on fitness

So, I have already complained quite enough about my complete lack of talent in all areas of athletics, but I am working hard to change my attitude, cancel the pity party, and work with what I DO have — which is determination and a love of exercise.

I’ve been so discouraged by what seems like zero progress in my training (read: speed) that I stopped appreciating what I AM able to do… and I’ve actually been doing a lot.

On Thursday, I tackled another tough session with Coach Jaz at Pace4Success boot camp. The boot camp classes are so difficult because we do strength exercises that are unfamiliar and work your full body, not just major muscle groups. I am always sore after the sessions, but I can tell that I am getting a little bit better at keeping up during the workout. I can do real pushups (not many, but still) and hold a plank for at least a minute. That is something!

On Saturday, I ran a four-mile race in Central Park. The photo was taken at the starting line with my teammates Suzy, Casey, and Archie. I concentrated on my form during the race and ended up with a pretty acceptable time (for me) — 39 minutes, sub-10-minute miles. I wasn’t full-out racing the event, or pushing myself to major discomfort, but I was taking it seriously. I am glad to have finally had a solid race and a faster pace.

On Sunday, Travis and I managed to get ourselves out of the house by 9 am and meet friends for a long run. We finished 10 miles in the hot sun down Ocean Parkway – I am pretty impressed with our comittment to our training schedule!

And today is my rest day. Whew!

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How much exercise does one need to do in order to be considered fit? That is a hard question, because despite all of my effort I still feel that I have a lot further to go…

I have done a lot of exercise in my life. Starting with a childhood full of hard core dance, a high school experience full of volleyball, track, and cross country, a marathon at 19, running clubs, gym memberships, Jazzercise, Pilates, TaeBo, spinning, a cross training club, more road races that I can count, yoga, Zumba, boot camp, and even the Gwyneth Paltrow endorsed Tracy Anderson Method — I feel like I have done it all! (And, yes — A few of my readers have let me know that I may have an unhealthy obsession with Gwyneth. I will seek help.)

I watched the IronMan World Championships on Sunday and compared to those competitors I might as well be a couch potato… BUT maybe I am getting there… not to IronMan status by any means, but by the time I complete my third full marathon this October, I think I will be on my way to actually feeling like an athlete. A slow, silly athlete, but one just the same. And if I can accomplish my goal of losing a few pounds and adjust my attitude on beauty, I think I’ll be in a really healthy place! Maybe I’ll train for a triathlon next…

What do you think? What does it mean to be “fit”?

on dieting

Logical: I love my body. It is healthy and strong. I have muscle and my legs have carried me many miles, including through two full marathons. I know that I am extremely fortunate to be in good health and I am thankful every day for what my body allows me to accomplish.

Illogical: I hate my body. I want to look like a combo between this seemingly genetically engineered super-human and Gwyneth Paltrow. (see: on beauty)

Thankfully, I am getting older (30!) and the logical side of my brain is starting to win the argument. Most of the time. So, why, you might ask, am I on a diet?

1- See “illogical” above. What did I just say about getting older and smarter? Despite my best intentions to be a mature woman, I will always have body image issues. Sad, but true.

2 – Marathon training.

I have done a lot of different diets — calorie counting, vegetarian, juice fast — but I always seem to come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth the trouble and return to relatively normal eating. Reason number two is the motivational kicker this time around. (Positive motivation is much more powerful that guilt or shame.)

According to Runner’s World (and my own favorite Coach Joel – thanks, Joel!) for every pound lost a runner can trim their mile pace by about 2 seconds. Doesn’t sound like much, but if I can lose 10 lbs by October, I could automatically drop almost 9 minutes from my marathon time. That, plus some speed training, may possibly get me the sub-5-hour marathon time of my dreams!

So, how do I plan to do it? First, Travis and I have cut out dessert, which is a big step that I had hoped would be enough… but if I want truly serious results, I need to take serious steps. SO… I took more of my encouraging Coach’s advice (despite immediately telling him that there was no way I’d count calories), and downloaded the free Lose It iPhone app. It is a user-friendly app that helps you track calories consumed (food) and calories burned (exercise). I am only on day two of using the app, but so far, so good.

The app says that for someone of my height (5’6″) and weight (somewhere within the normal range, but more than I’d like) can eat about 1500 calories/day and lose about a pound a week. Plus, you can add more calories to offset exercise. The plan seems very doable. Almost too doable, so we’ll see if it works. If nothing else, it doesn’t hurt for me to pay more attention to what I am eating before runs to determine what helps me feel the best overall.

