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Archive for the ‘Team in Training’ Category

…if I’m going to keep watching The Biggest Loser! mascara-running

Man, what a show tonight!  When they announced that the final four would all be completing a marathon, I almost lost it.  That really hits close to home becasue of my own attempts to participate in the TNT San Diego Half Marathon.  Unfortunately for me, the training requirements were too rigorous for my current abilities, and an unknown injury (numbness in my right foot that traveled all the way up to my hip) prevented me from continuing the training.  At this point, I’m doing the WW Walk It Challenge and know I’ll be able to complete the 5K in June.  (The easier training routine seems to be working really well for me). But, I digress…

I was amazed that Ron could finish the marathon.  Good for him for continuing, despite his pain and other disadvantages.  Seeing all of the former Biggest Loser winners/finalists rally around him to walk the last 8 miles with him was such an inspiration.  I had tears rolling down my face as I watched him cross the finish line, and could only imagine the pride that both of his sons felt seeing their dad do something so amazing.

Even more than that was watching Tara up on that scale for the second to last weigh in.  When she said it was time for her to truly start living, I was a mess.   It’s so true.  Being overweight –  heck, let’s call it what it is – being morbidly obese I can relate so much to Tara.  I don’t weigh as much as she did when she began on the show, but I’m also about 7 inches shorter than she is.  (I’m 5’4″).  Knowing that she transformed not only her physical self but her attitude and mental view of herself is such a motivator for me.  Plus, I love the fact that she is a machine.  Nothing stops that girl!  I hope that I can be half as determined in my weight loss as she is.

The other thing on tonight’s show that really struck a chord for me was seeing Tara’s bedroom.  Jillian said that because Tara was feeling out of control being back home, it’s manifesting itself in her room.  I can relate to that too.  I know that when my house is messy (or my closet is disorganized, or the laundry is piled up, needing to be put away) I feel like my life is out of control.

It’s a constant struggle for me to keep things organized so that my head is less cluttered and I can focus on the things that are most important to me, and right now the driving force of my life is losing weight.  I wish I could say that I was more successful at this point in the year; that I’d lost more weight.  But at the same time, I look back at how much more active I am at this point in 2009 compared to this same time last year, and I know that I’ve made huge strides in my well being.  I may not be where I think I should be as far as the scale, but I know that a huge part of regaining my life through weight loss is a mental challenge.  I am slowly but surely changing my whole attitude about food, food addiction via overeating/binging, and what it means to live a healhy lifestyle.  All of those things take time to accomplish, and I shouldn’t get too caught up in the smaller details.  I didn’t put this weight on in a year – it’s been a lifetime of being overweight – so I can’t expect it to come off all at once either.  I know that sounds so trite, but it’s so true.  And I have to keep reminding myself of that.

I am so proud of this season’s contestants, for the most part.  Yes, there was some major game play and manipulation on Ron’s part, but overall these contestants showed compassion, integrity, and determination.  Most of them seemed to truly care more about losing weight and saving their lives than they did about winning $250,000.  This season, more than any other, I’ve been completely inspired.  And for that, I applaud them.

I cannot wait until next week’s show, when the Biggest Loser is “crowned.”  I hope that Tara pulls it out, because she deserves it more than any of the other final four, in my opinion.

Who would you like to see win?

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Several of my friends are participating in charity walks for various organizations, and this morning I decided it was time to donate to all of them.  I had been meaning to give something for a while now, but hadn’t had a spare moment to sit down and actually make the donations.

Two of my friends are participating in TNT events – one is doing a 104-mile bike ride and the other is doing a triathlon.  I am so proud of both of them, because I know how hard it is to train for these events.  Plus, the friend that’s doing the tri said that I was her inspiration – how cool is that?  It really made me feel special to know that I influenced someone’s life like that.

Ish is participating in an Multiple Sclerosis 10K in San Francisco in April, and decided to join a team because a few of her friends have been afflicted with the disease.  I’m so proud of her for doing it, because this is going to be quite a challenge for her, physically. She has such a positive attitude about it, though, and I’m sure she’ll have no problem completing the event.

