Wednesday, November 28, 2012

6th Half Marathon on the horizon

Shnikies! How did THAT happen!?! SIXTH?

It's true, this Saturday I'll be participating in the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis, TN making it my SIXTH 13.1 distance event.

You can read about two, three, four, and five on my blog.

(Almost) four years ago, after my first half marathon, I swore I'd never do one of them again. I HATED it and it took me 4 hours and 18 minutes to complete.

This past April, at the same race I did 3 years prior, I PR'd in under 3 hours (2:58).

That, my friends, is progress. And proof that slow and steady wins completes the race.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weigh in - Post Thanksgiving Apocolypse

Weight last week: 244.4

Weight this week: 246.6

 2.2 pounds GAINED

82.8 pounds lost since June 2010

Is it sad that the number was lower than I expected this week? I completely expected to be in the 250s because I went to town on some food last week. It wasn't just Thanksgiving either. It was before I left for St. Louis, while I was in St. Louis, and after Thanksgiving. What probably kept me from the edge was I kept up all my workouts and did 3 miles Tues/Thurs and 6 miles on Saturday.

My goal is to be back to 239 by Christmas. (So I can gain 5 lbs over Christmas/New Years, naturally). I know I can do it because 2-3 pounds of this is hopefully water weight and I can lose 1-2 pounds a week if I'm making good choices.

Things I will do to get me there:
-Workout 4X a week, at least 2 cardio sessions and one strength session - even the week after my half marathon (this can be anything from yoga, to hiking, to biking, etc)
- Drink 75 ounces of water a day (it's stupid I haven't been doing this)
- 2 fruits and 3 veggies a day (at least)
- Track all calories no matter what it is
- 2,000 calorie goal a day

These are basics, why can't I keep doing these things 90% of the time again?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Overcoming Fears: Zip-lining

A huge part of weight loss for me has been being able to do "normal" activities I never would have thought of doing at 355 pounds. This year alone, I've gone to Disney World without fear of not being able to fit in the rides (that really happened to me as a young adult), hiked a "moderately strenuous" trail, and now I can add zip-lining to the list.

When friend Lynn mentioned wanting to go zip-lining I didn't even hesitate clicking "purchase" on the Groupon-type coupon we bought to visit a local farm that has a zip-lining course. Who am I?

Since these types of activities usually have strict weight limits, it is something that I never would have been able to do even 2 years ago. I didn't even think of it until after the purchase - now that's a NSV!

So Saturday we loaded up and headed into the hills of Tennessee.

All geared up and ready to go!

Lynn is fearless!
My first ride in - my eyes MAY HAVE been closed.
Group shot on the smallest platform ever.

KG and I after the 2nd line.
Where I almost died.
Get me down from here.

After my death defying experience...not having it!
Last line - finally on the ground!

So glad to be on the ground again!
Overall, I'm really proud of myself on how I did with the fear of heights thing. Yes, the first few "jumps" off the platforms were disconcerting. Yes, I had problems "landing" on almost every platform. But I did it. And I did it without too much whining.

There was one line that pretty much ended my "oh this isn't so bad" thought process. I got "stuck" on the line just short of the platform and had to "jump" my hands from my harness to a rope so I could be pully-ed in. Yeah, just hanging by my harness was not the best feeling in the world for someone that is scared of heights and I was a little shaky after that. But I got through it.

More importantly, I'm so thankful my weight loss has given me this and so many other opportunities to live a "normal" life! It's so liberating to know I really can do "anything" and my weight will not hold me back!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weigh in this week

Weight on 11/4/12: 239.6

Weight this week: 244.4

 4.8 pounds GAINED

85 pounds lost since June 2010

Not doing my best here. Now the holidays are here I'm focusing on trying to get back to 239 and staying there.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Recipe: No Marinara Spaghetti Squash

It's time to confess...I L-O-V-E Aldi. If you aren't familiar with what Aldi is, I'm not sure there are any words to describe it's greatness. But basically its a discount grocery store with origins in Germany, I don't know all the details but it's owned by the same parent company as Trader Joe's in the US. From Wikipedia:
Aldi's "strictly no frills" approach means that its stores do not decorate aisles or fill shelves: pallets of each products (in cardboard boxes, shaped so customers can easily pick them up) are placed alongside the aisles; customers retrieving them gradually empty the boxes (since Aldi charges for bags, its empty cardboard boxes are often removed by customers and used as "shopping bags".) After a pallet has been emptied, it is replaced.
ANYWAY...over the years Aldi has gotten better and better products. All of their products are their own "brands"; however, I often buy fresh salsa, hummus, bagged spinach, and so much produce for half the cost of a conventional grocery chain. Is the produce organic and local? No, but I wouldn't buy it that way at the local Kroger or Publix. I'm just not at a point in my life where that's fiscally possible for me. Oftentimes, their produce is better than what I would find at Kroger though and considering the cost savings, you can't go wrong there.

