On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hot damn!

5m Turkey Trot, 52:21. I'm on fuego. Seriously - it rocks. The course even had a rather large hill, which I *rocked*. I'm actually excited about doing a 5k in a few weeks. Finally, I'm feeling like a runner again. Enjoying going out running, feeling like it's a part of my life again and not something that I *want* to be a part of my life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A minor accomplishment

I was looking at my calendar, and realized that I exercised at least three days a week every week this month. It may not show on the scale or in my clothes yet, but I'm getting out there and doing something. That's something to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good, good, good

In order to qualify for guaranteed entry into the New York Marathon (I'm sorry, the "ING New York Marathon"), one must either run a qualify, aka superfast, time or run 9 of the New York Road Runners qualifying races in the year prior. Naturally I went with the second option, being as the first wasn't a realistic choice. (I mean, come on: they want you to run like a 90 minute half or something physically nearly impossible.)

Today was my 9th race.

I woke up in a foul mood about it. I haven't been running enough and my times have been getting consistently worse, not better, over the past year. I've registered optimistically for a bunch of races that I've ended up not doing and I'm totally burnt out on racing. The races are meaningless - they're often even on the same course in Central Park, and it just doesn't excite me. So I was bitter to begin with and frustrated and I left a little late so I had to race to get there and everything was conspiring for me to be having a crummy day.


I started talking with this woman at the start, and before we knew it we'd flown through the course (well, flying sort of like turkeys or penguins, but hey). I missed setting a post-illnees PR at the 4m distance by 2 seconds. And I had a great time! Apples have never tasted so delicious as the one at the end of that course.

When I started, I was texting a friend about how I think I'm over these races and I'll take my chances on whether or not I even want to do the marathon in 2011. But now... well, I've already (tentatively) added a half-marathon to my schedule for January.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What would YOU do?

Yesterday, I met my running partner to run in the morning. I quite like her. We get along well and we seem evenly matched in terms of pace, goals, etc. We met at 7am, our usual time – it's probably important to know, though, that I travel about 25-30 minutes by bus or bike (yesterday bus, due to the cold) to meet her. We hadn’t met up for nearly three weeks prior because she had been on vacation and then I had some stuff going on. It had been a while. When we were both there, she opened with, “I know this is terrible, and I hope you’re not upset, but I’d kind of like a brisk walk today instead of a run. I’m out of shape and feeling it from not having run in a while.” She told me that I could feel free to run if I wanted and she wouldn’t be at all upset.

What should I have done? What would you have done?

I’ll tell you what I did: I walked. I wasn’t under time pressure and I’d come out for the company as much as the exercise. But… I’d come out for the company and the exercise, and I don’t feel that I get as much out of a walk as a run.

I should add that I’m not at all upset with her, and I’m almost glad she didn’t warn me ahead of time (in which case I likely would have begged off, not gone out to meet her and not done any exercising that day).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Body for me!!

I've realized that I'm not going to achieve one of my goals this week, straight up: I can't bike to work, as there's only one day this week that I'm going in to the office (today), and I need to be dressed up for a Very Important Meeting. So, that goal will roll over.

Similarly, I may not be able to take boxing. Boxing is offered two nights at my gym, one being tonight (precluded by Said Work Activities), and the other is Friday (possibly - but not definitely - precluded by jury duty). If I can go Friday, I will. Not sure.

I already screwed up another goal, "Do a week's training as prescribed," this week by going on a long bike ride yesterday. Worth it, although I feel like I caught a touch of a cold. I'm not too bothered by not meeting my goals, since I instituted them as a way to ensure that I got out and got moving this week. And I have done that.

But, but, but! More important! The bf and I have decided to try the Body for Life program. It's similar to a lot of weight lifting programs in that it essentially asks you to start lifting, to jack your protein intake and restrict your fat consumption, and exercise regularly. I think that one thing that will be key to my longterm fitness is getting him on board with something, and he's excited about this program. Plus, I like feeling like I'm doing something, like I have a goal or a target. The program is quite prescriptive. (We're actually combining it with the completely free Labrada program.)

We'll see... He went to the gym 6 times over the past 7 days, and I don't feel too shabby, myself, so...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Goals for the week

Okay, here we go. I'm going to start making weekly goals to keep myself on track.

I'm torn between making them super ambitious (as that's my wont) versus making them modest (and thus increasing the likelihood that I'll actually complete them).

Goals that are on the tip of my tongue, but are not modest:
-do a week's training as prescribed
-take a spinning class
-take a boxing class
-run 20m/week
-bike to work

So... more realistic and modest goals for the week beginning Monday, 15 November:
-attend one boxing class
-bike to work

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am not taking this seriously

What is motivation?
Do I just not want it badly enough?

Every day I make choices. And most days, these choices are ones that lead me down roads that are a continuation of my current lifestyle, the lifestyle that I know needs to change. And yet - I wouldn't say that I feel powerless to change, because I am aware that I and I alone have the power to do it.