Last but not least is Lisa, from Doing It For Me.  Lisa is participating in the Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer, which is another amazing event.

Since I know all too well how difficult it is to raise funds in these hard economic times, I wanted to make sure to do my part to support these wonderful women.  I figured that if I could spend $100 on makeup on Monday, the least I could do today was spend $100 supporting these ladies.  It’s all about balance, after all.

So, if you’re able to, why not donate to someone who is participating in a charity event, or join one yourself?  There really is no better feeling than giving back.

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Be forewarned, this is going to be a L-O-N-G post, but I hope it will be worth it, because there’s so much to tell!

The Plan
My friend, Harj, decided that for her 30th birthday this year, she wanted to invite a bunch of her girlfriends to participate in the different Mermaid events taking place at Shoreline Park in Mt. View.  I invited LC to join me, thinking that the 5K would be a great way for us to spend some time together and get a little exercise while we were at it.  I also thought I could count it as my Sunday OYO training for TNT, so it would serve a double-duty.  We registered about a month ago, before I knew about the numbness issue with my feet/legs.  After I got the go-ahead from the doctor, I was looking forward to the event, because it meant that LC and I would have some time alone, just the two of us.

Bib & Goodie Bag Pick-Up
In order to avoid long lines on race day, the Mermaid people set up a bib & goodie bag pick up at Sports Basement on Saturday.  I decided to make the trip out to the store (about 25 minutes from my house, one way) so that LC and I could save time on Sunday morning.  I got to the store, picked up our bibs and goodie bags, only to discover that they had “run out” of the XXL women’s cut shirts we had both signed up to receive when we registered.  They were trying to offer me XL shirts.  Seriously?  If I thought I could fit an XL shirt, wouldn’t I have ordered one?  I was pissed and said, “what do you mean you’ve run out?  Why did we sign up for a certain size if you weren’t going to get enough of them?  This is completely disorganized and ridiculous!”  Finally one of the organizers came over and offered to give me 2 XXL unisex shirts, which weren’t as cute as the women’s cut ones, but at least they’d fit.

img_01471I love the saying on the shirt, don’t you?

The goodie bag is my favorite, though.  I really like all of the inspirational sayings on it:

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A Sister Sleepover
Since LC hates to leave her husband with her two daughters too often (they can be a handful sometimes), I suggested that she come over my house Saturday night after she put the kids to bed.  That way, she’d be there for bath and story time, but she could still spend the night so that it would be easier to get to the event the next morning.  Plus, it would be fun to have a sleepover.

In honor of the sleepover, I made a special trip (to the only Whole Foods in my area that carries) it to buy some of the Lesser Evil Black & White Kettle Corn. (Although as I just went on their website to find the link, I noticed that Safeway and Target are now carrying these snacks, too.  Good to know, because I love it, and I hate having to drive all around town for it).  I had a feeling LC would love it, too, so I made sure to buy a bag for her to take with her.

I also thought that no sleepover would be complete without some hot cocoa.  This wasn’t going to be just any hot cocoa, though.  This was going to be the Hungry Girl fake out of the Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa that LC loves so much.  The Starbucks version is delicious, but it’s also 10 points, which is quite a splurge.  The HG version promised to be just as delicious and the point count is only 2.  Much better, don’t you think?  I had the hot chocolate packets and the salt, but couldn’t find the caramel anywhere.  When I told LC about it, she said that she’d stop at Safeway on her way to my house, because she thought she knew where it was.  She ended up buying Smucker’s sugar free caramel and said she found it on the end cap by the ice cream.  Perfect!  She also bought the light can of whipped cream, so we were in business.  We didn’t add the Splenda, because we felt that the chocolate mix would be sweet enough, especially with the whipped cream and caramel.  And boy, was it!  This was one of the most decadent-tasting treats I’ve had in a long time.  It tasted every bit as good as the Starbucks version, and at 1/5 the points!  Well, see for yourself:

Delicious!

Delicious!