All that to say, last week I noticed they had WINTER SQUASH on the shelves! This was new to me, as I've been shopping at Aldi for years and years and have never seen squash there. I picked up a Butternut and Spaghetti squash. The search for a recipe began.

Let's just get this out of the way. I am NOT a "let's use spaghetti squash as our 'noodles'" kind of girl. If I want pasta, I'm going to eat pasta. So, when my recipe searches came up with meat sauce after meat sauce options, it was time to get creative.

I bring you...No Marinara Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
4 ounces raw shrimp (I used the frozen raw)
1 head broccoli
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan
garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste

I made this after a late night at work and getting home from the gym, so it was 7:30 pm and I was starving by time I started. So, I tried my hand at microwaving the squash. It worked out well, but you could bake it if you so choose.

Cut squash in half longways and scoop out seeds. Then cut each piece in half, yielding quarters. Put in microwave safe dish (I used a glass Pyrex 8x8 dish) and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Microwave for 8-10 minutes until tender when a fork is inserted. I like my squash "crunchy" so I did 8 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on your microwave and the size of your squash, so check on it often.

While squash is cooking, add 1 tsp of oil to pan and add raw shrimp. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. You could also use some minced garlic, but I was out. After 1-2 minutes add broccoli and a sprinkle of water. When broccoli is half-way cooked, remove pan from heat.

After the squash is cooked, scrape the "meat" out and return the pan to heat. Add squash and another tsp of oil. Saute for about 5 minutes to "meld" the flavors together. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until combined.

I ate the whole squash with 4 oz shrimp and about a cup of broccoli, but you could alter this to include more shrimp/broccoli and make this 2-3 servings.

This recipe is a definite MUST MAKE AGAIN - so good! What do you do with your spaghetti squash?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Avoiding weigh in this week

I'm not posting a weigh in this week because frankly I'm kind of embarrassed about how I've done in the last week. It's been an ultimate roller coaster ride.

I was up early last week due to a visit with my mom where I took her to all the good southern cookin' places (Arnold's Pancake Pantry, Loveless Cafe). Not to mention several nights of drinking.

I recovered quickly losing 4 lbs or so of water weight Tues - Fri, then this weekend happened and Mexican food, pizza, 12 hours of drinking Saturday night, and hangover recovery Sunday has me super bloated and I just can't face the scale.

Oh, and I've already had a brownie at work today. But they were Cooking Light, so that's OK, right?

It's pretty bad when you run 10 miles Saturday morning and you still feel like a whale on Monday morning.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thoughts on training for my 4th Half Marathon in 2012

It's been a busy fall. So busy, in fact, I haven't really mentioned much about my St. Jude Half Marathon training I've technically been doing since the end of September.

St. Jude will be my 4th half marathon in 2012 and my 6th overall. Craziness.

However, I have to say, the training for this one has been much more mentally difficult for me. After my triathlon in July, I decided to "take a break" from endurance events. The triathlon marked my 4th one in 2012 and I knew I had St. Jude on the calendar in December. My body and mind needed a break. I continued to swim and spin through early September. I've ridden my bike several times in late summer and into this fall, but I kind of stopped running very much at the end of the summer.

The first 4 weeks of "training" were dismal. As in, I don't think I had one week where I completed all runs as scheduled until mid-October. Oops.

And I've been slow. My half marathon race time in April was a sub-3 hour, I ran a 5K in August in around 38 minutes. Those are around 13:30 min/mi and 12:21 min/mi paces respectively. My times the last few weeks have been in the 14-15 min/mi range. It took me a a few weeks to get ok with that.

I don't have any time goals for St. Jude. The goal is to have fun with friends and finish.

The problem I have had the last 4 weeks or so though is that I wasn't ENJOYING running it was a chore, but finally tonight I felt JOY while I was running. It was getting dark and it felt SO GOOD to not let the time change, or that my mom left town from a 4 day visit, or the fact I've eaten my weight in southern, bacon fat, fried, butter filled food over said 4 day visit be an excuse. Apparently, I'm fueled by fried chicken because my 4 mile run clocked in at a 13:30min/mi pace tonight.

It felt good.

It makes me a little less scared about the 10 miler I have on the calendar for Saturday. It makes me a little less concerned that I'm the least trained for this race more than any other race I've ever done. I always do a 12 miler before a half, but since I goofed off the first month of training, I don't have time. It will be ok though because I will finish the race.

And I will have fun.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Color Run Pics - Finally!

I realize it's been two weeks since the race, but I've been lazy with the blog (what's new?). However, this was such a fun race, I wanted to share the pictures. 

I ended up buying a registration off of a friend of a friend because I didn't sign up when the race went onsale and it sold out. To my credit, I was contemplating a half marathon this same weekend but then I decided I was burnt out on half marathons and regretted not having a spot at the Color Run. 

