Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting fit and healthy...a work in progress

So over the past 6 months I have been committed to eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.  Of course I wanted to lose weight, but more than that I wanted to get in shape and just feel better.  I started Weight Watchers at the beginning of March 2011.  The company I work for offers on site meetings.  My WW group is awesome!  The leader and members are so supportive.  The group has really helped me stay motivated.  The WW plan just works for me too.  I track everything I eat online - which it's really not as daunting as you would think.  The tracking and meetings keeps me accountable.  This was the third time I have joined WW but I knew this time I was really going to make it work.  I lost some weight the other two times, but was never fully committed to stay with it.

I also started taking different kinds of exercise classes.  Some at work and some at the YMCA.  I was trying all kinds of classes - weight lifting (body pump), pilates, yoga, zumba, kettlebell, belly dancing (that was funny!).  I was also getting some running in on the treadmill.  In May, me and a friend tried this outdoor boot camp.  It was great!  Although, I could not believe I liked being outside in the heat and dirt working out (and sweating) very close with other people. I think the reason I liked the boot camp was because it pushes you physically and the group setting was supportive.  You can never have enough support! 

In boot camp we had a biggest loser contest.  The camper with the most weight loss won a free month of boot camp and a few other prizes.  Guess what?...  I won!  That was a complete surprise because I only lost 5 pounds in the one month.  So for June, I was boot camping it again.  And I ended up going in July too.

My hard work is paying off.  I have lost a little over 20 pounds, went down 2 sizes, lost inches all over and I'm getting stronger - building up some muscles!  I still have a ways to go until I reach my goal weight, but having success is keeping me motivated.

Although I have enjoyed the boot camp (TBC rocks!), July is going to be my last month because I need to focus on running.  Boot camp meets 3 nights a week and I've made it a rule to not work out on Friday nights, which then falls into not working out on the weekends either.  So I've got to step it up!  I still going to take body pump and pilates classes at lunch.  I think my rule about not working out on the weekends will have to change.  To focus on running I decided to join another running school.  Well, 3rd time was the charm for WW so I'm hoping 3rd time will be the charm for the running school too.  No injuries please!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The past two years (part 2)

My first 5k was the Kirkwood 5k.  It was a relatively flat course that was out and back with one hill at the turn around point.  My finish time was 41:21 and I placed 225 out of 243.  Not great stats I know, but my goal was to be able to complete a 5k.  I did hope to finish under 40 minutes and run the entire time and unfortunately, neither of those goals happened.  I had to walk up the hill; my thought was I could walk faster than trying to run.  I also had to walk a minute or two during the last mile.  But I did my best and was happy that I had completed my first race. 

Now I was excited that I was on my way to becoming a runner.  Although I knew I still had a long ways to go.  I signed up for my next race to keep the motivation going.  It was the Women's Only 5k in October.  To help keep me on track with running, I decided to sign up for another running school.  This one was with the Janes on the Run, it was the same school my friend Christi joined when she first started running.  The ending race for this school was the Gobbler 5k race on Thanksgiving Day.  I went to the first meeting and learned that Christi was one of the training instructors for my group.  The first group assessment run went fine.  Since I had completed my first race, I had some new found confidence that I could actually do this running thing.  We received our training manual and I immediately read it.  I was excited about this new running group!

In the school you run once a week with the group and the rest of the runs are own your own.  A couple of days after the first meeting I went out for a run in my neighborhood.  I decided to change my normal route a bit and took a different turn.  On this turn the sidewalk ended and I had to run in the grass downhill until I got back onto a neighborhood street.  This is where I got my second injury from running.  It didn't seem that bad at first but I realized later, while running in the grass I hit some uneven ground and pulled a muscle in my upper leg.

I went to the second group meeting with JOTR still hurting but trying to push through it.  As soon as we start to run, here we go again.  I am obviously limping and can barely run.  The coaches ask me about it and tell me you should never try to run on an injury.  So again, I am walking while everyone else is running.  Christi is nice and stays with me even though I tell her to go ahead with the other girls.  But she stays and says this will give us a chance to catch up.  That was very nice of her.  Sound familiar?!?  Once I make it back the owner of JOTR, Liz (super cool lady!) shows me some stretching exercises to do to help with the pulled muscle. 

I didn't run the rest of the week and did the stretching exercises.  I was determined to continue with this running school.  I met the group for the next meeting.  Again, still hurting but thinking I could push through it.  We go for our run and I'm basically just walking but still determined I could at least walk the entire time.  NOT TRUE!  About 1/4 of the way in and I am in pain.  I struggle just to turn around and make it back to my car.  I see Liz again before I reach my car and we talk about what hurts and where it hurts.  She thinks I may need to see a doctor and tells me to call Dr. "Bert" (everybody raves about him).  Unfortunately, Dr. Bert was not available for a few weeks.  So I decide to stop trying to meet the group for runs and instead get rest and continue the stretching exercises.

