The Very First Mile

one mile markerI did it! I ran my first mile!!!

Okay, I have been running for awhile now, but always intervals. So, while I have run miles, they have always been interspersed with walks. I’ve been following a running guide for a local marathon, though admittedly, I’ve been taking my long sweet time about it. Sometimes I repeat one step several times before moving on. I had gotten up to 4 minute runs interspersed 1 minute walks. When I glanced at my guide for the next level, it suggested 1 minute walks / 1 mile runs. You would think they would get you up to 8 minute runs or something first, but nope! 4 minutes – then the full mile!

So, that’s what I did! Like much of the country, we’ve been under a heat wave, but it finally broke this weekend. It’s still hot, just not quite “just opened the door of a steam bath” deadly muggy anymore. According to the weather app on my phone it was 81, but my outdoor thermometer said it was 89. So whatever it was, it was still hot. I drove over to one of my favorite parks by the river to run. It has long straight loops along the waterfront and great breezes come up off the water. It’s a perfect place to run, especially in the heat.

I got to the park, set my Run Keeper app and away I went – 1 minute of walking, followed by 1 mile run, then repeat. I didn’t push it. I ran at a fairly average speed for me. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, so I took my time. And you know what? It went great!

When I was done, I was beet red, sweaty and tired, but not completely exhausted. In fact, I felt like I could have kept going. Despite the temptation, I thought it was better to leave with some energy still in the tank, so I grabbed my water bottle and towel and went to cool down by water. The first thing I did was text Julian to let him know. As I did, a wave of happiness washed over me… I just ran a mile!

Due to asthma and other complications, I’ve never run that far before (at least not all at once.) Not as a kid and certainly not as an adult. I still can’t say that I am completely in love with running, but I like the confidence it gives me. I feel great, inside and out.

So, I am going to keep on plugging away and keep on running! Let’s see what other new records I can set!

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Running Shoes and Good Reads

Just a quick post about awesome running reads:

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

1) I loved this comic by The Oatmeal: The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. I love The Oatmeal comics anyway, but this one in particular made me smile. Hilarious yet thoughtful stuff in here. I can’t say that I am in the same place as a runner, but certain things definitely clicked. If you are a runner, go, go, go check it out. Heck, even if you aren’t, but know a runner or two, take a read. (Big thanks to the author of the blog Dopey Dave for pointing this comic out!)

2) Speaking of writers I like writing about running – I am a HUGE fan of Haruki Murakami. I stumbled onto my first book of his at the end of last year, and this year I have been obsessively buying all of his books and short story compilations that I can. Guess how happy I was to see he had written a memoir about running? I just finished it this weekend! Happiness!

The Cabin, Sharing the Road and Thoughts from the Weekend

Hermes at the lake

Hermes checking out the temperature of the lake.

Last weekend at the cabin was amazing. I had a lot to do in town before I could hit the road, so I didn’t arrive until pretty late Friday night. I unpacked, got the pooch settled in and just relaxed for the evening.

Saturday and Sunday followed the same basic pattern:

7:00 AM up with Hermes, out for a long walk

8:00 AM home again, time for breakfast

9:00 AM out on the kayak

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM snacks, naps, reading, relaxing, lunch

2:00 PM out to do yard work (mostly raking) for a couple hours

4:00 PM kick back for an hour, have a snack

5:00 PM out for a run

5:30 PM back from run, drink water, catch breath

5:45 PM finish cooling off by going out in the kayak

6:30 PM come back home, change into dry clothes, feed dog and head out for a walk

7:00 PM home again, time for dinner

8:00 – 11:00 PM kick back and relax

It was great! I got a lot of yard work done, which pleased me. My cabin is deep in the woods and no matter how many leaves I clean up in the fall and spring, there is always plenty left to clean up the rest of the year. I picked up countless wheelbarrow loads of them.

These guys sounds like miniature Gatling guns. i love them.

These guys sound like miniature Gatling guns. I love seeing them.

The kayak was, as always, wonderful. I liked the 9:00 AM rides the best. It was too late for fishermen and too early for vacationers, so I had the lake to myself. The water was a bit murky, but I still managed to see tons of ‘gills, sunnies and bass. The waterbirds were in full force too, especially the kingfishers which were diving all over the lake.