Luck was on my side. Although I missed my friends I would have done the half marathon with, I had SO much fun doing this race.

I had 7 miles on my (revised) training schedule this weekend for the St. Jude Half Marathon, so I got up earrrrrrrrrrrrly and ran 4 miles at the greenway by my house before heading out to the race. It was probably the first time I started a run on my run in almost dark. The sun was just coming up when I started it. But I got it done and we got down to the race start.

Sea of people at the start line. Downtown Nashville behind us.

KG and I in our homemade tutus. I made both of them, but her's was definitely better.

Crowd at the finish line.

Post-tutu picture
Close up after shot!

Weigh in

Weight on last week: 240.4

Weight this week: 239.6

0.8 pounds LOST

89.8 pounds lost since June 2010

Honestly surprised to even see a small loss. I drank too much last night and finished the night with white castles and cheese fries. I guess it helps I had very little to eat the earlier in the day even though I did a 9 mile run.

Goal is to stay focused while my mom is here town. Wish me luck because I have big eating plans for us!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weigh in

Weight on last week: 239.0

Weight this week: 240.4

1.4 pounds GAINED

89.0 pounds lost since June 2010

Not a bad gain compared to the excuses I have as to why I wasn't diligent with nutrition and fitness this week. Looking forward to redeeming myself this week just in time for a visit from my mom this weekend where we will eat and drink our way through Nashville.

Goals this week include consuming enough water. Not drinking every night. And making good food choices.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weigh in - 2nd week of loss

Weight on last Saturday (10/13): 242.2

Weight this week: 239.0

2.2 pounds LOST

90.4 pounds lost since June 2010

Finally, two significant weeks of weight loss. I'm determined to make it a third next week. This week was good. Even through what I lovingly called last week at work - Hell Week - I made good choices. With the exception of overdoing it on some leftover french baguette I brought home it was a good week food wise. My goal was to have one cheat meal and I did that on Friday by enjoying beer, Shepard's pie and Jeni's ice cream. It was the perfect end to the week. Last night I met friends for dinner at a local Mexican joint and was determined not to blow my good week. So I had grilled fish tacos, black beans, half my rice, and a skinny margarita. I did have chips and salsa, but I stayed away from the cheese dip. WIN! 

This morning this happened:

It was so much fun. But before that happened, I got up at 5:45 AM and ran 4 miles to get my 7 mile training run in. I am tired, but I feel accomplished. I'll write a full recap of The Color Run soon.

I'm ready to do it all over again this week (with a little less color, unfortunately). Happy Sunday!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hike to Virgin Falls

One of the things I decided after completing my first triathlon this summer was to take a break from endurance racing. This has been a hectic year of several races in a short amount of time and I was beginning to feel like I was jumping from one training program to the next, which in turn meant I was always training for something.

After 3 half marathons and a triathlon in 7 months I was ready to take back my weekends and do physical activity for fun again.

For friend KG's birthday weekend, she chose to celebrate by going on an 8 mile "strenuous" and "rugged" (both adjectives I've read describing this route) hike to Virgin Falls in Sparta, TN.

I don't know if words can describe how much this outing proves how much I've changed my life over the last 2 years. Two years ago I would have scoffed at KG's idea I would go on an 8 mile hike, nevermind the strenuous part.

In fact, 3 years ago KG took this same hike with some friends and I wasn't even invited. Because at that time in my life, I was not physically fit enough to last on this type of hike. Not to mention at my larger size I felt so clumsy and unbalanced that I was irrationally scared of heights. I could never imagine hiking the ledges we did during this hike.

Me on top on a rock mound enjoying the scenery of the first falls.

Virgin Falls
Me and KG on the Trail
Words can't describe how grateful I am that I was able to have the willpower and motivation to make the changes I have to lose over 100 pounds from my highest weight in 2008. I didn't realize at the time how much I was missing out on and I vow to never let myself be that way again. Whether I get to my ultimate goal weight or not, I am pretty darn happy enjoying life, and I'm able to do that whether I lose the last 40 vanity pounds or not.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weigh in - Battle of the Scales

Weight on last Saturday (10/6): 244.4

Weight this past Saturday (10/13): 242.2

2.2 pounds LOST

87.2 pounds lost since June 2010

I've been using a different scale lately because mine needed new batteries. So I weighed in yesterday on the scale I've been using and it showed 242.2 (the number I went with this week). I jumped on my own scale this morning after replacing the batteries and it said 248.2.

So, I am going with the 242 number because, well, the other number is scary. Could I have "gained" 6 pounds overnight? Not likely.

Although food choices weren't great yesterday - I had ice cream, beer cheese soup, Chipotle, and then more Mexican at dinner in the form of a Chimichunga and a thousand chips with beer and sangria thrown in there - so maybe I did.

