Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Marathon Diaries, Vol II, Part 3: T - 8 Days!

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My custom marathon shirt arrived last night. I modeled my outfit so you know what I will be wearing/look like on Marathon Sunday:

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I can't tell you how much it meant to me to see so many familiar faces last year - so many people excited to see me running through and cheering for me. If you live in the NYC area (or just plan to visit to cheer), please leave me a comment telling me where you will be so I can look for you. It gave me such an incredible feeling and kept me going. If you're going to be out there, give me either the mile marker, intersection or landmark you plan to cheer from. I will add you to my list to look for you when I'm running. 

Here is my approximate timeline, which I think should be pretty accurate:


TIME RANGE MILE MARKER BOROUGH NEIGHBORHOOD/INTERSECTION
1055 1100 Mile 0 Staten Island Starting Line, Green Wave, Corral 71, Bib 71-344
1107 1112 Mile 1 Staten Island Still on the Verrazano Bridge
1119 1124 Mile 2 Brooklyn Dyker Heights 95th St
1131 1136 Mile 3 Brooklyn Bay Ridge, 7th Ave bet 78th & Bay Ridge Pkwy
1143 1148 Mile 4 Brooklyn 4th Ave & 65th St (right side of 4th Ave)
1155 1200 Mile 5 Brooklyn Sunset Park, 4th Ave & 43rd St
1207 1212 Mile 6 Brooklyn South Slope, 4th Ave & 24th St
1219 1224 Mile 7 Brooklyn Park Slope, 4th St
1231 1236 Mile 8 Brooklyn Flatbush & Lafayette
1244 1249 Mile 9 Brooklyn Clinton Hill, Lafayette & Classon 
1256 1301 Mile 10 Brooklyn South Williamsburg, Bedford Ave bet Flushing & Lynch
1308 1313 Mile 11 Brooklyn North Williamsburg, Bedford Ave at the Williamsburg Bridge
1320 1325 Mile 12 Brooklyn GREENPOINT! Bedford & Lorimer
1335 1340 Mile 13 Brooklyn Greenpoint/LIC Border, on the Pulaski Bridge
1348 1353 Mile 14 Queens Long Island City, 44th Dr
1403 1408 Mile 15 Queens Long Island City, Queens Blvd & the Queensboro Bridge
1420 1425 Mile 16 Manhattan 59th St & 1st Ave
1434 1439 Mile 17 Manhattan Upper East Side, 77th St & 1st Ave
1448 1453 Mile 18 Manhattan 97th St & 1st Ave
1502 1507 Mile 19 Manhattan East Harlem, 117th St & 1st Ave
1516 1521 Mile 20 Bronx East 135th St
1530 1535 Mile 21 Bronx Bronx/Manhattan - Madison Ave Bridge
1545 1550 Mile 22 Manhattan 122nd St & 5th Ave
1600 1605 Mile 23 Manhattan 102nd St & 5th Ave
1615 1620 Mile 24 Manhattan Central Park: 84th St, east side
1630 1635 Mile 25 Manhattan Central Park: 66th St, east side
1645 1650 Mile 26 Manhattan Central Park: 61st St, west side
1648 1653 Mile 26.2 Manhattan Central Park: Finish line!

Here is a link to the course map, including transportation options nearby.

If you want to keep tabs on me (or anyone else) from somewhere other than the course, you can download the app and follow up to 10 runners. (Input my bib number: 71344)

You can watch it on TV in NYC or the rest of the country. (Details here) There is also a live stream online that morning if you don't have TV or live outside the country.

I will also be using my Runtastic app on my phone, which will send a link to Facebook (and I think twitter) when my run starts. That's one additional way you can follow along. You can add me as a friend.

So that should be everything you need to know for the big day.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Marathon Diaries, Vol II, Part 2: T - 10 Days

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As you already know, I'm in taper mode. I'm surprised that I'm not freaking out nearly as much as I did last year at this time. Yes, I'm avoiding all human contact. And yes, I've been wearing flat shoes since Sunday (no heels till after the marathon to give my calves a break). And yes, I'm avoiding all socializing. And though I hate to admit it, I have a cold right now. But I'm not freaking out at all like I was last year. I'm almost eerily calm. Maybe because I know what to expect better than I did last year when it was all new.

