Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have REAL PEACE at Christmas

To all my friends:

I wish you PEACE in this season and through the coming year.

As I connect with each of you I have come to realize many of you don't have peace right now:

*You have a house full of people driving you crazy
*You don't have money in this economy to even THINK about having a good holiday
*You are missing loved ones that have passed away
*Your heart is breaking over a loss
*You've lost your job or fear you will soon
*People don't treat you as an equal because you are "different"
*You're being bullied or abused
*You or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a sickness
*You have an addiction that you just can't break
*You look in the mirror and you don't like what you see

...the list goes on and on...

What is REAL PEACE? I don't think it's found by having/not having these things. I've gone through most of these things in my life but I continue to have PEACE - REAL PEACE in my life even at my worst times. Why? Because I have a faith in Jesus - the "PRINCE OF PEACE" (Isaiah 9:6). The peace of God "passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Jesus said "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14: 27).

Peace is internal (not depending on external circumstances) and it requires our participation. We receive true peace when we know that our sin is forgiven and that all is well with our soul (Acts 2: 38, 1 John 1: 7). So, even though these external circumstances will happen, we can have inward peace by "following after the things which make for peace." (Romans 14:19). Peace is available through Jesus Christ alone. Don't be sold a bill of goods by "false peace" (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

REAL PEACE can be yours!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Patriots 70.3 Race Report

Race: Patriots 70.3
Date: Saturday, September 10, 2011
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman Distance
Division: 45-49 yo
Place: 10th in AG/124 OA
Time: 7:09:39

Before the Race:

The day before the race, Molly and I drove to Williamsburg to prepare for the event. My friend Jan's parents invited us to stay at their house only 4 miles from the race venue so it was a perfect little "B&B" for us!  After a quick packet pickup we walked around the race venue to check out the course. We spent a little time down by the water trying to understand the very unusual setup of the swim course and a weird 0.4 mile transition into T1 so we knew we needed to come up with a plan. There would be no barefoot running to T1 and thankfully I had brought a second pair of running shoes with me. 
 Dipping my toes in the James River the day before the race...nice...and warm...
probably not wetsuit legal (I was right!)

  Part of the James River - our swim course. It was a very nice body of water for a swim.

Our trip to Williamsburg had been delayed and our timing for dinner wasn't that great so we ended up not getting the opportunity to drive the bike course. That's okay because I had decided this was going to be a race to "just finish" after having some cramping in my legs the whole week before the race and some pretty stiff tightness in my back.

Race Morning:

Race morning went pretty well and I had a good amount of sleep the night before. We drove to the race and started our journey to the finish line. Once we got there we unloaded our bikes, in the dark, from the car. We had a decent amount of time to set up transition, say hello to our teammates and fellow training partners Sandy, Renee, and Mayra and then we all headed down to the swim start. As a photographer I am ashamed of myself for not getting a quick picture of all of us. SHAME.ON.ME!!!

Unfortunately, our plans to have our shoes at the swim finish hadn't transpired so we all (minus Sandy) quickly walked over to the finish to leave our shoes there. We came back, got in the water for a minute and then we heard "green swim caps will be next!" Um...we were all green swim caps (except Sandy who started in the wave before us and was already out in the water) so we took off running and almost missed our entrance into the James River! Whew! Not the best way to start a race!

Swim: 1:00:27 (14th in AG)

This was NOT the time I had hoped for in this race. Yes, I'm a slow swimmer but I am not this slow. Here's what happened...the day before the race we went to the race meeting and the guy told us that if we weren't strong swimmers we should go to the left of the buoy because the current would take us to the right. If we swam straight out to the buoy and ended up on the right side we would have to swim against the current in order to get back on course. When I heard "strong" swimmer I was thinking "good" swimmer. Fact of the matter is, I'm a strong swimmer - just not a fast one. So, when I headed out, I went to the left (away from the buoy) rather than directly to the buoy. This was the biggest mistake of my day because I ended up swimming much farther than I needed. When I compared this swim to previous swims here is what I found:

Eagleman: 1:01:16 (my first 70.3 but this course was also said to be 1.5 miles instead of 1.2)
OBX: 51:09 (my second 70.3 and in my OBX race report I noted I wasn't thrilled with this result)
Patriots: 1:00:27

Another issue I had during the swim was that I felt I was going to throw up twice. I've never had that feeling before but it made me have to stop swimming for a moment. This throwing up feeling would come back to haunt me later on. The good news about this swim is that when I got out of the water I didn't have the light-headed feeling I've had in past races. I felt pretty good about that but wasn't sure why it wasn't there (or why it WAS there in previous races).

T1: 5:21 (3rd in AG):

When people talk about which portion of the race they are fastest in some will say "Oh, I'm a better runner" or "I'm a better biker." Well, I have to say that my strength is probably in transitions. I'm almost always in the top 5 finishers in transition. Typically my T1 will be closer to 2:00 - 2:30 but because of the run (approx 0.4 miles) up the hill my transition time was a little longer than normal. 

Bike: 3:11:09 (18.3 pace; 9th in AG):

The first 5-10 miles of the bike were slower than I expected. There were times I was literally saying out loud "COME ON LEGS, LET'S GO!" I felt like I was standing still. But, after a few miles into the bike I finally got moving. I didn't let one single girl pass me on the bike...until mile 57...yes, I said 57...this was a 58 mile bike course. 