(Of note, my weight on my own scale was 242.2 after my run today)

So we'll transition back to my own scale next week and will probably see a gain, but let's hope not.

Hopefully I'll post something interesting in the meantime this week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quick Post with a Weigh-in

Weight on 9/16: 240.4

Weight this past Saturday (10/6): 244.4

4 pounds GAINED

I'll post a longer update soon. But, this is it. I've spent a year waffling. A year on a roller coaster that only I have the power to get off of. It's time to kick these last few (40) pounds in the butt.

I'm just posting to document this weigh-in from Saturday, my first one in 3 weeks, so I have something to compare Sunday's weigh-in to when I resume regular weekly weigh-ins. The scale works for me. Tracking works for me. Regular exercise works for me. It's time to put them all together and work for myself.

I'll post some longer updates soon.

That is all. Enjoy your Thursday!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Weight last week: 240.8

Weight this week: 240.4

0.4 pounds LOST.

I honestly expected a better loss, but my eating for the week took a turn around Thursday with pizza for lunch and then last night I had Mexican food and ice cream.

So I can't be mad at the scale. At least I'm down anything. Today I'll recenter and ensure I kick the week off right.

Maybe next week will be a record I haven't had in awhile...a loss 3 weeks in a row. Let's work on it!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to Weekly Weigh-ins...for now

Weight on 8/12/12 - 246.0

This Week's Weight - 240.8

5.2 pounds LOST

88.4 pounds lost since June 2010

I haven't really been weighing in lately for no reason besides laziness and not wanting to face the fact I just can't get motivated to make the number on the scale go down - and stay there.

I have been focusing as much as possible on resisting tempting foods at work and adding more strength training into my routine. I'm getting to the point that even if the scale is not going to move, I at least want to feel good.

There were a few bumps in the road with a stressful week at work and letting a piece of pizza slide in as well as not getting as many workouts in as I normally would. But, I found myself doing opposite what I normally do in a stressful situation (eat) and was probably eating a little less than normal.

I'm looking forward to getting back on a normal schedule this week.

Although I'm not 100% perfect with my nutrition goals, there are a few things I'm trying to focus on in order to keep feeling healthy.

- Drink plenty of water (at least 64 ounces)
- Exercise 4-5 times a week, including 1 gentle yoga class for meditation and stretching
- Do strength training twice a week
- BEGIN my half marathon training for the St. Jude Half on Dec. 1
- Eat at least 1 vegetable with each meal, and make half my plate fruits and veggies when possible

The rest of the details, I'm not stressing. I'm trying to go the route of intuitive eating (which to me means eat when hungry/stop when full), and incorporating strength training into my regular workout routine because frankly this is something that has been missing over the last 2+ (four) years.

Hopefully, I have a good update on this plan for you next week!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Catching up.....5K Personal Record

Wow, I haven't been around here much.

No weigh in today since my scale is still in need of batteries. I suppose I could have bought some at Target today, but that seems like a lot of effort.

So instead you get a post I've been meaning to write for over 3 weeks.

Better late than never, right?

On Aug. 11th East Nashville held their Annual Tomato Arts Fest and Tomato 5K. This was my 2nd year participating.

Honestly, the thought of doing a 5K at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning in August is less than appealing, but this is the best street festival in the city, so I actually enjoy doing it.

This year we were blessed with highs in the mid-80s (instead of 100s) and low humidity. Thank you running Godesses.

Pre Race shot with Miss Lynn and KG

Now, there's that pesky running part.

I hadn't been running much this summer. My triathlon training had me focusing on swimming and biking. I was only hitting the pavement about once a week. Between my triathlon on July 21st and this 5K on Aug 13th I had only ran once. Once!

I decided to set my Garmin for 3 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals to give me something to work towards during the race. When the gun fired, I decided to just run until I needed to rest. I made it about a mile before the first big hill on the course. After walking up that, I ran some more. I definitely ran more than my 3/1 intervals and I knew I was running too fast out of the gate, but I figured it was only 3.1 miles so I should be fine.

Around 2.5 miles I bonked. The sun was starting to bear down and the last portion of the course is especially hilly. I went to my 3/1 intervals and finished the race.

I finished in 38:21 - over 6 minutes faster than my 2011 time of 44:29.

That's approximately a 12:20 minute mile. For 3.1 miles. With no training.

Even though I've failed at the actual weight loss thing for going on  a year now, things like this make me feel amazing. It proves to me no matter what the number on the scale is, I am healthy. I am able to do things I never would have imagined 4 years ago. And those feelings are better than any number on a scale.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Missing Weigh-ins

If you are keeping count at home, you've noticed I haven't weighed-in for about 2 weeks. And that weigh in was a disaster. Last week, I was actually down about 5 lbs by my best guesstimate. My scale actually needs new batteries so I'm not sure where I'm at today, but guessing again would lead me to believe I'm probably up from last weekend since I overate this weekend out of boredom.

