Race Review: The Run For Sponge 5k, 9/23/17

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Fall running season is here! Usually, in upstate New York, that means cool, crisp weather. However, we’ve had a wacky weather Summer followed by a Fall heat wave. What this meant was that race day temperatures hovered in the upper 80s! I would rather run in the cold (even with my Raynauds issue) than the heat any day. However, once I pay for a race, I’m all in. So, with that mindset, I headed the hour and ten minutes away to North Tonawanda, New York (past Buffalo, near Niagara Falls) for this race.

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This race was part of a three day Sponge Candy Festival. I love all candy, but did not realize what a big deal this candy is around here. Sponge Candy comes in all flavors – dark chocolate, milk chocolate – even peanut butter. This event was meant to celebrate that and, more importantly, raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

The race started at 4:30 pm. I arrived at 3 pm. The candy shop was located in the Wurlitzer Building, a famous building from the 1900s that used to be an organ factory. The candy shop included an ice cream area where you could also buy baked goods and other food. The candy shop was extensive with all sorts of goodies. Everything was decorated for fall, and it was all adorable. You could even see inside where they make the candy. They were generous with the samples – candy, flavored popcorn and special deals on candy apples.

 

 


I headed inside and got my bib. With your race entry, you got a raffle ticket to enter a raffle for a gift basket. Sadly, I did not win that. You could also buy tickets for other baskets being raffled off. They were all very nice – and included everything from gift certificates to wine to Sabres tickets and much more. It was extremely hot outside, so I hung out inside as long as I could. Outside, they had different vendor tables set up, as well as tables where you could buy food- hot dogs, hamburgers – even chowder soup. It was too hot for me to get soup, although it smelled great (and was only $1).

 

 

Around 4:20, we started heading towards the starting area. The certified course was in neighborhoods – with quite a few turns and some sections on the road and a small part where you had to run on the sidewalk. At 4:30, the siren sounded and we were off! There was no national anthem or announcements prior to the race start.

IMG_9761Before the race, I somehow lost my headphones. I was hoping music would distract me, but that option was gone. I knew I would be slow due to the heat and my weight gain. My main goal – as always – was to do the best I could – and never stop on the course. Thankfully, there were shady spots along the course. I just kept telling myself to run to the shade. Many people did the walk run strategy. I never did that – I just kept my pace. They did not have anyone calling out mile times – bummer. I like when they have signs letting you know where you are. There were people on the course with sprinklers and hoses, but I was too afraid of getting my phone wet to run through.

 

 

I won’t lie – this was a challenging race. It’s hard enough to run when you’re overweight, let alone when it’s 88 degrees out. The race seemed to last forever, especially the last mile. They had people along the course and one water stop – which I believe was around mile 2. I usually try to step it up that last mile, but I really could only muster up stepping it up the last 1/4 mile heading to the finish. I ended up finishing in 35:40 (134 out of 252 people, 9 out of 17 in my age group, 89/182 gender group) – a 11:30 min pace – ugh. But, it was hot and I’m heavy, so I can’t really expect much more. And actually, I’m cool with that number. It could have been way worse.

 

 

After the race, you got a bag of sponge candy. I also sampled some of the flavors – so yummy! They also had bananas, apples, yogurt, protein bars and even a veggie tray. You also got a tshirt with race registration. I hung around for the awards ceremony and raffle drawings. After that, I headed out.

 

 

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Overall, this was a nice race. The setting is great – the shop is fun, the festival is clever and I love the theme. The course is decent – I like that it was flat. I would love if they added mile markers. There were also a few times that cars came a bit too close for comfort, but I know that can be hard to control.

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Pre and post race activities and amenities were good. They had porta potties outside and one real bathroom inside. Parking was easy and ample – right on site. Hopefully, next year won’t be as warm. I’m guessing some people dropped out due to the extreme conditions. A bug kudos to everyone who completed this. Even if you were a thin, fast runner, this type of weather is still a challenge to run in.

My next race will be a Halloween themed one. I just thought of my costume idea today (not to be revealed yet lol). Here’s hoping for more seasonable weather! Until then, see you on the roads!

