Run The Great Wide Somewhere

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere and running is how I'm finding the courage to explore this wonderful world.

Friday Update with NSV

Current Weight: 181.6
Change:
- From Last Week – 0.2 pound loss
- From Highest Weight -  52.4 pound loss

Meh.  I was a perfect little angel…ok starting Monday, I was a perfect little angel.  Over the weekend I was “saying goodbye to junky carbs”.  Krispy Kreme donuts.  Potato chips.  Popeyes biscuits.  On Monday, I put my new plan into place and have been 99.9% perfect this week.

Here’s how I did on the five things I’m changing:

  1. Counting CarbsBreakfast – 30g; Lunch & Dinner – 45g each, snacks – 15g each. 
    • I did really well here.  Probably a bit lower than these goals with 15 for breakfast and 30 for lunch.  Green smoothie for breakfast with protein powder.  Smoothie with peanut butter and almond milk after workouts.  Moderate fruit (4-5 a day) and pushing the veggies.
  2. Structured Eating – 3 meals and 3 snacks per day.
    • I did ok with this.  Three meals all the time and I tried to remember all snacks, but I tended to miss my mid-morning one.
  3. Running – Focus on speed and form.
    • A+ for me!  I did my first two scheduled runs, my 8×400 repeats on Tuesday and a tempo run on Thursday.  I did both under the speed suggested in the book (just a bit faster) and am shocked by how fast I’m actually able to run.  I’m a bit afraid of getting injured by going so much faster, but I’m going to trust the training and stick to the plan.  I also did the two days of scheduled cross training on the stationary bike (while watching Charmed on Netflix).
  4. Strength – Commit to 2x a week strength. 
    • A+ for me!  I bought the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women because it also has a structured training plan (six months!) with very specific exercises.  It has a 3x a week recommendation, so that’s what I’m starting with.  I did workouts on Monday and Wednesday following my bike cross training.
  5. Adventure – Start now!
    • Today’s adventure is going to have to wait.  It’s Erik’s 40th birthday today so I have party planning to take care of and we’re doing a garage sale tomorrow so I have to get all our crap, I mean treasures organized, packed up, and tagged today!  You know what?  I’ve come back to this and decided that I can’t start off by skipping this.  We’re going to go to the Devil’s Millhopper today.  It’s a gorgeous sinkhole that you can go down a bunch of steps into.  The vegetation is really lush and there are waterfalls all around the sinkhole.  There’s also a nature walk around the sinkhole.  It’s only three miles away from my house, so that’s today’s adventure!godothem

Overall I had a good week.  I ate very well and did all my scheduled workouts even when work threw some wrenches in the way.  Of course I’m disappointed not to see the scale moving down but I had a few non scale victories this week that I’m going to focus on instead:

  • Being able to run my 8×400 repeats at an average pace of 8:27.  Crazy!
  • Being able to run my 2 mile tempo run at an average pace of 9:20 without feeling too exhausted.
  • I get sports massage and I was discussing my weight loss goals with my massage therapist and she was shocked that I wanted to lose 40 more pounds.  She said with my body composition that I need to ignore the BMI charts because if I lost 40 pounds I’d be too thin.  Now, I don’t actually agree with that, but it’s nice that someone who is pretty familiar with my body was surprised that I need to lose that much weight.
  • I had a co-worker comment that I had lost a lot of weight (ha ha I’ve actually gained 10lbs this year!).  Now, I was wearing some spanx and a new dress, but hey, I take compliments wherever I can get them!
  • I’d been having some “spells” where I just felt off.  Not dizzy, but kind of out of it a bit.  I was suspecting that they were blood sugar related.  This week I didn’t have any.  I think my lower carb plus scheduled eating is helping to keep my blood sugar level throughout the day.

This coming week I’m sticking with my Five Things Plan (patent pending).  My diet plans always have an exception for major holidays and direct family birthdays.  So, today will have cake and alcohol and some delicious stuffed shrimp.  But only during the 6pm-midnight party period.  And I’ll have a rest day Saturday and my long run on Sunday.plateau

I truly believe that I’m making progress on reducing my body fat % and building muscle.  I’m fine with it being a slow process as long as I’m going the right direction with a diet and exercise plan that I can stick with for the long run.  I just never have “gotten” the concept of a drastic diet/exercise plan that is clearly not a life-long plan.  Why go through all the pain and effort to lose 50lbs if you know that it’s just going to come back on when you (inevitably) can’t stick with the all carrots/no carrots/only red foods/no red foods/pills/shots/shakes diet for the rest of your life?

What diet/eating plan has been most successful for you and why?

8×400 If It Was Easy Everyone Would Do It

So today I did my very first “official” speedwork.  Pam at We Run Disney recommended the book Run Less, Run Faster to me when I was bemoaning my inability to get a pinecone trophy at my 5k last weekend.  I dutifully went out and bought it (along with The New Rules of Lifting for Women and book 5 of Game of Thrones) and mapped out my training schedule for the year.

The book recommends a 3×2 approach which is three days of running, (repeats, tempo, long run) and two days of cross training (bike, swim or row).  Monday was my cross train day and I did the stationary bike plus day one of my new strength training plan.  I hate the stationary bike so very very much but I gave it a try and apparently, when you add Charmed on Netflix streaming to the stationary bike, it’s not so bad after all!