Truth is, I have been struggling with making any weight loss progress for almost a year now. The funny part about that is I feel better now than I ever have in my life, physically. Working out regularly is part of my everyday life now. I don't have to think about getting to the gym at least 4 times a week and for that I am physically strong. Stronger than I have ever been.

But there's still something inside of me that wants the scale to keep moving down. However, the motivation to make that happen is lost somewhere. Deep down the motivation to want to keep the scale moving down is the fact that I still carry a lot of weight in the bottom half of my body. I've accepted that even though my arms and legs have muscle tone, there is a lot of extra skin - I can deal with that. However, there is still a lot of fat under the extra skin of my stomach and back that makes me completely insecure about my body. It frustrates me that I have lost so much weight and my body still isn't even near "perfect". But, I wonder, is this vanity/insecurity about my body image enough motivation to get on track and stay there?

So, an internal struggle is present with part of me feeling the need to lose 40 more lbs in order to closer to that image in my mind of what I want my body to look like and the other part of me needing to just accept my body for what it is and appreciate what my body DOES do for me (let me run half marathons, complete triathlons, and generally be as active as I want.)

I would venture to guess this internal struggle has been going on for the better part of this last year and has been hindering me from weight loss progress. I don't have the answer today, but I think I am on the right track now that I've come to terms this struggle exists and I can start to sort it out.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weigh in - huge gain again

Last Week's Weight - 238.4

This Week's Weight - 246.0

7.6 pounds GAINED

83.2 pounds lost since June 2010

Well that happened. Seriously?

The week wasn't going great. We had catered lunch at work every day this week and several evening social receptions. I was up all week, but only by a pound or two.

Then yesterday happened, biscuits, gravy, pizza, chips, guacamole, all rounded out with 5 beers and combined with not enough water and the sorest legs I've had from a 5K EVER.

Maybe one of these days I'll get my shit together and get over this almost-a-year-long hump.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weigh in - 1.6 pound loss

Last Week's Weight - 241.0

This Week's Weight - 238.4

1.6 pounds LOST

90.8 pounds lost since June 2010

A loss during a week I traveled two days for work - progress! If I can just keep this 1.6 pound loss going week after week  I could be at my goal by March. That seems so far off, but if I can tackle it in small chunks like I did the first 90 pounds I can do it.

First milestone up is my 100 pound loss since starting the blog. It's just 9.2 pounds away and if I'm consistent I can get there by the end of summer.

Workouts have been consistent. Even though I'm not actively training for a big race I am still making it to the gym 4-5 times a week doing cardio for at least 30 minutes at a time. My goal is to add 2 days of strength training.

Nutrition is ok, but as always it could be better. Still working on that, which will always be an ongoing process.

Busy week ahead. This will be another test.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Flying Away

It wasn't until this last trip that I realized how much I have been traveling by plane lately. Since Christmas, I've been on 5 round trip flights totaling 12 planes. It also wasn’t until this last trip that I truly appreciated how much easier it is for me to fly being 115 pounds lighter than my 355 pound former-self.

I’ve been attending bi-monthly gatherings with a group that discusses body image, among other topics, and this past week someone said something that really rang true. In not these exact words, but with the same sentiment, “Sometimes your body stops losing for a period of time so your brain can “catch up” inside to your new outside image.” It’s so true.

I have been bumping around in the 235-249 range for the last 9 months, but until recently I hadn’t come to terms that I can no longer hide behind “Fat Emily” anymore, well, because I’m getting less and less fat every day.

Of course there are lots of instances I could use as an example, but since it’s the freshest example in my mind, let’s have a conversation on how plane travel has changed for me over the last 4 years. And 115 pounds.

No more seat belt extenders
For those who have ever needed one of these, you know it is the most embarrassing thing in the world to have to ask a flight attendant for a seatbelt extender over your neighboring row-mate, who has assuredly already realized you are encroaching on their precious seat space.

My strategy was to always whisper to the attendant at the front of the plane upon boarding and usually they would be able to hand me one right there. Some were empathetic about my “situation” and others gave disapproving looks. Often, I would take the extender with me on the outbound flight so I wouldn’t have to ask for the extender coming back and leave it on the plane on my return. I do still have one or two extenders that never got returned.

Exit Row Seating without Fear
Though asking for an extender on a crowded plane is embarrassing, nothing took the embarrassing cake like the time I was kicked out of an exit row. I was happily seated in my favored spot on the plane (long legs unite) and asked the attendant for an extender. He promptly said if I was to need an extender, I was not allowed to sit in the exit row because I wasn’t “capable” of the duties that came with that coveted seat position. I was mortified, and had to move.