Time: 4:30 PM
Weather: Sunny, upper 80s, not windy
Location: Platter’s Chocolates
Wurlitzer Building
908 Niagara Falls Blvd
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
Results:  It’s Your Race
Amenities: 
Parking (ample, on site), Multiple porta potties 
Waterstops: one 
More Info:  Webpage
Facebook: Event page
Press/Photos: Buffalo News Slideshow

 

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J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, 7/11/17, Rochester, NY

The J.P.Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge is “an annual series of 3.5-mile road footraces with an intended focus on promoting fitness, camaraderie and team work to employees of local businesses and organizations.” I couldn’t run it last year because I was too heavy. I only walked it. I’m not a fan of walking races at all – super boring, not a great workout and not a challenge. Fortunately, I finally got my act together and lost weight so I could run again. I’ve been running since last June.

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New this year was a complete change in venue. For years, the race has been held at the Rochester Institute of Technology in May. For some reason, they decided to change the venue to Frontier Field in downtown Rochester. They also changed the date to July. I wasn’t thrilled about the change because 1) running at night in mid summer can be difficult (humid/hot), and 2) the new venue meant my company would not have a tent (no food, water, mingling, etc. ) But, I wanted to do the race to prove to myself how far I’ve come since last year when I weighed over 200 lbs at this time. I haven’t lost any weight in 2017 (I’ve actually gained a bit since the New Year), but I have maintained a loss of 100 lbs (give or take, as I am not sure exactly what I weigh right now).

 

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The day of the race was humid – just as I had feared. We headed to Monroe Community College for the shuttle. It took an hour to get from the campus to the race site! The sun was beating down, and honestly, I felt like I had a workout already – sweating in that old school bus. Yuck.

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Once we got to Frontier Field, we were able to get some water (outside the venue – no outside food or drink allowed inside) and use the porta potties. We took some pre-race photos and then headed to the starting line. People wore different colored bibs based on their predicted pace. In previous years, they had signs indicating your pace – runners up front, walkers in the back. I didn’t see signs this year – just volunteers trying to keep people lined up according to bib color.

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I was close enough to the front to actually hear the pre-race speeches and National Anthem. The fastest runners took off at 6:45, and the rest of us followed. It took less than 2 minutes to get the to starting mat, a big contrast to the ten minutes in years past. This was largely in part due to fewer participants – closer to 8k. At RIT, over 10k used to run this race.

startinglineThe weather was sunny, hot and humid – 80s with over 65% humidity and no breeze (for the most part). I was warm within minutes. The course had downhill and uphill parts. There was very little shade – mainly under the bridges. I was able to maintain a decent pace and not waste too much energy weaving around people. I liked that the course was scenic, with views of Rochester and the water. There was a mile marker at mile one and a few water stops along the course. I did think that it was a BAD idea to give out water bottles instead of cups of water at the stops. It was a big waste as people only took a sip and also a dangerous hazard in the road you could trip over.

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By the time I got to mile 2, I was really ready to stop. But, I kept going and eventually saw the marker for mile 3 and then FINALLY the home stretch. The final part was the same route you take for the Rochester half marathon. I tried to pick up the pace for the last section the best I could. I ended up finishing in 37.07, a 10:36 min mile pace. Slow, but I will take it – all things considered (weight/heat/crowds).

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Only 5 of my coworkers (out of 36) participated. I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t trying to earn points for a running plaque, I would have passed on this one too.

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Our company team. Go team Oldcastle! #RochesterRecruitingOffice

That being said, the cool thing about this race is that it’s probably the largest race you’ll do. You are running alongside thousands of people. It’s very cool to see the throngs of people and be a part of that. However, if you don’t like crowds or are claustrophobic, that can be an issue. I like to run in my own pocket of space, but obviously at an event this big, it’s just not possible. I like seeing the wave of people. I just have to remind myself to conserve energy and not waste time weaving around people. Some walk, some start running at a pace too fast for them, etc… It’s all about the experience and not the time you get – so that’s fine.

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After the race, I walked underneath a huge misting fan – heavenly – and then went and got my t-shirt (redeemable via a tear off portion of your bib) and grabbed a banana. We then headed inside Frontier field where you could buy food and drink. Other companies paid for a spot inside the stadium. They also had a band playing on the field. It was awkward not having a space to hang out. And, even if you did, a stadium of seats certainly doesn’t make mingling or seeing the other companies easy. The whole point of the race is to have fun with your coworkers and see other local companies as well. This venue is not the place to do that! I heard many similar complaints. I’m not surprised they had lower numbers. Running a race mid summer is not fun for the casual runner. In addition, school districts are on break and people go on vacation. So, a big thumbs down for all that.

