Monday, April 6, 2015

This is an Other

Some days are better than others. Today was an other. Funny thing though, the last few times I've had monster-bad days, I haven't wanted to eat. In the way-back past I would've wanted a bag of chips and a pint of ice cream - for an appetizer. But now, it's as if I can't really enjoy food when I'm feeling like crap. At least in the initial jolt of pain or sadness. Unfortunately, it doesn't really last. Give it a day or two and I'll probably want to dive head-first into that ice cream.

Aside from the state of my personal affairs, food and exercise are going well. Last week, the week following the half-marathon, I hit my goal to exercise four days. I went to the gym on Monday and did a light, post-half recovery workout. Tuesday I was hit with a wave of exhaustion in the late afternoon and thought it smart to get some rest. I did just run 13.1 miles on Sunday after all.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday saw me hitting the gym after work and doing my thing. I'm still not doing what I used to do before this whole divorce/life-change thing reached a peak, but that's ok, I'll get there eventually.

Jumping back to Wednesday, I lost 2.2 pounds this past week. It was no surprise given I'd gained 3.2 pounds the week prior. Something crazy is happening with my weight, jumping around like that. I'm curious to see what it will be this week. So I'm 149.8, which is .8 pounds over what I'm allowed to be to maintain free Lifetime status at WW (my official goal weight is 147 and we're allowed to be +/- 2 pounds of that weight). I'd really like to stop paying that $40 monthly pass fee so I hope this is the week.

But I'm definitely not starving myself to get there. Friday evening I had dinner in a restaurant. I had a few sips of wine, a bit of bread, shared fried calamari for an appetizer (I know, I know, but it was so good) and ordered grilled salmon for the entree. The salmon came with steamed veggies and the smallest portion of roasted red potatoes I'd ever seen. And a small cannoli for dessert. I entered in everything into my tracker and came to 26 points. Not too bad.

We had a family Easter party on Saturday (the only day that worked for everyone) but I made smart choices there (including no candy), knowing I was attending a dinner party that evening. The dinner party was over the top, with one of the guests being a bona fide chef who prepared the food. He served everything small-plate style and we all stood around the island eating and drinking while plate after plate of yummy stuff emerged. Oh.my.calories was there a lot of food. And it was good. Check out the spread.



Deviled eggs with smoked salmon, grilled lamb, bison burgers, beef carpaccio...and the list goes on and on. Anyway, I comforted myself by mentally increasing the mileage in my planned Sunday run by 1 mile with every passing hour. Points-wise I decided to just wipe out all the Weekly Points I had left plus any unused Activity Points (including those I'd earn on Sunday's run). Who knows if this is right, but it's too much to attempt calculating.

Sunday came around and it was time to pay the piper get outdoors and experience the joy of physical exertion. A trail run was just what I needed to clear both my head and my body. I did a loop route in the Henry Coe State Park, a trail I hiked for the first time about a year ago.

The loop is 6 miles. Some parts were either too steep up/downhill to run - up being too hard, down being too scary - or the trail was too rocky/narrow. So where I could run, I ran, otherwise I hiked, quickly, to keep the exertion at workout levels (vs Sunday stroll level). Check out the elevation profile.


It was a beautiful day, a little chilly and windy at times but the scenery more than made-up for the cold.

Henry Coe State Park in April
That brings us to today. I made good food choices, balancing out the weekend's bacchanalia, and went to the gym after work. I was a little stiff from the trail run but mentally, I really needed a workout. I started with the hill loop around my gym, 2.34 miles in 10:26 pace. Considering the size of the hill I ran over, that's darned good. Actually, it's good no matter how you look at it!

Then I went inside to do legs/shoulders/core. That was asking a bit much from my body. I had to cut short the number of lunges because my legs were just not up to it, and after about 2/3 of my total workout, I just stopped altogether. My body wasn't happy and I wasn't in the mood to push it. Aside from my being emotionally tired, I probably didn't eat enough to fuel what I was trying to do either.