Tonight I walked to the track to pick up my NBR 2014 Marathon shirt. As I mentioned, I'm not doing the track workouts with them on Thursday nights any more. But on my walk there tonight, I couldn't help but remember my favorite track workout of all last year. It was a year ago tonight, when the marathon was 10 days away. And that workout was extra special to me because we ran around the 'nice' McCarren Park (not the track). I took a photo of it tonight as I was cutting through -



As I walked there tonight I remembered so much about that particular run. Little moments. I remembered overhearing two male runners talk about how "everyone becomes a hypochondriac 2 weeks before the marathon" and laughing, knowing I wasn't alone. I remember the stillness and darkness in the park and how beautiful it was despite the cold temperature. I remember how nostalgic I was - thinking about all the other times I had been in that park over the years. And I always remember seeing the leaves falling in front of me and how I reached out to catch one, but I missed. I remember how serene that run was, how I was so at peace that I wasn't even thinking about running, my body was just doing it. I don't think I can ever forget that run, it was so special.

I described that run as one where my body was on auto pilot, so I didn't have to think about running and my mind was free to enjoy other thoughts. Those runs are SO special. And I can barely believe this, but my last 5 or 6 runs have been like that. Running has been magical for me lately. I haven't had to stop and walk at all! In fact, I haven't even thought about stopping - not even on hills that I used to dread and then walk. It's like my body finally realized what it needs to do and it's doing it with very little input from me. It took me 14 weeks of running more than I've ever run in my life to get to this point, but it's been worth it. I can barely believe the improvement, really. And I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't bought that training plan. (I get no commission for talking about that plan, it just really helped me)

I've noticed on my recent runs that my heart rate is much more manageable - it hovers in the low 150s, a good 12-15 beats lower than it used to be for the same effort. This range is perfect for me. I don't feel like I'm dying/can't breathe at that number. And I think that's why I can run continuously now without stopping to walk. I think this means I improved my cardiovascular fitness (this is just a guess). Whatever I did, I'm thankful and I'm already trying to figure out how to keep all this progress even after the marathon. Because if I can run and feel the way I've been feeling lately, I actually want to run more. That's not something I ever thought I would say. I can honestly tell you at the start of this program that I hated running. I always hated running. Why did I run? I forced myself to run because 1) I was physically able to and wanted to prove it to myself and 2) It (almost always) filled me with pride and accomplishment when I was finished 3) I always hoped one day I wouldn't hate it. That day has come. I actually don't hate running. Every step isn't a painful horrible experience with my body begging me to stop like it did just 3 months ago. I actually enjoy it and look forward to it and don't want to have to start from scratch again, since it took me 14 weeks to get here.

My peak run was October 12th. I had to run 20 miles that day. I was TERRIFIED of this run. I even had nightmares the night before it - marathon nightmares - where I got to Central Park so late that I was the last person to start (note: it starts in Staten Island and finishes in Central Park). And when I finished there was no one there and no more medals. It was a horrible dream to wake up from!

This was my longest mileage training run and in some ways, to me, it was harder than the marathon, even though it's shorter. Because, for one thing, it's not the marathon. There aren't a million people cheering for me. And because it was broken up with a half marathon event (Staten Island Half) followed by a seven mile run I had to do on my own. Psychologically, that was very tough for me - to get through that half, cross the finish line, get a medal, and know I had to go on my own for another 7 miles. It was also my longest run of the year and a huge test of my training up to that point. It would give me a good indication how fit/ready I was - something I was afraid to find out.

I had a time goal in my head to get this 20 miles done - between 4 hours and 4 hours, 30 minutes. First, there was the half marathon, which I completed in 2 hours and 37 minutes - my fastest half of the year! Then my final 7 miles took me an even 1 hour and 30 minutes. That means my total time was 4 hours and 7 minutes - close to the low end of my goal!!

Much to my amazement I ran nearly the entire distance. I didn't take a single walk break other than when I stopped at tables to take water and then walked as I drank. I ran every hill. Every mile. All 20 of them. I was AMAZED and so proud! Not only of my time, but how I felt. I didn't feel terrible. I didn't feel like I ran 20 miles at all! In fact, one of my biggest tests after a long run is walking down the stairs. I had to do this shortly after I finished, to board the Staten Island ferry home. I was nervous how my legs would respond so I held my hand by the banister ready to grab it. But I was able to walk down the stairs with NO issue whatsoever. I almost exclaimed aloud "I CAN WALK DOWN STAIRS!!!" but I contained myself. Sometimes the soreness hits me pretty badly the next day, but it hadn't. I was only mildly sore. It was huge validation of all my training and I couldn't have been more excited about it.