When I play 30 minutes of Bejeweled Blitz (but seriously, THE most addictive game!) instead of going to the gym or working, I have made a choice to do something ultimately unsatisfying - but with immediate gratification - for something that will provide more gratification in the long run, but will not have an immediate effect. So how do I get myself to think longterm rather than short?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rest days: when are they okay, when are they slacking?

I find myself struggling with the idea of rest days. When I have a training schedule that I'm following, it's easy: I run when I'm supposed to, I rest when I'm supposed to. When I don't have that schedule in front of me, I find it way, way too easy to justify a rest day. I mean, I don't want to push it too hard too soon, do I? Risk injury, burn out, etc.

Trouble is, my normal state is somewhere between "sloth" and "snail." Left to my own devices, I can easily, easily think of many reasons why every day should be a rest day. Some of them are legitimate, most aren't. The biggest one, time, is ambiguous: of course I have the time in my day. I just don't always make the time. I can't easily go to the gym during lunch or anything like that, and by the time I often wake up, it's late enough that it would affect my day's productivity to go out and run. And yet, getting up earlier than usual is very, very hard when you don't have someone to meet and you're sleep starved.

I've called in a friend to craft me a training schedule, as that may be the only way I'll get out the door. Plus, tomorrow I'm setting the alarm for an hour earlier. Both today and yesterday I woke up moments before the alarm, which tells me that I'm getting enough sleep and am well rested. Waking up earlier will only help me to get to bed earlier.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's not about the scale

Oh, it's not, Tracy?

Then why do you have that little meter to the side, tracking your weight loss?

It's not about my weight for me. I can honestly say that. It's about feeling good, having my clothes fit me (the clothes that I've spent years lovingly acquiring - I am that superficial); it's about looking at myself in the mirror and being confident that I'm the best person I can be. When I look in the mirror now, I'm unhappy. When I exercise and when I'm fit, I'm happier. Typically - but not always - this happiness has coincided with a lower weight. That said, I ran my marathon PR when I was roughly 20lbs heavier than when I ran my first marathon.

Objective measures are what we have in society, for better or for worse. I want to get fit, so I'm going to go out and exercise. I want to measure my improved fitness, I'm going to use quantitative measurements to do this. (Personally, I've chosen to do Weight Watchers in conjunction with exercising regularly.)

When my doctor wants a quick synopsis of my health, she uses my weight. I can't get off my rat-poison coumadin pills until I'm no longer classified as "overweight," being as "overweight" is a risk-factor for blood clotting. My doctor has my best interests at heart and will neither let me be at high-risk nor flout accepted medical practice. And I really, really want to stop taking coumadin.

And then, of course, there's science. I want to run a sub-30 minute 5k (and eventually, eventually, I want to set a new PR and finally break 25 minutes). If I'm carrying around 10 or 20 or 30 extra pounds, it's going to be harder to do this.

It's not about the scale. It's about me. If I can achieve these goals (happiness, health, fast running times) without making my weight loss "goal," I'm a better person for it and I'll throw out my scale.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekly weigh-in

I fell and I fell hard this week. What happened to me?

I was Icarus, flying too close to the sun, believing myself to be invincible. I had such a good week of eating well and exercising last week; how could I not lose weight?

Answering that question is actually going to prove key to fixing myself, because I made a series of all-too-common mistakes that I'm prone to make and that are going to hinder my progress. Rookie mistakes. Things I should have seen coming and could have compensated for, if I hadn't blithely believed myself to be beyond it.

1. On Friday, I waited too long until eating dinner. Way too long. By the time dinner was upon me, I was a lost cause. Cooking was out of the question; food delivery was in order. I went with the "healthiest" delivery option, which was Chinese food. I used not having a menu as an excuse for ordering my favorite style of breaded chicken. I could have salvaged this by having a snack earlier, by ordering something legitimately healthy, or by not eating the whole gosh-darn thing just because it was in front of me and I was hungry. Ravenously hungry. Or, better yet, by planning for my meals in advance earlier in the week. Hint that I was doing something bad: my entire meal was brown.

2. My eating rampage continued on the weekend, as I went completely off-plan and continued to eat myself silly. Excuses this time? It's already too late after Friday night's binge, the fact that I had lunch with some friends on Sunday, or (the classic) it's the weekend; I deserve a treat. Taking care of myself is a treat. I can't avoid dinner parties or restaurants for the rest of my life. I'm a dummy.

3. I didn't exercise as much as I could have. This is due to a variety of factors, each interesting:

a. lack of sleep. The heat in my house has been damn near unbearable lately, as the seasons shift from warm to cold with a heating system that I do not control that seems to have either full-on or completely off as its only two options. I don't know what to do about this. On one hand, it's a legit reason, but on the other hand, it's not a problem that's going away any time soon and I need to learn to adapt.

b. the "weekend!" syndrome; the same thing that caused me to overeat. The weekend should be a time for exorcising the week through exercise (play on words!). Instead, I didn't do anything. I think the solution here is to remember when exercise was an enjoyable treat, which is still is... once I get out the door.

c. classic underestimate food intake, overestimate exercise. I did some exercising this weekend: on Friday, I went ice skating and to the gym, and on Sunday I went rowing. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, the ice rink on Friday was so small and crowded that I couldn't even get enough speed to attempt a crossover. And the rowing? We were headed downstream. I barely broke a sweat. But, I was able to tell myself to take it easy because I'd already worked out. Ha!