Around mile 55 there was a dude drafting off me. But, not only was he drafting but he was chatting with me as well. I tried to ignore him but he was asking me leading questions and I didn't want to ignore him. However, when I saw two girls pass me I was DONE talking to that dude. I was mad at myself for allowing him to take my mind off the race. So, I sped up and caught back up with one of the girls but I could never find the other to pass her again. 

My nutrition on the bike might have thrown me off for my run (more about that later) but I really wanted to focus on my water intake because I've been having a lot of leg cramps on the run lately and wanted to make sure hydration didn't play a role in that. Good news: I didn't get leg cramps. Bad news: read my run report. 

My new bike, Shadow, was with me on my trip. I had only purchased her the week before the race and had only been on her three times. But, because I was going to "just finish" I figured it wouldn't hurt to bring Shadow along for the ride even though she wasn't really broken in yet.

Shadow did her job right. I felt pretty good coming off the bike and was moderately pleased with my bike results.

Eagleman: 3:13 (17.4 mph) for 56 miles - super flat course
OBX: 3:20:01 (16.8 mph) for 56 miles (some of it VERY windy)
Patriots: 3:11:09 (18.3 mph) for 58 miles - some rolling hills

T2: 2:19 (5th in AG):

Uneventful with the exception that I almost fell over putting my socks on...twice!

Run: 2:50:25 (13th in AG):

The run....oh...the run... 

I've been pretty excited about the improvement of my pace since my weight loss. I've gone from an average of about a 10:30/mile pace to an 8:30/mile pace.But, on this day I wouldn't see anywhere close to that. The first few miles made me realize I hadn't done enough BRICK training this year. I knew I'd get my mojo after the first few miles but, unfortunately that never happened. I was having GI issues. 

I haven't been able to figure out exactly what happened - was it the food I ate the night before, the morning of, did I take in too much nutrition on the bike, too much water? I am still not quite sure. But, all I knew was that if I could just throw up I will feel a lot better and hopefully be able to get back up to an acceptable pace. So, when I saw a port-a-potty I knew what I had to do. Unfortunately, I couldn't even MAKE myself throw up. So, I suffered through more of the run. Then around mile 7, I miraculously felt better. I picked up my pace and started really running...only to have the GI issues come back around mile 10. Ugh!

As a side note - this is the first time ever in any race that I've had to stop at a port-a-potty. That in and of itself wasted about 4 minutes of my time! Grrrr.....

In my mind I wanted to finish this race in under 7 hours. So, I quickly calculated that I had a one-hour swim, 3 (and some change) bike, so if I finished the run in under 3 hours I'd be good. Unfortunately I didn't take into account the transition times until I was only 2 miles from the finish line so my calculations were off a little. Oh well, it was too late to be concerned about that at this point. I just kept running until I saw the finish line and, when I crossed I knew it was a PR!

My previous run times look like this:

Eagleman: 3:11:06 - SUPER STINKIN HOT (did a LOT of walking)
OBX: 2:56:07 - Didn't walk at all but wasn't super fast and didn't have a lot of energy
Patriots: 2:50:25 - GI issues. Whatever!

Post Race:

I felt really yucky and wanted to leave. I was barely able to say goodbye to my friends before heading out. I was probably out of transition and in the car within 30 minutes of my finish. 

I am very thankful that God has allowed me to stay healthy and injury-free during my training season this year - that's huge!

Comparing the previous races:
Eagleman: 2nd place Athena: 7:31:18 (it was Athena...)
OBX: 1st place AG: 7:11 (the race only had 33 people...)
Patriots: 10th place AG: 7:09:39 with two additional bike miles.

So, my PR wasn't as big a gap as I had originally thought it was but it is still a PR nonetheless....and on a 2-mile longer bike course. Next goal...BELOW 7:00...try to shoot below 6:30.

Lessons Learned:

1. More open water swims (I say this in every OWS race report!)
2. Really focus on getting faster on my swim over the winter
3. More BRICKS
4. More track workouts
5. Have a nutrition plan. I plan for everything else but I really need to write down exactly what I'm going to have with me - no more, no less.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I will survive!

It's been a while since I've written about my weight loss journey. Some of it is because my life has been really busy with out-of-town weekend trips, Memorial Day parties, races, etc. But, more than anything I think it's been because I've had "writers block!" I'm not big on "to do" lists so when all my activities and responsibilities are floating around in my head it's hard to think about anything else!

As far as my diet goes, I've been up, down and all around for the past three weeks. One week I was up 3 lbs but I was also up 3 lbs in lean muscle and down in my body fat percentage. The next week I lost 1/2 lbs and minimal 1/2 inch here and there. I know the problem...ME. The diet is fine. But, going out of town and celebrating with old friends is always an issue for me. See, I'm a social eater. Put me in front of a potluck meal and I'm in my biggest nightmare! Throw in a few glasses of wine and it makes things even harder.

Memorial Day weekend was really hard from a dieting perspective. On Sunday I had my first triathlon of the season (I got third place in my age group! Yeah!!!) but it was quickly followed by a post-race party at a friends house, a pool party with my triathlon team, and a neighborhood party my friend had invited me to attend. That day was one big temptation for me...and I failed!