So now that all the long runs are out of the way I can enjoy these last few little runs. I can savor the sights and sounds of nature and the city around me. I can enjoy the smell of Autumn and the beautifully colored leaves that are on the ground and falling from the trees. In fact, on my run this past Tuesday, I reached out as one was falling. And unlike last year, this time I caught it. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Marathon Diaries, Vol II, Part 1: Marathon Training Recap & Tapering

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Well, it's just 15 days away - my second marathon! NYC! My hometown! The excitement is in the air and the street signs are starting to go up along the route. I'm in taper mode, which means my longest runs are behind me and I get to take it a little easy running-wise for the next 2 weeks but it also means that while the physical aspect wanes, the mental and emotional aspect ramps up. For me at least. I know from last year's experience that I'll be an excited and nervous wreck. In a good way, of course.

side note: In case you never heard of the term "tapering", I grabbed this quote from the Wikipedia page -
Typically, tapering for relatively short endurance events takes as little as a week or less, but tapering for an event like the marathon takes at least two or three weeks. Bob Cooper, a veteran marathoner and contributing editor for Runner's World, points to medical studies as evidence that the final three weeks of any marathon-training program are the most critical stage of training; a review of fifty studies on tapering indicates that optimal levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones, which are significantly depleted by intense endurance training, are achieved during a taper.  
What does tapering mean for me? Besides running a little less, it also means no heels, no french fries, no hanging out and NO HUMAN TOUCHING for the final two weeks while I work on staying healthy and injury free for the big day! (this is why I'm not riding the Tour de Bronx. It's one week before the marathon. I did it last year and regretted every minute of it)

As for how I trained this year, I did a few things differently than last year. Most significant is that I purchased the NYRR training plan. It was $50 for the 16 week plan. Because of that plan, I ran WAY more than I ran last year (more often and more miles overall). Sure, I shouldn't have to pay someone money to tell me to run more, but that's how I am. The plan helped me see the whole 16 weeks laid out ahead of time. Knowing what was expected and seeing it in print in a calendar form made it far less daunting for me. And receiving each email daily with that day's challenge was fun and motivated me to keep going. So if you're like me, and need structure, I think you'll enjoy the plan too. (they also offer a 10 week plan for half marathons)

Another change with this year's training was not doing speedwork/track workouts with my group (NBR). There were 2 reasons for this: first, typically I would only get to run about 3 - 3.5 miles with them since I'm so slow (they ran about 5 - 7 in the same time). The other reason is that after one run there this season, I realized just how much I hate the track. The monotony, the soccer balls, the kids, the cyclists (?!?!), and all the other inconsiderate people who use it. In fact, after a near breakdown on the track during one training run, I vowed I would *never* run on the track again. I hate every single second of it. And if it's not fun and I dread it, why do it? I'll get a better run around the neighborhood or over a bridge - something I enjoy. Long story short: no track workouts for me anymore.

So with all of that said, here is what I've run so far this marathon training season. This is every run I've completed, including mileage, pace and monthly totals. (if you can't read the numbers, you can click any of these images to see them a little larger on Flickr)


july


aug sept
october

I had 2 months with over 100 miles each! I couldn't even believe I reached that milestone - twice! Last year, my highest monthly total was 87. So that was a big jump for me mile-age wise. And if it wasn't for that training plan I assure you I would not have run the kind of mileage I did!


Now I'm going to answer some of your training related questions that you asked on Facebook earlier -

Katrina Meredith what do you think about when you're doing your training runs AND how do you stay so disciplined to stick to your training programme?

                As for what I'm thinking about, it varies wildly. It often starts with running related thoughts - what I have to do that day, how my body is feeling - the quicker I can get through those the better because then my mind gets to wander. I think about anything and everything. Sometimes memories (good or bad), things I have to do or sometimes I get distracted by my surroundings - thinking about someone in front of me, the place where I'm running, etc. There is no set thing I think about but I do my best not to think about anything that bothers me. Sometimes that's not so easy.

