Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What have you done today...

...to make you feel proud?

People who watch The Biggest Loser know those words. Tonight, that show saved me from making a big mistake.

I had a stressful day, and as the hours crept by, the cravings for unhealthy food got stronger. The more stressed and upset I got, the more entitled and defeated I let myself become. After dinner, I gave in and had a few extra fudge pops and a pita with some sliced chicken. It was a slip-up, but not what I'd call an outright binge.

I still had a workout to do. Since I'd already blown it for the day, I just wanted to forget about my scheduled 3 miles and order pizza. The anxiety was consuming me. All the conflicting emotions felt like tiny electrical surges in my brain. It was almost physically painful. I put my hands to my head as the devil whispered in one ear, and the angel in the other.

Order pizza!
No, don't do it!

It would taste so good!

But then you'll feel terrible about yourself!

I knew that stuffing my face would make me feel good for a few minutes, but then I'd feel like crap. I didn't care. I wanted to feel happy now, and I didn't care about the consequences.

Right as I was about to get my phone and dial for delivery, The Biggest Loser was on. As I watched the contestants struggle through their daily workouts and food choices, I reminded myself that I, like them, had a choice to make. I could pick up the phone, have pizza brought to me, and eat another 3000 calories' worth of artery-clogging poison. Or, I could put on my running shoes and do my 3 miles.

I put on my shoes, and before I knew it I was on the treadmill. It's been a long time since I pulled myself back from the edge. I'm proud.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crazy weekend

Over the weekend, I surprised Angie with a lovely trip to...drum roll, please... Omaha, Nebraska. She thought I was taking her to the zoo, which I was. Just not the Kansas City Zoo. I'd packed our overnight bags and shuffled the chihuahua to my folks' house, so we were all set for a fun weekend getaway. Besides the zoo, I had an ulterior motive for wanting to go to Omaha. As part of my marathon training, I wanted to run a half marathon. The Omaha Half Marathon seemed to fit the schedule perfectly, so off we went.

We arrived in Omaha around noon and headed right to the zoo. That place was amazing. We were there for almost 6 hours, and still saw only half of the place. We had an extremely unhealthy lunch (pizza, chips, and ice cream) near some cute penguins.

After the zoo, we checked into our hotel. I provided my driver's license and credit card, and the woman behind the counter handed me the room key, as well as two warm chocolate chip cookies. When we got to our room, we tried the cookies, and they were pretty damn awesome.

Dinner was at a brewery in the Old Market District of downtown Omaha. Artichoke dip, lots of bread, and a Thai chicken salad. Note to self: "carbo loading" does NOT mean you get to eat an entire basket of bread the night before a race.

As I slept Saturday night, I had a dream that I my alarm didn't go off, and I missed the race. I made myself wake up, and then noted the time: 4:50 a.m., which was 5 minutes before the alarm went off. I hate it when that happens. In a groggy stupor, Angie and I packed up our stuff, ate muffins, and got ready for the big event. This is me, "getting ready." Take special note of the bed-head, as well as the ski bunny pajama pants:

When we got to the race site, it was chilly. All the participants were lined up at the start, rubbing their arms to keep warm. As Angie wished me luck and moved out of the way, I started to choke up a bit. Her support through all this marathon business has been nothing short of amazing, and I was getting emotional just thinking about it. Leave it to me to cry before the race even starts. Geez. Here we are before the gun went off:

I was thankful to get the party started so I could get warm. I was getting passed by race walkers right and left, which was slightly embarrassing. However, I resisted the urge to keep up with the pack, and warmed up at my own slow pace. After a few minutes, I was ready to step it up. It felt wonderful to be racing again. I really enjoy my training runs with my friends, but there's something about a live race that is exhilarating and engaging. I was truly happy to be there, in that moment, running with such vigor and intensity. When I reached the halfway point and saw Angie, I flashed the cheesiest, dorkiest pose I could muster:

The second half of the race was hilly. I happened to be wearing my racing shirt from the Hospital Hill event I did a few months ago. On the back, it says "I Conquered the Hill." As I was running up an enormous hill that seemed to go on for miles, I really wanted to stop and walk. The only thing that kept me from doing so was the fact that my back said "I Conquered the Hill" and I didn't want to look like a chump. It worked.

My finish time was 2:17:30. I definitely wasn't first, but I wasn't last, either.

After getting my medal and grabbing some post-race treats, we immediately started our drive back to K.C. We got to relax for about 3 hours, but then it was time to get ready for a friend's wedding.

