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Day 2 of the Weekly Challenge

2 Nov

Let’s just get to the good right off the bat:

Look who hit the minimum calorie intake on the freakin’ money! To be honest, it was probably more. When I eat restaurant food, I always use spark’s tools to search for the dish (in this case, left over beef stroganof), but then pick the highest calories and sodium option of the bunch because I’d rather be realistic about what I ate.

And on top of eating right, I got in a good 5K. My time was 36:30. Not bad. One day I’ll hit the elusive 35 minute! My only complaint was that my shins are still killing me. I’m thinking that once this race is over on Saturday, I am going to limit my running to 3 days a week of 5Ks only. Or, I might make the 10K my weekend long run while we are in the winter. I just need to ease off of my legs and give my shins a good rest.

The rest of the week during the off season will be focused primarily in strength training. I’m going to do my best to attend as many yoga classes as possible and try out some weight training classes as well.

Anyways, so eating and cardio were a positive check. The only thing that was a fail was…

Getting in my 8 cups of water!

Normally, I’m great at this. But on mornings when I have a smoothie, it’s really hard for me to get my typical three glasses in right away and thus my commitment to making it up later in the afternoon falls by the wayside. Of course, I felt pretty bloated this morning which most likely showed when I got on the scale. Meh. Today’s a new day and I’m half way to 8 already.

As for my other goals: I got laundry done, wrote/re-wrote 2 pages of my paper, and made some chicken tacos for dinner. Score.

Tonight’s goals are:

  • Write another page or two of my paper
  • Pasta with earth balance for dinner with a small portion of chicken
  • Drink 8 glasses of water
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Pumped Up Kicks

6 Sep

Ahhh the holiday break… so relaxing… so freeing… so full of tears.

Frack. That’s not right.

I’m really not going to go in to it here. It’s not helping that I am slowly sinking back in to the abyss called depression.

I’m honestly not sure what is wrong with me besides whatever chemical imbalance/genetic disposition is naturally there. Things are good. I’m active, in a city I love, working a job that is a blessing, AND I’m starting my Master’s degree in 2 weeks. I am loved to the core, and I’ve done a stellar job at distancing myself from people I feel will take away from that love.

And yet, here I am: Writing about depression like it’s my day job.

Frack. That’s not right.

Yesterday, I got up for my second attempt at an 8 mile run. The day before, my run turned in to a 5 mile therapeutic walk/cry. Thank gahd for sunglasses and naturally being sweaty. It kept most prying eyes off of me. But anyways, my second time around was similar to the first. I got out there and, almost instantly, everything started to hurt.

My heart hurt. My shins hurt. My brain hurt. My knees hurt. My thoughts hurt. I hurt.

Frack. That’s not right.

So I turned around and went home. No use trying to get a run started when there is obviously something bigger at work. I wish this blog could be about how I pushed through it and broke down some huge emotional wall. But, it’s not. I didn’t break anything down. If anything, I built some walls higher.

Not every run is life changing, soul altering. Some runs are complete failures toppled with a scoop of dog sh$t. We can promise ourselves otherwise, but we never know what tomorrow will bring… if we wont spend the next day crying over a party sized bag of pita chips or will be dining on steak and potatoes.

You cant promise yourself that it will be better. Especially when you are clinically depressed. Your lows are going to be real low. And your highs will be fleeting. Everything can and will change within a second. But you’ve got to deal.

I’ve been trying my best to take mental pictures of the good while it’s there. It’s like the Office wedding episode. I’ve been taking pictures of B and I playing monopoly and laying around Millennium Park. I’ve got a couple of my nephew running to me (he just starting walking!), and another of my niece making me a little stuffed animal craft. There’s one of me looking out at the water last weekend and another of me opening my acceptance letter for the Master’s program. I’m essentially trying to remember and preserve what it felt like to be truly present.

As for the lows, you promise yourself that you will try. Tomorrow is a new day, no matter how many times you try to pray it away. I tried to run again this morning, even after two emotion-fueled fails. And I did it. It wasn’t 8 or 6 miles. It was my normal 5K training run. And I did it in 35 minutes, a new PR. I, for the first time, averaged a 11:40ish mile for all 3 of them. And you bet the moment I looked down at my watch and realized what I had just done is staying in that mental photo album with the rest of the good.

Frack. That’s right.

Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon RECAP

15 Aug

So many of you are asking for it, so here it is… my race recap! It’s going to be long and I may or may not ramble. I’m an emotional recapper.

Let’s start on Saturday. SOB and I headed down to McCormick Place for the Health and Fitness Expo. I have mixed feelings about these things. For the most part, I love getting free things (the Qdoba nachos and cheese were divine), but I am usually overloaded with coupons and race pamphlets that get thrown out anyways. So not green. 

