Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PLANKS Challenge - Week 2 Re-cap & Why I Love My Body

My second week of the challenge wasn't as active as it should have been. Asthma issues and life are putting me in a bit of a funk that I must break out of soon. 
Monday - nothing
Tuesday - nothing 
Wednesday - nothing, are you freaking out by all these nothings yet like I was? 
Thursday - yea one more nothing 
Friday - 1 hour workout with trainer with focus on arms and core. 
Saturday - 4 mile run.  Had to walk .75 miles of it, but was running faster than I should have been. Some legs and abs. 
Sunday - Re-test straight-armed plank: 2 minutes 52 seconds. Added 32 seconds since last Sunday.
This week's blog topic is loaded. Why I love my body. I suck at positive self talk. See, I can't even talk positively about my ability to talk positively. It is something I battle, and I know it has to change. Here's the thing, I don't feel like I love my body, and it's not my body's fault. How I feel about my body has been very attached to my weight at different points in my life, and I've recently been able to break away from that some, but it's still a process.

I've always been overweight. Please excuse my need for a little back story, but this is the story of my weight.
Even in elementary school there are pictures of my friends and I at the pool, and I'm the chubby girl. I mean I wasn't the chubbiest girl, but I certainly looked awkward in the bikini I insisted on wearing for the luau a friend of mine and I threw. I was a dancer and a cheerleader, and I was always the heaviest one in class or on the team. I was fairly active but never really fit and my eating was disordered and emotional. In elementary school gym class, I walked most of the mile we were supposed to run a few times a year, always coming in last, and being called names like pig by my gym teacher.

In high school, I lost some weight by dabbling with a little running and eating very selectively, but in college it all came back and then a lot more. By the time I graduated college, I weighed the most I ever had at 192.8lbs. I moved home to substitute teach and prepare for my wedding six months later. I joined Weight Watchers, and I joined a gym. I lost 37 lb by the time the wedding rolled around. Working out was great, and I was great at the Weight Watchers plan. I wrote everything down and squeezed every ounce of food possible out of my daily points allotment. Of course, I did that with fat-free and sugar-free food substitutes that now I simply won't eat.

After getting married, I slowly put on weight and then lost it. I was working ridiculous hours opening and running a children's fitness center. Sure I ran around, flipped kids upside down, and taught exercise all day long but I also didn't have time to cook, ate out far too much, and rarely found time for a real workout for me. Right before getting pregnant with my first child, I lost some weight and settled at 175. I gained 55lbs during pregnancy, giving birth at 230lbs my all-time highest weight. After that, I lost some of the weight, gained some of it, and when I got pregnant with my second child, I was 186. I gained 44lbs this time, giving birth again at 230lbs.

I had gallstones and then gall bladder surgery a few months after that pregnancy and got down to 181 as a result of simply not being able to eat anything. After my gall bladder was gone, the weight came back. In January 2010, I was 207lbs. My highest non-pregnant weight ever. I was miserable. Over the past year and a half, we have moved entirely into a real food diet that we had dabbled in previously, and I have found running. I am losing the weight s.l.o.w.l.y. I am down to 172 on a good day. (Don't ask about yesterday's weigh-in.)

What do all these numbers have to do with anything?

Well, in some ways not a lot. While the story of my #s may make it seem like it, I am not obsessed with the number on the scale. But I am keenly aware of how drastically different I feel about my body at different sizes. That's how we come back to the question of why I love my body. I want to love my body no matter the size, no matter the number, and no matter the health. When I love my body it's easier to be healthy and strong, and when I am healthy and strong it's easier to love my body.

So here are reasons why I love my body or at the very least reasons I should love my body regardless of weight or size.

I love my body because...

...it grew, nourished, and birthed two babies. One amazingly in the comfort of my home with no interventions or medication.

Kayaking in the Outer Banks 2009
 ...makes the most perfect food on the planet for my children: breastmilk. My body provided this liquid gold to my first son for 3 years and 10 months, and it continues to provide it for my second son at almost 2 years 3 months.