Today was 8×400 repeats.  Hmmm 8×400 = 1,600 = 2 miles.  I can do two miles easy!  What I didn’t realize is that with repeats 2 miles actually equals 5 miles with warm up/cool down/repeats and recovery laps.  I had heard of repeats but didn’t really know how they worked.  So here’s what I did for my prescribed 8×400:

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  • I looked in the chart in the book to get my goal pace for the repeats (it’s based on your current 5k time).
  • I went to a local track (at noon because it was rainy all morning).
  • The track was a 1/4 mile track which conveniently equals 400meters, so one lap = one repeat.
  • I set my Garmin to let me manually hit a button for a lap.
  • The book also prescribed the proper warmup, recovery intervals (also 400m) and cooldown.
  • I jogged one mile at a slow-ish speed.  The last lap of that mile I did pickups (you just run faster then slower for short bits) and butt kicks and knee lifts.
  • I started a new lap on my Garmin, then I ran my first repeat.  It was a full lap, 400m, 1/4 mile.  My goal pace was 8:40 which is insane.  I don’t run that fast ever.  Which is apparently why they call it “speed work”.  I glanced at  my watch and I was going a bit faster than my goal speed which was crazy.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up the pace but I just kept pushing it.  The first lap felt pretty good.
  • Then I jogged my “recovery” lap.
  • The second repeat was a little harder, but still felt good.
  • I walked/ran my next recovery lap.
  • The third repeat felt hard.  Really hard.  Especially the last 100m or so.  I started thinking maybe I mis-remembered the # of repeats.  It couldn’t have been 8.  Probably 4.
  • I walked/ran my next recovery lap, pulled out my phone and checked my workout schedule.  Crap.  It really did say 8.  How am I going to 8 of these monsters?  I’m probably going to die out here.
  • I grabbed some water and then started repeat #4.  Yep, still hard.  Still painful.  OK, I’m going to quit after this one.  Four is respectable for a first go at speed work.  I’m sure next time will be easier.  I’ll just do my recovery  lap and then I’ll go back to my car.
  • I walked/ran the recovery lap and convinced myself to do just one more repeat.
  • Repeat #5.  Geez it’s hot.  And sunny.  And my breathing is all messed up.  And my legs feel like lead.  Crap, I’m only half way around this huge track.  OK, just keep going.  Almost there and then you can quit.  Just do your recovery lap to cool down.
  • Water, recovery lap walk/run.  Well, maybe I can do just one more repeat.
  • Repeat #6.  Why did I do this?  I’m not fast.  I’m just going to pass out and die.  Well, at least I have my roadID on so they can identify my body.  Just keep moving.  Just keep breathing.  This can be your last repeat.  Six is a lot.  Just one more recovery lap to cool down.
  • Water, recovery lap walk/run.  Only two left.  I’m not a quitter.  I can run slower if I need to but I’m damn well going to do this.
  • Repeat #7.  Geez it’s hot.  And my legs feel like lead.  Push, push, push.  Almost there.  Done.
  • Recovery lap walk/run.  Only one more.
  • Repeat #8.  Finish strong.  Last lap.  If it was easy everyone would do it.  If you want to get faster, you have to learn to deal with pain and discomfort.  You are NOT going to die, just keep going.
  • Yay!  Last recovery lap.  Walked the whole thing slow as molasses but done!

I actually ran all the repeats except #6 and #7 faster than my goal pace which is absolutely freaking shocking to me.

8x400n1It wasn’t really fun (ok #1 was kind of fun) and it did hurt a lot and it was way too hot and sunny, but I’m so glad I got it done and I can see how this kind of structured work will really help my racing speed eventually.IMG_2649

I’m glad I only have to do this workout once a week.  And next time I’m going in the morning because (1) it was crazy hot and sunny and (2) I ended up with my first sunburn of the year!  I may find a quarter mile loop in the neighborhood because the track is a bit of a drive from work and with the added miles, this took longer than my usual workday runs.

It may not be realistic, but here’s my goal.  I want to be on this list next year for the 2015 WDW 10k:wdw10k14

Have you ever done “formal” speedwork?  Does it get easier or do you always feel like you’re going to die?

Race Recap Flatwoods 5k at Austin Cary Forest

It has been months and months since my last local race, the Healthy Hearts 5k in September.  While big races have their own challenges (longer distance runs, transportation issues, expos), smaller local races cause me a different kind of anxiety.  I live in a college town and the runners who live here are fast.  So although I finish in the top 30% of big races, I often finish in the bottom 30% of local races.  It’s not the best thing for my ego, but it does give me a lot of motivation to put the work in to speed up.flatwoods5k

This is the first time I’ve run the Flatwoods 5k, but I was excited about it because it’s held in Austin Cary which is a beautiful local forest.

Flatwoods 5kThe course is all on this limestone road that loops through the woods.  No pavement, no traffic and very few spectators.  There was one water stop about half-way through.

I woke up with some stomach pains and I was actually afraid I was going to have my very first DNS (did not start).  I ended up not eating anything and taking a pepto and a zyrtec and crossing my fingers and heading out.  Because I spent some extra time dealing with tummy trouble, I actually ended up getting to the race only about 15 minutes before the start.  That is completely unlike me and way out of my comfort zone.  I was able to pick up my bib and hustle over to the start area.  I lined up around the middle of the start area and the race director gave some instructions and pointed out a small drone aircraft flying over us (you might be able to see it in the photo below) that would be shooting pictures/video of the start and finish. Flatwoods 5k A few minutes later the start gun went off.

Flatwoods 5k

Like all race starts, it was a bit crowded at first and I found myself behind a group running a bit slower than my goal of a sub-30 minute race.  As soon as I realized that I was behind pace, I passed and sped up.  I was relieved to find that my stomach seemed to have settled down and that I was going to be able to run after all.  I was feeling pretty good and looked at my Garmin and realized I was running much too fast for this early in the race.  So, I slowed back to a middle pace, pushing it a bit but not too much.

Flatwoods5kmap

About a mile in, I started feeling tired and over things.  I was thinking that quitting might be fun.  Just hike over to my car and go home.  I think these are the kind of thoughts that swing through my head during any race that I’m pushing myself with either distance or speed.  I ignored those thoughts and just focused on each footfall, each runner that was around me, the water stop that wasn’t too far away, the gorgeous landscape we were running through.

I stopped for a quick walk through the water stop.  I hadn’t hydrated enough before the race, so the water was welcome (and I actually wished the cup was a bit bigger!).  Then, back to running.  I was feeling refreshed from the water and felt like I could pick up the pace a bit more.  I was running in the same group of people, taking turns passing and being passed.  About a mile from the finish, I put my music on and pushed as hard as I could without feeling like I was risking burning out before the finish.

About half a mile from the finish I sped up a bit more and was passed by one couple and passed about four more people in the last stretch.

