Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Weekend, Another Run

There's one question I've asked myself over and over the past few weeks: "Who do I think I am?"  I don't mean this in the existential, "Why are we here, blah, blah, blah" way (although I am prone to such pontification/navel-gazing).  What I mean is, "Who the hell is this runner who's overtaken my body?"

The reason for all this angst:  I did another run yesterday.  It was a 10-miler in Washington, DC -- The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run.  And it was lovely.  And if I were more like the amazing Bitch Cakes I would have brought a camera to show you some of the amazing sights on the course/in our nation's capital.  You will have to take my word for it, but I will tell you about the top 3:
  1. Gorgeous cherry blossom trees in full-bloom dotted the course.  Honestly, it was like looking at little cones of white cotton candy for 10 miles.  Gorgeous.  
  2. National landmarks (of course).  Washington Monument.  U.S. Capitol.  The White House.  I am a total nerd and I get really choked-up when I think about the generations of sacrifice that went into creating this amazing American experiment.  Imagine: 15,000 runners -- almost 2/3 of them women -- running past these symbols of who we are as a nation, then moving forward.  I know.  Total dork.  But I love being an American.
  3.  My friends!  I didn't enter this run solely because I'm a patriotic nerd.  Many of my favorite people on the planet live in DC, so it was a great excuse to schedule a visit to see them.  Among those friends is Glenn, who is my -- wait for it -- boyfriend.  I know.  It's totally weird to me, too.  The last time I had a boyfriend, I was dying my hair black and trying to become a vampire or something.  I also got to spend a lot of QT with my true love/hero/role model, Clayton, and with one of my closest friends on Earth, Kyle and his wonderful/amazing/wish-I'd-found-her-first wife, Sarah.
So, Glenn took some pictures along the race course...
Here I am running to the finish line (That'e me with the aqua long sleeves and navy blue t-shirt... I picked up the pace quite a bit at the end)...
 And here I am before we started...
I'm comparing how I look now to how I looked after the Run Wild For A Child 10K in San Francisco back in November, which is the run that gave me the confidence to do this 10-miler and last weekend's half-marathon.

April 3, 2011/169 lbs.

November 28, 2010/192 lbs.
This is really a comparison I needed to see myself because, as I mentioned, I hit a little bit of a plateau a few weeks ago and was doubting whether I'd really changed much in appearance lately.  My mind was playing tricks on me.  But the camera doesn't lie... and for the first time, that fact is bringing me comfort instead of humiliation.
I finished yesterday's 10-miler in 1:42:04, which is a 10 minute 13 second mile.  Yay me!

Further adding to the "who do I think I am?" mentality, I have enrolled in three more long runs: the Presidio 10-Mile Run on April 17, the See Jane Run Half-Marathon on June 5 & the SF Half-Marathon on July 31 (I've entered to run the 2nd half).  I also plan to enter the raffle to participate in the Nike Women's Half Marathon in October (fingers crossed).

Excuse the broken record, but I just can't believe this is me.  I'm not talking about the photos.  I mean the everything.   One year ago, I was pathetically lazy.  I would wake up every morning and tell myself, "This is it.  I am turning things around today!"  But I had no real course of action, so I would skip meals until about 7pm, by which time I was starving, then I'd convince myself to abandon the half-hearted and unrealistic change to which I'd committed that morning and proceed to order take-out, eat the whole thing, then drive home from work at 12am and stop at a drive-through along the way for another huge portion of food.  It is shocking how much I used to eat and how little I moved my body. 

While the person I am today feels totally different from the person I was then, I still don't feel like the runner/athlete this blog makes it seem like I am.  It's very weird, and I guess I'll need to work on reconciling who I was and who I'm becoming as parts of who I am now in order to really move on. 

Trippy, huh?  Told you I'm a dork.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Victory: The Oakland Half Marathon

So, here it is... the long-promised half marathon post.

I won't lie.  The run was great.  I never, never, never thought I'd be one of those people who talks about fitness in general (or running in particular) as a good thing... as something I looked forward to... but things change.

I was totally anxious the morning of the run.  I stayed up way too late stressing about things like sunblock and Port-A-Potties.  My alarm went off at 5:30am and I had 1.5 hours to eat and drink water and get out the door for the 7am bus to the start line.  In typical Heather style, I used about 15 minutes of my prep time to actually prep (sunblock, breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed) and the rest to read the latest edition of Vogue, start a new book, water plants and change my sheets.  Long story short, I missed my bus... my backup bus... and my backup-backup bus.*

I ended up walking 45 minutes to the start line, which was a good thing because by the time I reached the Starbucks in Uptown Oakland, I was ready for a bathroom break.  I was so thrilled to be able to use a bathroom with an actual sink and a toilet that flushed!  Port-A-Potties be damned!

