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All posts for the month May, 2011

It’s Official!

Published May 30, 2011 by Jasmine

I am registered for the Twin Cities Half-Marathon which is on Monday July 4!

When I started training back in January my sights were set on the Twin Cities Marathon which is in October.  I had a lot of people tell me that I should probably start with a shorter race 5k, 10k, or a half-marathon since this was going to be my first race.  Since I have been training I have had a few instances in which I am having issues with my knees.  I also realized that I despised running outside.  I was beginning to wonder how I would make it through a marathon…it’s not like I could ask them to place a treadmill at the start and I could run my 26.2 miles on that! Although I am still learning to appreciate running outside, it is slowly getting a little easier.

I knew there was a half-marathon on the 4th of July, and have been debating for some time whether I should sign up for it. My training plan called for me to run 16 miles on that particular weekend so I should be able to run 13.1 miles, right? Part of me really wasn’t sure if I would be ready, but that is the fear talking.  The fear that I won’t finish, or that I will finish with a ridiculously slow time. The rational side of me was saying that I needed to do this to see how my knees hold up, and take notes for what works and what doesn’t work so that I can apply that knowledge for the full marathon.

My friend Chuck Ramsay who I spoke about in an earlier post had told me a week or two ago that he wouldn’t be ready for a marathon this year.  So yesterday he tells me that he was looking at the marathon website.  So I am thinking he is talking about doing the half, but no he is talking about the big kahuna. This coming from someone who just a couple weeks ago told me he wouldn’t be ready for a marathon this year! He runs faster than me, who is he kidding! Then he said that he was looking at the half on July 4th, and asked if I was in.  I told him I would do it if he did, and the next thing I know we are both registered for the half-marathon!

It is a little scary, but will be great to be at the starting line with a great friend. Chuck is much faster than I am, so although we will start together, we will probably not run together for long and he will certainly finish before me.  I am okay with this.  If I can’t make 13.1 miles by myself, how will I ever make 26.2?

Let the count down begin!  The race is five weeks from today! I hope to see some familiar faces along the way cheering us on!

Best Day Ever! But, I Still Need Some Advice

Published May 28, 2011 by Jasmine

So today has been the best day for three reasons:

1) Today marks two months since I had my RMR (resting metabolic test) and started tracking what I was eating.  The RMR tells you how many calories your body burns at rest. From this information, you can then calculate based on how many calories you burn during the week, how many calories you should be eating everyday. My goal was to lose two pounds a week.  Since I burn about 4,000 calories a week working out, it was determined I could eat 1700-1800 calories a day. When I weighed myself this past Thursday, I was down 19.5 pounds.  I am hoping in the past two days I lost another half pound, which would make for a 20 pound weight loss in only two months! That is AMAZING!!  I am not taking diet pills, and I am eating whatever I want.  I have days where I go above my calorie limit and I have had a week or two where I haven’t burned 4,000 calories.  All in all it has worked out.  I am averaging 2.5 pound weight loss per week. These results go to show that watching what you eat is just as, if not more, important than exercising. Here is why: from Thanksgiving 2009 to Thanksgiving 2010 I worked out 300 days. For most of that time I ate whatever I wanted never really tracking how many calories I was eating. Some days that I did keep track I was eating anywhere from 2500-3500 calories a day. In that one year, I lost 34 pounds.  Yes, 34 pounds is great but it took me a year to lose it. However, by continuing to exercise and tracking my calories I have lost 20 pounds in only two months. There is a good chance that I may have lost more than 20 pounds had I continued to stay away from sugar (I didn’t eat any refined foods or sugar for the first month). I decided that not eating sugar was not realistic for me, and at this point in time it wasn’t a life change I was willing to make. So although my weight loss slowed down, it is still steady, and I know I am slowly making better choices about what I eat.  So YAY for losing 20 pounds! I don’t feel 20 pounds lighter so I am tempted to get on the treadmill with two 10 pound dumbbells to see what that extra weight feels like.

