Thursday, December 31, 2015

Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.

Nicole kind of does, though.

Only once, you live.
Got off to a much better start today - slept three minutes longer than yesterday! At least the needle is moving in the right direction.

I really didn't want to get up for a run today, but I wasn't getting any more sleep because of the snoring duel going on between my husband and dog. So I band-aided the hell out of my heels to protect from any more blistering and hit Bayshore again. 

Things seen on today's "run":
  • A cardinal. I didn't think they made it down this far south. 
  • A cormorant catch a crab. It didn't look like it was going to end well... for the duck. I didn't stick around to see if the crab was going to cut his neck off.
  • A power-walking grandma pushing her Maltese in a stroller. She passed me, btw. Getting passed by grannies is not uncommon on the Maffetone Method.

I love that I can pay attention to things like this now that I've slowed my roll. It's part of what makes running enjoyable and exciting again. 

Think, train, eat, sleep like an athlete... this has been my mantra since I registered for the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge

What about play like an athlete? It turns out play is as essential to our health and functioning as rest. Training runs were never really enjoyable for me before I started low heart rate training. (Races were fun, of course, but I'd only do one every other month or so. Doesn't seem right to only have fun every 60 days, does it?)

So it's New Year's Eve. Every year for the last 10 years or so, I'd set the same resolutions for myself. Maybe not exactly the same, but they all revolved around the same theme. Lose weight. Finally get control of my eating. Run faster. 

This year, I'm resolving to have more fun. Reduce stress, improve immune function, improve sleep... seems like adding more playtime is a goal that could naturally lead to everything else I want in life.

I'm starting 1/1. Tomorrow, I'm taking my run to the beach for sunrise. 

Happy New Year, friends. How are you starting off 2016?

107 days left.

Today's Exercise: 1 hr outdoor run

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs with spinach, coffeeMadras LentilsHC latte, almondsTJ's Chicken Burger, salad

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fear is the path to the dark side

I had a really off morning today. 

I'll start with a positive - I didn't wake up at 4! I woke up at 4:20! #winning

But that's really where the positive ended. About 5 minutes before my alarm was set to go off, a nasty cramp in my right leg roused me. I walked it off quickly, but I hope this isn't going to be something new to contend with. I used to get leg cramps all of the time at night when I was running farther, faster, more frequently. Not fun.

I then was really looking forward to my AM "run" - it's been a few days since I have been able to do it outside. However, about 10 minutes in, I started to feel a blister forming on my right heel. I had decided it was time to throw away my old model 14 Hurricanes over the weekend (they should have been trashed in October), and started using my model 16 Hurricanes this week. (Saucony may very well be on model 50 by now. I can't remember when I bought these, it was so long ago. I always like to have a pair of backup shoes on hand). I'll be really disappointed if I have to toss a pair of new sneakers because they aren't serving me. I've delayed my retirement twice now purchasing all of the stuff I need to run better.

Anyway, I really wanted to stay outside. Sunrise, dolphins, beautiful weather... why waste a perfect day inside the gym? But I turned around and went back inside to use the elliptical to prevent messing up my foot any further. 

So it's days like today when a lot goes wrong... and I'm trying to figure out why... that I get started with the "What If?" questions. 

What if I'm not doing this right?
What if my heart rate monitor is inaccurate and I'm not training aerobically at all?
What if I don't get faster?
What if I don't hit my sub 2:00 goal?

If you have anxiety, then you know it's hard to follow "What If's" through... the fear just kind of lingers there. 




So while I'm processing these down to a place where I won't worry, I did just want to put this out there for other worriers - it turns out that people who worry are pretty smart

Maybe it isn't so bad to keep the "What If's" going. It at least keeps me motivated to continue changing things up until I get it right. 

108 days left.

Today's Exercise: 1 hr walk/elliptical

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs with spinach, coffeeTuna salad, peppermint teaHC latte, almondschili w/ guac

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

There's been an awakening. Have you felt it?

The Force Awakens may be my new favorite movie



It used to be The Lion King. Lions keep showing up in significant places in my life. But there's something about this movie...

Or perhaps, something about the timing of this movie. That it represents a moment where maybe, just maybe, I'm finally living my right life - one where I'm in control of all of my choices. And happy.

And, coincidentally, I only found this path because of signing up for a Star Wars themed race.

But despite all of "the awesome" I feel daily, I can't ignore that I haven't slept more than six hours in a night since starting this three weeks ago. Sleep is probably the most important thing when it comes to good health, and not getting eight hours... sucks, frankly.

I read through this article about getting your circadian rhythm back on track and see I can check two out of three off the list.

Coffee? None for me after 3pm, thanks.

Bedtime rituals? All set with my toothbrush, a snuggle with my dog, and a book.

