Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Pinocchio Effect

Fitness is so much more than just a state of body. Perhaps more importantly it is a state of mind. I am confident in my own value and self worth. The fact that I have a zit, or the fact that my belly isn’t flat, or the fact that my nose looks too big from certain angles is simply irrelevant to my sense of self now. Imperfections that used to make me feel socially crippled are just not a factor anymore. I know that my core is strong, that my body is capable and that I have the ability to endure and achieve more than I can currently imagine. Who wouldn’t want that? I used to say to myself: I have a husband, therefore I must be worth something. My professors gave me good grades, therefore I must be worth something. My sense of self worth was wrapped up in the affirmation I received from others. It was wrapped up in the image I could present which showed that OTHER people approved of me, therefore you should too.

Now, my affirmation of myself is the cornerstone of the new vision I’m building. If my boss particularly loves something I do at work, its nice but its not the defining moment of my week that it used to be. If he’s upset with something I did wrong it isn’t earth shattering anymore. No matter what anyone else thinks of me or my efforts, I respect the hell out of myself when I run.

I re-read some of my older blog posts this week. I talked back in September about releasing myself from the self imposed barriers to which I had chained myself. I’m still letting go of those barriers and dropping those chains with each step that I run. But now I’m also letting go of the strings that used to control my movements. Like Pinnochio, I’m no longer reacting to strings which pull me to dance at someone else’s whim. I’m becoming REAL.

Charting My Course

I made it to boot camp twice this week thanks to my Dad and then my Stepmom sleeping over two nights. My ex had been coming over at 5:30 am (which is pretty darn nice of him I must say) but now he’s out of the country for the next 3 weeks. This was the last week of what was supposed to be my 4th boot camp. I’m torn about whether to count it or not because I attended so sporadically. I only went one day in week 2. I can’t go tomorrow for the PT test either. I’ve definitely realized that signing up for the February camp just doesn’t make sense logistically. I’ve got my son until 8 every morning and I have to pick him up by 6 in the evening (the evening boot camp starts at 6:15). I’m hoping when March rolls around Clint and I will have worked out a schedule and I can at least commit to attending most of a session.

In the meantime I’m looking for good videos/ cross training workouts I can do in my living room before my son gets up in the morning. I’m hoping I can do a couple of short runs during the week and I’ll definitely continue the long runs with the ING training group on Saturdays. I’m really excited to see that I’m building muscle definition in my arms so I’m going to pick up some resistance bands so I can continue working on that. And thanks to boot camp I now know a variety of different kinds of push ups to play with!

I’d also really like to give spinning a try, or swimming. Just don’t have the funds to get facility access at the moment although the Y does offer childcare so that would solve part of my problem. I’d love to try kickboxing and martial arts as well. My list of things I want to sample just keeps growing, having a full time job is REALLY cramping my style! I need to find someone to pay me a lot of money to write a regular column about working out. Somehow I’m figuring that market is kind of saturated . . . but hey, you never know!

I’ve also decided to sell our house. It’s just too much for me to carry on my own (heck it was kinda too much for us to carry as a couple but we were somehow scraping by each month). So if anyone is looking to move into the Decatur Area into a beautiful brand new total renovation let me know via a comment. I don’t want to post too many details here. Chase was very sad at the news (as am I) but he’s continuing to be a trooper about it. I’m hoping to rent a smaller place in the same neighborhood. I am excited about downsizing and simplifying everything in my life. I’m hoping in 6 months (if not sooner) I’ll be breathing easier financially.

