to when I ran it during The Big Chill back in November 2013).

The best thing about this race was being greeted at the finish line by my friend Rebecca, who was volunteering. I met her through a group of crafters and after years of being online friends, we finally met at the Big Chill last year. She was there to greet me, give me a hug and a much needed bottle of water. It was the best finish line celebration I've experienced to date.

Next up: Flying Pig weekend in Cincinnati where I will attempt to complete 3 races in 2 days (1 mile, 5K, 10K). I am having a hard time not adding the Flying Pig half to my weekend as well.


01 April 2014

Achievement Unlocked

Last Sunday, in a monsoon with temps in the 40s, I completed my first half marathon - The Love Run in Philly.

I'm still in awe that I completed a half marathon - my app said I went 14.79 miles total, not just 13.1. Add the 1.5 mile walk from the hotel to the start line, plus the walk back to the hotel and I covered a lot of miles.

I'm not sure what possessed me to do a half marathon in March, but the winter was a rough one and my training suffered. I was seriously considering bagging it and eating the registration fees about 2 weeks out before someone posted on the race's Facebook page that "anyone can do a half marathon - there was no need to run the full distance." With that in mind, I was determined to finish, knowing there was no shame in walking part of it.

The morning of the race I found myself chatting with a few other women in the corral before the start. I ended up trading places with one of them the first 3-4 miles until I finally put some distance between us. I managed to run/walk the first 6-7 miles comfortably, taking advantage of all the water stops, even though it was anything but warm. Stay fueled and hydrated is what all my friends reminded me.

I'd been holding off using the port-o-lets until the last possible moment - but after the 8 mile mark, I could hold out no longer. That was a mistake. I was soaked to the bone by this point and while I got my pants down easily, getting them back up was a challenge. I think it might have been better if I had simply squatted by the side of the road and peed. (Sorry!)

About the 9-9.5 mile mark I hit the wall. My legs started to ache and the cold got to me. The only part of my body that was dry at this point was my face - that was only because a had a baseball cap on and the rain wasn't blowing sideways. I slowed to a walk about this time when someone came running up next to me and said, "I thought that was you. Can you run a bit?" It was Chris, the woman I had been chatting with in the corral.

Together she and I walked the last 3.5-4 miles, keeping each other's spirits up and encouraging one another. At one point we encountered the course photographer, so we stopped and posed for a photo together. We both we dragging by the 12 mile mark - but knew the end was close.

When we hit the 13 mile mark and turned the corner to see the finish line, we looked at one another. She asked me if I had enough gas to finish strong. With a nod we both started running and crossed the finish line together.

When they placed the medal around my neck I started crying.

I DID IT! 

Me, the girl who ran her first 5K in July 2013 had completed a half marathon - in wretched conditions nonetheless. Seriously, I don't think that I could have had any worse weather.

My official time was 3:25:14. I went into the race without any time expectation. There is a part of me that is slightly disappointed I didn't finish in under 3 hours, but given the weather conditions, I'm just happy I finished.

I asked Chris if she would take a pic of me at the finish and she kindly obliged. We made our way over to the refreshment tent and I thanked her for keeping me focused and motivated to finish. I wanted to give up so many times towards the end, but having her companionship those last miles was enough to banish those thoughts. Plus I wanted the bling! I'd gone too far to concede now.

Once I got home to Jersey, I stood in the shower until the hot water ran out. My legs hurt. My feet were fine. I found that walking downstairs was the hardest thing to do. I didn't think I would ever walk normally again. I took some Advil and crawled into bed around 8p. I slept until 8:30a the following morning. I was surprised that I felt much better the next morning. I scheduled myself a massage for Monday afternoon - best thing ever. By the time that was over, I was feeling really good. Slept well on Monday night and this morning I was feeling almost normal.

Despite the craptastic weather, I really enjoyed the experience. I'm looking forward to my next half this fall with friends - the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton. But first, I've got a 5K next weekend - in Philly again. Maybe after that I'll have enough energy to channel my inner Rocky Balboa and run up the art museum steps.

02 February 2014

Running Season 2014 Has Begun!

