Saturday, October 25, 2014

We're Moving!

...tomorrow!

In the world of fitness, nothing exciting is happening that warrants an entire blog post. Aside from plugging away at my NerdFitness 6-week challenge, I'm trying to take it easy. However, I've officially registered for the A Christmas Story Run again for their 2nd annual race! Definitely doing the 10K this time. No way am I ever waiting for that damn bus again. Also, Jeff and I are doing the Cleveland Turkey Trot 5-miler this year for the first time! 5-miler in November and 10K in December... sounds like a good start to treadmill season.

Anyways, back to the moving. My husband, 2 cats, 3 xboxes, 8 instruments, 14 baby lemon trees, and myself are venturing forth to a new apartment tomorrow. This will be my 6th move in 7 years, so... there's that. Packing has really become second nature now. Also this new place will be the closest I've lived to my family/hometown and best friend since 2007! So basically I'm really excited. Plus, the new apartment is a massive upgrade from anywhere my husband and I have lived since moving out of our parents' houses!

Hopefully this is the last stop before buying a house for us. I want to get through my last year and a half of school and start my career so we can afford a house that we really want. We picked Medina because it's about halfway between our families, and we really like it so far. It has the elements of a small town that I grew up with and elements of a big town that my husband grew up with.

Also, Medina stole its bandstand from my hometown of Bellville. How cool is that? My grandpa was on the village council when guys from Medina came to get the blueprints to build their own. :)

L: Bellville   R: Medina

Short story long, I'm really excited to move and it's gonna be super fun. Sorry for the rambling. :)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

NerdFitness and Future Goals

So, I ran a half marathon last week. It was an awesome time! I'm really proud of myself, and my recovery is basically complete now. But... half training was my life for the past 4 months, so now I'm ready to branch out and try new things!

First of all, I was stupid to think I'd lose weight training for a half marathon. Everyone says running is the easiest and best way to lose weight, but it's just not doing it for me. Not on its own, at least. My PCOS has been totally out of control the whole time, which I know can contribute to the general weight-loss failure. But it all comes down to the fact that I need to eat well, run, AND strength train to have any success.

This is where I start yapping about NerdFitness. My friend referred me to it when she joined the community and had a lot of success. And it has changed my life.

Essentially, NerdFitness is an online community of people who 1.) are really really nerdy and 2.) want to improve their health and happiness. They have a paid community called The Academy, but Jeff and I joined the free group called The Rebellion. And let me just say, for a free subscription, we got an entire community of nerds that support us unconditionally, unlimited articles and resources about healthy food, fitness, and lifestyle, and basically everything we need to be successful.

The thing I like about NerdFitness is that they aren't trying to sell me a miracle product or make me buy stuff to get my money. They tell me things that nobody else will, and they explain things in a logical way. They don't sugarcoat anything either. When I joined, I was immediately given free e-books that helped me identify exactly what my problems are and how to deal with them. Apparently I'm a textbook Overeager Beaver. I always start out giving 150% for a couple weeks, then crash and burn. For someone like me, they recommend making a couple small changes at a time and making those changes a habit before you add more. They say "Start small, win small. Eventually those small changes will add up to a big victory." The other thing they told me is that "willpower is a finite resource." If I spend too much of my willpower trying to make all these changes, my bar will eventually go empty and I'll fail. Which has happened many a time. I can attest to the validity of this quote. :)

When I started NerdFitness, they recommend that I join a 6-week challenge ASAP. Since it's my first, I joined the Level 1 Rebels challenge. The first thing I had to do is basically make myself into a video game character. As an exclusive RPG player, this was heaven for me.
  • I chose the Breton race from The Elder Scrolls game series, because I'm short but relatively intelligent. :)
  • Additionally, I chose the Ranger class, because it focuses equally on strength and stamina. I can keep running, but add in strength training like I wanted.