I got to the start line about 20 minutes before we had to line up, which was just enough time to check my bag and down a banana (thank you, PointsPlus!  I might not have eaten this power food if I'd had to sacrifice 2 points for it!).

The next 2 hours and 20 minutes are sort of a blur.  I remember being really focused and humorless at the start line.  Other runners were cheering (doing actual cheers) and yelling (woo! yeah!) but I could not crack a smile.  All I could think was Do I need to pee?  I think I need to pee.  What if I have to pee while I'm running?  Did I put on enough sunblock?  Oh, God.  What if I get a cramp.  Or blisters.  What if I didn't train enough?  Can I still drop out?  Ugh.

Those anxious thoughts continued for about 8 miles, despite the fact that the lovely people of Oakland were out in full force cheering on their neighbors.  There were bands at every mile, plenty of water stops and a lot of stuff to distract anxious runners.  Still, I couldn't get out of my head until more than 1 hour in, when my iPod playlist landed on Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams".  I love that song.  It totally snapped me into the moment and, at the next mile marker, there was a group of about 20 members of the Raider Nation.  I high-fived a guy in a gorilla suit as a I ran by.  Friends, if there's anything that can snap you out of a funk, it's a group of guys in black and silver dancing to "Disco Inferno" while wearing gorilla suits and Afro wigs.  I wish I'd brought my camera so I could show you but I was way too nervous to worry about keeping track of a camera.

Miles 8-13.1 were much better than miles 1-8.  My friend Becca was standing at mile 9 to cheer and I saw her just when I needed a familiar face.  Miles 9-12 were around the lovely Lake Merritt, where I do my weekly runs, so I was on familiar turf.  At mile 10, I realized I was not in pain.  It dawned on me that I actually was going to finish, which was goal #1.

At around mile 12.5 or so, Becca was there to cheer again and my friend Carmel was with her!  What a great treat!  Seeing them kept me going until the finish line... where I saw them again! (They actually ran through a back street just so they could cheer for me... I love them.)  Carmel took this photo just a couple of blocks from the finish line.

People.  It was mile 13 and I was smiling.  Wild!

So, I finished in 2:21:02, which works out to 10:48 per mile.  That's a little slower than I'd hoped for -- I wanted to run closer to a 10:30 mile.  But I consciously took it easy because I wanted to run the whole way, without walk breaks.  I was also proud of my Nike+ stats for the run.  Pretty consistent pace!

Carmel took this picture after I crossed the finish line and got my medal.

After the run, Becca, Carmel and I walked to Becca's apartment.  As I freshened up, the girls made me the most wonderful brunch: goat cheese omelette/chicken-apple-cinnamon sausage/mimosa.  It was perfect.  And I slept like a baby when I crashed out at 9pm Sunday night.

It's wild to think how much you can change your life over the course of just one year.  Last March 27, I was miserable and felt trapped in a deep hole I didn't think I would ever be able to dig my way out of it.  I still have a lot of self-doubt, but that's what makes me such a planner and Weight Watchers is great for planners like me!

The next hurdle is another run this weekend in Washington, DC.  It's 10 miles so I feel confident about the distance... I just hope I'm not pushing myself too far.


*I missed the backup-backup because I walked into the rose garden while I waited and saw that new bushes have been planted, the fountains have been filled and a duck couple has moved in!  I took this photo as my backup-backup bus was pulling away without me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

9 Hours To Go! I Should Be Sleeping!

So.  I have been horrible about posting lately.  Life got sort of out of control.  There has been stress, but most of my extreme busy-ness the past few weeks has been due to wonderful happenings.

One of those wonderful things is this:

The Oakland Half Marathon is in just nine hours!  And I am running it!  And I can't sleep!  I feel like a kid who's about to go to DisneyWorld!  I feel totally prepared... I've been training like a madwoman, my running clothes are ready, my bib is pinned to my shirt, my breakfast is ready to go, I've packed my post-run change of clothes and I created a special half marathon playlist on my iPod.  Now all I have to do is run 13.1 miles.  Piece of cake.

I started seriously training for this run back in November, after I did a 10k.  I felt so strong and accomplished and good after that run that I decided to try for this one.  Tomorrow's run through Oakland is truly special to me.  I have a huge soft spot for underdogs and Oakland is nothing if not an underdog.  It's San Francisco's dirtier, harder-working sister -- pretty enough, but prone to poor choices and constantly outshone by the flawless Big Sister SF.

