Saturday, October 27, 2012

What A Week I'm Having!

I started out the week with a 3 mile run on Sunday morning. Get this! I ran without music or my Garmin! I just headed out and ran the route in my neighborhood, knowing it was about 3 miles. I managed to get 'er done in under 30 minutes. It felt tough, adding those hills back in, but I persevered! Thinking about all of my From Fat To Finish Line friends running their races that day (Rik, Katie, John and Jen did full marathons and Carly and Lealah did half marathons) made my 3 miles seem like chump change. Can you imagine running more than 8 times that distance????


This week I only worked Tuesday and Wednesday at Mill Neck Manor School For The Deaf. The only bad part of the two days was the hour and 15 minute commute each way. However, it WAS a gorgeous part of Long Island's "Gold Coast," where the very wealthy have their beautiful mansions perched upon hills facing the Long Island Sound. *sigh* The kids were absolutely adorable. It's pretty hard to see toddlers coming in with their parents, learning to deal with their disability and live with their cochlear implants, but it's also comforting knowing there are facilities like this with so many caring and capable staff members trying to make these kids lives as full as possible. I'd love to learn some sign language to be more prepared and capable of communicating with these kids when we return.


What made it an even better week was payday!! My first paycheck was a sight for sore eyes. What was really surprising was that I was only paid the training rate for the first week and then I got regular pay this week! I'm not sure if there's any work for me next week, but I'm hoping that work will be a bit more regular until their slow period kicks in after Christmas! I called the bus company yesterday to thank them for the job opportunity and to let them know that I have started working elsewhere. The woman appreciated me returning her call and said she would save my application, just in case. That's good to know. Never burn any bridges!


Thursday I had to hit the stores to grocery shop. I usually go to Dollar Tree to get things like snacks and cleaning supplies. Sometimes they get brand name items, like Ritz Bits or Chips Ahoy cookies, but it's hit or miss. Well, I hit the jackpot! (AND they accept manufacturer's coupons now, although I didn't have any for these products.)

This would have cost me at least $16+ in a grocery store! I forgot to take a picture of the Fiber One Chewy PB & J bars I got too!


Do you all know how much those things are in the grocery store? The Biscoff Biscuits are at least $3 and the Lay's Stax are around $1.50 each. I'll probably be heading back there for more next week! Fingers crossed they still have them!! Then I went to my local grocery store and found the Pumpkin Spice CoffeeMate! The 32 oz. size was on sale for $3 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off 2! Set for creamer for about a month!! I did fantastic with my store coupons yesterday, but I did even better last week, having a coupon for 5% off my entire order, $12 off $120 coupon,  $5 off $75 (I got 12 of these coupons by spending $25 on an Entertainment coupon book that my nephew was fundraising with! Spend $25 to save $60- DUH!!) and $5 off a $30 purchase. As long as the total is above the minimum requirement, they take it! I saved $32 with just those coupons!! That's how I've been able to just work part-time all of these years. I am a coupon queen!

On top of all that savings fun, I received the 13.1 necklace I won from One Happy Stamper!


I LOVE IT!!! (picture courtesy of One Happy Stamper)

Then, to top the week off I found out I won the Liz's Granola giveaway from Mary over at A Walk In The Woods! It includes 36 individual servings of 3 different flavors, Treacle & Pecan, Pink Apple & Cinnamon, and Belgian Chocolate. Well, you can probably figure out which will be my favorite! Thank goodness they're in individual bags! I need portion control when it comes to granola. I am interested in finding out what a "treacle" is, though! I think after winning these giveaways I'm going to have to come up with a giveaway of my own. What do you think it should be? What have I mentioned that you would be interested in trying?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pop Quiz

My friend over at Running On Candy posted a running pop quiz last week that she borrowed from another blogging friend. I thought it was a great idea and it would be fun to hear what everyone else has as a running routine. If you don't run, most of these questions can pertain to just about any type of exercise, so don't exclude yourself from answering the questions just because you don't run!

1). What type of fuel do you use on your runs? Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, candy, other?
      I never used any type of fuel supplement during a run before my half. I picked up a chocolate Power Bar Energy Gel when I bought my water bottle at Sport's Authority right before the expo, just in case I desperately needed something towards the end of my race. I did open it and take little nibbles at it the last few miles. I didn't want to just suck it down since I hadn't tested out the effects it would have had on my gastro system! I might try experimenting with them, though, so I'm more prepared for Ragnar.

2). What is your favorite race length? 5k, 10k, Half  Marathon, Marathon...?
      I have to say I have the most experience with the 5k length and I have absolutely no experience with the marathon... I really like the 5k because there are just so many of them put on so you have lots of options. You could probably run one every week! And because they are only 3 miles, you don't need to put in the time it takes to train for longer distances, and they are so much CHEAPER than registration fees for longer runs!!!

3). What kind of workout bottoms do you run in? Skirts, shorts, capris, pants...?
      For long runs I have one pair of men's shorts with a drawstring waist that I run in. Why men's shorts? Because I have yet to find a pair of women's shorts that have pockets in them! I'll put my sweat mops, extra gum, my iPod, etc. in them. I could probably grab a SPIbelt for all that paraphernalia, but why spend more money when I don't have to? For any other run, like at the gym, I have my favorite tight C9 running capris from Target or my Tek Gear compression capris from Kohl's.

