Archive for June, 2010

Stepping it Up

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

A while back – about 75 pounds into my weight-loss journey – I attempted Tony Horton’s P90X program. Sadly, I only lasted about 3 weeks of the 12.

If you’re not familiar, P90X is a 90-day system comprised of 12 different workouts that you alternate to keep your muscles “confused” so you don’t plateau or get bored.

It’s incredibly challenging. And time-consuming. And tiring.

And I’m ready to try it again.

When I tried it before, my husband did it with me. Committing to doing something with someone else can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. When the time commitment became too much for my husband with his work schedule, I just let it go too. (Even though since I have my own business and work from home, I have more time than most…) I didn’t stop because I felt bad that he couldn’t do it with me – he’s always incredibly supportive. I stopped because I wasn’t invested enough to do it on my own.

I’m further along in my journey now. I’m in better shape than I was then, and I’m mentally stronger, too. I’ve always secretly wanted to try this again (I hate feeling like a quitter!), but I’ve never taken the leap. After reading about how Rachel of (Body by Pizza fame) is about to give it a go and “get buff”, I was inspired to finally try it again.

Honestly, I’m still a little afraid that I’ll fail again. If this is going to beat me, though, it’s not going to be from lack of trying.

And so, starting tomorrow, July 1, I will restart P90X. I think the structure and the intensity and the challenge will be good for me. We all know how good I am at following schedules! And how good I am at doing nothing when I don’t have a schedule…

I’m actually a little excited :) Wish me luck!

Race Recap: Dormont Dash

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Yesterday was the Dormont Dash 5k. My goal for this race was to break 30 minutes and set a new PR.

I woke up in the morning feeling great: I had my usual pre-race breakfast (whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter and jelly), put on my clothes which I had lain out the previous night, and headed to the race place not far away.

It was a gorgeous morning, not nearly as hot and humid as it had been recently. The fact that it was 8am didn’t hurt, either. At this point , I was cautiously optimistic about achieving my goal. I haven’t really done much speed work (or any, for that matter), but my pace has steadily quickened over time, and it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that I could do this – I’ve gotten SO CLOSE!

Shortly after I arrived, I met up with N-Cat who was running the race as well. This was her first road race in many years, so she was adorably nervous and excited. I’ve done quite a few 5ks to date so I don’t get that same sort of charge at the starting line anymore; it was neat to live vicariously through her. (That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy doing 5ks, because I do, it’s just different now. If you run races, too, I imagine you know what I mean.)

N-Cat and I didn’t plan to run together since we had different goals: Like I said, my goal was to break 30 minutes, and N-Cat’s goal was simply to finish… ideally not last. I was confident that she would have no problem finishing and not last – even if she wasn’t. (Incidentally, she did awesome, finishing in under 40 minutes, with plenty of people behind her!)

J-Roc ran this race, too, but he arrived late so I didn’t see him until he crossed the finish line. Note to J-Roc: It’s important to arrive on time to road races!  :D

This course was described as having “rolling hills.” That’s a complete understatement. This course was like an M.C. Escher painting as it was almost entirely uphill, and yet the start and finish lines were the at the same elevation. Funny that…

I’m used to running on hills, but this course was absolutely insane. It started out uphill. Then you turn the corner and it was up another hill. Then another and another. Crazy.

Of course, there were some downhills, but I swear, they were few and far between. I did my best to sprint on the downhills because the uphills were so tough and I wanted to try to compensate for that.

About a mile in, I adjusted my goal from “break 30 minutes” to “don’t die.”

I’m pleased to say that I didn’t die, but I also didn’t break 30 minutes. My time was 31:07.3. Not bad considering the course, which was definitely not a course on which to set a PR.

Which means I have the same goal to strive for. It kills me every time I cross the finish line of a 5k and see a ‘3’ in front of my time. I guess that means it’ll be that much more awesome when I finally get there, right?

Chasing Waterfalls

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

I spent a few days this week visiting my family and Friend #1 in Buffalo. I had a great time – it was jam-packed with activity, which was the idea, but man was it exhausting!

