Saturday, July 30, 2011

Run for Blood

This morning I ran for a reason.  I ran because I wanted to support the Red Cross and their efforts toward blood donation.  I have always believed that donating blood is the right thing to do, if you are physically able to do it.  This past year I found a whole new reason to believe that its the right thing to do.  My dad had some routine surgery last December and he ended up with some complications.  Without going in to a lot of detail - because it's not really my story to tell, my dad required a lot of blood during the 3-4 months that his health was in question.  And when I say a lot, I mean a lot - I don't recall the exact number of units but it was a lot over an extended period of time.  I have read that in the US they use about 45,000 units of blood daily for various different kinds of patients.  That is a lot of blood and all of that blood comes from other people who made the decision to sit in the chair and give.  Blood can't be "created" in a lab so it has to come from us.  I had a terrible first experience donating blood in high school.  The poor girl taking my blood was not experienced with difficult veins and it showed.  They got less than a 1/4 of a bag out of me and had to throw it away and the days afterward my arm looked like I had been beaten up from bicep to wrist - it was not pretty!  Needless to say I didn't donate blood again until just a couple of years ago.  I had some good experiences with blood draw when I was pregnant with my daughters so I was encouraged to donate blood at a work blood drive.  It went well and I have been donating regularly since then.  I have even taken over the coordination of the blood drive at my work place. 

This is my dad with his granddaughters:
There are many more people just like my dad who unexpectedly needed to rely on the kindness of strangers to assist their recovery from a health matter.  My dad is doing really well today, he is at a healthy weight, he gets stronger and stronger every day and I am hoping that next year we will be running some races together!  We all know someone that has benefited from blood donation. 

I am not soliciting blood here - I just want to make sure that everyone is aware that some day the need for blood will affect you - maybe not personally, but a friend, coworker, or a loved one may need it.  In order to make sure there is an ample supply, schedule your appt today.  I personally donate at Memorial Blood Center - it's convenient for me.  But I know the Red Cross has drives often throughout the year.  You can donate blood every 56 days - so what are you waiting for?  I also realize that some people are not able to donate due to their own health issues, fear of needles, etc - that's okay, you can give in other ways.  The Red Cross is always accepting donations for their various causes.  Think about, that's all I am asking.

Today I had a great time - despite the heat and humidity - I thought of my dad throughout my run.  I thought about what could have happened if the hospital had run out of blood while he was there.  I thought about him in Montana on vacation right now, enjoying the sun and lake and while I am jealous, I am also just happy.  I am grateful for all of those people out there that gave of themselves to ensure that others would have what they need. 

I have never run a 1/4 marathon before today.  For those of you wondering what the difference is between that and a 10K I will tell you.  The 10K is 6.2 miles and the 1/4 marathon is 6.55 miles.  At first I was worried I wouldn't be able to PR (personal record) today because of the heat.  And then I remembered - I have never run a race that was 6.55 miles so regardless of what I did today it was going to be a PR and something for me to be proud of!  As it turns out I did okay - I finished in 1:09:55 (10:46 mile).  It wasn't as fast as I would have liked - but honestly the heat/humidity kicked my butt!  I think it kicked a lot of us in the butt, I was not the only one I saw taking a walk break that may not usually take one!  And the best part is - I am okay with that.  I am not disappointed that I had to walk a bit, there are times when the elements are so drastic that you just have to do what you have do to in order to finish.  Today that is exactly what I did.  I finished, I finished hard and I am proud of myself.  I ran for a purpose today and it felt good!

For the first time ever at the end of a race I got a medal!  A bright, shiny Finishers Medal.  It was hard, it was tough, but I would do it all over again!  Here's one last picture - me with my medal! This one was for you Dad!  I love you and am so happy to have you in my life! - Memorial Blood Centers website - Red Cross Blood Donation site

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Checking In!