2) I had to go into the bank today which I don’t do very often. A lady I used to work with happens to work at this bank. I also had my glasses on which is rare so I am not sure that she recognized me. After completing my deposit she asked if we had worked together.  She saw my name, but said she wasn’t sure it was me because I had lost so much weight. At the time, I didn’t realize, nor did she, that she made my day. Here was someone who didn’t know I have been trying to lose weight, who didn’t know I was training for a marathon, but still realized my weight loss and told me how great I looked.  She had no incentive to make me feel good or recognize the hard work I had been doing.  The changes are so subtle day to day that I sometimes forget how much weight I have lost. It’s nice to have a reminder every now and then.

3) I am still only running outside once or twice a week. All of my running outside has involved running and walking. My last long run consisted of running 10 minutes and walking 5 minutes. On Wednesday I did a 4.64 mile run where I ran for 12.5 minutes and walked 2.5 minutes.  Today was a real short run, 2.5 miles.  It was going to be interesting because I think I injured my knee again on Thursday. Assuming my knee held up my goal was to run the entire distance, except for my warm up. I DID IT! This was the first time I ran the whole route without walking. I even managed to maintain a 12:37 mile pace.  Many of you advanced runners can probably walk this pace, but I don’t think I will ever be a fast runner.  What matters to me is that I am starting and finishing. The first time I ran outside this spring was back on April 5, I ran/walked this same route and my pace was 14:34 per mile.  This is a huge improvement and I am incredibly proud of it.

Although today has been a great day, I am still in need of some advice on two different issues.

1) I seem to keep having issues with my knees, and really don’t know what to do to fix them. Should I wear a knee brace? What exactly will a knee brace do? Can you recommend any stretches or exercises to strengthen my knees? Any other advice in regards to taking care of your knees?

2) All of my life I have had sinus infections and have had to have surgery for a deviated septum twice. According to the doctor all of my silia are damaged and I will have chronic sinus infections the rest of my life. About 90% of the time I am congested, and this seems to make breathing while running difficult, which in turn seems to make running more difficult. Part of me feels that I won’t really ever get faster or be able to endure longer distances until I can get my breathing under control. What can I do? Any over the counter medications anyone can recommend? Any other advice or recommendations?

I hope everyone who reads this (hopefully someone will read it) has a great Memorial Day weekend. Thank you for joining me on my journey, and helping me along the way!

Four Months Tomorrow

Published May 22, 2011 by Jasmine

I can’t believe that tomorrow marks four months since I started training for the Twin Cities marathon this October. So far I have run 217 miles! Most people probably don’t start training that early for a marathon.  However, since this is my first marathon and I just started running, the first half of my training is simply a mileage build-up plan. I am trying to stick to the plan as much as I can.  The plan on most weeks has me running five days, but I usually have only been running four days a week.  Once the actual marathon training starts I’ll kick it up to five days a week. Not only am I running, but three out of my four days I am riding the bike for 20 minutes, doing the stair climber for 10 minutes, and completing an ab/arm/back/shoulder workout. Yes, I am slightly crazy.  I am usually at the gym 2.5 to 3 hours a day. Sundays are reserved for my long run and that is all I do that day. I try to do my long run outside.  However, lately I feel like I live in Seattle because all it does is rain! Today was another LONG run on the treadmill.

Before I go any further I would like to give a shout out to my friend Chuck Ramsay. I started out as his inspiration, and he has since become mine.  Within the last month or two, Chuck started running and doing P90X. It’s not fair because he is averaging a much faster pace than I am, and that is why he is now my inspiration. I need to start running with him so I can improve my pace! One thing I think Chuck has going for him is that he doesn’t run on a treadmill.  Most of my running has been on the treadmill and I realize I think this is what is holding me back.

When you run outside your body dictates your natural pace.