4). What sports drink do you run with? Gatorade, PowerAde, Cytomax...?
     I only ran with Gatorade a few runs before my half marathon because that was what was going to be offered  race day. I cut it with water, again to make sure it didn't effect my stomach. It definitely helped with the cramping I had in my calf I had experienced earlier in my training. For long runs, I'll continue to use it.

5). What's your preferred running temperature? Hot or cold?
     Well, since I sweat like a mo' fo' the choice is easy for me! The heat and humidity of Long Island summers were pure torture for me. So, I'd pick a cold weather run over a hot one, HANDS DOWN!

6). What brand of running shoes do you run in? Saucony, Asics, Brooks...?
     I hate to say this but I've never been to a running store to be properly fitted for sneakers. I picked up a pair of Nikes at Kohl's and have never had a problem, so I continue to stick with them. Hey, if it ain't broke...

7). What's your typical pre-race meal? Oatmeal, banana, bagel...?
     Almost every day I wake up and make myself my huge cup of coffee and have some type of protein or granola bar. For race day, I make sure I have a Power Bar or a Pure Protein bar, usually a few hours before race time. It's enough to keep me going but not too much on my already nervous stomach to make me sick during the run.

8). How many rest days are in your schedule?
     I typically run 3 times a week. I don't think I've ever run more than that. When I don't run, I'll usually be at the gym on the arc trainer or the elliptical machine. I try to exercise every day to at least maintain my weight!

9). Music- do you run with or without it?
     I usually have my iPod with me. I only put one earbud in so I can listen to traffic, and sometimes I'm so in my head listening to stupid thoughts that I'm not really paying attention to it. On some short runs I have chosen to leave the iPod on home, but I would never think of NOT having it for a long run.

10). So, why do YOU run? Stress relief, the love of the race, weight-loss, socializing...?
     Well, I run for just about all of the above! I started to run just to see if I could DO it, but I continue to run because I love how it makes me feel. I feel so accomplished after a run. I still can't believe I AM running! Also, after losing about 40 pounds, running helped give me another push to continue losing, and because it burns a nice amount of calories in a short amount of time, it allows me to eat (as does all the exercise I do)! Running/exercise is a great tension reliever, too. You spend a lot of time thinking, and I like to say it gets the cobwebs out. It helps me quiet my anxieties a bit. And, I love to race. When my husband and I started to race we thought racing would be a great excuse to travel and see things. We never thought it would be bringing us to Miami and Key West in January!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 2 and Day 3

Well, I survived my first week! I guess I did a good job because my boss told me he'd call me today with our schedule for next week. I'm already anxious about it since it seems I'll be driving all over God's green earth again! UGH! Thankfully the last two days were at a school only 10 minutes away, so it made up for the Freeport trip on Tuesday. The best part was that since it's a nearby district, I knew several of the kids and friends that work there. That made the days go by even quicker.

I'm getting the hang of getting the kids situated in their class shot. Some kids listen well and some are just in a world of their own! The kindergartners were so cute and it makes me think back to when my kids were that little. It's hard to believe they ever were; it seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Wednesday I had to go grocery shopping after getting home because we were desperately in need of just about everything. I was already exhausted when I walked in the store, and it took me longer than usual because I needed so much. Well, wouldn't it be just my luck that I get on the check-out line behind a family of what seemed like 20? AND they had about that many W.I.C. checks??? If you're not familiar with that program, it stands for Women, Infants and Children, and it's a federal program for low-income people that supplies them with "nutrition education and food." (Now before anybody jumps down my throat, I'm all for helping people, as long as the welfare system isn't being abused, and we ALL know there are MANY repeat offenders out there.) Usually these checks are for specific items with no substitutions. So, please don't think you're going to get Swiss cheese instead of the cheddar. Then the customer has to get off the line to get the correct item. And if the check is for a specific amount, like $6, it would be nice to have had that figured out before you got on line, to be considerate of everyone else waiting on line behind you, listening to your 6 screaming and crying children because they have also used up their entire supply of patience along with the rest of the store. I swear to all that is holy, I was on line for 30 minutes behind them. I told the woman behind me that if she had the chance to GO ON ANOTHER LINE. "Please, I'm too far gone, (since I already loaded 1/2 of my cart on the belt), but save yourself!!!" Several times the total would be at $5.55 and the man would go off into the store for something to reach the $6 limit.  I was ready to climb into the stroller already crammed with 2 of their kids and cry myself. I was D-O-N-E!!! Even if they had left the kids at home with one of the adults would have been a vast improvement. I wasn't annoyed with the cashier, but somebody should have helped her or let her turn off her light so no one was subjected to that! grrrrrrrr.....

So Wednesday night I was thankful to not have to leave the house again for anything. Yesterday was a good day because I think I'm getting a real grasp of the system they use and am needing a lot less help to get things done. The 3 people I work with all have the same sense of humor as me, so that helps keep the day "light and airy." At dance last night, I saw my friend who is my boss' wife/owner of the studio and she said he's not one for compliments but he was speaking very highly of me, unless he feels obligated to because I'm her friend!

