Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We run on

Five years ago, my brother ran his first Boston Marathon and I was certain he was a total lunatic.  Why would anyone want to run 26.2 miles?  Why would anyone want to train so hard they lose toenails, get up at 4AM to run in all kinds of weather, or haul his whole family to Boston (what's so great about Boston?) ??  The whole prospect seemed absurd.  His 2008 marathon was a wreck.  He cramped, Heartbreak Hill nearly killed his dreams of finishing, yet he did.  He wasn't in good shape when he crossed, but he finished.  Even if he never understands what that race meant to me, I can tell you now, The 2008 Boston Marathon helped change my life.  Four months after that, I started my own journey to run (and have complete 4 marathons since then).  He ran it again in 2010 (in 2:42), his wife ran it in 2011, and he was registered to run it a third time yesterday.  Matt is super fast, I mean freaky fast, and wouldn't have been anywhere near the finish line when the bombs went off, but my family would have been there.  For once, I'm actually glad he is so busy; it kept him safe and sound at home yesterday when so many others were not.

I was getting ready to teach a voice lesson when I got a text that read, "Explosions at Boston Marathon".  I thought it was random and that Eric must have typed something wrong.  It reminded me of 9/11 when my friend left a message on my answering machine that The WTC had collapsed; I thought it couldn't possibly be true.  Then I turned on the TV.   A flood of emotions came over me, not only as a human but as a marathoner.  Who would do this?  Why? What purpose could it serve? 

And then the other stuff hit me.  I'm a slow runner.  Had I been there, Eric would have been at the Finish Line as he has been for so many other races of mine, waiting to cheer for me and take my picture.  He will be at my future races, maybe one of the last spectators waiting for their less than speedy people.  My mind started racing.  How will this change my next race in DC?  It will, inevitably.  There is no way races simply go on as they have before, thinking nobody would harm us.  The prospect of toeing the next line was terrifying for a few minutes; my next race is spitting distance from NASA.  Will I ever cross another finish line and not wonder what could happen?  We need an emergency plan, a meetup spot should the worst occur, or simply one of our phones die.  We need to plan for the worst, even though it probably won't be needed.

As I talked through things with another student of mine who will be running MCM with his entire family this Fall, we came to the conclusion that we will train.  We will go on about the business of running because that's what we do.  What happened in Boston is vile and heartbreaking.  The stories I've read from runners I follow are scary, brave, inspiring and full of tenacity.  We runners, this community of people from EVERY walk of life, in EVERY shape and size, band together for causes.  We raise MILLIONS of dollars for various charity organizations, we stand united as runners because whether or not you've ever been to Boston, no matter the distance you run or the speed, you run and you are a runner. 

Eric will be joined on May 5th by my parents who are flying down from Ohio to watch their daughter attempt her first 70.3 distance Triathlon. She's the same daughter who, 5 years ago, didn't "get" the marathon thing.  She does now with all her heart and soul; she loves it and lives for it.

Regardless of such an act of terror, the people who support us as runners, will still be there smiling and cheering us on when cross the line, but yesterday will never be far from their minds.  It may never be far from any runner's mind who ever crosses another finish line.  We may always wonder, but will not let that fear keep us from doing what we love. 

We run on.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Fling Triathlon Race Report

This morning started at 4:30AM when I hauled my butt out of bed.  The puppy and feline are used to me getting up at unusual hours at least once a week, so we had breakfast together and they go back to bed. Having all my gear packed up last night meant eating, throwing on my clothes and racking up Blue. It's about a 40 minute drive to the Tri course, so I put the address in the iPad and off I went.  

I arrived at the park around 6:30, got registered, which was a mess, and headed to get my gear.  I aired up the tires, grabbed my bag and hit up transition.  One of my favorite parts of Triathlon racing is getting marked and getting the chip; somehow that makes it more awesome.  Not many people were there when I first went in, so I set up and did my thing.  I brought a garbage bag to lay out all my gear on.  All my bike stuff went in my helmet next to my cycling shoes, and my Fuelbelt went next to my running shoes.  I hung my towel over the bike seat for easy access out of the water.  I, of course, posted an update to the page, and headed to the water.