I’ve been having a blast socially, getting out much more than I have in years, meeting lots of new people (including some nice dating prospects). I’m really enjoying interesting conversations over coffees and lunches and the occasional Strongbow. It’s just nice to flirt and explore. For once in my life I know that I’m attractive, I know I have a lot to offer, and I’m not questioning the fact that people seem to be interested in getting to know me better. Based upon my burgeoning social calendar I’m finding that I’m apparently in short supply and high demand!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Beating the hell out of the number 9

How NOT to handle your longest long run yet:
1. Spend the entire prior week working AND going out with friends, with moderate but steady alcohol intake and limited sleep throughout.
2. The night before, go to a party at a pub and add more alcohol into the mix, along with a healthy serving of MEAT (even though there WAS pasta on the menu).
3. Stay at said party until almost 2 a.m. telling yourself that it is rare to have the opportunity to share time engaging in thoughtful and probing conversation about a variety of scintillating topics with good friends.
4. Actually stay because you are engrossed in a drunken bout of "I Never".
5. Don't lay out what you need the night before so that you can run about cursing and stubbing your toes in the morning and then drive like a bat out of hell to get from Decatur to Piedmont Park by 8:30 am (who the heck ARE all those other people out at that hour on a Saturday????)
6. Realize as you get into the car that you haven't fueled yourself. Inhale a protein/energy bar and a lot of water and gatorade in a short span of time so that you feel bloated and like you have to pee just as you start running.
7. Feel enormously relieved as you spot the group still standing around but then realize that you can't turn and park because you are stuck at the light and panic that they will leave without you. (Even though really, even when you get there on time, most of the pack leaves without you anyway!) Honk and wave like a maniac until someone who knows you makes eye contact in the hopes that they will feel too guilty to leave without you.
8. Sprint from the distant parking spot you found to the group, arrive completely out of breath, convinced you can HEAR your body saying . . . "Oh goody, that was quick, back to bed now right?"
9. Stand around in a daze, A) not believing that you made it given that you left the house at 8:20 and B) wondering what the hell you are doing there in the first place.
10. Fail to actually look at the route that was emailed a few days ago, much less print out a copy. Take a copy from a good friend just before the run starts but then hold it in the same hand as a leaky bottle of red gatorade so that the map gets soaked with red gatorade and all the street names become too fuzzy to read.
11. Get separated from everyone else who knows where they are going before realizing that the street names have been reduced to little hairy caterpillars.
12. Figure it out anyway and thank God for the kick ass sense of direction with which you were apparently blessed.
13. Realize afterwards that had you planned your morning better you'd have been wearing the right socks and you'd have found your missing body glide and you wouldn't be sporting a blood blister that covers most of the bottom of your right arch.
14. Gross out friends, family and neighbors by showing off said monster blister because you actually feel really really proud of it, the trophy from the battle field.

And there you have it. At the end of all that, I looked myself in the eye and realized that even half of even one of those many obstacles that threatened to thwart this run would have stopped me in my tracks just few months ago. Well, that is, assuming it wouldn't have just been science fiction for me to be attempting such a thing in the first place. But had I tried such a thing back then, I would have welcomed each excuse with open arms. I would have invited each one back to my place, and settled them in around me on the couch. Excuses used to be my decorative pillows. Each one was embroidered with its version of the truth. "She's just not built for running." "She has asthma you know" "Her back is weak" "High impact activities are bad for her joints." "She's busy enough with work and family, she just doesn't have time to devote to fitness."

But this is not a few months ago. Oh I still lounge amongst those pillows from time to time, I'd be foolish to think I've left them behind forever. But now that I've discovered what I've been missing outside for all these years (and I get sad if I let myself think about how MANY years) those pillows will never have the hold on me they once did.

Yes, on Saturday I beat the hell out of my 9.38 mile run. Under some less than ideal conditions. I did a few things differently which really helped on this run. I did use gatorade and water, instead of just water. I also took cliff blocks with me. They are like large gummy cubes that you can chew or just hold in your cheek. They're made of easily digestible carbs for fueling on distance runs. This was the first distance I really felt they were warranted, now that I've tried them I really wish I'd used them on my 10K last week. Seriously, they were like rocket fuel on me. Or maybe it was a total placebo effect but either way I sure felt like I could run faster about a mile after taking them! My times seemed to prove it. Other than one tough hill in the 8th mile I was maintaining faster paces during the second half of the course than I was the first. My overall average pace was 12:28, almost 30 seconds per mile faster than my 10K race pace last week, even though this was 15K! The last time I ran with the group and did 7 miles it took me 1 hour, 31 minutes and change. This time I hit the 7 mile mark at 1 hour 25 minutes and change! Other than the blister I felt fine at the end and could have kept going. Except I was at the end and I know the risk of overtraining injuries becomes scarier the closer we get to race day. But I felt awesome and unbeatable on this 9 mile Saturday.

