Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Here We Go Again

When I started training for my first half marathon in June last year, I thought I would instantly drop a lot of weight. What I soon learned is that runners are classified into two different categories: the ones that follow their workout regimen with a healthy or slightly moderate indulgent diet or those that say, "I run, therefore I can eat". And when  I say eat, I mean anything and everything because long runs means more calories burned making it okay to consume more calories. There is truth in being able to eat more calories, but by no means is it a green light to consume half a dozen cupcakes.

I started running with the "eat right, feel great, run better" attitude. A great recipe for losing weight in which I did. Well that soon changed. I started to notice the longer our runs got the more hungry I became. I quickly transformed into the "I run, therefore I can eat runner". Half a dozen cupcakes...yup, guilty as charged. In my defense, I sell cupcakes to make extra money to pay for my marathons so I need to taste them right? Okay...perhaps not six all at once. I'm admitting it--all the eating has caught up to me.
For the last six months, all I've done is complain about how my clothes don't fit to which friends and family respond: "How have you gained weight if you run so much?" Again, I became the "I run, therefore I can eat" type of runner.
I hate to admit this publicly and it's not because I am ashamed. I'll be the first to say...God did not bless me with a petite figure. I'm tall and curvy. I don't like to admit that I'm trying to lose weight because I don't want to be held accountable in case I can't do it. I know...I shouldn't be so negative but I have to be honest; I'm just not motivated. Another reason is that I think it takes a lot of guts to put something like this out in the open. I admire those who share their weight loss journey with others in their blogs especially those who have lost so much. Here I am struggling with 15 pounds and already feel defeated.

I know it will not only help me feel better but also would improve my running as I'll have less weight to carry. So, I titled this entry here we go again as I have decided to give Weight Watchers another go. Prior to my marathon training, I was a member and less than a pound from my goal weight but had to drop as the meetings conflicted with my training. Go figure...I stopped going to meetings to run and ended up gaining weight.

I chose WW because I know it works and helps keep me structured which for me, is what works. How has running changed your eating habits? What works for you?

Day 2 Dinner: Turkey burger on whole wheat bread, salad with vinaigrette, and grapes

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hood To Coast...A Must See Film!

Last week I encountered a difficult decision…to run or not to run. Every Thursday I try to make it out to the Rose Bowl to run with A Snail’s Pace. They’re a running group with different chapters in Southern California. I LOVE running with them because they’re fast and I find that I really push myself. This particular Thursday just so happened to be the same Thursday Hood to Coast was playing in theaters. For those of you not familiar with Hood to Coast, it’s the world’s largest relay race which takes place in Portland, Oregon every August.

Hood to Coast Poster
The film was shown in theaters last month for a special one night engagement. On this one night, the film aired around the country opening with a live preview featuring Burt Yasso, CRO of Runner’s World Magazine. I’d missed the original screening and contemplated going when the encore presentation was announced.

I left work for the day thinking, run or movie? I was stopped at red light when a Tweet came through on my cell phone from @Kui360: “@MissJewels212, please go watch Hood to Coast for me. It's not playing in my area. Bummed... :(” It was a sign, turn left and head to the theater.

I got there with ten minutes to spare. I thought for sure the theater would be crowded so I bought my ticket on the road (shhh, don’t tell the police I was using my phone while driving…I waited till I was stopped at a light, promise.) I went inside and was pumped for this movie. I’d never done a relay before so I was really excited to see what this Hood to Coast was all about, how it worked, the coordination of a 12-man team and seeing runners in action. Instead of previews or ads on the screen, a slideshow of the different teams played. It only got me more excited for the film to start. A few minutes before show time, a familiar face walked in. It was my college buddy Rudi and a friend of his! We sat together and waited in anticipation. And then it began…

The movie covered the history of Hood to Coast and followed the journey of four teams participating that year. It was an incredible documentary on a legendary relay that was created in 1982 by Bob Foote, president of Oregon Road Runners Club. The 197-mile relay race had grown tremendously over the years with teams now being selected through a lottery process which opens in October for the relay in August. The relay has 36 legs, each varying in length and level of difficulty; each runner runs three legs.

What was interesting about the film was that it was not only a documentary about the relay itself but that it also highlighted teams like Dead Jocks in A Box, a team comprised of a group of older men who have been participating in Hood to Coast for several years. Watching them come to grips with the fact that they are no longer "fast" is quite commical. I must say, I admire anyone who can run a 7-minute mile especially in their 60's...according to them, that's slow.

The film really demonstrates the passion and respect these groups have for Hood to Coast. For example, Heart n Sole another group made up of women who have also been long-time participants. Kathy Ryan, one of the teammates had actually died during the previous year running the relay but was brought back to life and is eager to run Hood to Coast again. This woman’s determination is borderline psychotic to the average person, but as a runner you definitely understand the pain and heartbreak she experiences when her doctor tells her that she needs to hang up her sneakers.

Another group is Team R. Bowe running in memory of Ryan Bowe. This story was so touching. Ryan had run his first Hood to Coast at the age of 12 by default; his father had formed a team and one of the runners backed out last minute. Then 12-year-old Ryan asked his dad if he could run with them, and so he did. He later died at a young age leaving behind a wife and a baby. The film follows his wife, mother, brother, father, and friends who participate in his honor.