              As for how I stay so disciplined? I really don't know. Because deep down, I really don't think of myself that way. In regards to running especially, I'm really not disciplined at all. I say that because if I'm not training I can barely force myself to run at all! But because I am training, I bought that plan it helped me stay disciplined. And probably the most important thing is I do is make it a priority. If I have to run that day, I schedule it (literally, on my calendar). That means if something else comes up, I either don't do it or I do it after my run. I schedule around the running. But I don't mind doing this - it actually is fun to me, like a puzzle. Another thing I do is spend time making sure I have all the supplies I need (especially at work). There is so much planning involved that when it's time to do it, I just do it. I'm lucky in that I don't have a family or anyone that depends on me so my time is really my own. I realize that's a luxury and most people don't have that same opportunity. I also remind myself that the more work I do now, the better the event I'm training for will be. So again, I just do it.

Camilo Andres Atehortua Best way to avoid un wanted irritation due runing for extended periods of time


             Get ready to learn about a miracle product: VASELINE! I don't remember who recommended this to me on Facebook months ago but I must thank them. Before I put on my socks I smear vaseline all over my toes (top and bottom) and my arches (which have blistered in the past). I also use Vaseline under my heart rate monitor's chest strap (another spot that causes irritation and chafing) and when it's warm out and I'm sleeveless I use it on the back/fatty part of my upper arm - again, because it chafes. I haven't had a single problem in any of those areas, even on my longest runs. As long as I use Vaseline, I'm good to go!

Shay Na 1) how are the old pinky toes holding up?

            Ah those dreaded pinky toes of mine. Well, you all know I'm still holding out hope for pinky toe amputation but until then… since my Vaseline discovery (see above) I haven't had a *single* blood blister! I'm not sure if it's the Vaseline or my new long distance running shoes (Brooks Glycerins - good god they are reasonably priced now, I paid the obscene $150!) or a combination thereof, but I have had ZERO pinky toe problems during marathon training!

2) has the thought, "when the fuck can I stop running?" subsided? Have you gotten to that place where your legs just motor memory and run you forever?


            LOL YESSSSS! I think probably any runner - beginner or otherwise - has that thought on occasion. It's a terrible head space to be in, but sometimes that's just how it is. For me at least. Those of course are the worst runs (again, for me) because I have a hard time distracting myself with something more pleasant if that sets in. And it took me 12 weeks of training, but I noticed that week that my legs *finally* seemed to know what to do with far less input from me. That was a pretty great milestone and I'm hoping to keep at that level through November 2nd because it makes running so much more pleasurable.

3) please address peeing/pooping during a long run. If not for yourself, your observations of others. I gotta know.


            I'll just say I take care of nearly everything before the run. On a super long run I might have to stop and use a port-o-pottie once or twice but I really try not to. It's a tricky balance between being hydrated enough but not drinking too much that I have to pee often. 

Eden Casteel Do you do any cross training? (I guess bike riding counts, but anything else -- isolated muscle strengthening?)


            Though I rode my bike every single day, I never consider that exercise because I'm more of a commuting cyclist. I take my time and ride for transportation. I don't do laps or any sort of fast riding that burns real calories or challenges my muscles. So the only other activity I engaged in during marathon training was going to my spin class. But again, I don't do that aggressively either. I always consider spinning more of a 'recovery' exercise since it helps my quads feel better. It's also why I prefer to ride my bike to and from all my runs - it's a great post run activity. Anyway, since that's all I did, I'm not sure I did any cross training.

Esinath Sekayi Chihombori How do you stay motivated?

            Like I said above having the plan kept me disciplined and motivated. I was/am really just motivated by the end result - I want to have a great marathon experience. I want to finish feeling better than I did last year. I want to get sore and tired much later this time than I did last time. So I know that if I put in the work now, I'm helping myself later. That's what kept/keeps me motivated.

Do you have special food that you stick to before your runs?

           The night before long runs (10+ miles) I like at least 2 cups of macaroni (carbs) and a vegan sausage (protein & salt). The morning of a long run I usually have 2 frozen waffles, 2 small vegan breakfast links and sometimes even a banana and a bagel. Before a shorter run I really don't worry about my nutrition or do anything special.

Is there a certain brand of shoes that you use for your runs? 

            For my short runs I'm still using my Saucony Kinvaras. And for my long runs I only use the Brooks (mentioned above)

Hydration, do you use vests for hydration during your runs? 

            No, I never used a vest and it would make me INSANE to run with one of those things on my back. I don't like to feel anything moving/bouncing on me or I go crazy (hair/body parts/accessories). This is why I can't run with one of those hand held water bottles (I tried. 3 times. HATED IT!). This is also why I prefer to pay for a long training run - because I know water is provided on the course. If I'm running on my own I'll probably take 1 or 2 breaks to buy water at a bodega. On one of my long runs, I even stopped at a bar for a few glasses of free tap water (along with a beer I bought). Liquid carbs, right? ha-ha! 