My running went well too – despite the heat. I managed to decrease my intervals so I am now up to 3 min. run / 1 min. walks. That feels really good. There really aren’t good places to run up by my cabin – lots of busy rural highways and almost no sidewalks. I have a route that I run that is roughly a 30 minute loop along some back roads. There is still plenty of traffic, however. One thing I have learned – people are a lot nicer to dog walkers than they are to runners. When I am walking Hermes, people not only pull their cars out out to give me more room, they frequently pull completely into the oncoming lane. They also never fail to wave and smile. When I was running, however, many of them barely moved over and one woman completely refused. I could see her male companion in the seat next to her yelling at her and gesturing to move over, but she refused. (I just jumped into the weeds, no big deal.) I told Julian about it and I thought he had a good explanation for this behavior:

“Well hon, they understand dogs.”

I think he’s right. This neck of the woods is pretty rural, and although I don’t see a lot of people walking their dogs up there, I do see a lot of people that own them. (They just usually keep them tied up in the yard.) My dog, which is obviously a hunting hound, seems to fit right in. He does attract positive comments on a regular basis.

Runners, on the other hand, are a lot more rare. In the nine years that I have owned my cabin (and in particular in the last two when I spent a lot of time walking my dog around there,) I have seen precisely two other runners. I saw both of them this summer, and they were both running really early in the morning. It might have been to avoid the heat – or it might have been to avoid the traffic!

I wish working out was always this easy, though. I never felt rushed, or pressured. Even the yard work – sure, it isn’t exactly fun, but it was great exercise and I didn’t mind doing it at all.  …somehow I never feel that way at home!

 

Photo credit of kingfisher: Mike Baird

Photos of Long View Hill

All right, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while – I guess now is the time… deep breath….

I’ve compiled a few photos so you can do some “before and current comparisons” that I am going to post. I admit – I’m a little nervous about all this for a whole bunch of reasons, but I figure it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. So, here we go!

Through the years

2005

Good gracious, I have mixed feelings about this photo. On one hand, it was taken on a wonderful trip to Las Vegas with my best girlfriends. We had a great time, and if I look a little tipsy in this photo, that’s because I undoubtably was. I actually have another version of this photo that isn’t quite so… bosomy that I like much better, but this one, (despite my awkward pose… again, lots of alcohol was involved,) shows my figure in all it’s ummmm… glory.

At the time, I thought that shirt was so pretty on me…. sigh….

2010

This is pretty much a standard “me” shot. Nothing fancy, just my day-to-day look. If I look a bit pale, it’s because I had a horrible case of car sickness that day. A friend of mine (the one whose hand you see on my shoulder) and I had taken a long, long drive that day. When we got to our destination I was sick as a dog.  Ah well… Anyway, this is pretty much what I looked like for years.

2012

Me in my new glasses

September 2012

In the photo up above I am all dressed up for a fancy event. This was taken in October of last year. I had a new haircut and brand new glasses at the time. I was lookin’ (and feeling) good that night!

Also in September of last year, I had a good friend take some head shots of me. I needed some photos for work. This is one of the series she took. I love this photo, despite the fact it was hotter than blazes that day and I look a little flushed.

I am not sure of my weight in these, as I’ve said, I have always been a bit slapdash in recording that kind of thingbut I would guess I was roughly in the range of 180 -190 pounds at my heaviest and 170 at my lowest. I am 5’6″.

Yesterday

Last Night - New Dress

So, these were taken last night. The first one I obviously took myself in my dining room mirror (note the crazy number of books piled in front of it) and the second was taken by my best gal Cee. I’m rocking a brand new dress I bought at Target the other day. My boyfriend Julian is out-of-town this weekend so I took some photos of my new dress to send him while he was away. They turned out so well, they were the final push that got me to post all of these.