Carbs? Sigh. I can't. Not yet.

I've tried a few other things in the last few days, including adding a magnesium supplement and pre-bedtime guided meditation, but still find myself awake and alert between 3 and 4am every night. So really, all signs point to phasing carbohydrates back in.

I've committed to waiting until after a bowl game/tailgate party on Saturday to try sweet potatoes again, so I have a few days left to try one more thing - adding more high fat/low carb foods to my day. We'll see how it goes.

The Force, if you could go back to sleep for just another hour or two, that would be really great, mmkay?

109 days left.

Today's Exercise: 1 hr treadmill run (15:30 min/mi)

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs with spinach, coffeeTuna salad, peppermint teaHC latte, walnutschili w/ guac

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Force

These intense, positive, powerful feelings I have been having lately can only be due to one thing.

The Force is strong with me.


Alright, I know. I just feel fantastic because low carb, high fat (LCHF) eating has finally given me a level of control over unhealthy behaviors I have been fighting for years.

But I'm not Jedi level yet.

Considering Christmas and Sugar are as tight as Chewy and Han, I'll give myself credit for maybe escaping a few Tie Fighters. Even so, I'm all too aware that it has only been less than a week since my last binge.

I read another story of self-experimentation about a marathoner who switched to a high fat diet. Spoiler alert: She PR'd but didn't meet her goal. She also concluded that LCHF dieting was unsustainable.

Her experience was just that - her own experiment where n=1. I'm not going to read too much into her conclusions on LCHF diets - maybe she just didn't want to keep her diet going as badly as I do because she doesn't have a messed up eating disorder.

But what I do intend on taking from her story is that simply changing my relationship with food is not by itself going to get me to a sub 2:00:00 Star Wars Half marathon. "Running" 15 minute miles now isn't going to translate into running 9:05 minute miles in April without reintroducing some carbs (and NOT binging) and without getting more than four hours of sleep in a night. I'm working out a plan now to try phasing carbs back in after Saturday.

Why Saturday? I'm attending my alma mater's bowl game here in Florida.

You thought Christmas was a carb nightmare? Try Penn State tailgating. That's like the Sith Lord of carby events.

Sorry about all of the Star Wars references. I saw the movie again last night and it was just as amazingly awesome as the first time around.

110 days left.

Today's Exercise: Rest

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs with spinach, coffeeTuna salad, peppermint teaHC latteTJ's chicken burger and butternut squash/spinach

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Running Low on Magic

I really need to start sleeping. After waking up yet again at 3am, I can hardly pull my thoughts together for this post.

I really am starting to look like this too.
Google tells me others who have gone the low carb way have trouble sleeping. Glad to know it's not just me.

I love everything else about the way I feel when I'm eating high fat. Just check out this euphoria. Yet if I want to solve my sleep challenges, everything points me back towards adding more carbs. The only problem is that my brain does not seem to differentiate between angel carbs like sweet potatoes and devil carbs like Oreos. I learned in the past week it's going to be tricky for me to go back without engaging in unhealthy binging behavior.

When I passed on a strawberry at breakfast today, my mother made a comment about how my diet is too restrictive if it doesn't allow fruit. I explained to her that it's a restriction I've placed on myself until I can figure out a way to eat a little bit of food containing natural sugars and starches... and then stop. She let it go, thankfully.

Before I started testing out the Maffetone Method back in November, I'd meet my mom every Saturday or Sunday morning for spin class, and then we'd have breakfast. After reading that I'd need to engage in lower heart rate training, I still met my mother at the gym but opted for the treadmill instead of spin. I had been feeling a little bit guilty about this - like I abandoned her - and decided to join her for spin today. I thought I'd be able to just keep resistance low and do my own thing to stay in my MAF heart rate range.

False. I could not get a good rhythm going at all.

So I'm thinking I really am going to have to abandon her until the Star Wars Half is over. Hopefully I'll be forgiven. The family has been supportive of the changes I have made over the past month, but because they don't seem to have the same struggles I do - and therefore don't read and follow the same circles I do -  I never expect them to fully understand.

111 days left.

Today's Exercise: Spin

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
Omelette, coffeeChiliwalnuts,
HC latte
Not sure yet... going back to see Star Wars tonight!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

High

"OMG, Nicole. What are you smoking?"

My good friend Doubt paid a visit this morning. She wants to know what I'm so excited about. I'm still not exactly "running."

So I skipped a slice of pie yesterday. BFD.
I promise I'm not on any drugs. Doubt's just kind of a jerk.

She did make me wonder, though... is there any benefit to running high?

Marijuana's effect on runners seems to be inconclusive. Not a lot of "scientific" research done on the topic. Shocking.