I’ll report back on my progress! (Hopefully, soon I’ll actually be wearing a bikini instead of just photoshopping my head freakishly on to Marisa Miller’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit pics… hey, she has nice abs!)

currently…

watching… PBS – Channel 13 in NY. This will sound very nerdy, but PBS has the best programming on tv. I love Antiques Roadshow, Poirot on Masterpiece Mystery, and NOVA Science Now with silly/brilliant Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I should really go make a donation…

reading… A Game of Thrones – but I am only 250 page in.

using… Google+ – Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter. I am reluctant to start up a whole new “life” on another social networking site, but + does seem to have some nice features, like selective sharing. Check out my +profile and let me know if you want an invite to join.

participating in… IndieBizChicks Twitter Party on Tuesday night, 9-10:30 EST. We’ll be discussing crafty businesses. Join us by following and using the #indiebizchat hashtag. I’ll be using my SwapbotNews account.

feeling… exhausted and discouraged. Running is very difficult for me and it refuses to get any easier. A straight year of marathon training and I have nothing to show for it. No increase in fitness — my apartment stairs still leave me breathless. No gain in speed — I am one of the very slowest on our team. No weight loss — I still feel like a slug. And definitely no gains in confidence — every time I run, it makes me depressed and angry. That sounds dramatic, but it is the truth. I’m not really sure where to go from here… I guess running just isn’t going to be my thing, no matter how many 10-mile Saturday runs I complete.

What have you been up to lately?

pride is the word

By now I hope you already know (because if you are getting your news from me, you might be in trouble) that New York State passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage — a huge step in marriage equality and human rights. What an awesome and happy achievement!

When the bill passed on Friday night I was eating pasta with Team in Training friends (Becca, Jessica, Travis, me, and Brian in the photo above) in preparation for a race in the morning — the Front Runners New York Lesbian and Gay Pride Run, to be specific. We all cheered and treated ourselves to more carbs. We had already planned to run the race on Saturday morning, but it felt really good to have a concrete way to celebrate marriage equality.

I truly felt proud to show my support for a cause that I believe in whole-heartedly. It was such a great race and jubilant day! I did my best to keep up with my reluctant TNT pacer and friend, Larry (seen to the right), and we ran hand-in-hand across the finish line like the two goofballs that we are. Everyone got rainbow popsicles at the finish line. Then we all went to brunch. Then we went to Shake Shack for shakes. A Saturday in NYC doesn’t get much better!

The passage of the marriage equality bill makes me happy for infinite reasons, and one of those reasons is that it shows that change can happen. It can take a long time, it can be very difficult, but we CAN work to shape our government and our country.

I do not get overly political on the internet. Mostly because I work extremely hard to stay positive. I have no desire to add to the constant negativity, hurtfulness, and criticism that seems to be unending online. I do appreciate the importance of critical thinking and constructive criticism, but I personally choose to try to emphasize the positive when possible. Probably this positivity comes across as simple-minded to some, but even though it is sometimes hard to resist, you will not (hopefully) find me ranting on politicians I do not like. Instead I’d like to celebrate the things I do support… like my president… my governor… and marriage equality in New York! woohoo!

Juice Cleanse – overall recap

One last review of the juice cleanse experience…

My thoughts on my 3-day, raw, vegan, Organic Avenue juice cleanse:

  • I continued the cleanse all day yesterday, but then had a dinner of chicken and potatoes and greens (plus some tiramisu) at about 7 pm.
  • I was really excited to eat solid food again, but it didn’t satisfy me as much as I was anticipating. I also was really craving salt. The cleanse must not have had any sodium…
  • I feel really good this morning, surprisingly. My stomach was upset when I woke up , but I drank coffee and soy milk and then felt fine while running 7 miles – a miracle. I was really amazed that I felt so good on the run.
  • Overall, I was hungry on the cleanse, but more than that, my stomach just would not accept more straight vegetable juice. The instructions say you don’t have to finish all of the juices, and I didn’t, but I was really surprised by the fact that I didn’t want to. I didn’t anticipate that.
  • I think I may have lost a tiny bit of weight – some tight pants feel a little looser – but nothing dramatic.
  • I did not officially “cleanse my colon” – I stayed nice and regular. However, if I had stayed on the cleanse for more days I think there may have been some bathroom drama… sorry for TMI.
  • I don’t know what I was expecting from the cleanse, but I don’t think it did anything extreme to me. Maybe my skin is a little better? Maybe I have some extra nutrients floating around inside? Maybe I got in better touch with my body’s expression of hunger? Sure. I guess. I cannot say that I found enlightenment or inner fulfillment.
  • Basically, I don’t think the cleanse was worth the money (especially at full price), but I guess I am glad I satisfied my curiosity and tried it. I do feel really excellent today and happy with my run, so there’s that.
  • Despite what I just said above, I could see myself doing a 1-day liquid diet in the future. Not for any miracle results, but maybe just to recover from an especially decadent weekend. We’ll see…

What do you think? Are my results typical? Should I have stayed on the cleanse longer?

