Saturday, March 12, 2011

A (Wo)Man with a Plan

I remember that in grade school, one of my teachers had a quote on the wall: "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." A touch cheesy, perhaps, but a point well taken. That quote has always stuck with me.

So... let's prepare. Successful marathoners have to train to build up their endurance and prepare themselves both physically and mentally for the big event. And by the way, that big event is officially 210 days away... not that I'm counting.

I have hemmed and hawed over whether or not I could potentially run the entire race. Truth be told, if I trained correctly, I probably could. But I've done some research and a little soul searching, and I've decided to stick to the structured "run-walk" plan for multiple reasons.

(1) Reduced risk of injury. Now this doesn't take my risk to zero, but I've got a LOT of emotional, mental, and eventually physical preparation going into this. This past year, I saw multiple people who came in with stress fractures or other various injuries that prevented their participation in the marathon and instantly made their months of training absolutely fruitless. I do NOT want this to be me. I want to complete my first marathon in a healthy, safe fashion, and I want to be sure I see that finish line.

(2) Walking is a must. Even if I planned to try to run the whole event, there has to be some walking in there. Breaks are essential to success. And I know I can be stubborn and driven, and I think the worst thing I can do is get excited on the day of, push myself too hard on the first half of the race and not take necessary breaks, and then peter out on the final leg. I want to be as steady and consistent as possible.

(3) A better time? If I can stay consistent, and allow my body the rest periods I need, I think it will overall improve my time. At first, I laughed at this idea - walking is slower than running, right? But little walk breaks allow me to keep an even better running pace. And, with Angie and Kev by my side, we can all push each other to keep a strong pace while walking or running. Strength in numbers!

Those are the big thoughts I've had. So I hit the internet and started to do some research. There are a few highly regarded walk/run programs out there, but I've ultimately settled on a plan written by Jenny Hadfield. For some reason, I liked this set-up the best and thought it fit me the best out of all the programs I read. I also really liked the fact that this was the only program I saw that was designed by a woman. Plus, she's from Chicago... that has to be a sign, right? Should you care to, you can find the program we're using here.

I've already laid out my schedule (no surprise there), and my official training begins on Monday, May 23rd. Of course, I need to get myself as prepared for that as possible, so I'm continuing to run outside when the weather is nice, and continuing with my other cross-training and strength-training efforts.

As for ye olde weight loss update... I find myself at a bit of a standstill. Not cool. I've returned to the WW Good Health Guidelines and find that I'm doing pretty much everything recommended, so no help there. I'm continuing my workouts, but I think perhaps I need to start stepping these up? My other plan is to return to WW meetings. When I originally started on this plan, I went to the meetings for a while, but eventually ended up just using the online resources. Actually, I beat the odds with that, as I continued to lose a good amount of weight on my own without the accountability of the meetings to keep me in line. I'm not really that concerned with my accountability - this is not the reason for my return. I'm going to go back because I'm approaching, albeit slowly, the endpoint of my weight loss, and this last stretch is going to be HARD. I'm hoping to pick up whatever tips, tricks, and support I can from people who have reached their goal, and use this to fuel me through to finish what I've started. First meeting is tomorrow AM. Here we go.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rise to the Occasion

This past Sunday, I participated in the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago's "Hustle Up the Hancock." This is an annual fundraising event for the foundation, where 4,000 participants climb their way up 94 flights of stairs to the Observatory deck in the Hancock Building.

Let's just be totally clear how high that is. We're talking about a 1,000ft vertical climb. That's 1,632 stairs. The oldest climber was 85(!!!), and the youngest was 6 years old. And what did YOU do with your Sunday?!

It was a pretty outstanding event. It's so empowering to see so many people coming together for a great cause. This event usually raises over $1,000,000 each year. There were people climbing who had lung transplants, as well as people climbing in memory of loved ones lost to respiratory disease.

The times ranged all over the place - fastest time this year was by a 40 year old man who ran it in 10:03. Let's be hones,t he's crazy.

And as for yours truly? I really didn't train specifically for the event, but I managed to put up a very respectable time of 20:14, and even managed to pass people along the way. When I began to climb, I had a fleeting thought that I'd never be able to make it to the top - the flights of stairs are largest at the bottom, and each flight was 20 stairs. But once I got a good, steady pace going, I charged on, and felt good when I was done.

What was more surprising (and encouraging) to me was that I wasn't sore the next day, either. I felt great. Looks like all this working out is getting me somewhere.

After my very early climb (6:45a, first wave), I made my way up to the observatory to watch the sun rise over Chicago and prepare for my day as a medical volunteer. We were prepared for the worst (as always), but it didn't come our way. Luckily, we only saw people with minor issues - lightheadedness that resolved, nausea, didn't eat breakfast that morning. I was glad to see that the event went off so smoothly.

Lots of marathon talk at Hustle Up the Hancock - both from the medical staffing point of view, and due to the large overlap in participants. Finding more people who are doing the race - many for the first time - and many of whom I'll be bugging to go running with me.

On the weight-loss front... well, it's been a frustrating month. I don't much feel like belaboring it, but my weight-loss is slowing as I approach goal, and it's frustrating. It's even been accompanied by a few weeks of weight gained rather than lost, but really I'm just vacillating around the same numbers. I know this is a plateau and I know that I will get through it ultimately because I'm doing all the right things. I just need to dig down deep and find the willpower to stay the course through this persistently annoying time. My ultimate goal is to have a normal BMI. But, as my ever-intelligent mother pointed out, BMI isn't always the best measurement for muscular people - and while I'm not exactly jacked, my muscle mass is way up from what it used to be, and I have to take that into account. Despite my losses being less than I'd like, things now fit me that never did before, and I'm noticing changes in my appearance. I think I need to let go of the scale a bit and try to see the forrest through the trees.

But now? It's March. And I'm gonna own March. Here's to a month of successes!