Friday, October 23, 2015

Not how I dreamed it would be

I'm up early, anxious to get to the Marine Corps Marathon expo to pick up my race packet.

I expected this kind of anticipation when I dreamed of this journey a year ago, when I stood in NYC's Penn Station and counted the number of days till the race on my iPhone screen -- whispering as I tapped my finger on the tiny calendar boxes, 12 months' worth.

I thought of this day when I set out on my 40th birthday for a 3-mile walk, determined to make every day matter, to make this year THE year. The year I finally ran the MCM.

I imagined this moment when I dragged myself to the gym at midnight after a long shift at work, just to get in that one mile so I could continue the walking streak that would be my MCM motivator.

I pictured today during those many trips to the Pacers running store to get new shoes, new inserts, more Gu and the $90 Camelbak that would allow me to carry as much water as I needed on those hot, double-digit runs.

... and when I sat on the Georgetown waterfront after completing 14 miles, sticky with sweat and bug spray but beaming at my accomplishment.

... and when I cut out this quote from the newspaper after Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky set a very unexpected world record: "I just wasn't afraid to fail tonight .. Yes, it did hurt a lot, but I got through it, and it feels really, really good right now."

All along, I imaged what today would be like: My heart racing, like little butterflies fluttering in my chest and trying to burst out, I'd walk into the large expanse of the expo and beeline for the bib-number table. If he was able to pry it out of my hands, a Marine would then scan the bib and direct me to the T-shirt area, where all the butterflies would be zipping and zooming inside me and I'd likely tear up. (Oh hell, I'd probably have already teared up when I walked into the convention center and saw my first Marine.) The shirts, though: I love the MCM shirts. I've proudly worn my past 10K shirts with their high collars and sturdy fabric, and getting the actual MARATHON shirt would send me into a state of euphoria. Then I'd turn to the actual expo, my eyes darting all around and my ears picking up the nervous energy coming from the other runners. I wouldn't buy any official merchandise -- I'd be so afraid of jinxing myself -- but I'd leave with my goody bag tightly grasped in my hand and a smile on my face.

Yes, I'm up early today, anxious to get to the Marine Corps Marathon expo to pick up my race packet. But not for the reasons I had dreamed of.

I'm going early to avoid the marathon excitement. To avoid seeing all the fit and happy runners. To get in, grab my 10K packet and get out -- as quickly as possible.

My job in Rosslyn already has bombarded me with reminders of this weekend's race: The street has been renamed Marine Corps Marathon Drive for weeks now, and when I left work last night, I saw two of the stories-high signs marking Bag Check and Family Meet-up. There will surely be more banners up today.

So, selfishly, I don't want to spend much time in Pre-Marathon City. It's a reminder of the hope I had and the hope that was lost when I dropped out -- again. But on Marathon Day? My new dream for Oct. 25, 2015, is to enjoy the sights along the 10K route (including my nemesis, the 14th Street Bridge) and to spend the rest of the morning cheering on those whose dreams are in the making.

And maybe from them I'll find the courage to continue toward mine.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ending the year strong

Two thoughts for today:

1. The day I turned 40, I began my walking streak, which lasted 211 days. Sickness stopped the streak; a focus on the marathon kept me from starting it back up. Tomorrow, Sept. 10, will mark 50 days until my 41st birthday, and I'd like to finish this year off strong by walking every day until then. I know streaks are insanely hard to maintain, especially during a season where everyone gets sick, but I'd like to try.

2. I need a new focus in my training for the 2016 MCM, and I think from now until April, I need to focus solely on speed. My inability to maintain a 15-minute mile (and, realistically, I need to maintain a 14-minute mile) has been my Achilles' heel. At the same time, speed training in the past is what always ends up injuring me. So I hope to soon post a plan for my next step.

It's been a hard few weeks, but I know I need to focus now more than ever.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

+ 365 days

Some dreams take longer to reach than others.

Mine, this passion to run and finish the Marine Corps Marathon, will sadly (once again) be a dream deferred.

I decided this week, on one of three short runs, that the right thing to do is to put the race off a year -- essentially add 365 days to my training schedule. No amount of wishful thinking was going to make me speed up enough to finish. And living in fear the next two months that I would fail was not my idea of enjoying life.

Let me be clear: I'm not giving up, nor am I telling my 8-year-old self to give up. There will be no major break in my training. I won't tear up my MCM calendar and stop running. I will continue on. There will just be some more padding in the calendar before I hit those 13-mile-plus long runs again.

It's the right thing to do, I know, and I'm sure you all know, too. And I do not in any way view this as a failure.

That said, I'm not going to say it doesn't hurt. When I submitted the transfer paperwork last night, I actually had a hard time hitting the "submit" button. I was crushed. But then I got the email that read, "In late January/early February 2016, you will receive an email notification to re-register..." and I was excited all over again about what was to come. It's not over.

Whether I run the 41st annual MCM when I'm 41 or the 50th annual MCM when I'm 50, it's a dream that isn't going anywhere.

And despite setting out on Oct. 29, 2014, with the goal to run the MCM in 2015, I refuse to look at this past year as a failure. I walked at least one mile for 211 days straight. I lost about 25 pounds. I got up to 14 miles in my training. And I made strides toward this goal, closer than I've been in six years.