The "Pros" that are of the most interest to me:
1. Better sleep
2. Reduced anxiety
3. Pain relief

And, of course, the "Cons":
1. Smoking is gross.
2. It increases your heart rate.
3. It's illegal.

So, no, I'm not going to smoke up before my next run. I'm certainly not going to eat any brownies. Frankly, I don't need anything else that's going to kick my cravings for junk into high gear. I'll continue with my natural high from eating good food (or maybe from continued sleep deprivation...)

Note on that last con, though - legalization is very likely to be on the ballot for the November election here in Florida. Medical marijuana was a ballot initiative in 2014 and - even though it had majority support at 57%, you need 60% here to pass. Supporters are thinking it will do much better during a presidential election year.

Which way would I vote? I'm not going to share exactly where I stand here. I have friends and family who may be reading and I'd rather just let them think they know the answer.

112 days left.

Today's Exercise:  90 min outdoor speedwalk

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs w spinach, coffeetuna saladalmonds,
HC latte
Something
German at
Epcot 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Gift

Santa brought me some awesome. I don't mean the latest Garmin Forerunner. The best gifts of my life weren't found under the tree.

Strength. Resilience. Hope.

Guys, I might FINALLY meet my goals in 2016.

I've been doing the same thing over and over again all these years, and expecting different results. (See: Insanity). And now I'm doing something different, and it feels good.

Christmases past would never have been very merry to me without gingerbread lattes, pecan pie, and stockings full of chocolate. Or without a 7 mile run in advance of Christmas dinner.

Didn't miss these things at all today.

Let me just walk you through the past 24 hours:

I freakin baked a batch of cookies last night and didn't even lick the beaters. My mother got every single one of those cookies (ok, my husband snuck two). Took joy in the simple act of carrying out a tradition.

Ok, there was also some awesome under the tree too. The big hits of today, of course, were Star Wars related.

This is my dog signaling that he is very pleased with his Yoda leash and collar. He usually only does this after belly rubs.

My husband and I are going to have keychain duels. He will likely always win.

I kept today a rest day. My mom and I walked to the beach. (don't worry, Apple Watch kept me informed I was always at a lower heart rate).
Florida Snowman

Then we went out to Christmas dinner. I wasn't 100% vigilant - there were some sauces and dressings that may have had some sugar or wheat - I made the best choices I could from what was available.

These were beautiful. It was like art. So I left them alone so that others could appreciate them.

And this was my dessert. Yes, I'm serious.
Red Snapper a la mode.
 And then I took a selfie with my dog.

Because this is me HAPPY. For real. No more fake smiles.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope Santa also brought you the awesome.

113 days left.

Today's Exercise:  Rest, recovery walk

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
2 eggs, ham, coffeeall kinds of awesome. ham, braised cabbage and brussels sprouts, mixed veggies, red snappernah, still full.also full.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Heroes

If you are a fan of Cards Against Humanity, perhaps you have been participating in the "Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah" promotion. But if you aren't participating or haven't heard of the game, that's ok. I promise this post is still relevant for runners, Star Wars fans, those struggling with mental health issues, anybody who wants to feel better about the holidays - whoever you may be.

I am participating in this promotion, and every other day or so get something really random in the mail from the makers of the game. The first three days were socks, and NOT even good running socks...(side note - just wondering if anybody else thought that everyday was going to be socks?). Today, I learned  I get to be king of a castle they purchased in Ireland for 3 minutes on March 19th. Like I said, random.

But my favorite gift from them came over the weekend. If you have a moment, read Cards Against Humanity just blew everyone away with this open letter - and then come back. And if you don't have a moment, that's ok too. But I am going to borrow the letter that they sent me for a sec:


Here's what it says:

On Gratitude

What's your superpower? Can you run faster than a speeding bullet? Can you leap over tall buildings or fly through the air like a plane? Probably not. But every one of us does have a superpower that we carry with us at all times. It's not vulnerable to kryptonite or any comic book villain. It's the superpower of gratitude and it can empower its source as well as its recipient. 

We have the ability to demonstrate our appreciation for what other persons do to make the world or our lives a better or nicer place. These things don't need to be profound events. Every day people are interacting with you. It does not matter if you interact with them in person, over the phone, or online. A "thank you" or an acknowledgement of their effort can mean the world to them. Think of the person in a toll booth. They are confined to a five foot square box all day inhaling exhaust fumes, likely too hot or too cold. You may not be able to help them get a better job but you can make their job better. A smile and a hearty 'thank you' for being here for me can make their day just a bit more tolerable. If enough folks did the same then maybe the box doesn't seem so small.