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It was a chip timed race but the timing was from the gun, not from when you crossed the start.  My Garmin gave me 29:55.  I’ve done a 5k faster, but I’m happy with this result.  Flatwoods5kpaceI was really hoping for (but not expecting) one of these pine cone trophies for the winners and top three in each age group but it was not to be.  I did pass some people who won in other age groups, but I’ve found that my new age group (40-44) is pretty darn competitive.  I’m sixth in these age group results even with a sub-30 (barely!)! 103 out of 167.   fw5kJust more incentive to step up my game, lose weight and do some formal speed work.  I’m getting one of those next year!Flatwoods 5k Awards

Although I didn’t get an award or a PR, I really enjoyed this race course.  The race was well organized and well run and the course was gorgeous.  It’s outside of town, but not too far from my house so it’s pretty convenient and it was very affordable.  The race shirt was tech material, unisex but pretty nice.  I’ll definitely run it again next year.

Friday Update – And Five Things I’m Going To Change

Current Weight: 181.8
Change:
- From Last Week – 0.4 pound gain
- From Highest Weight -  52.2 pound loss

Well, I was doing really well this week, especially since I was on vacation, until yesterday.  Bad things happened in eating land yesterday.  Here’s how it went down:

thinmints

This week was my “recovery” week that I took off to recuperate from the insane 60-70 hour work weeks I’ve been doing for a special project basically since last September.  The hours were bad, but the frustration of having to figure out how to do things (basically reinventing the wheel) and the worry that I’d fail were even worse.  Last Monday was the last day of that assignment (yay!!!).  My nerves were shot, my motivation was gone, my “doing things I don’t want to do” mojo was all used up.  So this week was designed to get my groove back (so to speak).

  • Monday I ran, had acupuncture and an 80 minute massage at a spa (thanks Erik for the gift certificate!).  Then I had the final work meeting for my project which went better than I expected.  Fitness Grade (FG) = A; Relaxing Grade (RG) = C (the project meeting was looming all day and my Dad had some health issues I was worried about).
  • Tuesday I drove 1 1/2 hours to Crescent Beach all by myself and read and napped and took an hour long walk down the beach.  The water was too cold for this Florida girl to swim, but I did wade out to my knees.  Ahhhh.  I just love the beach, I wish I lived closer.  I tend to oversnack at the beach but I did great with a Luna protein bar and some fruit.  FG = A- (I should have done some strength work) RG = A
  • Wednesday I read and blogged and caught up on some friends’ blogs and met a friend for lunch (and did not make the best choices) and then read some more.  My left knee was feeling tight and tweaky from Monday’s run so I justified skipping my run.  I ate pretty well but not perfectly.  FG = C; RG = B
  • Thursday I watched Game of Thrones and played on the computer in the morning, had a work-related lunch meeting, early voted in the City elections and went to Publix to pick up some snacks.  Oh-oh.  Here are where things went downhill quickly.  Whenever I have working or networking lunches, I don’t enjoy my food so I end up leaving still hungry even if I ate shrimp and grits and sweet potato fries (just hypothetically of course).  I often turn to food as a relaxing drug and I somehow convinced myself that it was my recovery week and I deserved to snack and that snacking would make me much more relaxed.  Yeah.  That happened.  Chips AND cookies.  And a Mtn Dew.  Ugh.  FG = F- ; RG = B-

So, I’m not surprised to see a bit of a gain.  I’m not going to beat myself up over this but I do think it signals that this eating moderately and trying to avoid junk isn’t going to work for me RIGHT NOW.  Hopefully it will one day.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, here’s what I’m going change so that I can start making progress again:

  1. Counting Carbs – I had gestational diabetes with Eli which I was able to control with diet alone.  The diet included counting carbs at meals and it worked well and I wasn’t hungry and felt fine.  My last blood work had my HA1c at 6.7 which is right at the beginning of pre-diabetes, so I am clearly having blood sugar issues which is likely what is causing me to have trouble losing weight. Breakfast – 30g; Lunch & Dinner – 45g each, snacks – 15g each. Without distance runs this summer, hopefully the carb levels will be fine for my energy.
  2. Structured Eating – I do best when my blood sugar is stable.  When I get too hungry, I make bad choices.  I’m going to commit to 3 meals and 3 snacks per day.  I managed it when I was pregnant by making it a priority, losing weight is a high priority for me, I need to own it.
  3. Running – No more than 6 miles at a time.  Focus on speed and form.  Integrate real speed work into my week (guess I have to figure out what tempo runs and Yasso 800′s really are).
  4. Strength – Commit to 2x a week strength.  Contact a trainer to show me how to really use the free weights instead of just improvising.  Research local classes like cross-fit.  Look for used PX-90 type workout videos.
  5. Adventure – I’m not going to wait to get to my goal weight to start adventuring again.  I’ve gotten so involved in distance running/training and blogging that my weekend adventures have gotten few and far between.  I’ve got Fridays off (I work four ten hour days) so Eli and I are going to start having one outdoor adventure every Friday. I’ll schedule them out based on the weather.  Maybe I’ll even make an Adventure Jar and put ideas on slips of paper and we’ll randomly draw one out for an element of surprise.  Today we’re going to the springs!

Those are my five things!  Make sure to check out the awesome Friday Free-Form Five Things linkup sponsored by You Signed Up For What!?!, Eat Pray Run, DC and Mar on the Run.  Today’s linkup is free-form topics so you never know what awesomeness is in store for you to find!

A Little Humor: Racing or Drinking?

After all of the running world drama last week (see Patty’s post on Self’s #TuTuGate2014 and Julie’s take on the #RaceBandit for details) I thought it would be good to share a little running humor.