But I closed out the day eating all 26 of my Daily Points, leaving the 6 APs I earned in the gym for tomorrow if I want them. It's a sad day, to be sure, when I'm ambivalent about eating all my Points.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

San Francisco Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon 2015 Race Report

Wow! What a day. I can't wait to tell you about it. I'll start with the Friday before. I had planned to go to the gym but the day got hectic and I decided since I was running the half on Sunday, it's fine to just rest. Saturday I indulged in some treats, carb-loading is always a great time to indulge. I started the dinner hour by having two cream puffs, one vanilla and one chocolate. I couldn't finish them both but I gave it my best effort.

I headed over to the expo to pick up my bib and check out all the vendors. Except I had the wrong closing time and I got there just as they were closing up! If I had gotten there literally a minute later I think I would have missed it, they were locking the doors when I walked in. I was bummed to miss the expo but happy to have my bib and shirt.


I paused on the way out to take a picture with the route map. Then it was off to dinner. I had bread, pasta with clams and yes, dessert, even though I'd had the cream puffs. You can get away with stuff like that when you'll be running for over two hours in the morning :)

After dinner I went to an art theater across the street to watch The Labyrinth, one of my all-time favorite movies. I know, it's kind of cheesy camp fun, but I love it. It's kind of like my personal Monty Python and the fact that it was playing in the city the night before my race, when I had to be right across the street to get my packet, was just too perfect.

Just like Sarah and Hoggle, I'd be running soon.
After the movie it was straight to bed, a 6:30am start time is going to mean an early wake up.

I stayed in an SF motel just a couple miles from the start. When I got up I realized I'd forgotten to plan for breakfast. Despite still feeling the weight of yesterday's eating, I knew I needed breakfast. The coffee place around the corner didn't open until 6am, which was cutting it close but really, it was my best option for food.

Warning, poop-talk ahead...I was hoping to go #2 before the race, aside from the physical concerns, knowing all the food I'd put into my body the night before was messing with my head too. I had some coffee and oatmeal (more food! more need to poop!) but nothing happened in the bathroom department. On my way to the starting line I glanced longingly at the porta-potties...wish I had a need to use one but my system was just not budging. And I had no time to wait, I'd have to run the race and just hope my full system wouldn't be a problem.

I was in corral three and I got there about 10 minutes before the first wave took off. It was still dark out but considering we were right on the ocean, I wasn't freezing. I had sweats and a zip up jacket over my running clothes, I'd planned to toss both at some point during the race. But since I wasn't freezing I took the sweats off before the start. I did a couple knee raises and then, before I knew it, my corral was taking off.

The start

My view in corral three
I had no expectations for myself in terms of pace or overall time. Given how I'd crammed my training into four weeks, I knew I had to go easy if I was going to make it. We ran along the ocean for a few blocks and then turned inland. As we soon as we turned the corner, bam, a hill. I heard a fellow running groan at the sight of it and I reminded myself, "hills always look worse than they are."

Turning inland, and heading uphill. Photo from sfgate.com
I just put my head down and ran, ran, ran...it was such a beautiful day, I love San Francisco, and this was a picture perfect SF day, made for running. We wound our way through some neighborhood streets and eventually popped out next to the ocean again. I've always wanted to run on this portion of Lincoln Blvd, perched above Baker Beach, with a postcard worthy view of the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands.

My Garmin of the first few miles
But holy hills...this was the worst part of the hills. The race organizers had some pretty funny signs to help us up the hill, this was my fave.

I can relate.
Again, head down, and run. I made it up the series of hills and felt a wave of pride and self-confidence come over me. Now on to the bridge. I've run over the Golden Gate enough times to know...it is NOT flat.

Elevation profile
As you can see, the bridge trends uphill on the way over. But I was so distracted by the fact that we were running not on the pedestrian path but on the actual road...so awesome. The views were spectacular. I had to get out my phone for a couple pics.

heading over


I hadn't carefully studied the route map and I was terrified that we'd have to run down the hill on the other side of the bridge, then back up and over...I've run (and walked) that hill and it is a painful spiral uphill. I sighed relief when we turned around in the vista parking lot...no hill! I ditched my zip-up jacket around this time, the weather was just perfect. I mean, really, look at that sky.

on the return trip
Notice the solid stream of runners filling the road in the distance? I wish I could've captured what I saw, so inspiring.

