My First Half Marathon

As many of my readers know, the half marathon I was supposed to run in January wound up getting cancelled due to inclement weather so I was able to defer my registration to a different race. Well I’m happy to report that I finally was able to run my official half marathon with RunDisney last weekend, the Star Wars Dark Side Half, and it was a pretty awesome experience! In this entry I would like to regale you with tales of my training and meeting my goals and finishing my first official half marathon. I was able to run my first half with my godmother, Suzanne, and one of my oldest friends, Sarah, which was a great way to stay distracted and have fun for two and a half hours while running.

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Here’s just a preview of some of our shenanigans. 

For my last half, I did a novice training program by Hal Higdon that was really good for me given my starting point. The unofficial half I ran, I clocked in at around 2:53 which is pretty decent for a first go at running 13.1 miles. This time, since I was already pretty well trained from January (I picked up about 3 weeks after) so I wanted to try a different plan and settled on another Hal Higdon plan, the HM3 (for more experienced runners). Despite the fact that it would only be my first “official” half marathon, I felt pretty good after the last round of training that I was ready for a tougher program. I found it to be a great program and only had a couple of missed training runs in the 3 months and that was including a week where I was sick. I was also challenged by an article on the internet to run a 5k in under 30 minutes, which I finished in 28 and definitely attribute to my awesome training.

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28:05 – that’s right stupid internet article I AM in shape! 

Now let’s get on to the real exciting stuff, race weekend! For all RunDisney races you have to attend their running expo to pick up your bib and shirt before your race. They have tons of exhibitors set up at the Wide World of Sports selling various running accoutrements and health related stuff. There was even a booth set up by Celebration Hospital that had a body composition scan you could do for free and in just a couple of minutes.  Suzanne and I decided to give it a shot and I was thrilled with my results! After 8 weeks of bodyweight training (and several prior months of lifting) I apparently have 72 lbs of skeletal muscle mass and 18.7% body fat (despite my BMI being closer to 24). Based on this information I’m in the “fitness” category of body fat percentile and pretty close to “athlete” which of course gave me a huge boost of self-confidence which I assume helped me run my heart out the next day.

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Getting my body composition scan done, fancy machine and all. 

Now on to the actual race, which by the way starts at 5:30 in the morning, and required a bright and early 3am wake up on my part. So after sleeping about 4 hours (because nerves sometimes don’t let you fall asleep), we three lady warriors trudged to the bus stop at 4am to sit around in our corral for a while before it was our turn to run. Now it should be made clear that Sarah (who I’ve known for 20 years because we’re so old now) ran this race after having only 3 weeks of training and also one week of it being sick. Suzanne is a seasoned pro at running, she even finished a full marathon in under 5 hours earlier this year. And right in the middle you have me, who has been running for 18 months and trained the full 3 months for this race. But we stayed together for most of the race, Suzanne keeping me at a pace on track to finish in under 2 hours and 45 minutes, and Sarah kicking ass alongside us until about mile 9. I had my half marathon playlist in one ear to keep me motivated and Suzanne encouraging me and pushing me to go hard and stay on track in the other. One last motivation for me was knowing my dad & Suzanne’s son Hayden (one of my best friends and only 12 years old) were waiting for us at the Boardwalk around mile 12 to help push us through to the finish. I started getting emotional around mile 10, but after seeing them and getting to hug Hayden I couldn’t help but cry a little.

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Suzanne & I still leaping around mile 11, and hamming it up. 

I consider myself very lucky that Suzanne joined me in this race and volunteered to stick with me and pace me for my first race. Without her help I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to meet my goal and finish in under 2:45. Almost every time I wanted to walk or take it easy for a bit, I thought about keeping up with her and wanting to achieve my goal and kept running. Plus we took some amazing pictures together on the race course that I’ve already framed in my apartment and make me laugh every time I see them. I would like to one more time acknowledge the fact that she was placed in the C corral, her best ever, and she came all the way back with me in corral G so that we could be together. Thanks to her and a little bit of my training, I finished the race in 2:33:16 – far under my 2:45 goal going in. Throughout the race I didn’t have any issues until I was sprinting to the finish and my calves started cramping up. So what you can’t see in my finish line photo is the Charlie horse like pain searing through both of my calves, luckily I’m good at hiding my discomfort. I’m happy to say that after plenty of walking, a shower and a stellar breakfast at Olivia’s Café, I was all better for my day at Hollywood Studios and was able to enjoy wearing my medal proudly around the park.

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My finish line photo, feeling very triumphant and not at all like my calves are on fire and seizing up. 

For my first half marathon, I could not have had a better experience. RunDisney may not be perfect in their organization, but I had a great first race at the Dark Side half marathon and would most certainly do another in the future. I’m thinking my next goal might be to complete the dark side challenge, which consists of running a 10k on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. 19.3 miles in 2 days doesn’t sound so rough right now, but ask me again by the time next year’s race rolls around. For now, I’m going to keep running 3 days a week, bodyweight training 2-3 days (more on that soon), and working on my nutrition. At this rate, I’ll never stop working on being the best I can be- which isn’t such a bad position to be in.

