Monday, April 30, 2012

The Chocolate Race!

Can you have a better name for a race? I think not! And it WAS chocolately...very, very chocolately!

So after my last post about realistic goals and doing shorter distances and motivating myself to do better with better times....I ran my personal best time in 10 kms! Wahoo! Yay me! Pats self on back!!! Talk about surprising myself! I hadn't run at all in nearly a month. The only good thing I had done for myself was the cleanse. But there you go - you never know what might work. As Scott told me before after the race - perhaps that one month of no running was just a really long taper before this race!

Maybe it was because I didn't set any expectations of myself but I found it easier to fall into a good pace with other runners and just stay with them long enough to push past them with some energy. I kept reminding myself to pull my shoulders back and that allowed me to fill my lungs better during the entire race. By the time I was nearly 500m from the finish line, I had ample energy left to sprint to the end. This was probably the most relaxed I've been in a race yet.

So enough accolades about my amazing accomplishment...oh wait, that should be self-accolades...and more about the CHOCOLATE.....

There was chocolate everywhere.....really. During the race there were the usual aid stations with water/gatorade and chocolate stations; skewers with chocolate covered marshmallows and strawberries. They looked so good but I couldn't try one. Just the thought of trying to ingest that while running was enough for me to yell "Gatorade"!.

After the race though....HELLO Chocolate! I loved the set up - finish, get medal, line up for chocolate croissant and chocolate milk. Again, once I'd finished I really didn't feel like anything heavy but they looked very good!

I''m pretty sure at this point the majority of my friends have completely fallen over in their chairs wondering what the hell has happened to their chocolate-loving friend. Fear not! I did not miss out; there was more chocolate to come. Scott and I walked up to the Main Street where there were chocolate truffles, chocolate brownies, and....wait for it.....wait a little more.....chocolate Martinis available for the runners (for free!!). Heck with the medal....the chocolate was more than worth it. (OK, not really 'cause I really love my medal!).

And yes, the course was just perfect too. It was, after all, a beautiful day by Lake Ontario and although it was a bit cool it certainly didn't take long to warm up once the running began. I was enormously impressed but the organization, the volunteers, and just the overall fun feeling at the race. If anyone is interested in doing a 5 km, 10 km or 10 mile walk/run next year, I would highly recommend The Chocolate Race .

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Reviewing My Running Goals

My cleanse is done and beyond the obvious physical benefits, I feel I have also had some clarity of mind.

I've always had a bad habit of jumping into something with both feet. Or running before I could walk. <Insert a number of possible running colloquialisms here.> I've always loved running but I have a major motivation issue. If I don't feel or see instant gratification I tend to become less motivated. I love my three running medals that I achieved last year but I haven't been motivated to run like I was last year. (See hit a wall blog a few months back.)

I've been trying to dissect and analyze the reasons why - at least my psych degree is coming in handy for something. I had a good session with myself this past weekend. Luckily it was completely internal and my id, ego, and super ego fought a good battle amongst each other. Here's what I've figured out:

a) I simply cannot run the long distances my partner and his friends run. For now.
  •  Trying to keep up with them is crushing my feelings of accomplishment and demotivating me entirely too much. Not their fault in the least; my own for thinking that I could jump into 12 hour and 50 km races too soon.
b) Very few people start out running with goals greater than 25 km.
  • The more I read up and actually talk to runners about their accomplishments, the more I've realized that I need to be humble, start small and work my way up in length of races.
c)  I'll be far more motivated if I start with smaller distances.
  • If my goals are shorter distances then I can gradually improve my times; thus I am motivated to run more.
  • Once my times improve and I feel comfortable with my distances and times I can move on to longer runs and races.
Really, this is the route I should I have taken from the beginning. I'd probably be farther ahead than I am now. But live and learn.

So new goals (sort of). I will run 10 kms in 50 mins or less before moving onto a half-marathon. I will find 10 kms races and train for those. Once I feel I have successfully met my goals in 10 km races, I will move onto half-marathons (21 kms). And so on until I get to a full marathon distance (approximately 42 kms). Once I have settled into that, then I can look at ultra distances. Once I'm training for half-marathons and full marathons I should be able to keep up to my ultra friends when they are training.

There you have it. I am a humble runner who has chosen to take this one kilometer at a time. I have to feel successful before I can move on. It may take me years to get to the ultra running distances but when you set your goals too high and they seem unattainable and out of reach, the desire to meet them becomes a deterrent rather than an incentive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Cleanse - Day 12

Three more days to go. Not that I'm counting. I'm actually rather despondent about the cleanse ending. I'm worried I'll fall back into bad habits. I'm worried I'll stop drinking the huge amounts of water I should be drinking. Last night I was thinking about what to eat on Sunday morning with the boys - pancakes? waffles? bacon? And then perhaps around 5 p.m. in the afternoon I will open a lovely Pouilly Fuse and have a glass of wine...

