I spend most of my time really aware of my surroundings. I’m looking for something to come across my path that moves me emotionally, physically or mentally. I’m always thinking about the next blog post for those that will take a few minutes and read the words I have written but also looking for those words that will keep me
motivated determined. This is a life long journey that I intend to participate fully as long as I’m breathing and in order to do that I have to keep my eyes open (heart, mind, body) to whatever the Universe (or what I like to call little baby Jesus on top of a rainbow farting unicorn) sends my way.
But some day you just want to write about stuff. Not really life changing stuff. Not really anything that’s going to cause someone to thump their chest, jump up and proclaim that they too want to make their own life changes or bring a tear to an understanding eye but rather some “hey this is what’s happening in my life right now” kind of stuff.
This is one of those posts.
So off we go…
As I’ve said before running right now has been a little bit of a love/hate relationship (more hate than love unfortunately). In a time of the year when I should be grateful for the sunny days and long hours spent outside I’m still struggling with the last push of summer and the humidity that descends on this part my (new) country. I’m less than three weeks out from my second marathon and those long runs have been about impossible to finish. I’ve made some changes in order to compensate and it seems to be helping…
One of the most helpful changes was getting a hydration pack. I always thought about getting one of these but felt like I should be running ultra marathons in order to need to carry that much water. This little beauty is a 3-liter pack from Mountain Equipment Co-op and cost around $45. There isn’t anything fancy about this hydration pack I’ve decided to call JOLT (Thanks Red!) as my nod to my love for Optimus Prime all that is Transformers. I love it so much and it really has taken a lot of pressure off of my running (read I panic really easily). Before I was running with a 20 oz Amphipod handheld and my lovely Simple Hydration Bottle but let’s face it when you’re out running for upwards to 3 – 4 hours 33 oz of water just isn’t going to cut it when the humidity is at 100% before the sun even comes up. I panic really easily when running because I think I’m going to run out of water and so one of the things that tends to happen is I will wait until the last possible moment to drink because I don’t want to be far away from home and without a water source. You can see how that would be a bad idea right. I had a regular old back pack that I tried to wear on long runs but it was awkward and cumbersome and I was spending more time being irritated at the straps hitting me on the back of my arms than I was focusing on my run. Not to mention I was still carrying water in bottles and when you try to run with bottles it just gets down right frustrating to have that shit bouncing up and down on your back (as well as uncomfortable). It took some time getting used to running with JOLT but I’ve worked out the kinks (straps are folded and rubber banded down) and though there is some rubbing on the side of my neck, I think a good old (and cool looking) bandana is going to do the trick (and of course make me look like McGyver when I pull it out and devise a makeshift submarine out of it). Having something that carries enough water and still has room for small amounts of food, a shirt and all the running gels I can carry has really leveled out the panic. I learned a valuable lesson taking her out for longer runs…I was never drinking enough water before. I’ve filled it up with 2 liters of water, finished the entire thing during a run, come home and continued to drink glass after glass of water and not peed until late into the night. That means even with all the hydration I’m still dehydrated somewhat. Not dangerously dehydrated because there is a lot of water in my system but before the hydration pack I was probably not getting any near the appropriate amount of water…
Another thing I’ve been trying is VegaSports Gels. Running gels are just about the only thing I can take while running. I’ve tried a lot of different products (clif bloks, chomps, stingers, jelly beans…) and though I’m open to trying new things (Hint: if you have a product you’d like me to review…) I always come back to gels. I’m kind of die hard GU fan just because of the flavors (oh and right now Peanut butter is my new favorite) but I won’t lie I’ll use just about any kind of gel if it’s on sale. Which is how I came across trying Vega for the first time not too long ago: on sale. These gels are plant based (read – no corn syrup / maltodextrin) and have quite a different taste than the sweet tasting GU(s) I’m used too. I got a little warning from fellow runner that they are gritty and might be hard to get down the first time. I’ll admit I wasn’t used to the “chewing” factor that happened but I’ve come to really like them. They are a little more expensive but if you’re looking to get away from a more chemical based endurance gel than I would definitely look for these (be warned: they do not come in peanut butter…yet). I think the main thing I like about them is that they don’t leave sticky sweet residue after consumption. I was actually surprised after my first one that I didn’t need any water which is a big change up for me.