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We 3 Amazonians conquered the 13.1 mile course, and I’m super proud of all of us! On to the next adventure! 

Thanks For The Memories (And The Tips)

I would like to start off with an apology to all my faithful readers for missing the last couple weeks of posts. I’ve been incredibly busy with school and sales have been picking up on my Etsy shop so I’ve been stretched a bit thin. I definitely wanted to take some time before the holiday this week to talk about what I’m thankful for especially regarding my weight loss and fitness. I also intend on sharing some of my “tricks of the trade” for getting through Thanksgiving without winding up overstuffed (stuffed, like a turkey. Get it? I like puns, I’m not sorry). So kick back and enjoy this post full of sentimental nonsense and a couple eating tips.

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Had an early Thanksgiving with my second family, the Tyos over the weekend! I’m so thankful that they always have room for me at their table. 

As we approach the day in which we give thanks, I typically tend to take some time to reflect on what I’m thankful for like many others. Mostly so that when I’m inevitably asked on Thursday while sitting around a table full of people, what I’m thankful for I can be prepared with an answer. In the past it’s always been something smarmy like my family, or more recently my dad for always taking care of me and my brother and keeping us together even without my mom. But this year there’s a lot of things I’m thankful for besides the generic answers.

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Chris is of course #1 on the list, the Superman to my Wonder Woman. Hence the Halloween costumes (this is also the most recent picture of us such a coincidence). 

I’m thankful for my boyfriend and biggest supporter throughout this journey, Chris, without whom I would’ve never made it this far or probably even past the first month. I’ve tried losing weight so many times before and I’ve never stuck with it for more than a month. Thanks to his endless support and a bit of my perseverance I’m going 17 months strong and have lost 98 pounds. I’m also incredibly thankful for my godmother, who’s been a huge inspiration for my fitness journey and has helped me through my weak moments and not only started but has supported my running habit for nearly a year. Yeah, I said habit, like a “drug habit” because it’s a serious addiction. I wake up at 6:30 am 3 days a week to run, something I would’ve never believed possible before. My godmother is more than just a fitness mentor to me, she’s always been an important person in my life but since beginning this journey she’s really become such a close friend and I love that so much. Her family is so important to me, even if we’re not blood I consider them to be my family. I’m thankful for my friends, especially the ones who make time for me even though they might not live near me or have a lot going on in their lives. Emily lives 2 time zones away but we manage to text nearly every day and Facetime pretty often to keep up with each other.

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I love any time I get to spend with my godmother, especially if it’s at Disney. 

I have so much to be thankful for that it’s hard to just reduce it down to bite size chunks for a blog post, but those are mostly the greatest hits. Believe me, I could spend hours droning on about how great my life is and all of the fantastic things I have to be thankful for but no one wants to hear all of that. The other side to that coin of course is that there are plenty of things in my life and everyone else’s that aren’t perfect or idyllic and can drag you down on any given day. I’ve chosen to ignore those bits as best I can and try to look on the bright side of things as often as possible. If I don’t feed the dementor of depression, sometimes I hope that it will go away for good (If you don’t get this metaphor, see my earlier blog post about finding your patronus).

Rather than end things on that downer of a note, I’ll give you my tips and tricks for surviving thanksgiving without packing on the poundage. Tip #1 if you can take some time to get a little cardio in before the feasting it will allow yourself some extra calories for feasting! I had an early thanksgiving over the weekend with my second family, the Tyos and I ran 4 miles in the morning so I would eat without guilt. It was so worth it to enjoy a piece of pecan pie. Tip #2 don’t waste plate space or calories on things you don’t absolutely love. I go for my favorites first and I can usually fill up on that without things like salad and corn. For me it’s white meat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and a roll. Rule #3 always save calories and/or room for dessert- you will want pie and you should have it. Tip #4 and this one is the most important, portion control will save your life. You’re more than entitled to fill your plate, just be careful of things like extra helpings and calorie fillers like alcohol (unless your family supported the opposing presidential candidate in which case alcohol may save you). Let yourself have dessert, just don’t eat half the pie. Or something useful like that. I know I said that the last tip was the most important, but tip #5 is actually the MOST most important. Tip #5 don’t be afraid to let loose and enjoy yourself! If you eat a little too much don’t beat yourself up, you’ll get back on track the next day or the next week. You can survive the holiday season and you can do it while losing weight. I promise. Just stick to your guns!

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Be like Linda, and conquer Thanksgiving. Be the alpha turkey. 