But then I gave my head a good shake and reminded myself of this past Sunday. My man and a running friend finished their 100-mile races Sunday morning. (He did great by the way!!). Another friend was pacing so she was up most of the night and ran 20 miles with him. I was the only one who got some sleep and it was variable at best. By noon, we were piled into the car and heading off on our 12 hour drive home and it was me behind the wheel. I ate very well all weekend and kept on the cleanse but I was seriously worried about staying focused on the drive home. We stopped at Starbucks and I grabbed a coffee and a blueberry scone.

I'm not sure if it was the coffee or the scone or both but the "buzz" that flew through my head scared the living &^%# out of me. It felt as though my head was in a vice-like grip of searing numbness (yes, I realize that seems like an oxymoron but bear with me). You know how your arm feels when you hit your funny-bone; that zinging sensation? That's what my head felt like for about two straight hours. It wasn't a pleasant feeling and I'm pretty sure it was the sugar. This made me realize the effect that sugar really can have on you and how one's body becomes "addicted" to it. My sleep has been amazing on this cleanse and my energy seems to be steady during the day and evenings rather than spiking and falling.

The one thing I will have to deal with though is increasing my intake of healthy carbs again - I haven't been fuelling my body properly for running lately and I need to. But I'm going to take my time and make sure I'm fuelling with the best carbs I can.

This whole process has been a huge eye-opener for me. I love food and I hate thinking about it in the context of simply a fuel. The fact is though that food affects everything we do, who we are, how we feel, how we live. Through food we can make positive or negative changes in our lives. Sure, it does take some willpower but feeling better overall is an excellent and sustaining reward. I want to be strong, sleep well, have energy, and be healthy.

A cleanse is a very easy way to take a good look at yourself and the choices you have been making. It pushes you to make healthy choices and gives you the vision of a better future. Who knows what I'll be eating a month from now but I really hope that I'm eating (and drinking) the same way I am now. I really don't want to go back to that bloated, low energy, sluggish person. And if I do...I give you permission to give me a quick kick in the butt!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Cleanse - Day Six

I'm almost halfway through my first cleanse! Yay and boo hiss!

Yay because I've stuck to it. Boo hiss because I'm actually starting to enjoy it (yes, in an odd way) a lot and its going to end in 8 days.

My coffee addiction has taken a backseat in the past few days. I no longer crave it. I certainly miss my morning cup of joe but I've realized that my morning coffee is more about habit than about anything else. That being said, I have made the decision that if and when I return to coffee ('cause, who is kidding whom) I'll be ordering a small coffee. No need for these bigger-than-life cups anymore. I want to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and not try to guzzle an extra-large so its warm down to the bottom.

The other new item is my craving for sugar items has diminished greatly. As much as I love chocolate, when I'm stressed or down I tend to turn to pure candy. Usually sour gummie-bears or swedish berries or jelly beans. That was really hard to deal with over Easter weekend but I managed it well. I miss the taste of something sweet like that in my mouth but I don't go looking for it anymore. Bananas have become my best friends again. I used to eat them constantly as a child and occasionally as an adult but now, they are my candy bar of choice!

Drinking water all the time has been hard to get used to. I like a glass of orange juice on occasion and I really miss a nice glass of wine or beer at dinner sometimes. But again, I've dealt with it. And I'm pretty sure its part of the reason my bloated body has resumed its normal shape. The other benefit is that my skin looks great and my dry skin is getting better. I'm eating in a much healthier way. I didn't eat that poorly before but I've realized I haven't been eating that well either.

Speaking of which, here's an interesting case study...for about 8 months now I've had a skin rash on my right shin that I've been unable to get rid of. True, having a doctor look at would have probably helped by now but I've been busy - so sue me. Its crazy itchy, uncomfortable and doesn't always look pleasant (even with panty hose on). It was starting to flare up again over the past few weeks. HOWEVER, since I started this cleanse it hasn't been itchy at all. As a matter of fact, I just looked down at it and its not red at all. Its nearly completely healed; doesn't even have a rash pattern anymore. Coincidence? I think not.

And last, but not least, has been the change to my constant state of fatigue; specifically after work.  I would get home from work (with or without my boys) and I was exhausted. I mean really, really tired. Both mentally and physically. Cooking was work. Laundry was work. Cleaning up after dinner was a LOT of work. By the time 8 p.m. came along I was done. I was a walking talking blob of blah. For the past two nights, however, I've been OK. Not with an enormous amount of extra energy but OK. Enough energy to get those items listed taken care of and still have energy afterward. Honestly, if this cleanse had just given me this extra energy, I would have been thrilled. And it has, with all the other bonus items too.

