Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Anti-Race Recap...

This is your not-so-typical race recap for the Nike Women's Marathon held October 16, 2011.  Why??  Well, truth be told, I didn't run it.  As a matter of fact, I didn't even run the HALF Marathon.  And, while I was tempted to not even show up for the event at all, I ended up not only drinking {alcohol, that is} the night before, I also drank during the race.

Partner's in crime, Coleen, Stephi and me at Nike Town.
Finding ME on the wall of over 22,000 entrants.
Let me back track a moment.  My friends and I entered the lottery for the Nike Women's Marathon months prior to the event.  We had been training for Rock n' Roll San Diego for several weeks and were apparently on a semi-permanent runner's high when we entered the lottery.  Training was still in the fun phase (long runs under 16 miles) and, much like loading up your plate at the all you can eat buffet, our dreams were bigger than our running appetites...well, at least mine were.

Many months passed between being selected in the lottery and the actual event.  Summer came and went along with a few races...a half-marathon and a trail 10k followed by Tough Mudder Norcal one month prior to NWM.  I had started doing some cross training (Kettlebells and Insanity) to prepare for Tough Mudder while trying to still squeeze in some trail runs.  My road miles suffered, badly.  Then, to make matters worse, Nike, who not only continues to abuse their workers in sweat shops but then re-signed Michael Vick as their spokesperson.

I am proud to have NEVER owned ny Nike gear.
Now, so far I have tried to stay away from controversial topics in this blog BUT, I make no apologize for being Anti-Vick.  I will save you all of the details but have stated publicly that I will NEVER purchase any item from Nike (or any other Vick sponsorers) because I truly believe he is a horrible role model and Nike has proven to be the epitome of a greedy, heartless corporation.  For those that say Vick's paid his debt to 'society' I disagree, he never served one day for animal abuse even though he killed dogs with his own bare hands.

Yeah, I'm holding a grudge...
So, that being said, I found the marathon approaching fast and my desire to run it dwindling away.  It was the perfect storm...lack of any long runs (my longest since Rock N Roll San Diego in June was 13.1 miles), lack of motivation (call it the let down after completing Tough Mudder), lack of a clear goal (although I want to set a new PR I also want to make sure I do it with proper training so I won't feel the need to run yet another marathon if this one turned out to be less than expected), and a very strong dislike for the massive amounts of Nike being shoved down my throat.

Coleen and I with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
Thankfully, my good friend {and running buddy} Coleen convinced me to just show up.  Due to some health issues, she and some other friends had decided to walk the half-marathon and to make it FUN.  No time expectations, no PR's, no pressure...but we'd still get our Tiffany necklace (handed out by the men of the San Francisco Fire Department no less) and spend some quality time together.  To seal the deal we went out for drinks the night before (something we would NEVER do prior to a race).

Martini flights at the Grandview Bar atop the Hyatt in Union Square {delicious}!!
I ended up having a great nights sleep and woke up race day a bit excited.  It was so strange to be getting dressed in my regular running gear and as we headed the .9 miles to Union Square for the start I actually felt like throwing our plans to wind and running the race.  But a promise is a promise and Coleen held me to it.  Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 she even dragged me by the arm into a bar at The Cannery where we downed a couple of rather large Bloody Marys.

When we stepped out of the bar I thought I saw the sweep vehicle coming up the street so we did actually run for a bit and eventually caught up to the other girls in our group.  I have to admit vodka burns...but Gatorade seems to squelch the burn. =)

Overall, we had a great time, took some fun pictures along the way, and Brightroom was able to capture the best finish picture ever!

1, 2, 3, Jump...wait, jump on "3" or jump on "Jump"??
My future plans still include ONE more full marathon, but I will be much more selective this time round...and I will probably join a running group to help me stay on track.  I have a trail 10k next month and my wedding in December!!  This fall and winter I'll be focusing on short to medium distance running (5-13 mile runs), pilates, kettlebells and Insanity to get my weight and body fat to goal (something I find impossible to do during marathon training).

At least my cat, Avi liked the Swag Bag!! =)
So, there's my confession.  And yes, I do feel a little bad for 'taking' someone else's spot who didn't get selected in the lottery.  But at least I learned a few lessons from this...1-Don't register for any more Nike sponsored events, 2-Join a running group and train prior to my next my marathon, and 3-It IS possible to let go of expectations and just have fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finding peace with the scale...

