Saturday, June 30, 2007

Run Report: Saturday Long Run

This morning I headed out for my long run of the week. I am at the end of Week 1 of half marathon training and today's run was 4 miles. I spent some time yesterday fiddling around with Map My Run trying to create a route that was as close to 4 miles as possible. I managed to create one that was 4 miles exactly. I love Map My Run. I set out at 8:20 a.m. and hoped to finish in 40 minutes. The weather this morning was lovely: about 60 degrees, dry, and sunny. I felt good. Strong. I maintained a steady pace and pulled into the driveway at home exactly 40 minutes later, at 9:00. Well, that's easy: I averaged 10:00 per mile.

Here's my route: Four Miles Around Chelsea

Second Step: Running

There is a reason I titled this blog Running into the Sun. I have a new obsession: running.

I ran cross-country in high school (all four years). I had the good fortune to be on the team during some of its very best years. We won our conference championship twice, districts once, and were district runners-up once. We won a lot of invitationals, including one three times in a row. I was a member of the "varsity seven" all four years. I was not a points-getter; that was reserved for the top five runners. I was usually the sixth or seventh runner, a non-point-scoring place but crucial to our team's success if I managed to finish ahead of our opponents' point-scoring runners. I was good, but not great. My personal best 5K time in high school was 23:21. That is a respectable time but I was never going to find myself at the front of the field. I was content with this. I enjoyed the camaraderie of being on the team more than anything, and for four months a year I was in awesome shape.

After high school I let running fall by the wayside. I would occasionally run in the summer or at college during one of my rare "get in shape" periods. Essentially, though, I was done with running. I really gave up on running once I finished graduate school and got a job in the real world. That was also when I started gaining weight in earnest.

Last fall, after losing about 15 pounds on Weight Watchers, I decided it was time for me to start running again. At the time I still weighed over 200 pounds. I was not sure how my knees and hips were going to react to the strain of running. I was not 16 any more. I started off slowly, cautiously, timidly. I ran at a 12:00 minutes per mile pace. I just wanted to make sure I could still do it. My joints protested mightily! I chuffed breath like a steam train. I still managed to make it one mile. Once I had gotten past that first obstacle, I took off and never looked back. I was on my way.

I ran my first 5K in 6 1/2 years last November. My goal for the race was just to finish. My second, but not as important, goal was to finish without walking. I achieved both that day. I ran that 5K in 32:58, one of my two slowest 5K times ever. As soon as I finished, I said, "Next time, I will be faster!"

Since November I have competed in four additional races (three 5Ks and one 5.25-miler). I have improved my 5K time with each successive race. A week ago I ran in the Michigan Sugar Festival 5K and took second place in my age group. Here I am on the final approach to the finish line:

I have my sights set on a much bigger goal, however: the Detroit Free Press Marathon & Half Marathon. October 21, 2007 in Detroit. I am going to run the half marathon. I have been training using Hal Higdon's Novice Half Marathon Training program.

This blog is about my weight loss and about my running. The two are intertwined. I started running to aid my weight loss. My weight loss improved my running. I can't have one without the other. I'm going to talk about my push towards Goal (that's my Weight Watchers Goal), my training, my races, the food I eat, everything. This has been a remarkable journey thus far and I have the rest of my life to continue it.

First Step: Joining Weight Watchers

On August 29, 2006, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting. I had returned from my vacation to Hawaii two weeks earlier and when we uploaded our trip pictures to our home computer, I was appalled at how I looked. The "before" pictures in the previous post were both from Hawaii.

Clearly something had to change. I had been turning a blind eye to the weight gain I had experienced over the previous 5 years, just drifting along past 180, 190, 200, 210, and now 220 pounds. Every so often I'd buy some new, roomier clothes and think, "well, maybe I should lose some weight." I never did.

It was my co-worker and her success with Weight Watchers (she lost 60-plus pounds), combined with a "last straw" moment, that finally spurred me forward. My "last straw" moment came when I attempted to put on a pair of pants that had always been my old standbys for when I felt fat. I had always been able to wear them. Always. Until now. Since the last time I had put them on, the previous spring, I had gained more weight and I couldn't get them zipped up. My fat pants were too small.

My "fat pants" were too small.

It was time. I went to the meeting and was weighed in for the first time. My starting weight. 218.2 pounds. I decided to go on the Points plan, where I would be keeping track of everything I ate and how many Points each food item was worth. I had a daily total Points target that I could not exceed and 35 additional weekly Flex Points I could use at any time. That was all I needed to do to lose weight.

And lose weight I did. By the end of September, I had lost 10 pounds. By the end of November, 20. Mid-February, 25. End of April, 30.

As of today, June 30, 2007, I weigh 173.4 pounds. I have lost 44.8 pounds total. My goal weight is 155. I have 18.4 pounds left to lose. My story here picks up at this point: the homestretch to Goal. But first, the second part of the equation:


Introductory Remarks

Last August, I weighed approximately 220 pounds. This was me then:

And this is me now, ten months later and 40 pounds lighter:

This is the story of how I turned my life around.