I honestly don’t have a lot of photos of myself. I have a hard time taking them. If you saw all the struggles I went through with the photographer that took my head shots, you’d laugh. (Let’s just say that tears were involved.) It’s not that I am so particular or even that I don’t like having my photo taken, it is just that I am the most awkward photo subject on the planet. I have dated 3 amateur photographers in my life. Not one of them could get a decent photo of me. All of them threw their hands up in the air and gave up! Of course Cee nailed it on the first shot!

Me and Julian

Julian and Me

Finally, here is a shot of Julian and I, taken just last month. (Hi hon!) Now you can see what we both look like!

Note: I am 135 pounds in the in the one with Julian and 133 in the one above from last night, but I don’t consider these “before and after” photos. They are just past and present. I consider myself still a work in progress, and I am expecting my body to continue to change. (In fact, if anything, I expect my weight to go up some as I continue to lift weights!)

Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty had a great post today about Measurements, Counting and Motivation. It’s more on tracking the numbers (like running speed), but along with that, I regret now that I didn’t take more photos of myself back when I started – just for comparison. Maybe I will take some more soon so that I can track my changes as I go forward… and now that I have posted these, I’ll feel more comfortable keeping you all up to date!

The Weight Update

skinny blue by inger maaikeI haven’t written about my weight loss in a while. Here on the blog, I’ve been writing a lot more about exercise, however, weight is still a focus for me. Let’s start with a breakdown for the new readers:

I began my weight loss journey in earnest on January 15, 2013. At that point I weighed 171.2. This was actually a bit of a low for me. I didn’t have a scale for several years prior to that, but I roughly know my weight fluctuated between 190 and 180. I had tried a few times before to lose weight and got down to 165ish, but didn’t keep it off. In August of 2011 I adopted my furry pal, Hermes, and that started to change things. I still didn’t have a scale, so I don’t have any actual records of pre- and post-Hermes, but I know that’s when I started to buy slightly smaller clothing sizes.

In May, I hit my goal. That is, I hit my “stated” goal, which was 140. I was very happy with it, but I confess, I still had a super secret goal… which was 135. Why 135? I have no idea. I think that at one point in my life (high school? early 20s?) that’s what I weighed and somehow that number got stuck in my head. If you can’t tell – weight loss and tracking have always been a bit slapdash with me, (until recently, that is.) In fact, when I decided to lose weight and use My Fitness Pal, one of the first things I had to do was go out and get a scale! While I have tried on-and-off to lose weight, I can’t say that I ever put all that much work into it. I played with South Beach and a few other diets. I had a treadmill and some other exercise equipment for a bit, but I can’t say that I was ever very dedicated. Of course, that’s all changed.

Once I hit 140, I decided to change my goal. Permanent maintenance seemed really scary, so I broke it down into a more manageable plan – my goal was simply to keep the 31 pounds I had lost off through to Jan. 15, 2014. That was my stated goal, but I figured while I was at it, I’d just keep going and see what it felt like to get to 135. I mean, it is certainly easy enough to put more weight on, so why not take off what I can and see what feels best?

I hit 135 in June. Since then, I’ve been riding between 131 and 135. I’m still tracking calories, though I don’t have any new goals (stated or otherwise.) My focus is learning on how to keep the weight off, and keep it off. Again, my target is Jan. 15th – I’d like to have a year of this under my belt before I make any other drastic changes. It’s enough that I am adding in running, weight lifting and other exercise! Even though I’ll have been working on my weight for almost 6 months, I still don’t feel like I have this down. It makes sense – I ate one way for 38 years, six months of change is still pretty much a drop in the bucket.

In fact, here are a few things I am still struggling with:

Ordering in Restaurants

What’s easiest is if the place is big enough that they have their nutritional values online. Then I can scope out the menu beforehand and walk in knowing what I want to order. However, I prefer locally owned little interesting eateries and their menus get tricky fast. Mostly, I just pick the best I can and try to eat roughly half. Servings are usually so large, it seems like a good rule of thumb. This is kind of hit or miss with me, though.

Not Drinking Enough Water

If I don’t focus on it, it doesn’t happen. I know I feel better when I am hydrated, but unless I make an effort, I just don’t drink water. I don’t drink soda or anything else either, which is good, but I am probably under hydrated most of the time.