In labor with my second child 2009
...it carried me 13.1 miles.

Pregnant and climbing a tree 2006
...it puts up with everything I put it through. The health kicks coupled with periods of destructive behavior. It stands by me.

Hiking with my sister and our kids 2010
...it has the amazing power to heal itself when I support it and care for it.
Hanging out at camp with my boys 2010
 ... it can't help but do cartwheels sometimes.
Celebrating the wedding of friends in 2009
...God gave this body to me.

Dolled up on my wedding day
...this body, no matter how I feel about it, big or small, old or young, fit or not, has taken me everywhere I've ever needed to go. It's the only body I'll ever have, and I need to take care of it. If I want to hike the Appalachian Trail or grow another baby, this is the body that's going to do it. If I want to keep up with my boys as they grow and continue to explore the world with my husband long after that, this is the body that has to stay strong. If I want to play with grandbabies and great-grandbabies, this body needs to be healthy. If I want to play at the lake with my kids this summer without feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, this is the body I need to care for.
Sister-in-law's high school graduation 2005?
 ... these toes soak in the feeling of green grass between them and these hands cook nourishing meals for friends and family.
Pumpkin Picking 2004
I experience life through my body. The more in tune I am with my body's needs, the more it can give to me.And above anything else, my body needs me to love it, and so I will. 

Do you love your body? Is it easy or hard? Have you always felt that way?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Links I Love

It's been since I posted a Links I Love post but my google reader has been so full of awesome stuff lately that I have to pass some of these along.

Jen @ Priorfatgirl talks about #projectflowerbomb, her response to the tornado in North Minneapolis has been inspiring. There was also a great newspaper article about it.  I worked with Lutheran Disaster Response for a summer doing summer day camps for kids who had recently been through natural disasters making disaster relief a cause close to my heart. What I love about #projectflowerbomb is the message of hope it brings to a hurting community.

 Healthy Child Healthy World's video Sound the Alarm is a great call for us to spread the word to those we love about the chemicals in our lives and alternatives. I think most of us can remember someone being that alarm for us, so be that alarm for someone you care about. We can make a huge difference by educating others compassionately.

Katy Widrick's The Surprising Reason I Love Yoga reminds me why I love yoga and is the final nudge I needed to get me to sign up for some yoga classes at a local studio.

Digital Sabbatical + Your Hormones was a nudge towards a practice I've been reluctantly drawn to since reading about Unplugged Sunday over at Beauty That Moves.  Even before that, I was drawn to Cyber Sabbath. Now, it's time to figure out how to work this into our lives in a way that feels freeing instead of confining.

Do you wear shoes in your house?  We don't, and I was happy to hear that I wasn't the only one who had trouble taming the shoe pile along with a reminder of all the reasons we deal with the shoe pile in order to avoid the chemicals and toxins that shoes can bring into a home.

Alight I'll stop there even though there are so many others.  What are you favorite links on the web right now?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Meal Plan 5-29-11

Check me out - week two of meal planning!  Last week went okay.  We had some adjustments when my chicken guy wasn't at the farmer's market so Sunday's chicken and Wednesday's chicken soup were off the plan. Sunday we stuck to the quinoa salad and asparagus without the chicken.  On Wednesday, I had my husband bring extra pizza home from confirmation class at church, so that was a little 'eating out'.  But overall, we did well.

I'm adjusting our nightly categories as we go and I discover what works best.

Chicken Sunday: Barbeque chicken and grilled veggies
Meatless Monday: Quinoa and Black Bean Chilli (double recipe and freeze half)
Grilling Tuesday: Veggie Kebabs over Brown Rice
Slowcooker or Freezer Wednesday: Tacos with Bean and Beef filling that's ready in the freezer
Pasta Thursday: Spaghetti, Meatballs from the freezer, and Salad
Friday Pizza: Whatever veggies are left in the house!
Open-Fire Saturday or Misc.: Homemade Chicken Nuggets, French Fries and Veggies (double chicken nuggets to freeze extra)

Extra snacks or staples to make: granola that never got made last week, more cookies, and bread for sandwiches

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Garden is IN!

