Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Streak Ends :(

Due to various circumstances, not least of all the weather, my run streak has ended already.

I am pretty bummed about it, but what the heck? I can always start a new one. This one lasted just five days, so I suppose my aim is to at least beat that.

It was a pretty crappy weekend overall. Not to say that everything was bad – it started out nicely with a run in Delaware Park with my buddy Amy F., and I got to visit a farmer's market and have lunch with another new friend on Saturday. After that though, it all went down the tubes. I won't get into specifics, but I am sure my PMS didn't help. And did I mention the constant stream of rain today? Blergh.

The reasons I didn't run today were:

• Rain
• Fatigue and soreness (i.e. someone overdid it this week!)

OK, so those were the only two reasons. Sounds kind of wimpy but looking back on the week I realized that I might need to dial things back a little on the exercise, especially if I want to keep running consistently. I need to be realistic. Until I get a leaner and stronger, it's probably wise for me to take it a little easier on myself so I don't get hurt and/or burned out. It's easy to think that I can do anything I set my mind to, but the reality is that I am still very overweight and I am not such a spring chicken anymore. (I'll be 45 next week!) Naturally any physical activity is still going to be more challenging for someone like me than someone who weighs a lot less.

Joyful at the group Pub Run – with my brand new
Nathan hydration gear! I've got nice new
running-appropriate socks, too!
That said, I think what I really need to do is not try to go so crazy with the mileage too soon. Working on the Galloway 10K training schedule has been great, but I also wonder if the long run progressions are happening a little too quickly for me – another mile added on every two weeks. On Thursday, I did a three mile group social run that I ended up walking about a half mile of (the heat got me!), and then Saturday had a four mile run on the schedule. I set out to try but also did not feel very confident when I have been struggling with three. I ended up running two miles straight, then walked about a mile and a half, then finished off with a final run the last half mile or so. I wasn't super thrilled with that, but I was happy that I logged the miles.

These days one mile is almost, dare I say, easy... I feel confident at two. Three always feels like stretch, so maybe the plan should be to have my base two miles to build on at quarter-mile increments. 2.25 next week, 2.5 the following week, and so on. Maybe it won't even take that long, who knows? I just really want to feel at three miles how I do at two, and it just hasn't been happening.

This coming week, I have a 5K race on Thursday evening to run. I think that I'm going to come back to the run streak the week after. Until Thursday I am going to take it WAY easy, maybe not running at all. I'll do the race, and then see how the weekend goes. I have a lot on my plate this week and I think it is perfect timing to take a bit of a break, then go into things full force again the following week.

Post-run stretching riverside in Niawanda Park on Saturday morning. Heaven!

Weight-wise, unfortunately was up two pounds this week. That was a bummer, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Many factors there: A poor last weekend of eating, a binge the day before weigh-in, and lovely PMS. I'm not too worried about it, and having just looked at my chart on Happy Scale comparing to last month, I had the same exact blip at the same exact time, followed by consistent losses. So, as usual, onward. Here's to a fresh and shiny new week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Links I Love Wednesday #3

An interesting take about the dynamics of the workplace.

Gymless strength training! I'm always on the lookout for these suggestions since I cancelled my gym membership.

Always more yoga! Here are some good post-run poses for runners.

He ran 365 days straight!

We are not obligated to be attractive!

I've been getting blisters lately. :(

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Things have been a-OK since my last post, having been more or less on, if you know what I mean. Eating's been pretty good, and I had a nice 1-mile run at a 14:38 pace this morning combined with a slightly longer walk following that – it's technically a cross-training day on my schedule, but since I am now doing the running streak, I need to fit in at least a mile every day. I liked that shorter distance, actually – because I know that it's totally doable I can push myself a little more than usual. I'll try and keep the one-milers quicker if I can, certainly under 15 minutes.