This is all happening in September and I have already registered for my next 5k which is on October 2.  By this time it's already mid-September and I had to accept the fact I would not be able to run in the Women's Only 5k.  My leg was feeling better and JOTR needed volunteers for the Women's Only race, so I volunteered.  It was race day and we had to be there early.  I get to the event and receive my station location.  Everybody loaded up in two large vans to be dropped off at their stations.  This is when things got worse for me.  At my stop getting out of the van, I landed on my injured leg and literally could feel my strained muscle get pulled even further.  It was painful, but I didn't say anything to anyone about it.  There were 2,000 plus race participants getting ready to come our way and I didn't want to be a concern for others.

I tried to make the best of it because I was still excited about the race. The race started and as I looked down the hill from my station, all I could see was a sea of pink shirts coming my way.  It was pretty cool.  We cheered on the ladies as they passed by us.  Many said thank you.  It felt good that I was able to help, even though I was supposed to run in the race.  After standing for about 4 hours on my injured leg, I went home and hit the Advil and couch.  I tried the RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate) the rest of the weekend.  I went to work that following Monday obviously limping and in pain.  That night I realized I was going to have to see a doctor.  This seemed much worse than the pain a few weeks ago. 

The doctor determined I had pulled my hip flexor muscle.  He gave me prescriptions and crutches.  He also said I shouldn't drive for a few days since it was my right leg.  I could agree with that and thought I'm not sure how I drove the day before.  That week I worked from home some and took some time off to rest.  Among all things, again I felt like an idiot.  Leave it to me to get injured at a race that I didn't even run!! 

The next few weeks was pretty much the same with taking meds and trying to stay off my leg.  I tried using the crutches but gave them up quickly.  I went back to the doctor for a follow up and he suggested a cortisone injection.  That was NOT fun.  He also wanted to see me in a few weeks and if things were not substantially improved, he wanted to do an MRI to determine if the muscle was torn.  But that was it for me.  I did not go back.  I didn't see the point.  Whether my muscle was pulled or torn, it just needed time to heal.  There wasn't going to be any surgery or any more of the cortisone injections for me. 

It took several months to heal.  Finally in February 2011, I felt it had healed enough to start an exercise program again.  So now we move on to the last 6 months...(I'm so excited!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The past two years (part 1)

I first decided to start running in the summer of 2009.  I had dinner with a childhood friend after reconnecting on Facebook.  She had started running the year before after she signed up for a running school.  I had saw her running pictures on Facebook and after talking with her was totally inspired to start running.  One minor obstacle...I had never ran before!  In school, I didn't play sports and hated gym.  I have never been an athletic person.  But my friend said that she had never ran before this school either.  I remember her saying that she was always a walker and if she was ever running, it was because she was being chased!  Christi is too funny!

That August I joined the Women's Only running school with the Greensboro Running Club.  The assessment run was to run a mile.  I had never ran a mile.  I was nervous because I didn't want to finish last.  Although, this was not a race just an assessment so the instructors would know what group to put you in.  I did the mile run and my time was a little over 15 minutes.  And I didn't finish last, almost but not the very last.  Thinking back on that now it seems so trivial.  But at that time, old feelings from school started to come up about finishing last and not being good at sports.  So the assessment run was over and school was going to start in a few days.  But after that run, my knees were killing me!!  First, I didn't run in running shoes, they were cross trainers.  Second, I was not in shape and overweight.  I did go out and buy some running shoes.  I also got these strips to go around my knees.  Only one mile and I'm already injured...this is not off to a good start.  The first class was to run/walk with your group around Battleground park which is 1 1/2 miles.  No time limit just go at a pace comfortable for you.  We go to start running and I can't run at all.  Really, my knees hurt so bad it was all I could do to walk.  I didn't want to quit on the very first run, so I walked the trail.  One of my coaches walked with me the last half since I was very far behind in my group.  That was sweet of her to do.  I felt like such a loser.  The first class and I couldn't even run.  I made it to the next class the following week but again couldn't run.  In fact, my knees continued to hurt for over a month.  Needless to say, that was the end of my first running attempt.

Now we are on to my second running attempt.  It goes much better.  I was talking with a friend from work and she told me about a running program she found online called Couch to 5k.  We decided we would do the program together after tax season.  So in May 2010, we started the program together.  It consisted of running 3 days a week alternating running and walking for 30 minutes.  Sarah and I would try to run together one or two days and do the other run own our own.  The program worked really well.  It was also helpful to have each other for support and stay accountable.  I even ran on vacation at the beach! I remember when I first started the program and would have to run non-stop for 5 minutes, I thought I was going to die! As the weeks progressed, I was able to run 20 minutes non-stop.  Now it wasn't a fast run, but I was able to do it. I did the program all summer and registered for my first 5k race in August.