Friday, January 25, 2008


It's been a crazy week in so many ways, I have so much to blog about but haven't gotten 15 minutes to do it yet. So, in case anyone is worried, I'm ok. Wrestling with some more major decisions, rediscovering an active social life, trying to manage a household by myself for the first time with limited success and trying to not completely fall off the workout wagon. I made it to bootcamp Tuesday and Thursday and sort of Wednesday. I got there a couple of minutes late Wednesday and couldn't find them so I did a short run (almost 2 miles) and then did bootcamp exercises on my own until they came back to the meeting place. It was good to know that I can do it alone, but I also know that I didn't work nearly as hard as I would in the group. Thursday my right knee flared up again, loudly. It had been doing so well I stopped doing my routine to care for it. Yeah I know, it sounds stupid when I say it or write it too! So I couldn't really run on Thursday at camp and I had to do modifications for some of the other leg exercises too. I'm doing a recovery day today in the hopes that I can still do the 9 mile long run the training group has scheduled for tomorrow. I really think I need to incorporate some run/walk intervals now. Especially if I don't want to mess up this knee further.

I have lots more to write, my head is FULL of stuff that needs to be expressed here but I have to go to get my son from school. Planning a relatively quiet weekend so I should be able to put this back at the top of my priority list. I miss it!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Two months . . .

St. Pete Beach Classic 2008 Race Report.
In just over two months I'll be running more than twice this distance . . . I am feeling a bit daunted I must admit. I finished my first 10K this weekend and for some reason I had to fight for every step. Afterwards I felt nearly crippled for the rest of the day. Turns out that a flat course is REALLY boring and the lack of downhills was kinda soul killing in a way. It just felt so LOOOONNNG. The weather (about 68 and REALLY foggy) seemed to be dampening everyone's spirits. When I first arrived the back of the pack 5K finishers were coming in and there was a lot of cheering for them which got me all excited and choked up at the same time. They even had someone announcing people's names and their home towns as they came around the corner into the finish chute. I picked up my chip and got it attached to my shoe without difficulty. There were more than enough porta potties so I could time my last visit just like I wanted without being hampered by lines. I felt great at the start!

Once we got going though the flatness was just SO dull. Most of the folks I was pacing with were wearing headphones and the volunteer enthusiasm seemed dampened by the weather. With few exceptions there just wasn't much spectating or cheering going on. So mentally all those factors made for a very LONG race.

My chip time was 1:15:59. A few weeks ago I did 5.92 miles in 1:16. This was 6.2 miles so it was a bit faster but not by as much as I expected. I was worried about hydration because I felt so hot and there were lots of water stations. I felt compelled to take some at each station. I tried to emulate the Ironman runners I watched on TV a few weeks ago but apparently running, drinking out of a paper cup and breathing at the same time is a skill that is currently beyond my ability level. So I ended up walking through each water stop.

The course required that you run back by the finish line (which was the 5 mile mark) and then overshoot it and continue down Gulf Blvd. to a turnaround. I was actually mentally ok with the overshoot, I was just so happy to know that I only had a mile left to go! So I tried to finish with a flourish, we'll see how I did when the professional photos go up.

Chase ran in the Kids Dash and came in 3rd in his age group and got a medal. He was so thrilled. He also thought it was hilarious that he came in third and I came in 444th! (Hey, I was actually 31st out of 34 in my age group though!)

After napping on my Aunt's couch and waiting for the fog to burn off some Chase and I returned to the beach but went to my old favorite from my college days, Pass-a-Grille Beach. I indulged in some conch fritters at the Hurricane and then we played in the wet and windy sand and walked on the beach looking for stuff. Chase was in a magical place, just free and happy, literally dancing through his day. I've been so focused on the release of tension that I've felt with the separation, but on this weekend I really became aware of how much tension seems to have left Chase now as well. I haven't seen him this happy in a long time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Going with it

I've been swimming like hell for a long time. Fighting currents and struggling to get breaths of sweet air in the rapids. So I find myself floating more now. Just riding the water. Not focused on dictating my direction anymore. Exhileration. Fear. The line between the two is transparent.