Would you believe when I got home yesterday my husband left a note on the fridge that someone called. It said "Jeanette from the bus company called and asked if I was still interested in being a bus monitor." Are you kidding me? Couldn't they have called 2 weeks ago? I had to think it over, listing all of the pros and cons... I'm driving around a lot, but going to different places keeps things a bit fresh and interesting. I'd have to work 5 days/week as a monitor and this job is only 2 or 3 days a week. There's a few months of no work in the winter with the studio, but the bus monitor is off over the summer. I'd rather not drive all those miles in the snow AND I already have a trip planned in January that I know won't conflict with work... and then how do you tell somebody after a week you found another job, and a FRIEND that offered me the job, at that??!!?? Feast or famine... thankful to have been in this predicament, though.

Today I'm hitting the gym. I went last night for the 1st time since last Friday. I haven't ran since last Thursday and I need to work on that since I have the 5k in the city on 11/3! Speaking of running, look what came in the mail the other day!!



My Diva Half photo! I'm holding my tiara and sweat mop in one hand, my water bottle in the other and I have a spare sweat mop in my right pocket, so that's why I look like I have saddle bags. You can even see my gum in my mouth. I loved that group of women wearing the kilts. They were so encouraging and helped me through that last mile or two. I'm all ready and registered for next year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day One

It started out fine. I didn't over sleep, got the kids off to school like I normally do. Then at about 6:45am I got ready to get myself out the door. I had to be at the elementary school at 9am, so I left at 7:30 to give myself AMPLE time to make it, in case of traffic or getting lost. Well, there was some traffic, and I did get lost. Thankfully my husband drove for a living for almost 19 years, so our cars are stocked with Nassau and Suffolk County maps, as well as a Manhattan map, not that I'll ever drive THERE.

I navigated the highways with no problem, even when it looked like the cover to someone's BBQ came flying at me while doing 60 MPH. Thank GOD it went under my car. I had a mini heart attack right then, but I managed to keep it together and drive on. The worst part of the trip was in the actual town that the school was in. I don't have a GPS, so when I printed out the directions off of Google maps, I didn't realize there wasn't a specific number for one of the exits. Well, what was a 30 minute cushion became a 5 minute deficit. I called my boss to let him know I was lost, what street I was on and that I hoped to see him within 5 minutes. What a wonderful first impression!

So then it was time to learn the ins and outs of taking class pictures with kids ranging in age from 5 to 9. The toughest part of this job? The frickin' kids don't listen! OR, they CAN'T because many of them have a difficult time speaking English! I'd say the population was 80% Spanish. I didn't realize I'd be brushing up on my foreign language with this job! AND, I always thought I was a loud mouth, but get a gym full of rambunctious 7 year olds and the 5' tall woman can't get anyone's attention.

It was exhausting, both mentally and physically. I swear I am in more pain right now than I was after my half. When you're running for 2 1/2 hours, you're moving. This was a lot of herding kids to individual photographer's lines, getting them in height order from tallest to shortest, setting them up on the risers, standing around for the next class to come in. I think my joints took the brunt of the effort today and my muscles were what hurt after the run. I just want to crawl in bed right now (7:30pm) and go to sleep, but my son is at jazz band until 9pm, and Dad's at work, so I need a vat o'coffee, STAT!

To top the day off, we were breaking down all of the equipment and when I was folding up one of the light stands it slid shut and caught my thumb, giving me the biggest blood blister I've ever seen. It started gushing immediately, so I had to head off to the bathroom for something to stop the bleeding. So, I started and ended the day off with a bang. Surprisingly, he wants me to come back tomorrow and Thursday. I guess he really did appreciate my nice penmanship! Thank God in heaven I only have to drive about 10 minutes to get to this school the next two days!!!

I was gone until 4:30pm and my kids were already home a few hours. When I got in the kitchen, this was waiting for me on the fridge:

He has "the handwritin' of a serial killer." Quick, what movie???
 
I had called Charlie when I got to the school to let him know I had made it, finally. I was a little bit upset because I was not early like I had planned to be and now I was starting off on the wrong foot. He tried to talk me down a bit but I was just SO annoyed. He was still home since he goes into work late today, so he left me this. When I got home and thanked him for the note, we discussed what happened this morning and he thought I was crying. I wasn't THAT upset. If I had been out circling the town another 5 minutes and STILL hadn't found the school, THEN maybe I would've been crying.


Pray for me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Working It Out

So after posting on Facebook that I was upset I did not get the job that I applied for, my friend from way back in high school messaged me. Her and her husband have a photography business, going all over Long Island taking student portrait shots for their school pictures. They are growing their business and wanted to know if I would like to jump on board with them and help as a photographer. Now, the camera, backdrop and lighting will be set up completely for me so all I have to learn how to do immediately is adjust the zoom to crop the picture and center the subject. I was REALLY apprehensive about taking on the task, but they assured me, no photography experience will be necessary. (I guess my habit of over sharing has paid off, no?)

I went on Friday afternoon to their studio to discuss the job and the need to just be quick, organized and efficient to get through 500 kids in the time period allotted for picture taking. The pay is really good, but the downside is that they have a slow season, which is January, February and March. I might work a little, a day here and there, but for the most part, I'll be home. Since I'm not earning any money right now, any income will be a good thing. (And since "they" are calling for a terrible winter, I may appreciate being home and NOT having to drive in the inclement weather!)