I've signed up for the MCM 10K in an effort to not be overwhelmed with sadness come Oct. 25. I hope the race, like it's done in the past, simply re-energizes me to keep going, not give up, never look back.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Two weeks

In two weeks, I will have to decide if I will continue on with MCM training or defer until next year. (One other option: Transfer to the MCM 10K.) These two weeks are crucial for me. I need to give my mind a reset and see if I can turn this training around.

Like the past nine months, it will be a challenge.

This morning, two hours before I was supposed to wake up for my 16-miler, I was wide awake. I read for about an hour, then began thinking about the run. I had zero desire to go. Zero motivation. So I canceled it. Slept through the 5 a.m. alarm. When I was awoken by the sun around 8 a.m., I wasn't disappointed in myself -- I still had zero desire to strap on my water-filled CamelBak and head out for a five-hour run/walk. But it was a beautiful day, and I DID have a desire to be outside running. So I walked to the high school track and did three miles.

Yep. Three miles instead of 16. But I was glad I got outside and didn't fall in to the "all or nothing" mentality that typically defines me.

I've been thinking about this lack of motivation recently. As much as I am trying, trying, trying, I admit I'm not giving 100 percent. This recent horoscope hit home:

"You're not doing all you can to ensure the outcome that you most desire -- but why? It's a good day to examine your motives very carefully."

One thing that I'm sure has been holding me back (physically, yes, but mostly mentally) is my weight. I stopped eating the junk that my office gives out for free every day (for the first week or two of our free-snack program, I succumbed to M&Ms and Famous Amos cookies and a bunch of crap; for the past month and a half, I have not touched the bad stuff). But I still am eating a lot of bread/carbs -- and too much dried mango at work -- and not really tracking my calories. When I DO track myself and choose Sweetgreen salads over Chipotle burrito bowls, I not only feel better physically but I am much more motivated during my runs. Even if the weight isn't down, I'm more inclined to run longer, more often, better because my mind believes I can.

And as many people tell me, and I have experienced, so much of long-distance running is mental. I have put in the miles, and I should be able to go farther, but when I get that nagging voice in my mind telling me I can't do it, it usually stops me cold.

So I've decided to see what happens this week, and hopefully next, if I focus on my diet and small runs. See if I can flip that switch in my brain. It's really the last tool I have in my toolbox -- and a critical one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Keeping that chin up

Blog rewind: Let me start by backing up two weeks and telling you about that 14-miler. It was brutal, but I did it. That’s thanks especially to my friend Lori and her son, Jack, who planned to meet me at Georgetown’s waterfront park afterward. The plan to meet up with them ensured that I got myself out to the Capital Crescent trail (an old favorite path of mine) and had enough time to finish.

The beginning was hard. I was exhausted, could barely pick up my legs and my CamelBak (I bought one to help keep me hydrated on long runs) was so heavy. But I kept telling myself that the beginning is always hard for me. It takes me a good two-three miles to warm up. So I kept on. When I hit the turnaround point at Mile 7, I was feeling good. But right before mile 12, oof – it became brutal. It was getting hot, the sun was intense, and I was feeling really nauseated and woozy. The last two miles seemed to last forever, and I wondered if I was even capable of finishing them on two legs. At one point, I stopped and stood against a railing until the nausea passed. It took me more than 40 minutes to do those last two miles, I was dragging so much.

But what a feeling of accomplishment when I finished. It had been about six years since I had gone that far.

That week was rough at work – I was filling in for a colleague and worked long days and didn’t run once. Not even on Sunday.

Last week at work was also bad. I stayed late nearly every night and worked till 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday to finish a photo gallery for Jon Stewart’s last show. The next night was the GOP debate, and I stayed until 3:30 a.m. Needless to say, with the exception of some speedwork on Tuesday, I didn’t get out to run. (The speedwork was good, though my foot began to hurt toward the end.)

On Sunday, the plan was to do 16 miles. My foot was hurting a bit and I worried about getting too far out and not being able to get back. So I only went to mile 5 and turned around then, finishing with 10. I was so tired. When I got home I fell into bed and slept solid. 

Today, Wednesday, I went out to do speedwork ... only to find that the track was closed again. It had reopened to my delight last week but here it was shuttered once more! So I went out on to the hilly Custis Trail and tried to run as fast as I could. I was impressed with my speed and endurance -- until I looked at my watch and saw how insanely slow I had been going. It was frustrating to say the least.

How am I feeling mentally? That’s been … interesting. Of course, the realistic part of me still worries and believes 100 percent that I’m incapable of meeting the time limit for MCM. But even if that IS the case, I have reason to push on. Two of them, actually:

1. That girl in the picture I posted last month. When I think about her – when I imagine her saying what’s coming out of my mouth (I can’t do it – I’m too slow – what if I can’t finish? – I should give up), I want to shake her and lift up her chin and tell her NO—you can do ANYTHING. You just keep trying, OK? What will be, will be, but don’t give up.

2. An answer to an important question I recently posed. I wrote to an old coach of mine asking if it was even capable of a person my size to even run a 14-15-minute-mile, to even finish the MCM. He wrote back and told me it was possible but that it would require a lot of hard work. Days later, I came across a Runner’s World story about a woman who is my weight and runs marathons and ultra-marathons. She finished MCM at least three times. She runs at an 11-13-minute mile. She makes no apologies for her weight. She is amazing. And she gives me hope that it’s possible.

So with those two people as my inspiration, I continue on.

Monday, July 27, 2015


I'll write more later, but for now, I at least wanted to give a small update: Yesterday, I completed 14 miles. The beginning and end (especially) were rough but I did it. And I'll take it.