This thing that I'm doing is meant as a lifelong challenge to myself, a way of life to which I'll hopefully adapt. This is not meant as a few month's struggle followed by a reward. It will feel good to once more be thin and fit, but the reward will not be allowing myself to binge-eat fried Chinese food in my pyjamas at 10pm on a Friday night. The reward will come when I catch a fleeting glimpse of myself in the glass as I'm walking around and don't think to myself, "Oh, dear, my arms are MUCH thicker than I realize," or "Nice back fat."*

*These are not meant to be overly self-deprecating; I'm being upfront about my goal weight in the sidebar to the right, and that goal is many, many pounds from now. I am heavier than I care to admit right now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three in a row! I'm a hero!

Not much to add today. Just wanted to congratulate myself for exercising an epic THREE DAYS IN A ROW.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And... the resolve lasts two days

So typical: I got up this morning a little before 8 and promptly got my running clothes, including shoes, on. I filled my water bottle. I found my ipod. Then... I puttered. And puttered. And made up excuses for why I didn't have time to go running before work. And checked my email. Finally, it was too late and I genuinely did have to go to work. Why am I like this? Where is my self-control?

I didn't shower but instead brought my gym clothes with me to force myself to stop at the gym on the way home from work. I always feel better when I run, so why don't I run more? What is the obstacle that keeps me from doing something I know is good for me and that makes me feel better about myself?

Another note: I'm at work now, and I just got lunch from our cafeteria. Some pasta and steamed vegetables. The cafeteria worker insisted on sprinkling some extra cheese on my pasta for me, before I could even object. I love the food here, but I love it precisely because it's so terrible for me (ribs and fried chicken is a typical day for us).

Monday, November 2, 2009

This post is not about a boat. It's a SHIP.

I was intending to fly under the radar, to be one of those coy bloggers who teases about her location periodically without giving it up. Like, first I'd mention that I was in a fairly large, metropolitan area. Then I'd drop some hint that would lead you to suspect the east coast. I'd narrow down that I'm not in the south, then I'd let slip that I'm not in New England, and then months and months maybe years down the road those of you who were paying attention would suss out the exact city.

Well, blog three and I'm letting the cat out of the bag. Something pretty neat happened on my run this morning, and I'm sharing it. Today was the homecoming of the USS New York, an "amphibious transport dock ship" or "amphibious assault vessel" made partly out of steel from the WTC site. I paused to get some pictures - there was a nice little viewing area near a midpoint of my run and a whole flock of gawkers. Helicopters were in abundance, as were really, really large cameras. Although... some of the gawkers were poorly informed. I've since learned that it's decidedly a SHIP, not a boat (someone said to me, "There's a huge, stealth looking boat coming up the river!!"), and that it can hold 361 - NOT 3500 - marines.

Those of you paying close attention will now be able to discern one of my favorite local running routes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Babies! Here, there, and everywhere

I am a woman of a certain age. By "certain age," I mean that I am somewhere between my mid-20s and my mid-30s... the age when suddenly, seemingly within a few months, you go from being happily a singleton in a sea of singletons, to being the lone singleton in a sea of married, home owning, baby-bearing friends. For me, it had been creeping up slowly over the past two years, and it reached a breaking point this past week when one of my friends told me she was pregnant with her second and when my work tried to pressure me into opening a college account for my yet-unborn children.

The motivation behind this post? When I tried to create my fancy little weight loss widget you see over to the right, I was faced with the fact that something like 99% of widgets like that are baby-countdowns. NOT YET, people, NOT YET. I may have what looks like baby weight, but it's actually cheesesteak weight.

You come back, one year from today...

When I was in college, I was really impressed by all of the Partnership for a Drug Free America commercials. Did they keep kids off drugs? I don't know; I was never the sort who was into that sort of thing. But, they were interesting commercials. (Except for the ones that tried to be funny. Those were just awkward.)

One of my prized possessions, before the digital age came to be, was a videotape of their spots that they sent me when I wrote them to tell them how much I enjoyed their commercials. One of my favorites was a short video of a junkie who alternated between talking about shooting up and talking about how close he was to being clean. The spot ended with him saying that he could quit any time he wanted, that he was just about to quit, and that if "you come back here, one year from today, I'll be... successful."

That became a catchphrase that's haunted me since. I have to laugh any time I hear anyone say, "Oh, I could do it any time I wanted," or, "One year from now, I'll be [whatever]." Uh-huh. Seeing the image of the poor addict saying those words brought home, quite effectively, how few of us pay more than lip service to our goals. Yet here I am, making that same declaration: You come back, one year from today... I'll be fit. I'll have lost weight. I'll be running to my full potential again.

Only I'm making this declaration out loud to the public in true 21st century fashion: I'm blogging it.