Tomorrow is my first day. I'm so nervous! They are starting me out with taking the class pictures, so I'll have to situate everybody, tallest in the back, shortest in the front... I hope I don't offend anybody. Again, everything will be set up for me, but I will have to learn how to do it for myself. I'm also a bit anxious because I have to drive west about an hour from my house on highways I've never been on. Of course I'll give myself an extra half an hour to account for traffic and wrong turns. It might be a good time for us to finally join AAA! Thankfully, Wednesday and Thursday we're at an elementary school that's only 10 minutes away.

I hope it all works out. Not having any money is pretty stressful. It seems when it rains it pours, since I had to charge our recent home heating oil delivery (my savings has been depleted and my husband didn't have a chance to transfer money to the checking account), my husband's car was in the shop for breaks and inspection AND I finally booked our flights to and from Miami for our Ragnar Relay trip in January!!! That bill will be a heart stopper!! Then there's Christmas and the actual trip expenses like hotels and meals just a week after Christmas...

Now I'm concerned about not being home and a change in my very regular routine. I have to figure out when I'm going to squeeze in my workouts and runs... Thank goodness it's now fall and I don't have to contend with scheduling runs around the intense heat, yet. Maybe I'll be able to go to the gym in between my kids leaving for school and the time I need to start work, if the school is local. I definitely won't have that time tomorrow. I never really had to juggle all of this before! How do YOU all do it?

And guess what I did this morning? I registered for NEXT year's Diva Half Marathon! It was only a week ago, but if you register early, you save $15, so it cost $65.30 (with the $5.30 registration fee). I really enjoyed it, so I knew I was doing it again, why not spend as little as I possibly can to do it?










Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jackpot!!!

The past two days I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! First off, my friend Gigi over at Running On Candy sent me an awesome '13.1' sticker for my car! I saw the picture of her sticker that she posted on Facebook and innocently commented that I loved it, and she asked if I would like one! Heck yeah! It was perfect to commemorate the Diva Half Marathon!

How frickin' adorable is that?

Now I will smile every time I put gas in my car!! She even sent me a black '13.1' that I think I'll save for Charlie when he runs his first half! Thanks Gigi! Go check out her blog- she's a fellow Islander!

So, getting that in the mail on Thursday made my day, but then it got even BETTER! I found out from Suzy at HAPPY WITH 13.1 that I won her One Happy Stamper giveaway! This is the first giveaway I've won from all of the blogs I follow, and it couldn't have been more perfect timing or a more fitting win! It's a beautiful half marathon washer necklace on a pink suede cord. Since running the Diva Half Marathon on Sunday, I can now wear this necklace proudly! "I'm only half crazy!" (for now...).

Source: One Happy Stamper- Visit Missy's site on Facebook for more beautiful selections!

I can not wait to get that in the mail and I'll post more pictures when I receive it! So, I got some more bedazzling for my car and my neck and then I went to the library to print out my race certificate to frame for my home! A really nice perk from Sport Photo, the professional photographers that worked the Diva Half, is a complimentary race certificate. I went to the library to use their color printer 1). since it's free and 2). I have no ink in my printer anyway! Now I just have to frame it!

Can't ever lie about my time now!!

I bought one of the photos from the race. Of course I can't share the proofs since they have that security thingy on them, but I'll share the picture when it comes. I love that Diva had a photo-op right after the tiara and boa station to get a "fun photo" and they also had finish photos. I chose a fun photo since my finish photos were way too serious (I mean, I don't look like I'm going to out and out DIE, but close to it!) and the time on the clock is the gun time, not my chip time. It was something like 2:33:41, and that's not my time, dang it! Now, if they could somehow digitally superimpose the correct time in there, I might have gotten one... But I spent $20 on one 5x7, so I think that's sufficient!

If that weren't enough, to end a phenomenal week that started with my half marathon goal met, I received my House Party Planters NUT-rition Peanut Butter Everyday Adventures kit! I don't know how I found House Party, but it's a FREE service that companies use to help promote their products and get people to try them! You go on their site, look at all of the parties being offered, and apply to host one. I've hosted a Tapena Wine tapas party and a Zatarain's Mardis Gras party, so far. This kit came with 6 jars of the peanut butter spread, 2 each of the cinnamon raisin granola, banana nut granola and the berry nut. I'm so excited to try them because I haven't found them in any stores near me yet! I'll be sharing these with my family one Sunday at my parents' house for Sunday rolls and bagels.

The party kit also came with 13 water bottles as guest party favors, 3 spreaders, a Mr. Peanut statue and costume for funny photo ops.

So even though my big day of the half marathon is over, the week was not at all depressing and filled with "the party's over" blahs. I'll be waiting at the mail box looking forward to my necklace and race picture coming, I have a job possibility (I'll discuss that soon) and I have to train for The Dash To The Finish Line 5k I'm running with Jen and Katie on 11/3. I need to pick my speed back up so I can keep up with those girls!!

