#FitnessFriday: Dog Day 5k

I was at the vet’s office with Bailey when I noticed a flyer for a 5k sponsored by a Golden Retriever rescue group.

“Ya wanna run another 5k, Bailey?” I asked.

I don’t even think she looked at me. She was too interested in all the dog smells.

I impulse-registered for the race, which at that point was only a couple of weeks after the first one I had completed.

What the hell, I thought.

Race Day

On race day, I was more  concerned with how Bailey was going to deal with being around so many dogs. Bailey is incredibly friendly so when she sees a dog that she believes is her new best friend, Bailey MUST. GO. MEET. HER.

It’s embarrassing.

It’s also why I have an appointment with a trainer next week.

Unlike my first 5k, the morning was about 20 degrees cooler, hovering in the upper 50s. I was one of the only people rocking a tank top, because I’d rather be a little chilly than too hot.

I positioned myself in the back, knowing all of these real runners and their dogs were going to take off sprinting the minute they got the OK. That’s what happened and we watched as they ran off ahead of us. Bailey tried to pull ahead, clearly angry that her human is far too slow at this.

Soon, the crowd of runners who are also dog owners was far in the distance and Bailey and I could handle the rest of the race at our own pace.

Unlike the other race, I was familiar with this route on foot and I knew that it was mostly flat with some short hills here and there. I had never jogged it, but I knew it would be similar to our route at home.

Our chip time clocked in at 43:16 for a 13:57-mile.

If you remember, just a couple of weeks earlier, our chip time was 45:42 for a 14:44-mile.

The clock says we improved our overall time by about a minute and a half, but realistically, we did even better.

Doggy kisses after our race.

Doggy kisses after our race.

We had to stop twice. The first was a quick bathroom break where I lost some time cleaning up after Bailey. No biggie.

The second was much longer. Bailey became a stone when the smell of something awesome was just way more overpowering than jogging with me. Her harness became tangled as I tried to pull her away from whatever was mesmerizing her. After one failed attempt of fixing the harness without taking it off, I ended up having to do just that.

I was half annoyed, half thankful for the excuse for a break.

I was absolutely certain that we added a few minutes and wouldn’t beat our time from our first race. Needless to say, I was incredibly surprised when I got a look at the clock as I ran toward the finish line and realized that we had actually beat our time from that first race.

I’m looking forward to the race in November. Since I’ll be doing it alone, I’m really interested to see what my dog-less capabilities are.

The Kindness of Runners

We were about a half-mile away from the finish line when I really started to feel exhausted and on the verge of quitting. Despite being so close, I just felt so far.

Another runner came walking in my direction, clearly having finished the race like 20 minutes earlier. I smiled and nodded, because I’m polite like that, and she responded with, “You’re doing great. You’re almost there.”

I choked out a breathless thank you.

A minute or two later, another runner came walking by, presumably heading to his car. “You’re doing great! Keep going! You’re almost there.”

Another breathless thank you.

These two perfect strangers gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace and get across that finish line a minute and a half sooner than I had just two weeks before. I’m not sure they know the difference their words made.

It’s not the first time this has happened to me. A few years back, I was jogging on a greenway near our apartment, feeling equally as exhausted, when someone running by said, “You’re doing awesome!”

I was so surprised, I nearly fell.

I don’t know much about running culture, so I’m left wondering if giving words of encouragement to complete strangers is something that you just do, much like how all Jeep owners wave at each other.

Is it proper etiquette, like saying, “On your left/right” when you’re passing someone? Or did I just encounter three really kind people? As a New Yorker, I’m still blown away by public acts of kindness.

I’d love if a runner would shed some light on it only because I’m curious. As someone on the receiving end, I can tell you that these words mean the world. They seem to come when you need them the most and remind you how far you’ve come.

So if this is just a thing you runners do, I hope you keep it up. It makes a world of difference.

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#FitnessFriday: My First 5K

Two weeks ago Bailey and I participated in our first 5K.