I also did a little bit of yoga on lunch break today. I found myself dragging a bit in the mid-afternoon, so I slipped downstairs to my "sanctuary", which is just a large room that doesn't get any use and that I got permission to exercise in last winter. These days I mainly go when I want to decompress a little, and as weird as it sounds I'll just actually lay right down on the floor and close my eyes for a few minutes. Sometimes, like today, I want/need to stretch or meditate. With the lights off, it's a dark, cool room and it really is a little bit of a godsend. Anyway, so today I spent about 15 minutes in and out of various easy poses: cat and cow; mountain into forward fold, happy baby, reclined bound angel, savasana... and I tried an inversion with my legs up against the wall and my back on the floor. I feel so lucky to have a space like that at work!

Tomorrow my plan is to get in a two-mile run in the morning, do some more yoga on lunch, and then, after work I have the Pub Run I mentioned yesterday! I'm really looking forward to that – the challenge of three miles, the fun of running with friends, and relaxing afterward with a drink and some yummy food! Hopefully my burgeoning blisters won't cause me too much trouble. At least I know what things I can do that will help. Fingers crossed.

In other sporting news, I've been eyeing my bicycle, which has been living in the garage for years now. The tires need pumping and I'd like to get her a check-up, but I want to get her out really soon so that I truly have a good alternative for cross-training on my non-running days. Payday is coming, so hopefully in the next week or so I can get that taken care of.

I'm also looking into tennis lessons! My boyfriend grew up playing and loves it. I love it, too, but I am really bad at it, so in the past when we have tried to play together, it's been more about chasing wayward balls than actually completing a match. So recently when he expressed interest in getting back into it (and him getting into shape, too!), I jumped at his idea to take actual lessons. Right now I am just doing research, but I hope to start doing that in the next month or two. Exciting!

Finally... hiking. We started hiking last fall and have been looking forward to the spring/summer season, but fate has been working against us between busy schedules, weather, and our middle-aged bodies not always co-operating (last weekend was a prime example of the latter). However, we still plan to do more of that starting, like, yesterday!

It's so much fun being active and trying new things. Sure, I'm looking forward to more superficial things like being able to wear more cute clothes as I lose weight, but I think the thing I like the most about this whole thing is all the stuff I get to do! I'm loving the new, nearly-athletic version of myself these days.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Triumphs and Defeats

As much as I like a holiday weekend (especially a three-day one!), I tend to break out of my habits and get a little thrown off by the relaxed schedule. This was especially true this past Memorial Day weekend. I had every intention of getting out on Saturday or Sunday for my long run (three miles), but unfortunately my back was all screwy after a stint in the painting studio that morning – I rose from my chair, and my lower back screamed in pain. It's safe to say that it was the worst backache I've ever had.

While it was at its worst on Saturday, I still didn't feel super great on Sunday or Monday and just decided to call it a vacation from most activity, period. I didn't even walk – the most I did was cook dinner and do a little bit of yard work.

I also ate a lot more than usual. I resorted to not the best behavior, that is, I ate emotionally like crazy. Being in pain made me feel like I somehow deserved to eat whatever I wanted, and that is basically what I did. Pizza, ice cream, Doritos, chocolate, beer, donuts, too-big portions. I guess that didn't make me feel any better, either, huh?

One thing I realized was that I used to eat like that on a regular basis. I really did! And no wonder why I felt so shitty all the time. On the plus side, it was nice to know how much progress I really have made in the past year, even if I still have episodes like this from time to time.

So that obviously ended my streak of no "obvious sugary stuff"; I made it 11 days. I must admit that I don't think it had much of an effect on anything other than I was able to fit more other food into my days. Calorie-dense, that stuff is – it takes up a lot of room! So instead I definitely ended up eating more and better foods, and I noticed that I wasn't snacking as much.

It was my intention to start a new streak of that today, but I'm afraid that I succomed to some of the remaining candy I had in my desk today – a single piece of orange chocolate sponge candy, and a serving of jelly beans. I really ought to toss the jelly beans. I'm going to do it right now.

There. Done.

I also put out the bag of midget Tootsie Rolls I had for the rest of office to eat. (I had my fingers in the jelly bean bag, else I'd have done the same there.)

Hooray!

Speaking of streaks...