Just a reminder: If you haven't had a chance to go over to our new fundraising site, Indiegogo, we only have 11 more days to meet our goal! But, the great thing about this site is the project gets to keep whatever funds are raised (minus all of the site's fees), so we will have some funding and you WILL get the reward you pledged for!! $25 gets you a special edition DVD! You all want to see how this story ends, right??? We greatly appreciate any help we can get. If you have already pledged, THANK YOU!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back To "Normal"

Monday I pretty much walked around like all of those people in the video "The Day After The Marathon" that I posted the other day. Climbing up the stairs was painful, but going down was pretty much torture. Of course my bedroom (and computer) are upstairs and the washer and dryer are downstairs in the basement. I took it very easy that day and with the advice of Rik I decided to try some yoga. (Here it is again, in case you missed it! I can watch it over and over...)



Probably the best perk with our cable company is the "On Demand" feature. I can watch the shows that are offered whenever is convenient for me. It doesn't include everything, but it's better that paying $10 MORE a month for a DVR.  There's also plenty of extra programming to choose from, including many fitness shows. I got to try out Bethenny Frankel's Skinny Girl yoga. It was about 22 minutes and it was tough since I haven't done yoga in a very long time AND I was sore. But it definitely helped work out some of the kinks in my quads and by Tuesday I was almost back to normal. Yesterday I didn't even FEEL like I ran 13.1 miles on Sunday. It even seems like it was a month ago or like it didn't even happen! Thankfully I have the medal and photos to prove it did!

On Tuesday I went to the gym and did 30 minutes on the arc trainer, but at an easier pace and intensity than I usually do. Yesterday, however, I hit the arc trainer for 45 minutes, getting in the distance I normally do in that time and then walked for 15 minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 mph on an incline. I'm thinking I'm going to go for a 3 mile run today. The weather is perfect outside. Since I'm such a sweater, the cooler temperatures make running outside a lot more tolerable!

There's been some new developments with our From Fat To Finish Line team. Our Runner #4,  Mary, has announced she's expecting! She hasn't given out details about her due date, but I guess running 3 legs of a 200 mile relay race in 36 hours in southern Florida just might be a little too much for any woman just about anywhere in her pregnancy, so she has had to remove herself from the team. Carly, from Carly Shrinks, will now be our 12th runner! You may remember her from her guest post over on Katie's blog. We're very excited for Mary on this new adventure in her life, and we'll miss her in January, but we're also looking forward to you all learning about Carly's inspiring story, as well.

We're less than 3 months away from the culmination of this story and I booked my airline tickets on Tuesday!! So, we've got our travel arrangements pretty much locked down. Hotel rooms and air travel are done. We just have to figure out how Charlie will be getting from Miami to Key West on Saturday, the day of the big finish. I hope you all are pledging over at our Indiegogo fundraising site so can you reserve your copy of the DVD! I know what the portions of my individual story will be like, but I'm SO looking forward to seeing my teammates stories unfold, as well as have our team's first meeting and running this amazing race forever on film.

Monday, October 8, 2012

One For The Record Books...

It's Monday, October 8th. I am alive, and I'm kind of riding a sweet little high. I was extremely anxious about my half marathon all day Saturday. Even though I had that great chat with Rik, I was still concerned about the unknown. Would the little pain in my left ass cheek cause problems during the race? Would I get the grippers during the run? Would my calves lock up on me and make it impossible for me to finish my race? Would I overheat and get dizzy and nauseous after my run which would make the hour drive home a living hell? Once my husband got home from work, I started to feel a little calmer. He always makes me feel more safe and secure in any situation. Watching a 'Lord of the Rings' marathon helped get my mind off things, too.

I tried to go to sleep early, but my mind was racing a bit. I read my book for a while, put 'The Holiday' DVD on and dozed off. I was up just about every hour to empty my damn bladder since I was really pushing the fluids all day. If it weren't for that, I think I would have slept okay. I was up before my alarm at about 4:45am. I felt pretty calm, considering how I felt the day before. I got on the computer after making my vat o'coffee and checked Facebook. All of my friends and family were great with their encouraging comments. It does help knowing ALL of those people are thinking about you and wishing you well when you're in the thick of it! I ate half of a red velvet muffin the size of my head and brought along a huge protein bar to nibble on in the couple of hours I still had before the race. We left the house around 5:35am, and wouldn't you know it, the damn tire pressure light was on?!? Son of a bitch!!

So, now we have to stop at the gas station to put air in the tires and hope to God we make it the almost hour drive on 3 parkways to the race start before the park closed their parking lots and then have to go to the local hotel to park. Thankfully, the tire held up and we made it in plenty of time. I had horrific scenes playing out in my head of us on the side of the road with a flat, missing the race, or God forbid, having a blow-out in the middle of the Southern State Parkway and the unthinkable happening. We parked and walked the half a mile to the start line and wait.

my corral

Waiting is the worst! I made 2 trips to the potty to make sure I was empty. I knew there were going to be bathrooms along the way, and if I needed one, I wasn't going to hesitate to stop. At about 7:55am, Charlie gave me a kiss and headed off to the start line to see me begin this adventure. I got choked up a little watching him walk away, leaving me on my own! It was a slow start with all of the corrals in front of my 11:00-12:00 pace group. A lot of women just ignore this and wind up in everyone's way. That is just not very nice race etiquette. It's also not nice to stop about 50 feet passed the start line to stretch, right on the side of the course. Get off and get on the grass! I almost plowed a woman over and I would have been PISSED if I got hurt from that!