I'm writing from my Aunt's house in St. Petersburg. Drove down Thursday evening and this morning, spending the night at Exit 5, just before the Florida line. Chase is with me and it has been delicious to have this time with him, singing in the car, bouncing on the bed in the hotel, goofing off. His resilience is strong.

I'm sad that I didn't go to bootcamp again this week after Monday. This morning I was out of town obviously, but Tuesday and Thursday were missed primarily because I just couldn't / wouldn't sleep and I sort of allowed the logistics of organizing those mornings just slip away from me. Intellectually I know that I shouldn't beat myself up over it. I should start fresh next week, accept that I'm not perfect, accept that I should allow myself to be in a strange place this first week of separation. But in my heart I feel sad about it.

I'm nervous and excited about the 10K tomorrow. I stopped at Phiddipedes on Thursday afternoon and was able to find two Moving Comfort Jog Bras (I got one Maia style and one Fiona). When I tried them on I couldn't believe the difference. I'm so excited to run with a REAL bra supporting me tomorrow! And I indulged in a shorter pair of running tights and couple of new tops while I was there. I picked the tops off the racks in size M. Although I'm well endowed I don't mind showing it off and the rest of my upper body frame is petite so larges are usually too large everywhere else. But I only brought a L in the running tights into the dressing room. I'm well endowed in the rear as well. I pulled on the tights and thought there must be something wrong with the cut of them because they were all baggy across the tops of my thighs. I almost didn't dare to think that maybe they were just too big. But I switched them out, and guess what, a M was the right size. With the proper bra on, and my M running tights and my M top I looked hella cute! I even indulged in a few minutes of flexing muscles in the mirror. I'm down 14.5 lbs now, almost 3 bags of sugar I'm no longer lugging around with me everywhere!

My Aunt and Chase and I headed down to the little expo they had set up to pick up our race packets. This is my first race that included schwag. AND I'll get a chip in the morning! Chase will be running in the kids races after the 10k is done so we both got numbers. We had a good laugh when we pulled them out of the envelope. I'm number 13. He's number 1. Running this race, here in St. Pete where so much of my childhood and college years were spent, with my son, and without my husband, feels momentous. Our "random" numbers seem to reflect that. I'll wear my 13 proudly and make it lucky. And of course my son IS number 1.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finding my way

Ok, I know the crossroads image is cheezy. But whacha gonna do? Its accurate! Things are going pretty well all things considered. I'm energized and exhausted by my new circumstances, all at the same time. Literally speaking I'm not sleeping much but that is improving each night. At the same time I'm wound up and hyper during the day, even while I'm yawning. I'm looking forward to my 10K race on Saturday to help smooth me out. Bring the adrenalin I've been carrying to a head at the starting line and just run it out over the course of the race. Then spend some time on the beach with my son. Let the surf and the sand work their magic on my agitation.

I did bootcamp Monday, but missed it Tuesday. I'll make it tomorrow but then we'll be leaving to drive to Florida after work so I'll miss it on Friday. I'm ok though, I've got the race, and then next week my son will be with his dad the first part of the week so I'll get to go at least 3 times then. I'm just not going to beat myself up about it right now. I feel a confidence in the permanence of fitness in my life now.

I'm jumping into dating pretty quickly. I know some folks will feel awkward about that but it is something that just feels right for me right now. My husband and I have both been lonely with each other for a long time. And I've been processing the separation for quite a while although a lot of people are only finding out now. I will not subject any dates I have to being scrutinized in this forum (except maybe the really bad ones, with names and details changed of course!). I'm excited about meeting new people and embracing the adventurous spirit that I shelved for a long time. And I was the one who did the shelving. It wasn't my marriage per se as much as it was my expectations of marriage and of what box I thought I had to force us into to fit those expectations. Letting go of all that I feel like I'm in tune with myself for the first time in years. I'm looking forward to this road trip with my son. Truth be told I'd really like to hang my head out the window and let my ears flap in the wind!