I can't describe what a relief this is.  The garden is planted. As usual, not everything worked out as planned, but I am thrilled it's in. My husband tells me people garden because it's relaxing for them, because it relieves stress. I refuse to believe it.

I start seeds, and I stress that none of them will grow and it was a waste of time. Last year, I was so suspicious of the seedlings we started ourselves, that we bought plants instead of using the ones we'd grown! Granted, this year our seedlings were much happier, but we had at a handful that were healthy last year, too.  I just get so worried. I want to reap the rewards of my lovely garden. I want to save money and be frugal. And I'm convinced I don't have a clue what I'm doing because, well, I don't.

Two days ago, I checked on some of what we transplanted to find that my eggplant plants were covered in beetles that were eating the leaves. Last night after we transplanted some more, we had a crazy storm that threatened lots of hail. I held my breath through most of it occasionally gasping, "my plants" when the wind would kick up and knock something else in the yard over. Yea, gardening is not exactly stress relief for me, but that's a different story. I'm hoping to start yoga soon. I apparently need it, or serious counseling, or both.

Here's what we ended up this year...

Some potted herbs on the back porch.  Some will get moved to the front porch.

Lavendar (the marigolds behind it still need to be transplanted - shhh...)
Oregano and Cilantro

Rosemary, Basil, Thyme

Oregano outside in a planter from last year - it came back. Don't mind the whale.
Then we have some sunflowers, because that's what the kids picked out.  They are coming up around these ornamental grasses that give us some privacy from church next door.

On the side of the house, we have blueberry bushes, marigolds, and some transplanted fennel.

In the garden structure we have lots of goodies! Strawberries, bush beans, hot peppers, sweet peppers, cauliflower, lettuce, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, two kinds of eggplants, two kinds of tomatoes, zucchinis, and carrots.
Strawberries, beans, cauliflower, salad greens, eggplants, and peppers
Zucchini, eggplants, carrots, tomatoes
Our tomatoes have a mixture of coffee grounds and eggshells that provided added calcium to prevent blossom end rot.

 Next to the garden structure, we have a box with wild raspberries that we got from a friend of my mom's (and are actually coming back to life from their transplant) along with some melons. They are not fenced in so we'll see how the melons hold up.

And finally, because we like to try new things, we threw some added greens - kale, romaine, and spinach - into hanging baskets on the front porch. We are all about maximizing planting space, and it's a fun experiment.

So there you have it. Our crazy, stressful attempt at gardening!

What are you growing? Do you find gardening relaxing in the way I can't imagine?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dandelion Tea

For a few days, my google reader (to which I have a minor addiction) was full of posts by people making yummy things with dandelions. A lot of people were making tea, but I also read one post about making syrup. I took one look at my yard which was full of them, and I knew I had to join in!

I began to do a little reading about dandelions, and I remembered taking dandelion supplements during pregnancy when I was battling gallstones. Apparently, those little buggers that cover my lawn are really dang good for you. The list of benefits go on and on including liver, digestive, and bone health.

You can eat every part of the dandelion from root to flower although the stems are known to be quite bitter. The petals are good for tea and syrup. Roots can be dried for making your own supplements or added to tea. The greens can be sauteed or eaten in salad. The more I read about these plants, I actual start to feel guilty for letting all this fabulous food in my lawn go to waste while I am busy in my garden.

Of course, you want to make sure any dandelions your pick are, in fact, dandelions as well as being free from chemical fertilizers, pesticides, heavy foot or car traffic, or animal droppings.

My boys had a blast discovering they could eat these lovely flowers they'd been picking for me all spring. They ran around to harvest them. We didn't dig up roots, but for simplicity's sake, I kept flower, stem, and leaves intact. I rinsed them well. Boiled for a few minutes, and rinsed them again. Then I boiled again for about 10 minutes and strained the tea out with a coffee filter.  The kids and I enjoyed the tea with a little bit of honey. Yum!