51* start. I wore mittens until my hands were pruney, then I took them off. I liked my hand-held bottle since I knew I would have my Gatorade, even though there were 8 hydration stations.

I had the big dream of finishing my first half in under 2:30, but my main focus was to finish 13.1 miles strong without falling apart before OR after the finish line. My first 6 miles were great. I was actually running 6 minutes ahead of schedule. It felt great to have a nice cushion to fall back on. I actually wrote out on a tiny piece of paper where I should be with my time, mile by mile, along with the percentage of the 13.1 miles I completed. There's actually a temporary tattoo that can be made with your projected splits that you can rub on your forearm and have it handy to keep track of your numbers. That would be a nice thing to do for next time. I also wrote on the course map all of those projected numbers for Charlie to find me at various viewing spots.

Here I'm running with Lynda and Dawn in their pink tutus.

Some time after mile 5,  I actually spotted my girlfriends Dawn and Lynda just ahead of me! This was Dawn's 1st half as well and I was so inspired to see how hard she was pushing herself. I ran with them for a couple of miles, but after about mile 8, I needed to start taking some walk breaks. I felt good with my decision to walk a bit since my original plan was to walk a bit after every mile, and I hadn't needed to do that. I saw Charlie at several different spots and it felt so good knowing he was knocking himself out to zig-zag across the course to find me and cheer me on! He even managed to find a kids coloring book on the ground, borrowed a pen and made me a sign. Unfortunately it was pretty small, so I had to ask him what it said as I ran past! That made me laugh and gave me a much needed boost.

He has "the handwriting of a serial killer."

There were some hills in the form of overpasses that I wasn't expecting. The course was described as "flat and fast." It should have been "nearly flat." I have to say that running on the asphalt as opposed to the concrete sidewalks with all the ups and downs WAS a lot easier. That might have been the difference in how I felt and why I seemed to not hit the infamous "wall." I had rough moments when I thought my calf would lock up on me, but I just slowed it down even more and got through it. Charlie found me at about 12.5 miles and started to run with me towards the finish line. I loved him being there, but I was afraid he was going to stay with me and not be at the finish line, waiting. He only ran with me about a tenth of a mile and peeled off to get to the finish before me. I just thought he was so sweet to do that since he still had a blister on his foot from our 11 miler the week before.

I looked down at my Garmin and I was approaching 2:29 with about a tenth of a mile to go. I was pumped to see I could actually achieve my goal of coming in under 2:30! As I was coming into the finish line I looked up at the time clock and it said 2:32-something, but I was hoping that was the gun time and not my chip time. I pretty much knew this since it took so long to actually get to the start, but even if it weren't the case, I wasn't disappointed. Could I have pushed myself a bit harder the last 5 miles. Yes. Am I sorry I didn't? No, because I was able to finish that run strong and not collapse after the finish line, needing medical assistance. Nor did I poop my pants. (I SO wanted to yell "THANK YOU ROB THOMAS!" at the finish line, but I forgot all about that!) Oh, and of course I forgot to stop my Garmin!

The finish line was very disappointing. I had envisioned Charlie waiting for me with arms wide open, waiting for me to jump into them. Sorry. I'm a bit of a romantic. The spectators were held back by a fence and it became a real cluster f*ck right after the hunks draped your medal on you. There were several photo stations set up for finish photos with lines rambling this way and that. There was one guy in a tuxedo handing out roses and another with flutes of champagne. Then, just a couple feet beyond them was the food tent, with bagels, bananas, oatmeal cookies and Luna Bars. I grabbed what I could get to all while walking parallel with Charlie so as not to lose him. After I got my medal I teared up a bit, but the moment lost a bit having to navigate through that sea of people. I couldn't even digest it all by myself! There was no where to stop and let it all sink in.

Charlie's on the other side of the fence!

There was finally an opening in the fence and I got to Charlie and he gave me a kiss and told me how proud he was of me. I managed to snag a glass of champagne and a ginger ale, so we toasted and shared that moment. Then we managed to find my girlfriends just a few feet away from us! They finished 1 minute ahead of me. I wish I could have kept sight of them and finished with them! We did manage to take a couple of pictures and then the weather finally made that turn and it started to drizzle, so we headed to the bathrooms for one last pit stop before driving home.

Bernadette (Lynda's friend), me, Dawn and Lynda

I changed my clothes because I didn't want to funk up my car (nor get any nasty infections!) in one of the stalls. I was soaked through, so it's always a pleasure trying to wrestle myself out of my sports tank, in an itty-bitty stall, no less. The best part was trying to get my tight yoga pants on. Every time I pointed my foot to slide it through the leg, my calf would lock up. I had to sit down to shimmy them up my leg. It seemed to take me forever. I passed on trying to contort my way into a bra so I just pulled my hoodie over my head and called it "good enough."

(My FFTFL teammate Allison shared this video with us today and it cracked me up! I SO could relate to the girl putting on her socks!)



We got to the car and I finally got to adorn my car with a '13.1' magnet! I picked out one that was tye-dyed with a blue in it that matched my funky car. I LOVE IT!!! Next, maybe a tattoo?




I can't tell you how many women commented on my From Fat To Finish Line t-shirt and would yell up to me from behind, "Linda, you're an inspiration!" A couple of times I shouted back "75 pounds!!" The spirit of encouragement and sportsmanship was running rampant on that course yesterday. It was a joy to witness it and be a part of it. I will definitely be putting the Diva Half on my race calendar again next year.