I own a small business and I try everyday to express kindness, empathy, and yes gratitude for those who work for me. It's harder to be grateful for, or even aware of, the hard work a stranger does for you on the other side of the ocean. I'm proud of the Cards guys for helping us show our gratitude to them too this year.

Just as Superman performs his feats with ease, so can we. The opportunity to express your gratitude to your siblings, parents, coworkers, and strangers is available almost continuously. When you express any kind of gratitude there is almost always a reward. You often get a thank you but a smile or just a nod feels as good. We all have that power, the superpower of gratitude.

Don't let it go to waste.

So Imma just leave that there since this post is getting kind of long, but if you want to play the gratitude game and help others do the same, maybe leave a comment about random acts of kindness that would be so simple to implement daily.

114 days left.

Today's Exercise:  70min outdoor "run" around 15:20 min/mi

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs, spinach, coffee
chili w/guac,
peppermint tea
heavy cream lattetuna salad, wine

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Resilience

How does one recover quickly from sliding back into old, harmful habits after two weeks of abstention? I think I may have an answer.

Just think of everything you'd normally do after a relapse... and then do the opposite.

After Monday night's crash and burn, I thought about why it happened. I thought about how I could use the fact that I had already screwed up to justify further 'up screwings,' at least through the end of the week since I was so worried about Christmas anyway. I thought about cutting back on what I ate yesterday to compensate for mistakes made Monday night. I thought about adding a day of hard core sprint sessions, because that would certainly make me feel better... right?

And then I remembered this is my usual pattern, and it hasn't done me much good over the years. So I did everything differently. I immediately made a meal plan that's more compliant with the Two Week Test way of eating for the day instead of shrugging my shoulders and getting a gingerbread latte. I added more healthy whole food than I've eaten in quite some time, not less.

I still went out for my morning exercise because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to. And I enjoyed it. I saw a dolphin. I saw a heron catch a fish. I saw a father riding his bike with his son before school and heard him say to his kid "Don't go too fast or you'll be too tired to make it back" and thought "that's so sweet" until Dad actually passed me on his bicycle. He really should think about wearing a belt next time. Dude, pick your pants up.



So I'm back in a good spot right now, and sticking with two week test compliant eating for a little while longer. Might seem extreme to some, but "everything in moderation" is flawed advice. Articles like this one upset me. Would you suggest to an alcoholic "You're allowed to have one tequila shot?" Don't think so.

But I could be on board with "Everything in moderation...eventually."

115 days left.

Today's Exercise:  70min outdoor "run" around 15:30 min/mi (headwinds today)

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs, spinach, coffee
chili w/guac,
peppermint tea
almondschimchurri chicken, salad

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Crash and Burn Into a Pile of Donuts

It wasn't donuts, but it doesn't matter. That thing I so desperately didn't want to happen... that extinction burst, that moment I was so committed to NOT let happen...

... happened last night after dinner.

My sugar addiction overpowered me. Think sugar addiction is a myth? Think again. Let's look at the facts - illegal, addictive substances generally come in the form of some kind of white powder and originate from processed and refined plants, right? What is sugar? What is flour? Is it so far a stretch to say some of our 'food' can have an intoxicating hold on us?

Where do we go from here? Say "Screw it" and slide back into old eating habits for the rest of the week since it's Christmas anyway, and remind myself to get back on the low carb/fat-adaptation wagon the very next day?

That's what past Nicole would expect me to do. It's certainly compelling. But that's the way to the Dark Side - always coming up with excuses for continuing the run, eat, repeat cycle.

Future Nicole thinks something needs to change now if it's ever going to change. Rather than chalk up last night's wagon fall to failure, she wants me to take this as a learning experience - that perhaps even a sweet potato might be too much carb for a sugar-addict to handle right now. Future Nicole knows I need to take the path to the Light Side, even when I'm at a special holiday buffet on Friday.

So the question is... What's present Nicole going to do?

116 days left.

Today's Exercise:  1 hr outdoor "run" around 14:30 min/mi

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 eggs, spinach, coffee
chili w/guac,
peppermint tea
heavy cream lattemore chili w/ guac

Monday, December 21, 2015

Anticlimax

So that sweet potato I was so worried about? Yeah, it was a nonevent.

I was expecting two things to happen that didn't - a downward spiral back into crazy cravings land (boo) and finally sleeping through the night after 15 days of 4am wake-up calls (yay).

Neither happened.

Frankly, I feel a little let down.
Still gonna stay the course, though. At least until Friday - I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do about Christmas. We're going to the most decadent holiday buffet at this glorious pink castle on the beach.

Do I turn to the Dark Side, put all of the hard work over the last few weeks aside, indulge in everything the holidays have to offer on this one special day, and hope that I can jump right back into following healthier eating habits the next day?