After I made my character, I was instructed to choose a Main Quest for myself. It could be something I could accomplish within the 6 weeks or up to a year. I also had to determine what my overall motivation is. Then I had to choose 3 Side Quests to complete during the 6-week challenge. I made sure to choose smaller quests that I could manage easily (start small, win small). These Side Quests have to be something measurable, because I grade myself at the end of the challenge. Additionally, I can pick a Life Quest during the challenge, in which I work on improving something unrelated to fitness during the 6-week challenge. Right now, I'm a Level 0 Ranger, but at the end of the challenge, I will become Level 1 and get to assign myself attribute points according to how well I did during the challenge. I can put my attribute points into strength, stamina, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, and charisma, depending on what I worked on during the challenge. Every time I do a 6-week challenge, I can level up. There are also Mini Quests I can complete during 6-week challenges after my first one. I think it's like a Workout Of the Day thing.

  • So my overall motivation is that I want to stop being self-conscious and be comfortable with the way I look. I also want relief from my PCOS symptoms and be able to conceive a child naturally without having to use medications, etc.
  • My Main Quest is to get down to an ideal weight and regulate my PCOS within the next year. My reproductive system sometimes works and I only have about 20-30lbs to lose, so I feel this is a realistic goal.
  • My 3 Side Quests are:
    • Complete 3 20-minute running sessions and 3 20-minute bodyweight sessions per week
    • Eat paleo 2x a day, 5 days a week. I am working to eliminate processed foods, sugar, and dairy, and everyone says the Paleo Diet is great for PCOS.
    • Drink at least 64oz of water each day. I almost never drink enough water, so I want to start making the habit of drinking more every day
  • My Life Quest is to schedule my annual women's exam and possibly go back to the endocrinologist about taking additional steps to regulate my cycles.

Basically, I'm improving my health and fitness using a format that I am already very familiar with. I want to earn attribute points so I can level myself up. The more skills I use, the better and faster I can level up. It's essentially a real-life RPG, which my husband and I are both loving. It was so easy to get started because I've already done this stuff dozens of times in video games.

Short story long, yes, I will continue running. Yes, I will continue to run races. And yes, I will still be blogging about running on here. I'm already signed up for a 10K in December, and I'm so excited to get back into racing (shorter distances for a while though). 

Here are some links where you can read more about NerdFitness and what they're all about!



Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Race Recap: Akron Half Marathon

{WARNING: SUPER LONG POST}

I made it!!! 

The day I've been freaking out over for 10 months has already come and gone. I'm proud to say I accomplished my (only) goal of making it from the starting line to the finish line. I was also really nervous about getting injured and having to drop out (my knees suck), but luckily that didn't happen either! Aside from very sore hips, legs, and feet, I'm a happy half marathoner!

As I've mentioned many times before on this blog, I went to school at the University of Akron, so I was crazy excited to run this race! I wanted to make it my first half marathon because of all the wonderful memories Akron has given me. Looking back, I know I made the right choice with this race. The Akron Marathon is truly one of the best races out there. The entire event was organized perfectly and everything seemed to go as planned. The overall quality of the race just blew me away. Even if this wasn't such a high quality race, I'd still want to make it a tradition, just because it's Akron.

On to the actual recap! I woke up at 5:10 and put my clothes on that I had laid out the night before. I got my bagel ready, grabbed some bananas for Jeff, and we left at around 5:45-5:50 to get gas. Jeff forgot his headphones at home so we had to stop at Walmart at 6:00 to pick some up! We parked on campus because we planned on meeting some friends from band there at 6:30. It was super upsetting to see that the decks and lots on campus were charging $5 to park when every other lot and garage in Akron was free and open. We didn't have cash, but I knew a couple secret parking lots from going to school there. The lots were right next to the deck that was charging, but they were open and practically nobody was parked there! It was still dark and a little cold, but I was okay with my tank top on. We met our friends and got our picture.

Akron friends
I had to use the restroom, so we went into the music building, which happened to be open. Across the street, there were like 75 people standing in line for the porta-johns, but all the restrooms in the music building were open and nobody was in there! Another score for us. We went down the street to our corral just before the race officially started.

pre-race selfie!
I accidentally used all the data on my phone, so I couldn't use my RunKeeper app to track the race. Which was disappointing. I just put my music on and that was it. We didn't cross the starting line until 10 minutes after the race had officially begun, so we had to listen to that stupid bell sound blasting from the speakers the entire time. Then we were off!