You'll notice that I have a new badge at the top of my sidebar! I decided to do the Runner's World Running Streak, Summer 2015 edition. I just found out about it today, so I'm starting a day late but will make up the day at the end. I love challenges like this and I really like how it's made into something totally doable – just one mile each day is something I can easily manage, and maybe it will help improve my running!

Maybe by now you're wondering about what triumphs I am talking about in the title of this post? So far I have only been talking about how all the things I didn't do well over the weekend. There really weren't any triumphs. Until today (and yes, even with the candy thing earlier).

This morning I had my usual debate while laying in bed: To get up early, or not to get up early. Of course, I'd get up early so that I can fit in my exercise. I'm happy to say that getting up early won, and even though I had a lot of trepidation about what I could get done, I geared up and went out anyway, with the intention of sticking to my Galloway 10K training schedule. I missed my long run over the weekend and I didn't want to get any more behind than I was.

It wasn't easy, but I finished two miles of running plus five-minute warm-up and cool down walks. The running was a bit of a struggle and at some points I really didn't think I'd be able to complete my intended goal. But, I did it. As always, it felt great to finish and I've carried that feeling with me all day long. No, it wasn't my fastest run ever, but it was about on par to what I have been doing since I started racing at the beginning of the month, low 15-minute miles, give or take. I'm happy with that for now.

On Thursday I am going to participate in a Fleet Feet group run called the Pub Run – should be fun! They offer a two- three-, or five-mile route, and I am aiming for the three, possibly to make up for my lack of a three-miler over the weekend (I guess I am kind of obsessing about it!). We'll see, though. That distance is still quite challenging for me, so I guess anything between two and three will be good.

And I've added another 5K race to my schedule! It's the Gay 5K coinciding with Pride Week in Buffalo. My running pal Amy F. got me a registration for it for my birthday, the sweetest thing ever! (Thanks, Amy!) It should be a very fun time, and of course ever challenging... I really, really want to feel like I conquered the 5K distance, that is, feel comfortable running it the way I feel about two miles.

The only way to do that is to do the work. Like I said, hoping that the Streak will help me with that, too.

Looking ahead to continued efforts and learning from both my successes and my not-so-successes.

Excelsior!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Links I Love Wednesday #2

This Q&A helps you make a decision when you're on the fence about running today.

This advice about getting through long training runs will definitely come in handy.

Jiggly arm-busters!

How to be epic!

So timely, this list of best running gear for storage! My wish list will grow.

Ack, the best pop maker ever? Must have.

Really? For me, savasana is one of the best parts of yoga.

I love the fact that apparently I am a masters athlete. Ha!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Progress Photos

Face shots, from before the start (late 2013, 370-ish pounds) and more current (11/23/15, 265 pounds):

 



In the beginning (or at least this beginning), just before I started getting serious about things, in April 2014. I weighed 372 pounds standing 5'8" tall.

It's interesting because even though I knew I was heavy, I never looked this way in my mind's eye, and I didn't often look at myself in full-length mirrors. I can honestly say now that I was at least half denial about how big I got.





The next photo shows progression – down to 345 pounds and then 318 pounds. I'm wearing the same outfit in each so that you can see, for instance, how bulging my belly was even after losing almost 30 pounds. At 318 it's much less obvious. And now I can't even wear those pants anymore because they fall off me.

Somewhere in between:



Some face shots showing the contrast of 372 to 299.


And what my body was doing at 297. This was February 2015.

Finally, as of May 19, 2015, 86 pounds lost. I don't see too great a difference from the last set, but:



107 pounds down, 265 pounds:



3/4/2016, back to about 280 pounds but feeling and looking pretty good, I'd say! 






The Sugar Experiment: Week 1 Complete!

(I am not posting a gorgeous photo of an ice cream sundae or a baked good here.)