Most of my blog ideas occur to me when I’m in the middle of a run.  This one is no different, I was thinking about how I saw a few runners veering off into the woods at my last big race and that it was funny that the only times that adults tend to pee outside are (1) during a race and (2) when they’ve been drinking.  And so, today’s post was born, all the ways in which long-distance racing and drinking are similar.  Just a little light-hearted humor, I hope you enjoy it in the spirit in which it was intended!Racing and Drinking - More Alike Than You Thought

In both long-distance racing and drinking:

  1. Inappropriate bathroom usage in the great outdoors is a common sight.The world is my port-a-potty
  2. You can do it alone, but it’s much more fun with friends.Tink10kCarH-2
  3. Photos of you during the process are either amazing because you’re exuberant: CST-DDD-Tutu-Sarah-EastmanCST2-yannior absolutely horrifying because you feel like you might be going to die:LDR
  4. It’s completely possible that you will puke at some point.runorpuke
  5. Towards the end you insist that you will never EVER do this again.knope-1
  6. About a week later, you are looking forward to the next time you can do it.takeallmymoney
  7. You discover surprise chafing in the shower afterwards.

    shower

    I was looking for a funny shower photo, but figured this was even better. :)

  8. The next day you’re in lots of pain.cantmove
  9. Sadly, recovery from both racing and drinking gets harder as you get older.recovery
  10. You’ll try the most bizarre remedies to feel better.remedies

Of course, the biggest difference between drinking and racing is that running makes you happier, healthier and expands your world.  Drinking just makes you feel that way for a few hours, running makes you feel that way for the rest of your life!

runningduck

What bizarre connections have you found between racing/running and other experiences in life?

 

 

So You Want To Be A Princess? 2015 Update

So you want to be a princess?  You’ve seen pictures from prior runDisney Princess Half races, or someone you know has run the race, or maybe you just happened to be in the parks during race weekend and saw all the proud, limping runners sporting their shiny medals.  Maybe you’re thinking it looks like an amazing experience (it is!) but that you couldn’t do it (you can!).  Or maybe you kind of want to try it but have so many questions about the whole process that it seems too overwhelming.  Read on, princess (or prince!), and I’ll try to answer all of your questions and convince you that running down Main Street and through Cinderella’s Castle is something you can and should experience.IMG_2202

Registration for the 7th Annual Disney Princess Half Marathon opens up to the general public at noon EST on July 15 (and probably about a week earlier for Annual Passholders, DVC members and Disney Visa Card holders).  It is an exciting, women-focused (but not women-only) race held at Disney World.  This half marathon is on Sunday, February 22, 2015 and registration sells out faster and faster each year.

In 2014, runDisney upped the ante by adding the Enchanted 10k to the weekend’s events.  The race schedule is:

  • Friday morning, February 20 – Royal Family 5k
  • Saturday morning, February 21 – Enchanted 10k
  • Sunday morning, February 22 – Princess Half Marathon

If you sign up for and complete both the 10k and the Half Marathon in the same weekend, you get the glory of completing the Glass Slipper Challenge (and an extra medal!).  Finishing any or all of these three races is a great accomplishment and one that you can reach with some planning, preparation and training!

As a two-year veteran (and internet research expert!) of this race, I put together some facts and tips if you’re considering registering for the Princess Weekend races:

Registration Information:

  1. This is a great race to use as a motivator to get in shape.  If you register (at RunDisney.com) in July, you have seven months to train.  Unless you have serious medical issues, seven months is enough time to go from sedentary to finishing a half marathon.  You probably won’t win, but you can finish!
  2. The registration fee is nonrefundable and the race will be expensive.  Last year the half marathon cost $160 (plus Active.com’s processing fees), the 10k was $95, the Glass Slipper Challenge was $270 and the 5k was $60.   These races seem to get more expensive each year, so you can add $10-25 to each of those prices when you’re planning for 2015.  I plunked down that money on the first day registration opened both years and considered it a bet on myself that I could succeed.  If the only thing you are unsure of is your ability to get fit enough to finish, I recommend registering as soon as possible.  And considering runDisney races are now selling out in hours or days, it’s a good idea to mark your calendar for regular (or early if you qualify) registration and plan to get it done as soon as it opens.
  3. If you do get pregnant, injured, or can’t run for whatever reason, RunDisney does offer a deferral option for the 10k and half marathon (but not the 5k or kids races).  There is a deadline of several months prior to the race, you have to e-mail RunDisney (or Trackshack, the company who helps with the race logistics) and get the deferral approved.  Then, they keep your money until the next time your same race rolls around (you used to be able to pick any RunDisney race to defer to, but that is changing) you get an early registration into the race which you pay for again, and then you get your first registration fee refunded to you less a processing charge ($45 prior to January 8, 2015 and $70 between January 9 and February 5, 2015).  You can defer to the same race in 2016.
  4. You cannot transfer your bib to anyone else.  There is a “black market” for bib sales on various social media sites, but it is unofficial and against runDisney’s rules.  The results will stay in your name and if you get caught (unlikely but possible if the person running under your name gets injured or ill or misbehaves), you can be banned from future runDisney events.  In addition, runDisney is implementing a new policy that runners must pick up their own bibs with photo id, so if you can’t make it to the Expo, you won’t be able to let someone else pick up your bib for you.
  5. If the race sells out before you can register, you still may have the option to run under some travel agencies or charities.  If you run for a charity, you will have to do fundraising well above the registration price for that charity, however you often get additional perks like a room, discounted park tickets, charity t-shirts, special events, support and community and the great feeling of knowing you are supporting a cause you care about. phm minnieTraining Tips:
  1. The first thing to do is assess your current fitness level.  If that’s easy because you’re pretty much just fit enough to get from your bed to your car to your office and back then you’ll need to build a base.  Thin, athletically gifted twenty year olds might be able jump right into half marathon training without any fitness base, but the rest of us mortals need to get our bodies used to the idea of physical activity gradually.
  2. Build a fitness base.  This lets your lungs, heart, muscles, tendons and bones get strong enough to withstand the rigor of half marathon training.  What I did was to do a three mile walk three times a week for three months.  I’m very injury prone and I think this helped me avoid some of those pesky overuse injuries from doing too much too soon.  Cross training with swimming, biking and weight training are great additions to explore as you progress.
  3. Pick a training plan.  They all work, but picking one early will help you map out your training calendar.  Jeff Galloway is the official RunDusney trainer and his training plans are excellent at getting you to the start line uninjured and to the finish line in the upright position. He also advocates the run/walk interval method.  This is where you alternate set periods of running and walking for the entire run.  IMG_0214He’s also an amazing guy!
  4. STICK TO YOUR PLAN.  I’ve been all nice up to now, but here’s the hard truth.  This is the one step that determines whether you finish or not.  You will be sore.  Things will hurt.  You will go on vacation.  You will be stressed, tired, have allergies, have sick kids, have too much work, just not feel like it…  You can miss a walk or run and somehow that turns into a week or a month and suddenly it’s too close to the race to safely prepare for the distance.  Or you can miss a walk or run and then recommit to the next one, start over and commit to invest in yourself and your health and your success.  If you stick to your plan and do most of the scheduled workouts, you have a great chance of succeeding.  If you are a mom, this means you will have to put yourself first sometimes.  That’s not selfish, it’s awesome.allwehavetodecide
Everything Else:
  1. Race weekend also includes two days of Kids Runs (from 100 meter dashes up to a mile) which are a lot of fun and quite affordable.  My youngest is so proud of his two medals and often asks to look at pictures from “Eli’s Race”.   See my Kids Races recap herePHMEli1
  2. You have to keep a 16 minute per mile pace or you will be swept from the race.  Here’s how it works.  After the very last person in the very last corral crosses the start line, the infamous balloon ladies start.  These are two (sometimes three) very nice ladies with small balloons who keep a 16 minute per mile pace throughout the race, with no stops for photos or bathroom breaks. IMG_2077 If they get in front of you (and I’ve heard they are very encouraging to those they pass and who are trying to keep up with them) then you are in danger of being swept.  Being swept means being picked up by a bus or van and being transported to the post-finish line area.  Rumor has it that you usually still get your medal, but that is not a guarantee.  Generally you just need to keep an eye on your pace (train for a 15 minute mile pace if possible to allow for bathroom breaks) and skip the photo ops if you’re in danger of being picked up.  If you’re starting in a later corral (more on this later), you’ll want to make sure to take care of any bathroom needs PRIOR to starting because a long bathroom line early in the race if your pace is close to the limit is a sure fire recipe for being at risk of getting swept.  There is no shame in being swept, and the stories from the sweeper bus usually start with tears and end with hugs.
  3. You don’t have to be skinny to be a runner.  All different shapes, sizes and ages run this race successfully.  And you can see a lot of women who are very fast and are not thin at all.IMG_2141There are 24,000 runners for the half and this was one of the earlier (speedier) corrals.
  4. You don’t have to be young to be a runner.  There are some amazingly speedy ladies who are over fifty (they certainly leave me in the dust!).
  5. This race starts EARLY.  The half marathon starts at 5:30am.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, you really need to get up by 2am because the buses run from 3am to 4am.  My body did not like it and I’m an early riser due to a non-sleeping toddler and a job that starts at 6:30am.  The more I race, the more I get used to it, but it is still hard.  And when you’re doing more than one race in a weekend, each successive early wake-up gets harder!
  6. Staying on site at a Disney resort is a huge plus.  The last thing I wanted to do at 3am was figure out how to get to the start line, especially since there were several roads closed already for the race.  Disney has nice special buses that run to all the events, including the expo from all the Disney resorts for this race.  It was great to just hop on a bus at 3am and zone out until we got to the staging area.  Read more about transportation here.
  7. You get to run down Main Street and through the castle.  It is awesome.IMG_2200
  8. There are lots of photo opportunities to take pictures with characters.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  9. There are “real” bathrooms available for the portion of the run through the Magic Kingdom.  Here’s a picture of the best one!IMG_2210
  10. Your friends and family can cheer you on all along the way, including being allowed onto Main Street in the Magic Kingdom before it opens (and they don’t need a park ticket!).
  11. The medals are awesome!IMG_2261
  12. The race retreat is worth the high price if it is your first half marathon.  It is especially worth the price if the weather is cold or rainy.  That wasn’t the case in the last two years, but in February in Florida, the weather can be anywhere between freezing and sweltering.  Even if the weather is wonderful, since you get to the staging area several hours before the race starts, it’s nice to have an enclosed space with “private” port-a-potties and a separate bag-check area.
  13. When you register, they ask for an estimated finish time which you have to support with a previous race of a 10k distance (6.2 miles) or more within the last couple of years.  This time estimate is how they place you in a corral (yes, I dislike the cattle imagery too).  Each corral has a separate start, staggered by a few minutes and it is important to be in the right corral.  If you’re in a corral that is faster than you, you will be in other runners way and they will be zooming past you.  If you’re in a corral that is slower than you, you will spend a lot of time and energy weaving around slower runners/walker.  You don’t have to have a race proof of time on the day of registration, you have a few months to find one to run and to submit an updated finish time to Trackshack.  You used to be able to do this at the expo a few days before the race but they have discontinued this practice.  If you’re going faster than a 16 minute mile walk, you’ll want to find a 10k to run this summer or early fall (check for the cutoff date and mark it on your calendar).  Read more about Corrals, what they are and why you should care here.
  14. You get to wear a costume if you want!  If you’d rather run in just a tank and shorts, that’s fine too, and you won’t feel out of place. But there is a lot of fun in planning, preparing and running in a costume.  Want some ideas?  Check out this post with lots of costume photos! Here’s my favorite race costume so far from the Tink 10k.  IMG_1546Look at that sad little castle in the background (sorry, I’m a WDW girl, Aurora got ripped off with that tiny castle in Disneyland!).
  15. On unexpected benefit I’ve found is that there are so many great groups of runDisney fans and they’re supportive and helpful and inspirational.  I’ve discovered so many friends through this journey that I never would have met otherwise.  PHM1303These ladies are inspirational and a ton of fun!
  16. Is all of the training, planning, logistics and cost worth it?  YES!  And while the actual race was outstanding (see my recap here for 2013 and here for 2014), like most things in life it was the journey to get there that was really life changing.  I’m not the same person I was when I started this journey, I’m stronger, more resilient and a lot more fun!Transformation

Want to know more?  Check out my runDisney Basics series here.  Still have questions, feel free to leave them in a comment below or to e-mail me using the contact form!  Read lots of race recaps to get inspired on your journey!  You CAN do this!  You should do this!  Make it your reality!

 

Friday Five: Five Favorite Fitness Activities

I’m excited to join the link-up with Eat Pray Run DC, Mar on the Run and You Signed up for What?!!  This week’s topic is your five favorite fitness activities.  I’ve been so focused on running, let’s see if I can actually come up with five!