An official pic from 2014...runners on the bridge, I love it!
So back over the bridge and down toward the Marina. Along the way I'd had some mild stomach discomfort, along with what felt like pre-cramping in my legs...I worried something might derail me but reminded myself that for now, I'm not derailed so just keep running! The cheer squads along the way also helped. There were also a couple/few bands but I had my headphones on and didn't really listen to them.

A pic of the lead runner (courtesy sfgate.com)
Besides, with scenery like this...it was easy to forget my worries. I started to drag around mile 8, so I had two Shot Blocks, which gave me just the pep I needed. I think I had two more around mile 10 but I can't remember now.

After running along the Marina we turned inland toward our big downtown finish.


The last mile of this race was the best last mile I've ever run. Ever. It was a series of downhill blocks and I was running my heart out. People were lining the street screaming for us and I was filled with a love for running, a love for what my body could do, a feeling of overwhelming gratitude and happiness. Yes, running can feel this good.

the last mile
I crossed the finish line feeling like a million bucks. I have to post the proof of this pic because the photo website is messed up and it won't let me purchase this one yet. But rest assured I'll be buying this one...I love it!


I looked down at my Garmin and saw 11:07 pace...no way! I couldn't believe it.

took me 20 seconds to remember to stop my Garmin
Of course my official pace was a bit slower because it assumes I ran 13.2 miles, when I really ran 13.31 due to poor tangent running.


No matter...I ran the race in 2:27:33...still faster than my first ever half-marathon, which is always my minimal time to beat.



I got my medal and headed toward Muni. I wasn't interested in listening to music, being there on my own, I just wanted to get to a shower and lunch. But boy oh boy was I happy!


Well, there you have it. Sign up by midnight tonight and this race can be yours for only $50 in 2016. Despite telling myself, somewhere around mile 6, that I would never run another half-marathon again...I'm off to sign up. Because this is worth it. I'm worth it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

S L E E P

Where should I start? How about the fact that scales are big liars! I went to my WW meeting on Tuesday and my weight had supposedly jumped up to 152 pounds. That's a 3.2 pound gain. Phooey! Something wonky is happening with my body because I know I didn't gain that much this week. I did indulge more than I'd liked, and I did stop tracking the last few days of the week but it wasn't that bad. Anyway, I've long known about the scale and the lies and half-truths it sometimes perpetuates.

After I weighed in I used the restroom, #1 if you must know, and then, out of curiosity weighed myself again...down to 151.2 pounds, .8 pounds less. The receptionist asked if I wanted to change my weight tracker. Why bother? I'm thinking longer term than that.

Aside from that things are going well. I skipped the gym on Tuesday, we were having friends over for dinner and I needed to grocery shop. The kids and I had a fun time catching up with some of our buddies. Yesterday I went and did a sort-of taper workout, running only one mile but then doing my regular weight training. I did the same thing today, rode the bike for only 15 minutes and then weights.

I'm back to tracking and eating is going well so far this week. I went out to dinner tonight but made a good entree choice - salmon, black quinoa, broccolini - and skipped the bread altogether, only had a few sips of wine. Oh, and a bit of chocolate mousse for dessert but even there I didn't surpass my appetite. And I'm tracking it all. I've got the half-marathon on Sunday so I should be carb-loading, right?

Speaking of eating, I had another "diet" coaching session with Deborah Beck Busis. We talked about my evening snacking and came to the really big deal...Sleep. I have had a problem going to bed on time for years. Actually, more like forever. So I committed to going to bed by 10:30pm every night, lights out at 11pm. It's 10:46 and I'm not in bed. Enough of the lame excuses, night all.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Long Run and Birthday Cake

This weekend was great. Almost too much so. Lots of social stuff going on. But before I get to that, a quick update on other mundane things. Friday was another gym day. My goal is to go four times a week. I also like to avoid going more than three days in a row. This week though, I'd skipped Monday so I had to go four days in a row if I wanted to hit my goal, and I did.