The after-effects of eating an entire basket of "beer bread"... painful.

Running 13.1 miles... really painful.

Squeezing into high heels after running 13.1 miles... holy-crap-i-am-gonna-die painful.

Feeling pretty in a short, black dress... priceless!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free will

My therapist and I had a nice chat on Tuesday. Or, I should say, I attempted to chat through all the blubbering I was doing.

I've never cried in front of my therapist before, or at least not like this. Honestly, the floodgates were ready to burst open before I even got my butt on the couch. It had been a while since I'd seen her, so I had some stuff to catch up on. Mainly, I was there to discuss my recent weight gain, and my re-addiction to all things sugar, salt, and fat.

She wanted to know how it began. I explained (between sobs) that it was a convergence of factors. I was stressed from a good friend at work being fired. I got sick with a nasty cold. Pressures of marathon training were suffocating me. Lastly, I just felt like eating a bunch of junk.

Then, she asked me a rather obvious question, yet it was something I'd not considered: "Did you not think this was going to happen eventually?"

Well, no, I really didn't. When I was slimming down, I didn't think of it as a temporary effort. It was a lifelong commitment, like a marriage. I was married to this healthy lifestyle. We were happy. We held hands and ran along the beach; we picnicked in the green grass and fed each other strawberries. Then I cheated. I had an affair with McDonald's. It felt that shameful and sinister, like I was being unfaithful to my true love. In fact, I remember one of the low points a few weeks ago, when I told Angie I was going to fill up my gas tank, but on the way I cruised the drive-thru. Yup, I lied to her, got a crappy cheeseburger, and scarfed it down before I got home. I couldn't contain my remorse, and wound up confessing a few minutes after walking in the door. I was worried Angie would smell the beef on my breath, like the telltale lipstick on the collar. Guilty.

When I considered the fact that most people who lose a lot of weight eventually have a relapse, I felt a little better. Also, I like the term "relapse," because it puts me in the same category as a recovering alcoholic or drug addict. To me, my addiction to food is just as powerful as that of booze to a wino, or heroin to a junkie.

In the past, my motto for getting back on the wagon has always been, "just have one good day." I shared that with my therapist, and she thought it was great. But, she added that sometimes even a day can be too much to handle. If I'm having a hard time, I need to try taking it one hour at a time; even one minute at a time, if necessary. The key is to remember that it's always a choice. I am in control, even when I'm out of control. Free will.

I went into her office a hopeless, depressed wreck. I emerged with a purse full of tear-soaked Kleenex and a better outlook. Gaining ten pounds is not the end of the world, nor is it a white flag of surrender. I will beat this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Yesterday evening, I was taking a stroll through my old college campus. The trees were already changing into their fall colors. However, it was difficult to see just how beautiful they were, because the sun was quickly setting.

At a nearby table, I noticed a few familiar faces...old friends. I went over to chat, but when I arrived at the table, things got weird. My friends' eyes were cat-like and yellow, their teeth long and pointy, and their faces bumpy. They had changed into vampires, and were no longer feeling like catching up on old times. They wanted to kill me.

I ran away as fast as I could. I could hear them close behind, laughing and taunting me, but I didn't look back. I ran for miles and miles, and I couldn't help but be grateful for my marathon training, which gave me the endurance to keep going. They were still there, though, toying with me. They'd let me get pretty far ahead, and just as I'd think they were too tired to keep up, they'd inch up right behind me. Vampires don't have to worry about stopping to drink Gatorade, or eating GU gels. They just wanted to eat me, and they were about to do just that.

Thankfully, I woke up before they were able to do so.

I ran more in my dream last night than I've run since my 22-miler on Saturday. Even though I was feeling great the day of the run, the following day I wasn't so good. I was totally drained and exhausted, and I also felt a sinus cold coming on. So, I decided not to do my usual Monday and Tuesday runs, opting instead to let myself recover a bit.

This morning, I woke up feeling more exhausted than I'd been when I went to sleep last night. I blame the vampires. I'm not a huge believer in dream analysis, but surely the notion that "running can be draining" plays into it somehow. Vampires, draining, chasing, running without an end in sight, and fear of death/dismemberment... all the good stuff was there.

I need a nap.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pinky surprise

I went to the mall today to buy shoes for a wedding. As the clerk brought out a pair of black pumps, I removed my shoes and socks and prepared to slip on some of those little hose "socks" they give you.