However, when I weighed in today I was pleasantly surprised. I was down a 1/2 inch here or there but I had lost 3.5 lbs. So, today I am ALMOST 25 lbs down!!! I have 14.5 lbs to go to reach my goal and if everything goes as planned I should reach that goal before the end of June. I had hoped to reach my goal by the end of May but I can't allow myself to fret over the mistakes I've made and have to continue to move forward.

Here are the stats:

This week:
3.5 lb weight loss
0.25 inch in chest
0.5 inch in waist
0.03% body fat loss

Total since March 31st

24.5 lbs weight loss
0.5 inch from my chest
7.5 inches from my waist
4 inches from my hips
1.5 inch from my arm
1.5 inches from my thigh
3.7% of my total body fat
No significant lean body mass loss

Moving forward without regret...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

BRATS Salute to the Military Sprint Triathlon

Race: BRATS Salute to the Military Triathlon
Date: May 29, 2011
Location: Vint Hill, VA
Race Type: Sprint: 300 meter pool swim, 11.75 mi bike, 3.1 mi run
Division: Age Group 45-49
Time: 1:20:58
Place: 3rd in Age Group

------------ --
Race Report:

Swim (300 Meters): 7:08 - 2nd in age group
When I picked up my race packet the lady told me "Wow, you must be a fast swimmer" (because my race number was 32). I looked at her and said " must have lied when I registered!" I had estimated my time at 6 minutes and was pretty sure I would swim a little faster than that. But, I was seeded in front of people who were obviously faster than me and I had to stop at the wall four times to allow swimmers to pass.I lost a little bit of time in the pool but I'm never too speedy there anyway and knew I could make up the time on the bike.
T1: 1:33 - 1st in age group
I'm always pretty quick in transition and T1 was no exception. I felt pretty good coming out of the water (guess waiting at the wall for people to pass helped me slow down a little) and we had a nice little jog of about 25 yards over to the transition area to our bikes. A quick little change and I was outta there!

Bike (11.75 mi): 41:51 @ 16.8 mph - 1st in age group

I was a little disappointed in this result. I felt I was doing the best I could on the bike although there were points where I felt I was losing ground going up the hills. When I raced my last 70.3 I kept a pace of over 18 mph on the course. Of course, it was a pancake flat course but, it was also 56 miles. So, I was hoping to have a pace of around 19-20 mph on this course. The hills were rolling but my pace was anywhere from 11 mph to 30 mph so I was hoping for a better average! What I think happened is that every time I had a good pace going I had to slow to turn. There were 3 U-turns and several other turns throughout this course so I'm blaming it on that!

T2: 0:49:05 - 2nd place in age group
As typical, T2 transition didn't go as smoothly as T1. But, I was in and out in less than a minute so I was satisfied with my time.
Run (3.1 miles): 29:37:65 (9:33 min/mile pace) - 4th place in age group

Although I was VERY pleased with my personal result, this is what stopped me from winning first place in my age group. Today's race was the first time ever I have posted under a 10:00 min/mile pace in ANY triathlon. Typically I kill myself so much in the bike that I'm totally wiped by the time I get to the run and my pace is way off from what I can typically race if I was just doing a run. In other words, my current 5K pace is right around 9:00 min/mile but to run that pace in the run portion of a triathlon never happens for me. So, I was very proud of my time today but it just wasn't enough to cut it for a higher ranking. 

Summary and lessons learned 

This is the second time I have raced this course. The first time I raced was in 2009 and I ended up coming in 3rd place in my age group. So, I had something to prove. I wanted to show myself that I could give it all I had and win that first place award. I knew I had improved over the last two years and this would be a nice way to start out the tri season. I was pretty pleased with my time since it was a 17 minute personal record on a sprint course but I walked away with another 3rd place award. What I came to find out later is that I was only 19 seconds...19 seconds...away from grabbing that first place trophy! Oh the things that go through my mind...I shouldn't have let that swimmer pass me...I shouldn't have unclipped on that last U-turn...I should have kept my head up and stayed focused during the run...I shouldn't have grabbed water from the Boy Scouts...EVERY LITTLE SECOND COUNTS! That was my biggest lesson learned today. You can do all you can to prepare for race day but unless you leave it ALL out there (which I don't really think I did today...) then you have nobody to blame but yourself. Lesson learned!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Can a mom eat a Mother's Day buffet and still lose weight?

I haven't been a fan of buffets most of my life and even less so when I'm trying to watch what I eat. So, when it was suggested we go to a Korean buffet for Mother's Day I decided to give it a try. Obviously, if you're going to pick a buffet to go to you want it to be a relatively healthy one. I mean, have you ever been to Captain George's Seafood Buffet in Virginia Beach? Well, don't let the word "seafood" confuse you. Every imaginable fried fish, tons of yummy fat-loaded desserts (heck, I could make a whole meal off the dessert bar!), lots of buttery and cheesy get the point. So, going to a mostly healthy Korean food buffet wasn't near as bad.

When I arrived, I immediately headed to the salad bar section first. They had much more than yucky iceberg lettuce and your typical salad bar condiments. I filled about three fourths of my plate with salad. Then I got some additional veggies on the side. Of course, when you are at a Korean BBQ buffet you MUST eat some bulgogi (ie meat). So, I got my required 5-8 oz of meat, had a yummy salad, some extra veggies and a small dessert. Now, if you have ever eaten at a Korean restaurant you know their desserts aren't the same as American desserts. So, this two bite-sized piece of "cake" was a way for me to celebrate being a mother and still not go far off my weight loss journey.