It's hard to compete with the Oz that is San Francisco -- I love that city more than vanilla ice cream drizzled with olive oil and dusted with chunks of sea salt from Boot & Shoe Service (which I've never actually ordered but I have a rich fantasy life with that menu item).   I think I (gasp) even love SF more than I love Paris.  But Oakland, sweet Oakland -- this city with a not-so-great reputation has my heart.  From its precious rose garden to its fabulous farmer's market... this city is like a big hug.  No question -- SF is breathtaking... but Oakland breathes.   Oakland is alive in ways San Francisco just isn't.

So, this run I am doing is a big deal -- tracing the streets of this city that is so, so special to me.  This is only the second year for this run.  Last year, I desperately wanted to participate as a way to support the city.  I'd done long run/walk races before -- but at an out-of-shape 256 pounds, I was in no physical condition.   Still, I thought in the back of my mind, "Next year."  I don't know if I believed it then, but I re-joined Weight Watchers a couple of months later and here I am -- down more than 85 pounds and preparing to participate.  

So, I went on my last pre-marathon run today... going at about a 9:30 mile for 3 miles.  This is my cute new gym outfit.

I also went to my hairdresser in SF and got these cute little French braids so I don't have to mess with my hair tomorrow.

Now, all that's left to do is RUN. (and of course, post a new blog).

Wish me luck!

Friday, March 4, 2011

I. Am. Struggling.

Ugh.  I am hoping writing about this will help me process it.

The past month or so has been a real battle for me.  I keep gaining and losing the same 1-2 pounds.


And as I write this, I am looking at the words and thinking, "Big deal.  1 or 2 pounds?  Less than a year ago I was weighed down by 110 extra pounds!" And I know that's true.  And I know I should remember that and believe it and use that knowledge as the boost I need to push through these final 30 pounds. But I can't seem to get back in the game.

The good news is, I didn't go to Taco Bell this week even though I wanted to TERRIBLY.  Like, I obsessed about it for at least three days and even calculated the points and -- when I'd burned through my weekly extras -- even calculated how much I would have to run to account for the binge.  I seriously wanted to BINGE and not the silly little hummus binge I had a couple of months ago.  I wanted the old eat-a-whole-pizza or dive-into-an-Extra-Value-Meal-with-a-hot-fudge-sundae binge.

I guess it doesn't hurt to admit that this was a really stressful week at work and I am also planning for a vacation next week, which, again, is great... but I stress myself out so much!  I feel like I have to plan every second of the vacation so I am not stuck with a bunch of downtime and a 6-pack and Lifetime movie for women.  So, all that genuine stress mixed with my self-imposed anxiety has done a number on me.

I always thought a plateau was when your weight loss slowed or leveled even though you were still doing all the exercising and healthy eating you'd always done.  Still, I would say I am at a plateau now even though I am definitely nowhere near as disciplined as I was a couple of months ago.  I am cheating A LOT.  No, not at Taco Bell, but I have gone through lots of granola bars and peanut butter and laughing cow cheeses this week.


I can honestly tell you I am dreading the scale this week.  And to make things worse I am weighing-in a day earlier than usual because I will be in New York City (yay!) on Saturday, which is my regular meeting day.

Here's hoping the weight loss gods acknowledge my resistance to the Bell and allow me a meager .5 weight loss or something.  I am thinking it will probably be a 2 or 3 pound gain.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Training

I am nothing if not goal-oriented.  In the past, this has been both a blessing and a curse.

I can focus quite intently for short periods of time.  When something gets tough or unpleasant I don't give up until the task is complete.  I've often berated and bullied myself when I needed a break (or a nap or a meal) in order to complete a task in a given timeframe, only to lose all self-control once the task was reached.  I can't tell you how many times I've repeated this pattern: when I finished my master's thesis, I totally flaked on doing some final housekeeping and my grade suffered because of it; when I ran my first marathon, I stopped all exercise completely for about 5 years and managed to gain more than 50 pounds; when I starved myself for a month to lose 20 pounds I promptly gained back 30 in a matter of weeks.

The theme seems pretty obvious to me now.  I set very high (sometimes unhealthy) goals, torture myself into reaching them, then regress.  I have been working on setting more realistic goals and it is a real challenge for me because goal-setting is how I've always accomplished things.  I need that rigor.

That's one reason I've been hesitant to mention something I've been working toward for a while.  I signed up for a couple of long runs: one here in Oakland and one in Washington, DC, where I have several close friends.  I love having the goal to work toward but this time I've decided to train over a matter of months, not weeks, and I haven't talked about it here because I wanted to make sure I was being realistic.

Here's the point of this post: I had an amazing breakthrough on Sunday -- one that makes me certain my goals are realistic, attainable and not total ass-kickers that I will need 6 years at Taco Bell to recover from.  Friends, I ran 12 miles Sunday.  By myself.  No coach.  No mean thoughts going through my head.  No organized running group that pressures you to raise a bunch of money.  Just me and the sunshine and the sidewalks and the miracle that is the Nike+ sensor that talks to my iPod and tracks everything.  See?