How did you manage to improve your pace? Does your weight determine how fast you run?

            My pace improves with 2 things: running more and weighing less. It's that simple. So yes, my weight has an effect on not only my pace but how I *feel* when I'm running. I think it's not surprising to know that when I ran at my lower weight it was much more effortless and I was about a minute faster per mile.


Brianna Earle Do you start to get blisters on the bottoms of your toes on long runs? I always do around mile 10 in long runs. It sucks and it hurts.

            Yes, I used to get them - see my Vaseline recommendation above! 

Also, what do you do for hydration? Scientific formula or simple "drink when thirsty" method?

            If it's an event where water tables are provided, I usually drink at EVERY table. Occasionally I will skip one but for the most part I'm always thirsty so I usually take the water. Sometimes 2.


Karenne Gionet Saylor Where does the marathon route enter Central Park (street reference, please) and where is the finish line? When I go there in 5 weeks, I want to have an idea of where your big moment happened!


            It enters Central Park twice - first on Fifth Ave at 90th St (the Engineer's Gate). This is mile 23, I think. We run in the park and continue south, exit the park at 59th St, run west on 59th and return into the park a second time, entering at Columbus Circle (59th & Central Park West). The finish line is just slightly north of that, right by Tavern on the Green (66th St, on the west side of the park)



Is there a special landmark near the end of the marathon that has special significance for you? Example: you approach a certain lamp post or go past a particular tree in the park, etc.

            Yes, it's Columbus Circle. Ever since running into the park at last year's marathon, when I see that circle, it's all I can think about - that moment last year when I reached that point and was about to enter the park for the final time. That's when I knew - I KNEW! - how close I was. I knew that I had done it! I knew that every second of running I had ever done, that every training run and every sacrifice I had made for months had led up to this moment. I knew that I was about to cross that finish line and would be able to call myself a marathoner! I get teary eyed thinking about it (I just cried as I wrote that). I remember last year entering the park and seeing the bleachers lining both sides. I arrived late, and it was dark, so there was hardly anyone left in that area. But I knew hours earlier there were scores of people cheering the runners into the park. I was surprised it was empty but didn't really care because I was focused. I knew what I was about to do and that was all that mattered to me. I remember that I was still mostly walking, and that I was still wearing my heat sheet - the one I had picked up around Mile 21 on Fifth Ave in Harlem. I was *freezing*. But I knew there was no way I was going to cross that finish line with the heat sheet or walking. I remember discarding it to my left as I made my way up that final small hill in the park. I remember seeing the blue finish line area, the lights, and I remember that I was so focused. I don't even think I blinked. I remember that I ran as hard as I could towards that finish line (which wasn't very fast, I was beyond exhausted). And I remember that moment - THE MOMENT - that I crossed that finish line. It was like nothing I have ever experienced in my life. I would guess that if you've had a child you've had a similar experience of joy and relief and pride and amazement all at once, but I've never experienced all of that before. Every time I see the statue at Columbus Circle, that's what I remember. And I feel it all over again. I wouldn't trade that memory for anything in the world.


Nicole Fusco-Evans Are you going to win?


            Yes Nicole, I'm going to win! ;) In fact, in some ways I already did.



Thanks all for the questions, they were fun to answer. If you have any other training related questions, let me know. 

In about a week I'll post my Marathon Day details - including approximate timeline by mile marker and information so you can look out for me in NYC. (I'm just waiting on my custom shirt to arrive in the mail, that way I can also show you my outfit to help anyone spot me in the crowd that day.) I'll also tell you how you can keep track of my progress from around the world. 

Saturday, September 06, 2014

August 2014

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I want to thank everyone for the comments in my last post. Except the anonymous coward who wrote "Good" (what the hell is wrong with people??) Anyway, thank you all. I got a lot of email on Facebook too - none of which I responded to - but I appreciate your replies.

But I felt the need to let you all know that I'm ok. I really am. I still haven't found a new WW meeting but I've been marathon training and August turned out to be my highest mileage month of running EVER! I ran (are you ready for this??) 112 miles. Yes, one hundred and twelve! I've never crossed the 100 mile mark in a month. My previous highest mileage month was last August and it was 87 miles. I can't even wrap my head around that number: 112. Wow!