Friends: You Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Lose Weight Without Them

This week, I want to take some time to have a real talk with you all about friends about how sometimes they can be the awesome support system you need, and other times they can make it difficult for you to stick to your plan. I don’t consider myself someone who has a lot of friends, I’ve got a pretty decent core group of friends that I’m very close with and a whole lot of other people who I’m friendly with but maybe don’t see or talk to often. Anyway, this core group of friends have been pretty awesome throughout the course of my weight loss journey. Everyone has been very supportive of my endeavor and definitely given their fair share of encouragement along the way. However, they’ve all also encouraged me to splurge a little or in some cases a lot and while that’s not bad advice occasionally when it becomes consistent it’s difficult.

One of the biggest “calorie sucks” you’ll encounter if you’re losing weight is alcohol, because often times drinks hide their high calorie content. I used to be the kind of girl who drank vodka cranberries, several beers, or rum and cokes, but when I started trying to lose weight that all changed. I’ve never been much more than a social drinker, but when I started tracking calories my alcohol intake definitely decreased a lot, not only because losing 90 pounds makes you a total lightweight but also because often times I would rather use my calories on food. Unfortunately, this makes going out with friends kind of a bummer if you’re trying to be strict with calories like I’ve been in the last 15 months. Sure I would have a bourbon and diet coke (my current drink of choice) or maybe two but then I would be pretty tipsy and already thinking about how far I was going to need to run the next morning to make up for it. But every once in a while it’s nice to go out with friends, have some drinks and have a good time. Like everything else with this lifestyle change it has to be done in moderation.

The other unfortunate side effect of losing weight and counting calories when it comes to friends is how difficult it is to eat out. For those of you that haven’t ever looked at the calorie content of your favorite eatery, you’re in for a rude awakening because pretty much everything at a restaurant is going to have more calories in it than the same thing would at home. If I’m prepared to be going out, I’ll make sure to allot myself some extra calories, maybe do an extra 10-15 minutes on the elliptical and cut back my snacks during the day. It’s when the idea of going out to eat is sprung on you that the panic sets in, at least for me. Some restaurants have the “lighter fare” type menus that provide you with some options to stay within you budget but other times it’s harder. Most of my friends don’t know how much I plan and count and stress over the idea of finding something to eat to stay within my calorie goal, but for them I rarely hesitate to do it.

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Out to dinner with my second family, The Tyo’s, celebrating Will’s graduation!

Now that I’m done explaining how much of a bummer I am now that I’m thin and “watching my figure” like the movie stars used to say, I can talk about how great it is to have friends to lean on throughout this journey. Over the last year or so, I’ve grown closer with some of my friends who’ve been very supportive of my journey and become more distant from some people who haven’t. It’s been unbelievable how much support I’ve had from some people who I haven’t seen or talked to in years, and the people I’ve grown closer to because of my new lifestyle. While I’ve always had a good relationship with my godmother Suzanne and her family, I’ve definitely found a fitness mentor in her and become even closer. We text each other about how awful the humidity is on a run or a great new recipe one of us found and the other has to try. It brings me so much joy to have someone like her in my life to push me to succeed when I’m ready to give up. It’s also been great to have the opportunity to inspire some of my friends to begin their own weight loss journeys. My Irish Sistah, Emily, has been working hard since the spring and she’s managed to lose 45 pounds and I’m so proud of her! I’ve talked several people into using MyFitnessPal, like I do, and start working on improving their eating. I can’t put into words how great it makes me feel to help people start on the road to being healthy, or even just inspire someone to want to do this.

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Emily has made such awesome progress in a matter of months, I’m so proud of her! 

As much as I don’t want to brag more about Chris and how he’s the most amazing boyfriend, I can’t help myself. Chris and I recently moved in together and I was a bit worried about the transition of having access to bad foods and someone to possibly distract me from my fitness goals in my own home. Unsurprisingly, he has been amazing and more supportive than ever.  He’s so noble and dedicated to helping me that he graciously ate most of the peanut butter Oreos he brought home so I wouldn’t be tempted while he was at work. (Love you baby!) Chris has not only allowed me to keep up with my meal prep routine and stay within my goals, but also has been great about making healthier food for himself which allows us to share. Let me tell you, I was not about to eat 8 days’ worth of skinny chicken Parmesan casserole so it was nice to have an alternative and have someone to eat 3 or 4 servings I wouldn’t finish. We both love to cook and it’s great to be able to cook together and share, or as it sometimes happens having a chef to make me a delicious dinner while I’m out for a 3-mile run.

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You too can have a live-in chef to cook for you, just sink your hooks into a culinary master like my man! 

I suppose that this was my long-winded way of saying that weight loss is great, and has so many benefits but it can also be tough sometimes. It will bring you closer with the good people in your life that want to support you, and maybe some people will come back into your life that you had forgotten about. At the same time, you might find yourself struggling to maintain some friendships and that’s ok. Just remember that when it comes down to it, this weight loss journey is for the better and you’ll be happier at the end than you could’ve ever realized.

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As always, Tina Belcher puts into words what I’m thinking.