I also hope to take some time to catch up on other people's blogs, I've been extremely self focused for the past month or so . . . its time to look up from my own footsteps again.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Full Disclosure

No more secrets. Now that my son knows I can let everyone else know. My husband and I are separating after 11 years of marriage. We still care for and respect each other, and because of that I won't be using this venue to dissect the relationship and its demise. Just suffice to say that there was no deceit involved, nothing so simple as that. I'm on a roller coaster emotionally, ranging from total despair to relief and occasionally veering into hope.

He will remain extremely involved with our son and we will continue to support each other in our endeavors as we get used to the separation and the boundaries that arise from that. I have had good role models for this in my own parents and for that I am so grateful. Talking to our son last night and dealing with his pain was the hardest thing either of us have ever done but we did that together and we will continue to be a team where Chase is concerned. I wish Clint the best and truly hope he finds his passion.

The past 6-8 weeks have been very difficult though. I can't even imagine what a mess I'd be if I hadn't had boot camp in my life. And the circle of friends and family that I've opened this door for over the past month have been so amazing. Thank you guys. I'm realizing more than ever that any isolation I've felt in the past has been self-imposed. You guys really do have my back.

In other news, I ran 7 miles this morning with nothing more to show from it than a fresh blister. Again, other than general soreness from fatigue it was a painless run. AMAZING. I'm astounded at my body every day.

Clint moves out tomorrow. I'll be figuring out the logistics for my new life over the next few months. I'm delighted to find that I am feeling some exhileration at the lure of the unknown. Anything is possible, and that feels good.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The CNN Story

Just a quick post to give the link to the article and video CNN did on my instructor Tim. Get ready to be inspired! And I'm the one wearing the really really really bright top! :-)


Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Alright folks, its time to set your tivos for Friday morning during the 8 am hour! CNN joined us this morning to film bootcamp as part of a segment they are doing on Instructor Tim and the changes he has made in his life. He has gone from a 330ish lb sedentary guy to a bootcamp instructor and part owner of the Decatur operation. He also runs marathons. And he totally kicks ass and was a big part of why and how I made it through the first two weeks of my first camp when my body was reeling and rebelling against the new regime I was imposing upon it. So we had a great energetic group show up this morning (it was technically a homework day in the regular schedule) with campers from Candler and from other parks around town. Jeff and Heidi came too and it's been quite awhile since Jeff has seen me so it was great to see his reactions to the changes in my body.

I pushed myself this morning harder than I have in a while. It seemed like every time I looked up the camera man was right on me with his big light (it was still pre-dawn of course)and I really didn't want to be caught slacking. Jeff and Heidi's presence also contributed. I love showing them how far I've come. I STILL haven't invested in a better jog bra and I was really regretting it when I sprinted around the corner to confront the camera with my boobs deciding that they were just going to take leave of my bra altogether (of course I was still covered by my shirt but I'm guessing it looked like I was about to give myself a black eye). It is fitting more loosely now and just not holding everything together so well. They WILL edit that out . . . right??? RIGHT????

In another shout out - just got word that one of my bestest and oldest friends (we met at the bus stop, first day of school in 6th grade) just got drafted to one of the Atlanta Roller Girls Teams!!!!! YAY! I'm so proud of her, she has really been working hard since she started training with them last summer. There is a kick off event January 25 and then the season starts March 08! With the return of American Gladiators and my new passion for Roller Derby I'm finally a sports fan!!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


The image is a 2D model of something called a "Random Walk", apparently it is a mathematical theory which says that past stock performance is NOT predictive of future stock performance. For me, right now, I find that soothing.