One afternoon, my brother Stephen and I went hiking at a place not too far away called Zoar Valley. He has been trying to get me to go there for years. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, because I definitely did. It’s just that my trips to Buffalo are always so short, usually centered around some sort of event, so time is incredibly limited and we were never able to coordinate it. This was the perfect trip for it, though.

Zoar Valley is literally a valley with high cliffs (and in many places, waterfalls) on either side. In the center is a creek, which can become more river-like with rain. There had been some rain in the days before our hike, so – according to my brother – there was more water than usual, but it wasn’t at the ‘too dangerous to continue’ level. So it was full-steam ahead!

Truthfully, I had no idea what to expect. Steve told me to wear sneakers that I didn’t mind getting wet, because that was definitely going to happen. But he didn’t tell me that the rest of me was going to be completely saturated as well. If I had known that, I would have worn a bathing suit under my clothes, but hey: You’ve gotta roll with the punches when you’re with Steve, so whatever.

There were a few very difficult places to pass. At one point, in water up to our necks, we had to get around an outcropping of the cliff. Steve had no difficulty with this whatsoever. When it was my turn, though, it was a completely different story. The first time I attempted it, I thought I’d be able to walk, but the water was deeper than I expected. Then I tried a second time, doing this weird doggy paddle thing, which wasn’t enough to counteract the current of the water. And of course, I was laughing really hard (mostly at my foolishness and the fact that my brother was recording my foolishness…) which didn’t help. Third time was a charm though, and I made it across!

Zoar Valley is home to a number of waterfalls, and once I got past that outcropping of rock, there was a natural ‘shower’ that was fun to stand it. I was already wet, so what the heck, right?

There were a few more places that were pretty difficult to maneuver. Walking along a cliff with only a few inches of rock sticking out to step on – thinking back on it, it was pretty scary, actually. One wrong step and you’d be tumbling into the water below! We saved that for later though…

That’s right: I jumped off a cliff, down a waterfall, into the rushing water below.

Holy shit.

I had no idea that’s what we were doing until we were halfway to the waterfall at the end of the 2-mile hike. Steve nonchalantly tells me this like it was common knowledge. It was not.

After passing multiple waterfalls, we finally make it to the one we were going to jump off. When I saw it I immediately thought “No way in hell.” Steve quickly set down his bag away from the falls, and had me follow him over, which I did, like a lamb. He showed me how to cross the raging waters at the top, which again I did.

Let me tell you, once we were on top of the waterfall, I seriously doubted doing this. I don’t have a fear of heights or water, but standing up there and looking down – oh boy. Let’s just say it was high – about 25 or 30 feet I’d guess. And the water was fast. And it was a cliff, for pete’s sake.

Steve explained how to jump in – away from the edge (duh), plugging your nose with one hand and with your body straight like a pencil. He asked if I wanted him to go first, and obviously I did, so then he jumped in.

Just like that.

He was fine, of course. I yelled to him that I had no intention of jumping in twice, which he wanted me to do so he could take a picture of me as I jumped (he left his camera in that bag away from the falls), so he ran to get his camera. When he came back, I was standing at the top of the 25-30ft waterfall, shaking the nerves out of my hands, trying to talk myself into jumping.

And then I did.

I jumped out from the wall, plugged my nose, made myself as straight as possible and kissed my hat goodbye. There was an unexpected hang time before my feet hit the water – very odd sensation. It was actually a rather smooth entrance… I’d give it a 7.5. My hat even ended up directly beneath me so I was able to snag that. Score!

These are our victory shots in front of the waterfall. There was a huge rock in the water in front of it that I’m standing on in the second one and Steve’s sitting on it in the third, so it’s a little misleading. We should have gotten a shot of one of us standing on top of it, but it was complicated since it was a phone and not a waterproof camera :) There’s a video of me jumping off somewhere too. If I ever get my hands on it I’ll share it with you all.

I’m so glad I went for it! It was really cool. I can’t believe I almost missed out on that experience for no good reason. Well, slight risk of death or dismemberment, but other than that, no good reason.