I saw what looked like a small piece of a leaf, or maybe dirt, on the bottom of my pinky toe. As I nonchalantly tried to brush it away, it wasn't coming off. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a blood blister...a remnant from my 12 mile run in the rain 10 days ago.

The blister is gross and ugly, but it doesn't hurt. In fact, I had no idea it was even there until I was awkwardly trying on high heels for the first time in 12 years. I'm sure it would hurt like hell if it popped, so I'm going to hope that doesn't happen.

So there you go. Good times. Enjoy your lunch.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The 22 Miler (aka- Taking chafing to the next level)

I was determined to make today's 22 mile run a better experience than the disastrous 20 miler from 2 weeks ago. I brought GU gels (Chocolate Outrage flavor, if you're interested). Tylenol made a preventative appearance before my run even started, as well as at the halfway point. Bodyglide...um...glided across all my usual chafing spots. Sadly, there was one place I neglected, but we'll get to that later.

Since I was going 22 and my friends were going 20, I arrived at the site early and ran 2 by myself. The temperature was hovering around 60 degrees, but it was already humid. Fog hung low to the ground and created an eerie, autumn-like start to the run. The cool weather wouldn't stick around long, though. By the end of our run, the temperature would reach 80.

When I got back to the starting point (inside a shopping mall), there were probably 200 people standing around, waiting to get going. I weaved through the crowd and found my friends, and we talked about our expectations for the morning. It was Pritha, Ellen, Mandy, and me. These were the women who got me through the 20-miler from hell, and I was happy to be running with them again.

The pacers from the Kansas City Marathon were running with us today, so my friends and I decided to run with the 4:50 pacer. That means that, if we followed this girl, we'd pretty much be guaranteed to finish the race in under 5 hours. Even though this was just a training run, we wanted to try an "official" pace team to see what it was like. We would also be running 9 miles of the actual marathon course that I'll be running on October 18th.

The first 2.5 miles took us through local neighborhoods. I was feeling good, but we were still having trouble keeping up with our pacer. She seemed to be going way too fast, and a couple Garmin GPS units confirmed this. At mile 3, Mandy was in a lot of pain from an ankle injury, so she wisely decided to call it a day. Runners are great at giving advice about resting, taking it easy, and carefully nursing injuries. But, few runners have the smarts to know when to take their own advice. Mandy does.

We got on a gravel trail and wound our way north. All the pace groups somehow got jumbled together at this point. The 4:50 group was way ahead, while the 4:30 and 4:40 groups lagged behind. We were all in a big pack, and it felt good to be with such a large group of people, so we just went with it and didn't try to catch up to the 4:50 girl.

In all of the literature I've read about marathon running, I've always read that a rookie mistake is to get cocky and go too fast early in the run. So, of course you can guess what I did. Leaving Pritha and Ellen behind, I effortlessly (or so I thought) caught up with 4:50 and stayed with her for quite a while. I knew my friends were close behind. Then came the hill.

I knew it was coming, and I knew it would be hard. I drive by Sunset Hill (yeah, it even has a name) twice each day during my work week. Since I've been in training, I've always looked upon it with ominous dread while driving past. Today, Sunset Hill and I officially got acquainted.

I kept my eyes straight ahead, pumped my arms, and got to the top of that damn hill. Even though I'd made it, I was exhausted, and I knew that I'd made a mistake in going out so quickly. At the 10 mile marker (12 miles for me), I met back up with Pritha and Ellen. Pritha's knee was hurting, but it was manageable. Ellen was having a horrible time breathing, but she kept going. We were all in pain, but we ran anyway.

As the mercury climbed, so did our chances of finishing with the pace group. They were long gone by this point, but that didn't matter. We were there to go the distance, nothing more. An 80 degree day is wonderful if you're out doing yard work, going to the zoo, or having a picnic. If you're running, 80 degrees is f***ing hot, and it's dangerous. If you don't drink enough water and sports drink to replenish the electrolytes you're losing, bad things can happen. You stop sweating, then the condensed sweat already on your body turns to solid salt. Then you get goosebumps. Sometimes these problems can still arise even if you take proper precautions. Pritha had plenty of fluids, as well as electrolyte-replenishment tablets, and still had salty skin and goosebumps by the end of the run.

