Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What a long, strange trip it's been... (Hello, 36)

"You're sick of hangin' around and you'd like to travel,
Get tired of travelin' and you want to settle down...
I guess they can't revoke your soul for tryin'
Get out of the door and light out and look all around..." 
--- Grateful Dead

Hello, friends! Sorry it's been so long since I've kept in touch. I've had an insanely busy October, but it's almost over! Woohoo? Nah... I love October. It's actually my favorite month of the year - and no, not because it contains my birthday. My birthday is actually my least favorite part of the entire month. For me, October means cooler weather, pumpkin everything, green chile stew, and... if I'm lucky... hot air balloons in Albuquerque (but that hasn't happened in years for me). 

This October has literally flown by, so much so that by October 12th I barely realized that we were almost mid-month. Where did the rest of the month go?! Early October travel plans had set back my half-marathon training a bit - I missed several scheduled runs, and my strength training was non-existent. I was brainstorming ideas of how to kickstart my training program again, when I had an idea... why not challenge myself to complete 36 miles of running before my 36th birthday? I had twelve days... I could do it! Right? 

To help keep me accountable for this challenge, I created a Facebook event for the occasion, and invited several runners I know to participate if they were so inclined. While only about 1/2 of the people I invited to participate actually joined, even fewer actively participated in the challenge. No matter... the few that did gave me just the motivation I needed to make sure I got my runs in. I finished a slow 1.5 miles on the first day, but I completed a much faster 2 miler (above) on Day 2. 

I've been experimenting with different running apps on my iPhone for a while, having been committed to the "MapMy..." and "Couch2..." apps until fairly recently. After my Dodger 5K in September, I noticed that several of my friends used the Nike+ Running app. In addition to being a more stylish, sleeker format, the Nike+ app also appears to be more accurate too. While this hit my ego a bit (goodbye, 11 min/miles!), it has proven to be a better training tool for me so I know what I need to work on.

Fridays are scheduled to be my rest day... but those tend to be my best performing days, so I might be making adjustments. Friday night of Week One was no exception, so I decided to set out and run a minimum of 3 miles. My goal was to complete this run as quick as possible. Much to my surprise, I beat my own personal record that evening! Even better? I finished the equivalent of a 5K at a time much faster than my Dodger 5K! Woohoo!

I had planned to hang out with my friend on Saturday, but Friday night's run left me wanting more. Being the good sport she is, my friend agreed to allow our Saturday hang out become a fit hang out... I asked her to wear her running shoes. She hates hanging out in her running shoes, but she obliged. Shortly after picking her up, we headed to the Lake Hollywood Reservoir for a nice, long walk... the walk around the reservoir tops at just over 3.5 miles, but we walked a total of 4 miles. And we didn't stop there! Between walking around downtown (to lunch at Bottega Louie and to FIDM), walking around MacArthur Park to see The Spheres, walking to our coffee break on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, and walking through Descanso Gardens to check out The Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns, my friend and I accumulated over 9 miles of walking! Whew!

The following week was more of a struggle. I was sick on Monday (goodbye, miles), and struggled to leave work early enough to fit in my runs on Tuesday/Thursday before picking up my dog. Ugh! Tuesday was better than Thursday, however, and I managed to etch out enough time before it got dark to get in a 2.25 slow run. Yes, it was slow... but at least I was moving!

As I neared Friday, I worried that I was not going to hit my 36 mile target. I was so disappointed. Had I stuck to my training schedule, 36 miles would have been no problem! Stupid illness on Monday. It really ruined everything. I glanced at my training schedule on Thursday night and discovered that it called for a 6 mile run on my birthday. Not wanting to spend my birthday morning running, I decided to move the run up to Friday... hoping and praying that I could finish it...

And I did!!! My run ended up being just over 6.5 miles in total (Nike only captured 6.1 miles before my phone died). I didn't break any personal records with this run as far as speed goes... but my speed stayed within the pace parameters set by Run Disney for my half-marathon in January! And while I could sit here and beat myself up for not pushing myself to run faster/better, I have decided to concentrate on the positive. Did I walk sometimes? Sure... but I still managed to keep my target pace. Did it hurt? Heck yeah! But I wasn't sore the next day, or the day after that. Winning!

While I'm disappointed, I have to remind myself that I am the same girl who struggled to finish a 5k fun run (that I mostly walked) just two years ago... the same girl who couldn't run a full mile at the beginning of the year. I knew I was out of shape, but I was in serious denial about just how out of shape I was. I cannot believe how far I've come in the last 12 months. And while I have a long, long way to go, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my accomplishments so far. Without further adieu, here are my top 12 fitness accomplishments from the last 12 months leading up to my 36th birthday:
  • Completed a 30 day strength training challenge during the 2015 holiday season
  • Started a fitness blog with one of my best friends!
  • Had a fit staycation with said best friend during her visit to CA in April
  • Hiked 6.5 miles to the Hollywood sign and back (way harder than I expected it to be)
  • Signed up for a half marathon (what was I thinking?)
  • Hiked 3 miles through Muir Woods... and then some! (thank goodness Emily didn't kill me)
  • Ran a 5K at home... in 90 degree heat! And didn't die!
  • Ran the Dodger 5K
  • Lost 40+ pounds
  • Dropped 4 dress sizes (what gives? shouldn't I be, like, way skinnier? LOL)
  • Ran over 36 miles in 12 days (39.8 miles, to be exact!)
  • Ran 6.5 miles... keeping my time on or under my target pace... woohoo!
The last twelve months have been a long, strange trip... I've experienced a ton of new adventures (hello, Europe!), had a successful year at work, made lots of new friends... and have finally decided to spend just as much time on me as I spend on everyone else in my life. Will I still occasionally work the 12-14 hour day? Probably. Might I swing by McDonalds for a quick bite on the way home? Um... yeah. But this year has taught me that those things are ok in moderation. I've also learned that fitness can't be a passing fad, or something I pick up "occasionally" whenever it's convenient. Food is great, but I need to demonstrate better discipline. I'm getting older, and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is only going to get harder before it gets easier. I'm so glad you are bearing with me on this journey. You have no idea how motivating your support has been to me!

A big shout out and thank you to the girls who helped track their miles for my 36 by 36 challenge, including Natasha, Anushika, Maggie, Jacqueline, Lisa, and Janie. And many thanks to those friends, family members, and coworkers who have continued to encourage and support my efforts. I'm lucky to have such great people in my life! 

And so starts my journey as a 36 year old. Oy! I better head off to bed... us old girls need all the beauty rest we can get!



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