My husband said a neighbor growing up used to make dandelion wine. Now, that's a project I could get interested in...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PLANKS Challenge - Week 2

I'm thrilled to have so many of you joining me in this challenge, especially with my in-home partner taking this more as a test of will power rather than training. (Yes, he plans on pretty much doing nothing and then seeing how much longer he can hold his plank in 6 weeks. It'll be entertaining at least.)

How did week 1 go?  I'll be posting my updates mid-week and following the blog topics that are part of the challenge.  Here's a re-cap of my week.

Monday Original Test: 1 minute 43 seconds straight armed plank.

Tuesday Worked out for one hour with my trainer focusing on arms and core as my legs were still recovering from the half marathon.

Wednesday  Did a few minutes of planks while watching television but was really sore from Tuesday.

Thursday 20 minute core workout including plank push-ups, my pathetic attempt at side planks, and some inner core stuff I learned from my old chiropractor when I was having a lot of lower back pain after pregnancies.

Friday 3 mile run plus 15 minutes legs and core

Saturday - nothing

Sunday - Re-test: 2:30 straight-armed plank

 It was a fairly low-key week with a bigger focus on strength that I've had in a while.  This week I am starting out pretty slow so we'll see what happens. But I added 47 seconds to my plank test time so that's a great start! Just another 2 minutes and 30 seconds to go! I'm re-testing each week so I can monitor my progress and adjust my plan accordingly.

Over at Life After Bagels, you can find the weekly topic posted on Wednesdays. This week is Belly Talk. Morgan posted today about digestion and bloating in How I Stay Flat. I had to laugh as my belly hasn't been anything that remotely resembles flat in approximately eight years and even then it was more like the closest I'd ever come to flat so we were just gonna leave it like that. But good digestion is certainly something I can get behind.

After battling a very unhappy gall bladder around the time my second child was born, I learned a lot about digestion. I eventually lost the battle and had my gall bladder surgically removed, but the whole experience taught me a lot about being aware of the effects of different kinds of food on my body and remedies for those effects. This continues to be important as I learn to live without a gall bladder, an organic which despite what anyone tells you your body does need.

Some things I've learned...

A food journal can be a crucial tool in getting to know how your body responds to different types of food. Write down what you eat and how you feel for a week to see what you can gather.

Hot water with lemon is the first line of defense both as prevention and treatment. I usually add fresh sliced ginger in there, too. This has brought me much relief over the past few years.

Fat is not the problem. Good fats are important and good for you. Chemicals and substitutes are going to give you much more trouble than good healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, almond butter and more.

Dairy is something to watch out for. It gives so many people so many problems that they just don't realize. I felt fabulous on a digestive basis while I was vegan. Raw dairy can be an improvement for some.

Grains and gluten are also something to watch out for.  Talk to anyone eating a paleo or grain-free diet. Grains can be the root of a lot of problems. We certainly were never meant to eat the amount of grains we eat, no less in the forms we eat them. Soaking grains can help their digestibility immensely.

Hydrate! Not drinking enough water can make you feel sluggish and can make your digestion sluggish. Drink water all the time. Throw in lemon, lime, apple, or orange slices for some flavor.

Digestive enzymes are both overwhelming and helpful tools especially when used with the help of a natural practitioner. These can help your body re-learn how to digest foods properly and balance things out.

Processed junk will make you feel like junk. Try to eat food in the simplest form possible. You'll feel best.

No matter how careful you are with what you eat, if you eat too much, you're not going to feel well and your belly is not going to be flat. Overeating can leave you with a slight discomfort or can have you doubled over in pain depending on your body, how often you over-indulge, and what you over-indulge in.

And lastly, a blender full of green smoothie a day can make all the difference!

How are those planks going? Any comments on the belly talk?

Monday, May 23, 2011

What's for Dinner?: Finding Our Way Back to Meal Planning

I know some bloggers who post their weekly meal plans, and I'm not sure I can commit to that. But I do know we desperately need to get back to consistent meal planning around here.