The last 3 miles were really hard for me. I wanted to walk, but walking hurt just as much as running, so I decided to just suck it up and finish the damn thing. When we got back to the starting area and I felt the air conditioning hit me, I was oh so happy. Pritha was right there with me, and Ellen came in a few minutes later. Mandy had gone home, taken a shower, packed up her baby daughter, and come back to meet us for brunch. Eggs, potatoes, and wheat toast (no butter). Delicious.

When compared to my 20 mile run, I was in much better shape afterward on this one. I'm still walking like a zombie, but I can deal with it. The one thing I wasn't prepared for was chafing. Or, I should say, I thought I had prepared for it perfectly. However, the Bodyglide apparently didn't make it to one very important spot. Ready for this? TMI on the way... my buttcrack. Yup. When I got home, got in the shower, and the soapy water hit the area, my yowls of pain were reminiscent of a cat going for a car ride. If you're not sure what that sounds like, click here.

Buttcrack pain aside, I'm doing great. I'm proud of myself. 22 miles! If you'd told my 264-lb. self that I'd be running 22 miles, I would have thought you were playing a cruel joke. Now the only cruel joke is that I waited this long to be the person I now am. Can I get a WOOT WOOT!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scare tactics

I ate McDonald's last night. Again.

After my high-and-mighty post about high fructose corn syrup yesterday, I now feel like a total hypocrite. What's wrong with me? Why do I keep doing this?

As I was losing weight, I forced myself to watch shows like Big Medicine, Inside Brookhaven Obesity Clinic, and I Eat 33,000 Calories a Day. These are the people I could have been. People don't believe me, but I firmly believe I could have reached 400, 500, or even 600+ pounds if I didn't make a change.

My addiction to food never went away when I lost weight. It was dormant most of the time, only making an appearance when I was in an unfamiliar food situation, like a party or a buffet. I never kept unhealthy food in the house, so it was difficult for the addiction to come out. But lately, I've been seeking it out. McDonald's here, pizza there. As you already know, I've regained a few pounds.

I now feel like another person named Morgan...Morgan Spurlock from Supersize Me. Addicted to fast food all over again, hating myself for it, and feeling powerless to stop it. I'm happy while I'm eating it, then depressed when it's over.

The fact that I'm in marathon training is the only thing saving me from ballooning to my old size. If these eating habits continue after the race is over, I'll regain it all, and them some. I could wind up like the people on those shows. That can't happen.

I quit smoking cigarettes, so why is kicking fast food so difficult?

Monday, September 15, 2008

High fructose corn syrup ads

Have you guys seen these ads? The corn people are now trying to convince us that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn't any worse than sugar. It is corn, after all:

I love it. They're in such a panic that they have to make commercials urging us to buy HFCS products, as if it's easy to avoid. On Sunday, I spent 15 minutes in the bread aisle, in search of a loaf without the stuff. Finally, I remembered that Bob from The Biggest Loser is always talking about Ezekiel bread. I couldn't find it anywhere, then I finally located it in the frozen food aisle. When I checked the ingredients, I was pleased to find that HFCS was conspicuously absent.

Although there's no definitive proof in the matter, most health experts seem to believe that HFCS is largely responsible for the rise in obesity over the last few years/decades. The stuff is in everything. I was recently enjoying a delicious Fiber One snack bar, and I noticed HFCS in the ingredient list. Unbelievable.

Is nothing sacred?

TBL, how I've missed you

The Biggest Loser (TBL) is back! Tuesday, September 16th, we'll see an all new season of extreme weight loss. There will be laughter, tears, sweat, and man-boobs.

I can't wait!

I was checking out the site today, and the first hour of the premiere is available to watch now. You can go here to view it. I checked out the first 5 minutes while I was on my lunch break, and was already crying.

What do you all think of TBL? Personally, I think it's incredibly inspiring. When TBL is on, I'm not on the couch while I'm watching it... I'm on the treadmill. It's the ultimate "if they can, then I can" kind of thing.

The rainiest weekend ever

After running 20 miles, running 12 seems like it should be easy. That theory was proven wrong for a multitude of people this past weekend, including myself. The stars were apparently not lined up properly for good running conditions.

For me, a lot went wrong. Since the girls I normally run with were in St. Charles, Missouri, for the Lewis & Clark Half Marathon, I decided I'd do my training run alone, rather than try to run with another group. I wanted to experience a long distance run by myself, since much of my marathon run will likely be solo. I still went to the designated running group location, but started early.