Let the water flow
As a larger passenger, I would withhold from drinking liquids before and during a flight. I refused in-flight service just to avoid using the bathrooms on board simply because I didn’t fit. Not only could I not comfortably urinate on a plane at 355 pounds, I hated walking down the aisle, bumping into every person seated in the aisle as I passed by. Now, I drink so much water by nature that I pee on just about every flight over an hour.
No Table Trouble
Not only did I need an extender at 355 pounds, I couldn’t make use of the tray table in my seat either. My stomach was so large that it couldn’t come down all the way. So, if I did want to get a drink, I had to hold it in my lap the whole time. Nowadays, I always use my tray table and when I can even comfortably fully extend the tray towards me, if needed.

No Space Encroaching
I no longer worry that I am “hanging” over a seat into someone else’s space. In fact, during recent flights *I* was the one being encroached on (not by a larger passenger, just two jerks who were armrest hogs). I can now confidently take my seat and know my ass or hips won’t be sliding into the person’s seat next to me.

Don’t have to worry about bullying gate agents
With all the stories you hear through the news and social media about larger passengers being bullied at the gate in regards to being asked to purchase two seats, I was constantly in fear of being asked to do the same. I would have had no recourse either. At well over 300 pounds how could I argue I didn’t need two seats?  Now, I don’t even think about it when I approach the gate to board.

I don’t necessarily believe the old saying, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” But I have to say these small milestones of being able to live a normal, healthy life sure do taste just as good as a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting!

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Triathlon Recap: Wet Dog Triathlon

Remember that triathlon I was getting ready for?  Wonder what happened? Oh yeah, I killed it. (Of course "killing it" is in relative terms to my own self.)

The epic less-than-24-hour whirlwind time-span leading up to, actual, and post event was, well, epic. It started Friday night with my bike racked for it's first trip out of Nashville (and first time using the bike rack for a long car ride) and a pre-getting on the road stop at Mirko for some carb loading.

Amazing pre-race support from office mate.

Whole wheat penne with meat sauce and meat yummy.

We arrived in Decatur around 8:30 pm and we checked into the Best Western of Decatur. High class accomodations in Decatur going on! After messing with what we thought was a broken AC, I finally settled into bed and fell asleep around 10:30 or 11.

Alarm was set for 4:45 am for a 5:15 depart time. I got up and did my normal pre-race routine - coffee made, getting dressed, teeth brushed, peanut butter and bagel prepared, and gear gathered. It felt weird leaving for a race not with my running shoes on, but with flip flops. Loved that feeling actually.

Got to the race site right around 5:35 or 5:40 and I went directly to pick up my race packet. There were no lines and it was in and out. They handed me 2 bibs and my timing chip. It felt so official. I had no idea what the 2nd bib was for. So I asked. I thought the volunteer said "one goes on your front, and one goes on your back" but clearly the 2nd race number went on my BIKE, which thankfully I figured out in the transition area before embarrassing myself. :)

Pit Crew Member KG and I got my transition area set up. At this race the transition area was first come, first served so I choose the 2nd rack on the side closest to the bike exit. After racking my bike and laying everything out we found our way over the the body marking area.

Arriving to the race site.

Before shot with the bike.

Body marking fun

Transition all set up (that's my green and pink flamingo towel, naturally).

The thing I found about this race was even though it was tagged as a "beginner" race there was limited signage/direction so figuring things out was generally just taking your best guess or following the groups of people. Luckily, I had been researching triathlons for months leading up to my race and had volunteered at a race back in May so I was familiar with the general layout of a triathlon and tasks to take care of before the race start.

Around 6:15 I headed down to the beach area to check out the water. They hadn't gotten the buoys out yet so they weren't quite ready to let people in the water to warm up yet, but I hung around the water and chatted with some other racers. The water seemed calm to me and eventually they got the buoys out to let us in to warm up.

I wasn't really nervous before the start of the race until I visually saw how far out the buoys went. The swim course was an out and back 400 meter swim. I quickly squashed the fears down and tried to focus on just getting out there to warm up. I swam half way out and waded around a little, but that's pretty much it.

The finally called for racers to line up according to their race number (lower numbers were the first starters and fastest swimmers). At this point they were running late, but I'm not sure how late it was since I didn't have a watch on. I lined up in my general number range and started chatting with a fellow first-time racer, Sheila (hey there!). She was doing this race in preparation for a triathlon she's doing with her cousin next month in Erie, PA. Go Sheila!

Proud of my body markings.

Meet Conehead Emily

In the swim line waiting to start.

After a short wait, which I have no idea how long it was, into the water I went. The. swim. was. awesome. I felt really strong and since I overestimated my swim time by 7 minutes or so, I passed a lot of people that seemed to just be out there doggy paddling it (not hating - way to get it done!) I had to do my normal self talk of not rushing out of the gate too fast, but by time I got to the turn-around I was actually surprised in how short it felt.