The final thing I’ve been doing on a more constant basis is using my Polar. While I use it everyday to count calories and making sure I’m eating enough (or knowing when enough is enough), I’ve also begun using it for run/walk intervals during long runs and to keep my heart rate in check so that I know when I’m not pushing it too much or when I know I can push a little more.
Side story: Last night Red, and I were talking about becoming stronger and faster and I’ve decided that faster is no longer a priority in my life. Getting stronger (the guns are coming back baby) yes and instead of faster I just want to run smarter and longer. That means being prepared and slowing down if need be.
Saturday I set out to run the longest I’ve run since completing my first marathon back in May. I woke up early and got everything packed up and ready to go. JOLT filled (check), running gels (check), running belt (with gum, i.d, and $5, check), a little snack in case I get hungry and out the door before the sun starts to beat down…I really
wanted needed to hit 17 miles. Knowing I didn’t need to worry about water helped relax me quite a bit. There is a trail that starts close to my house and goes on forever (and by forever I seriously mean it goes on forever…like 50/60 miles) so all I had to do was run in one direction until I was done…I felt much stronger than I have in the previous weeks even with all the extra cross training I’ve been doing. About 30 minutes into run I decide to turn off my music and just hang out with myself. It was a really nice run. I never let my heart rate go over 140ish and as I got to around mile 12 I decided to switch to a 9 min run/1 min walk interval so I could keep stretching and drinking water….
It wasn’t easy and my legs hurt…
But it got done and I feel really good about it.
This past week has been a good week living in my body. I’ve been trying hard to get back down to a weight I was comfortable with after stepping on the scale at the end of June and seeing 171. Now before a lot of you start shaking your head and whispering “Oh I wish I could see 171…” trust me I know that number sounds like a dream. It was my dream number for a long time too and my first major goal weight when I started losing. I got as low as 150 only to find out that was dangerously low for my body type and how I like to push my physical boundaries. My maintenance weight is around the 160 mark. It’s where I feel my best and my strongest and whether you’re at 171, 271 or 571 the gain can really cause havoc on all that is this life changing journey.
With Red doing the lighten up program I’ve changed up my eating quite a bit. Not as paleo as before but still trying to stick to the foundation of paleo eating whenever possible (and the program has a lot of paleo incorporated into it’s meal plan/recipes) I’ve just been eating what she’s eating for ease (and cost) of food prep. It’s actually better than I was anticipating and the prep time seems to be a lot less because we are consuming a lot of smoothies (made with all real food not packaged).
I weighed in last week after hovering around the 168 – 169 mark for the longest time and came away with a 5 pound loss over the last 2 weeks. My clothes were feeling better, my body felt leaner but I wasn’t expecting that kind of a loss. When you’ve been in “maintenance” mode for so long (read eating healthy, always moving) it can take forever for just a few pounds to come off when you go back to “weight loss” mode so I’m really happy that my body adapted so well to the increase water intake (I’m drinking a shit ton of water these days) and the slight shift in food. I’m going to hang out with Red on this program until it’s done (she’s at the halfway mark) and then go back to maintenance. I’m thinking about continuing to count calories and using my polar to make sure I eat back my work out calories as much as possible.
My physical body is changing not just in weight. It feels lean again. My abs are starting to 6 pack (though maybe more like 3 pack) and my obliques are making an appearance that I forgot how much I liked. My back, arms and shoulder muscles are more prominent in the last month or so and it makes me excited to see the changes from adding cross training back into my marathon training. It hasn’t been easy but man I’ll tell you it’s worth it…
Transformation Pics. If you haven’t been to this website you should take just a minute or two to get over there. I say this for a couple of reasons. The first being they are featuring me this week and it’s more than an honor to be a part of this amazing website. If you need a little inspiration in your life to stand up and take control of your life changing journey, this is the place to find it. The people they’ve featured is nothing short of AMAZING! I’m a little humbled to have been asked to participate because some of the stories there are almost jaw dropping fantastic. The best part? After reading the stories you can continue to follow their journeys with links to their blogs, facebook and twitter (you know I’m all about the stalking).
Take a few minutes, get over there and plan how you’re own transformation photos are going to look as you continue to move forward on your own life changing journey…