I have not melted yet...Mother Nature gave it her best shot this week but I am still here.  This past week or so has been pretty crazy with work, the family and running - and attempting not to melt!  I am officially on vacation from work until August 1st and am looking forward to some quality family time.  My nephew is here visiting from Washington so we plan to soak up as much time together as we can - his stay always feels too short!  He, however has grown a foot since the last time I saw him - he's going to be a tall kid!!!! 

I got some crazy awesome news yesterday!  I was selected in the lottery for the Medtronic TC 10 Mile race on October 2nd.  I am so excited.  This is going to be a great next step for me in my running journey.  I really wanted to get in to this particular race, it's a big one around here and the whole weekend is cool because it all leads up to the TC Marathon.  I am sure there will be inspiring and amazing people every where I look that day - I can't wait!  I had already started amping up my mileage in anticipation of running a 10 mile this fall - but now it is time to get serious.  I am also planning to run a half marathon at the end of October so this 10 mile will be a great test for that race!  The best news of all is that not only did I get in but so did many of my close friends - it will be so great to be at the start with familiar faces! 

I went for a great early morning run today with Alexa and Jen.  It was really humid and muggy this morning.  We took it slow and hammered out 7.1 miles doing some 5:1s and I feel great.  We ran Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun today - despite the heat it was a popular place this morning!  It is really fun to know that I live in an area that fitness and health are such a priority to people - and I am finally one of them!  The skies let loose on my way home, so we finished our run with perfect timing!

Alexa, Jen and I after our run this morning!
I am happy to say that my weight has stayed relatively the same - I have gained a little and lost a little over the last few weeks - but that is exactly what maintenance should be about, right?  I really love that I am not stressed over the scale anymore - it's more about the feeling I have each day.  I am still aware of the scale because I continue to go to Weight Watchers Meetings but I am not obsessed with it - and that is a feeling I relish.  It took me a long time to get here and I hope its not hard to stay here. 

I have a few blog post ideas brewing in my head and have notes jotted down in my new trusty "blog ideas" notebook.  I am going to unplug for a few days while I am with my family but I intend on coming back from vacation ready to blog and continue to invest in my healthiness. 

Have a great, happy and healthy weekend my friends!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Minor face lift and a DOMAIN!

No, the face lift is not for me - it's the BLOG!  I have purchased my very own domain and attempted to spruce up the place just a little bit.  I want to do a complete face lift but just don't have the time right now. 

I am super excited that I purchased my very own domain name last week and have gone live with it as of this morning.  If you have my other address saved somewhere it should redirect and since I am still being hosted at Blogger I don't think you need to change your reader, I think. 

So, here it is, my new home:

I have also changed my Twitter handle to @merunningfree.   If you follow me at Twitter I am going to send a tweet out and will be asking for RT so as not to lose anyone! 

I decided to change the blog name to go along with the new theme of the blog.  When I started running in January I simply started as a means to facilitate weight loss.  It has really become so much more than that to me.  I have really grown to love running!  (in a million years never thought I would say that and actually mean it!)  Running has become something that helps me clear my mind, focus on me for the duration of my run and spur me to continue to make the right choices for my health.  I feel so accomplished after every run - regardless of the distance or time that I have run.  It feels good and it makes me feel strong. 

I have really enjoyed participating in races also.  The races have really kept me focused on training and keeping the momentum.  And if I am being completely honest - I like the challenge to myself to go farther and faster. 

Please stick around and keep me company as I continue to run and train.  I have officially thrown my hat in the ring for the Twin Cities 10 Mile race on October 2nd - we will find out next Friday July 22nd if we got in - fingers crossed.  If I am not lucky enough this time around I will be doing the Women Run the Cities 10 Mile on Sept 25th instead.  I have also decided that I am going to attempt to run my first half marathon at the Monster Dash Half at the end of October.  I am pretty sure all of this means that I have completely lost my mind.  But I am loving every minute of it!

Thank you to all who have supported me through this journey!  I look forward to continuing to share with you - now at my very own little blog home!

