Friday, November 30, 2012

The Hardest 26.2 Yet

[Not my feet...]

As my running buddy and I wrapped up one of our final training runs for the half marathon, we found ourselves talking about, no surprise, the next big challenge.

We suggested a winter race schedule, weekly long runs, a half marathon early in 2013, and even toyed with the idea of a marathon. But in the end, what we came up with had nothing to do with running at all.

We stumbled upon the idea almost by accident when I made an off-hand comment that I was afraid to sign up for another marathon because I dreaded the post-marathon 10 pounds. You know, those 10 pounds that seemed to creep up me after the marathon, when my body was still in marathon-eating mode but my weekly mileage plunged.

I’ve done two marathons. At about 10 pounds each. With some quick math, it’s easy to see that I need to get myself back in check.

I was surprised (and somewhat relieved) to find that my running-buddy has had the same problem. While it was tempting for us both to make commitments to up our mileage to take on a long-distance goal, I decided to go down a different path. For me, it’s a much more challenging one.

I’ve decided to take on the challenge of 26.2. No, not miles. Pounds. As in, losing them.

Just the thought of that makes me want to run in the other direction, to come up with something “easier” to do. The thought of telling anyone about it makes me question my sanity because, well, now I kind of have to do it. I wonder if I can do it, if I should do it and, honestly, just exactly how to do it.

Yes, it’s pretty much the same feeling I got when I signed up for any marathon.

Like the marathon, this 26.2 challenge leaves me knowing I need to come up with a plan. I know I can’t just fake my way to the end of this one. And I also know that I need a good support system.

I will spend the next few weeks coming up with a plan and equipping myself with the right resources. Instead of new shoes, I may team up with a personal trainer, an organized weight loss program, a calorie-counting app, or some combination of all of those.

I will seek out people who have done this before, just like I sought out the advice of marathoners while I trained for my races.

Yes, this 26.2 is certainly going to take a lot of work and focus. It will mean tracking and recording – this time foods and weight, instead of miles and paces. It’s going to mean doing things I don’t want to do – this time skipping desserts or that second glass of wine, instead of wintry long runs.

Like the marathon, I don’t expect to do it overnight.

I need to remember that, like the marathon, I didn’t set out to run the entire distance when I first started training. I had to mentally break it up into small, more manageable parts.

The same applies here. I need to focus on the 5K – losing 3.1 pounds doesn’t sound too difficult. Then a 10K - 6.2 pounds, still do-able. Then the half-marathon – 13.1 pounds is a little scarier and daunting. Then the big finish line.

Yes, this 26.2 scares me, perhaps more than the thought of signing up for an actual marathon. But I know it will pay off will be big in the end. Just like crossing the finishing line.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Only One Month Left?

Someone once told me that the older you get, the faster times seems to go. They were totally right.

Where the heck has 2012 gone? Sure, I know it's not over, but we're rapidly approaching year-end. And you know what that means: New Year's Resolutions.

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I declared a "do over" to my 2011 running/riding goals [Spoiler alert: I'm failing miserably on this.] and laid out a list of other things I wanted to focus on this year. Think of them as the personal development goals.

Back in February, I wrote that a monthly check-in would keep me focused on track. Umm, right. This is only my second check-in. It's the week of Thanksgiving. 

Let's get the "do over" disaster report over with. Honestly, I didn't work on it at all. I didn't track it. I don't even have a good sense of how many miles I have left to do. All of this is very unlike me - and something for me to delve into a little more on an upcoming long run. 

What I do know, without adding up my stats, is that my bike sat in the front hallway more than it was on the road, that I adjusted my running goal to 800 by year-end a couple of months ago (and I still won't make that) and I have no prayer of hitting any of my speed goals.

I guess now it's time to start thinking of how to approach the next year. A do-do-over? Adjust the goals, gulp, down? Scrap mileage goals altogether? I still have six weeks or so to figure it all out.

On the upside, I did a pretty good job on my "life" focuses I set out for myself early in the year - well, except that 10 pounds part. Does it count if you gain the 10? But the weight was a small, somewhat superficial piece of the whole pie (mmm, pie), so I'm not overly concerned about it.

More importantly, I successfully focused on my health, relationships, finances, career and giving back. 

I continued with my vegetarianism (pescetarianism) without much hassle at all. I had routine check-ups, participated in health fairs and screenings and, happily, have the lowest "numbers" I've seen in a long time - maybe ever.

I had an awesome opportunity to "give back" (really, I think I got more out of it than the girls did) by being a volunteer coach for Girls On The Run. Although the schedule is challenging for a corporate person (practices at 3 p.m.!?), it was worth all of the schedule juggling and running around (no pun intended). 

I'm not sure what my future holds as a coach - I'm really, really hoping I can make it work, but the schedule is so darn tough. And, this year will be even tougher with a new job.

Yes, a new job. When I wrote about my career, I had every intention that I'd be sitting in the same office doing the same thing at year-end. I loved my job. But mid-way through the year an opportunity I couldn't pass up came my way. And I haven't looked back.

Although starting over was daunting and it's sometimes challenging being a new kid in a big place, I'm starting to find my groove. I love the positive atmosphere, the hard-working, goal-oriented people and being part of a team. I have no doubt that this was the right move and that it's a place I can thrive and shine.

It helps that the job change came with a healthy paycheck - certainly helps my goal to focus on my finances this year, at least. I've checked off the goal to pay down my debt by half and, just today, upped the monthly payment to pay it down quicker. Finally, the end is in sight.

My relationships, from Jeff to family and friends, are strong, healthy and moving in good directions. If I had to fault myself on one thing it's that I haven't made the time for my/our friends that I should have. My list of let's-get-a-date-on-the-calendar follow-ups is growing. 

I blame changing jobs (Jeff and I both had changes here this year) that's thrown our schedules off a bit and left us with seemingly less free time. Certainly our time off together has been cut. I suppose it just means that we need to make the most of our free time together (not that we don't) while remembering that friends and family are important.

Trust me, I'm not trying to rush the rest of the year away, but I'm looking forward to continuing in 2013 on the path that I have been on. I have a feeling it's going to be a mighty fine year.

I guess when I look back at all the good things I've been able to do in my life this year, missing those mileage marks doesn't really seem to matter. Much.