Maybe a little heavy on the caramel, but still a low-point treat

Maybe a little heavy on the caramel, but still a low-point treat

After we got in our sugar fix and talked for a couple of hours, we got ready for bed.  Of course, we didn’t make it to sleep until after midnight, and we knew that 6am was going to come very quickly, but it was worth it.  All late-night, chocolate-filled gab sessions are, aren’t they?

Race Day
The morning of the race was a flurry of getting up, drinking coffee, having breakfast, fighting for the bathroom, and getting out the door.  We made it to Shoreline Park without incident (although I did take a left when I should’ve taken a right, but we quickly got back on track).  The weather reports were predicting rain, but we were hoping that it would hold out until after we finished the event.  And it did.  It wasn’t raining at all, but it was incredibly windy.  Given that these marshlands are set right on SF Bay, we knew it would be windy, but the wind was especially strong on Sunday, making for quite a chilly morning.  Still, LC and I had fun getting ready for the race.

My bib number

My bib number

LC's bib number

LC's bib number

We even bought some Mermaid hats, just in case the rain did decide to make an appearance:

LC's hat

LC's hat

My hat

My hat

The 5K
A little after 9am, they announced that it was time for all of the 5K participants to get in the starting lineup.  LC and I took our place among the rest of the women.  A bit off to the side, so that we wouldn’t be in the way as the runners passed us.  I was really excited to begin, but also felt a bit of trepidation, wondering when the numbness would kick in.  Still, it’s always such a rush to wait to start a walk like this.

Waiting for the "Ready, Set, Go!"

Waiting for the "Ready, Set, Go!"

As soon as the race began, everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE took off running.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Granted, the only other 5K I’ve been in was the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day and most of those participants were just people who were looking to take a leisurely stroll to work off some pre-Thanksgiving calories, but still!  Wasn’t anyone walking in this event?  Even the moms with strollers were passing us by.

I tried to go to that zen-like, “it doesn’t matter if I’m the last one” place that Kelly had tried to tell me about, but I just couldn’t get there.  It seriously bothered me that we were the last ones.  And I don’t mean the last by a little bit, I mean it was difficult to see the people in front of us.  Still, I knew that I shouldn’t try to go too fast at the beginning, before my legs had time to warm up.  LC was a trooper, because I know she could’ve gone faster than me if she wanted to, but she was a great sister and an even better friend for sticking in the back with me.  In fact, she really tried to shake me out of my competitive zone:

Bella: We are the last ones.  The LAST ones!  Everyone else has passed us.
LC: So what?  Who cares?  All that matters is that we’re doing this together and that we enjoy ourselves.
Bella: I know you’re right, but I’m just not “built” that way.  It really bothers me that we’re so far behind everyone else.  I HATE it.
LC: Why?  What’s the difference?
Bella: I hate feeling like I’m not good enough, or not as good as everyone else.  I know it’s stupid, but it’s just how I feel.  Ugh.  Arghhh!

And it got worse from there.

The winds picked up in a major way; so much so that we were really hitting a lot of resistance as we were walking against it.  Again when I complained about this, LC looked on the bright side and said, “just think about how much easier it will be on the way back, when the wind is pushing us!”  I really do love her so much for trying to stay so positive, even though my attitude was crap and I was being such a bitch.  And I hate that I was acting like that, because normally I am a positive person, myself.  I guess this just goes to show how much this whole thing is affecting me.

Then the numbness came, this time worse than it ever has been.  It got so bad that I almost stopped when LC asked me if I wanted to.  Instead, I pushed on, until it got to be too much, and then I felt the tears coming.  I told LC through sobs that I thought we should walk off the trail for a minute so I could stop and rest and because I needed a moment.  I basically had a mini breakdown right there.  I was so glad that LC was with me because I can be my true self with her.  I didn’t have to put on a brave face with her.  I didn’t have to pretend about anything.  I could cry, really cry, and tell her exactly what I was feeling.  I went on and on about everything I had been feeling and thinking and dealing with but holding inside.  LC was amazing, and I think that with her there, I finally knew what I needed to do.