It's something!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Looking for a ray of hope

Nagging thought on today's beyond-pathetic 3-miler:

You should know by now that just because you want something really bad, doesn't mean you can make it happen.

Why I keep pursuing this dream -- that is so clearly beyond my capabilities -- is beyond me.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Making the connection

I often think about this little girl with a round face, chubby arms and sad eyes. I see how she struggles in her life, and I so desperately want to help her.

I want her to be happy.

I want the daily teasings about her weight -- from friends and family -- to stop.

I'd love to see one of her many young crushes reciprocated.

It's not her fault she's overweight -- she's 8 years old, for crying out loud. It's not like you can blame this little girl for her body, for the excess weight.

Unlike me.

I'm 40 years old. I can blame myself for my body. I can blame myself for not being good enough to be in a relationship. I can blame myself for not eating better, for allowing myself to succumb to bad feelings. I should have more self-discipline. I should be more diligent about exercising. I should drink more water. I had my chance when I lost 150 pounds and I blew it. I am to blame for my many failures in weight-loss.

For this little girl, I have sympathy and empathy. For myself, not so much. I don't feel like I deserve it.

The thing is? That little girl is me.

When I see this photo of myself from my First Holy Communion, I feel horrible for the girl in the picture. I wish I could turn back time and give her a happier life. I wish she didn't have to sit on the school bus and endure daily taunting. I wish she hadn't been bribed by family members to lose weight. I wish she didn't have to feel so ashamed of something she had no control over.

But when I look in the mirror, or fail to finish a run, I am consumed with self-hatred.

I must learn to make the connection -- that she is me, and if I love her, I need to love myself. If I can find empathy for her, I should for myself as well. Why it's so hard, I have no idea. But I keep this photo on my wall so I can see it every day and try.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Setback dominoes

The setbacks, they just keep on coming.

It started with the cough -- the bugger of an illness that made me stop my walking streak. It lasted for more than three weeks. As I expected, once that streak ended, it was hard to find the motivation to pick it back up. Streaks like that aren't easy to do, and knowing that my foot pain was likely caused by overuse, I wasn't very motivated to begin again.

And with the lack of exercise came the overeating. It's a part of my history: All or nothing.

Then, after my vacation (where I took my running shoes and clothes but couldn't find a do-able path), I headed out to my neighborhood track for a long run only to find a sign that said the track was closed until Aug. 22 (INSERT PANIC HERE). Seeing that sign made my heart sink -- and then race with anxiety. The track was less than half a mile away from my home and was what helped me keep up my training. What was I going to do? The Custis Trail, while also close, was just too hilly for me to get in a solid run.

The rest of the week was a disaster -- I was filling in for folks on vacation and had to be at work at 8 a.m., sometimes not getting home until 9:30 p.m. Then I worked a solid 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Saturday shift. (That's not a typo: It was an 18-hour workday.) The next morning, there was no way I was going to try to go for a long run. My immune system was already compromised from the lack of sleep. I could not get sick again.

All this past week I have found myself in a massive depression (mixed with some serious anxiety). I know the culprit: No running + free endless snacks at work. I was eating too much sugar/preservatives, was under stress at work and had no outlet to get rid of it.

On Friday, it took every ounce of energy I had to drive out to another high school track my friends had told me about. I did two laps before the rain came pouring down. (Normally rain doesn't bother me, but in this case, I was wearing my glasses and didn't have a hat.)

I returned today, Sunday, for what I hoped would be my long run. I was supposed to do 15 miles. I was sapped. It took everything I had to get to 10 miles, and most of it was walking. Get this: For the first two miles, I felt pain in my shins. What?! All this training had gotten me to a point where shin splints weren't an issue; I take a month off and I'm back to square one? Then my foot/toes began to ache. I thought the running/walking break I had taken had healed my feet. Apparently not.

What does this mean? I wish I knew. I can't help but see these series of setbacks as a sign that I shouldn't be doing this. Then I think of that song on my iPod: "You're an overcomer. Stay in the fight till the final round."

So I'm trying to look at this practically. I plan on adjusting my training schedule to build in more time before I try 15 again. And I need to get back to remembering the mantra "Live every day with intention" -- by planning my walks/runs better, committing to rolling my legs and strengthening my muscles, and having a solid plan for eating so I don't succumb to the sugary snacks.

As you know, that's easier said than done. But the only other choice I have is to quit and that's not an option right now. This fight's not over.

This past week, as I have wallowed in self-pity and battled anxiety, I searched hard for motivation -- I skimmed through my marathon books, flipped through Runner's World, etc. But unlike in the past, these writings weren't inspiring me. Every morning when my alarm would go off, I'd shut it off without a second thought.

Then yesterday, I was going through photos from the past year to get prints made, and I came across the shots of me walking the Turkey Trot, running in the snow, posing after those 10-milers, smiling on the track. And I remembered how much I had gone through to get to this point.

I was looking outside of myself for motivation while it was inside me all along.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bummers and blessings

So. That cough of mine got pretty bad. It lasted nearly three weeks, and in the middle of it, I was sent home from work when I couldn't stop coughing and had a hard time catching my breath. I remember being in bed at 4 p.m. on that Thursday thinking, "But what about the streak?" I knew there was no way I could get out of bed and go walking, and when it hit me that I would have to end the streak, I was devastated.

The streak ended at 211 days.