I bought a new scale...finally.  My "old" new scale mysteriously quit working a few months ago and even with expensive new batteries, it still refused to turn on.  Part of me enjoyed the freedom of being scaleless...of trying to be like so many of my blogger/Facebook/Twitter fitness friends who rely on how they 'feel' or 'look' to know if they are maintaining, gaining or losing weight.  And, as a recovered anorexic I can certainly appreciate NOT being a slave to the scale.  When I was in inpatient care (weighing in at 85 pounds) I was forced to weigh in daily but had to face away from the scale.  So powerful is the number on the scale that it can make or break someone's recovery just as it can make or break a dieter's day.

So, what possessed me to bring the scale back into my life now?  Well, to be honest, I find it the only true  way for me to reach and maintain my goals.  It is extremely easy to convince myself that I am doing well with my diet and/or exercise when I don't have a tangible goal.  If you are runner then you can maybe relate this to 'junk miles', running for the sake of logging miles without any concern with speed, distance, or improvements in endurance.  These kind of miles are the ones that cause overuse injuries, plateaus and burn out.  The same thing occurs to me when I go around willy-nilly eating what I think is the right amount of calories and assuming the same old worn out jeans I've been wearing still fit pretty well.  I can justify 'sloppy' (i.e. not clean) eating because my recent jean purchase still had me in a size 6...although, here in America, I have no idea what a size 6 means anymore due to this whole vanity sizing thing.

What I do know is that I have not reached my goals regardless if I use my "maximum weight" goal or my "body fat %" goal.  I've sat here, after doing tons of research, tons of exercising and spending tons of money on foods weighing pretty much the same as always and still having the same dissatisfaction with my body.  That's not to say I am unhappy or trying to be overly critical...I think I've learned a lot over the years to not allow my mind to go to the extremes it has in the past.  And I still love my body, but I have certain goals (as vain as they may be) that I KNOW I can accomplish.  Some of these goals are tied to running.  For instance, it completely makes sense that when I drop some excess pounds, my running will likely improve since there will be less stress on my body.  I may become faster as well and, since setting a new marathon PR is one of my main goals, it is important to 'watch my weight' to attain this goal.

I've also had an ah-ha moment when I was setting up my new scale (it tracks my weight, body fat, bone mass, and pounds to goal).  My scale is a thin chunk of plastic and glass.  It is an inanimate object that only reports the truth (as long as the batteries aren't dead).  It has no control over my emotions.  As a matter of fact, I am so stubborn about not allowing PEOPLE control my emotions that I'll be damed if I let a freakin' scale dictate if I'm going to love or hate myself today.  It's no different from the blood pressure cuff at the doctor's office or the tire pressure gauge at the repair shop.

But let me state this one important realization again: It is an inanimate object that only reports the truth.  Granted, we may not like the truth it's telling us.  We may be positive that we did everything right this past week while that damned scale tells us bold-face lies by stating we either didn't lose weight or *gasp* we GAINED!!  The scale becomes our enemy.  We threaten to throw it out the window.  We cuss at it.  Even if we aren't particular religious we pray to it, or at the very least beg (please, please show me something good).  We cry because if it.  We get mad at it.  We hate it.

I get it, I really do.  But you know what??  The one thing we rarely do is sit down and get real about our results.  And that's what I am doing.  It sucks.  It's hard.  Like the hundreds of people I've 'talked' to via blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Nutrisystem forums, I have also thought that I am special, as a matter of fact most of the dieters I've spoken to believe this as well..."calorie counting, diets and exercise just don't work for me"..."I could eat celery sticks and drink nothing but water all day and still gain weight"..."It doesn't matter what I do, I CAN'T lose weight".

I'm calling bullshit.  Okay, I'll still love you if you aren't ready to let go of the thought that somehow, science does not apply to you, but I'll also be here for you when you realize that it does.  The harsh reality is this...when the scale reports that I haven't lost any weight I don't get mad at the it anymore... because I know that it means I did something wrong.  Like it or not, I am the only responsible for what that scale tells me (of course I realize that there are times when I may be retaining water, carb-loading, etc.).  If I don't like what it says I have 2 choices...1-throw it out the window (but what a waste of money) or 2-review my 'plan', be honest with myself, and make the necessary adjustments.

I'm calling it my Tough Self-Love plan...no more lying to myself, no more justifying the 'extras'...do the work and the results will come.