Or do I embrace the Light Side knowing that it's too soon to say that I'm cured, make choices that I know won't result in the binge monster rearing its ugly head, and finally end a cycle that's been dragging me down for years?

I don't know yet. I find it encouraging that I was even able to stick to the Two Week Test during this time of year. Pumpkin, peppermint, and gingerbread are way too intoxicating for me, and I could justify responding to their call - because these flavors are only available at this time of year... right?

This kind of thinking has been given a name: "Last Supper Syndrome." Basically, when you know something isn't going to be around for another year, the threat of deprivation sends you into a frenzy to get all you can right now. I think the thing that worked best for me about the TWT was that I knew, in the back of my mind, it was only for two weeks. Not a year, not forever - if I wanted a Gingerbread Latte when it was over, so be it.

The crazy thing is... now that I can have it... I don't really want it.

Strike that, I DO want it.

I just want to achieve my race goal more...

... and going back to the way I used to do things isn't going to get me there.

117 days left.

Today's Exercise:  Rest

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 Eggs, spinach, Coffee
Tuna Salad,
peppermint tea
WalnutsChili w/ guac, sweet potato

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Run, Eat, Repeat Cycle

I have an eating disorder. I've alluded to it in previous posts, but I don't think I've ever explicitly made the connection to its role in my love/hate relationship with running, or my failure to meet my goals over the last few years.

There's still a lot of stigma around EDs. It's why I kept this a secret for years. Think of me what you will - that I'm weak or lack willpower. I know now it's not true. If that were the case, would I have tried to outrun my eating problems with disciplined daily gym attendance? Achieved what I have in my career, volunteered for good causes, and taken on a number of side projects like this blog?

This article gives a good explanation to what causes the rise in binging behavior for all types of over-consumption, not just food. There are 3 causes - and the article doesn't suggest this, but I have a suspicion that all three (not just one) work in concert together to keep my binge cycle going. It looks a little like this:

1. Anxiety (psychological): A negative emotion that leads to
2. Habit (chemical): a need to feel better and get my dopamine fix through a binge... which then leads to
3. Guilt (sociocultural) In order to be perfect, I need to exercise and restrict food to undo the damage I just did.

Just... where is it that the anxiety starts? I tried to find the answer in therapy but I didn't get anywhere. My theory is that the cycle continues after a period of running/restriction - I just don't get the nutrition I need to fuel a calm, happy, healthy Nicole. Sure, there might be a lot of "food" during a binge - but it's not like binges occur on kale. Enter anxiety.

Running eventually became my chosen purge, although I didn't view it that way at first. It was new, different, and exciting. It may have started out as something fun for me but eventually became a necessary chore to compensate for the way I ate. And all of this excess - running, eating - was just getting to be unsustainable.

The Two Week Test and the MAF method have done a lot of good for me in such a short period of time because I can see it doesn't have to be like this anymore.

But I'm not "cured" yet. That's why today - the day I reintroduce some carbs - is so scary for me.

I've been at this point of "almost normal" before, but have relapsed hard core. My behaviors have become habit, and my brain isn't about to just let them go. I know at any point, I could crash and burn into a pile of donuts because it's happened before after other elimination diets I've done like the Whole 30. It doesn't sound like I'm alone in this behavior - there's a named theory behind this called the "Extinction Burst."

So Imma just take the slow roll back into carbohydrate land with adding in 1/2 a sweet potato daily this week. Because you know what, Eating Disorder? I'm not going to let you win this time around.



118 days left.

Today's Exercise:  Walking, 65 mins around 15 min/mi

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 Eggs, spinach, Coffee
Tuna Salad,
peppermint tea
WalnutsPaleo turkey taco salad, sweet potato

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Force Awakens... at 4am

First of all, I just need to get this out of my system:

STAR WARS!! OMGSOGOODYOUMUSTSEETHISMOVIE and WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE COMING? I WISH IT WAS TOMORROW!

#FirstWorldStarWarsProblems
There wasn't a single thing I didn't like about this movie. Maybe Maz. Not too sure about her.

So now that's settled. I was disappointed at The Mouse earlier this week for reasons I can't share until after Christmas, but after seeing this movie, all is forgiven.

I ended up solving my dinner dilemma last night by heating up chili and popping it into a thermos so that I could eat it in the car on the way to the theater - so it was still an earlier dinner than usual, but at least wasn't around the same time as my grandmother eats. The theater had a bar and was serving "Light Side" and "Dark Side" cocktails. They actually had a decent Malbec available, so I opted for a glass to have with my almonds - I know I said no wine unless it's a special occasion, but this definitely counts, right?