I'm super proud of it. Yes, I wanted to do a whole year, but I had to be smart. And by taking three weeks off of running (and more than a week off of daily walking), I was able to give my feet a chance to heal along with my lungs.

But, as you can image, I've been fretting about falling behind in my training. So today's run was going to be super important. It would be the first day back on the track since my 10K in mid-May and my first attempt at running since the cough, and I really needed to get in at least 12-13 miles to feel good about where I am at.

I was blessed with a beautiful day -- truly perfect weather. And my first few steps at running actually felt great. I coughed a bit during those first few miles but soon hit a stride. And, I'll be darned, I was able to complete 13 miles this morning -- and without pain in my toes.

I thanked God over and over again.

And I thanked Jill. A year ago today, Jill passed way from breast cancer. She's strongly been on my mind over the past few days. When her song came on my iPod at mile 7, I was tired but was able to run the whole song (as I will forever try to do whenever it comes on). And what that taught me/proved was that I can do anything if I just put my mind to it. While I thought I couldn't run a step more during the prior mile, I proved that I indeed could. All because of Jill.

I miss her so much it hurts. Jill was always encouraging me in my running, always asking how it was going. Before my race at UNC, as I was standing at the Bell Tower getting ready to run, I pulled up the last email I had received from Jill. It was written April 22, 2014, a little more than a month before her death.

This is how it ended:
"thank you so much for your love and prayers.  miss you.  hope you are still running.  I think of you often and am so proud of all that you have accomplished in that arena.  it is not easy to keep up the motivation, I remember. love, jill"

I remember when I got that email feeling embarrassed that I hadn't run in quite awhile, that I had nothing positive about that to report back to Jill. So now, every step I take closer to getting back into a real running routine, I think of her and compose little notes in my head to her. The day before that race at UNC, Edgar posted video to my Facebook page of their four kids cheering "Run, Diana, Run."

And so I do.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Where did May go?

Oh my gosh, I can't believe I haven't written in so long. I need a do-over for May. Seriously. The month is almost over and I don't have much to show for it.

May started great -- I was running before work and feeling awesome doing it. I even ran 6 miles on a Thursday, which I need to be doing more of (longer distances during the week). Then I ran a 10K in Jacksonville last Saturday. It wasn't my best, but it was still pretty good.

But this past week has wiped me out. I have come down with a chest cold -- a horrible cough that won't quit. I've still dragged myself out to do a mile during these days, but I'm telling you, I'm not sure it's been worth it. The mile has left me in a fit of coughs that takes awhile to recover from. I still need to go out and do today's. Hoping it will be better. But that will explain the string of 1-mile minimums below.

I'm now at 208 days straight of at least a mile.

But I'm super behind in my training. I'm supposed to be up to 13 miles, and the longest I've done is 10 -- a month ago. So here's hoping I can beat this cold and get back out there soon. I can't let this bring me down.

(P.S. I will say that as I walked around the track yesterday at dusk, at what must have been a 25-minute-mile pace, blowing my nose every few minutes, I thought to myself "Well, no one can say you give up easily!")

182 days until the MCM: 1 mile
181 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
180 days until the MCM: 1 mile
179 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
178 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
177 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
176 days until the MCM: 1+ 1 miles
175 days until the MCM: 3 miles
174 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
173 days until the MCM: 3 miles
172 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
171 days until the MCM: 2 miles
170 days until the MCM: 1 + 1 miles
169 days until the MCM: 3 miles
168 days until the MCM: 1 mile
167 days until the MCM: 3 miles
166 days until the MCM: 1 mile
165 days until the MCM: 6 miles
164 days until the MCM: 1 mile
163 days until the MCM: 6 miles
162 days until the MCM: 1 mile
161 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
160 days until the MCM: 1 mile
159 days until the MCM: 1 mile 
158 days until the MCM: 1 mile
157 days until the MCM: 1 mile
156 days until the MCM: 1 mile
155 days until the MCM: 1 mile

Sunday, May 3, 2015


It hit me one day this week. I don't remember when it was or what caused the revelation, but once I had it, a sense of peace washed over me.

It's about the journey, not the destination.

(So perhaps this blog's name should really be "Journey to the Finish Line"?)

As you may know, I've been feeling anxious lately about the MCM: It's only six months away! I haven't lost enough weight! I haven't been able to maintain a 15-minute-mile pace for 10 miles, let alone 26.2! I can't do this! Why did I ever think I could do this?!

But then, this week, I remembered what I had always told people with regard to the Marine Corps Marathon: I want to do the race, yes, but I'm most looking forward to training for the race. Doing those long runs on the weekends. Taking those wonderful "I just ran 15 miles" naps. Feeling my body get stronger. Coming up with longer and longer playlists to get me through longer and longer runs.

Recently, after two beautiful 10-mile races, I found myself grumbling that I'm not fast enough and who am I kidding? But that's ridiculous. I should instead be thanking God that I am where I am, that I'm back on my feet and able to run/walk any distance at all. I should be out there absorbing the sun and embracing the day and feeling the accomplishment, no matter how small it may seem. If I'm not, then why am I doing this?

Worrying about my speed and my progress will only sully this journey. It's not like I'm not pushing myself. I am. And that's all I can do. The rest will come, or it won't, but it really shouldn't matter.

What does matter is this twisty and turn-y and exciting and unpredictable journey I'm on.

Bring it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Progress -- but not where I need to be


The past week has been eye-opening, but I'm afraid that it hasn't been the good kind of eye-opening.

