Sunday, June 2, 2013


It's been a busy couple of weeks since my last update!  First of all, I was featured on the Another Mother Runner site in their "Follow This Mother" section on May 22, 2013.  I've met both Dimity and Sarah on a few occasions, and it was fun to share a bit of my story with the "tribe."  I didn't specifically write about my weight loss journey in the article, other than to casually mention it in one section.  I am somewhat conflicted about sharing my story with others.  It is nice to inspire others to become healthier, but at the same time I don't want the fact that I lost 135 pounds to define me.  I guess it is the humble Minnesotan in me that doesn't like to toot my own horn.

Then there is the fact that I'm a few pounds up from my goal weight.  As mentioned previously, I have been since about the mid portion of full marathon training last year.  I think I really did a number on my metabolism as I was trying to restrict my calories too much during the height of training, which in turn had me in a cycle of a few days restricted and then a day of eating to excess.  I keep trying new equations to come to a happy place, and I think I may have finally gotten at least close to it.  More to come in a future post when I have a few weeks to confirm it.  All this to say, I feel like somewhat of a fraud or failure that I am a bit up from my goal weight.  It shouldn't erase the fact that I've maintained my new lower weight within about 5-8% for almost two years, which is awesome.  People tell me that this is what normal people do, put on a few pounds, take off a few pounds, etc.  I just still feel like if I put on a few pounds, I will spiral into an unhealthy place.  However, the rational part of my brain tells me that I've got so many checks and balances in place, and I'm so active that unless I completely stopped doing everything I do now, I'll be fine.

Ok - enough of that.  With regard to the new paces I mentioned in my last update -- I think they are spot on.  I did a tempo run with those paces and it was comfortably hard (though on the treadmill because our weather just won't cooperate!).  The next day, I was walking down the stairs in the parking ramp on my way to the Y, and my right leg kind of cramped up behind my knee and I almost tripped down the stairs.  I was able to do a really easy 3-mile run before strength training, though I was really concerned about my 15-mile long run that weekend.  I iced it, used "the stick" for self-massage and took a few doses of ibuprofen.  I am happy to report that the 15 miles, while challenging (especially the last 4 miles), were able to be completed with no pain!  I came home from the run and had a hot bath, and was good to go the rest of the day.  I am continuing to self-massage both my hamstrings until I can get into my sports massage therapist next week.

Fast forward a few days, and due to time constraints, I hadn't run since that 15-miler on my birthday (May 25th).  I had a 6 mile negative split run to do (3, 3).  I did it outside, and I feel like I nailed it about as much as I could given my training up to this point, and all of the challenges I have faced getting all the runs in.  I actually took a few quick shots of the Lakewalk on a rare beautiful day in late May of this weird and wacky year of weather in Duluth.

Yes, those are bare branches on the vegetation on May 29th - just be glad you don't see snow!

I'm letting a late breakfast settle a bit before I head out for this week's 12-miler, and it will be done in less inspiring surroundings, but equally as nice weather, thankfully.  I'm looking forward to race day to see what I can do with where I am at.  Here is to hoping we have a strong tailwind off Lake Superior!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Current State of Affairs

Here we are in Week Nine of the Train Like a Mother:  Half-marathon Own It plan.  Time to take stock of how the past nine weeks have gone, where I'm currently at, and how I'm going to approach the next five weeks until the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on 6/22/13.

First, I have switched my approach to nutrition from purely weight loss to fueling for endurance running, but still with an emphasis on slow and steady weight loss.  This means that my experiment with Paleo-style eating and completing a Whole30 challenge, while beneficial and helped me to identify and control the crap in my diet, does not help me with my running goals.  I enlist the help from many different resources, most recently Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight book.  It has the common sense approach, but the numbers and experience to back it up.  I used his formula to figure out what my best racing weight is, and lo and behold, it is exactly where I was when I had the best performance to date.

Second, I've had to really evaluate how the events of this past Winter have had a negative impact on my training plan.  My oldest daughter contracted mono last December, and had many complications from it, which ended up being a kidney biopsy.  It was stressful for her, but seemed so much more so for me.  I had a hard time controlling the emotional eating for a week or two.  We've since had another health scare in the family, but thankfully everything checked out fine.  Though, I'm back on track now, after a rocky road since then, I am looking at the last 6 months or so as part of my journey, and something I had to go through to learn and grow.  I'm not where I want to be.  I'm still coming to terms with it and trying to enjoy the journey.  Constantly revisiting my goals is a good, constant reminder of what I want to accomplish and what I need to do to get there.

