Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Shopper - Swimsuits

Either my pool has the scariest concentration of chemicals in the world, or else I'm just buying bad swimsuits. I'm now on my third one that has started just to disintegrate until there is so little fabric left that it's nearly transparent!

They are Speedo suits, but purchased at Costco. I know they're not the top of the Speedo line, but I never expected them just to fall apart like this. The first time it happened, I assumed it was due to my own mistakes, such as not rinsing it out well after every use, and also washing it in the washing machine a couple of times. I have taken much better care of my last two, only to see them fall apart in the same way as the first.

So far, I haven't wanted to invest the money in a really good swimsuit because I'm still losing weight and have quite a bit more left to lose. Ideally I'll be down another size in a couple of months, so I'll need another suit then anyway. Once I'm at a healthy weight, then I certainly won't mind shelling out a little more money for a couple of great swimsuits that will last me a while.

For now, please tell me where I can buy an affordable suit that won't disintegrate after a month!! Thanks!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Heart of a Winner

"The most readily identifiable quality of a total winner is an overall attitude of personal optimism and enthusiasm. They know life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Things don't "just happen" in their lives; they make life happen by choosing a goal or destination worthy of their effort and commit to reaching it....Winners make commitments. Losers make excuses." (an excerpt from Built to Win, by John Schuerholz, baseball's winningest GM)

I love inspiration. I love to be moved so deeply that I feel empowered to take on the world and invincible against failure. This week, the sporting world has provided me with a great deal of inspiration.

First, there was the U.S. team in World Cup soccer. That game against Algeria was intense! Everything was on the line for Team USA, and after one goal was disallowed on a bad offside call, the players' spirits easily could have been crushed. They already had been robbed of one win by lousy officiating and seemed poised to suffer the same fate again. Often in sports, when a team is psychologically beaten down in a high-pressure situation, you see them just unravel until they barely even can play the game anymore. Not so with this team! They never gave up! They kept their wits about them and remained calm and focused. Over and over again they just kept trying, kept pushing, kept bouncing back from every near miss until finally their tenacity was rewarded with a goal and a win in the extra time at the end!

The U.S. team might not win the World Cup, but on Wednesday they proved that they are winners.

My next source of inspiration was the marathon Wimbledon tennis match played by John Isner of the U.S. and Nicolas Mahut of France. As an American, I'm thrilled that Isner ultimately won, but as just a human and a sports fan, I am humbled and amazed by both of them. Their physical endurance is impressive enough, but it's their mental stamina that truly blows me away. Rarely in my life I have seen such a great lesson in never giving up, never quitting. For 11 hours and 5 minutes, spread out over three days, these two men kept playing as hard and as well as they could, never once giving in to exhaustion. What makes it even more remarkable to me is that this was just a first-round match, and between two barely-known players (Mahut is only ranked 148th in the world!). We might expect this level of passion and endurance from two champions, fighting it out for another Grand Slam title; from these two guys it was nothing short of amazing.

John Isner might not win Wimbledon, and Nicolas Mahut might not in the future either, but on Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday, they proved that they are winners.

Also from Built to Win: "Life for winners is not about making outs. It's about scoring runs. It's about having opportunities and people believing in you. It's about making progress and never quitting."

I've learned some lessons this week on what it means to be a winner, and I am applying them to my own life. I probably will never win a 5K race, or do any better than just survive a triathlon, but every time I fight back from an injury, or overcome a fear, or push through pain, exhaustion or my own overwhelming laziness, I will prove that I am a winner too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back on Track

Sorry I've been MIA for over a week! I haven't really had any news to report. I've just been adjusting to my new shoes and orthotics, and continuing to practice my flip turns in the pool. Everything is going well! I repeated a couple of runs from the last week of my program that I did before I took the little break, and then last night I moved on to the next week's run. The shoes are feeling great so far!

There is still a little bit of pain in my leg but I'm hoping it will work itself out as I continue to adjust to all the new added support. I will continue to monitor the pain and if it gets any worse I will definitely head back to the doctor.

If I can continue on my running program without any more breaks, I should finish it up the last full week in August. At that point I'll be able to run 30 minutes at a time, but at the pace I'm currently running, that won't get me through the whole 5K distance. I will have to keep working up to that, and I hope to be ready to run my first race in mid-September. I'm starting to look at events listed on websites like to get an idea of what my options will be in the DC/Baltimore area around that time.