The first 10-miler, in Chapel Hill, was really nice. It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful place, and I felt my friend Jill's presence so much.

Here's my favorite photo, from before the race. It was so peaceful in the stadium, and I could picture Jill in her band uniform playing during those UNC football games.

We were required to maintain a 15-minute per mile pace or be moved to the sidewalk. I was able to keep it up until about mile 5, but right around then, a few minutes behind, I was moved. It was OK -- I actually was with another runner who was super nice and supportive. My pace slowed in the last five miles (I was super tired), and I finished at about 2:42, which was a 16:16 pace. I then spent about an hour stretching in Kenan Stadium, as I was truly spent.

This week, I missed the last 5K in the Friday night series because of work/a missed train, but it was probably for the best. My right hip was hurting me. And my left foot has been in pain during some runs/walks. So I prepped for today's 10-miler instead and hoped for the best.

The cool thing about the Parkway Classic is that they have an early start option for those who can't maintain a 15-minute mile. So I took it. Unfortunately, they changed the process this year and it turned out that because I had signed up for the early start, I had to stick with the bicyclist for the first four miles, and he would only go at an 18-minute mile pace. So I wasn't even able to try to go faster until we were moved to the road with the rest of the runners.

The road, alas, was concrete, and while my IT band and hip seemed fine, my lower back hurt a bit and my foot, well, it was in a lot of pain.

I was able to run the last six miles at around a 15:30 pace, ending up with an average of 16:30 or so.

But as I sat on the waterfront with my medal afterward, I couldn't help but be a bit sad, worrying about the aches and pains, and realizing that I'm just not where I need to be in my training. I am definitely proud of how far I have come in the past six months. I'm a lot faster than I was, 35 pounds lighter and up to 10 miles in my distance. But I am still carrying too much weight on these runs and I'm starting to feel more pains than I'd like. I'm also not able to keep a 15-minute mile pace for 10 miles -- so how am I going to do it for 26.2?

I got my MCM training shirt in the mail this week and was super excited. But then a Facebook post came across noting the "six months until the race" and I kind of freaked out.

Can I do this? Should I even keep trying? I know I want this desperately, but with that six-month clock now ticking down, I am honestly more than a bit scared.

I'm also a little worried about this streak, which has hit 180 days. It may be causing me more problems than it's worth. A friend thinks the foot pain is a contusion from overuse. But if I stop the streak, I'm so afraid I will never get back.

A lot to think about.

192 days until the MCM: 1 mile
191 days until the MCM: 10 miles
190 days until the MCM: 1 mile
189 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
188 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
187 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
186 days until the MCM: 1 mile
185 days until the MCM: 1 mile
184 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
183 days until the MCM: 10 miles

Friday, April 17, 2015

Absent but still going

Apologies for being so absent! I started a new job three weeks ago, and it's been all-consuming. Well, 90 percent consuming; I am still getting in my daily walk!

How many days is that?

170 days in a row!

That's mind-boggling. But the funny thing is, it's still not completely ingrained in my consciousness (maybe that's because the new job is trying to nudge its way in front). On Saturday, I spent five hours waiting for my car to get looked at, on a gorgeous morning, in a neighborhood that had sidewalks. And I never thought to use some of that time walking (instead, I worked). I got home, watched TV and such, and around 8 p.m. realized...ohmygosh! I haven't walked yet! So I scooted down to the gym and did a mile.

I've had a lot happen since I've last written and I hope I can remember most of it. It's funny: I tend to write the blog in my head, but then never get a chance to actually type it down. I've got to get better at that.

One big milestone: I've been running the Crystal City 5K Fridays in April and seen progress. The first one was super rough: I was exhausted and dehydrated, and it was humid and very pollen-y out. But I still had my best time in two years. The next Friday, after making sure I spent the week drinking tons of water, I beat the previous time by nearly 3 minutes! (See "after" photo above.) I really pushed myself and was able to maintain a 14:54 pace. So I'm now capable of doing 3.1 miles at a 15-min-mile pace. Just 23.1 to go!


I have this 10-miler TOMORROW that is requiring a 15-min-mile pace. And I just know it will be impossible to do for 10 miles. I'm prepared to be pushed to the sidewalk, though, man, that will suck. But the race is in Chapel Hill, and it's one I've always wanted to do. So there's no backing down. I'll give it my best shot and try to keep a slow, steady pace. (If you have time on Saturday morning between the hours of 7:30 and 10 a.m., I'd sure appreciate some good vibes!)


I still have been dealing with some IT band strain/discomfort. I'm trying to roll my leg as much as possible, and that helps. But I can't help but worry about that, too.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I've been trying to walk home every day after work. It's only 2.5 miles, but about 1.5 of it is uphill, and some of that is up a giant hill. Which adds to the strain. But I think my muscles are getting stronger as a result; it's definitely getting easier to walk it (most days).

Other news to report:

One of the biggest problems with me changing jobs has been the weight gain that results. My move from Wilmington to Virginia Beach in 2005 resulted in a 30-pound weight gain in the first two months or so. My move from Norfolk to Arlington was about the same. It's scary.


I am pleased and proud to say that I was able to lose about 2-3 pounds in the weeks since starting the job. Not much at all (and not at the rate I really need to be at) but I didn't gain and that is huge for me. I fluctuate some (some weeks have been better than others), but I'm getting lower and am at my lowest weight in two years. The next goal is getting to my pre-Arlington weight, which is about 20 pounds away. (For the curious, I think I'm about 35 pounds down since October.)