So 4am rolled around this morning and I, of course, woke up, despite going to bed later than usual (and being woken up by a beeping dying battery in our smoke detector in the middle of the night). It's so weird how my body's internal clock knows precisely when it's 4am. While I'm thankful wake up time is no longer 3am, I still can't understand why I never adjusted to sleeping later - it's dark, it's cold (for FL, anyway), and it's not like I'm feeling 'refreshed' as soon as my eyes open at that time. All I'm asking is for just 2 more hours, body... then, we can get up and run (or walk or whatever).

I'm about to go give Disney more of my money, as my niece is down here from Pennsylvania with her high school to sing in the candlelight processional at Epcot. There's a lot of temptation in the World Showcase now, as there are special goodies they only make available at this time of year.I just have to remind myself that's not what I'm there for.  I'm there to see my niece. And ride Test Track. We have dinner reservations at San Angel Inn in the Mexico pavilion, which I've never been to. Disney is pretty awesome about accommodating all dietary restrictions, so while I'm not sure what I'm having yet, I'd wager a guess it's going to be some form of two week test compliant taco salad like I have been eating most of the week. No complaints on that front.

119 days left.

Today's Exercise:  Walking, 60 mins on the 'mill, around 16 min/mi

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 Eggs omelette w/ spinach, tomato, onion, Coffee
TBDAlmondsTBD but probably a taco salad.

This will be a day long remembered

So that other Star Wars thing is happening today...


At this point, you might think I'm late to the game. I have a few friends who have already seen it twice! But here's where I'm pulling out my bragging card - I'm going to one of only 18 theaters in the U.S. And Canada that are showing it in true 70mm IMAX.



So stoked. The only thing that I haven't solved for is what to do about dinner. My husband and I are leaving as soon as work ends for the day to ensure we can get in line for a good seat. So either that means dinner is at 4pm with the rest of the Florida earlybirds or at 10:30 which is my bed time. I've mentioned before that I despise movie theater popcorn, so I'm not worried about getting caught up in mindless movie snacking. But I'm thinking I'll probably do the dinner at 4 and bring my walnuts in with me for when the movie starts.

Anyway, I've been telling too many old running stories this week, so I probably owe a public update on the Two Week Test. It is, after all, Day 14. So here we go:

It's been a really challenging week for me personally since I last logged my progress. I lost a loved one. My housing drama is picking back up again. And work is piling on the projects. But here's the thing - in the past I might have turned to sugar to cope. Not this time - not a single craving. And my mood has generally evened out and stayed pretty positive since Monday, despite all that's been going on.

It's not all rainbows and unicorns. I am slowly losing patience with being slow. Even "wogging" kicks me out of my MAF zone. And then there's the sleep thing - there wasn't a single night on the test that I got a recommended 7-8 hours. But for the most part, I feel... good.

Technically, I'd begin a phased reintroduction to certain carbs tomorrow, but I'm extending the test one more day. I'm heading back to Disney tomorrow night to see a family member, and think staying on the test will keep me from recklessly indulging in all of the world's junk food at Epcot. I'll start the reintros on Sunday.

And THAT gives me more anxiety than anything else I've faced in the last two weeks.

120 days left.

Today's Exercise:  Walking, 65 mins around 16 min/mi

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 Eggs, spinach, Coffee
Tuna Salad,
peppermint tea
Almondschili, red wine

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wake Up Fail

The door to our room flew open and Runner 6 entered. "Get Up."

There was a sense of urgency there that did not go unnoticed. I bolted out of the air mattress I was so appreciative of just moments before. "Do I have time to get changed?" I asked him.

"Make it quick." He didn't offer any additional information at the time, but he didn't need to - my 6th sense informed me that our entire van had slept a little bit longer than we should have.

As the six of us piled back into our van at 3:30am - closely followed by the second van full of the members of the other team we had been buddying up with - we learned the truth. Our two runner 12s were already at the transition point. It would be a half hour before we could reach them, delaying their rest and our overall relay time by 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the members of our van had all fallen asleep at our friend's house at various times throughout the evening, without really communicating to each other when "Go" time would be and who would be responsible for rousing us at the right moment. We learned our "buddy" van HAD a plan in place, but their plan was flawed - they simply did the math wrong when figuring out the pace of the second half of their relay team.

We arrived at the transition point looking sheepish, expecting to be eaten alive by our abandoned teammates; but there was no wrath, only a playful comment about "Rip Van Winkle" and a quick hand-off of the baton so that they could go get some much needed sleep. It appeared we were already forgiven.

Our teams were able to keep the buddy system in place since we BOTH had screwed up royally, which was good news as this section of the race took two of our female runners into the C&O canal in the early (creepy) morning hours. The error also worked in my husband's favor - not only did he get to see the sunset during his run the evening prior, he also was out on the trail during sunrise for his final run.