As expected, we crossed the finish line somewhere close to the end, but our goal was to jog the entire thing, regardless of how slow that jog was.

I am proud to report that we did just that.

We came in with an embarrassing chip time of 45:42 for a 14:44-minute mile.

I may have been able to shave off a minute or two had Bailey not stopped to do her business three times, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. Also, unlike some people who were running with their dogs, I actually stopped to pick it up.

Shame on you, dog owners.

Bailey and I before the race. I wouldn't have been able to do it without her.

Bailey and I before the race. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.

The Course

While I was familiar with the race-location, I had never traversed it on foot, only by car. I knew there were some fairly steep hills, which of course, were awesome.

Half the race, as it turned out, was up hill.

My neighborhood has its hills, but I’ve been purposely avoiding some of the more challenging ones. At this point, I avoid one because it’s in a dark part of my neighborhood. The other, I just avoid.

Maybe some more time on those hills would have helped me out.

The weather was beautiful that day. It was sunny, in the low 70s and a bit breezy.

But man, was it hot. The North Carolina sun is strong and 70 felt like 80. I’m used to jogging in the dark and getting home before the sun has even started waking up. I don’t think I ever wanted it to be 5:45am so badly.

One of my friends jogged alongside me even though she could have just as easily walked. We chatted quite a bit, which is something I’m also not used to. It was great to have her there to keep my mind off of how much I hated that damn race at that moment.

Another friend finished the race well before I did, but came back to finish it with me.

It made my heart so happy to have them both there. I don’t think I would have been able to keep jogging without their motivation and their support. I wanted to stop so badly so many times, but thanks to them, I kept going.

Too Focused on Numbers

I was hung up on my race numbers for a good week. I couldn’t stop focusing on them as though they were some sort of representation of how hard I’ve been working. I focused on those numbers like I focus on the numbers on the scale. I keep hoping for both to go down.

Sometimes I think I focus on the numbers because I can’t seem to wrap my head around what I have actually accomplished. Less than  year ago I couldn’t jog a complete mile and here I was doing three. I couldn’t jog a mile as a skinny kid in high school, but here I am, doing three while 40-ish pounds overwheight.

And maybe that’s why I can’t give myself credit I deserve. Despite all of the jogging, I’m still 40 pounds overweight. The goal weight still seems so far away and unattainable, it’s hard to focus on the weight I’ve lost and what I’ve been doing to get here.

Although my goal weight seems unattainable, I do feel like I have the ability to jog longer distances. I feel like if I wanted to, I could train to run a 10K or a 15K. Those numbers don’t seem so scary any more. They seem real.

Will I do it? Probably not. I’m not convinced jogging that far with a dog on a regular basis will be good for Bailey’s joints in the long run. I don’t want to cross over from making her stronger, to making her weaker.

And quite frankly, I hate jogging. Well…maybe hate isn’t the right word, but I don’t really enjoy it either. I find it boring. Because my neighborhood lacks sidewalks, I need to stay alert for cars. This means I can’t listen to music. Six miles without music? Ugh. No way.

A blogger friend of mine who is also a runner asked me if I was addicted yet. I told her no, but then I went on to sign up for two more 5Ks.

This weekend Bailey and I will be participating in a race to benefit animal shelters around North Carolina.

The second race I signed up for is on Thanksgiving. I’m not entirely sure if Bailey would be allowed to run with me, but I don’t intend on doing it with her. As much as I love having my workout buddy beside me, I kind of want to try this one on my own.

Just me, a rockin’ playlist, and no bags filled with poop.

Marital Weight Gain

As you read, I gained 10lbs since getting hitched. It was mostly acquired in the past couple of months as my work load increased and days became longer.

I’ve been struggling with my weight since college. For the most part it has been steadily increasing, with a few random years of decrease. I’m officially at my highest weight ever.