As for my swimming, I've missed a few days lately. I've lost a bit of my motivation to drag my butt out of bed at the crack of dawn. Plus my allergies have been flaring up at night, so I've been taking Benadryl before bed, which inevitably leaves me groggy still when I wake up. I need to work harder to stop making these excuses. This morning I made some progress on that front and forced myself to get moving even though I desperately wanted to stay in bed. I won't let myself miss another swim this week, especially because I might have to miss a few due to scheduling issues next week! The flip turns are coming's just going to take me more time to really get the technique down. Stay tuned!

Today was a pretty inspirational day in sports, with the USA win in World Cup soccer and the marathon Wimbledon match that still isn't over! I will ponder these events tonight and share my thoughts on them tomorrow. :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Whole New World

I fell in love today.

It wasn't the first time I fell head over heels (pun totally intended) for a store that sold shoes. I carried on a torrid love affair with DSW for many years, before the time and money constraints of raising kids put a major dent in my footwear obsession. I'll admit it - I still have feelings for DSW. But those feelings seem like puppy love compared to the passion I discovered today.

Acting on the advice of trusted friends, I entered a running store for the first time. Half an hour later (and me $150 poorer), Fleet Feet had captured my heart!

It wasn't just the exceptional service from a knowledgeable staff member that won me over. It was the overwhelming feeling that by shopping there I was joining a special club - real runners. I know a lot of real runners. Some of them I'm lucky to count among my friends. Many of them have inspired me to pursue the sport. I've wanted to be one of them for quite some time now, but have felt like an outsider looking in.

Of course it takes more than buying shoes from a running store to make a person a real runner. I understand that. I've got to stick to my training and keep pushing toward my goals. What made today a turning point for me wasn't making the was how I felt about making the purchase. It felt like the start of something special, something that will last. I left the store knowing I would be back again and again. It's true love, y'all. :)

In case you're wondering about the results of my fitting, it turns out that although I have decent arches when I'm sitting down, they completely collapse when I stand up, and I definitely overpronate. The shoes I've been running in lately were a half size too small, and though they were stability shoes, they didn't have enough stability for my wonky feet/legs. So now I own a pair of Asics GT 2150's, and a pair of orthotic inserts for extra support. When I was trying on several different shoes, I could actually feel the difference in this particular pair. I am breaking in the orthotics for a few days and I plan to run in them for the first time on Thursday! Please cross all your fingers and toes for me...I really hope these shoes solve my leg pain issues and I can proceed from here injury-free!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Shopper - Running Shoes

Thanks to all the wonderful advice I received on Facebook after my post about leg pain, I am finally going to go to a running store and get fitted properly for the best shoes for me. I hope to go sometime in the next couple of days, but before I do, I wanted to see if anyone has any particular shoes they recommend.

Naturally, I will listen to the advice of the experts in the store, but if I'm left with a couple of different shoes from which to choose, I'd love to know which brands my runner friends prefer and why. I will take any and all tips under advisement, and report back on what I end up buying! Thanks!

In other news, unrelated to running or shoes, I have another update on my flip turns. When I first started practicing flips in the water, I would do it for 5-10 minutes after I had finished my regular swim workout. On Thursday I decided it was time to start incorporating the flip turns into my workout, and I managed to do them through all but 2 laps! I had even more success on Friday, doing flip turns throughout my entire workout. Now, they don't look pretty and their quality is incredibly inconsistent. I have a tendency to go sideways and all wonky, so my "flips" are really more like "half somersaults with a twist." So I will continue to work on my form and technique and practice practice practice until I can get it right every time.

Every so often I get water up my nose. Once upon a time, that would have caused me to stop swimming until I'd recovered, but I'm proud to say that now I can keep swimming through the discomfort. This is a reminder of the progress I have made in the past 3 months, from having to physically hold my nose closed whenever my face went in the water, to being able to do flip turns and not be stopped by getting water up my nose! Maybe someday I will even be able to dive. That is something I have never been able to do in my entire life. Diving isn't really a necessary component of my fitness goals, but I'm starting to get a little high off of conquering fears and accomplishing things I never thought possible. I might give diving a try one day just to see if I can. :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Dealing with Pain

"No pain, no gain!" Is that really true? Is there a certain amount of pain that just naturally goes along with working out and pushing your body to its limits? Or is all pain a sign of your body telling you that something is wrong?