Another milestone is coming up. That 170-day walking streak is about to equal six months! While that is exciting, it's also a bit terrifying: That means I'm just six months away from the MCM. Gah! I have so much progress to still make, and that's not taking into account possible/probable injuries. If I can complete these 10 miles somewhat kinda sorta near a 15-min-mile pace, I'll feel somewhat on track.

(Note: For those who have investigated and see that the MCM website says you have to maintain a 14-min-mile pace, the course is open for 7 hours (about 6.5 hours after the last person crosses the start), which means a bit less than a 15-min-mile. Starting time is 7:55; the last person to cross the start -- me -- will be at about 8:20. You have to "beat the bridge" by 1:15 p.m., which means you have to get to mile 20 in about 5 hours, which according to my calculations, is a 15-min-mile. If I am wrong about this, well, just shoot me now.)

It's a bit anxiety-inducing to think about these details, but I need to. I still remember that joy I felt back in September 2009 when I finished 20 miles in less than five hours. I want to feel that again!

So here is where I stand in this 170 day streak of at least 1 mile walking:

218 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
217 days until the MCM: 1 mile
216 days until the MCM: 3.5 miles
215 days until the MCM: 1 mile
214 days until the MCM: 1 mile
213 days until the MCM: 1 mile
212 days until the MCM: 1 mile
211 days until the MCM: 1 mile
210 days until the MCM: 1+1 miles
209 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
208 days until the MCM: 3.5 miles
207 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
206 days until the MCM: 3.1 miles
205 days until the MCM: 1 mile
204 days until the MCM: 6 miles
203 days until the MCM: 1 mile
202 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
201 days until the MCM: 1 mile
200 days until the MCM: 1 mile
199 days until the MCM: 3.1 miles
198 days until the MCM: 1 mile
197 days until the MCM: 1+1 miles
196 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
195 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
194 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
193 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles

(So, when I started this little streak back in October, I remember standing in Penn Station in NYC and literally counting the days on a calendar to figure out how many there were until the MCM. I counted a few times to make sure I was right. Now, the MCM has its official clock on the website and it says today is 191 days until the race, whereas I'm at 192. At some point I'll need to skip ahead to the correct number, but I'll wait a little longer!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I'm in!

I got in to the Marine Corps Marathon!

Super, super excited! And nervous, of course.

Yesterday, I went running before work and was able to log two sub-15-minute miles in a row, so only 24 more to go!

(Of course, as I rolled over in bed to check my email for the confirmation just now, I felt tenderness in my knee. Which is kinda freaking me out. Need to get back to serious strength training. Can't afford to get hurt!)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

144 days straight!

Hello, hello.

I'm once again in a rush but want to quickly give an update. I finished my second set of 72 days yesterday with a brutal 10-miler.

Here is the proof:

I started with 362 days until the MCM; now we're at 218 days. It's getting more serious! And I'll find out this week if I actually get IN the race. Fingers crossed!

As for yesterday's 10-miler: I'm trying really hard to stick to the 2/3 run/walk rhythm, and I wanted to see how long I could do that solid until I was too tuckered. I got to mile 6.5 or so, though the first mile was walking. So technically, I can go only 5.5 miles straight doing the run/walk method. My first long race (10 miles) is in one month, and there IS a time limit on the course, so I really need to work on my stamina. I was beyond exhausted after yesterday's 10 miles. So I have a ways to go.

Some very exciting news: I don't have to take blood-pressure medication! My doctor had given me four months to get it down (it was rather high for a long time) and I did! It was 122/80 on Friday and she said I earned my pass! Very good news for me.

I'm also down about 30 pounds total. Getting there. Very slowly but surely.

240 days until the MCM: 6 miles
239 days until the MCM: 1 mile
238 days until the MCM: 2 miles
237 days until the MCM: 1 mile
236 days until the MCM: 1 mile
235 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
234 days until the MCM: 1 mile
233 days until the MCM: 9 miles
232 days until the MCM: 2 miles
231 days until the MCM: 3 miles
230 days until the MCM: 3 miles
229 days until the MCM: 1 mile
228 days until the MCM: 1 mile
227 days until the MCM: 1 mile
226 days until the MCM: 1 mile
225 days until the MCM: 1 mile
224 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
223 days until the MCM: 2 miles
222 days until the MCM: 2 miles
221 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
220 days until the MCM: 1 mile
219 days until the MCM: 10 miles

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Exciting times

I don't have much time at all to write (so I'll have to update my daily mileage the next time), but I wanted to write about today's run, because it was a huge step for me.

Because of my weight, I have been alternating running/walking in my mileage for years and years now. It has helped keep me injury-free (knock on every wood surface available) and will be key in doing a marathon. But today -- rainy but warm enough to go outside in a T-shirt and hat instead of layers and a muffler -- I decided to see how far I could run straight. One lap? I did it and felt great. OK, let's try two. Still feel good. Three? Yep. And by golly, I did four, meaning I was able to run a mile straight, which hasn't been the case in what feels like forever. It meant so much to me. I felt almost as glorious as I felt back in 2004/05 when I ran a mile for the first time in my life.

Some other fun milestones:

I did nine miles on Saturday -- mostly walking b/c the roads were still icy, but still ... nine!

I don't know the exact number off-hand, but I've gone more than 130 days now walking/jogging at least one mile!