It was chilly for a swim, but nothing too crazy.  I got a kick out of people wearing their wetsuits for 70* water, but apparently it makes them feel awesome....who knows.  Athlete meeting was at 7:15 and the Olympic Tri men took off at 7:30 with the not more than 2 dozen OT women at 7:33AM.  I'll admit, the first jump into the cold water was enough to take my breath away, and it took me a couple hundred yards to stop swimming like a spaz.  This was my first open water swim since September, and it always takes me a bit to acclimate.  The course was two laps around the buoys and once I got my sighting down, I felt better.  Slow and steady I did it.  I took breaststroke rests when I needed to, and tried to stay on the feet of a slightly faster swimmer.  My total swim was 33:14 according to my chip.

Out of the water, down the sandy beach, for a 3:12 run over sand, forest brush and asphalt road barefoot into transition was my least favorite part of it all.  Into transition, dry off the sand, sit down and put on socks, headband, sunglasses, helmet, turn on gps, get some tunes going, throw on my shoes, and run to the road.  T-1 was 1:28, surprisingly!  

I mounted up and sprinted the first mile on the bike route.  It's a pretty boring course, two laps through neighborhoods in a fairly rural area.  It's a beautiful ride, though.  Immediately I felt my shoulders were tired from swimming, so I had to adjust my position a little to ease the pressure.  I'll be getting aero bars this week if it kills me because they'll make a huge difference.  Once I adjusted, I started to focus on spinning fast to get my pace going and my eating plan.  

Being that nutrition has been my epic failure in the past couple weeks, I changed it up big time today.  I invested in Honey Stinger Waffles (check them out here).  I ate my first one at mile 3, then ate two Clifbloks (check them out here) at mile 6.  Each food intake gets water, so I was on top of hydration.  I continued with 1/2 a waffle at mile 9 and 2 more bloks at 12.  This pattern continued through the race.  As I went on, I found myself going faster and faster, and my overall pacing was 15.6 MPH, which is my fastest pace split to date and very exciting considering there were smaller people behind me on the bike course.  Total ride time was 1:28:13 for 23 miles.  Into T-2, rack the bike, off with the helmet, shoes, and gloves, on with the Fuelbelt, Garmin and running shoes, out of transition for a total of 1:25.  

I decided to take the first mile of running slow, even though my legs were dying to go fast straight off the bike.  The run course is over hard packed sand roads and through a campsite, so my road legs weren't too thrilled with that.  This definitely slowed me down some.  I ate another 1/2 waffle after mile 1, then kept chugging along drinking at every mile.  Each mile got faster as the day got warmer.  I ate again at mile 3, then again at mile 5.  As I was running, I'd see people ahead of me who looked really bad, like they were really struggling.  I knew my nutrition plan was working when I was actually feeling stronger with every mile that passed.  Yes, I was running faster than I had planned to, and yes, I was hitting my open stride and loving the run.  At some point, I knew I wasn't going to finish last (although I would have been ok if I did) and started to get excited to finish.  My run total was 1:01:46, average pace of 11:42.  

My total finishing time was 3:10:52.  That's a time I'm super happy with.  There is nothing better than crossing a finish line knowing I did my best and feeling physically good.  I was the only Athena registered which meant I got a medal just by virtue of crossing the line, knowing fully I was the biggest female racing today.  Who cares?  A new medal now graces the rack.  

The biggest takeaway from this race experience today is this: set your mind to it and go do it.  I did this same race last Fall and barely survived it.  Today, I freaking owned it.  I know I'm gonna kill that 70.3 in 3 weeks because I gained so much confidence in my abilities as an athlete today. 

I wasn't last, but if I had been I'd have been ok with it because I didn't even know how to spell triathlon 5 years ago at 300#, and now I'm doing them for fun.  

Rocketman, The Heavyweight Runner is about make your her bitch.  Better get ready, dude.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Brady bands giveaway!

A few weeks ago, I received a message from Amy, the owner of bradybands.  She was wondering if I'd be willing to do a product review and giveaway.  Being that I NEVER turn down free stuff, I said yes!  I went to her site and picked out two bands I loved and waited for them in the mail.  I picked two different size bands because I wanted to be able to attest to each one and pick a favorite.  So, here it is.