Last Tuesday, as you may recall, I decided to try to lasso in my ornery sweet tooth. For as long as I can remember, I've LOVED sweets, and in their various forms they are things I have the hardest time eating reasonably (though I must say that developing my technique of eating just one serving of ice cream at a time went really well!). I found myself with several nibbles of little chocolates or handfuls of jelly beans or a slice of cake at the office happening way too often, i.e. every single day. For real. No one needs that many sweets in their life, least of all me when I am still trying to lose a lot of weight.

And hey, it's not to say that I think sweets are evil, or that they are at the core of all my problems. They haven't been helping, though, and I realized when I looked more closely at my food logs that they also took up a lot of space in my daily calorie goals and so a lot of times what happened was that I got to dinner with not as many calories left as I'd like, which would almost always lead to overeating for the day. Not helpful.

(A side note: My approach to calorie-counting is probably not half a stringent as many people's. Lately I have been going by MyFitnessPal's suggested intake of 1550 calories per day, usually eating most of my exercise calories (which tend to be inflated, I know), and more of less being fairly casual sticking to that number and always aiming to keep things under 2000 if nothing else. As I type this out it seems kind of silly to the point of why do I bother to have goals anyway?, but it's been working well enough and – most importantly – it is a very sustainable approach for me. This is not something that is frustrating or leaves me unsatisfied. This is something that I can live by forever and ever, basically. My weight loss is pretty slow, about a pound a week, sometimes a little more – but I can live with that, as long as the numbers keep going down.)

OK, so anyway... what about the sugar?

After a week of not eating anything that could be obviously labeled a sweet treat, that is, candy, ice cream, cake, added sugar to anything, etc., I am doing fine. It's like nothing's really that different, to be honest, and that is a huge surprise to me. I've had to stop and think a little more about what I am going to eat, sometimes, like in the morning when I have considered having some hot chocolate – NOPE. It's been minimal, though, and certainly not inconvenient. And I am snacking a LOT less, in between meals, after dinner? Practically never this past week.

I don't have any hard and fast rules for what I am doing. I'm not cutting out alcohol, for instance, or the Greek yogurt I enjoy, which has some sugar in it. Of course I am eating fruit. I'm mainly focused on the real obvious more "junky" stuff that was becoming a crutch for me. It was to the point that whenever I ate a meal, I'd have to follow it with even just a little mini piece of chocolate (usually three or four or five), or more. Most of all I wanted to break out of that habit, and I wanted to get my taste buds used to NOT relying on so many overly sweet things.

Initially I was going for a week, and here I am. I guess another week is in order at this point, with the ultimate goal to make it to my birthday on June 9th. I will absolutely indulge my sweet tooth then, but I think what I'd like to do is indulge it in a really meaningful way, that is to buy something really nice, or make something myself equally nice. I like Michael Pollan's suggestion to eat what you want if you make it yourself (like a cake), and that might be the tack I employ beyond my birthday. I might decide to eat an indulgence once a week, or once a month, or...?

For now, like everything else, I'm taking it day by day, chugging along, getting the work done. Finding the balance, always and in everything.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New PR! Run with the Rapids Race Report

On Saturday I ran my second 5K race since I started running again, and my third ever. Run with the Rapids takes you through the little downtown area of Niagara Falls, NY – unfortunately with no view of the falls or rapids as it implies.

Still, the course was pretty even and the race was well-directed with plenty of police managing traffic and ensuring the safety of all who participated. I'll definitely do it again, since it's right near where I live!

I'm especially excited to report that I shaved off more than three minutes of the time I ran in the last race! Wow! I expected that would do better for a couple reasons: One, that last race took place at noon on a warm day, and I wasn't used to running in those temps; two, on Thursday I finally got a training run in (the first of the whole week!) and I ran an average pace of 14:17 – fastest ever. So I knew I would do better, just not by how much. I was super excited, to say the least, by all of this!

The race was extra fun because I ran with friends. Even though the running group is on hiatus, I'm still meeting up with one new friend in particular, who is also an Amy – together in NoBo we are known as Amy Squared, which I love. She's usually a little bit ahead of me on pace, which is kind of nice because it always gives me something to aim for – I would love to fully catch up with her one day, but for now we can at least run together for the first parts of our runs. Usually after the first mile, she gets in her groove and moves on ahead. Go, Amy! So anyway, Amy was there and so were a few other folks we've met through the program – two mentors, Liz and Pat, and another participant, Sara, who was in the more advanced group. Here we are along with another running friend, Jessica.