1.  Running (of course).  In every sport I’ve ever done, the running part has been what I have enjoyed the most.  In soccer, I always wanted to play mid-field just so I could sprint up and down the field.  In karate, I loved the runs around the high school hallways and in crew the 1.5 mile runs were where I shined (no one told me until much later that being 5’3″ meant I’d probably never be “good” at rowing competitively!).  Now, running is where I get some much needed alone time and how I prove to myself that I’m tough, disciplined and healthy.  Yes, I <3 running!  My goals for my running are to get much much faster and to do a Ragnar Relay within the next two years.

2. Yoga.  I have trouble taking the time to do yoga, but I really do love it.  I prefer the relaxing types of yoga more than the competitive, power yoga that seems to be so popular.  To me, yoga is not for toning, strengthening or weight loss (although those may be nice side effects), it is for relaxing, calming, inner reflection and gaining flexibility (mental, physical and spiritual).

3. Hiking.  I love hiking and exploring cities and the wilderness by foot.  One of my long-term goals is to hike the Appalachian trail from one end to the other (although I’ll have to see if I can stand the bugs and rodents that are apparently part of the night time experience on the trail).  I also want to hike rim to rim in the Grand Canyon.  In 2008, Erik and I hiked down into the Canyon from the South Rim for a few hours and it was breathtakingly beautiful.  I wasn’t fit enough at the time to consider a full day (or more!) hike but it’s in my future!  I could go on and on and on about the places I want to hike.  My fitness journey in large part has been inspired by the goal of being healthy and fit enough to explore “the great wide somewhere”.

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4. Biking.  I hate the stationary bike more than any other piece of fitness equipment.  It’s boring and painful and just horrid!  But biking out on the street or trails is almost a combination of running and yoga and hiking to me.  I can push the effort enough to get a good workout but at the same time have the time and space to really enjoy the nature that I’m riding through and to spend a little time in self-reflection.  The only downside to biking is the fear of being hit by a car.  We have some off-road trails, but they tend to be used by more extreme mountain bikers.  Although I hate wearing one, I always wear a helmet while I ride just to be safe.

5. Swimming.  Wow, this wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be!  I do really love to swim, although I’m afraid of swimming in open water (sharks, undertows, jellyfish, krackens) which is why I haven’t tackled a triathlon just yet.  I do love swimming in the pool and in our local springs (clear and shark-free).  I’ve tried swimming laps and that is exhausting!  I’m not really good at breathing while I swim laps either, but I’m going to try again this summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You may notice that weight training is not on this list.  While I’m doing it and think it will keep me in running shape (and reduce injuries), I still don’t really enjoy it.  Somehow even though I’m drenched in sweat and breathing hard by the end it still doesn’t really feel like a workout without the cardio…

What are your favorite fitness activities?  Hike, run, bike, swim or click on over to check out the other installments in today’s linkup!

Friday Update – Seriously?!?

Current Weight: 181.4
Change:
- From Last Week – 0.8 pound gain
- From Start of Challenge – 3.6 pound gain
- From Highest Weight -  52.6 pound loss

OK, you know I fess up when I’ve been eating poorly or excessively.  This past week I’ve been exemplary.  I’ve even logged all my food in My Fitness Pal every stinking day which I HATE!

Diet:

  • I focused on getting lots of potassium.  Maybe I had too much fruit?
  • I logged every day and stayed in the weight loss zone for calories.
  • I ate 95% clean, whole foods.

Exercise:

  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – Ran 3.1 miles; mowed grass (first mowing of spring!)
  • Sunday – Rest
  • Monday – Ran 3.1 miles (slow)
  • Tuesday – Weight training (squats, lunges, weights, stairs, abs, etc) 40 minutes
  • Wednesday – Ran 3.1 miles (fast)
  • Thursday – Weight training (squats, weights, stairs, abs, etc) 35 minutes

Stress:

  •  Improving a lot, I’m days away from the end of a major special assignment with only one big hurdle left on Monday night.
  • I’m taking this coming week off (other than the Monday night presentation) to recover.
  • I’ve been getting a deep tissue (like painfully deep) massage once a week to try to help with my upper back/neck tension and my tight calves/hamstrings.

Now, I did see a loss of about two pounds yesterday morning, so I’m hoping today’s weigh in is just water weight from the strength training.  I did push my upper body pretty hard yesterday, upping the weights from last week.  I think that when you’re building muscle sometimes your body retains water to help repair and rebuild the muscle…  That’s what I’m going to have to stick with because other than going on a starvation or completely low carb (no fruit) diet, I really couldn’t have done anything any better this week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, patience, patience, patience.  I committed to give this strength training and clean eating thing a fair trial and it’s only been two weeks.  I just know where I want to get to and it’s hard not to see progress on the scale.  Guess I need to take some measurements.

Focusing on Nutrition – Potassium

I started tracking my food on My Fitness Pal last week to see if it might help me figure out how to get my weight going down again.  I learned that I’m eating more sugars than I think I am, that 1,500 calories isn’t really very much food and that I don’t eat nearly enough Potassium, even when I think I’m doing a great job with nutrition.

So, the first two aren’t that surprising to me, but the Potassium one was.  I have borderline high blood pressure.  Not high enough to need medication, but high enough to be stressful to me any time I see that dreaded blood pressure machine.  Potassium and Magnesium are two key nutrients to help keep blood pressure at the right level and I thought that I was getting the right amount as long as I was eating five fruits and vegetables a day, especially if I included a banana.  Well, I was wrong!

Quick Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional and this isn’t medical advice.  Use common sense and check with your doctor before listening to a blogger please! :)

According to WebMD, an average adult needs to get 4,700mg a day of Potassium every day.  Low levels of potassium in the body can cause heart arrhythmias or palpitations, fatigue, constipation, kidney stones, bone loss, muscle spasms and numbness.  In addition to regulating blood pressure, potassium helps the body regulate fluid levels, build muscle and use carbohydrates.  Some conditions can deplete potassium, including certain medical conditions and medicines (some diuretics and laxatives) and intense and/or long duration exercise (half marathon training!).