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

These four sweet kids are the 2011 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society NYC Chapter’s Boys & Girls of the Year. Adrian, Ian, Kate, and Caroline are all survivors of blood cancer. They are also all charming and adorable. I wish I could show you the video we watched last night at the Team in Training fall season kick-off event about their personal stories. Of course, the video was so touching that I couldn’t help but cry, but it was also silly, and fun, and so full of life.

When the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was founded in 1949, a blood cancer diagnosis was almost always fatal. Thanks in part to innovative research funded by LLS, survival rates for many blood cancers are now more than 90%. With the help of major fundraising campaigns, including Team In Training, LLS has awarded more than $750 million in research funding since the first funding in 1954. (More info.)

There are so many worthy charities in the world to support and I know that the constant request for money from them all is daunting. I choose to give the majority of my charitable donations to the LLS for many reasons.

1- I know where the money goes. The official breakdown is seen in the pie chart above, but more importantly, I have met some of the researchers who have received grants and the patients who have received financial assistance so that they could get the treatment they needed. At this point, I am extremely connected to the LLS mission of curing blood cancers.

2- I personally know many of the people who work for TNT and LLS. They are incredible, kind people doing good work. They work long, irregular hours and never stop supporting the TNT athletes and honored patients. TNT and LLS staff (not just coaches) are on the sidelines cheering at every athletic event.

3- I admit, I’m selfish. I LOVE training with Team in Training. The coaches and participants are all amazing. Plus, it keeps me healthy and helps me accomplish major goals. It is the best endurance training program in the world.

Ok, you guessed it, all of this is leading up to me asking for donations… I hate pressuring people for money. It is difficult for me to even ask, especially since so many of you have been so generous during previous TNT seasons. BUT, if you feel inspired by the mission of the LLS like I do, and would like to help me complete the Marine Corps Marathon in October, check out my fundraising page!

classic brooklyn

Another weekend, another half marathon! Actually the Brooklyn Half on Saturday was only the third one for Travis and me this year. We ran it about a minute slower than the NJ Half. The plan was to do it faster, of course, but my preparation just wasn’t on target the last few weeks. And, actually the race was fun. We ran with my friend, Jessica, on my most familiar ground: Prospect Park and Ocean Parkway out to Coney Island. Travis and I stuck together during the race and then hung out with some friends after. We ate some Coney Island food and road the Screaming Eagle roller coaster.

On Sunday, we continued rewarding ourselves for our fitness accomplishment by going to a Food Truck Rally at Prospect Park! The lines were super-long, but I immediately got in line for the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck. It took about a half hour, but I got my amazing, $16 lobster roll (seen below). My friend, Brian, stood in line for the Kelvin Natural Slush truck and got me a ginger guava slushy – so good!! Travis stood in line at the Taim truck and got falafel and awesome hummus, and I stocked up on cookies and brownies at The Treats Truck. Then, we all went and had a little picnic feast. I really wanted to try out an ice cream sandwich from the Cool Haus truck, but maybe next time…

run, rachel, run

Oh, man. I am in a mood today! Reality has caught up with me after last week’s fun and travel, and now I am buried in email and to do lists. If you are ever tempted to create a website (even a fun, happy, community website based on sharing creativity and international friendship), know this: the admin email never ends — a constant stream of complaints and problems will flow into your inbox forever and ever and ever, amen. It is worth it, but sometimes I’m tempted to throw the computer out my fourth floor window and make a run for it…

Speaking of running, I’m actually feeling encouraged! The official photos from Sunday’s half marathon came out yesterday and, lo and behold, I actually look like I am running! Like a real runner! Exerting effort! (As opposed to how I looked in past races.) I still have major improvements I’d like to make in my speed, but I feel like I may be getting somewhere… my next race is the Brooklyn Half Marathon on the 21st. I have a really ridiculous, impossible time goal that I won’t even admit out loud for that race, but I am hopeful.