Liz, me, Pat, Jessica, Sara, and Amy
We all did really well, each besting our 5K times. I had the pleasure of running alongside Pat for most of the race – she stuck by me and that was really appreciated. It's always more fun to run with someone, I have come to feel – it certainly gives extra incentive not to give up.

I started out probably a little stronger than I should have – I was just ahead of everyone except Sara in my group, and that is unusual. I knew that I should start slow, but I admit it, I did get a bit caught up in the rush of the start and the music I was listening to (I think it was Kanye West's Power that came on first) really got me going. But it felt good! I didn't suffer too much the rest of the race for it, though sometimes I did feel like I just couldn't do it – but that's not really anything new.

Long story short, I did really well, I felt good, I didn't cry at the finish line, and I enjoyed the camaraderie of my running pals. I did get a little bit wobbly at the after party and had to sit down. I was starting to see stars but didn't pass out, thankfully. At this point now I know I really need to start hydrating and eating for this distance. Until now I've become used to going out on empty in the mornings, but if I am racing or doing 3 miles +, that's got to stop. I don't want to hurt myself!

Here are Pat and I approaching the finish line together. I just love this photo! You can see Liz cheering us on to the left.


Some notes to self regarding gear. I have a wish list!

• New sneakers!
• More Dri-fit clothing – except for a slightly damp waistband, my new compression pants were all dry by the time I got home. I also loved how they held in my belly! I think it is these capris that I got the night before at Target, and I just love them, even if my fitting room experience was pretty traumatic.
• SPORTS BRA.
• Various belts: The one for the bib number, one for water or a fanny pack or similar, etc.
• Hand-held water bottle, like this one by Nathan

I'm hoping to be all geared up by the start of the next NoBo session starting June 21st.

I am really starting to feel like a runner now. It's super fantastic!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Links I Love Wednesday

Welcome to a new feature here at Ten Percent – Links I Love Wednesday.

Many blogs have something similar on a weekly basis, and I always love scrolling through the lists! Since I do come across many interesting and (sometimes) relevant links every day, it would be my pleasure to share them with you each week and – bonus – have an ongoing reference archive for all of us.

This week's will be a little on the short side, but as I am better prepared the lists will become more substantial and fun!

***

Here is the New York Times article that inspired this feature – eating at restaurants can be challenging for those of us trying to make better choices. It's got great ideas about how to approach dining out everywhere from Dunkin' Donuts to the toniest steakhouse.

A wonderful take on swimsuit wearing.

Women dropping polite hints in western art history

Of course I love the idea of intentional self-care as part of an overall regimen.

A documentary coming later this year about one of my favorite bands.

***

In other news, I am experimenting again. After an online chat with a good friend, I decided to finally take the plunge and try not eating any added or obvious sources of sugar. I've been having sort of a problem with snacking on mini chocolate candies of various types, and other stuff like ice cream – anything sweet, really – and have been considering trying this for a while now. Her suggestion came up after I told her about how moody and sad and anxious I've been lately, and how horrible my PMS was this month. I don't know, something just kind of clicked in my head and I thought, "Well, let's see if I can do a week. I'm starting with a day." That day was yesterday, and it was the first day in as long as I can remember that I didn't have something sugary.

It went fine! Better than fine! I was pretty shocked.

There were times when I thought about chocolate or whatever, and immediately some voice in my head said, "Nah, you don't want that poison." And I actually listened to that voice and said, "Oh yeah! I sure don't!" Not to say that I consider any food (especially chocolate) to truly be poison of its own accord, but for now that's how I am framing it for myself because it makes it easier for me to stay away.

Here are some yummy foods with naturally-occurring sugar that I've been eating: Baked sweet potato, corn on the cob, raspberries, kiwi. I also had some greek yogurt, but that has some added sugar in the form of evaporated cane juice – I guess I am not going to be so hard core about it. I don't know.