When you run on the treadmill you manually set your pace. There is nothing natural about the treadmill. When I do my long runs outside I have realized I actually do run faster than I do when I am on the treadmill.  I know this because I am mixing running with walking and still have a faster average pace than when I run on the treadmill. I need to quit limiting my potential and start running outside more often.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook may have seen me post this yesterday. “You can be comfortable, or outstanding, but you can’t be both.” There is nothing more true than this. Most people choose to be comfortable because it is easy and doesn’t require any work. To be outstanding requires constant growth and improvement, both of which take you out of your comfort zone. I choose to be outstanding.  My longest run so far has been nine miles and I can tell you there was nothing comfortable about it. Nor will there be anything comfortable about running 26.2 miles. What I do know is that this accomplishment will be outstanding, and that makes me outstanding. Everyday I need to run I can come up with a dozen excuses about why I shouldn’t go or don’t want to go, what is outstanding is that I go anyways. If you want to be outstanding at anything (your career, being a parent, running) you can’t work only on the days you feel like it. You have to make the commitment day in and day out. You won’t always be at 100%, but what makes you outstanding is that you honored your commitment.

So my question for you is will you be comfortable or outstanding this week?

One of Those Weeks, But A Monumental Day

Published May 14, 2011 by Jasmine

This week has really just been “one of those weeks,” and I am not really sure why.  I think it may be due to this rainy and depressing weather we have been having, or the fact that I am still not sure what is going on with my knee.  Or maybe I have just been lazy and hungry this week. Whatever the reason I have eaten far more than I am supposed to this week. I also only burned 2,383 calories (supposed to burn at least 4,000), but I guess that is what happens when you only make it to the gym two days in a week. Lucky for me this is really the only bad week I have had since starting the 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge.

I thought my weigh-in last Tuesday was going to be bad and it wasn’t, so I am doomed this Tuesday. I am prepared for a weight gain when I weigh in this Tuesday. This is not a fact that I am proud of, but if it does happen I know why…simple math!  I ate more calories than I should have, and burned less calories than I needed to. This is the classic problem in America.  We underestimate the amount that we eat, and overestimate our activity level.  I have challenged you before and I will challenge you again.  For one week keep track of the calories of everything you eat, you will be shocked. If you are not willing to do that, at least pay attention to what is considered a “serving” and how many calories are in one serving. I am not a big chip eater but will occasionally eat them. Most people I know who eat chips will most likely grab a handful at a time. One serving of chips (depending on the brand) is usually 11-14 chips, not very many! And yes, I do count my chips when I eat them!

Today is the end of my bad week, and it isn’t going to get any better today. For one, I decided not to go to the gym. Two, we are celebrating my brother’s birthday with snacks, lasagna, garlic bread, and ice cream.  Oh yeah, and as I am typing this I am drinking a large dark chocolate latte!

Even though this has been a bad week, today has really been a monumental day for me. I saw two things today that I don’t think I have seen in four years, and it brought me to tears. I stepped on the scale this morning fully expecting to have gained a pound or two.  To my surprise, not only did I lose weight, but for the first time in four years I saw a number on the scale under 220!  I also realized today that I have a waist.  I know that sounds really funny, but it actually brought tears to my eyes. For the first time, in longer than I care to remember, I have a waist that is smaller than my boobs and my hips. Although I have been losing weight, I haven’t really noticed any physical changes to my body. Noticing that I finally have a waist made everything real, and was a reminder of what I am working so hard for.

So for the rest of today I will celebrate the little things…like having a waist and a number on a scale.

Tuesdays Can Be Bitter or Sweet

Published May 10, 2011 by Jasmine

Tuesdays are bittersweet because they are the weigh-in day for Lifetime Fitness’s 90 day Weight Loss Challenge. They can be “sweet” if you have lost weight, and “bitter” if you have gained. Today was our fourth weigh in and I am proud to say that today was “sweet”.  I was really expecting to be a bit bitter today as I thought I had surely gained three or four pounds. I felt this was going to happen for a few reasons. First, I had a crappy workout last Thursday when I did something to my knee.  Second, I didn’t workout on Sunday which is the day I burn the most calories all week due to my long run. Third, between Sunday and Monday I had eaten roughly 600 calories more than I should have.  Lucky for me Sunday is the beginning of my tracking for the week, so I had time to either burn off the extra calories or cut my calories consumed later in the week.  The extra 600 calories didn’t bode well for a Tuesday weigh-in.