On Friday I rode the bike for 20 minutes and then did chest/triceps/core. Pushups are still hard but overall, I'm getting stronger. Friday night I ended up going to out to dinner. It was an unplanned meal out that included a cocktail and some wine and a fairly rich meal. I figured I'd be fine Points-wise since I was running 10 miles the following afternoon. But then Saturday's lunch added unexpected calories. I ordered a salmon/spinach crepe but didn't realize it was going to come covered in hollandaise sauce. In hindsight I should have sent it back but instead I just scraped off the sauce as best I could and ate my lunch. At least it was good.

The thought of running those 10 miles was hanging heavy on my head but with the half-marathon now only a week away, there was no avoiding it. I considered running fewer miles as part of a taper but I figured it's more important to keep building up my overall endurance than it is to taper for a run in which my only goal is to finish.

I started my run in the late afternoon, around 4:30pm, and lucky for me it wasn't a terribly hot day - low 70's with a bit of cloud cover and a light breeze. I knew the best thing to do was run at an easy, easy pace.

I ran out by the levees and it was a gorgeous day. I had music on but it was Pandora so there were times when it wasn't working, so I listened to my own breath and the birds. There was a bit of wind in my face at times but only for a moment or two did it feel like an impediment. Around mile 4 I paused to snap a few pictures.




I look happier than I remember feeling. At mile 4, six more miles to go felt like a lot but I was doing my best to appreciate my stellar running environ, no matter my waxing and waning enjoyment of the actual run. I wore my Garmin for curiosity's sake and checked my pace from time to time.


As you can see I ran 11 miles, not 10. It happened that as I neared mile 10 I still felt pretty good. And something about 11 miles makes 13.1 seem more doable, so I went for it. Around 10.5 I glanced down and saw I was in the 10 minute mile range...I like it when my last mile is my fastest so I kept up my pace, even quickened some, to finish that last mile in 10:37 minutes. And boy-oh-boy was I happy to stop running.

I came home with the plan to cook a healthy home-cooked meal but once again things turned out differently and I ended up out for a meal. A martini also made it's way to, along with a glass of wine and dessert. Oh dear me, this isn't good. Well, it was good actually - a banana bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla gelato - but also not good for my Points calculator, which was bowing under the weight of all those Points.

All that would have been fine, I suspect, if it hadn't been for yesterday. I took the kids to almost back-to-back birthday parties and made the unhelpful choice to have cake at both of them. And chips. And Oreo cookies. Ugh. I made a mental note to attend no more than one birthday party per weekend barring unusual circumstances. Choices are part of life, right?

Dinner was a bowl of cereal...and I felt like everything was unraveling. I had to remind myself that one meal, one (or two) birthday parties, one day, one weekend...cannot unravel me. I also noted to myself that these types of eating choices don't leave me feeling great. And darnit, I ran 11 miles this weekend, I should feel great!

Today was sort of so-so in the eating department. My tracker burst into flames when I entered all the cake and I couldn't very well track after that. I'm focused on getting through tomorrow, the last day of my WW week, without too much "whatever" attitude and starting a fresh new week on Wednesday. Oh, but I did go to the gym today. I had plans to go after work and had the old, "I kind of don't feel like going to the gym." Not a helpful thought, so I ignored it and went to the gym. I was pleased with myself but some evening snacking tonight undid a bit of that. No matter, I'm doing well on the whole. I'm really doing well.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Evening Snacking, Exercise and Losing Weight

Ok, wow, so much has happened since my post on Monday. I think I'll take them on as topics.