Of course I never take off from biking, either. That's a part of my life and can't imagine it not being a big part of my life. I love my bikes. August also included birthday week, which was filled with lots of fun and adventures.

I just wanted to write this short post so that you weren't all worried about me. I'm in a decent place. I feel better than I did when I wrote that last post but to be honest, I felt so terrible last winter I couldn't have written anything. It would have been far too dark and depressing. Which is why I hid from everyone.

Anyway, I'm here. I'm ok. And I'm still not planning to regularly update this or my other blogs. You can always send me a friend request on Facebook (where I post way too much) but send me a note so I know how you know me. I currently have nearly 400 friend requests. I will not accept anyone I don't know in real life without a note. This is my personal page so I like to have some idea who you are. Thanks :)

You can also follow me on Instagram or just keep track of all my photos on Flickr.

Thanks again for all your support and concern and I hope everyone is having a great summer!


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Tomorrow is the last bike tour of the year for me, The NYC Century, and I'm raising money for #VisionZero. If you can donate to this important cause (safe streets for all!), please check out my donation page. Thanks :)

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(that picture was taken last Sunday, 08/31 at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I swore I'd never go to that event and what a shitshow it was! I only went because I wanted a sandwich from Chickpea & Olive. I thought it wouldn't be crowded since it was Labor Day weekend. Boy way I wrong! I hate events like that. Anyway, I couldn't help but get that photo with their vintage napkin dispenser)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

What's been in my head lately

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Obviously it's been very long since I've posted...

I get asked fairly often why I stopped blogging/will I blog again - especially now that it's marathon training season. The short but vague answer is I stopped for a few reasons, which I don't want to get into. And I honestly don't know if I have it in me to post with any regularity again. That was such a different time in my life and sometimes I wonder how I did it. I do appreciate hearing that you miss me or miss my writing, so thank you, but I just don't know. Things changed. I changed. I've been through a lot since then. I just don't know...

That being said, I have been kicking around some thoughts in my head lately that I feel the need to write/talk about, so here goes:

I don't know what it's going to take for me to get myself back on track. I've been off so long now I barely remember how to do it. I don't know how I ever did it. I tried a few times with new meetings but for 2 years now I haven't been able to find a meeting I like and commit to it. Therefore I haven't been going to meetings. Of course that means I'm not tracking. And that leads me back to a lot of terrible habits and things I'm not proud of. And it's been so long that it feels like I just can't even snap out of it at this point.

I've been trapped in a circle of thoughts that goes kind of like this: I hate where I am and I hate how I feel and I hate how I look. But then I remind myself that when I lost all my weight, and was at my smallest ever and felt amazing - I sometimes missed being 'thicker'. I'd see women who were bigger than me, and looked great, and be jealous of them and I missed being bigger! It didn't make any sense to me! Here I was, having finally done what I thought was impossible - losing all my weight and feeling more amazing than I ever felt in my life, but part of me missed being bigger like them. This confused me at the time and I still don't understand it. But it made me realize the thoughts I've always had in my head about my self acceptance had less to do with actual weight/size since I was experiencing those same thoughts even at my smallest size. It's hard to explain - though I was glad to be at my smallest weight, and didn't want to go back to a higher weight, I wanted to be seen both ways - small and fit but also thick. It might not make much sense. It barely makes sense to me now and I've had 4 years to think about it.

I guess I got my wish? Since the marathon I've put on 20 pounds. Mostly because the winter was so terrible and I let all my old habits return. It was so bone chillingly cold (the coldest winter of my life), so dark, so dreary, so soul-sucking. I spent every night eating too much and sleeping. I was definitely in a minor depression. I saw very few people socially for months - I purposely avoided them. As a result, by the time spring rolled around I'm clocking in the scale in the 170s and I feel terrible! I HATE IT. I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I was smaller - and why I missed being bigger - because I'm here and I hate it so much. I remember this feeling and it sucks. I hate what I look like and I hate how it feels on me. I hate having to search for something to wear because nothing fits. And I hate how it affects my mood/attitude/personality. But here I am. And I know I did it to myself. And I know I'm the only one who can change it. Yet that's the problem - I don't change it. I still drink way too much beer and order dinner out at least 6 nights out of the week. If it wasn't for eating pretty healthy at work and keeping up with most of my activity, I'd probably be at least 200 pounds again.