I can’t tell you how HAPPY I was when I got on the scale and realized I had actually lost 1.2 pounds!! I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but it means that I didn’t gain any weight.

I still am not sure what is going on with my knee. I was able to jog three miles again today. I decided that for the next month or so I am going to cut my daily mileage to about 3/4, and just go slow.  I also usually do about ten minutes everyday on the stair climber, and have decided to add 20 minutes on the bike as well to make up for the lost mileage.

I am still continuing to eat whatever I want, as long as I stay within my calorie range.  Although, I am still trying to stay away from most packaged foods.  One of my newest favorite salads is the raspberry chicken salad with raspberry vinaigrette.  Not only does it taste good, but is low calories and high in protein. When I make it I use a whole bag of lettuce, six ounces of diced chicken breast, 14 raspberries, and five tablespoons of Kraft Raspberry Vinaigrette. This makes a huge bowl (probably three to four servings) and the entire bowl is only 339 calories (I personally don’t count calories in lettuce) and 42.3 grams of protein.

Today is an awesome day.  Actually, everyday that I workout is an awesome day.  For anyone who may be contemplating starting their own weight loss journey, a new workout, or taking up running all I can say is just do it. I know from personal experience that is easier said than done, but nobody is going to do it for you. You need to find ways to motivate yourself because at the end of the day the only person you can truly count on is yourself. Start small, baby steps are better than no steps.  Set a goal, any goal but you must make a priority. I had worked out for about two years, but was never really consistent.  So I set a goal to work out 300 out of 365 days.  It was a goal that was slightly out of reach, but attainable if I made it a priority. I told everyone I knew about my goal. In the beginning it was very overwhelming to think that I only had five rest days a month, and every other day of the month I had to work out. I took one day at a time, and 365 days later I had reached my goal.

Once I reached that goal I knew I had to set another. I have always wanted to run a marathon so I decided that would be my next goal.  The best part was I wasn’t even a runner. Again, I am taking it one day at a time and come October hopefully I will be ready!

The one most important thing I can tell you is that you will feel amazing if you just get up and do it.  I can tell a night and day difference between the days I workout and the days I don’t. This feeling is something that money can’t buy, it’s priceless.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity.

~ Amelia Earhart

To Hobble Along or Not…That Is The Question

Published May 7, 2011 by Jasmine

So this past Thursday was not a good day.  I did something to my knee, and have no idea what I did.  What I do know is that I didn’t make it more than 3.5 miles…I was supposed to do six. Since then I have been following the R.I.C.E. prescription–Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  Yesterday I did have a few sharp pains shoot through my knee while resting, and at times a mild discomfort while walking.  I have been a little stressed as I am trying to keep up with the marathon training, make sure I have burned enough calories this week to continue with my weight loss, and all the while knowing that sometimes rest is the only way you are going to get better.  However, rest was not part of the training plan this weekend, and I still had 775 calories to burn for the week. (By the way my heart rate monitor hasn’t been working properly because it needed a new battery.  It works like a champ now!)

One thing I knew for sure this morning was that I was not going to attempt to run outside. If something was really wrong with my knee I had this overwhelming fear that I was going to fall, and possibly make things worse. Not to mention that I would feel like an idiot laying on the side of the road waiting for someone to come help me.  At least on the treadmill I would have hand rails to grab if my knee started acting up.

So off I went, maybe foolishly but that was yet to be decided! As always I did my strength training first.  Before getting on the treadmill, I used the foam roller on my legs, specifically on the Iliotibial band.  They were definitely tight and sore. I am not the best when it comes to stretching, especially when it comes to using the foam roller.  I have now learned my lesson.