So I survived. No dizziness, nausea or grippers. My quads are pretty sore and now my left knee is clicking, but there's no pain. I'm taking it easy today and hoping the clicking will go away. Now I'm looking forward to The Dash To The Finish Line 5k with Jen and Katie on November 3rd and finally, the Ragnar Relay in less than THREE MONTHS!

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot! When I got home at 12:30 pm, the results were already posted. I finished in 2:29:51!!!!!!!!! I DID IT!!! Under 2:30. 1636/2608 women, 303/451 in my age group. I'll take it!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Anxiously Awaiting...

The nerves are really kicking it into high gear. My half marathon is less than 24 hours away and I can feel myself working up to a full fledged panic attack if I don't reign myself in. I guess it's a combination of excitement and anxiety. I just want it to go well and be a great experience.

My From fat To Finish Line captain, Rik, gave  me a call yesterday morning to walk me through all of my concerns. He went through all of the aspects of race preparedness with me, from what I am going to wear, to hydration, training history and goals. I would REALLY like to finish this half in under 2:30, but my realistic goal is to finish strong and enjoy it. Since it's my first half marathon, whatever time I come in, it's my personal best! Knowing that I have 11 miles under my belt last Sunday does help, but there's that voice in my head that says, "Ok, you did 11 miles, but you still have to run another 2.1!" So Rik asked me how I felt after the 11 miler, and I can honestly say that I had enough "in the tank" to run full out (what MY full out would be considered after 10+ miles) for the last 10th of a mile. I wasn't about to collapse or get jelly legs and need to be carried home. I also have the advantage of having trained on a course other than what would be considered flat, as well as running on unforgiving concrete sidewalks, which should make this course seem a bit "easier." So Rik has convinced me (kind of/sort of) that since I didn't die at the end of that run that I will finish 13.1.

Rik also gave me advice on what I should do before the race, meaning REST, REST and more REST. I did a little cleaning yesterday and then we went to the race expo last night. The drive was a little stressful, since it's about an hour away and we've never been to this sports complex before. I picked up my race bib, Diva t-shirt and found a great tye-dyed '13.1' magnet to put on my car after I finish the race tomorrow. I could've spent SO much more money there! I picked up a hand-held water bottle at Sports Authority as well as a Power Bar energy gel on the way to the expo. (Would you believe I spent $1 MORE at S.A. than the expo?!?) Even though Rik said that the 8 water/Gatorade stations on the course will probably be enough without having to bring my own, I want to be fully prepared. Races have run out of Gatorade and even water, so I don't want to take any chances.

 
This will be on my From Fat To Finish Line t-shirt. You could write whatever you wanted on your bib- I was less than creative!

There was a table at the expo set up with all of the pink feather boas, tiaras and the race medal for this year's Diva Half Series. I am  beyond excited to get this medal! It's FANTASTIC!!!



That's my 14 year old daughter's hand holding it! And the spot with the pink crystal? It spins and the other side has a spot for my picture!!! The crown is all sparkly... and a firefighter will be handing me a red rose, a flute of champagne and putting that around my neck in about 21 hours!

So the rest of the day I'll be spending on the couch reading Carole Radziwell's book 'What Remains.' She is now a housewife on RHONY and I think she is probably the most sane, level-headed woman on the show. I hope it doesn't twist her like it did the other cast members. If you don't know the show, she was a successful  producer for ABC news and was married to Anthony Radziwell, a fellow ABC producer and nephew to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The memoir is about her childhood, career, marriage and the loss of her husband to cancer. She also talks about losing her best friends, Anthony's cousin, JFK Jr. and his wife Carolyn, in the horrible plane crash just a month before her husband's death. I can't wait to make myself a huge cup of coffee and delve deep into the story. It really makes you realize money CAN NOT buy happiness and in the end, LIFE IS SHORT. This will be what pulls me through every step of those 13.1 miles tomorrow.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Ok, now in the grand scheme of things, I had a perfectly fine day. I was able to work out for an hour on two strong legs that are going to carry me those damn 13.1 miles on Sunday, with a pair of healthy lungs to pant a bit through that hour on the arc trainer and a heart that was pumping blood through my entire body. It started out fine.

Then for some reason I dipped into the bag of barbecue potato chips while watching The Chew, which is probably the best show on daytime television now. I really should block any shows related to food, especially both Food Network and The Travel Channel. (Frickin' Man vs. Food is a killer!) After that the switch was turned on. I scarfed down a few Mallomars with a little peanut butter, for good measure. (They really should consider making a version of those!) After that I had to take my daughter to the library to meet up with friends and stop in RiteAid for a Runescape (an online game) subscription card. Of course I remembered telling the family about the candy corn M&M's that are on the shelves now, so I picked up a big bag of them, along with a single-serve Chunky bar and pb M&M's. I ate the Chunky bar on the way home. The M&M's are still in my pocket book, calling my name as we speak.

Thank God these things are SO expensive! I'm too cheap to keep them in the house regularly.