Although I wasn't totally unhappy with my choices at the buffet there is always the thought in the back of my head wondering exactly how the food was prepared. There might be hidden calories in the food that could sabotage my weight loss. Thankfully that didn't seem to be the case this week but it's something I must continually try to observe as I go along this process. I don't eat out often but when I do I want to make the most healthy choices possible.

Here are the stats:
This week:
4.5 lb weight loss
0.5 inch in waist
0.01% body fat loss

Total since March 31st
21.5 lbs weight loss
0.5 inch from my chest
7 inches from my waist
4 inches from my hips
1.5 inch from my arm
1.5 inches from my thigh
3% of my total body fat
No significant lean body mass loss

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Learning who are my dieting "friends"

This week I have come to learn who it is that really cares about me - who are my dieting friends. I can tell you for sure that my friends have been broccoli, lettuce, bell peppers, protein, etc. I have also come to learn who are NOT my dieting friends: tortilla chips, jellybean and emotional sabotage.

This past week I found myself cheating, once again. I know I told you in this blog I wouldn't but, to be honest...I'm weak! That's right...weak! There is good news and bad news to my weakness. The bad news: a 2 lb weight gain. The good news: another lesson learned.

Let me break it down for you...

Throughout the week I ended up having little bites of food here and there (that cheater in me!). I would see tortilla chips sitting on the counter and, knowing my husband's homemade salsa was in the fridge it was just too much of a temptation for me. His homemade salsa only comes around once in a while so when it's here I feel I need to grab it. I started out eating the salsa with chips but, over a few days, I ended up just eating it by the spoonful instead. What I found out is I didn't really need the chips. Tomatoes are on the restricted list of foods I can only eat twice a week so I was careful not to eat too much salsa, though.

Jellybeans. HA! I've not even been a fan of jellybeans most of my life (except the black ones!). I don't know what convinced me to even buy the bag (yes I was on sale!). So, I bought a bag and left it in my car so when I was on the road I would reach for a handful...or two. I told my doctor I felt the jellybeans were a better option for me than chocolate. Not from a nutritional standpoint (because dark chocolate isn't as bad as you might think) but I didn't eat as many jellybeans as I would have eaten chocolate had chocolate been my craving at the time. I wouldn't have stopped at just one "handful" and might have blown my diet all together. The good news is - they were in my Dr. Wichin suggested I bring them into his office and throw them away. It was the start of a new day for me and I'm ready to move again in a forward motion.

As I mentioned before, I have a tendency to sabotage myself when I get to a certain weight/size. Well, I currently weigh less than I have at those times in the past and I'm currently in a smaller size than before. But, I wonder if subconsciously I'm trying to sabotage myself again. I need to keep a focused effort on that during the next week.

My workouts have increased both in time and effort so I'm feeling more hunger than I have before. I had a pretty good run this week which is the first one in a while. I had energy during the run but I had also had a handful of jelly beans just before I stepped out the door. So, I'm interested to see how I do this week without the jellybeans. I just need to remain focused on the goal rather than the immediate pleasure.

So, what role did this play during my weigh-in this week? Well, I'm still a little unsure. Obviously, the cheating wasn't healthy for me. This journey isn't just about weight loss to me but also about being healthier. I gained two pounds this week but it's also "that" time of the month so the gain (and the cravings) might also be associated with that. The good thing is I didn't gain any body fat this week. As a matter of fact, my body fat percentage dropped by 0.7%. So, all the weight I did gain is water weight.

Here are the stats:
This week:
2 lb weight gain
0.5 inches in chest
0.5 inch in hips
0.5 inches in arm
0.70% body fat lost

Total since March 31st
17 lbs weight loss
0.5 inch from my chest
6.5 inches from my waist
4 inches from my hips
1.5 inch from my arm
1.5 inches from my thigh
2.99% of my total body fat
No significant lean body mass loss

Now a question for you: At any point during a weight loss journey (or a new workout plan) do you find yourself or others sabotaging your efforts? If so, what do you do about it to gain control again?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Amazing things can happen if you "just believe"

I just finished writing an article about a first-time Boston Marathon finisher and my mind is contemplating what I learned from the interview I had with him. I asked him what advice he would give to someone who might think they could never accomplish running a race like Boston. His response was "you just have to believe you can do it." Of course, there is more to completing the Boston Marathon than just "believing" you can. Obviously it takes talent and a lot of hard training. But, the general idea is that if you believe that you CAN'T do it, you won't!

This past week I did a lot of "believing." After my 1 lb weight loss last week (um...5 days...), I was all about the forward motion of getting the job done the following week. I knew this diet plan worked but I doubted how my body would react once I started adding my normal workout routines back into my life.

This week my workouts consisted of two 1-hour swims, one 2-hour bike, one 1-hour run, one 1.5 hour run, and one 1-hour yoga class. Now, as far as my "normal" triathlon workouts go, this one is a little on the lite side. But, it's probably the most I've done in one week since triathlon season "ended" (it never really ends...) last year. So, making sure my body was both energized enough for the workout AND I didn't UNDEReat would be key!

My bike, swim & yoga workouts were great. I didn't push myself into my anaerobic heart rate (as suggested by my doctor) except for a few moments on my ride. I mean, have you ever seen Hunter Station Road in Reston, VA before? Yeah, I did a little huffing and puffing but I'm hoping my doctor will let that one slide. I say blame it on my ride leader!