Coming out of the water you had to run from the beach through the park entrance to the transition area. This probably added about a minute to my swim time, which was 11:19.

Off to the swim

That's me in the swim (middle, closest yellow cap in picture)

Coming out of the swim.

In transition number 1, I attempted to dry off a little, rinsed the sand off my feet and dry them to put on my socks and shoes, pulled on some athletic shorts and threw my helmet on. I assure you although it is quick to read about all the steps I took, I was sloooooooooooow in T1. It took me 4:03.

The first mile and a half on the bike was a little rough. In hindsight, I should have warmed up my legs up. It was a hard start, and I felt like I was really working to not go at a very fast pace. Early on I decided to save my legs for the run and just do the bike at a leisurely pace. So all those people I passed on the swim? They got right back on me during the bike. Another issue I had during the bike was the fact I didn't think through my hydration system. I had frozen some water and Gatorade bottles, but I didn't think how I would unscrew them while on the bike. Also, since I don't have a double bottle rack I borrowed KG's bottle holder that straps onto the handle bars. But it took two hands basically to get the bottle in and out. After the turn around I dropped my still half full bottle of water. Ooops #1.

The bike did go quicker than I though, but it was a very flat course. KG later informed me on my way back into transition, I didn't dismount at the right point, essentially entering transition ON my bike. Oops #2. Because this wasn't a USAT sanctioned race, they didn't do anything about it, but it's definitely something to keep in mind for future races. My bike time was 42:52. Actually a little faster than I estimated for myself.


Bike start

Bike finish

Transition number 2 was kind of weird. Since I bike and run in my running shoes I didn't have any clothing changes so I just racked my bike, took off my helmet and downed some water and stood there for a second. I definitely could have done it faster, but it ended up taking me 1:24.

Despite drinking in transition and the water stop outside of transition at the beginning of the run, I felt THIRSTY starting the run. I had set my Garmin to 3/1 minute run/walk intervals and I knew I was going out fast, but I was able to keep to my 3/1s. The run was along the river and on a gravel trail with well marked roots. It was also primarily flat. The nice part was that there were about 4 water stations during the 3.1 mile course. This was really nice for me, who felt really underhydrated. I plowed along, but it really didn't feel that bad. Mostly, it was mentally difficult because the course twisted and turned so just when you thought it was time to turn around, you were really just going around a corner. There was a lot of fellow racer support during the run, which I appreciated. Since I had no idea what time I started, I had no idea how long the race had taken me at that point.

Starting the run.

Although I certainly wasn't last, I was in the back of the pack, but there were still a few people cheering runners in at the finish. Including Pit Crew Member KG. I was all smiles as I crossed that finishline. I was a triathlete.

Still smiling as I round the finish.

Crossing the finish line.

So excited to be a triathlete!

During races where I am particularly pushing myself to earn a new accolade (a PR, first time finish, etc.) I always think int he middle of the race I may cry at the finish line because I am so grateful to be at this point in my life that I can do exercise for 1, 2, or even 3 hours at a time and ENJOY it. However, the finishes always seem anticlimactic for some reason. Either way, I was glad to be done and to still have a smile on my face!

Of course, every race finish deserves an epic post race meal. And this one deserved a happy shopping trip to H&M in Huntsville.

Po Boy Factory - Crawfish Po Boy, Jambalaya, Fries (two kinds), and Fried Pickles.

So, I'm officially a triathlete. Yes! Where to from here? Of course in the days immediately following completing the race I begin to have thoughts of...well maybe I could do that race in September? What about doing an International (Olympic) distance next year? Could I do a half-Ironman in 2014? Will I ever be crazy enough to do an Ironman?

Slow. Your. Roll. Emily.

Honestly, in the first 7 months of this year I've completed 3 half-marathons and a triathlon. I could do that sprint tri in September, but I think I honestly need a break from endurance racing. I'm not signed up for any long distance events until December, and I think I am content in keeping it that way. My bank account and body need a break from the cardio fest it's been having. I want to learn how to focus on strength training. Also, I think if I back off of a strenuous training schedule maybe I can focus on losing these last 45 pounds I want to get rid of from my body. These two things can only make me stronger when I DO return to racing this winter and triathlons next season.

But honestly, I couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement of friends and family. This wasn't a solo journey in the least. Friend Jenne went on my first swim with me and taught me how to breathe in the pool (yes, really I had to learn to breathe), plus accompanied me on a-many-more swims. Of course KG took time out of her weekend last week to go to Decatur with me, help carry equipment and took all the pictures in the post (she took a total of 92 pictures!) not to mention spotting me on my first OWS before race day. And my long-distance coach, Heather, who I got to ask crazy triathlon related questions to and she always happily answered and gave me advice. I can't even begin to list everyone that gave me encouragement, good luck wishes, congratulations wishes, etc. You all SERIOUSLY rock.