I guess I am mainly doing this to mix things up a bit, and to temper my sweet tooth more than anything. I'm curious to see if it will have any other positive effects, or not seem to matter at all. After the first week, I'll think about whether to do another one or even plan for a month. Maybe I'll end up doing it for as long as I possibly can... or maybe I will just end up simply cutting back on the frequency with which I tend to eat the sweet stuff.

As always, a work in progress. I will keep you posted.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Races

I thought it would be nice for me to keep tracking of which races I've run in or would like to.
(NTR = Need to Register; R = Registered)

2017
December 10th / Freezer 5K / Buffalo, NY / NTR
October 1st / Queen City Women's Half Marathon / Buffalo, NY / R
August 19th / Metro 10 (I'm doing the 5 mile) / Albion, NY / R
June / Gay 5K / Buffalo, NY / NTR
May 27th / John Beishline Memorial 5K / Buffalo, NY / R
March 4th / Shamrock Run 8K / Buffalo, NY / R
January 7th / Winter Warrior Half Marathon Relay (3.3 miles x 2!) / Rochester, NY / 54:53 (16:37 pace), 59:02 (17:53 pace)

Joined the Fleet Feet Race Team on 1/1/17!

2016
December 17th / Reindeer Run at the Strong / Rochester, NY / R  Didn't go because of weather (too far to drive in snowy conditions)
December 11th / Freezer 5K / Buffalo, NY / 52:10 (16:47 pace)
July 9th / Tuscarora 10K / Lewiston, NY / DNF
July 2nd / Bubble Run (novelty, 2.7 miles) / Buffalo, NY / 41:12 (by my app; not a timed race)
June 2nd / Gay 5K / Buffalo, NY / 48:15 (15:32 pace)
May 28th / Pineland Trails Running Festival 10K/ Gloucester, ME / R  Sadly could not make it!
May 7th / Grand Island 10K / Grand Island, NY / 1:34:19 (15:13 pace) 
April 23rd / Envirun 5K / Niagara Falls, NY / 44:26 (14:18 pace)
April 10th / Cardiac Hill Run 5 mile (trail) / Mendon Hills, NY / DNF officially, but I did finish and even got first in my age group! LOL.
March 12th / Shamrock Run 8K / Buffalo, NY / 1:12:21 (15:35 pace) (though it was 14:06 according to my app, woo!)
January 9th / Winter Warrior Half-Marathon Relay (3.3 miles) / Rochester, NY / 48:37 (14:44 pace)

2015
September 4th / Western New York Hall of Fame 5K / 49:05 (15:48 pace, was pacing a newer runner)
June 4th / Gay 5K / Buffalo, NY / 3.29 miles in 51:23 (15:38 pace) NO OFFICIAL TIME
May 16th / Run with the Rapids 5K / Niagara Falls, NY / 46:19 (14:56 pace)
May 3rd / Cinco de Mayo "MS Sucks!" 5K / Lockport, NY / 49:40 (16:03 pace)


2008
June 25th / Run in the Mist 5K / Niagara Falls, NY / 50:15 (16:10 pace)

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Want to run

Candlelight 12 Hour Overnight Ultra / Honeoye Falls, NY / 
Marilla Trail Race (7 mi.) / Bradford, PA /
Wallis Sands Half Marathon / Rye, NH /
Freezer 5K / Buffalo, NY/
Veteran's 10K / Buffalo, NY /
Strider-Glider Quarter Marathon / Lancaster, NY /
RidgeWalk and Run 10K / Wellsville, NY /
Half at the Hamptons / Hampton Beach, NH /
Right to Run 19K / Seneca Falls, NY /
New Hampshire Half Marathon / Bristol, NH /
Raccoon Mountain Half Marathon / Chattanooga, TN /
Boston (Metric) Marathon (16.28 miles) / Boston, NY /
Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon / Niagara Falls, ON /