It was still dark when I arrived at the course and took off. The first 2 miles were good. I was enjoying the solitude, darkness, and cool morning air. Our running coach marks the turns in the course with little flags. I saw a flag and took the turn. Then, quite a bit of time passed before I realized I should have hit a mile marker or an aid station. I started to get worried I'd taken a wrong turn. Then, I saw a some people running back the other way. "Are you with the running group? We're going the wrong way! We need to turn around!" Oh, joy. According to someone's GPS, we'd gotten about 1.5 miles off course.

Rather than keep my own pace and get back on my own time, I stupidly decided to keep up with the group until we got back to the marked course. Like many of the decisions I make while running, it was a bad one. I was pretty worn out, and I wasn't even halfway done.

Then, like some cruel joke, it started pouring. We're not talking a light drizzle, or a pleasant sprinkle. This could easily be characterized as a deluge. I just looked up "deluge" to make sure I'm using it appropriately, and yeah, it was definitely a deluge. I was pitifully soaked. I could feel blisters forming on my toes. Ouch.

By mile 9 (which was really mile 10 for me), my blisters were so painful I couldn't run anymore, and I opted to walk the last 3.

Yeah, not fun at all...but at least it was long.

And still, it could have been worse. I could have been one of the many people from our group who did the Lewis & Clark half marathon. They had gale-force winds (40-50 mph), torrential rain, and flooding. The race was cut short and they weren't able to complete the distance. They had to settle for 10 miles, and from what I hear, they had a pretty miserable time doing it.

Or, I could have been like Topher over at I'll Run for Donuts. He opted to avoid the rain all together, and spent his scheduled 18-miler on the treadmill. Can you imagine? I'm not sure whether to admire him or to smack some sense into him.

I don't know about you folks, but I'm ready to see the sun again.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Running up my tab

Running is often touted as an inexpensive sport...as the exercise you can do anywhere with no special equipment. All you need is a good pair of shoes, right?

Whatever. Perhaps when I started running, it was inexpensive. At that point, I was still wearing my 5 year old tennis shoes, cotton t-shirts, a regular bra, and pajama bottoms while running on the treadmill. Then, when I got more serious, running became more expensive.

When I got my first pair of real running shoes, the pair I selected came in at a very cheap (or so I'm told) $95. One hundred bucks is not "chump change" to me, so when I learned that some of these shoes go for $150 or more, I was a little stunned. I was more stunned to hear I'd need to replace the shoes at least once before my marathon.

Marathon training escalated things even more. I joined a local running club so I wouldn't have to log 20-mile Saturday runs by myself, which wasn't cheap. Actually, it cost more than my car payment. As my weekly mileage increased, so did my need for sweat-wicking garments. Wanna keep the sweat and sun out of your face? Try a running hat! But you can't just get a regular hat. You have to get one with all these little ventilation holes so the heat from your head can escape. Wanna prevent chafing? Try a stick of Bodyglide...only $10 for a something that looks like a stick of deodorant. Want some running shorts with plenty of pockets? They're yours for only $35. Want to listen to music during your solo runs? Let me show you this lovely iPod Nano.

Then, there's the race itself. At $60, an entry for the Kansas City Marathon was very inexpensive, when compared to other entry fees I've seen. If you're one of those runners who likes to do a 5K every weekend, that could be $100 a month right there. After I finish the marathon, I'll probably need to buy one of those "26.2" bumper stickers, and maybe a KC Marathon hat, or a sweatshirt, windbreaker, etc. The whole damn world will know I ran that marathon.

Obviously, I realize I don't have to buy all this stuff. The truth is, I enjoy purchasing products. I'm a whore for merchandise. The local running store is a mecca for me. When I walk in and smell the synthetic fibers all around me, I feel happy. Even as I'm forking over half my rent money for shoes, shorts, and some chocolate-flavored GU, I know that these things will make me more comfortable during my workouts. I need all the comfort I can get for that marathon, because let me tell you... after doing that 20-miler, I can vouch for the fact that there's not much comfort to go around.

Here's a fun commercial that helps me illustrate my point.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life is not a drill

Seven years ago, when those planes crashed and the world changed forever, I was just a college student in Kansas. The moment I found out about the attacks, I was sitting in my school's breakfast cafeteria. I was eating fried eggs, sausage, and fried potatoes. I remember that because that's what I ate every single day.

It affected me, of course. Like most people, I spent the day glued to the television, completely shocked, not believing what I was seeing. It became real when I saw the people jumping from the towers. It was then that I started crying, and didn't stop until I fell asleep that night.