Remember my One Small Change that wasn't so small for May?  I boldly said we'd not eat out for 4 weeks. Well, we're not doing so good on it. We've eaten out or had take-out, not one by four times this month. Three of those were surrounding the half marathon chaos. Not good. After a failure with April's One Small Change, well, let's just say I've got to get it together!

To break the cycle, we menu-planned, grocery-shopped, hit-the-farmer's-market and put-it-all-in-writing.  Menu-planning seems to come naturally for some, but for some of us, it can be overwhelming. Others suffer from a loss of inspiration in your menu.  These are some of the things we did to help us in both our planning and inspiration.

Our Menu Plan Board

Each week before meal planning or grocery shopping, I check the coupon match ups for our local grocery store. I'd love to get to a point where all my food was sourced locally, but we still use the grocery store for some weekly staples. Coupons help me buy organic and natural items for half the cost or less. It doesn't compare to the savings of some popular couponers who will buy anything if it's cheap or free, but it does help stretch my grocery budget allowing me to spend more on high quality, local, organic foods.  I also love to watch some of the natural deal blogs for great prices at amazon.com or other places. I occasionally find a great deal on something we regularly purchase and can stock up.

Inventories are kept on the fridge for easy access

Armed with my list of coupon purchases for the week, I take a look at what I have in the house.  The easiest way to do this has been using fridge and freezer inventories along with a somewhat organized pantry. We keep the inventory sheets on the fridge so we can regularly reference and check things off as we use them. We have a sheet for the downstairs freezer, the upstairs freezer, and the refrigerator.
Inventory from Organized Home

With an idea of what I'm buying because it's a great deal this week and an idea of what I already have in the house, I write down a few ideas off the top of my head for meals. Then I hit up my favorite resources for recipes. I have a recipe binder where I throw recipes I find in magazines or have printed and used previously. That's usually where I check first. After that, I might pick one cookbook to reference for the week. I love my Holistic Moms Network cookbooks. I'll also check some of my favorite blogs including Frugal Granola, Kitchen Stewardship, and Passionate Homemaking for recipes. I find I get overwhelmed when every recipe for the week comes from a different resource so I try to stick to one or two each week.
A semi-organized pantry helps us know what we have on hand

Even with limiting myself to one resource, I can feel a little lost at this point in the process. To help with this, we decided to give each night it's own category. We planned the days around our schedule. Wednesdays are crazy so they are a great day to have a meal ready in the slow cooker. On Sundays, we go to the farmer's market and pick up a fresh chicken and seasonal vegetables so why not cook some of it? Many of our meals may be vegetarian whether grilling or pasta but we set Mondays as the day we always plan to eat meatless. In general, at least two to three other days will be meatless as well but we are flexible in which ones.

The menu plan hangs for all to see.

To finish it all off, we write it on our menu planning board on the wall so the whole family knows the plan. If I'm stuck at the kids' school late, hubby can take over. If we need to do some switching around it's clear to everyone what the plan was and the options for rearranging.

Without further ado, here is our menu plan for this week including our daily categories. We aimed for simple as we get back to good routines.

Chicken Roast Sunday: Chicken Roast and Asparagus with Quinoa Salad
Meatless Monday: Quinoa Corn Chowder
Grilling Tuesday: Steaks and Grilled Zucchini with a grain if we decide to add one.
Slowcooker Wednesday: Chicken Noodle Soup made with leftover chicken from Sunday Roast
Pasta Thursday: Lemon Garlic White Bean Pasta
Friday Pizza: Whatever veggies are left in the house!
Open-Fire Saturday or Misc.: Nitrite-free hot dogs from Farmer's Market cooked on an open fire with fruit and salad.

I also add to the list a few snack or breakfast items I'll be cooking to keep us stocked as we try to avoid relying on processed things. This week, I'll be making granola, maple chocolate chip cookies, and crackers.

Do you menu plan?  What works for you?  What doesn't?