Of course this means I also negatively obsess about all the parts of my body I've always hated and been self conscious of - especially (of course) my legs. My thighs especially. I'm so horrified by the sight of them. Nothing fits me. Walking is a chore. Running isn't easy either. I carry so much weight in my inner thighs and am reminded of it every second of the day with every step I take, every time I look down at myself on my bike or on my chair at work. I see them. And they're huge. And I hate them.

I try to force myself into a better space mentally by reminding myself how lucky I am that I have 2 legs and that they actually work. These legs have carried me everywhere for nearly 43 years. They've given me the ability to bike over 15,000 miles (? maybe more) so far and they can walk and they can run! They don't run fast but they were able to get across 26.2 miles of roads so that I could cross the NYC Marathon finish line (a memory I will treasure forever!) So I try to never take that for granted - the fact that I have working legs. But I know they can be better - stronger and leaner - because they once were. If only for a brief time.

Side note - On May 29th I was having a beer with a very dear friend. We were both complaining that our weight that had crept up over this winter, and both trying to make the other feel better about it. Three days later he was in a horrific collision while on his bike. He was in a coma for a while. He had brain surgery. It's been more than 2 months now. He's still in the hospital. He's out of the coma but hasn't spoken yet. I visit him every week and think about him every day. I've made it part of my marathon training to run to the hospital to visit him. I want nothing more than for him to make a full recovery and get out of there, but it will take time. The thing is, he's lost weight since he's been in there. Probably the same winter weight he had been complaining to me about. But I am certain that if he had the choice he'd keep the extra weight in a body that can move around vs being an "ideal" weight in a body that can't do what it used to do. Every time I run I think of him. I tell myself I'm running for him because he can't right now. And despite my unhappiness with the size of my legs or what they look like, I'm so so so thankful that I can use them. I try to never take that for granted because I know nothing is guaranteed and it can be taken from me at any minute, especially considering how callously cyclists are treated by some drivers in NYC. They'll endanger your life just so they can get to a red light 3 seconds faster. It's revolting. Anyway… please keep my friend in your thoughts. He has a huge support system of people pulling for him, but the more positive vibes, the better. 

It's been a long time since I felt good about myself. And when I get compliments from people regarding how I look or if they tell me I'm an "inspiration", it's hard to accept those compliments. I feel worse than I've felt in years and I'm not sure why anyone is inspired by me when I feel like such a failure. And to be clear - I do not define myself as a failure because I gained weight. I define myself as a failure because at this time I feel like I've given up - I know what the problem is but I'm not doing anything to fix it.

But I'm so tired of living like this. Of feeling like this. I'm so tired of being a slave to food. I'm so tired of thinking about food. Obsessing about food. Eating food. I'm just so tired of it. But I don't know how to turn it around.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Gluten Free, Day 1

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In case you missed it, I mentioned that I wanted to go Gluten-Free for 30 days, just to see what it was like. I have not been diagnosed with any gluten intolerance and as far as I know I have no sensitivity to it. But I've heard how much better friends of mine feel after being gluten free (specifically Amanda). So much so, that I figured there is no harm in trying it myself.

Since I have no symptoms now, I don't really expect to notice a difference. But if I'm wrong, and at the end of my experiment, if I saw improvements to say my breathing, running, or had less severe daily allergies  - basically anything that would dramatically impact my life - I would consider removing gluten from my diet. Or at least remove most of it, and reintroduce a handful of things to see how it impacts me.

Today was Day 1 and below is what I ate (followed by the PointsPlus values). I admit, I had to google "Is ____ gluten free" many times today, but I'm pretty sure I made it through the day without any gluten. However, if I made any obvious mistakes or you have advice, leave it in the comments.

Breakfast:
  • Coffee with Almond Milk - 1
  • Steel Cut Oats - 4
Morning snack:
  • Vanilla Coconut Yogurt - 1
  • Blackberries - 0
Lunch:
  • Super Salad! - Kale, Tempeh, Chickpeas, Pomegranate Seeds, Scallions, Chia Seeds, Tomato, Raw Dressing from Sun in Bloom (I checked the few ingredients and am pretty sure they are all GF) - 7  (*I forgot the avocado!)
Afternoon Snack:
  • Pistachios - 3
  • Banana - 0
Dinner:
  • Coconut Oil, Broccoli, Peas, Onions, Bell Pepper, String Beans, Asparagus Spears, Tofu Shirataki, Lukas Veggie Burger, Purple Cabbage, Cilantro, GF Hoisin Sauce, Sriracha - 7





That all adds up to 23, which means I have 3 PointsPlus to go spend - I think I'll go heat up a piece of GF bread and throw on some PB2. Yummmmmmm!