There are no really tall buildings in Kansas City, but I work in one of the taller ones. I also happen to work in a set of "twin towers," which is always strange this time of year. A few months ago, we had a fire drill. As I walked down a few flights of stairs, I got behind an obese woman who seemed to be having problems. Her knees were hurting her and each stair was getting more painful for her to descend. Because of her size, she occupied most of the width of the stairway. A traffic jam in the stairwell was forming because she was moving so slowly. She finally stopped, moved to one side, and waved us all by. I felt bad for her, but was happy I was no longer obese myself.

As I reached the bottom floor and walked outside, I marveled at the perfect weather and the storybook blue sky- much like that day in 2001. I also thought of that woman, and wondered if she was okay. I should have stopped and helped her. I should have made sure she could make it on her own. Then I thought of the disabled and severely overweight people who worked in the World Trade Center. They didn't make it.
That wasn't a drill.

Life isn't a drill, either. My life has improved so much since I lost the weight, but even still, I often treat life like a dress rehearsal...as if the real thing hasn't started yet.

Sometimes it takes a traumatic event to shock us back into reality. For my dad, it was triple bypass surgery. Even though he was already thin, he made his diet even healthier. For my mom, and Angie's dad, it was when Angie's mom was dying from lung cancer. They both quit smoking. For much of America, it was September 11, 2001. We can't wait for our lives to start, because guess what- they already have. Now is the time to act. So do it- whatever it is. If you want to get healthy and lose weight, do it. It can be done.

Don't be like that woman on the staircase, letting everyone pass you by.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The number / Running with Shena

I weighed myself this morning. I knew the number would be higher than last time, and I knew it would probably shock me. It did.

The number is 171.

I had serious reservations about making the number public. I've thought about whether or not to post it all day. Gaining 11 pounds in a few short weeks is obviously not something I'm proud of. Revealing to the blogosphere that the author of "Morgan Gets Thin" is getting fatter is embarrassing, to put it mildly. Still, I decided to just go ahead and tell you, because there's no sense in sugar-coating the world of weight loss and weight maintenance. For a few select people out there, maintaining an extreme weight loss seems nearly effortless. I'm not one of those people. My goal with this blog is to tell the honest, difficult, roller-coastery truth about my daily struggle. And it is just that- a struggle. Sadly, it always will be, but that's the way it is.

I'm not as concerned with the number as the way my clothes are fitting. It's a snug, snug world that I live in. A snug world, indeed.

So, here's the new plan. I'm going back to weighing in every day. Studies show that people who get on the scale daily are better able to maintain their weight loss. I'll post my weight on the site on Saturdays. I've also gone back through my logs to see what I was doing differently during my days as a 160 lb. person. The big difference was that I did a mini-workout in the morning, and ate 2 mini-breakfasts instead of one big one. Oh, another glaring detail was that I wasn't eating CRAP.

So there you go. I've gained 11 lbs. I've gone through denial, bargaining, and now acceptance. Time to move on and make the number go down!

Subject change...

Yesterday I did a 4-mile run with my friend and coworker, Shena. Let me give you a little background on her. She's funny and smart, graduated high school at age 16, ran track, weighs roughly the same number of pounds I lost, and has absolutely perfect hair. I find her intimidating, because I'm insecure like that. After work, we went to the park by our office. She said she'd let me set the pace. In an effort to not seem like the slow-poke I am, I set off at a much faster pace than normal. While I was huffing and puffing, Shena was effortlessly and gracefully bobbing along like a gazelle, her perfect hair blowing in the breeze. During our conversations, I'd manage to get out 2 or 3 words per gasp, while she could have recited a sonnet without pausing for breath.

I can't be sure exactly how fast we were going, but judging from the time elapsed, it was a sub-10 minute mile pace. That's fast for me. Afterward, I tried to pretend I wasn't hyperventilating, until Shena disappeared around the corner, at which time I puked behind my car. Just kidding...it wasn't that bad. In fact, I really enjoyed running with her and hope to make it a regular thing. Next time, maybe I'll even be able to complete a sentence all in one breath. Baby steps...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Yay for the ability to walk

Saturday's 20-miler left me with two things:

1) an insatiable craving for ice cream
2) a total inability to walk like a normal person

I must confess that Saturday (and part of Sunday) was a total calorie-fest. Lockdown shmockdown. It was all about sugar and salt. I'm going to say it...just get it out, Morgan...

I consumed an entire half gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream the day of my run.