But, I did walk away with lots of larabar samples, a Star Trek messenger bag (which went to SOB for putting up with the expo), an awesome Sweaty Band (more on that later), and a 13.1 car magnet. I also bravely changed my estimated end time from a very slow pace to a less, but still horribly slow pace so that I could move up in starting corals. And, I got an XS tshirt. Yes, an XS.

After a pretty sleepless night, my alarm rang at 4am and I hopped in the shower, got in my running gear (Target top, Brooks running shorts, Mizunno Wave 6 shoes, and my sweaty band). After many check and re-checks of my gear, I was out the door at 5am:

A vision of blue...

Clouds were starting to become more and more ominous as we walked from the L stop to the starting line. Weathermen predicted sun, but the weather was more of dark blue, scary shit. It all died down after my porta-potty-pit-stop and some stretching.

Getting nervousssss.

The corals started going just around 6:30 and my coral, #27, moved slowly to the start. My hand started shaking as they called each coral number, and I inched closer to the line. When #26 went, a race organizer started yelling for everyone to go, so I said screw it and began to run.

My garmin (a gps based watch that tells you your time/pace/distance/and more) started fuzzing out as soon as we started the downtown and through the first of many overpasses. Throughout the race, my distance would be about .2 miles ahead of the race markers*. My watch read a pretty fast time for me, so I just thought it was off. I felt that I was going slow and conservative, which was good for maintaining.

*Edit/Addition: There’s been a ton of twitter buzz on this issue with GPS watches saying the course was about .5 miles longer than 13.1. I sincerely felt like the 1 mile marker was off because of the underpass, but I trusted that it was just my GPS. Now, after plugging the map course in on some map applications, I’m still getting 13.4 miles… which would be awesome considering my PRs.*

The race itself was pretty entertaining. Not a ton of chatter between runners, but so many people out and watching. One of my favorites was a random guy (alone) at mile 3 and 4 dressed up like Will Ferrell and banging on a cowbell. The poor guy didn’t even have rhythm… he was just out there banging on a cowbell… in costume.

Of course, this got everyone screaming "More Cowbell"

At every 2 miles, there was a local cover band playing Nirvana, Styx, and Journey.  There were also cheerleaders dressed as KISS members… many who ended up looking like ICP members.

The aid/water/refueling stations were every one and a half miles, which felt pretty good. Even though there wasn’t much cytomax (a gatoraid like drink that is pretty necessary after running over an hour), I felt fueled up and less dehydrated than usual. The wet sponges near the end were also a nice touch, but became a hazard when you were at the back of the path and had to run on piles of them.

The race itself went very quickly. As I said, I felt very conservative until I passed the 5K mark. It was a personal record by about 30 seconds. The hills and bridges helped slow me down near the middle, but when I hit the 10K mark and saw my time, I was floored. It beat my old record by 3 minutes! I started to panic that I was going way too fast and that I would fizzle out. But, doing a body check, everything felt wonderful.

At mile 7, I spotted B in the crowds. I cant describe to you how I felt when I saw him wave at me. Because it was during a walk interval, I stopped, hugged him, and talked about the race for a couple seconds. Spotting him and getting some time to go re-focus certainly helped me pull through the next half.

Miles 8 and 9 flew by. I cant even tell you where we ran. Oh wait, yes I can… here’s a map. All I remember was that the blueberry gu they were passing out tasted pretty darn good (added to my shopping list). The rest of the time, I was in da. zone. My intervals were slamming. My legs felt wonderful. And my heart rate was in the cardio, but not near death, zone. It felt perfect.

Mile 10 was in the dark. Like, literally. Running through McCormick Place’s underpass tunnel was pretty scary. I couldn’t see a thing and I kept imagining tunnel rats or that subway scene from Cloverfield.

... And then she gets eaten or bit or something terrible

At mile 11, it began to rain. There I was, with less than 2 miles left of my first half marathon and it was f-ing raining. I finally removed my sunglasses and picked it up a bit. At one point, while suffering in the rain, I knew that I could walk the last two miles and still finish in the time I wanted, but that wasn’t me. I had the last two miles. I had trained in the rain, and a little drizzle and wind was certainly not going to stop me.

…And that’s when the reality of it all hit me. One year ago, my only form of exercise was occasionally taking the stairs. In October, 2010, I started running again. And now, 10 months later, I was RUNNING A HALF MARATHON AND FEELING DAMN GOOD. This wasn’t my goal race, the Disney Princess Half was, but I settled on it. I built it up in my head. And now, with two miles left to go, I was going to finish it. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming.