My runs are a totally different story. I mean, seriously...I just ran a marathon a month ago so my aerobic conditioning is fine. But, I'm still totally dragging on my runs. Two miles into the run I feel I have no energy to continue moving. I'll stop and walk and the energy levels will come back up but then a little while later I crash again. So, during my last long run I decided to go back to my old way of fueling my body. Well, I didn't totally go back but I did bring my own electrolyte solution (with carbs) and one Gu gel (total carbs) for my run. Guess what? It didn't help! So, I'm still trying to find the right combination for my long runs. Maybe I won't have to worry much about it, though, because I'll hopefully reach my goal weight before I have to do any really long runs for upcoming races. 

This week I'm going to focus on "believing" this can be done. I've seen the stats, I've gotten rid of my clothes, I feel the energy (except on my runs), and now I'm ready to continue on with this process. I'm about half way there so now is no time to stop!

So...ready for the stats? Here they are:
This week:
6.5 lb weight loss
1 inch in waist
0.5 inch in hips
0.79% body fat lost

Total since March 31st
19 lbs weight loss

6.5 inches from my waist
3.5 inches from my hips
1 inch from my arm
1.5 inches from my thigh
2.29% of my total body fat
No significant lean body mass loss

Monday, April 25, 2011

Race: Jerusalem Marathon
Date: Friday, March 25, 2010
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Division: 45-49 yo
Time: 5:38 - PR!

Race Report:

Pre-Race: There is so much I can talk about in my "pre-race" notes. Everything from the bus delay going from DC to NYC, the security "escort" from the terminal to the gate with El Al employees, the "back story" with the ladies I traveled with, meeting the Mayor of Jerusalem, being interviewed by both TV and newspaper, etc. But, I'll be as brief as I can!

I arrived in Israel three days before the race and hoped to have plenty of time to recover from jet lag. Thankfully it worked otherwise my body would have felt as if the marathon start time was 1 AM! On the other hand, this being my first time to Israel and only having five days total to see the country, I spent a lot of time on my feet for days before the race doing tourist stuff. I can definitely say I was not well rested for the race.

Upon arriving to Tel Aviv, my friend Anna and I found out about a bombing that occurred in Jerusalem only an hour or so before we landed. She, of course, didn't tell me about the bombing until we were on our way to Jerusalem. I don't know if she thought I might turn around and get a flight out back to the USA or what. Thankfully I didn't let the bombing stop me from running the race and thankfully the race director and the Mayor of Jerusalem felt the same way!

This race was only the second time I had raced for charity (first was the Marine Corps Marathon for Jill's House) and this time I was racing for Shalva - The Association of Physically and Mentally Challenged Children in Israel. It was fabulous to meet some of my teammates, Shalva children and the founder of Shalva the night before the race. It was a boost of emotional energy that would help sustain me throughout the race. 

The Start Line:

Initial reports were that 10,000 people were registered for this race. But, what I came to learn was those 10,000 people were not just marathon runners but also half marathon, 10K, and 4.2K. So, when I got to the start line I could actually SEE the start line! Apparently there were only about 500 people running the first EVER Jerusalem marathon. What a privilege to be one of those 500 people!

The picture below was taken about 15 minutes before the race began!

The Race:
This is only the fifth marathon I've run (and 3 of those were MCM) so I can't compare it much to other marathons. But, talking with other racers they all agreed this is one of the most scenic races they have ever run. You begin the race right by the Israeli Parliament (The Kneset) and around the 10k mark you get to run THROUGH the Old City of Jerusalem. This was such a special part of the race and, of course, lots of crowd support. This was also the site of what I knew would be many hills to come...although I didn't think they could get much worse. I.WAS.WRONG!

 In front of the Old City of Jerusalem 

Going up the hill into the Old City of Jerusalem

Running through the Old City of Jerusalem

Coming out of the Old City we had a slight downhill...very slight. At this point I started to become somewhat distracted by a lady who was racing/talking to me and I missed some of the beauty of the race thanks to her. She was one of those runners whose arm bumps into you every five seconds and who pees in public every mile or so. Unfortunately, I'm not a very fast runner. So, even though I tried to "run away" from her several times she still caught up to me! I finally "ditched" her in the last 10 miles of the race...I did NOT want to cross the finish line with her. I mean, when the Israeli Police tell you (not once...not twice...but SEVERAL TIMES) not to pee in public...YOU LISTEN!! I was afraid this woman was well on her way to jail! And, let me tell you...little small "new" trees in the middle of a median with runners on BOTH sides of the road won't hide even the smallest of people. "Discreet" was not a word in this woman's dictionary!

When I finally ditched "Ms. Peebody" we had just passed the finish line of the half marathon. The course was kinda odd at this point because we had to run behind the crowd that was cheering on the half finishers. They barely even recognized we were there...and we still had about 10 miles to go! Anyway, we made a right turn and started going up this hill below. The picture doesn't show just how steep the hill was but it was a hill I ended up turning around and walking backwards to get up! When I turned around I noticed this couple in the picture. On the right was a lady I ended up finishing the race with - Lisa Jackson - a journalist from London. By the time the race was over, Lisa and I had become good friends and she invited me to visit her in London to race the Loc Ness marathon (because getting in the London marathon is about as crazy as NY and Loc Ness is apparently way more scenic). The guy on the left wasn't familiar to me at the time. I mean, who thinks you'll be running next to someone "famous" during a marathon. What I learned was the gentleman I ran with was Bart Yasso - Editor at Large for "Runner's World" magazine. I mean, how cool is that? 