Unfortunately, I'm experiencing pain in my left leg again. The good news is that it's not in exactly the same spot as my stress fracture was, so I don't think it's a re-injury. The bad news is that I don't know WHAT it is. It's in an odd spot: the inside of my leg, just above my ankle, going to about the middle of the leg. I feel like lower leg pain associated with running usually occurs in the calves, shins or ankles.

In some ways, this feels like deja vu. There is pain in my leg, but I don't want to rest it to see if it will go away. I don't want to lose momentum in my walk/run training program. At the same time, I realize that if there is something seriously wrong, continuing to run could make it even worse.

So how do I know when pain is normal, and when it's cause for concern? Fellow runners, what do you do when you first start to experience some leg pain? Run through it, and maybe ice it afterwards? Or do you stop immediately, and rest a few days?

I should note that I'm still not running all that much - a total of 12 minutes, broken up with some walking - so I don't really understand why I'm having pain at all. My runs are otherwise easy. I would not characterize the pain as severe, but it has gotten worse over the past week and I also feel it occasionally at random times during the day, when I'm not running.

I'm not the type to run to the doctor at any hint of illness or injury...I hate to waste a copay just to be told to take it easy for a few days, you know? So I could use some advice on how to deal with pain and how to tell what is normal and what is not. Thanks!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Picking Up Where I Left Off

The redundant portion of my weight loss journey is over! Today I weighed in at 196 lbs, which is what I weighed at the start of my last pregnancy.

After my second son was born in the summer of 2007, I started exercising (mostly just walking) and eating better, and I slowly began to lose weight. By the spring of 2008 I was down a little more than 25 lbs, and had just started running. I felt great and was motivated to continue getting in shape. Then my untimely pregnancy with my third son caught me completely off guard.

The damage was more psychological than physical at first. I just gave up on myself immediately. All I could think was that my hard work had been a waste of time, and now I probably would gain all the weight back and have an even harder time trying to lose it all over again. Thanks to a difficult pregnancy (emotionally and physically) and the death of my father, and more negative self-talk, I became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It was incredibly hard to find the motivation to start another weight loss journey after my baby was born. I was in the depths of grief and eating my way through it. Attempts at exercise never lasted long before I gave up and landed my butt back on the couch again.

Even once I finally committed to getting healthy, the frustration of having to re-lose weight I'd already lost has been with me every step of the way. So today truly feels like a fresh start! Now as the numbers on the scale continue to go down, each one will be a weight I haven't seen in over 5 years!! I don't even remember what it feels like to be smaller than this. When I go down another size, it will be like getting a brand-new wardrobe because I haven't seen those clothes in so long that I've forgotten what they look like!

For a long time I was angry at myself for letting my emotions cause me to gain that weight back, but I'm ready to let it go now. It's Sure, it would have been easier NOT to have to lose those 25 lbs TWICE, but being angry at myself isn't what drove me to do it, and it isn't what's going to drive me to keep going now. Losing weight and getting in shape have such a crazy psychological component, and I'm fighting hard to keep a healthy sense of perspective so that I won't self-sabotage again. And even if I do - if I face another tragedy or period of stress that causes me to gain a bunch of weight - there will be no need for negative self-talk because I know now that I CAN lose the weight again if I need to!!

I've always believed in God, and I believe in lots of other things too, but what's new these days is that I finally believe in ME! :)

Side note: I promised an update on my attempts at flip turns. I tried a few yesterday, and WOW they're hard. This is going to take a while for me to master. I didn't get to practice this morning because my pool was closed due to a power outage, but I'll get right back to it next week and I'll let you know when I manage to make some progress!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flipping Out

I've decided that this is the week when I will start to attempt flip turns!!

As I mentioned previously, this is the next challenge I want to tackle in the pool. Even though flip turns are not part of swimming in open water like I will someday do in a triathlon, I think they will help my workouts flow a lot better.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been practicing exhaling through my nose underwater, and have done a bunch of regular flips away from the wall. I think I'm ready to try a few flip turns now!

I've been studying this video from the Beginner Triathlete website: How To Do Flip Turns. I'll probably watch it a few more seems helpful, and it doesn't hurt that the guy is pretty cute. :)

If all goes well, I'll make my first attempts tomorrow morning. Whether I succeed or fail, I'll report back with my results. Wish me luck!