Note: While I personally have a goal weight written down, as I approach this number it will be adjusted to take into account my body fat % due to the possibility of gaining muscle, which may make the scale appear to be plateauing.  As long as the body fat is dropping then all is good.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How and when did I become my mother??

My mom came for a visit last week.  It also happened to be my 41st birthday and it was nice to have her here to celebrate.  For me, birthdays are similar to New Years, reminding me to review my accomplishments, goals, and dreams, to realign/readjust and to make new goals.  As I get older, it seems that the years go by faster making every moment count even more.  Having my mom here was also an eye opener...a peek into my future...and an explanation of my present.

My mom at Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz
I haven't lived with my mom for 24 years and after she and my dad moved to Alabama (I was still living in Alaska) I haven't visited much either.  Being from an Air Force family, this didn't seem all that odd.  Money and time-off have often been an issue for me...the times I've had money I could't take vacation and the when I had the time to spare I couldn't afford the airfare...or, had to choose how and where to spend the little vacation time I had.  My parents retired in Alabama (I have never lived there), my sister is in the Army and lived all over (Alaska, Colorado, Georgia and New York).  My best friend always wants me to visit and spends her time in Washington D.C., Arizona, or Florida and my extended family (aunts, uncles and cousins) all live in Pennsylvania.  On top of that, living in California provides so many fantastic destinations that it was virtually impossible to make everyone happy when it came to deciding on where to vacation and with whom.

But, even though my mom and I haven't spent much time together during my early adult years, I was stunned to see how many of my mom's 'habits' I have picked up.  Sadly, it was often the things that were starting to get on my nerves that I recognized my own behavior in what she was doing! Things like having multiple drinks at once (hmmm, do I want water or coffee or tea??  I know, I'll have all three!!) to making several trips to the cupboard to grab just a few more almonds or crackers.  It's funny that we can so easily see other people's 'bad habits' before we see our own...even when they are the same.

Mom and Clark

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Spending this week with her has been wonderful.  She made my bouquet for our Lake Tahoe Wedding on Christmas Day, she took me shopping for my birthday and bought me a wonderful Clinique facial cleansing set, I introduced her to e-readers and she got a Nook (so she doesn't have to lug around a bunch of books all the time), my fiance and I took her to the Santa Cruz Mountains to camp among the Redwoods (something she's never seen), and then, on her last day, I surprised her with a trip to San Francisco for Fleet Week.  I'm afraid I sent her away worn out and sore from all of the walking we did (it's hard to remember she'll be 65 in February!!).
Floral designer for over 30 years!! 

Mom displaying my wedding bouquet!
Perfect for skiing with after the 'ceremony'!
But it's been wonderful in another way...emotionally we got to connect in a way we couldn't when I was younger and my dad was alive.  While my dad was a great father and provided well for my mom, he certainly had his 'issues' and I often blamed my mom for being too weak to leave him.  During this visit I got to know my mom as the woman who held our family together, who sacrificed things for her own reasons...reasons that I don't get to criticize because they weren't MY decisions to make.  She's a lot stronger than I ever thought...and a lot smarter.  I'm actually a little ashamed that for years I felt she was just naive and weak.
Fleet Week San Francisco
Pier 39
Getting to know my mom better has helped refocus my mind on the things I still want to get out life...things that are truly important.  When I talked to her about my concerns with running she advised me to continue to run ONLY if I truly love it...and to remember that one day I may not be able to run, so take advantage of my health and desire now.  As we have all heard, it's not the things we've done that we end up regretting, it's the things we didn't do.  My mom will be 65 in a few months yet, like many of us, she doesn't feel her age.  She wakes up ready to tackle the world but finds that her body doesn't always allow her to do everything she wants.  Likewise, I don't 'feel' 41 (or I guess what I think 41 should feel like)...and I see myself moving into different age groups on race forms but feel like I can hang with the 25 year olds.  In a sense that's a good thing...but I feel it's important for me to remember that, as I age, my goals have shifted.  In the past I had "run a marathon" on my Bucket List...which I accomplished in June of this year.  Yet, my 20-30 something mind wants to run a bunch of marathons!!  In the meantime, my other goals have been thrown by the wayside due to the rigorous training involved with marathoning.

I honestly feel that spending time with my mom has added some clarity to my life.  And not just for my health and fitness goals...but it has answered some questions about my upbringing, habits, likes, dislikes, and future.  And now, I'm off to review my goals and Bucket List!
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