So far, so good. This weekend is going to be a good test of my will power. My man Scott ( is going for buckle number FOUR in as many months in Pekin, IL. I'm going too and will be crewing mostly but I might be pacing as well. Aid stations for ultra-marathon races tend to be filled with both good stuff and bad stuff (chips, jelly beans, chocolate, coke, etc. for quick doses of energy). If I run, I won't be able to take gels or anything like that with me because the sugar contents are very high. I have to be good; very, very good. But with all the amazing changes that have happened in the past 6 days, I have little desire to fall back now.

I can't wait to see what positive changes will happen to my body over the next four days. Regardless of my "flu day", this cleanse has been simply amazing (so far!).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Cleanse - Day Three

The first day of the cleanse went pretty well. Nothing odd although I really, really, really, REALLY missed my morning cup of coffee ALOT! I probably drank more water than I have in the past month. So there were numerous bathroom breaks involved in my day's activities. I ended up with a headache towards the end of the day which I'm sure was a combination of lack of caffeine and just being tired.

That night I took my first "night cleanse" pills. Holy-flu-like-symptoms Batman! I spent the rest of the night with hot flashes, getting chills, and my headache got even worse! I was ready to call it quits altogether! By 4 a.m. I was seriously considering putting an entire pot of coffee on and just guzzling caffeine just to stop the pounding in my head! But I held off.

By the time the kids were begging for breakfast at 9:30 a.m., I rolled out of bed and considered heading to a local hospital to get my stomach pumped of these vile herbs and concoctions that were supposed to be making me "feel better". Instead, I did as any good mother would do. I popped frozen pancakes in the toaster, moaned about my lack of coffee, reassured myself that my symptoms were normal, and took my morning cleanse pills. Then I prayed for 12 noon to arrive faster than normal so I could go back to bed after the kids' father picked them up for Easter dinner with his family.

And that's what I did for most of Day Two of my cleanse. I slept. I went to the bathroom. I drank water. A lot of water. I dreamt about coffee, about triple-layer chocolate fudge cake, even about a simple protein bar.  When the boys got home, we all promptly went to bed. I took half my nightly dose of night cleanse pills (which I can do - I read the pamphlet!!). I had a much better night's sleep - not perfect but better.

Which brings us to Day Three. I woke up gloriously without a headache this morning. I went to the bathroom to wash my face and I was completely shocked about what I saw. My face wasn't bloated. My eyes weren't puffy underneath. And let's just say that they usually are around this time. Even my eyes seemed a bit brighter. Obviously, it could be just the amount of water I'm drinking but it was a motivating change to see! I went downstairs and happily consumed my cleanse pills, had my breakfast, and went on with my day. I still pined for my morning cup of coffee but I was OK about it.

Now I'm looking forward to what the next few days will bring. I just hope that the flu-like symptoms are over now. I have little desire to experience that again!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I've started to run again. Still not as much as I would like to but the running bug has bitten me again and I can't wait to get outside. I'm having issues finding the time to run again but I've also just moved so my schedule seems tighter than normal.

Excuses, excuses....ok, I know!

I also recently made the decision to attempt a "cleanse". I did my research (for those who know me, that shouldn't be a surprise) extensively on the topic. I weighed out the pros and cons (no wine, alcohol, beer, COFFEE, dairy, etc.) and in the end decided that the potential health benefits were too many to ignore.

I'm hoping to achieve a few things from this cleanse. A better overall feeling, less fatigue, less bloating, and a cleaner, healthier colon! And of course I'd like to think this will help my running by increasing my energy.

So here I am on day one. I've been told the first 3-5 days are the most difficult so I'm bracing myself. So far so good. I should probably take the 4 or 5 Heinken that are still in my fridge out so there is less temptation to crack one open in the midst of my upcoming "difficulties".

I have and haven't picked the best two weeks to do this cleanse. (Is anything ever simple in my life?). The next eight days is passover and I'm not supposed to be eating anything "leavened" anyway. So no bread, cookies, cakes, etc. Made good sense to me to start a cleanse when many of the exclusions are already excluded!  Next weekend will be 100-miler race number four for my amazing man Scott. I'm hoping I can keep the cleanse going over the weekend. There will be so many temptations to eat whatever is there and drink coffee to stay awake! So, I'm hoping those that are crewing with me, will also keep me in line! (hint, hint!)

One of the other items I am supposed to do on this cleanse is exercise. Now I must run. Its part of the daily regime! No excuses!

I'm going to blog about my cleanse every few days. A few good friends are interested in how things go. I won't go into specifics so that others are not grossed out! LOL!