The training plan has been great to follow so far.  It's got great variety and the challenging workouts are what they are billed, do-able, but most definitely challenging.  I have had trouble sticking to the paces for the tempo runs, which has always been my downfall with endurance running.  Part of my problem is being a one-speed wonder -- running too fast on my long runs, too slow on my tempo runs.  I ran several finish times through various pace calculators, and I think I've come up with a solid pace to run this week's tempo run at - however, I was sick for almost a week and it's taken me another week to get back to speed, so there have been 2 long runs and several speed and tempo runs that were skipped.  I've used the Runner's World Training Paces calculator to come up with this:

Based on my Half Marathon time of 2:10:00, these are my training paces:

Easy Run:  11:22 per mile
Tempo Run:  9:31 per mile
Maximum Oxygen: 8:36 per mile
Speed Form:  7:58 per mile
Long Run: 11:22 - 12:46 per mile
Yasso 800s:  4:25 per 800 meters

Everything was based around what I thought was attainable on the tempo run.  We will see how it goes this week.  You can see my progress over on Daily Mile by clicking on the widget to the left.

I'd like to end with a picture that really sums up why I finally got healthy and active for myself and my kids.  My middle daughter, Miranda (in the blue shorts) recently ran a 5K with her school running club to benefit the Catholic Schools in the Duluth Area.  I was unable to be there, but we talked about pacing, and picking out landmarks along the way to run/walk if she needed to.  She finished it and was beaming when I saw her later that day.  We are planning on many more fun runs during the Summer, and as a result I haven't over-scheduled them with camps and such, so that we can spend time together being active.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Running Plans and my Whole30 challenge update

Well, I haven't updated weekly, but this is definitely better than several months away!

After really letting my body rest from a year of intense (well for me anyway) training for a full and several half-marathons, I'm starting back this week with daily runs to re-establish that base for an advanced training program I plan to implement for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, part of Grandma's Marathon up in Duluth, Minnesota on 6/22/13.  After going over what type of training has worked for me in the past, I have decided that I'm going to use the Own it plan in Train Like a Mother - How to get across any finish line - and not lose your family, job or sanity.

Soon after starting running when I was still pretty heavy, I came across their website, and immediately identified with the co-authors and the group of women that were participating on their Facebook page and their twitter feed.  I was always in the middle of using another training plan when the latest book came out, so this is my first opportunity to really put the Own-It plan to the test. 

So, I have roughly 10 weeks before the training plan kicks in, and I'm going to use this time to remember how to run fast.  Part of this plan includes cleaning up the nutrition end of things.  I had been doing a lot of research on metabolic efficiency, and have read several books on the matter.  Bob Seebohar has a great book entitled, Metabolic Efficiency Training and I have used this book as a guide for a year now.  However, I just really needed a "reset" of sorts.  Training for that marathon turned my nutritional world upside down, and I never really felt in control of what I was eating or doing after that.

Thanks to Twitter and a gal I follow RunFastMama, I came across the Whole30 Challenge.  All the details are here.  Following this plan has been challenging.  I started to incorporate a lot of the changes in diet in early December, but still had protein shakes and bars in my diet.  I officially started on December 27th and have been 100% compliant - with the exception of having a few too many handfuls of nuts on days that I have planned poorly, but those days are fewer and farther between.  I'm happy to report that my sugar cravings are pretty much gone, belly bloating is way less -- except for when I indulge in the aforementioned nuts too often -- who would have known nuts were bloat-inducing?  Not me - I figured it was all processed carbs, but once those were out of the diet, it was really easy to see that nuts also had this effect on me.  My energy level during the day, and especially during workouts is even, no big crashes.  I really don't plan on re-introducing a whole bunch more food into my diet initially, but I am dying to see what the scale says, and part of the rules of the challenge are to stay off the scale - and I've honored this one as well.  So, for pictures on this post, I'll include a few of the meals I've concocted to include healthy fats, protein and veggies.   Looking forward to seeing what my measurements and the scale say on 2/1 - but either way, I'm in such a healthier place regarding food, that even if I didn't get to under 140lbs on the challenge, it has changed my relationship with food in such a short period of time, that I know I can achieve the numbers that I want to before serious half training.
10-minute Chili (L) from It Starts with Food and my own concoction diced boiled eggs over steamed green beans with 1/2 avocado mashed with red onion and 1/4 of a lime (R).