I started my 2014 running season this morning with a the Pre-Game 4 Miler in Morristown. The super cold temps here have kept me sidelined more than I have liked and I waited until the last minute to register for this race. When the weather looked like it was gonna be clear, sunny, and in the 50s, I asked my race buddy if she was up for it and the rest is history.

I finished (unofficially) in 0:56:17 - even after face planting at the 1/4 mile mark. Despite landing on my hands, they weren't skinned. My ego was more bruised than anything - there was a house with several young men sitting out on a balcony. They say me go down and cheered "She got up!" when I picked myself up and resumed running.

I learned two things on this run:
  1. Running without my hair tied back is not advisable. I don't know what happened to the hair tie I normally have on one of my wrists, but I wish I had it a few times during this race.   
  2. I'm pretty spoiled running down here on the shore. There are HILLS in Morristown - which proved to be quite a challenge for me. 
It was a great day to be out and run. I've got one more (short) race before my half at the end of March. In the meantime, more snow is coming our way. I just hope it blows through quickly and the temps warm up so I can be back out on the road training for the half. I can't stand being on the treadmill for more than a mile. 

Looking forward to the half and all the other races I've got on my calendar for the year - including three mud runs. It's gonna be a great one!

09 January 2014

New Year, New Project

the finished piece
My craft interests come and go in spurts - sometimes I'm sewing up a storm, sometimes I'm stitching up a storm. When I've not been running lately, I've been busy with my sewing machine, making placemats, aprons, and for my first project of this year, a rag quilt for the man friend.

Last fall, we went furniture shopping together - he was looking for a new sofa and loveseat for his family room and wanted my input.  He got it, but he didn't listen to it and went with a different set than I picked out. When it was delivered, he sent me a text to say he hated it. When I asked why, he said it was too dark for the room.

When I went over to his house again, I had a look. It was a dark leather (darker than the set I liked best), but I didn't think it looked too bad. The set he had in there previously was dark - navy, I think. However, I made a suggestion that a light colored throw on the back of the sofa would lighten things up. He joked, "why didn't you get me one?" just as an idea was going through my mind.

Initially I was going to go to Kohl's and pick out a couple throws for his family room. However, when I did, I was disappointed by the selection. I ended up not getting anything and looking a couple other places, before I happened upon a rag quilt tutorial on Pinterest. When I saw that, the wheels in my brain started churning. I could MAKE him a lap quilt for the family room. Handmade is always better than store bought, right? (Well, not always, but in this case, it is.)

front and back of quilt
Then came the dilemma of fabric and colors. I needed something that wasn't too feminine, but also something that wasn't too dark. I walked into the local quilt shop on the Friday before New Year's Eve and saw a flannel quilt.

The lightbulb went off - flannel! That'd be perfect for the cold winter months. So the process of choosing fabrics began.

I opted to go with seven different fabrics - if I had thought it out better, I would have gone with eight. I picked up 1.5 yards of each and took them home. My stitching group from NYC has a tradition of starting a new project on New Year's Day. I had intended to start a cross-stitch design which I had picked up while I was in Cincinnati for Xmas, but instead decided to start prepping the fabric for the rag quilt.

It didn't take me long to cut all the fabric squares, the batting squares, and quilt them together. The difficult part was arranging them in a pattern that I liked. (This is where I was kicking myself for not going with eight different fabrics.) Eventually I was pleased with the layout and started the process of sewing the squares together, then the rows together.

ready for gifting
Once it was assembled, the process of snipping the seams began. This was the most tedious part of the process and I subjected myself to the season premier of the The Bachelor in the process. (I was too lazy to change the channel for starters and I'm not sure if there was anything better on TV that night anyhow.)

Four washes later (and several full lint traps) it is finished and ready to go. I wasn't sure how to gift it but then I saw I had some extra strips of flannel left. I quickly folded a piece over, sewed a seam up the side and turned it right side out. I rolled up the quilt, and wrapped the strip of flannel around and tied it in a knot.

Hoping he'll like it as much as I do. It's not perfect - it was a learning piece. But I enjoyed making it so much, I want to make me one - in pinks, of course.