You know how much I love bright colors and things that sparkle, so I went the rainbow and pink glitter bands.  Obviously, one is thin and the other is thick.  What's so awesome about these bands is one side is the pretty stuff and the other side is velvet!!  This point was particularly important to me because elastic hairbands/sport bands tend to slide off my hair because it's baby fine and slick.

These headbands (I only took pictures of this one) not only stay totally in place, but are so comfortable I forgot I had them on.  Most days when I wear elastic bands, I get headaches after a few  hours.  Not with these. 
As you can see, it's got soft elastic at the base of the band, so it's super comfy.  The only not I'll add is this: because they're not stretchy all the way around, I suggest putting them on before you do your hair or makeup, otherwise it's a hot mess.  I got makeup all over the other one and then flubbed my hair, so I learned my lesson the hard way.  Put the elastic part over your forehead to stretch it over your face and then pull it down and spin it around once it's on your neck.
I have to say, I was pretty skeptical about these, and now I'm a total believer.  I love them and I couldn't choose a favorite between the two I bought, except I wore the rainbow more because it matches everything!

 Not only are they cute, they're comfortable and VERY affordable.  Plus, Amy donates 10% of her sales to childhood cancer research in honor of her son, Brayden, who lost his battle with brain cancer in 2012.   I hope you'll go visit her website HERE and look through all the great choices!!!

Please follow these simple directions to enter the giveaway and a chance to win two Bradybands of your choice!!

1.  Like Brady Bands on Facebook here
2.  Leave a comment on her wall about why you'd like to win!
3.  Like The Heavyweight Runner here
4.  "Share" The Heavyweight Runner

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No longer to be ignored

More than 50% of the US is considered obese. We are the fattest country on the planet.

I've had TWO conversations this week with apparel shop managers; one at a mom and pop shop and the other a major big box sports store. Both of them have issues. The mom and pop shop orders plus size active wear and nobody buys its, the big box store REFUSES to sell it, yet get requests for it daily.

The mom and pop shop needs to know how you they can market to the bigger peeps without offending them. While the big box store clearly does not hear or see the need to serve the plus size community.

There are THOUSANDS of obese or overweight people in this country TRYING TO CHANGE their lifestyles!!! Yet, those who try to help are ignored, and those who have the marketing and major buying power to help are ignoring need!

I've decided: I'm not ignoring you. I'm including you with everyone else who is living a healthy lifestyle. I refuse to penalize you for being plus size. I refuse to cater to you if you are tiny and perpetuate the stereotype that only little bitty skinny people are athletic or fit. EVERYONE should have access to active wear, no matter the size.

I don't have enough details ironed out to give you much info. I'll say this: what started out as a goal to sell a few cute tee shirts has turned into a mission to change the minds of those unwilling to help. If I have to design a line myself, I will (and I just might). I will not ignore you, no matter your size. I am here to help you. Period.

Thanks for taking a minute to read this. If you agree, please like and share this. Change doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen when enough people stand up for it. I'm taking the first stand. Who's coming with me?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

To walk A mile in their shoes

There is a lot going on in my life right now.  In fact, so much is happening, most days I just hold on for dear life and ride the waves.  One of the biggest projects I've ever undertaken is launching a website.  Part of that is putting together some cute stuff to sell.  Who knew designing T-shirts would be so much work!  But, I found an awesome, creative, and extremely patient woman to work with me and create some custom designs just for my page.  Without Susan, I would have pulled my hair out by now.

As I uploaded the images tonight, an overwhelming sense of excitement hit me.  And then as the comments started coming in, another feeling hit me: nostalgia.  I had created all the cute shirts that fit "average" people.  Even after losing 100#, I'm still an XL in many shirts.  It dawned on me that I'd not searched for an acceptable alternative for my plus size crew of followers.

That wave of nostalgia hit me like bricks in the face.  I have vivid memories of wishing I was small enough to fit in the "regular" size shirts that were always so damn cute.  Memories of hating myself because I really wanted that shirt to fit.  Memories of hating the clothes makers for not being more considerate.  It dawned on me that for a moment, I'd forgotten where I'd come from.  