I was heavier than I wanted to be on my wedding day and while I have learned how to make myself look skinnier in posed pictures, those candid ones didn’t help my cause, Particularly anything that showed me from the side. Ya know, like all of those photos of me saying my vows.

Out of all of those photos, I found one I like. Imagine hating every photo of yourself during the most important moment of your life. It was sad, depressing and I was ashamed of myself.

I’m ashamed because I have no one to blame but myself and my lack of discipline. I know that being overweight is bad for my health but that didn’t stop me from eating pizza with extra cheese. And it didn’t get me out of bed any earlier for a workout. It most certainly didn’t get me off my ass when opted for a nap earlier today.

So, I’m joining my blogger friend, Nicole at Big Day for 10K, in a virtual weight loss partnership and my husband for a physical weight loss partnership.

It needs to be done for a million reasons, most of which relate to keeping myself healthy and not just hating how I look. I feel like my body is starting to feel that weight in my knees and ankles. And most importantly, I’m uninsured so a healthy lifestyle is what is going to keep me out of the doctor’s office.

While I have no immediate plans to put a bun in the oven, I want to be at a healthy weight for when we decide to have a baby. The healthier you are, the easier pregnancy and labor you have. And considering I want to go all natural, I’ll need the easiest labor I can get.

I’m giving myself the next year and a half to get down to a healthy weight, which for my body type is between 115 and 125lbs. Right now, I’m looking at a 60-pound loss.

This was me almost exactly five years ago. I was hovering somewhere around 130-ish pounds, which is really close to a healthy weight for my small stature and frame. I lost 30lbs in 2006 I think mostly from stopping a medication that I had been on, commuting in and out of Manhattan and teaching swimming lessons. I’m an asshole for not maintaining this weight. 

Getting Back Into It

I have already started getting back into a workout routine. I decided a couple of months ago that part of the reason why I’m not sticking with my workouts is because I hate them with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

I hate most cardio, especially running. I have always hated to run. I have always been bad at running. I was an active, skinny child who HATED to run long distances. I was the girl who was stuck in the “non-athlete” gym class because my mile time always sucked. Instead of playing softball, I was doing non-contact sports with chicks who didn’t like to mess up their make up, just because I couldn’t run.

But, I love to swim.

Had I actually stuck with swimming, I probably could have gone to college for it. I probably could have done pretty well. I became one of those lifeguards that loved to swim but didn’t swim competitively. I maintain that lifeguards that did looked down on us, but whatever.

With some financial help from my parents, I joined the Y and shoved my fat ass into a bathing suit to start swimming again. I started out pretty strongly, going at least twice a week but have faltered a bit recently.

Swimming isn’t the type of workout where you can run in and run out. You have to change out of your clothing, do your workout, then change out of your bathing suit, then go home. All that changing adds at least 30 minutes onto your workout. 30 minutes that I might not have.

Along with swimming, I always loved to dance. I don’t do it very well and aside from a college ballet and Afro-Caribbean dance classes, I never formally trained. But, when I was 14 I would spend the bulk of my time with friends learning Backstreet Boys dance routines. I would dance to other bubble gum pop songs in my room. It probably helped me keep such a skinny figure.

I’d like to take a cardio dance class, like Zumba because that would be way more fun than getting on a treadmill.

I also don’t really care for weight lifting. I don’t hate it, so I’ll do it, but for strength training, I’d rather roll out my yoga mat and center myself with some hatha yoga.

I love yoga and used to practice in New York, but it’s been three years since I did it regularly, which means, everything I worked up to is gone. I have been taking at least one class a week at the Y. I would like to take more, but most of the other classes are in conflict with my work schedule.

When I can’t go to yoga, I’d like to try pilates, something that I’ve never done before.

In another post, I’ll talk about how Chuck have changed our diet from meat-based to vegetable based. Oh we’re not going veggie completely, but it’s been a great switch.

I’ll try to post my progress a few times a month but I encourage you to kick me in the virtual ass via Twitter.