Sunday, November 27, 2011

I'm Back!

Hello Monday!! I'm back!!

Woo Hoo!

Today I start my next THING. 14 week half marathon training starts today.

Day 1. Rest and/or Cross Training.


I'm all psyched up, and I'm cross training. Ah well. I need to do that as well, so I will. Not sure yet if it will be strength training or some cardio boxing, but I've got to do something. Too much food in this belly, gotta get moving!

I am so super excited to be sharing this training with two great supportive friends. These are internet friends - we've never actually met - although we've known each other for over 4 years now. We met up in an internet group for mommy's that had babies due in February 2008, and now, here we are, Facebook friends, and running friends, almost 4 years later. These are the gals who are always "liking" my random facebook posts, supported me thru the weight loss, encouraged me in my running, and kept me going when I thought no one was listening.

I am so excited to be doing this training with them!

I'm also going to put another weight loss goal out there. The half marathon training plan in 14 weeks. I would like to lose 1 lbs a week during this training. Honestly, I'll be thrilled if I lose 10 lbs, but I'm going to make the goal 15 lbs. This is going to be hard. But I've got to get my diet under control or all this training will be for naught. I can't expect to get fitter and faster if I don't give this body some decent fuel to work with.

Here goes. Half Marathon and 15 lbs. I'll be checking in on Mondays. So happy to be back!

Next up, find an actual half marathon to run. Hmmmm....

First up, the New Years Day Dash (5 miles). Send me warm weather!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Berbee Derby Recap

Race recap. Ok, first race. No real idea what to expect. I didn't expect SO many people. I over emphasized a warming trend on the weather, such that, my poor children, husband and parents were freezing to death.

I totally get all the jokes about the porta potties now. Those poor people in line behind me running late for the 10K start - whoops! Should have planned ahead!

I had a couple of minor mishaps (didn't get my tights cinched up tight enough in aforementioned porta potty and thus felt like my pants were falling off the whole run). I did run with music, and was glad I did. I didn't anticipate the steep hill around the turn near the 2.5 mile mark, which was, unfortunately right after I had kicked up into 8 mile pace. Ouch. Lots of my co-runners were walking up that one, I refused to walk.

Oh, and I ran out of fuel at the end. To be expected I suppose.

But, despite the weaving traffic cones, dodging walkers and trying not to step on any school kids - I felt a great sense of accomplishment. Check that off the list. Did it. Done.

The results:

46/238 in my age group
417/2022 overall
Time 29:22
Pace 9:27

and here are my splits, cause my goal was really to do some decent negative splits:

Mile 1 - 10:10.7
Mile 2 - 8:36.6
Mile 3 - 9:19.1

I've run faster at home by myself. I've had better splits. But frankly, once I realized that the "traffic" is half the battle, the 3 miles themselves are hardly worth stressing about.

Thanks to my support, Mom, Dad, Erik & the girls! I know this wasn't the most fun thing to do on a Thanksgiving morning and it means a lot to me that you guys came out to see me blur by for 30 seconds.

Half Marathon training starts Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tis the nite before the 5K

Tis the night before my first 5K and not a toddler is stirring...

As a sit and listen to my revamped running playlist (dutifully crafted to be just 30 minutes, the last 3 minutes of which I hope not to hear), it occurred to me that I should write something on my blog - to read the night before I run my first half marathon. Wink. Wink. Nod. Nod.

I'm nervous, yes. But I think more than that, I am sort of astounded that somehow in my strange brain a 5K (which I only learned less than 6 months ago equals 3.1 miles) now feels like a sprint. I've learned in the last 2 months that it actually takes me about 3 miles to warm up. When I run longer, the first 3 miles are the hardest 3 miles of the whole run. Rut Ro.

My goal has changed from just finishing to finishing well. Or at least, running a personal best. All sorts of strange competitive feelings that I haven't felt since the height of my swimming days (Jr. year high school) are creeping back in.

And then I take a deep breath and think back about what I was writing on this blog this time last year. I was painstakingly chronicling my calories and watching the scales drop. By Thanksgiving, I had dropped 47 lbs and worried relentlessly about adding just a drop of butter and sugar back into my diet. I was on the road of getting my life back.

Life is good. Here I am, on the eve of running my first 5K. I am starting half marathon training on Monday. I've got two gorgeous and healthy children. I am blessed with two loving parents who I have the luxury of seeing daily. I have amazing siblings who are brilliant and supportive. I have a husband who is loving, supportive, giving and super proud of me.

No matter the time on the Garmin, I am so thankful for all of these blessings.

And just cause you were wondering. I've tapered this week. 5K on Monday. Easy 2 mile jog on Tuesday and resting today. Trying to save these legs for tomorrow!