Here are some great meal-planning resources:
SimpleMom's A Basic Guide to Menu Planning
FrugalGranola's Quick Meal-Planning 101
KitchenStewardship's Eat Well, Spend Less: Top 40 Frugal Meals

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

thirteen point freaking one: the recap

I did it. I told you I was going to do it, and I did it.

I felt a little off in the days right before. Life was chaotic. I won't get into details but a lot of stress, too much running around, and not enough rest. I had a lot of aches and pains, had only gotten in one run all week, and was feeling really under-trained, which in retrospect, I was.

Sunday morning we all got out of the house. Kristie who was running with me had come the night before and stayed over with her husband. (Have I mentioned how fabulous they are? Especially for putting up with me and my stress? Yea, fabulous. Plus, my kids adore them.) It was pouring rain. I mean really, really pouring. But off we went armed with trash bags and many extra changes of clothes. The rain let up by the time we got there.  From then on it stuck to a steady drizzle with a lot of mist that sometimes made you feel like you were swimming, but I'm grateful it was that instead of 80 degrees and sunny.

Bathroom lines were crazy long, so much so that we actually missed the start. The race was chip-timed so we weren't stressing necessarily, but it was unsettling. Kristie and I got out of the bathroom and found our supporters who said "Run, they started!" We gave kisses and off we went. At the time, I thought it was nice not to deal with all the anxiety of standing and being jostled by the crowd while waiting for the start, but I think I needed some of the adrenaline that comes from that.

Our delayed start meant that we ran a good part of the race almost entirely by ourselves. We'd pass a few people here or there, but we were mostly by ourselves. I'm not sure this was great for the psyche either. My legs were stiff and hurting from the beginning. I kept waiting to hit my stride, loosen up and feel good. I eventually did for a little bit but my legs hurt way too early on and that weighed heavily on me. I stopped to stretch after a few water stops hoping to loosen them up.

I was trying to stick to my refueling pattern that worked so well in Gettysburg. One honey stinger and a gulp of electrolyte water at every mile marker, plus water from the water stops that were every 2 miles. I got off somewhere in there when there were a few mile markers missing and I think I under-fueled.

The highlight was undoubtedly when we ran past our amazing group of supporters - Kristie's husband, my husband, my two kids, my sister, my nephew, and my mom! They were amazing standing in the rain all day holding their signs and cheering everyone on. Of course the boys decided somewhere along the way that this should have been a mud run. I looked over and saw Elijah covered in mud from the waist down and laughed so hard. Then my mom and Ben ran after us for a little bit shouting with their signs. It was great.


It was a two-loop course, so I felt pretty good going into the second loop with 6.7 miles under my belt. By mile 8, it was getting hard. By mile 9 I was hurting. My injured foot was hurting and my legs were just overall hurting. I felt similar to how I felt at mile 9 in Gettysburg, but there I knew I had 2 miles left so I felt good. At this point, with 4 miles left, I was mentally hurting as much as I was physically. Shortly before mile 11, I had a bit of a breakdown. I couldn't catch my breath and just needed to cry. Kristie got worried as I was wheezing for air, but I pulled it together. I just wanted to be done, but I didn't think I could do it. I squeezed out the last 2 miles but not without two more walk breaks.

I was so angry at myself for hurting so bad and for allowing myself to stop and walk. But at the same time, I just wanted to curl up and die. Trying to get me through, Kristie was asking what I wanted to have when I crossed the finish line, what delicious meal I was dreaming of indulging in, and I just cried that all I wanted was my husband.

I did finally make it across that finish line with a chip time of 2:46:48. That's a 12:44 pace. I was gasping and wheezing for air and crying for my husband. My kids ran up to hug me, and I couldn't focus or stop crying. I kept telling Chris, "I don't want to" as if I hadn't already finished. It took a while but I managed to pull it together for a few pictures. I didn't feel joy, I didn't feel endorphins, and I sure didn't feel like a super hero. I felt like I got my ass kicked by 13.1, and I felt like a failure for not doing it better.