I don't think I have ever seen him look more proud than he did after checking off the last box.

I ran my final leg - the last stretch of the C&O canal - with the other team's runner 5 again. At 8.2 miles with an incredibly steep 1.5 mile climb at the very end, it was enough to make the most positive and upbeat person scream obscenities in between long, labored breaths.

To which I did. Fortunately my buddy stuck right alongside me, slowing down to recover when I needed to, and picking it right back up with me when we were ready. Running has always been a very personal thing for me, and I've always hesitated at running "with" someone. But for the two legs I ran with my companion from the other team, I could not have been more grateful. Our average pace had slowed considerably to 10:43, compared to 9:14 the night before - I guess it's to be expected when you combine running with exhaustion.

Our runner 6's completed their legs without incident, and with the final hand-off of the baton, we celebrated by having our first real meal in 30+ hours (if you count the coffee and fruit we had for breakfast the day prior as a real meal). We headed over to a local restaurant (after taking advantage of showers at a local high school) and I ordered a spinach salad with chicken and a warm bacon dressing. Bliss. After lunch, we drove the rest of the way to the Relay finish line and awaited our last runner so that we could all cross together.

Two of our three teams at the finish line
If you have the opportunity to do a race like this - like a Ragnar or something like that - do it. It's the most fun you never wanted to have. And if you need an extra runner to round out your team, count me in.

Today's Exercise:  1 hr walk

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 Eggs, spinach, Coffee
Tuna SaladShort Latte (HC only, no sugar) at SBuxPaleo taco salad, peppermint tea

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Turning my Husband into a Runner

Runner 1, despite being 2.2 miles off course, finished strong and with a smile, and handed off to our second runner, who blazed through his awesome course that took us through the battle fields of Gettysburg. Although two of our three teams ran together for the first leg, our second runner was much faster than their second runner, so we lost our buddy system pretty quickly. And then it was Runner 3's turn:

That's my Husband

Ben had run a 5k here and there before agreeing to do this, and had put in a lot of effort into adding distance to his ability. He was so nervous about letting our team down, and most worried about his first run as it would be the most difficult of the three he'd be doing. I think the butterflies fueled his run, because he did awesome, breaking personal records for his 10k even though he had to run up and down hills here.

And then... our other team's third runner "killed" him. (I learned that's what you call passing someone on the road in the relay community), giving their team's fourth runner a good head start on our Runner 4 - he ultimately wasn't able to make up the distance, as he had a particularly grueling 8 miles up and downhill to complete before handing off to Runner 5.

Me.

I knew that our two teams Runner 6's wanted to run their leg together and would wait at all costs for each other (it is widely known that Runner 6 has the toughest legs of the race, with this particular leg being 6 miles straight up hill). Since the other runner 5 from our second team had a good head start, I had my work cut out for me trying to narrow the distance between me and her. I took off at my sub 9:00/mile pace, and felt pretty good when I had two "kills" of my own ( "Chick'd", rather - that's when you are passed by a girl, apparently).

And that's when the hills kicked in. I knew I was in trouble when I felt a cramp come on. I HAD NEVER cramped up running before, not even during the two half marathons I did in 2012. I cursed the flat terrain of central NJ - and my lack of foresight in only using a 1.0% incline on the treadmill - for not preparing me adequately for this. When Map My Run told me at 2.1 miles I was barely hanging on to a 9:14 mile pace, I knew my sub 9 race average was not going to become a reality. This first leg, at 4.5 miles, was supposed to be of "medium" difficulty.

Sure. Maybe to a gazelle.

I ended my first leg with an average time of 9:09, learned I had done a pretty good job closing the gap on the other team's runner 5, and we bid farewell to our Runner 6s. We were all looking forward to our first of three well deserved naps with the hand-off of the baton to the next six runners awaiting us in our second van.

The night time runs began for us right about sunset, and were fairly uneventful. Nobody got lost. This time around, our Runner 4's stuck together, and I got to hang out on my second leg with the other team's Runner 5. A good thing, too, as it was 10:00 at night and our leg was along a main road that was pretty uninteresting. This was to be the easiest of my three legs - 4.0 miles with gently rolling hills - but I think the long day and lack of sleep were already starting to wear on me. 9:14/mile pace.

My favorite part about this portion of the course though was that it ended right near an angel's house. Ok, not really, but a close friend who actually knew many people on our three teams very well lived along the route, and each year she opens up her doors for us to take showers and sleep - albeit for a very short period of time - on beds, couches, air mattresses, anything she has to offer. A clean and grateful me laid my head to sleep on a pillow and air mattress, and figured someone would come wake me when it was time to lace up again.

I figured incorrectly.