The weather had been nice for most of our race but it was also a pretty overcast day. I wish it had been a little clearer (or that I could have run with my 35 mm camera) so I could show you some amazing shots of the race course and Israel. The one below is a picture of me at the top of Mount Scopus. On a clear day you can actually see the Dead Sea from this location. Mount Scopus is where Hebrew University is located and was the highest elevation of the race. The hill to get there wasn't too steep - just a long steady climb.

From Mount Scopus, we had about 7 miles left in the race. We kept thinking we had seen the last of the hills. Surely there couldn't be MORE...we were wrong. Below is a picture of one of the last big hills we had to climb.

Finally, when the finish line was near I thought I would go all out and do a little sprint at the end. I mean, at least it was level ground! But, the day before the race it had rained considerably and the ground was VERY muddy. They laid some sort of AstroTurf type of material over the mud but all that did was keep you from getting dirty. It was one lump after another and there was no way to get your footing to actually get a sprint finish! Oh well, I did what I could and Lisa said I was just flying to the finish line. In my opinion I was running as fast I could as to not get injured in the last yards of the race! I could have very easily twisted my ankle on that stuff.


I finished the race in 5:38. I was pretty sure that wasn't a PR but I couldn't remember my other race finish times. Besides, I wasn't out to get a PR at this race. I knew the hills would kill me, I knew the jet lag might be an issue and I knew I would be stopping to take pictures all along the race course. So, I wasn't too concerned about the time. After I got home I realized that I DID have a PR - by about 5 minutes. What made it even more special was that the winner of the marathon (and just about everyone I talked to after the race) finished about 1/2 hour slower than their typical race pace. So, if I count that half hour plus all the time I stopped to take pictures I could have had a sub 5:00 marathon! Wow, what training does for a body! My first marathon time (including vomiting 9 times on the race course) was 6:13! Now you know what I've got to do, right? another marathon!

The Jerusalem Marathon is not the most organized race in the world and there isn't a lot of crowd support for the full. However, given this is the first time they have hosted a marathon I feel things will change. If you want to run a beautiful, challenging course then this is the marathon for you!

Lessons Learned:
  • There is no way you can ever properly train for a marathon in Jerusalem on the "hills" of Virginia.
  • If you are going to leave the country to race, plan for more than a 5-day stay!
  • If someone is bothering you early in the race...find a way, at all costs, to ditch them!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's all about forward motion

I say I'm pleased with my weight loss results this week but if I'm really honest with myself I'm disappointed. I'm not disappointed because I didn't lose a certain amount of pounds. I'm disappointed because I cheated. Cheating on my diet only means that I'm cheating myself out of what's best for my body. They weren't "big" cheats like eating a big piece of chocolate cake or anything like that but the little bite of cracker here and there or skipping on my veggies because I just didn't want them - THOSE are the type of cheats I'm talking about.Thankfully there have only been 5 days since my last weigh in and I could learn my lesson quickly without going any additional days on this downward cheating spiral. I'm able to take what happened and hopefully learn from it.

I'm a big fan of the show "The Biggest Loser" and last night's show really spoke to me. Kaylee, who gained 4 lbs last week, had a goal to succeed this week. She said "I can let it (the weight gain) distract me or I can do everything in my power to fight to stay here." Her trainer, Cara, said that "Kaylee has never believed in herself. She has always settled for less her whole life." Kaylee, who is very close to her weight goal ended up losing 5 lbs this week and made changes in her life she never thought possible.

Kaylee reminds me of myself. I have always settled for less in my life when it comes to my weight. I have always had a mental block getting below a certain size/weight and here I find myself again in that same place. I start sabotaging my efforts and my weight starts to increase again. I CAN'T let the same thing happen to me this time. THIS is my moment to grasp all that is there for me and move forward in this journey. It's all about the forward motion.

In the upcoming weeks I'm going to have to pay extra close attention to my body and hunger "pains." I'm also going to start testing different nutrition on my long workouts and see what I can use to replace the Gu and electrolyte drinks I'm so used to having.

So, here are the stats...

This week (5 days only):
1 lb weight loss
2 inches in waist
1.5 inches in hips
0.51% body fat loss

Total since March 31st
1.5% of my total body fat
5.5 inches from my waist
3 inches from my hips
1 inch from my arm
1.5 inches from my thigh
No significant lean body mass loss

Now it's time to get real, get serious, and STOP CHEATING!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Anyone want some clothes?

That's right - I'm giving away my clothes already! I can't believe what is going on with the jeans I'm wearing today. Just two weeks ago these jeans were TIGHT (we're talking serious tightness - the kind where you only wear them in public then you come home and put on your "comfortable" pants). But today I'm pulling and tugging at them to keep them up on my hips!

This diet was easier this week than last. I find I'm not as much of a veggie-hater as I once proclaimed! I'm struggling a bit in my workouts - particularly my runs - because I don't have the energy I'm used to having from the carbs in my system. But, my doctor says it's a temporary feeling and it should get better soon. I'm just getting back into my longer-distance bike & swim workouts from a very lazy winter so I'll have to pay close attention to how I feel on those workouts in the upcoming weeks.