My running stats from last week:

Count: 4 Activities
Distance: 23.11 mi
Time: 3:47:06 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 1,360 ft
Avg Speed: 6.1 mph
Avg HR: 152 bpm
Calories: 2,754 C

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quitting, certainly

I don't like quitting. Anything. I have this internal sense of trying to keep people who have expectations of me - happy. I've had this with certain teachers, certain friends, certain family members - certainly my hubs, certainly happy with me. I don't like disappointing people. Who does?

I've been bouncing about since my goal accomplishment this summer. I've been playing, certainly. I've been testing the waters on a couple of things. I took up riding lessons. I flirted with half leasing a horse.

I tried running longer, shorter, faster.

Certainly, I've eaten too much.

I am certain that I have no idea what I am doing. It unsettles me. For the last year, I was certain about what to do. Lose Weight. Eat less calories than I burn. It is complicated, but simple when you boil it down.

The past two weeks I've been trying to get my focus back. I've enjoyed dabbling in this and that. Certainly, I still have things I want to do (skiing, for one, when the snow really hits), places I want to go (half marathon in Bermuda, anyone?).

I've made a couple of decisions:

1. My time and resources are limited. This sounds silly, but I need to realize I can't do everything. Certain 2012 changes will impact my work life balance. I have to take that into consideration when determining what to do next. The fact of the matter is that there are certain things I won't sacrifice. My husband, my kids, and my work have got to all have their time in my day.

2. I like running best. When I considered the cost benefit, time commitment of running versus the other activity that I have going - horseback riding - I realized that I like running better. This is a big step for me. I've always had this vision of riding as the height of sophistication. I love the idea of riding. But when I really got honest about it, I didn't actually enjoy it that much. I also didn't see what the end game was - what am I riding for? I'm not going to show. I'm not going to own a horse. I'm not going to go on some cross Ireland trek (as much as I'd like to). The time, money and dependence on animals and people outside of my control ultimately persuaded me to quit riding for now. (I reserve the right to reconsider in the event that 1. we win the lottery or 2. come into some other monetary windfall that allows me to be the kept woman that we all know is my true destiny.)

I'll say it more certainly - I honestly like running. I also like that I can do it seemingly anywhere anytime without much preparation or investment. I can literally see myself getting somewhere. In May, I ran 2 miles. In June, I ran 3 miles. In August, I was running 4 miles. Now, I can almost 12 miles without dying (well, I did that only once to be honest). Running seems to be a place where I can find out what I am capable of - set goals - and achieve them, while maintaining my weight loss.

So, yeah. I quit. I certainly have mixed feelings about it all. I certainly don't like telling people, my instructor, my friends, my husband, that I've decided to quit. There is, certainly, one person who isn't too sad about it - that is, my mother. She never understood why I would want to ride a 1,000 lb animal that could toss me on the ground. Certainly, she maybe onto something there.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Heart Condition

When I was 18, I had the privilege to study abroad in England for a year. As part of my preparation for that adventure, I was shuffled off to my primary care doctor for a physical. Due to some scheduling conflict, I saw the nurse practitioner instead of my normal doc.

She listened to my heart.

"Do you have a heart murmur?"

Yeah, I've had it like forever. Was checked out Pittsburgh Children's Hospital when I was like 8, and they said it was no big deal. I've never thought about it again, except to take antibiotics for dental work.

"It is really loud. You should have it checked out."

Mara shuffles off to the local university to see a pediatric cardiologist. Several tests and appointments later. I get an actual diagnosis. I'm textbook.

Textbook. Pulmonary Stenosis. With a gradient reading on the ultrasound that is right at the the threshold of do-we-intervene-or-not.

At age 18, my relatively healthy self choose no intervention. So on with life I went. Yearly updates with the pediatric cardiologist (pulmonary stenosis, a narrowing of the pulmonary artery is a birth defect, thus, the pediatric specialty) at the ripe young adult ages of my early 20s.

In 2000, as a young woman, pulmonary stenosis started to interfere with my adult life. It caused complications for me as I prepared to have a particularly agitated gall bladder removed. They wouldn't do the laproscopic surgery and thus, I was under the knife and out of commission for 6 weeks due to major stomach surgery.

Later that year I was in for a real shock. My OBGYN sat me down in his office post checkup.

"Mara," he said, "with your pulmonary stenosis, I would really advise caution about having kids. In fact, I would say that your chances for cardiac arrest during childbirth would be significant. I would recommend that you not consider (ever) having children."

THAT was NEWS to me. It wasn't like I was in the middle of my family planning but I had always just assumed that I would have kids some day. I left my OBGYN's office with a sense of "What just happened?" Why did this seemingly innocent heart condition that hasn't caused me any noticeable symptoms just thrown a wrench into my life plan?