And the weight is still going down. Slowly but it's moving. I'm almost at my lowest weight in two years. The next goal will be my pre-D.C. weight.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Still plugging along

I have been so negligent about writing in February! I wish I had time to truly update this blog, but it's a hectic time, and I'm juggling so much work and so many projects I can barely come up for air.


But I'm still walking/jogging, though less jogging in the past two weeks. I must get re-focused as there are some key dates coming in March: registration for the MCM (!) and the 11-mile race that, if I finish, means I'm automatically in the MCM and don't need to rely on good luck (it's a lottery system for getting in the marathon). Both events mean I must seriously get my mind back in the game.

It's only been about halfway in the game these past few weeks. The streak continues, but with not as much heart as before. And my eating is hit or miss, with more misses than I'm comfortable with. But if I'm proud about anything, it's that I haven't allowed the bitter cold weather to stop me from completing my long distances. Last weekend, faced with doing 8 miles either on Friday (sunny but a "feels like 4 degrees") or Saturday (warmer, in the low 30s, but snow), I took my chances on Friday. I was out there a long time (not only did I do 8 miles, I did it on the very hilly Custis Trail) and it took forever to warm back up, but boy did I feel proud. Today was only 6 miles, and a little warmer, and while I was utterly exhausted from a busy week, I'm able to check that off, too.

Here's where I stand in my training. (Yes, there ARE more 1-milers than I'd like....) But this makes 123 days in a row!

252 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
251 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
250 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
249 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
248 days until the MCM: Walked/jogged 8 miles 
247 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile  
246 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
245 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
244 days until the MCM:Walked 2 miles 
243 days until the MCM:  Walked 1.5 miles
242 days until the MCM: Walked 1.5 miles 
241 days until the MCM:  Walked 1 + 1 miles
240 days until the MCM: Walked 6 miles 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The fall

It's been a hellava week. 

It started well. I was thrilled when, on Saturday, I ran/walked 7 miles and then went for a 4-mile walk with friends. 11 miles! I was certainly hurting in the end, but it felt so great. I spent the night stretching and stretching and prepping for another great week.

But that week threw me some curveballs.

First, I was in a lot of pain all week. Not the bad pain -- it was just a deep, deep ache in my legs. The kind that screamed to me "YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK!" So I did. Most days I only walked 1 mile. And, really, I strolled those 1-milers. But the aches continued.

I worked some long, hard days on the job, and by Thursday, I was just done. So tired. Plum worn out. When I weighed in Thursday morning, I was furious when I stepped on the scale and saw a weekly loss of less than a pound. Why oh why was it taking so long? Why was it so hard? Why, when I was doing everything right, was the weight not coming off faster?

So I was sad on Thursday. Frustrated. And on Thursday night, I ate more than I should have. Not much more, but more. About 400 calories more than normal (total of 2,000). The next day? A 1-pound weight gain. Because, of course.

(I must note here that I passed up loads of free pizza in the newsroom on Thursday, plus cupcakes, plus giant sugar heart cookies at my apartment building.)

Thursday night brought the news about David Carr's sudden death -- he was an NYT columnist I have admired for years and always wanted to meet -- and then news of the death of a former colleague. I spent nearly the entire day on Friday in bed. I was in a deep, dark hole. Still, at night, I crawled out of bed and made myself do 1 mile on the treadmill downstairs. Saturday was Valentine's Day, and while I try not to care, I felt buried in loneliness. By the grace of God, I found myself outside on Saturday afternoon and was able to walk 6 miles. It took just about everything in me to get it done. Not much running at all.

And then today. I ate. Nothing "bad" but too much of the snacks I usually allow myself in moderation. It was a big fall. 

As of today, it's been 110 days of walking/running straight. I haven't broken the streak. But I have definitely fallen. The walks have been torturous. I have little desire to work harder. I'm not excited about the progress I've made. I don't see a change in how I look. I don't want to eat just 1,200-1,400 calories. I fear I will never, ever get where I need to be.

But I will try to refocus tomorrow and hope, hope I can get back on track. These are some crucial days ahead. Will I keep falling or will I bounce back and stride ahead?

261 days until the MCM: Walked 7 + 4 miles 
260 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles 
259 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
258 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
257 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
256 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
255 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
254 days until the MCM: Walked 6 miles 
253 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

100 days! (Well, actually, 101)

A lot of little things to report, all which add up to a big thing for me: I believe I'm making solid progress now.

The scale: I still find myself beyond frustrated with the number on the scale. For someone who is working so hard and eating so well and drinking soooo much water, the scale is not responding. I lost about 1 pound this week. I've been trying to be patient and tell myself that one day the scale will show a big drop to make up for all of these drips, so when I stepped on this week and saw another drip, I sank into a funk. That was, until I decided to focus on the number that really matters …

The important number: 101. That's the number of days in a row I've walked/jogged. It's mind-boggling to think I've made it this far. But it feels really, really great. I think about those days when a walk seemed impossible, but I did it anyhow. And then I think about some recent walk/jogs of mine when I haven't wanted to stop because I was enjoying it so much. A scheduled 2-miler turned into a 3-miler a few times. That's really the progress I need to focus on.