Today's Exercise:  Rest

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 Eggs, spinach, Coffee
Tuna Salad,
peppermint tea
WalnutsPaleo taco salad

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

200 Mile Run

Not a whole lot new to report. Still not running fast. Still not sleeping perfectly, but I did much better last night. Is my body finally recognizing this way of eating as the new status quo? Or did my awesome massage last night just put me in a perfect state of relaxation? Too many variables to know for sure.

So maybe it's time to tell some more old racing stories. My lack of sleep as of late reminds me of one of my favorites.

I first heard about the American Odyssey Relay when twelve of my friends formed a team in 2011 - a 200 mile trek every April from Gettysburg to Washington, DC completed over the course of 30 or so hours. I thought "gee, I really need to find more sane people to hang out with." When I heard they were doing it again in 2012 - and had enough interest to form a second team - I thought "well, maybe I could do that." And when they approached me - and my husband - in 2013 to help them round out a third team, I thought "We're in." (despite my non-running husband's objections.) And so began four months of focused training, our determined accountability to our teammates forcing the two of us to enter the gym almost daily for another grueling treadmill run, or tackling 10k races in the bitter cold, or building up some leg strength with Sunday morning Bodyworks or flexibility with Yoga. As my pace improved steadily, generally staying under 9:00/mile, I figured I was solid to average the same pace for my team come race morning's start. After all, I had to account for hills, tired legs, and sporadic and interrupted sleep in a less-than-comfortable mini-van. But the training I had done in NO WAY prepared me for the challenge that AOR presented. I may need to break this down into a few posts, because there's a lot I remember about this life adventure. So here's the digest version if you don't want to follow along for the next day or so:
  1. Nope. Running 200 miles over 30 hours does NOT stop you from binge eating.
  2. Hill and hell sound similar for a reason.
  3. You know a friend is true when you forget to show up for your last leg of the race and they forgive you.
Anyway, the runners from New Jersey met the night before the race to vanpool out to Gettysburg, with one last minute addition - one of our runners had to drop out that day, creating a scramble to find a new 12th team member. So another runner put a call out to her running club and found a guy crazy enough to join us on a whim.

And here I had just put in four months of training.

We arrived at about 9:30pm - just enough time to mix and mingle with other team members we didn't know very well, meet those we'd be sharing a van with (and getting to know a little TOO well), and get a good solid night's sleep in our hotel. The first two happened easily - but either nerves or just being in an unfamiliar bed didn't work in my favor.

Still, we were up, dressed, and fueled with coffee and fruit to meet our teams at the starting line. All of our teams were given a 7:45 start, as they stagger the start times based on how fast you think your team is going to run the course. Our first runner (in yellow, and the one who found our crazy last minute addition), mentioned this was her first relay and shared she had slightly objected to running first, so she was a little bit anxious about it. I don't think it helped when one of the other runners shouted "Anybody know where we're supposed to go?" A few chuckled nervously, but were reassured when the race director reminded them that the course is marked and they'd just have to keep an eye out for the directional signs.

Someone had the genius idea that each of our teams should have matching t-shirts in neon colors (our team is in yellow, another in orange, and another in pink) so that we could easily pick each other out.

And then they were off! The remaining 5 members of my van packed it up, hopped in, and headed off on the course, prepared to support our runner with bottled water, gatorade, and cheers of encouragement. She had asked that we follow her along the race route instead of the driving route just to check on her initially, while our other teams shared they would be ok for their 5.8 mile run and could wait on support. We drove about a mile and didn't see any runners, and thought "wow, these guys are flying!" When we went yet another mile and saw no runners, we checked our own race map to determine if we were lost. Nope, we were good. A third mile down, and we finally came upon some runners - only we didn't recognize them from our start. Our driver rolled down the window and asked "Hey, when did you guys start?"

 "7:15"

Our hearts dropped. If these were the 7:15 runners, it meant our runners were off course. And it was the FREAKIN' FIRST LEG. We immediately got on the AOR twitter-verse to ask help from other drivers to start looking for the group. We trekked back to the starting line taking a few different roads. We could not find them anywhere. I immediately pulled out my leg maps and pored over them, desperate not to have the same ill fate befall me.

We eventually got back on the running route, and felt elated when we saw bright yellow and bright orange running together. We pulled up next to them, waters in hand.

The damage? 2.2 miles off course, changing a 5.8 mile course into a full 8. Apparently, the first sign indicating to run straight across the road was poorly placed, and the group all followed the first guy out the gate - who turned right.

Well... the adventure had begun.

123 days left.

Today's Exercise:  Walking, 1 hr

Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
3 Eggs, spinach, Coffee
Tuna Salad,
peppermint tea
WalnutsPaleo taco salad