I am not going to lie, I wish a bit nervous to even get on the treadmill.  In my mind I have been running through worse case scenarios and the thought of bones rubbing or joints popping makes me queasy. I walked for the first ten minutes, and then I started jogging at a very slow pace…a 15 minute per mile pace. Even though it was slow I could do it! I only averaged between a 14 and 15 minute per mile pace, but I made it three miles.  For my last mile, I did incline walking. I am hopeful that with continued icing and stretching whatever happened on Thursday will resolve itself.

Although it seems as though I am not injured, I realized this week why injuries are so devastating. The physical pain is nothing compared to the emotional and mental pain.  What is devastating is the realization that everything you’ve worked for and dedicated your time too could be gone in a split second.

I have decided that there will be no more speed work for me at least for two to three months. Slow and steady wins the race, right?  Thank goodness that this next week is a recovery week and my weekly mileage is only 17 miles!

Ready to Cry

Published May 5, 2011 by Jasmine

I was supposed to run seven miles yesterday, but most Wednesdays I have been taking an extra rest day. So since it was Wednesday and my right knee was bothering me I decided to rest.

Today was six miles and strength training.  My knee was still bothering me a bit, but I figured I would know when I got on the treadmill whether I would be able to run or not.  My mom is listed as my emergency contact at the gym.  I told her if you see a call come through from Lifetime you need to answer it, they will either be telling you that I am on my way to the hospital or that you need to come get me because I hurt my knee.  I was kind of joking, but oh the irony…

So I started with my strength training for a couple of reasons. First, there are some really cute guys in the free weights area and I wanted to look my best! If I would have waited until after running I would have been a dripping wet mess. Second, I have discovered that sometimes I am too exhausted to maintain proper form and actually finish the workout after I am done running. About 15 minutes into the workout I look at my heart rate monitor, and it says 78. This was comical and also pissed me off. You see my resting heart rate is between 80 and 85. Yes, I know that seems high, but after an echocardiogram the doctor determined I have a hyperdynamic heart…it beats fast for no apparent reason.  So here my heart rate monitor is telling me that after 15 minutes of lifting weights and dripping sweat that my heart rate is actually lower than my resting heart rate.  I was IRATE! I finally just turned it off.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that the chest strap just needs a new battery.

On to my run.  I started out doing a new speed regimen I read about yesterday.  I was alternating 30 seconds of walking, with 30 seconds of running. Each time I ran I increased the speed by .1 on the treadmill.  Pretty simple.  Right around 1.80 miles I felt a pop in my left knee (not even the knee I was worried about) and had to grab the handrails and jump off.  I figured it was just the speed.  So I slowed down and walked for about three minutes, and decided I would try and do some slow incline running. After a couple of minutes, I had the same pain in my knee. So I did some incline walking for about 15 minutes.  Again, I tried to do some light jogging and after about four or five minutes the pain was back again. I only made it 3.50 miles. I even tried the stair climber and couldn’t do it because it was causing pain on the outside of my knee. All I wanted to do was cry, this can not be happening to me.  This is a diaster waiting to happen, as I don’t have currently have insurance. It’s not just about the running, but the weight loss as well. I am afraid that all of my hard work is going to slip away and the weight I have lost is going to return.

I have no idea what is going on.  I have been doing a lot of speed work lately, and my guess is that I am trying to push my body too fast, too soon.  I am hoping someone out there can suggest some exercises to strengthen my knees, and any other advice they may have. I will definitely be icing and elevating it today and tomorrow.  It doesn’t really hurt to walk, but every once in awhile if I put too much weight on my left leg it hurts. Going up and down stairs isn’t all that fun either. If I put my fingers on the outside of my left knee, I can feel a popping on the side of my knee every time I bend it. Anyone have any idea what this might be?  Or what could be causing this?

This is not going to get the best of me.  Hopefully, it is just a warning from my body telling me to slow down, and with some rest, ice, and ibuprofen it will be all better on Saturday.