A Realization
In the midst of my crying jag, I realized quite a few things.

First of all, that I was not going to be able to participate in the half marathon.  There is simply no way, at this point, with my injuries,  that I can walk for 13 miles when I can’t even go 2 miles without getting terrible numbness and pain.  No way.  Not even if I continue to “work through it anyway,” as I have been.  It was a relief, really.  I’ve been so angry at myself for not being able to progress in my trainings, and now I could stop all of that self-hate.  I made a mistake thinking that I could do this, at my size.  Which is not to say that I’m never going to be able to do a half marathon, but I know that I can’t do it right now.  And I’m not saying that someone at my weight can’t do one, because they can.  I just can’t.  Not with my current physical limitations.  My body has been trying to tell me something for over a month now, and I am finally ready to listen to it.  I am beginning to accept the fact that I can’t do this.  And that’s ok.  I’m not a quitter if I don’t complete the half marathon.

The other truth that I recognized during my crying fit was that my weight loss has suffered since I began the TNT trainings.  You would think the opposite would be true, that all of the extra exercise would be so good for my weight loss, but it has worked exactly the opposite.  I can’t go fast enough to really get my heart rate up to burn lots of calories, not like I can on the elliptical machine or by doing a workout DVD.  The pain prevents me from going has hard or as fast as I’d like to, and I hate that.  Also, I leave every training feeling so down on myself that I indulge in food to make myself feel better.  Classic “food as self-medication”/emotional eating behavior.  It is all too much to deal with at once, at least for me.  Between teaching the extra class, fundraising and training for TNT, and doing WW, something had to give.  Getting up early every single day was simply not going to happen, so I started sacrificing my Sunday morning WW meetings, which is the last thing I should have done.  Still, because I had stopped counting points, and had started to indulge in some high caloric foods, I wanted to avoid the scale, so it was easy to give up the meetings.  Easy, but the worst possible idea.  I know that I’ve gained weight because I can feel it in my clothes.  And the scale at the doctor’s office displayed a number I thought I’d never see again.

I realized standing there crying with LC at my side trying to comfort me, that I had to make a change.  For my physical health, in terms of the injury, but also in terms of my weight loss and WW. And for my mental health, so that I could stop feeling like a failure every time I attempted to walk.  This was a huge decision, but it’s one that I know is the right one for me now.  I’m going to quit TNT. Of course, I sent in my recommitment forms on Wednesday, right before all of this happened, but I’m confident that if my doctor says I cannot participate because of my injuries, they’ll let me out of my “contract.”

I do feel incredibly guilty because of all of my friends and family members who donated money on my behalf.  I know that most of them wouldn’t have donated if it hadn’t have been for me. But as LC pointed out, “it’s not that you’re quitting because it’s too hard, you’re quitting because you have an injury that is making it impossible.  Plus, LLS is a worthy cause, and the people received a tax write-off, and I’m sure they’ll understand.”  I hope so.

We Completed It!
Once my emotional breakdown was over, I told LC that we need to get back on the track and finish the race.  Which we did.  Feeling so much relief after the cathartic release, I was finally able to just enjoy the walk.  Feeling the sun on my face, the wind whipping around us, and being there with my sister.  (Thank God for her!  I don’t know what I would’ve done without her, and she truly is one of the best people I know).  The scenery was gorgeous, too, and I think we were both finally able to enjoy it:

The SF Bay and marshlands

The SF Bay and marshlands

The trail on our way back.  Quite a journey, metaphorically.

The trail on our way back. Quite a journey, metaphorically.

The "tents" of Shoreline Amphitheatre in the background

The "tents" of Shoreline Amphitheatre in the background

We were both tired, emotionally drained (at least I was), and a bit muddy, but we had come to Shoreline Park to finish the Mermaid 5K and nothing was going to stop us. We made it to the finish line as numbers 282 and 283 to finish that event.  Not the last ones, either, by the way.  It felt good on so many levels to walk over the finish line with LC, one of my biggest supporters, best friends, and a woman who I greatly admire.