In the end, it was an amazing experience and I am hooked. If you have ever thought about doing a triathlon I highly recommend you to find a beginner race you are comfortable with and start training today. (I'm no doctor though, so make sure everything is A-OK before beginning any exercise program.)

Triathlon, I'll see you next year!

After shot with the bike.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekly Weigh-in

Last Week's Weight - 248.2

This Week's Weight - 241.0

 8.2 pounds LOST

89.2 pounds lost since June 2010

Thankfully, I'm back (plus down 0.2) to my "OMG I am going to eat everything in sight because I'm running a triathlon" weight.

Oh about that triathlon, yes I'm still planning on recapping it. This week was just a bear between work, the gym, and social things.

The good news is I've been tracking for about 2 weeks without skipping any days. The bad news? I have not been hitting my calorie goal at all.

My goal for this week is to be back in the 230s. With an overnight work trip to New Jersey and a busy work week otherwise, it will be difficult, but it's doable.

Look for that recap sometime this week....seriously....I promise.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weigh in - Post race edition

Last Week's Weight - 241.2

This Week's Weight - 248.2

7 pounds GAINED

81 pounds lost since June 2010

FAIL!  I always use long races as an excuse to eat everything in front of me for two days - the day before and day of. I've already made out a meal plan for the week and grocery list so I'm just moving on like this didn't happen.

I also think tired and sore muscles after a race hold fluid. I'm not trying to make excuses (even though it IS an excuse), because CLEARLY if you follow me on Twitter you saw the epic table of fried food at lunch after the race yesterday. And last night I probably didn't need 2 plates of food, plus ice cream and pie at the sushi buffet I visited with friends. C'est la vie!

Just moving forward and still tracking what I put in my pie hole. The goal this week is to get through a busy week at work, a happy hour, and another social event without nose diving.

Race recap should be up no later than tomorrow morning - onward!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ready, Set, Go!

Triathlon in less than 48 hours. I'm a ball of nerves and excitement. And I'm packed and ready to go.

The List

The gear bucket.
Off to Decatur after work tomorrow. I'll eat pasta and sleep hard before my 5 AM wake-up call. (!!!!)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another brick...with an epic open water swim!

Although I have done one mini open water swim on my vacation over 4th of July, I wanted to get a serious open water swim (OWS) in before the triathlon this weekend (5 days...OMGZZZ). So, I enlisted good friend, KG in spotting me out at Percy Priest lake on Sunday.

So we headed to a nearby recreational swimming area at the lake at 8:30 Sunday morning after drinking a pitcher of margaritas the night before. Haha, we know how to train, y'all.

There were already a few people out in the water when we got there (and a couple cars in the parking lot with "swim, bike, run" stickers...I felt like I was crashing a cool kid's party). One intense woman was running out of the water when we approached the beach area and when she came running back she said a friendly, "hello!" I had no idea what 400 yards looks like (the distance of the race), so KG asked professional triathlete lady about it. She gave great guidance I was confident with.

After figuring out what approximately 400 yards would be (or so I thought) I set out into the water.

It's a bit blurry, but it's also an AWESOME photo of me, haha!
I have this issue in the water where I go out way too fast. Well, actually I do that in every sport. So, I swam from the beach to buoy #1 to buoy #2 back to #1 and back to the beach for what I thought at the time was approximately 400 yards. I was huffing and puffing when I got out of the water because I rushed it and my breathing rhythm was off. The swim felt labored and KG reported it took around 6 or 7 minutes or so. Hmmm...that seems awfully fast for me on a 400 yard swim. My average time in the pool for that distance is about 9 1/2 minutes. What happened?

Well, my morning brain THOUGHT I had estimated 400 yards, but really it was 200. Ooops....back to the water.

This time, I started down at the end of the beach to swim out to buoy #4 then back. Easy peasey. I made myself slow down and just swim rhythmically. I typically alternate what side I breathe on every 3 strokes. I'm still learning how to sight in open water, but I practiced that too. It was a lot better than the first run. So much better that I passed buoy #4, got a little past buoy #5 and realized I was way farther than I intended to swim out. Ooops #2

But no worries, I got back to land safely.

Swimming in
Back on 2 feet!
Out of the water

I feel confident in the open water, but I am still expecting the worst on Saturday because swimming in a calm lake is nothing like swimming in river with potential current AND with 600 other people flailing around in the water.

After the swim, KG joined me for a 2 mile run. Can I tell you how much I hate putting socks on damp feet? Ugh. I struggled with the run and walked a lot more of than I hoped for. It was hot by that time (9:45) and I was under hydrated. 2 miles got done though and back to the car we went.

All in all it was actually a lot of fun (well, except for the run part) and I'm really looking forward to Saturday (in an excited/scared sh*tless kind of way). And I think I found a great new place to get some swimming in without having to be a member of the Y!