Back Into the Swing of Things

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Things have improved quite a bit this past week. And when I say “things” I’m really referring to just one thing: Motivation.

I realized, with the help of a very wise brother, that most people don’t work out because it’s fun. They do it because they should. Because it’s good for their bodies and minds. Because they are training to achieve goals they’ve set for themselves. Obviously, it’s ideal that you’d find workouts that you like because it makes it more enjoyable and easier to stick to, but working out just for the sake of working out is generally not fun for most people.

I am one of those people.

Sure, when I’m going to work out there are things that I like doing more than others – running, most notably – but as I’ve discovered this past month, I don’t like it enough to want to do it with the frequency needed to keep my fitness level where I want it. I now know I also need the… pressure, for lack of a better word… of training to reach a particular goal.

To that end, I’ve registered for a 5k on June 26, and my goal for this race is to finally break 30 minutes for a race of this distance. I believe I’ve done it once or twice during training for the half, but never for a precisely timed race, so I can’t say for sure. I was only about 30 seconds too slow at the Race for the Cure on May 9, so I think if I push a little more and do a bit of speedwork beforehand (which I’ve never really done) I should be able to make it.

I’ve also scheduled a weekly run with a new running buddy, N-Cat, which keeps me committed to running at the very least once a week. (And if I want to be able to keep up with her, I know I’ll have to get out there on my own a few times each week, too!)

Just talking about my troubles with motivation last week has helped me identify the problem and come up with possible solutions to help me get past it. So far, so good, too: I’ve already upped my run frequency by about 300% from the week before and I have to say that my outlook overall is significantly improved.

Maybe it’s because of all of the Vitamin D I’m making out there in the sun :)

Thanks to everyone for their input! And Rachel: I’m seriously considering your suggestion to attempt a change-up by doing P90X with you. We shall see!

Searching for Motivation

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I’m not entirely sure what’s come over me. Ever since I finished the half marathon – over a month ago – I’ve been lackadaisical about my training. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve run in the last month, whereas before I was running 4+ times a week.

I knew it would be different when I was done training for the half, and that was a good thing – that training was super intense, and I was starting to feel burnt out – but I thought once it was over I would run when I wanted to run and enjoy it.

As it turns out, I rarely want to run.

I want to run, but I don’t want to run, if you can catch my meaning without the benefit of intonation.

Take today for instance: I was up MUCH earlier than usual. Hours earlier, in fact. It’s a beautiful morning, and I had nothing pressing to do. It looked so nice outside and I kept saying to myself “Now would be the perfect time to go for a run: I have the time, the weather is right for it, I have clean workout clothes… I should really go.” But I didn’t actually want to.

And so I didn’t.

What’s wrong with me? Every time I run I enjoy it (or at least enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I return home). I never regret going, but I often regret not. So why can’t I push myself to just get out there and do it?

My malaise is very frustrating. I feel like I know better. Know better than to sit around feeling bad about not doing something when nothing is preventing me from doing that thing.

But still, I don’t go.

The thing I know will help is scheduling runs with other people, so that’s what I’m working on now. One of my husband’s coworkers is relatively new to running and has invited me to join her, so I’m trying to coordinate that. Then there’s J-Roc, the original running partner, but we keep having scheduling issues. I’m also going to visit my family for a few days next week and Friend #1, also a runner, lives nearby so I’ll enlist her to run with me while I’m there. Maybe if I run a few times with others that will get me back in the swing of things…

If anyone has any other suggestions to get myself out of this listlessness, by all means, share.

Losing It With Jillian

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Last night was the series premier of Jillian Michaels’ new show. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of hers, so obviously I watched it.

I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I actually cried at one point during the episode. Some touching moments there, folks.

If you missed it – or want to watch it again! – there’s an encore presentation (ie: rerun) of last night’s episode on tonight. You can also watch the entire episode on NBC’s website. If you’re a fan of The Biggest Loser, you’ll like this show. It’s different of course, but in a lot of ways, it’s actually more realistic. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.

If you saw it, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it. Love it? Hate it? Really miss Bob?