I'm not sure how often I'll blog about my experiment over the 30 days but I will definitely blog after the 30 days to let you know how it went.

Before you mention it in the comments, yes, I know beer has gluten. This obviously means I'm going 30 days without my precious elixir. Yes I'll miss beer, but I bought some GF beer in case I really have a hankering for something beer-like. I'll also miss seitan & vegan sausages, but I'm sure I'll survive without my fake meats for a little while :)



Finally I have to wish you all a Happy New Year! And if you're in the path of the storm, be careful out there tonight and tomorrow. Sarge is keeping an eye on things for me -


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Winter Wonderland with William & Giveaway: CitiBike Day Pass!

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Well, today is New Year's Eve and I hope you all have something planned to ring in the new year, however makes you happiest. I'll be going to a party and have nothing to wear

Despite living in NYC, I have no desire to ever be in Times Square at midnight when the ball drops. However, I was there yesterday with my good pal William (aka Sour Balls) and we did something very fun…

I read in Gothamist that there would be 6 stationary CitiBikes set up in Times Square to generate power for the New Year's Eve ball! Since I had plans to spend the day with William in midtown anyway, this was added to our to-do list. In case you are wondering, the to-do list included:

  • Grand Central Terminal
  • FAO Schwarz
  • Bergdorf Goodman windows on Fifth Ave
  • Gingerbread houses at the Parker Meridian
  • Rockefeller Center & Christmas decorations on 6th Ave
  • Rockefeller Tree/Ice Skating Rink
  • Le Pain Quotidien for lunch
  • Times Square
  • Bryant Park

Back to the point of my story… I dragged William through a frighteningly congested Times Square to get to the CitiBike station set up on 42nd St and 7th Ave -



We waited in line just a few short minutes and then we were allowed to ride bikes for 3 minutes! I was so excited - SO EXCITED! I haven't been on a bike much in the last 2 months since it's been so cold out and am just always happiest when I'm pedaling - even a stationary bike.

When it was our turn, I threw off my coat (even though it was freezing outside) because I didn't want it in the photos.

I was already pedaling away yelling to William "Get on your bike!"



Happy happy girl!



I was pedaling really hard and fast because I wanted to generate as much power as possible in the short time I was there -



William got off his bike after about a minute, but I stayed on the full 3 minutes.



And the woman manning the bikes was good enough to snap a few shots of me so I could upload one to Instagram. The most exciting part of that IG post was that whoever manages the @citibike account commented on it!



I love knowing that we did a teeny tiny part in powering that ball that will be seen by over a billion people world wide tonight! How cool!

Thanks and I <3 citibike="" p="" you="">
After riding, they were giving away free hot chocolate which I insisted William get (hot chocolate was also on my list of things to do). Here's a photo of William with his hot chocolate at Bryant Park (which is where we went after Times Square)-



So it was a great, holiday and fun filled day with one of my favorite people in the whole world!

Now for the Giveaway -

For all the people that helped power the ball with the help of CitiBikes yesterday, we were given a free day pass to rent a CitiBike! Of course I'm a founding member, so I have no need for this pass and would like to give it away to a lucky reader. If you'd like to win this day pass and try out New York City's bikeshare program, please leave a comment below to be entered. I'll close the comment section on January 13th at 9pm and pick a winner that weekend using a random number generator.



Things to keep in mind -

  • The pass is good until July 1, 2014, so you can pick any day between now and then to use it. This means you can wait until the nicer weather is upon us.
  • Obviously you should live in NYC (bikes are available in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn) or be visiting by July 1st.
  • You should also be comfortable with the idea of riding a bike in New York City streets (If you don't regularly ride in car traffic, this may not be the best way to start!)
  • The overtime fees apply - that means you can only keep a bike out for 30 minutes at a time. Any time over 30 minutes will initiate the overtime charges. But you are allowed to dock a bike and immediately take out another one. This pass is good for unlimited 30-minute rides for a full 24 hours from the time the card is activated.

If you have any other questions, check out their site or let me know. Otherwise leave a comment below for a chance to win.

Happy cycling and happy new year!