Thin Mint Sprint results posted…

Today we tackled the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Thin Mint Sprint at one of the prettiest parks I have ever seen.

I refused to let myself think too much about the competitive aspects of the race as this winter has knocked me out: first illness, than a 15 lb dumbbell falling from the sky and physical exhaustion from changes at work.

And I’m 40-something with my own health issues. And I can’t get motivated to do anything when it’s cold.

I did an average pace of 13:48 minute mile. Far cry from the 8 and 10 minute miles of the serious runners but at 42:49.5 it was my fastest 5k to date.

It was an amazing family event with so many good snacks from Whole Foods and such enthusiasm from the event staff.

My goal was to break 40 minutes. I didn’t get there; but I did improve my time compared to my performance at the Lager Jogger two years ago. I was 44-minutes something then.

The Thin Mint Sprint approaches…

I went for a run.

My 5k is Saturday. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Thin Mint Sprint happens on Saturday in Philadelphia.

I don’t have an accurate time for my run today, as I didn’t take my phone so it wouldn’t distract me. I did more than 3 miles in about 42 minutes.

The last time I tried to run a 5k, two years ago at the Yuengling Lagger Jogger, I came in at 44 minutes. I feel a little disappointed that I haven’t returned to my previous good training times of 38 and 39 minutes.

But after almost breaking my toe and weathering winter illness, training has not been part of my routine for at least a month.

I have many friends reminding me to do my best and have fun, but my competitive nature wants to do well.

And I want to actually run… but I’m still pausing to catch my breath frequently.

Less than one month out

I am not the most athletic person in the world. I am clutzy and awkward and have a gait from my cerebral palsy. I have struggled with severe anemia. And broken bones (one dominant hand, four years ago on Monday; one right ankle, two years ago come late August).

I vowed to get in shape before I turned 40 because of the lessons these ailments taught me. How quickly strength deteriorates. How weakness can sap energy and leave you a tired heap. How walking becomes impossible if I let myself go.

I changed my eating habits. My exercise habits. I seriously started weight training.

I tried to motivate my teen daughter to be active.

And in the height of my fitness craze, I admitted to my girlfriend that someday I wanted to run a 5K. Not walk. Run.

Two years later, she signed me up for one. Training started well, in my half-hearted lazy way. These were my best times: 41:47.91, 41.45.88, 38:51.28.

 

img_4480Two months out from the race my daughter and I got sick with the weirdest head cold.

Regained my strength from that, and tried to go for my second, outdoor, three-mile run. I got caught in a snow squall. Between the cold, the oscillating snow and sun, and my sheer out-of-shapedness, I surrendered at two miles.

Finally, a few days later, I was ready to get out there and do it. I dropped a 15-pound dumbbell on my toe.

It’s not broken.

img_4841But I’m not running on it.

This race is going to kill me.

In Training

My teen and I have officially begun training for our 5k in April. In the past, we have always participated in walk/runs but this time it’s just a run.

My girlfriend Gayle registered us, and I could say she tricked me. I agreed without remembering what I was agreeing to. But Gayle knew this was on my bucket list.

A lot of things are on my bucket list, like seeing Syria and Afghanistan. Learning Arabic & Afrikaans & Euskara. Cleaning my damn house. Building a stealth camping van and living off the grid.

Running a 5k was one I thought of when I was thin and in shape. Since then I’ve gained ten pounds and broken an ankle.

So my teen and I have started the LiveWell program 3 weeks to a 30 minute a day running habit. We had to repeat week one as child came down with bronchitis.

She hasn’t really trained with me in a week, so I’ve reached the interval of run 2 minutes/walk one minute x 7 sets.

We train at the local college so instead of minutes we do laps around the indoor raised jogging track. One lap = 1/10 of a mile.

The last time I trained (I ran a mile with child on rest day), I did this routine: 2 minutes running/1 minute walking x 5; then 1 minute running/ 1 minute walking x 5. The first mile I can complete consistently day after day in 14 minutes.

On my last training run, I thought, “why is this taking so long?” 30+ minutes and I wasn’t done. Then I realized, I ran 2.5 miles in 39 minutes.

And I’ve also realized I don’t do well with the cold, uneven terrain and hills. The jogging track fixes that. And even better, I like logging/tracking distance versus time.

The Wheel of Fitness

I know it’s common to witness women caught in a cycle of dieting/food deprivation. I know for a lot of women, weight melts away, plateaus, and returns. My experience with this yo-yo effect occurred due to various health challenges: cerebral palsy, anemia and anxiety, followed by an accident that broke my teeth, and two broken bones in the span of two years.

When I turned 39, I suddenly realized… my once relatively stable body had reached its lifetime heaviest and more than that, my stamina and strength had waned as well.

I vowed to myself I would get in shape before I turned 40.

Problem is, I had never tried to lose weight before. Turns out I was good at it. I started at 142 and dropped to 112 in about the span of a month.

I bought a fitbit to make sure I ate enough. I got my weight to 120. Then 125. Then 130. It didn’t stop there.  Today I’m at least 135.

But now, as I have my 43rd birthday approaching in 8 months, I have great upper body strength but I have gained so much of that weight back. I don’t have the stamina to go out and walk for four miles just as a fun jaunt. I’m afraid to ride my bicycle.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. In college I started weight training. Then stopped.