And my time was pretty decent!  I finished in about 2 hours, which means I was running a little over 10 minutes per mile.  Thanks, Nike+!  

And in the spirit of Bitch Cakes, the blogger who inspired me to begin blogging, I took a photo of myself before and after the run.


... And after.  

The coolest thing is, I don't look like I was about to die in photo 2... and I didn't feel like I was, either.  

Rock. On.

To celebrate, I bought a new running top on sale at Gap Body for $10 and I wore it today to run 5 miles.  Ain't it cute?
So, the running cat is out of the bag.  I have a lot of thoughts about the Oakland run -- and I want to share them all.  This run is really special to me for a lot of reasons and I will tell you all about it later... but for now I gotta run.  But not in the psycho Type-A way.  Just the normal Type-A way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Didn't See This One Coming...

I guess there's a reason you always hear the same old warnings about extreme weight loss: because they're true.

Last February 1, if you had told me that in one year I would weigh less than my driver's license says, I would have high-fived you.  And I don't high-five.  I leave people hanging all the time.  But I would have made an exception and gone high/down low/too slow/fist bumped you.

Likewise, there would have been a high-five if you had told me that on January 30, 2011, I would walk into the Gap and try on a pair of size 10 trouser jeans that would be almost too big.  Which is sort of what I did over the weekend.

I can't remember the last time I fit comfortably into a size 10.  I think I skipped that size, going from a 6 to a 14 somehow.  So I was pumped when the jeans fit.

Then I freaked out a little bit.  Even though I was all alone in the dressing room, I suddenly felt so exposed.  I felt embarrassed and conspicuous.  I realized that if I were to buy that outfit (I didn't) and wear it out, people would (gasp!) look at me.  

Of course, people looked at me when I was heavier.  My friends and family looked at me.  My co-workers looked at me.  And I was fine with that.  These were people I had a personal or professional relationship with.  I felt comfortable with them on my terms and didn't mind them looking my way.  The problem was strangers.

When I weighed more, most strangers ignored me.  Those who noticed me at all usually just glanced then quickly looked away.  The more sensitive souls would give me a kind, apologetic look (kind of the way you might when you catch yourself staring a little too long at someone with a physical disability). 

This is when I realized what a control freak I am.

I have often heard that people with eating disorders are controlling and I definitely have obsessive, controlling, bossy personality traits.  But, the way I used to eat was utterly out-of-control and reckless.  So how could that be a trait of a controlling personality?  

I never connected that binge eating gave me just the kind of control I needed: it allowed me to be very judicious about whom I let into my life.  I had a way to vet people and make sure they were genuine.  I used my fat as a way to distinguish between the people who were shallow and those who saw beyond my weight to my personality or my mind or my heart or whatever.

Now, that fat filter is gone.  

I am struggling with the realization that I am exposed.  Anyone can see me.  And let me tell you, all that crap you hear about eating disorders and control issues and fat being a way to shield one's self?  It doesn't sound like such crap to me anymore.

Dude.  I am still freaking out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

California DMV, Here I Come

No question about it.  I am one of the world's worst bloggers.  The holidays sort of overwhelmed me.  

BUT I didn't turn to binge eating to soothe myself when things got a little hectic and I have some pretty amazing proof.  

Exhibit A
This is my California driver's license.  It boasts a couple of inaccuracies.  
  • First, it says I am 5'9".  That's not true.  I think I am 5'8" or maybe 5'7 3/4". 
  • Second, it says I weigh 180 lbs.  

That also is untrue.  Because, as of today's Weight Watchers weigh-in,  I weigh 178.8. 

Exhibit B from today's eTools.

I don't think I've ever weighed what my driver's license says I weigh.  Ever.  
  • When I was a 135 lb. 15-year-old, my driver's license said I weighed 120.  
  • When I was a 165 lb. 25-year-old, it read 140.  
  • And, sadly, when I was a 256 lb. 36-year-old, it said I weighed 180.  (A difference of more than 75 lbs.)
And you know the best part?  I am still super motivated and my driver's license is up for renewal in just 7 months!  That means I should be at my goal weight by the time I get a new license and there will be no reason to lie.  

Which brings me to what's evolved as one of the themes of this whole weight loss experience for me: no more lies to myself about how I am feeling, what I am feeling or who I am.  I had a rough day this week.  But instead of lying to myself about the fact that it was a rough day, I acknowledged it.  I felt it.  It sucked.  I thought about soothing myself at Taco Bell.  I thought again.  I took action to address what was stressing me out.  And, amazingly, I felt better.  And I no longer wanted Nachos Bell Grande.  


140 lb. goal weight, here I come.  California DMV, here I come!