We went out to lunch and then home. My muscles hurt, but more so it took a while to balance my electrolytes. I had the kids by myself because my husband had a viewing he had to be at. I was dazed for hours. I was freezing and then hot. I fell asleep at the kitchen table doing puzzles with Ben. The room spun occasionally. When Chris eventually got home at 6pm with 2 things of Gatorade, I finally got a bit better.

This was the hardest thing I've ever done. The moment around mile 11 where I lost it, felt like the transition stage of childbirth. I felt so raw, empty, and defeated. I pulled it together to birth my son naturally at home in the same way I finished this race, but neither was the way I wanted to. It's the plague of perfection. After the birth of my son, I spent the first twenty minutes insistently apologizing to my midwives and husband for not doing better, and that's how I feel with this race except the apologies go to Kristie who had to put up with me in those last four miles.

I know, I know. I did it. I finished 13.1. I'm slowly processing it all. There will be bad runs and good runs. This run felt as bad as the 10 mile training run which afterwards I declared to my husband that I never wanted to run again. It felt particularly bad after such an amazing run in Gettysburg. But I did it. I'm proud I finished, but I'm not going to try to make myself falsely feel amazing about the experience or my performance. It doesn't help to make myself feel guilty for not being as happy as I should be. Instead, I'm moving on to my next goal.

I can't thank everyone enough for their support. My husband, Kristie, my mom, my sister, and my kids! My blog readers, Facebook friends, and even an awesome friend of Kristie's whose blog I follow who sent me a card and a shirt cheering me on (Thanks Paula!)! You guys are amazing and have been wonderful.

So who's with me on the PLANKS Challenge?  There's chat about it on the blog facebook page. Come join us!

Monday, May 16, 2011

PLANKS Challenge

First off, I did 13.1 miles. I'll blog about it soon, but at the moment I'm avoiding it. I'm as emotionally and mentally drained as I am physically. Thanks for all your support and encouragement! Now onto the next challenge. I've got a mud run in 6 weeks, and that means I need to do some strength training!

The #fitblog PLANKS Challenge comes at the perfect time for me! The challenge runs May 16 (today!) - June 26 (the day after my mud run!). The program is simple - set your own goals and make your own program. But there's lots of support by following along on twitter, facebook, and blogs! I'll be blogging weekly with the blog topics as outlined by Morgan at Life After Bagels. Check out that post for some tips and techniques from a personal trainer to do this plank challenge right!

The challenge starts today, so I started with my plank test. I was able to hold a high plank (like the one in the logo above, opposed to the one on your elbows, you can choose however you'd like to do this) for 1 minute 43 seconds. I was totally surprised by how long I was able to stay in plank to start. I think I underestimate my strength at times, but it still needs major improvement. Also, I have to fight for good form the entire time.

Jamie's PLANKS Challenge


Test Plank: 1 minute 43 seconds
Goal Plank: 5 minutes
Plan: Incorporate plank training into my schedule at 4 days/week. 
I'm not sure on details, but will update as I go along.

But wait, it gets better. The first week's blog topic is Plank Partner.  That's right, I need a partner! I'd be delighted if any of you decided to join in, but I also managed to recruit a real-life-live-in partner!  Crazy, eh?  Yep, my husband has agreed to suffer along with me just to prove how much he loves me.

Chris's PLANKS Challenge

Test Plank: 1 minute 7 seconds (not without swearing at me)
Goal Plank: 3 minutes
Plan: I need a plan? I have no idea.

So anyone else ready to join us?  Swimsuit season is almost upon us, or in my case, the opportunity to drag my sorry butt through crazy mud covered obstacles for 3.1 miles.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ramblings of a Runner: Pre-Half-Marathon Post

I'm four days away from my first ever half marathon. In the past 12 weeks I have ran 112 miles. That's only an average of 9.3 miles a week which is really not so good for a training program of any kind let alone a half marathon, but I can assure you I have never ran 112 miles in 12 weeks ever before. I'm resisting getting all negative on how that might be pathetic or how unprepared I am for this race (as my training program says I should have ran 222 miles in the past 12 weeks). The fact is 12 weeks ago I could have never ran the 11 miles I did two weeks ago, let alone the 13.1 miles I will run on Sunday. I did every single long training run as scheduled, and I am confident that I will finish on Sunday. Plus, I've been battling an injury.