I have to admit - I cheated this week. For some crazy reason I decided it was okay to have cashews. Then, after the third day of eating them (only 6 each time) I realized they have a pretty high carb content so I stopped. I also "accidentally" cheated, too! I was so excited to purchase beets for the first time in my adult life that I didn't stop to see if beets were acceptable on this diet. I had gone to all the trouble to ask my Facebook friends for yummy recipes and everything. I spent a long time determining how to cook them and made them into a great roasted treat. As I was eating the first few slices I thought to myself "hmmm...these are pretty sweet for this diet." I then went to my "restricted veggies" list and right there in front of my eyes - between the avocado and carrots were...beets. I was bummed about it but I have a new-found love for beets and can't wait to get to the "maintenance" stage of this diet to begin eating, and enjoying beets.

So, how much further do I have to go to the "maintenance" stage? Well, I started out needing to lose 39 lbs. The first week I lost 8.5 lbs and this week I lost 4 lbs. So, I've lost a total of 12.5 lbs. Maintenance begins when I'm 90% of the way to my goal weigh so, about 4 lbs from my goal is when I'll begin. That means I need to lose another 22.5 lbs.

Every time I go in for my appointment there are several aspects to it - weighing in, measurements, percent body fat analysis, lean body mass, and a few other measurements.

To date I have lost the following:
1% of my total body fat
3.5 inches from my waist
1.5 inches from my hips
1 inch from my arm
1.5 inches from my thigh
No significant lean body mass loss

So, today I am going through my closet and saying goodbye to some of my clothes. I hope to never be back at this weight again for the rest of my life. I'm thrilled at my progress and can't wait to reach my goal. One thing my doctor said to me early on in my journey is to consider this like another aspect of my training and that's what I'm going to continue to do. 

As my friend Stacie would say - Onward and Upward...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My weight loss saga continues

So, many of you know that I've tried several ways to lose weight and they have all been successful for a period of time but they always end up disappointing me in the long run. I really had a goal in 2011 to lose weight, though. So, whatever it took I was going to find the right diet for me.

On January 3rd I joined Weight Watchers. Now, I'm not going to dog on WW...much...but WW is NOT a weight loss program for endurance athletes. Before I even signed on the dotted line to join WW I spoke to the local consultants about my specific needs. When I had joined WW back in 2004 I was training for my first marathon and, at the time, they didn't have the "activity points" they do now. Activity points are points you receive from working out that you were able to incorporate into your diet. Okay, so if you don't know about WW points you're probably already confused right now. But basically, with WW new program I was able to eat more because I exercised. That's good...or was it? What ended up happening is I would workout HOURS a day (because I was now training for the Jerusalem Marathon) but was only allowed to eat a partial amount of the points attained by my workout. This wasn't the case for most WW members but it was for me because of my "excessive" (excessive by WW standards) amount of exercise. Bottom line - I lost 3 lbs total by the end of Feb 2011. I immediately decided to stop attending WW meetings (a huge time consumer in my life anyway...) but tried to continue eating healthy like I had in the past.

For a while now many people at my church have been on this program called "Ideal Protein." The name alone scared me. First, because I'm a professed Carbaholic! Second, because I don't eat much protein and the protein I do eat is typically that which comes from a pig! And third, because I heard this program didn't allow people to work out!!! WHAT? A healthy diet program which didn't incorporate exercise???? NO WAY I was going to do this program. No...Way!!!

Over time I kept an eye out on my Ideal Protein friends. Were they losing weight? Were they keeping it off? How did they feel? And, what I saw seemed to be very good results in all the people I knew. One friend had lost almost 200 lbs on the program!

So, I decided to go to my friend of over 10+ years Dr. Ron Wichin. Dr. Wichin was the "go to" guy for the Ideal Protein diet. As an avid cyclist himself (and someone who lost over 75 lbs on this diet), I knew he would have the answers I needed about this program. Of course, the first words out of my mouth were about the lack of exercise incorporated into the program. What I came to learn was simple: the first week of the program you are depleting your calories so drastically that if I were to exercise I would deplete them even further causing my body to go into starvation mode and not allowing me to lose weight. Made sense. So, all Dr. Wichin asked of me was to take a week off exercise. Well, what better time than right after my marathon! Perfect! It'll not only give my body time to recovery but it will also allow me the week I needed to begin this diet.

The first week of the diet was hard. I won't mince words here. As I said, I'm not a huge protein fan but I'm even less of a veggie fan. This diet involves pre-packaged foods (the ONLY place you get your carbs) with 5-8 oz of lean meat/fish for dinner and 4 cups daily (2 at lunch, 2 at dinner) of veggies and unlimited amounts of lettuce. So, seeing the banana on my counter the first week was a pretty big temptation. But, I had a goal in mind and it didn't include the banana!

I was well educated as to the potential first-week "symptoms" of headaches, fatigue, etc. But, my body adjusted quite well. Day one I felt a little cranky, day two I had a headache and I was extremely tired for several days. However, once my body got adjusted to the food (or lack of carbs thereof...) I felt GREAT!

Another concern I had about this diet was that it might be similar to the Adkins Diet. Well, Dr. Wichin explained to me that although our bodies go into ketosis (normal of many diets) they don't go into ketoacidosis (like Adkins). There is definitely portion control of the meats we are allowed to eat, high fat meats are not allowed and we eat a lot of veggies to balance out the acid in our bodies.