Yes, I'm an athlete now.  Yes, if you didn't know my story, you might not know I've lost a 12 year old off my body.  Yes, from time to time I forget how much it used to hurt to be fat, fluffy, chubby, pleasantly plump...all of the above.  And I know not everyone feels the same way I did about my body when I was 300#.  Some of you are far more confident and accepting of yourselves than I ever was, for that you're my heroes. 

I want everyone who follows this page to feel welcome and accepted; and I apologize for leaving you out.  As soon as I can I'm fixing my oversight.  Because unlink many people in the fitness world, I have walked a mile in your shoes.  I know what it's like to just want something that fits, and want to fit in with the rest of the world.  I know what it's like to feel left out by the rest of the world, too.  So for all of you who are walking your miles in plus size shoes, keep walking.  I'm making you a damn freaking cute shirt to help you stay on this  journey!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fierce Forward for Life!

This weekend, I'm teaming up with an amazing woman who embodies everything I promote on The Heavyweight Runner!!  Ash runs a great website you can find here and she also makes beautiful "intention" bracelets you can buy here.

She is generously giving away one of her brand new "Less Sugar Bracelets".   It's a "petite bracelet hand made by me using only the finest African Trade Beads. Comes with a Fierce Forward logo Stainless Steel Charm that freely moves around the bracelet. This “candy bracelet” is to remind you to eat less sugar and be mindful of what you put in your body. Moderation is key!"

These bracelets are handmade, and because each bead is variegated, it's literally one of a kind!

Here's how to enter:
1. Like The Heavyweight Runner here
2. Like Fierce Forward here and write a note on her wall telling her why you'd love to win this bracelet!!
3. SHARE the giveaway post 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Character Building

6 Weeks?!  How can there only be 6 weeks until the 70.3 IM??  How is that possible??  This thought invokes terror into the heart of me.  I've run marathons.  They're nothing compared to this training.

For anyone wondering what I'm talking about, it's a 1/2 Ironman Triathlon.  It consists of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run, ergo 70.3 miles.  It seemed like a great idea.  The one I picked is an Inaugural race, the first ever, and the first public sporting event, privately organized to be partially inside the restricted gates of Kennedy Space Center where the shuttles launched and lived.  Plus, cool scenery around the wildlife refuge there.

Yesterday, I set out on what would be my longest bike ride EVER....50 miles.  50 miles?  Alone?  Yep.  Great tunes, beautiful weather, new trisuit, Beast mode on, at least it was like that for 36 miles.  I drank my water exactly as I was supposed to, ate my blocks on time, even had some oatmeal muffins along the way.  Then, I made the turn to come back home, and it hit me.  WIND...in the face...15 MPH, and gusts from every direction up to 30....for 14 miles on legs that still had to run.  OH NO.  I put my head down, laid out over my bars, and peddled home.  My hands hurt, my feet were numb from effort, my eyes were watering, I was a mess.  I thought, "overall, that was good, except the last hour". 

Transition.  Let the puppy out, have a snack, get the Garmin going, change shoes, get my hat, put on my sunblock, pee, out the door to run.

The first mile off the bike always feels like and alien has inhabited my body.  Miles 2,3,4 were brutal because the wind I had battled on the bike was stopping me in my tracks on the run, but my pace was still good.  I was actually feeling good (and LOVING the new suit), and then it happened.  I bonked.  My legs literally quit moving.  My hamstrings and calves had been shot to Hell on the ride, and were barely making it through the run against the wind.  I could feel them asking to cramp.  So I stopped.  I stretched.  I ate some extra electrolyte blocks and walked...and walked...and walked.  Have I ever mentioned I hate walking? 

Knowing there was no chance of making it 8 miles, I cut through and ended up with 7. 

I went into this knowing that not every workout will be perfect.  Some of them are downright awful. This was one of those days.

By the time I walked in my house again, I was ready to cramp out (which happened soon after), puke and die in my floor.  And I was ready to call it quits.  But, my coach says "Bricks build character".  So, with 6 weeks to go, I'll rest up, train harder than ever, eat for fuel, and keep building character.  Not everyday will be perfect, but I will certainly TRI no matter what.