And finally, we have team Thunder and Laikaning, the most non-experienced team of all…the bad boys of the bunch if you will, who decide they will not train but instead drink beer and just hope they cross the finish line.

Hood to Coast was truly an amazing adventure to watch and follow. It was very inspiring and made me think that I could not wait for October to put my name in the lottery. The miles in the film looked grueling but the glory these teams felt, their dedication and their stories were incredibly moving. A definite must see if you get the chance!

After the film, Rudi and I talked about about the possibility of doing a relay...more to come on this! Stay tuned!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Surf City Half Marathon Recap

At the start of the year, I was determined to run as many marathons as I possibly could. As noted in my previous posts, I ran Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona and absolutely loved it. What’s next? I really wanted to do Surf City since it was one of the races our Long Beach Team in Training had been training for all season. I knew how excited I was for my first race and how great it was to see familiar faces out on the course so I wanted to be right there with them. 

For whatever reason I waited to register and when I finally did decide to do so, Surf City was sold out. In my defense, I’m still fairly new to marathons. I know now to register ahead of time and not wait until the last minute. I was really bummed and thought if anything I’d just go run with our team but truth be told, deep down, I really wanted the medal and the glory too.

As luck would have it, a bib literally came to me. My wonderful friends who I’d met in Long Beach last year were registered but weren’t able to make the trip. I know marathon organizers would frown upon this transaction but you can’t just let a bib go to waste if the original registrants can’t participate. I owe this entire experience to Marianne and Randy. Your kindness and generosity are beyond words and I am truly grateful for this gift.

Expo weekend came and I couldn’t believe that just three weeks ago I was in Arizona. I remember how well I’d been running leading up to Arizona but Surf City was a bit different. There’s always those races you get insanely nervous to run…Surf City was definitely that race for me. For some reason, I’d felt incredibly weak the days leading up to it. I’d run two miles and feel completely wiped out. I had no idea how I was going to do 13. There was no turning back at this point. I’d picked up the bibs, looked around the expo for a bit (found some rather interesting items), and went home to get all my gear ready.

I'm asssuming this is the type of underwear you wear for a marathon...the MARATHONG! LOL!
I could not sleep at all…again my darn nerves worrying about crossing the finish line. 4:30 a.m. came so quickly and off I went to meet up with some of our teammates running the marathon. We got to Huntington Beach rather early and sat in the car for a while not wanting to be out in the cold. Tired and cold, we finally got out of the car and made our way to meet with the rest of the team. The thrill of being out there with them was exciting. For many of them, this was going to be thier first half marathon and also for my friend Rudi who I'd gone to grad school with. Ahhh that first time feeling! We took pictures and waited for what seemed like hours.

Our Long Beach Team in Training at the start line
I promised some of our teammates we’d run together but in typical marathon fashion, too much shuffling during a race and we lost each other. I managed to stick with one of our teammates, Jennifer who actually kept me going the entire time. “Follow the pink shorts!” I kept telling myself and that I did. We kept weaving in and out of the crowd trying to get ahead. We stayed at a good pace, around 9:40 per mile up until around mile 8 or 9. We were tiring out as we hit a few inclines. “What comes up, must come down!” I told Jennifer. The only problem was…it never felt like it went downhill or at least that’s how it feels after so many miles.

I trudged through the last four just exhausted but I never stopped running…well my last few miles were more of a jogging pace but I did it. I crossed the finish line at 2:17:58. Right before collecting my medal, I took a deep breath and cried. Why? I can never explain to anyone who is a non-runner without getting a weird reaction. Really? You cried? It’s not like a sobbing cry or tears streaming down your face, it’s more like a release of emotion that you’ve held on to for the last 2 plus hours. It was a great feeling in an exhausting kind of way. I looked back to find Jennifer but didn't see her. It turns out she finished about 45 seconds after me. I walked around in a bit of a daze, picked up my gear, and reunited with some friends and our teammates at the TNT tent.

I want to congratulate our TNT participants who not only toughed out 13.1 miles but also helped raise money to fight blood cancers…you are all heroes in my book! GO TEAM! Till the next one…happy running!

Some more post race pics:

I was promised a mimosa by the Alpha Running family so you bet I went over to collect. They’re a great running/training group out of Los Angeles. Thanks to Coach C. for the welcome and congrats to Rudi on his first race.

The beautiful Surf City medal!

Sporting our Team in Training shirt and my rockin' new medal!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Registered for the LA Marathon!

2010 was a very big year for me! I finally finished my master’s program after 5 years of being in school, moved out of my parent’s house, and ran my first half marathon. While I was proud of the master’s and felt a little bit more independent after moving out, the accomplishment I was and am still most proud of is my half marathon finish. Why?

I suppose because it’s more physically challenging than anything I have ever done. With my master’s program, yes my brain got an intense workout and now my wallet, moving out and buying my own everyday essentials but a half marathon was something I never thought I could do. Well, enough relishing in my half marathon glory…as of today, I am signed up for the Los Angeles Marathon, just 45 days away! Am I nervous, heck yeah! Excited? Definitely! Can't wait for March 20th!