What happens with this diet is that you deplete the carbs in your body in such a manner than your body learns to live off your own fat reserves and you lose weight! The specifics of the science behind the diet is better off explained by someone else but all I can say is - IT WORKS! My first 6 days I've lost 8.5 lbs and I'm thinner now than I was before I got married and had kids!

Obviously my first-week results weren't typical of a woman my age & weight (3-4 lbs is typical) and I don't expect to lose crazy amounts of weight like that every week. But, being closer to my goal weight will help me be the triathlete I really want to be without the added stresses that having an additional 39 lbs (now 30.5 lbs) on my body causes.

Now it's time to start week two!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Athletes from Washington DC Metro run the Inaugural Jerusalem Marathon in Support of Team Shalva

“…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Those words were never truer than for the runners of the Inaugural Jerusalem Marathon held on March 25, 2011. Finishers in every marathon realize the perseverance it takes to not only train and complete the race but also to break through both the physical and mental “wall” of a marathon before the finish line is even in sight. The combination of this racecourse with its hills of biblical proportions and recent terror activity made for an even greater challenge to its participants.

Two days prior to the marathon, Jerusalem had its first deadly terror attack in many years. Runners were concerned this might cause the race to be canceled but Mayor Nir Barkat, a five-time veteran marathoner, had different ideas. He said “We will not be terrorized. We will continue living our lives and opening up Jerusalem for the benefit of the world to enjoy. There are no cancelations and our plans are on track.” “The real Jerusalem will be showcased in the marathon- a peaceful, happy and healthy city which is more beautiful than ever.”

Among the 10,000 runners that day was my friend Anna Koutchmar and myself. Anna (Herndon, VA) was running her first half marathon (13.1 miles) and I (Sterling, VA) was running my fifth marathon (26.2 miles). The marathon racecourse covered almost the entire city of Jerusalem and provided an opportunity to see many sites in a way most tourists will never be able to experience them. But these views came at a cost and the payment was the considerable number of hills you had to conquer to reach the finish line!

Jerusalem is the home to Christians, Jews and Muslims and is considered to be the most holy city in the world. Runners in the race were just as diverse as the city itself with a mix of many different languages, races and religions. Anna is originally from Jerusalem and is of the Jewish faith, while I grew up as a Christian in Kentucky. So between the two of us, we were a perfect example of the cosmopolitan flavor offered by the race. Many people commented on the challenge this course offered, while others discussed the spiritual experience they had. Mayor Barkat said “when you run a marathon in a city, that city enters your soul.” I can tell you that was definitely my experience. From the moment the pre-race music began playing I burst into tears because of the spiritual experience that had already begun in me a few days prior to the race.

So, what makes a person decide to go to another country to run a race of this nature? Well, let’s go back to December 2010 when Anna and I were complete strangers.

I had originally become familiar with the Jerusalem Marathon through Ashburn resident Elena Steinke. I met Elena about a year ago during a triathlon-related event and immediately became friends. She later invited me to join her in her homeland for Jerusalem's first full marathon and provided me with information about joining an amazing group called Team Shalva. As part of a commitment to Team Shalva, members would raise funds for Shalva – The Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel.

In 2009, I had raised funds for McLean Bible Church’s Jill’s House as part of my commitment to run the Marine Corps Marathon. Jill’s House is a home for special needs children in McLean, VA. It's a place where parents can bring their children to get a respite from the daily demands of caring for a child with special needs. Because I attend McLean Bible Church, Jill’s House holds a special place in my heart, and therefore the cause seemed like a great fit.

When I found out about Team Shalva, I mentioned it to several friends. Although one of my friends couldn’t attend the race, her good friend Anna was overwhelmed by the thought of racing in her hometown of Jerusalem and raising funds for such an amazing program like Shalva, which provides its services free to the children.

As part of our commitment to run the Jerusalem Marathon, Anna and I raised more than $7200 for Shalva. Knowing we were partnering with Shalva gave us the extra incentive to finish the race. Some of the children of Shalva will never be able to walk, let alone run, a race of this nature. What we came to find out over the course of time was that Israel’s Shalva had been the model for Jill’s House in McLean. It was a “small world” connection that helped keep us focused over the course of our training and the race itself.

Elena, who was born in Jerusalem, ran the half marathon with her husband, Rolf. As we all planned for the trip abroad, a very sweet story unfolded. I had initially introduced Elena and Anna to each other through email. Since they both grew up in Jerusalem they tried to determine what part of the city they had each lived as children. Within a matter of minutes they came to the quick realization that not only did they know each other as children but they used to run and play together on the streets of Jerusalem! Now they would get the opportunity to run in Jerusalem together again! And, even though they have lived about 10 minutes away from each other for years, their aunts, who live in Israel, have been friends for more than 40 years!

The night before the race, Team Shalva members were encouraged by the words of Rabbi Kalman Samuels (Founder and Director of Shalva) when he read from Isaiah 40:31: “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” He also quoted from Zechariah 4:7 “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground.” Level ground was not quite what we received on race day but we did complete the race of a lifetime.

Anna and I are thankful for the friendship we have formed through our race training and fundraising efforts for Shalva. We also want to send a special thank you to the citizens of Israel and our Team Shalva teammates who not only cheered us on during our race but who opened their hearts and homes to us while on our journey to the finish line.