I started talking to more doctors, more research, more time passed. I learned that when I wanted to have kids, I might consider having a catherization to widen my pulmonary artery. Time passed and I met Erik.

In 2005, I was referred to some amazing doctors at the Boston Adult Congenital Heart Clinic . There Dr. Sloss and Dr. Landzberg advised that since Erik & I wanted to have kids and the catherization risk so low, that I should have the procedure done to mitigate any risk I might have during pregnany. Without going into the details of the procedure, lets just say that this hospital experience was so positive, I would recommend these doctors and this facility to anyone looking for this kind of care.

What I won't forget is my post operation feeling. I felt like weight had been lifted off my chest. I ran up the stairs for the first time in years. I recall discussing this feeling with Dr. Sloss at my post operation follow up.

"Its not like I wasn't athletic. I was a swimmer all during high school."

"But, did you like to run?" he asked.

"Well, no. But I could if I had to."

He explained that I likely gravitated to a sport that was easier for my body and my condition to handle. Sort of a gravitation towards the path of least resistence. I realized that what I had done in my life was very much impacted by my asymptomatic heart condition.

At that time, I was a plus size girl. I went on to have two beautiful babies. Also as a plus sized girl. I remember being told that I should lose weight for my heart. I knew this. As I've blogged here, I dealt with complications during both my births due to my blood pressure. I never had blood pressure issues until preeclampsia hit in the 32 week in both pregnancies. My blood pressure was ranging around the 130/90 mark when I delivered both of my little girls a month early. Even with my corrected heart condition, my docs considered me high risk. In retrospect, I think this was due more to my weight than my heart.

My little girls were healthy. I was not. I had managed to make it thru the pregnancies but neither of them were ideal. They say that preeclampsia isn't caused by weight. All sorts of shapes and sizes get it. In my case, I feel like my body can maintain its health until I hit about the 300 lbs mark. At that point, all my systems (mainly my kidneys and my heart), don't handle the weight very well.

Why am I thinking about all of this on a rainy (and soon to be snowy) Wednesday morning?

I found a print out this morning from a couple of weeks back. I went into urgent care for a infection. While there, the nurse took my blood pressure and pulse. She was concerned. She was concerned for the opposite reason. My numbers were so low.

Blood pressure: 105/51
Pulse: 42

She took my stats twice. Then she looked at me and asked. "Are you an athlete?"

That nurse made my day.

Why, yes, I am an athlete. I am also a runner. I am a mom of two with a heart condition. Thanks to some amazing doctors and some hard work I've changed the path that my life was on. I no longer choose the path of least resistance. I have a heart condition. Now it is called healthy and happy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Running to Youngstown

Feeling a disturbing sense of pride after this mornings longest run ever (11+ miles!), such that I have just reviewed my Garmin log and have the following recaps to report:

The week in review (includes 1 non-running cardio-boxing routine):

Count: 4 Activities
Distance: 19.26 mi
Time: 4:15:38 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 428 ft
Avg Speed: 4.5 mph
Avg HR: 148 bpm
Calories: 2,996 C

October 2011 in review:

Count: 16 Activities
Distance: 78.40 mi
Time: 14:16:07 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 3,075 ft
Avg Speed: 5.5 mph
Avg HR: 148 bpm
Calories: 10,335 C

Year to Date stats:

Count: 108 Activities
Distance: 353.91 mi
Time: 86:10:39 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 11,222 ft
Avg Speed: 4.2 mph
Avg HR: 140 bpm
Calories: 53,276 C

This year, I have run 353 miles (so far). That is like running from Madison Wisconsin to Youngstown Ohio. That's a LONG way. Youngstown, I am so there! While in Youngstown, I'm thinking it is time to pick up some new running shoes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011



This is a little bit of YAY me! I was feeling HOT, yes, like sexy mama Mara, trying on this jacket today. And I almost bought that darn thing just because it was one of those unattainable sizes (as I have previously blogged about). This jacket is a size Medium. Now, I will add the caveat that it is a medium at Lands End, which does tend to be a generous medium and translates into a 10/12, but STILL!! A medium. I haven't worn a medium in any memorable time of my life. I swear I went straight from 14X kids to 14 womens. There was no in between for me. So a medium is a great morale boost. I need a bit of YAY Mara right now, so I'll take it.

I also bought two pairs of size 12 jeans. Which isn't such a huge deal cause I've been in 12s for a while now, but cool nonetheless. Especially when you consider that this time last year I was celebrating getting out of size 24 and into size 22. What a difference a year makes.
Posted by Picasa