Evening Snacking

My nemesis of late. Though I haven't had an episode of bingy evening snacking since my last post on Monday. Tuesday evening was hard, I white knuckled it through without snacking but I was frustrated about it, "Why is this so hard? I just want it to be easy darnit!" The next morning I felt good about staying in control but also recognized I was making things harder with my negative thoughts. Instead of lamenting the challenge I could have been distracting myself or simply reminding myself, gently, that it is hard because I've been engaging in unhelpful habits lately and just like a smoker who relapsed, it's going to take a little while for my brain to understand that I don't snack all evening anymore.

I hadn't mentioned this here but a couple weeks ago I scheduled a session with a CBT for weight loss and maintenance therapist. Yep, someone who does the same thing I do. It was around the time that I'd decided to get back to my groove and thought support would be helpful. We all need a good coach in our corner from time to time. In any case, I had that session on Wednesday and we focused mostly on evening snacking. We came up with some good ideas.

1. Plan a snack. When I start craving random food I can remind myself that I have a planned snack at, say, 10pm, and to just wait for that. I do that pretty easily during the day so why not in the evening? It also recognizes that spontaneous decisions are really hard, especially in the evening when my mental energy is low and I'm probably suffering from decision fatigue (if you haven't read up on decision fatigue, do because the concept is pivotal in weight loss and maintenance). 2. Plan some pleasurable, relaxing things and be sure to consciously label them as pleasurable, remind myself while I'm engaging in the activity (bath, hot tea, a favorite magazine with a blanket on the couch) "this is helping." 3. Let go of the "Why is this still a problem?" complaint. Obesity is generally a chronic issue that will need lifelong management. There will always be "flare-ups" of the problem, and it's no wonder I experienced what I did in light of the major transition in my life. Along the same lines, recognize that while the evening snacking became a problem again, I didn't really go way backwards, it was more like not moving forward, treading water. Maybe a little back, I mean I did gain more than a few pounds but it wasn't some kind of major, disastrous setback and, most importantly, I'm working on it. Finally, give myself a big atta-girl! for following through on my intention when I do. This isn't easy and when I'm successful I need to recognize that.

We also talked about making a list of the advantages of engaging in goal-oriented eating behaviors and some response cards to counter my sabotaging thoughts (such as, "why is it so hard" or "why haven't I mastered this?" or even my old favorite, "whatever, I don't care."). I haven't done that yet, not sure if I will, but writing here does sort of get at the same thing. Last night I had company over until late so I was distracted and had very little urge to snack. Tonight is a classic evening snacking night and so far, so good. Not feeling tempted at all.

Exercise

I am still going strong! I skipped Monday but I've gone every day since then and plan to go tomorrow to hit my target of 4x a week. Yep, that's me, doing what I set out to do. My workout is getting easier, I'm getting stronger. I'm still doing lighter weights/fewer reps on some things and still only doing 20 minutes on the upright bike instead of my normal 25 - but I'm getting stronger every week and can really feel my body firming back up. I think the break was a good thing, I'm really enjoying my gym time again. My back was sore there for a few days but seems to be getting better.

Tuesday I ran 3 miles, lifted weights. Wednesday I rode the bike for 20 minutes, lifted weights. Today I ran 3 miles (ugh, it was hot outside) and lifted weights...awesome, right?! Especially since that half-marathon is now only 2 weeks away, it's a good thing I'm pulling it together.

Weight

I went to my WW meeting on Wednesday. Last week I ate every.single.Point allotted to me. But that's nothing new, I almost always eat all my Points. I ate my dailies, all 49 weeklies and all of the 55 activity points I'd earned. And you know what?? I lost 3.8 pounds last week. Huh?! So I'm 148.8 right now (1.8 more pounds and WW will be free for me again). I was expecting to lose and was still surprised it was over 3 pounds. Though the week prior I'd lost .8 so if you average them out it's 2.2 pounds per week, which isn't insane. Whatever, I'm happy to be putting in the work and getting results. The other thing is my body fat % is going down, it was 32% this morning (it had gone up to 33%), that's almost 1.5 pounds of fat. I'd be happy to get back into the high 20's for body fat - 28%, 29%...but I can't control that. All I can control are my eating and exercise choices.