The first 1/2 mile was all downhill, which made me happy! Now, I'm usually terrible at the beginning of races but great at the end. My husband is the opposite. We stayed together so he could push me at the start and I could push him at the end. My problem is that my calves ALWAYS cramp up at the beginning of runs. They were especially terrible this time. Somewhere between mile 1 and 2, I started psyching myself out. I didn't know if my calves would loosen up at all. Then I started panicking. I was half crying at mile 2 and spiraling downward. People passing by must have seen the look of terror on my face, because everyone kept saying, "You got this!" or "Keep going!" or other words of encouragement. Jeff was really helping to talk me out of it as well. Once I got my breathing back under control, it got easier and easier. After another mile, my calves loosened up a lot and I felt better!

We kept going, and every mile marker that we passed made me more and more excited and confident! It was so much fun to see all the bands playing and people cheering us on! I had to take a pee break at the water station at mile 4, and afterward, I felt like I was back to normal. I appreciated getting to stop for a minute and took the opportunity to relax a little. At mile 5, I got to say hello to a friend from college who was playing in a band along the course! Mile 6 went along Firestone Parkway and through Firestone Park; the scenery was beautiful and the trees were starting to change. Lots of adorable puppies along this area. Won't complain.

Miles 7 and 8 were slightly boring because it was all houses and not a ton of spectators. When I saw a "fluid station" sign, at first glance I thought it said "hug station." Tell me that is not what every race needs! Jeff and I had talked earlier about how we should watch races instead of running them, and I think we need to start a hug station at races.

Then it was my favorite part of the race! We got to run past the stadium and through the middle of campus! I know I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. When we got to the music building, we were planning on getting a picture at the rock candy (I never bothered to figure out what the actual sculpture is called). I was suprised to see my parents outside the building cheering for us! They had come to see us finish, but they saw the tracking notification that said we had just passed mile 8.7. So they stuck around to see us come by and took our rock candy picture for us! It was exactly what I needed, especially because we were starting to get burnt out. After seeing my parents, I felt like I hadn't just run 9 miles.


The last 3.1 miles just dragged. We were tired and in pain and we had to cross the Y-bridge and back a second time. On the bridge, I realized the back of my ankle hurt, and I looked down to see that my sock had slid down and my shoe had rubbed off a giant chunk of my skin. It hurt so bad. Those miles were just miserable!!!

It seemed to take forever, but we made it to the last turn before entering the park to cross the finish line! There were a ton of people watching outside Canal Park, which I did not expect! It gave us the push we needed! Entering the park and running to the finish line was like a dream. There were so many people and it was loud! I was literally in a daze- I couldn't even believe I had made it. We walked around the field to grab our medals/food/swag then left the park to see my parents. They showed me where my name was on this car that had every racer's name on it, and we got some pictures.

This smile was fake :)
my favorite medal so far
the final turn into Canal Park
Found our names! Also, it's a huge pet peeve when people don't capitalize the D
We got our traditional post-race celebratory Chipotle and had an amazing shower! I put on my compression socks and we enjoyed resting and celebrating with our families at my in-laws' annual clambake.

happy legs
Overall, this was an amazing experience! I feel like I accomplished something I can truly be proud of! This race was the most difficult thing I've ever done. And I've walked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and climbed back out with 40lbs on my back. I never thought I'd be a runner, let alone be able to run 13.1 miles! As dumb as I know this is, I never felt like I'd be able to call myself a "real runner" until I did a half marathon. Now I absolutely can call myself a runner and mean it. I may be slow as balls, but I know I can do it now.

My legs are telling me no, but I have a feeling this won't be the last half marathon I ever do!

If you're reading this right now, thank you for all the support you've given me for the past 14-15 weeks as I've been preparing for this race. I would never have made it without the help, encouragement, and happy thoughts sent my way.

And now, it's time to play video games in my pajamas for the rest of the day. I'm going to update this post with official race pictures when they come in, so stay tuned! There will also be a post coming soon about what's next for me (running/health/life/etc.). Enjoy the rest of the weekend!