Another milestone number:
I was excited Tuesday morning when I had a breakthrough in my running. You see, I've been trying to go longer and longer, but I haven't been monitoring my speed much, and that's something that will become increasingly important as the MCM gets closer. To complete the marathon, and not get picked up by the sag bus, I need to maintain a 15-minute mile. So far, on average, I'm nowhere near that in my small walk/runs. But on Tuesday, Mile 2 took 15 minutes. (Because I only walk, not walk/jog, the first 0.5 mile and last 0.5 mile, my overall pace was 16 minutes.) I was thrilled. It was just one mile, but it showed that I can do a 15-minute mile. It may sound like a minor goal, but it was/is huge to me. (Side note: I did 3.1 miles in about 50 minutes. When I checked my 5Ks from last year, they were all around 52 minutes. More progress!)

And another:
This summer, I discovered that a crucial number -- one I never had a problem with, even when I was at my heaviest -- was way too high. My blood pressure was consistently bad. Each week, I'd see 150/100 or 140/90 or some variation of those numbers. Hypertensive, the guidelines told me. When I had my annual physical in November, my doctor told me that if the number didn't go down in four months, she'd have to put me on medication. I told her I didn't want to take another pill. And she said, well, if it doesn't go down and you don't take the medication, you're doing irreversible damage to your heart. I had already been walking/dieting for about a month at that point and was bummed to see that my BP hadn't changed much at all. I worried that stress was more of a factor than my weight, and I had no idea how to reduce that at work. I'm supposed to check in with her in mid-March but because I had no idea where I was with regard to my BP, I had the nurse at work check it. I was thrilled to hear her reading: 136/82. Pre-hypertensive: Progress!

The clothes effect: I still don't see a huge difference in the clothes I wear -- OK, mostly in the jeans I wear, which I swear look and feel the same -- but there have been some moments this week when I started to feel a difference. I was wearing a pair of black pants at work the other day and put my hands in my pockets, only to discover a few minutes later that I had pulled the pants down over my hips and they were somewhat in danger of falling off! I hiked ’em back up and kept my hands out of the pockets, but man did that feel good. I also ordered some clothes this week: three sweater dresses and a pajama set. I ordered the sweater dresses in a size smaller than normal and the pajamas in my current size (because, comfort). The dresses fit! The pajamas are big! Oo-rah!

The attitude: I'm feeling good. I have days when I want to throw the scale out the window, but never the progress. On Monday, I was walking on the treadmill at work after a really bad day and I came across an ad in Runner's World magazine for the MCM. I immediately broke out into a silly grin. I don't think I've ever felt as excited about anything as I am about this. (Well, maybe journalism, back in the day.) The ad is now taped to my wall. Here's a photo of me grinning like a fool at the gym:

277 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
276 days until the MCM: Walked 6 miles 
275 days until the MCM: Walked 1 miles 
274 days until the MCM: Walked 3 + 2 miles 
273 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles 
272 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles 
271 days until the MCM: Walked 3 miles 
270 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
269 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles 
268 days until the MCM: Walked 6 miles 
267 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles 
266 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile 
265 days until the MCM: Walked 3 miles 
264 days until the MCM: Walked 3 miles 
263 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles 
262 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fun, fear and frustration

The fun
I'm really pumping up the workouts, adding much more jogging and strength training. I'm working out, on average, about an hour a day. Every day. Still! We're at 85 days straight!

What's been most fun has been getting back, slowly, to who I was before. The added jogging has been glorious: It makes me feel great to go a little longer every day and to see growth. And my laundry consists mostly of workout clothes, which makes me smile as I'm folding. It sounds silly, but it's huge in my world.

The fear
The added jogging renews that fear that I will get hurt. I've had shin splints lately at the starts of my walks and occasional knee discomfort after. The added strength training will help, I hope; I'm doing specific exercises to strengthen my hips and legs, though I also need to add the dreaded foam roller to loosen up my muscles. But I also need to listen to my body and not push it. Today, for instance, I think I will do only a mile, even though I've enjoyed this string of 2-milers a lot. But I want to feel good during my long walk/jog on Friday or Saturday and to do that I need to give my legs a rest. 

I just know an injury could really set me back, and it's my big fear.

The frustration
The reality is, I know that 1-2 pounds of weight-loss a week is ideal. But I still get utterly frustrated at the scale. Working out an hour a day, stepping up the workouts, eating great, always under 1,600 calories, drinking tons and tons of water, you'd think would translate to a little more of a loss. Sometimes I worry that I'm eating too few calories, sometimes I worry I'm eating too much. It's such a mystery to me, even after all these years. (Or should I say, especially after all these years.)

But I am proud of myself. Not only for sticking with it but for keeping a positive attitude when it comes to imagining myself at that MCM finish line. I KNOW it will happen. I am confident that I can do this. I understand the steps it will take to get there, and every day is a step closer. I think about that when I'm exercising. Yesterday, I upped my jogging intervals to 2 minutes, from 1:30, and all I think during those 2 minutes is that this push is what I need to get there. It reminds me of the days of me running 15-20 miles during my last MCM training. Toward the end, around 18 miles, I'd be super tired but I'd push myself by thinking "These are the miles that matter the most. You have to conquer them to move forward." And while 2 minutes of jogging versus 20 miles is a big difference, I keep the same attitude.


293 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
292 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
291 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
290 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
289 days until the MCM: Walked 6 miles w/jogging
288 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
287 days until the MCM: Walked 1 mile
286 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
285 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles
284 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles w/jogging
283 days until the MCM: Walked 2 + 2 miles
282 days until the MCM: Walked 6 miles w/jogging
281 days until the MCM: Walked 1 miles
280 days until the MCM: Walked 3 miles
279 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles w/jogging
278 days until the MCM: Walked 2 miles w/jogging