The best way to get potassium is through your diet, not supplements.  Generally, potassium supplements should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor because levels that are too high can be dangerous, especially if you are on certain medications (other diuretics or ACE inhibitors) or have kidney conditions.  For a healthy adult with fully functioning kidneys, it is very difficult to eat too much potassium (without supplements), so don’t worry about getting too much through food (unless otherwise instructed by your doctor).

So, just eat a couple of bananas a day and you’re good right?  Well, I was surprised to learn that while Potassium is in most foods, the levels are pretty low.  I was eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and protein and still only getting about half the recommended amount once I saw the numbers calculated.  A medium banana has 425mg of Potassium which is great, but if that was your only food source, you’d need to eat 11 bananas to get the recommended levels.

bananasNo one wants to eat 11 bananas, so here are some other great sources of Potassium to include in your diet:

  • Cup Cooked White Beans – 1,000mg
  • 6 Ounces Cooked Salmon – 1,000mg
  • White Baked Potato – 925mg
  • Cup Cooked Spinach – 840mg
  • 6 Ounce Pork Chop – 750mg
  • Cup of Tomato Juice – 550mg
  • Half Cup Avocado – 550mg
  • Sweet Potato w/skin – 450mg
  • Cup of Cantaloupe – 430mg
  • Medium Banana – 425mg
  • Cup of Milk – 350mg
  • One Ounce Almonds – 250mg
  • Small Orange – 240mg
  • Half Cup Broccoli – 230mg
  • Half Cup Cooked Zucchinni – 220mg
  • Cup Raw Spinach – 170mg
  • 1 1/2 Ounces Dark Chocolate – 165mg
  • Tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 100mg

Raw spinach has less Potassium per cup only because you can fit less into a cup.  Per gram, it’s about the same so don’t feel like you have to cook your spinach if you’re looking for Potassium and you like it raw!

Looking at that list, it seems like it would be pretty easy to get the recommended amount of Potassium, but despite trying to increase my Potassium rich foods, I’m still falling well short of the mark.  This week I’m going to keep a focus on clean eating and try to log all my meals, but my focus is going to be on meeting my Potassium goal only.  I’m curious what the impact will be on both my blood pressure and my weight.

Have you ever tracked a specific mineral or vitamin in your diet?  Do you find it easy to get enough Potassium?

Migrating from Blogger to Self Hosted WordPress: My Adventure

This is the story of how and why I migrated from Blogger to WordPress.

I joined up with Blogger back in January 2013 when I started blogging.  I’d played with Blogger several times in the past, with short-lived personal journal type blogs so I was familiar with the basic setup and was very impressed with the fact that it was free and pretty intuitive to use.

Blogger served me well for the last year as I found my voice and style and I customized my website, bought hosting through GoDaddy to lose the .blogspot.com out of my URL and started getting a great audience and a few new friends in the bargain.  But clouds were on the horizon because Blogger has some very restrictive terms of service which I had unintentionally become out of compliance with.  Specifically, I have an ambassadorship with Bondibands which violated the TOS.  I started hearing rumbles from other bloggers about blogs being “taken” by Blogger for similar (but on a larger scale) violations.  I’ve put countless hours into this project and just the possibility of it being taken away was too much for me to bear in the long term.  I also had heard good things about the flexibility of the self-hosted WordPress platform.

Once I decided to make the move, I started asking around and doing some web research to see what my options were.  WordPress has two basic functions, .com and .org. WordPress.com is similar to Blogger in that you are hosted by WordPress and subject to their limitations.  WordPress.com holds your hand a bit more, handles the hosting, security and updates.  It is also free.  And it has terms of service and limitations on the themes and plug-ins you can use.

I decided that I didn’t want to transfer my site twice and wanted maximum flexibility and minimum rules (can you tell I live in a neighborhood without a homeowner’s association?), so I went ahead and made the big move to WordPress.org.  WordPress.org provides a framework for building a website (it can be broader than a blog) but doesn’t host your site.  You have to contract with an outside vendor to host the site, I went with BlueHost after some research and have been happy with the conversion so far.  I had some bizarre login issue at first and got instant online help that resolved the issue quickly.  I’m paying a little less than $4 per month for the hosting and a bit extra per year to keep my information from being displayed (like my address and phone number) and a bit extra per year for backups.  It’s fairly affordable and I was able to keep my own website URL.

BloggertoWordpressThis is not meant to be a how to because I am SURE that there are smoother ways to make the transition, but here’s what I did:

  1. Chose a company to self host my new WordPress.org site and purchased my URL (I was able to purchase the same one I was using at Blogger through GoDaddy but it wasn’t turned on/transferred immediately).
  2. I went through BlueHost to set up my WordPress.org site using their MOJO Marketplace.
  3. I used my same URL, but initially set it up using the temporary URL option.  So instead of using http://runthegreatwidesomewhere.com, I was using something like http://67.123456789/runthgre~.  It let me play around and experiment within WordPress.org while my regular blog was humming along.  It is also the decision that made things complicated later.  This is only necessary if you’re going to use your same URL and want your old Blogger site to keep going while you are developing your new one.
  4. Using the temporary URL, I first selected a theme.  You could spend weeks doing this if you’re not very decisive and want to see all your options.  You can spend between zero and around $100 buying a theme.  WordPress.org has a lot of free themes, and luckily I was able to find one that met my needs (for now at least). I downloaded and previewed several free themes before settling on this one.  You can also buy themes from a third party and the Genesis framework has some great reviews, I was just too cheap to invest in it (hope I don’t regret that decision later!).
  5. I first changed the header image and text to make sure it was customizable (it was!).
  6. I then installed some plug-ins.  So far, I’ve been blown away by the variety and quality of the plug-ins for WordPress.  Again, I think you could spend weeks exploring them all, but I knew I wanted just a few basic ones to start with like social media buttons, SEO and Aksimet for spam prevention.
  7. I activated and set the settings on my plug-ins.
  8. I then played with the widgets which are very similar to the Blogger versions to set up some HTML boxes, search fields and text boxes.
  9. After feeling like my site was 80% done, I transferred my posts, comments, images and links from my Blogger site to my WordPress site using an import plugin.  This worked very well, I only had to reset and restart once during the process.
  10. OK, everything looked good, I was ready to switch from the temporary URL to the permanent URL.
  11. First, I had to transfer the hosting of my URL from GoDaddy through GoogleApps to BlueHost.  This was a huge pain in the rear.  You have to go into your new hosting website (BlueHost for me) and input some keys and passcodes that you get from your old hosting website.  Because I didn’t buy directly from GoDaddy, but through GoogleApps, I had to spend about two hours figuring out how to create a GoogleApps admin account (different from my Google+ account) to give GoDaddy the authorization to give me the codes.
  12. I had to go into GoDaddy to unlock my account and to take off the privacy setting (which required me to sign into yet another vendor’s site).  Then I went to BlueHost and entered the transfer codes and then I had to go into the GoDaddy site to click authorize.  If you don’t do the authorize step, the site will eventually transfer but it could take a couple of days up to a week.
  13. Then I went into WordPress and redirected my site from the temp URL to the new URL.  And here is where things went terribly wrong.  Suddenly I couldn’t sign into my WordPress admin account at all.  When I tried to get there manually, I got a 404 error on my old Blogger site.  And my old Blogger site still seemed to be up at my URL which supposedly had transferred.  Ack!
  14. It was around 8pm.  I’m not Amazon.com (no one is going to scream if my site goes down for a day or two), I could have just gone to bed and seen if it was a timing issue.  But that’s not my way.  I’m a tinkerer.  So I started tinkering and ended up uninstalling my WordPress application and reinstalling it.  With the reinstallation, everything from the last one was gone.  Template, plugins, widgets, customization and my entire blog’s import.  Oh no, did I just lose my entire blog history?
  15. The first thing I did was reinstall my chosen template and then I reimported my blog.  Luckily it was still there and imported everything with no problem.  Whew!  I then spent the next four hours customizing my template (again), installing plugins (again) and messing with the widgets (again).
  16. The next day I played with the background and finished the plugin and widget installation.
  17. I published my first post on WordPress!
  18. I noticed my traffic was down considerably.  And then realized that while the links within my posts were working, old links from other sites like Pinterest were not.
  19. I’m not sure if this is where I made my biggest mistake or not, but the naming convention for my posts was different when imported to WordPress.  So while one post might be http://runthegreatwidesomewhere.com/2013/09/allons-y.html in Blogger it came over as http://runthegreatwidesomewhere.com/2013/09/27/allons-y/ in WordPress.  WordPress was smart enough to update those links within each of my imported posts, but external links to my posts would now get a 404 error.
  20. So, I installed the Redirection plugin which gave me a log of my 404 errors, so I could see what URLs people were trying to link to and then I could set up a permanent 301 redirection (do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?  Well I am no expert, this was all learned in the last 24 hours!) to the new URL from the old URL.  This is complicated by the fact that when accessing the site from a mobile device, the old URL may have an extension on it like ?/m=0, so I had to do multiple redirects for each 404 error.
  21. One additional Redirection complication is that my really old posts that were done on .blogspot.com before I bought my domain had some links that Blogger would automatically redirect to the blogger URL without the .blogspot.com in the URL, but it must have confused the WordPress importer because those links were not updated to the new URLs in WordPress.  I had to manually update the links within my 2013 Princess Half posts because those were all wrong and were not redirecting properly due to the .blogspot.com links.  I’m sure I have some others back there, but I that’s a project for another day.
  22. I also installed the WordPress SEO plugin which allows me to set up focus keywords and meta descriptions for each post, but doesn’t do it retroactively.  So I’m also manually going in and setting up the SEOs for my older posts.
  23. The WordPress theme I’m using has a featured image which I love, but on the converted posts, it just took the first image in the post which often isn’t the one I’d want to feature.  So, I’m slowly going through my old posts manually to update those as well.
  24. Even though my base URL didn’t change, somehow my bloglovin’ followers got left behind at the blogger site.  I contacted bloglovin’ support and they said they were able to transfer my followers to my new blog, hopefully some of you are reading this from your bloglovin’ feed (awesome customer service and quick response from bloglovin’ by the way!).  The FAQ says they can even do it if you change URLs.

Overall, the fact that I was able to fully transfer my blog in less than 24 hours is a success.  I’m sure I did some things completely wrong and went the long way on some things that should have been much easier, but I ended up where I wanted to be, transferred to WordPress without losing my old posts, comments and images.

Here’s what I would have done differently (maybe):

  1. I’m not sure it’s possible, but I suspect there is a way to do the conversion so all these manual redirects I’m slogging through wouldn’t be necessary.  I probably should have researched that a bit more before making the conversion. Especially with over 200 posts to convert.
  2. I probably could have spent some more time choosing a template, including seriously evaluating the non-free options out there.  I suspect template changes are not particularly easy.
  3. I should have explored whether to move my blogger site back to .blogspot.com first and then whether to maintain my old site there as well.  I’m not sure I would have done it, but migrating back to .blogspot.com probably would have at least given me the option.  Right now, it’s completely gone off of blogger and I probably risked losing the ability to import my old posts (although I’m not sure about that).
  4. I should have been patient with the URL transfer process and switch from the temp to permanent URL.  I think I ended up having to reinvent the wheel for no reason.
  5. Actually, considering I’m not Amazon.com, I could have just transferred the URL hosting first, let my blog be down for a couple of days and then developed the new site “live” in production.  Probably a lot less risk for transition errors that way.  If I hadn’t loved my URL name, it would have been a good time to move to a new one.
  6. Had a little more patience.  I’m bad about this.  Once I really decided that I was migrating for sure I just wanted to get it done and stop having to worry about it.  So I didn’t do as much research or planning as I should have for such a major project.  Meh, it seems to have worked out ok.  I could have spent months to do an optimized cutover but that’s not how I operate!  I’m a jump in the deep end kind of girl, I detest easing into the water.

Have you done a similar conversion or have one in the works?  Tips on how to make this go smoother (especially the redirects!)?  Any comments on how the new site looks, feels and functions?  I’m open to all constructive criticism, this is going to be a work in progress for a while!

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