In my defense, I will say that it was the slow-churned stuff. The entire container was 1200 calories, and I burned roughly 2500 calories during my run. So, I didn't beat myself up too much over it. Really, I was too beat up already to feel any worse.

When going from a seated position to standing, I was reminded of my 97 year old grandmother. Getting out of a chair was a step-by-step process. I actually had to think about where to put my hands, how to gain some momentum, then manage to get upright. Walking was...not pretty. My hips were locked in one position, so when I'd take a step, that entire side of my body would move with me. I walked like Robocop.

I woke up this morning and was pretty much back to normal. I'm running with a friend from work tonight, and hopefully I won't slow her down too much!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The 20-miler (aka- Children of the Corn)

You may have noticed I don't use profanity much in my writing. This is for two reasons. First, I'd rather not offend people. Although I cuss like a sailor in my private life, I usually don't feel the need to assail the ears (or eyes, in this case) of my blog readers with my bad language. Secondly, if I'm going to drop an f-bomb on you guys, I want it to really mean something. I want it to be special. With that said, I can sum up yesterday's 20-mile run in two words:

Holy fuckballs.

Ah, that was cathartic. Now, for my report.

I woke up at 5 a.m. and got way too familiar with a stick of Bodyglide, then I hit the road. The run was in Lawrence, Kansas, which is where I started (but not where I finished) college many moons ago. The 4-mile warm up was basically one big hill- it's known as The Hill, actually. Seeing some of my old haunts was wonderful in some cases, and surreal in others. It brought back both happy and painful memories being there. Once we got out of the city and onto the levee trail, I was feeling better about being back in Larryville.

The trail was surrounded by cornfields. Corn, corn, and more corn. Some soybeans, then more corn. I was ready for an Amish-looking kid to pop out of one of the rows and yell "Outlander!" at me, just like in the Children of the Corn movie that I used to love (don't ask me why).

I was running with 4 girls who I've come to know pretty well. When you run miles and miles with people, you learn a lot. There's something about running long distances that brings out total frankness and honesty. It seems like nothing is off limits. We usually start off talking about everyday stuff, like politics, work, marriage/boyfriends/girlfriends, kids, etc. Then things move on. Every week, without fail, we talk about personal bowel habits at least once. After mile 10 or so, we're all tired and semi-delirious. We're not shy at that point.

It was shaping up to be a great run. I was in no pain and had plenty of energy. Then, a problem presented itself. As we approached the later aid stations, I expected there to be GU. Typically on these long runs, GU is provided, but there was none to be found. I should have brought my own, so it was really my own fault. But, this now meant I wouldn't have my usual calorie source during my run. I think that directly contributed to the events that followed.

At mile 14, I was struggling big time. My hips and butt were crackling and grinding with every step, I had a mild headache, and my sweat was becoming grainy and extra salty. I was dehydrated and I needed salt. At the aid station we found some pretzels and I grabbed as many as I could and scarfed them down. It helped a bit, but the next few miles were pretty damn miserable for me. I was getting really emotional. At only 16 miles, I was hitting the wall.

Those last 4 miles were the hardest miles I've ever run. My feet were barely lifting off the ground. It was more of a quick shuffle than a run, really.
I was in a lot of pain, and all I wanted was for it to be over. If my group-mates hadn't been with me, I would have given up. So, I'd like to say thank you to my "running ladies," Ellen, Mandy, Marcela, and Pritha. You carried me through yesterday, and I can't thank you enough!

When I was done, I was in pretty bad shape. I was freezing cold, achy, emotional, and just totally spent. We all walked to a nearby restaurant to have a very late breakfast. Out of the 5 of us, I seemed to be the only one doing the "zombie walk." As we walked down Mass street, I felt people looking at me. I'm sure they were wondering how big of a stick I had up my butt. After a nourishing salmon sandwich I was feeling much better.

When I arrived home 40 minutes later, I was so stiff that it literally took me 5 attempts to get out of my car. I then ate a bowl of ice cream the size of my head and took the best shower of my life. I sounded like the girl from the Herbal Essences commercial.

I'm really proud of myself for finishing 20 miles. I've been apprehensive about this for months, and it's finally over. I got a small glimpse of the physical and mental anguish I'll experience on October 18th. Of course, I'm not done yet. I have a 22-miler in two weeks, and then I'll taper down until the marathon itself.

It won't be pretty. It will hurt like hell, but now I know I can do it. I can finish the marathon. All I have to do is get to the starting line.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

I've made this recipe so many times that I now have it memorized. It's full of carbs, which is great for me because I'm doing my 20-miler TOMORROW!!!