As we finished, we were given these great silver charms.  One side says “MermaidRun finisher” and the other side says, “find your happy pace.”  I’m going to put it on my silver chain and wear it as a reminder of the day and all that I accomplished.

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The Farmers’ Market
After the excitement of the race, LC and I had been looking forward to the “pancake breakfast” that the website described.  We had thoughts of sitting down (finally!) at a large picnic table, enjoying pancakes with our fellow participants.  Oh how wrong we were.  The pancakes were being handed out on paper plates, and people were eating them standing up, as the rain was beginning to fall.  (Yes, we finished the race just before the rain started).  We decided that we deserved a better post-5K meal than that, so we headed to Campbell to go to Stacks, a great place for breakfast/brunch items of all sorts.

It just so happened that the weekly farmers’ market was also taking place, which was perfect.  We had an hour wait for our table (Stacks is a popular place on Sunday mornings), and we used the time to shop for some farm-fresh fruits and veggies.  The produce was amazing, and we each picked up lots of it.  I got baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, Fuji apples, pink lady apples, yellow and red bell peppers, and some clementines.  I could’ve gotten a lot more, but I didn’t feel like schlepping it all around, since we had to go back to the restaurant to eat brunch.

Finale

I think this is probably the longest post I have ever written.  It’s almost 3000 words!  But I guess there was a lot to write about.  Quite an eventful weekend:  Decadent hot cocoa.  Huge realizations and self-awareness.  Sisterly bonding.  Fresh veggies.  I guess a little something for everyone, eh?

Thanks for reading, if you made it all the way through. I’ll leave you with one last picture.  LC brought me these lilies, straight from her garden, and I absolutely love them.  In a way I see them as a symbol of how I feel now – delicate yet strong, vibrant yet fragile.

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When I left the doctor’s office on Friday, I really didn’t know how to feel.  Part of me was relieved that I wouldn’t have to attempt the 10-mile walk on Saturday, because I was feeling very unprepared to try to walk that distance.  Especially considering the numbness was occurring at the 1 1/2 to 2 mile mark.

I realized that I really had to stop pushing myself so hard and I needed to really listen to my body.  The thing is, I always push myself to accomplish anything I attempt, and I’m usually successful.  I put a ton of pressure on myself in everything I do, and it usually pays off.

This time, though, pushing myself isn’t working.  And to be honest, I’m not really pushing myself physically.  At least, not with the OYO trainings.  I’m not doing them.  But the reason I’m not doing them is because the Wednesday track practices and the Saturday Coach and Mentor-led walks are so painful.  If they weren’t so difficult for me to complete, I think I’d be in a better place mentally.  Mentally, I am really being hard on myself.  I still hate the fact that I’m so slow and not seeing any progress.  That I feel so weak when I feel the pain.  I feel like I should be able to push through it, but I simply can’t.  Plus, the numbness is really scary.

So I’ve decided that I’m going to put the TNT trainings on hold until I find out exactly what’s going on.  On Friday evening, I still thought that I would somehow be able to participate in the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon.  I don’t want to say anymore, because I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

I will say that I am feeling really frustrated, discouraged, and unhappy.  It sucks to set a goal for yourself and feel like you can’t accomplish it.

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I was anxious for my doctor’s appointment on Friday for a couple of reasons.  First because I hadn’t met her before, and I wanted to see what she was like.  (I had a different doctor a couple of years ago whose cold demeanor wasn’t doing it for me, so I chose Dr. Chau from a list of available doctors.  She looked good “on paper,” but the true test is meeting the person and seeing whether or not your personalities meld.

After waiting almost an hour (ugh!!!) to see her, Dr. Chau finally entered the exam room.  She was terrific!  A very sweet, friendly doctor, which is so nice.  She really listened to what I was telling her about my symptoms. She gave me a neurological test (following her finger with my eyes, tapping on my knees, etc.) and everything came up clear on that.  Thank goodness!

After listening to everything I said, she ordered two tests for me – an ultrasound of my legs (who knew they could ultrasound your legs?) and a blood test that would test for all sorts of things, including diabetes, cholesterol, and potassium levels.