A man holding a very large “You Got This”sign brought me to tears as the 12 mile marker passed. 12.5 miles was the furthest I had run up until that point and I was about to go even further. I took my last cup of water and made it to the finish line- all while Mika’s “We are Golden” played on my headphones.

I crossed the line, hands raised in victory, and gladly picked up my medal, a water, a popsicle, a bottle of cytomax, and a waiting SOB. We celebrated with brunch at Tweet, a short nap, and some popcorn.

As for injuries- I felt great after the race. Really, felt wonderful. All I can report are 2 blisters (where I usually get them) and some chaffed arms. This morning, I woke up feeling very stiff and achy. My original plan was to buy myself a professional massage, but I cant afford it right now.

Here are my official results, btw: And yes, I’m slow. Please be nice.

Pace 5 Km 10 Km 10 Mile ChipTime ClockTime
13:04 38:56 1:18:54 2:09:15 02:51:18 03:08:26
OvrPl SexPl DivPl Bib First Name Last Name City State Chip Time
13312 7952 1273 28*** Michelle Ar***** Chicago IL 02:51:18

She Dreams Of Running a 5K

21 Mar

Thanks Matt and Kim for that little bit of inspiration.

I know that I rarely write about my fitness activities here. If you want to keep up with my 400 minimum minutes of fitness per week, check out my blog at: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal.asp?id=CHELLES_BELLS I update it at least once a week with my training schedule, recaps on runs, and general musings about my activities.

Since I’ve become more active, I’ve been more and more willing to try new things. I’ve become a spin class devotee, a weekly swimmer, and have gotten back to weekly yoga sessions. But most importantly, I’ve re-learned how to love running.

I began running over two years ago. I completed the famous Couch to 5K program in record time and began running 20-30 minutes every day… which I quickly learned was the fastest way to injure yourself.

*Also not helping: My inability to read the warning signs and buy properly fitted running shoes. Going out to a shoe carnival is not the same as going to a running or athletic store, asking for them to fit you and check your gait, and getting shoes that are made for how your stride forms.

So, there I was, about 3 months in to running and I was stuck on the injury report. Over the next couple of years, my friends became more active. More and more ran local 5K races, some even progressing on to 10Ks or marathons. I browsed through their facebook pictures and blog recaps like they were pictures of the hot girl my ex was now dating. Seriously, it was all jealous rage.

Lack of properly fitted pants got me back on track. I wanted to run again, and I wanted to do it right. I started off slowly, very slowly. And I tried new programs that promoted rest days and walk breaks (i.e. Jeff Galloway’s marathon and race training books). I got a subscription to Runner’s World and a new pair of shoes when my old ones ran out of mileage.

And with each step, I became that girl who ran outside in the winter. The one with her headphones blasting Passion Pit and U2. The one who woke up before the sun so she could have quality alone time with the sidewalk. I ran up and down beaches, to little lighthouses on piers, on the tracks around parks, and down alleyways. I ran slow on most days and then fast when I could get time on a treadmill.

All the while, I had one race on my mind: The St. Paddy’s Day 5K on March 20th.

It was a typical March day- windy, chilly, and potential for rain. Seeing all the other runners around made me only more nervous. But I kept repeating my mantra in my head:


I even took a typical Chelles-esque picture (smiling with mouth open, two thumbs up):


Without much warning, the race started. Well, actually, there was a ton of warning. I’m wearing #24, but that’s 24 out of 6000+ runners, walkers, stroller pushers, and dogs. Just getting to the start line was a push. I couldn’t start my run for 2 or 3 minutes because of the amount of people. And when I did, I was weaving around obstacles like leprechaun costumes, cancer survivors holding hands, and several large dogs. Near a half of a mile, we went through a medium length tunnel. It was so congested, I barley walked… my time was dwindling.

The next two miles were a blur. This wasn’t my first 5K, so the distance was familiar. I just took my strides and did my intervals like a good Galloway student. And when my shins started acting up, I repeated my motto and pushed through.

Near a quarter of a mile left to go, B was there… taking pictures. He basically ran with me to the end. None of these pictures are flattering (my jacket is huge on me now… but my legs look skinny!), so here’s the one that doesn’t repulse me the most:

Reminder to self: work on posture near the end of runs.

And at a certain time that was about 3 minutes over my average, normal 5K time… I finished. I beat around 400 other people, so that’s comforting to my overly competitive self. I rewarded my efforts with a rain soaked banana. And then I won a sweet Lord Voldermort tshirt.

But more importantly, I finished what I had started 3 years ago. And now I can continue working on training for that half. I’ll try to remember to post more about fitness here as it is a big part of my life.