 I have tailor's bunions which is basically where the outside bone of my foot is malformed and sticks out. It can get painfully inflamed. I initially irritated my left foot when banging it into the wall more than a year ago jumping a baby gate. When x-rays revealed no breaks and pain had lingered for months, I received 2 cortisone injections last June. Pain returned in the fall. I went to the doctor's again this March, and that's when the tailor's bunion was diagnosed. Sometimes it hurts when I run, sometimes it doesn't. But it does hurt every single day. Sometimes I'm limping, other times it's more manageable. I've gotten new shoes and insoles to help, but I have declined additional cortisone shots and am not ready for surgery any time soon. Lately it's been extremely painful by the end of the day. I'm at a loss of what else to do. Topical arnica and Panaway Essential Oil were both helping symptoms when I was using  them consistently, so I'm back to that now. If anyone has any resources on tailor's bunions, shoot them my way!
Tonight's Ice Foot Bath

But when all is said and done, no matter how much I've trained or not and despite the weird shape of my feet, I'm a runner. I'm not a runner because I'm fast (goodness knows I'm not). I'm not a runner because I train a million miles a week (yea, I don't). I'm a runner, simply because I run. I'm really beginning to identify with that label now. There are days I discount it. There are days when runners ask me about my pace or my training, and I hear their responses and wonder whether I'm actually a runner. But then there are moments that set me straight.
Like walking into the hotel in Gettysburg where so many of the Marathon and Relay runners were staying. I walked in with my duffle bag stuffed with running shoes, energy chews, bodyglide, and race gear. I walked past some other people who were clearly there to run the race, and thought, wow, that's really neat, they're runners. But then I remembered, wait, what do you think you are? Yep, you're one of them.

Or when I moan to my husband that I must stretch, foam roll, ice, or that I need him to rub my sore muscles (yea, this whole running thing works out kind of good sometimes) and in the same breath ask when he's watching the kids the next day so I can get out and do it all again.

Or when talking to a friend who when talking about her running for fitness says "C'mon, who actually likes to run?" and before I can think I hear myself saying, "Actually, I really do."

Or on a day when the absolute last thing I want to do is run, especially after having missed enough days of training and I know it'll be a rough workout, my feet hit the pavement and I can't help but smile because I remember why I run. Because I enjoy it. Because it feels good. Because I enjoy challenging myself and connecting with my body in this way. Because I'm a runner.
So this runner is getting ready for her first 13.1 miles ever. I am psyched to be running with an awesome friend who pushed me through my first 10K. I plan to finish. I know I can finish. I'm not setting any other specific goals, though I do have in mind that every single one of my long runs (7 miles or more) have been at a consistent 11:43 pace. (Yep, I'm that slow.) I'd like to keep my pace under 12 minute miles. I dream of getting it closer to 11:30 miles. But in the end, my goal is to finish, and I will do that.

Because this is the Super Hero Half Marathon and costumes are encouraged but not really my thing, I'll be rocking a t-shirt claiming my superpower (which isn't a superpower, but a wonderful thing women's bodies were designed to do, and for all you conscious lactivists, I acknowledge the inherent issues in this type of saying, but it was just too perfect not to wear for this particular occasion having nursed for the past 4 years, 4 months, and 10 days including 20 months of tandem nursing).

We'll be making the kids cute shirts to wear to support mommy. Plus, I'm sure my wonderfully supportive husband will be making adorable signs for them to hold as they cheer me on Sunday morning. Right? Don't you imagine he'd be doing that? Yes, he reads the blog. Yes, I want a sign or two. Maybe three. I'm not picky. Love you honey.