Marathons I'm interested in for 2018 and beyond

Vermont City Marathon (6 hour limit / 13:45 pace)
Lehigh Valley Via Marathon (14:00 pace)
Buffalo Marathon (6 hour limit)
Wineglass Marathon (6:45 hour limit)
Empire State Marathon (7 hour limit)
Charlevoix Marathon (6:30 hour limit)


Notes
For a marathon, 14:30 pace = 6 hours 20 minutes and 14:00 pace = 6 hours 7 minutes

To finish a half in less than 3 hours, need to run a 13:39 pace


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How To Be a Fat Runner


Running my second 5K race ever (and the
first in seven years!) last weekend.
1. Put some gear on – whatever is comfortable for movement and sweating. Decent running shoes, hopefully, or something resembling them.

2. Put one foot in front of the other and make running motions.

That's it! You're a runner!

Yes, even if you're fat. Like I still am.

OK, OK, so if you've been reading along for the past few months you probably know that it's not quite that easy. I mean, it COULD be, but if you're going in cold I wouldn't recommend it. Chances are you'd get winded and tired quickly, and get discouraged and give up.

I've entered into being a runner in a couple different ways now. A few, actually.

1. Joined the cross country team in high school, eons ago.

2. Couch to 5K, self-directed. (Rinse and repeat, several times.)

3. No Boundaries 5K training program at my local Fleet Feet store.

Let me tell you, hands down, there is nothing like trying something really challenging but being part of a supportive group as you are doing it. That has been the key for me. And here I am never thinking of myself as a real big group/team kind of person.

I have performed better and enjoyed myself more by learning to run in a group, and with the support of experienced coaches and mentors. I highly recommend trying it if you have that kind of thing available nearby.

I signed up for the program not knowing anyone, not knowing if I would be the fattest, slowest, whateverest person there. But I tell you what! None of it mattered. It turns out that the running community is one that strikes me as being open and welcoming to all levels of athleticism. Runners know that it is not easy. Runners know that things might not always be what they seem at first glance. Runners know that we all have our stories.

Are there judgmental, douchey runners out there? NO DOUBT. I am lucky to have been shielded from those kinds of people. The running group at Fleet Feet is nothing but supportive. The best cheerleaders ever. They know that anyone can run if they are trained properly. And I hope that I have helped to prove that.

I started the program at just around 300 pounds at 5'8", and I could run a little bit having been doing C25K on my own for a few weeks, but not much. I now weigh a little more than 10 pounds less after three months of training, and I can also run a 5K distance with relative ease.

Three months! If you ask me, that is pretty amazing.

Can fat people run? Hell yes. We might run slower than the average bear, but we run. Make no mistake.

By the way, I finished the 5k race on Sunday at just under my goal time of 50 minutes: 49:40! That's a 16:03 pace.

It was a challenging race. We were running in conditions we hadn't really faced before. Oh sure, give us sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice, voracious wind – no problem! (Not in hindsight, anyway.) But 75+ degree temps and sun beating down? Yikes! I also made the mistake of overdressing (see photo) and not carrying water with me. I thought, "It's just 3 miles – I've never had to drink on our training runs, no big deal!" Ha! Famous last words. Yes, there was water along the way in various forms – volunteer tables, someone with a hose in the street (now that was nice!), and a kindly gent and his son riding bikes and asking us if we needed water... but it would have been so smart of me to carry. Lesson learned.

Still, despite that, I am proud of my results even though I know I probably could have finished a little faster. The good news is that I am registered for another race on May 16th and will be able to put my new knowledge into practice. I may even try to wear fewer clothes. (Horrors!)

Last night Fleet Feet had a little party for us, but not before we went out for our final group run of the session. I managed 2.5 miles at a 15:35 pace which was pretty thrilling. And this was on a day when I had already logged in two miles in the morning, and was still nursing aches and fatigue from Sunday.

This morning I did about a half hour of strengthening yoga, and feel like the achey lower back I picked up is finally easing up. Everything feels better when I am in motion – so pardon me while I go out for my Galloway-prescribed walk.

Are you an unconventional runner? What has your experience been like?