The candy corn M&M's are weird. If you like white chocolate, you might like them. They just taste artificial, unlike REAL candy corn, ha! But I still managed to stuff down my 1/2 cup. That was after dinner, which was roast pork with rice and beans, but I ate a lot less since I was surprisingly full. (I wonder why?) I am NOT surprised that I passed out on the couch before 9 pm. I didn't get to watch the debate, which I should have to get my kids to watch it since they have assignments based on the debate. There's that new-fangled web that allows them to watch it on the computer, so that's what we'll do.

So it was a bad eating day and I can only attribute it to 2 things: 1). Stress. I'm stressed about this race coming up, about driving the hour back and forth TWICE, once to the expo for race packet pick up and once for the actual race. I'm stressed out about the weather forecast for this race since all I see is 'showers' no matter what channel or website I look on. I'm stressed out about actually RUNNING 13.1 miles and what I'm going to feel like running it IN THE RAIN! 2). My period! Which means that you can add more stress to #1, since I CERTAINLY don't need to run 13.1 miles in the rain after driving back and forth to Nassau a few times WITH my period! I can see a few visits to the "port-o-lets" in my future on Sunday! GRRR!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Long Run

Even with the soreness from Insanity, I did it. I planned on running 11 miles with the suggestion of my RR team captain, Rik, sometime this weekend before my half marathon on Sunday. Friday was definitely out because of the "insane" soreness and Saturday didn't feel right either. So, that left yesterday. I talked to my husband Saturday night and told him I was planning on doing 11 in the morning. He said he'd come with me. I called my parents and let them know I wouldn't be in church because 1). I knew I would be out there for almost 2 1/2 hours with warm-up and cool down and 2). I was going to be in no shape to sit through church, even IF I made it back in time.

We headed out at 8:30am after I dragged my feet a bit, synching and charging Charlie's iPod. I knew I was going to need music to get through this run, and I was pretty sure it couldn't hurt him, either. The furthest he ran with me was 8 miles. He might have run a lot when he was a kid, but I doubt he ever ran 11 miles total, in a ROW. I was worried for him, but we took it slow. We ran the same course, down the highway, over the bridge and to the pavilion to use the restroom. I was sort of maybe starting to tinkle in my pants on the way in there. I can't tell you HOW I could possibly have ANY urine in my bladder after peeing 3 times before I left the house and sweating as much as I do. It just doesn't seem possible.

Something different I attempted on this run was drinking the lemon-lime Gatorade that will be available at the half. Everybody recommends trying it out beforehand and not doing anything different on race day to avoid gastrointestinal issues. I don't mind peeing myself (since no one could POSSIBLY know I did), but I'll be damn sure I am not "pooping my pants."

 
 
Anyway, I cut the Gatorade in half with water to not shock my system. I think it REALLY helped, because I did not experience the cramping I had in my calf the last mile of my ten mile run last week. It could be that or the short 10-20 second break I took after each mile to wipe myself down and take a drink. I've realized it's ok to walk a bit. This is my first half. I want to finish it. It'll be a PR no matter how slow I go!
 
After the potty break, I decided to run a bit at the beach, since I knew we had to add a mile onto the course somewhere. So, there's a nature trail through the dunes at the beach and it's a nice path built with composite decking. The only drawback to the trail is that it was built over the dunes. They did not change the landscape to build the path, so it was very hilly and windy, cutting up and down and back and forth. That probably didn't help our legs at all, especially with the huge hill that is the bridge. The best part, though, was coming across a buck sitting on the side of the trail, snacking on some beach grass. He seemed unphased by us and was in the exact same spot when we came back (because the path abruptly ends!).
 
We came out of the beach and back over the bridge at about mile 7. I was feeling ok but still couldn't believe I had 4 more to go. I never went to the "woe is me," "I can't do this" place, though. I stayed positive and thought about all of my teammates who are training for an upcoming marathon. Katie and Lealah ran 20 miles on Friday. I had NOTHING to complain about! Once we get to about mile 8, we start seeing civilization again. We pass bait and tackle shops booming with fishermen, a Dunkin Donuts busy with churchgoers stopping for their Sunday breakfast... the down side of that is all of the cross streets, and the getting off and on sidewalks. Now, they're always sloped downward for bikes and strollers, but every time you get on and off the sidewalk, it's a tiny hill. Do that for 5.5 miles in each direction and it can KILL your quads! (That's the only thing bothering me today.)
 
It turns out Charlie started getting a blister somewhere between mile 7 & 8, so he started favoring that foot, which then threw his whole body out of alignment, and that started messing with his back. He would stop for breaks and catch up to me, which was NOT a difficult task seeing as I was running at pretty much a snail's pace. But with all of that we did it. 11 miles in the books and I believe I am ready for Sunday.
 
 
 
I am hoping to finish the half in under 2:30. The course should be surrounded by plenty of cheering spectators as well as booming with music from live bands. There's plenty to see, passing Museum Row and Nassau Coliseum, home of the NY Islanders, our NHL team (we're Ranger fans, though). There will be tiaras and pink feather boas handed out at mile 12 and a glass of champagne and a red rose handed to each finisher by a (hopefully) handsome firefighter, along with the bedazzled medal. After that there will be a Finish Line Dance Party to continue the celebration. I'm not sure how much partying I'll feel like doing, but it's nice to know the Divas are going all out for us! I still can't believe it's only 6 DAYS AWAY!