Making Time for Working Out

I love what I do, but I hate not having more spare time. It absolutely needs to be a focus for me once I get through this round of freelance work. I need more time so that taking some out to go for a run doesn’t feel like I am using up my only free hour that week.

Too Much Sugar

I’m on a sugar kick lately and I am not sure what is up with it. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who was particularly interested in sweets, but man, lately it seems they are all I want. I don’t want to cut it out entirely, but sugar has this weird way of creeping into my diet and then producing stronger and more frequent cravings.

Portions

Portions are still tricky for me too. Thanks to buying a food scale and tracking things in My Fitness Pal, I am getting a better feel for it, but my default is always a larger portion than what I need. Growing up we ate HUGE portions. My Dad had one of those metabolisms that let him eat whatever he wanted and stay the same. (Ex: 4 quarter pound hamburgers, 4 ears of corn and a salad at a single meal, with room for dessert.) His way of eating effected all of us. I know it was one of the reasons I gained weight in the first place. I’m learning and getting better, but it takes time.

There are one or two other things that I struggle with too, but those are going to get their own posts. Suffice it to say, I’ve had friends tell me that now that I have been doing this for a while I should be able to “lighten up” and not have to be so meticulous about calorie tracking and so forth. I have also read a heck a of a lot of blogs and articles about how calorie counting doesn’t work. I can see that – I know it doesn’t work for everyone. It works for me, though. I do think that day will come when I can maintain my weight without it, but it isn’t here yet. Me, I’m going to take all the time I need. It’s just too important not to.

Photo credit: inger maaike

C’mon Feet, Let’s Go!

Feathers along the river.

Feathers along the river at the park.

The author of Mink Deadly’s Mathematical Adventures posted that he knows he is a runner because he is crazy enough to race in the heat. I don’t race (yet.) But I do run in the heat. Last week the first day I ran it was 82 degrees. The second day it was 84. The humidity was so high, it felt like I was running in a steam bath.

But you know what? It was okay. Yeah, I was sweating buckets and I am sure my face was a bright “is she going to be all right?!?” red, but I did it! The first run was at River Park, which was great – and being by the water really helped with the temperature. The other great thing about River Park is that it is big, really big. So, even though there were a lot of people walking, biking, playing games, picnicking and just sitting by the water that night, it didn’t feel crowded. I love that.

One other thing happened that made me happy: as I was coming back on my final loop, I noticed a man running towards me in the opposite direction. He was incredibly fit and wearing some kind of team jersey. The minute I looked at him, I thought “soccer player.” I don’t know that he was, but he had that tough, strong, compact build that makes me think of team sports. He was also obviously an experienced runner. As we passed, he looked over at me and gave me a small grin and a short nod. He had a look of recognition in his eyes – one crazy fool to another, running in this heat… it was the nod of one runner to another. I don’t know how so much could be conveyed in such a short gesture, but it was, and it made me feel like a million bucks.

A sweaty, tired million bucks.

The second run was at one of the local college campuses. I’ve run there a couple of times before. It’s a gorgeous campus, with lots of walking trails and paths through the woods. I’ve also been working there in the evenings doing freelance work. I lucked out that night – my freelance partner gave me the night off. I had a little suspicion that might happen, so I had packed my gear, just in case.

Everyone that day was complaining about the heat… even people who love summer were complaining about it. Me? I kept my mouth shut. One of the unexpected benefits of losing weight has been that summer heat doesn’t affect me like it used to. Summer used to be my least favorite season, but now I am loving it. (The downside, of course, is that I am cold all the time. I finally realize why older folks move to Arizona and Florida – it isn’t just to avoid snow!)

The campus is mostly shaded by big trees, and it was after 5:00pm, so even though it was 84 degrees, it wasn’t that bad. My time didn’t turn out to be very good, but I didn’t care. I am still getting back into the swing of things and I was running up hills and through areas I don’t know very well. The important thing was that I got out and didn’t let my concerns about the heat, or anything else, stop me!

And I am heading back out this weekend!

Sitting at the river's edge after my run.

Sitting at the river’s edge after my run.