So, I've been gone from the blog for a while. As I have hinted in the past, there are some heavy things happening in my life right now. I'm starting to share with folks in my life but, for reasons which will be clear later, I can't be completely open with it yet. And because the nature of these issues are sort of all consuming, it is hard to blog without ever mentioning it. So I've been just avoiding this place lately, which is hard because it is my nature to wear my heart on my sleeve. And there hasn't been any bootcamp for the past two weeks so I haven't had an automatic feed of other material to talk about. In fact, until yesterday, I went an entire week with no exercise at ALL. After my 5 mile run on the 29th I committed myself to sitting on my ass until Operation Boot Camp's saturday training run lured me off the couch yesterday. Actually, I can say that I INTENTIONALLY took a recovery week but that wouldn't be true. I kept meaning to get up. And it kept not happening. Thank God for my OBC friends. Maybe someday I'll be totally self-motivated in this whole fitness arena, but for now knowing that they'll worry if I don't show up is sometimes all that gets me there.

But I also learned that recovery may not be a bad thing. I took 4 days off after Thanksgiving and when I ran 2 miles afterwards it was HARD. So I got it in my head that I can't take time off without making everything harder. I honestly think now that those 4 days just weren't enough then. I've been pushing myself really hard since September 10. I was really nervous that I'd totally fall apart trying to run 6 miles this Saturday after doing nothing for a week. But lo and behold, I had a great run! On the HILLIEST course I've ever encountered. I even beat my 5 mile time from the previous week by 2 minutes with MUCH tougher hills. And, other than muscle fatigue, I think this was the first run I've ever had with NO PAIN at all. My shins didn't hurt, my calves didn't hurt, my knees didn't even hurt. Now I think I understand what tapering is all about!

Bootcamp IV starts tomorrow but I'm typing this from a hotel lobby in Milledgeville, GA so I won't make it. I'm thinking about trying to do it on my own but I'm not super comfortable running by myself before dark in a strange area so I might have to try out the treadmill they have here.

Some Random thoughts:

Snot gloves rock. I've since learned that these are not news, but when I found my Under Armor running gloves at REI after Christmas and read on the tag that the fleece patches on the back of the thumb and index finger were specifically for wiping your nose I was convinced they had been designed specifically for me! What a great idea!!!!

Target has stopped carrying my jog bra. Although I've realized I really should get something more heavy duty these bras were awesome, and great for wearing under regular clothes too. AND only $9.99 to boot! So Target discontinued them. ARGH.

Kroger has stopped carrying my favorite protein bars. Is this a freaking conspiracy????

I was shaving my legs in the shower last week and as I ran my hand up the front of my shin I got a fright. There was this wierd lump that ran up the front of my shin when I had my foot flexed. I checked the other leg too. WIERD. Yeah, I finally figured it out. I have KICK ASS SHIN MUSCLES! Now I can't stop flexing my lower legs to admire and caress my shin and calf muscles. Narcissitic I know, but I've NEVER had muscles pop there like they're popping now!

As I said, my 6 mile run yesterday ROCKED. I was DFL as usual but it was such a good run I didn't care. I started out WAY too fast, talking (well mostly listening) to my buddy Doug and keeping up with him on the mostly downhill first mile. Then I realized I was running at a sub 11 minute pace and that I was gonna be in trouble if I didn't back off. It was wierd, the first mile was SO easy that I didn't feel like I had to work at all until into the second mile. For Atlantans the course included the big hill by the hospital on Clairemont AND the length of N. Superior Ave. (which is like being transported to San Francisco). The elevation chart on this court was a little nutty. Jojo joined me from about 2.5 miles on and kept me entertained the rest of the way. I took right at 1 hour 16 minutes for my 6 miles, which MIGHT translate into a sub 3 hour half marathon come March. I've been tickled ever since. Later yesterday we had to go to a friend's house for a housewarming over in West End. We live on the opposite side of town but not a great distance. Google said it was an 11 mile trip. I chuckled, their house seems so far because the city is between us but I had run over half the distance on my own two feet! I realize that jogging down I-20 probably isn't wise but 11 miles no longer seems scary. I'm reading Slow, Fat Triathlete right now (which I recommend) and the author talks about sneaking up on long distances. Don't start out thinking about 13 miles or 26 miles. Just think about one mile further than what you've run before. A mile always seems attainable.

So, anyway, I'll be more connected this week now that bootcamp is back on. And I'll be sharing more as it becomes appropriate. Thanks as always for all of your encouraging comments, they really do mean so much even when I'm not good about returning the favor.