Be happy and healthy friends!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It Ain't Easy...

So, I have been thinking lately that I need to talk more about the tough stuff.  Then, this week a couple of blogs that I read actually had similar topics so I took it as a sign that I needed to get this all out of my head and just hit publish already!

If you have been reading my blog since I joined Weight Watchers and started losing weight you may have the wrong impression about my weight loss journey.  I have lost 70 pounds.  I have lost 70 pounds in 9 months.  It was the longest 9 months of my life.  Yes, even longer than the 9 months that I was pregnant with both of my girls.  I think I have given a false impression that this journey wasn't so bad.  I wrote a lot about the successes I was having but not as much about the bad days and the struggles that I have had.  I guess I think part of the reason for that was I didn't really want to admit the bad days and the struggles - so if I didn't write about them they didn't exist, that's logical right?  Or I just wanted to focus on the good stuff and celebrate and be happy!

So here it is - a list of a few of the things that I learned/feared over the last nine months.  Some of it is fluff but some of this is very real to me and still nags at me today.  Even today, at a comfortable weight I struggle. 

  • I want to eat candy.  I don't care that I know its bad for me.  I like it and I want to eat it.  So I do.  Not every day, but probably more than I should.
  • I don't always want to make the "right" decisions.  Some days I would like to say "screw the PointsPlus system" I just want to have a piece of pizza and not worry about it.  And I have. 
  • I drink Diet Mountain Dew.  Every day.  I have cut back to one a day.  Sometimes two if it's a bad day.  I like my Diet Mtn Dew and I don't think I want to quit having it.  I have not made a final decision on this one yet.  (I drink a ton of water as well - just an FYI!)
  • I feel guilty.  A lot.  I feel guilty when I leave my house (and kids, husband) to go running.  I have started running in the early AM and that has helped because I am not missing out on as much family time.  But, the nagging guilt of taking time away from family to get my running/work out in is always there. 
  • I wonder and question myself a lot about whether or not I can maintain this lifestyle.  I want to, but I doubt myself more than I like to admit. 
  • I often feel like people are judging me.  Even when ordering a sandwich at Subway, I have this weird sense that people are judging what I pick to eat.  I don't know why I think that, but I do. 
  • I like frozen yogurt.  No, I LOVE frozen yogurt.  And I eat it a couple of times a week.  And sometimes I have a larger portion than the stated portion size on the container.  And I even throw a few chocolate chips on it on occasion.
  • I get irritated knowing that I will always have to watch what I eat and will always have to exercise to keep my weight normal.  Knowing I will never be able to "eat whatever I want" sucks - even though many of the foods that fall in to that category aren't things I like to eat anymore anyway.  Irrational, yes I know.
  • I still see the old me in the mirror staring back at me all of the time.  She is a constant reminder of what I let myself get to. But, some days she is also a motivator to make sure I never go back there.  I guess it depends on where my head is at that day. 
  • I am afraid of failing.  I am scared that one day I will wake up and I will be overweight again.  I am afraid that my 3.5 year old won't be able to say "my momma is healthy and a runner" anymore.  Seriously, she says that, makes me so proud.
I think I will do another post some day soon that is the opposite of that list.  Because even though I have fears and I struggle - the positives are far greater on a daily basis.  But, the point here is this.  I am human, I eat healthful food (most of the time) but I do enjoy a cup of frozen yogurt (Garden Salsa Sunchips, Swedish Fish, cookie, you name it) every once in awhile.  I also like getting out in the morning and logging some running miles.  And a nice rest day is also a welcome occurrence.  I guess that is what they call balance, huh!  I am starting to figure this stuff out but I also have days when I feel like I have learned nothing.  Fortunately, I am able to snap out of it most of the time and remember what I am fighting for. 

Do you have those days?  You know the ones where you know exactly what you need to do but you just don't care?  What do you do to steer the ship in the right direction?  How do you remind yourself that it's worth it, that YOU are worth it?