My first job came with a gym membership, my muscles returned. And I stopped.

Then I had a baby.

My first big supervisor job, I went to the gym if the staff started stressing me out. Between that, and the fact that my daughter ate half of all my meals, I got in shape again.

And then I changed jobs.

Now I am back to being out of shape. Strong, sure, but not as strong as a year ago. But I am out of shape.

So I started logging food, exercise, water and sleep habits. Even vitamins. Because what I need are healthy habits and routine. Seeing it on paper helps. And I won’t diet. I need good food to make my body feel hearty and to fuel it for exercise.

To start: do something every day. No excuses. I’m starting small, because I’ve had houseguests, worked a lot of hours, it’s PMS week and my daughter is in marching band. I’m rededicating myself to my home weights, doing ab exercises hopefully every day, and shooting for yoga everyday.

Yoga?

I find that a great place to start. I need to stretch out those muscles and body parts and prep it for whatever to come. Find the parts of my body holding stress. And most importantly, it can be a part of my day where I connect light activity with calm and breathing. A great way to slow down and reward my body, not just push it.

 

I gave up my Fitbit.

About three weeks or a month ago, I was standing in the kitchen at work and my bracelet broke. But, you see, it wasn’t merely a bracelet. It was one of the custom Fitbit bracelets my husband made me.

I slipped it into my pocket where the old Fitbit Flex could at least continue to track my steps and continued my day.

When I got home, I relayed the catastrophe to my husband. The next day, he fixed it. He fixed it while I was at work. My Fitbit broke on Saturday and I went to work Sunday without it.

Sunday is the first day of the week. This whole week would be “under” since I missed a day. I couldn’t “make up” those steps. I’d spend the whole week below my Fitbit friends in the rankings when I knew I had more steps than that.

So I challenged myself to take the week off.

It took until Thursday for someone to email and ask me if my Fitbit died. I’m really surprised that no one emailed or called my husband to see if I had died.

By the weekend, I didn’t miss it.

I’ve been wearing my Fitbit for more than two years. My Fitbit story is NOT the usual Fitbit story. I needed to lose ten pounds. I had some health issues that led to me gaining weight and I needed to lose about ten pounds. I was 39 and thought I had to do it now because the next decade historically is not kind to women in my family.

Well, when you walk a mile every hour at work, and suddenly cut carbohydrates, increase protein, remove junk food from your diet, give up alcohol and fancy coffee drinks… And decide to bike with your daughter, box in the garage and lift weights… Those ten pounds come off easily.

One month later, I had lost thirty pounds.

Oops.

I bought a Fitbit to make sure I ate enough for my increase in activity. And then when I understood how much food and what food my body needed, I kept wearing it because I liked the step goals. I loved seeing the charts and the impact. But then I started to know without looking. So, then my focus turned to my sleep habits. Now that I never mastered. My sleep habits stink. I’m a mom, after all.

I lost my drive for a lot of my activities. I used to roam the neighborhood for miles, do walks in new towns, even tried to run a 5K. I used to lift hard every day. I used to kick box and do yoga. But suddenly, my soul got tired.

Maybe it was stress.

I had regained about 15 pounds of that thirty lost, and it needed to return. It returned as muscle. I went from underweight and bony to muscular enough to toss forty pound boxes around in the freezer at work. I can carry a 35-pound of popcorn kernels on my shoulder across the entire store. I can do push-ups and chin-ups.

I have visible abs.

I don’t have wiggly arms.

So WHY did I stress myself out if I didn’t hit five miles a day? Why did I feel guilt if that number hovered around 10,000 steps? Why did I hate myself if I sat?

Even one “rest day” would drive me insane.

And the only time I watched a movie was if the battery died.

So, I’m glad I gave up my Fitbit.

Good doesn’t matter

Like any human, I have good days and bad. This weekend was hard for me. Blame hormones. A sick cat. Family members who don’t see eye to eye with me. Whatever you like. Reality is… Such is life.

I have been focusing a lot of time and energy on diet and exercise recently, but today (and yesterday) I couldn’t bring myself to lift my weights or go for a walk. Instead, I went to Dunkin Donuts. Had a 250+ calorie iced coffee and not one but two donuts. Some people get drunk, I prefer a sugar high. It didn’t work.

So I talked to some friends. Thanks to them, I felt more myself. My family challenged me to the first day’s training session from the app “Couch to 5K” (C25K). We did it. As a family. Now I can eat something small for dinner and not feel badly.

Looking over some of my notes from today I am reminded once again that the things that make you feel accomplished are those achievements outside your comfort zone: going for a run when you don’t think you have the physical strength, tap dancing when you’re really awful at it…

Or for me, even fashion illustration. And sharing it with the world. My fiction manuscripts are set in the high fashion world (and oddly enough, Francophone Africa). I have always designed dresses and clothes for the characters.

I am not an artist. But, while feeling poorly today, I designed the dress in the photograph. It’s worn by a French woman who marries a half-French, half Issa-Somali Muslim man from Djibouti. She’s a trouble maker who lost her left leg (and some other body parts) to an IED in Afghanistan.

Doughnuts might not be good for me. I might not draw well. I must look like an idiot running around my local park. But today, these things soothed me.IMG_1262.JPG