2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 can vegetable broth
3/4 cup (6 oz.) dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 -1/2 cup water, depending how soupy you want it
3 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes (1 inch dice)
1 cup frozen green beans
1/2 tsp salt
fat free sour cream

Melt butter over medium-high heat in large saucepan. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and stir for 1 minute. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually add vegetable broth, stirring continuously. Bring to a boil and stir until slightly thickened. Stir in lentils, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook lentils for 15-20 minutes, stirring a couple times, until much of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in apple juice, water, sweet potatoes, green beans, and salt. Bring to a boil, the cover and simmer 25-30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender. Divide into 4 portions. Put a 2-tbsp. dollop of sour cream on each portion.

I know this is roughly 325 calories per serving. You're getting lots of carbs from the sweet potatoes, and protein from the lentils. Fiber abounds! Leftovers are great the next day.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


My legs hurt. I did strength training two days in a row this week, which was clearly a mistake. As I hobbled around the office today, my legs were in more pain than they'd been in after my 18 mile run two weeks ago. This is probably because I took so much time off from exercise and then pretended I could pick it back up with full force. It doesn't work that way.

I'm supposed to run 6 miles tonight. And, for the first time in a long while, the weather is really pleasant. It's in the high 50s and overcast...perfect weather for an outdoor run...and here I am in a buttload of pain. What to do, what to do...

I just took a couple Tylenol, and I hope to at least walk/run my 6 miles after my lovely dinner of Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry (yum-o). With the ominous 20-miler coming up this Saturday, I have no room to skip workouts.

In other news, it is day 3 of the Lockdown. Angie successfully navigated her way through the "hot dog extravaganza" at her workplace today, and I turned down Nutter Butters from my grandmother not one, not two, but THREE times. That's dedication. Those things are freaking delicious.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The best way to learn

One of my very first college classes was Math 002. Most people called this "Math-oh-oh-DUH" because it was a remedial course for math idiots like me. Here I was, 18 years old, trying for the umpteenth time to determine the value of the dreaded x.

The instructor of the class was a teaching assistant who looked younger than me. In fact, he probably was. He was nerdy. He seemed like the kind of guy who liked magic. Or, maybe it was Magic: The Gathering. Hell, it was probably both. No offense meant to nerds who like these things. I'm proud to call myself a nerd. I don't like Magic, though. But I digress.

So, the 12-year-old teaching assistant told us the best way to learn is to teach others. While I understood this concept in theory, it didn't make much practical sense at the time. I was the girl who squeaked by with a D in high school geometry. How was I going to teach anyone else about the distributive property?

While I never utilized this principle in math class, it's served me well in other areas of my life- especially in this little weight loss endeavor of mine. I love talking about it and sharing my story, which is why this blog was born in the first place. People who ask me how I lost the weight are rarely prepared for the speech they get from me in return. When a friend came to me and asked me to be her trainer, I was all over it. I came up with an exercise plan for her and did a little evaluation, then we did a strength training workout together. As I was telling her where to put her heels during a lunge, or where to put her butt while doing the plank position, it was like I was going through it for the first time. Her goals became mine. My success seems dependent on hers.

Even if you're at the beginning of your weight loss journey, it's helpful to have a partner in crime. If you can find someone to pair up with- a person both to teach and to be taught by- your chances of success can only improve.

A good day

Lockdown: Day 1. So far, so good. Last night I sat down and planned out my meals for today, and I stuck to it. I drank a ton of water and spent the greater part of the day in the restroom (too much information, anyone?).

Thanks to my friend Laura, I made it through a 6 mile run. It was my first run in 10 days. Honestly, had I been by myself, I probably would have found some excuse not to complete the mileage. Since I had a buddy, quitting was not an option. Even though I had to walk a few times, I made it through. It was steamy and pouring rain through most of it, too. Having a running buddy is so nice. Thanks, Laura!

I still have to do some strength training after dinner tonight, but I have deemed this day a success. It's amazing what a psychological lift I get after just one day of good choices. Even though it doesn't erase all the poison I've pumped into myself, my resolve and motivation have returned. It was the boost I needed.

Someone made a comment that I need to update my weight. Yeah, I know. When I build enough courage to even find out what that number is, I'll get right on top of that. I want to be on the wagon a few more days before I even think about getting on the scale. When I know the number, so will you. Thanks for being interested, though.