In order to make it to the ultrasound with my crazy schedule, I had to take Monday off, as well, but again, this is what sick days are for.  I’ve only called in sick 2 other days this entire year, and I really want to get to the bottom of this numbness.

I asked the doctor about continuing my training, and she said that it would be alright for me to do the Mermaid 5K with LC this Sunday, but that she wouldn’t recommend the 10-mile walk I was supposed to do on Saturday at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz with TNT.  She said that she’d like to figure out what was causing the numbness before I do any long walks like that, so that I don’t exacerbate the problem.

I left her office feeling like I had more questions than answers, but happy that at least I was taking the necessary steps to figure it all out.

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I went to the track practice on Wednesday ready to walk.  My blisters had healed, and I was ready to use this new “it doesn’t matter if I’m slow” philosophy on the track.

Things started out ok; I walked 3 times around the track without much complaint.  I mean, my calves always give me some pain and cramping, but I’m getting used to pushing through this.

Then we met up in a group and the coach told us that today we were going to work on building speed.  He told us he wanted us to start off slowly and gradually gain speed with each lap. Using this method, we’d be able to conserve our energy throughout the endurance event and would be able to sustain ourselves in order to finish strong.  This made sense to me because I always feel better at the end of my long Saturday walks than I do at the beginning.

I began on the slow lap and found my right foot cramping at the arch, but I wanted to push through it.  I completed the first lap in a reasonable amount of time (I can’t remember right now), and then during the 2nd lap, I began getting numb in my right foot.  Still, I tried to increase my speed, and when I rounded lap 2, my time came in at 9:45, which is great for me.  Then lap 3 came and I was really numb.  I can’t tell you how discouraging this was.  Usually it takes a couple of miles before I get numb, but today it was starting really early.

I tried my best to keep going, but the pain became too much.  I had to stop at the conclusion of my 3rd lap.  I removed my shoes, told one of the coaches what was going on, and tried a few of the foot stretches that she suggested.  I was getting so discouraged, because no matter how much I try to change my attitude about not worrying about being slow, this pain was getting to me.  Not only does it hurt (obviously!), but it keeps me from practicing, which is what I need to do in order to get better in my training.  I started thinking, “if I’m going numb at 3/4 of a mile, how the hell am I ever going to be able to complete a half marathon?”

I didn’t walk anymore that night, and took time to chat with Kelly about what had happened.  She said she thought I should go to the running store and see what they thought about the way my shoes were laced, whether or not they were the right fit, etc.  I decided that I’d go to the store the next day during my prep period, since the running store is close to my school.

I did stay to complete the core work, which always makes me feel good.  I don’t love doing the plank, but at least it’s a move I can do.  I may not do it perfectly or well, but I can do it without pain.  Yes, it makes me sore, but soreness and pain are definitely two different things.  I wanted to stay and do the core workout to help myself feel like I had tried my best that night.

The thing that worried me about the numbness was the fact that it was occurring so much sooner.  Whatever was causing the numbness was getting worse, and I wondered what that meant.  It’s so frustrating not knowing what is causing so much pain.

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Rule #1 for avoiding blisters – don’t unlace your shoes!  This causes your feet to be able to slide around in your shoes, and no matter what kind of moisture-wicking fabric your socks are made of, blisters will ensue!

Yes, I had major blisters on my feet on Saturday after my 6 mile walk.  I could hardly walk, the pain was so bad.  Not to sound like a whiner, but it was really terrible.  I had two blisters on the ball of my left foot, and a blister on my right big toe, a blister on each side of my right baby toe, and a huge blister on the ball of my right foot.

I did as TNT recommends and covered my blisters with a bandage.  I actually bought special bandaids made for blister protection and healing, although I don’t think they did much good.

The blisters lasted from Saturday through Tuesday, and needless to say, I wasn’t able to get in my OYO walks.  I could barely walk around my house or my classroom, let alone trying to walk for an hour per day.  It’s always something, right?

Ouch!!

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