The shuttles to head back to MCC started at 8:30. The return trip was much quicker and cooler. All and all, I was glad I did the race – because I was unable to run it last year due to my weight. However, they definitely should reevaluate whether this is the right venue and date for this race. As for me, I don’t plan to run a race again until it’s cooler out (hello Fall!) and I’ve lost more weight. Until then – see you on the roads!

Time: 6:45 pm
Weather: 80s, sunny and humid
Location: Rochester, NY (Frontier Field)
Course:  3.5 miles – flat with some uphill & downhill parts, around the city 
Results:
2017
Press (includes slide show and video from race) Democrat & Chronicle
Amenities:
water bottles, bananas, shuttle service, porta potties
Waterstops: two
More Info: Rochester Race Website

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Earth Day 5k Baldwinsville, NY 4/23/17

IMG_5193Celebrating Earth Day by running outside seemed very fitting. Even though Syracuse is about an hour and a half from my house, this race looked appealing. For starters, the race has a unique start, beginning on a farm at a greenhouse. Not only that, even the 5k finishers get a medal (unusual for a 5k) and a Norway Spruce seedling to plant (awwww!) as well as a wicking shirt. In addition, the post race party included food and music.

The race was described in an email as “an event to celebrate giving, celebrate running, celebrate you and celebrate the wonders of nature and this nearly perfect planet we call Earth.”

Although this event included a half marathon as well, my review only includes details on the 5k, since I ran that and am able to describe that in detail first hand. You can find more information about the half marathon on the race web page (link at bottom of this post). The only detail I will mention half marathon related is about Swedish Fish. I read that Swedish fish were made available to half marathon runners at a water stop. I think that is awesome! I love Swedish Fish! I remember having to eat mid race during my half marathons and I hated all that guu stuff you can buy. I would always opt for gummi bears. Of course, in a 5k you don’t need any of that. All I run with is my trusty water bottle or rely on the water stops.

Ok, back to the race. 250 people signed up for the 5k (sold out!) and over 400 for the half marathon. Weather was sunny with temperatures in the 40s at starting time.

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Packet pick up was the day before and morning of the race. There was no way I could get to the Saturday pickup, so I opted for day of. I felt a little sad about that because they mentioned that there would be a food truck and farmer’s market that day. Oh well. Anyway, I left my house at 6 am on Sunday and arrived at Emmi’s Farm Greenhouse at around 7:40. They had ample room for parking on the farm fields and there were porta potties to use on the property.

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The half marathon started at 8:30 and the 5k at 8:40. “Born to Run” (Bruuuuce…!) was played to signal to get to the starting line. After the National Anthem, we were off. I was a little concerned as to how I would do in this race. I have been participating in a Fitbit contest since April 1st. Never again! I have been running and walking and basically overexercising for 3 weeks. Due to this nonsense, I have been struggling with a few injuries as well, ranging from blisters to a right foot issue that sometimes has me limping. So, I was certainly not rested for this race. Not only that, my weight is up – and that never helps when you’re trying to step it up in a race. The only thing I can’t use as an excuse is the weather. If I could, I would have.

courseThe course was an up and back, running by a lake at one point as well as farmland. The course was flat with one very small incline part. At the halfway point, there was a giant earth ball that you ran around. The course was marked with signs designating each “k” point (1k, 2k, 3k, etc.). In the first k, that was where the 5k folks went left and the half marathon folks (who started earlier than us) went right. There was not a water stop for the 5k.  I wish there was one, as I opted to run without my water bottle, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. In addition (thankfully), even though I ran 6 miles and did over 40k steps yesterday (insane!), ate badly and slept very poorly, I felt surprisingly good running this race. I didn’t run with music either – which is a habit I am trying to keep. I ended up finishing in 30:03 minutes, a 9.41 min/mile pace- faster than I have run in years! It was good enough to get me second place in my age group! This was the first race I have run since turning 50, so that was pretty exciting! It makes turning 50 seem not so bad (at least for today).

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At the finish line, there were water bottles, cartons of chocolate milk and flat fruit bar things. You also got your medal at that point. After that, you could go listen to music, explore a variety of different vendors or use the ticket on your bib to get food. They had chicken and pulled pork, as well as your choice of cornbread or coleslaw. Yum!  I ate, walked around a bit, and then watched a few of the half marathon folks come in. I also stayed to get my gift for my age group. It was a wonderful glass cup from a brewing company with a cute bag of earth shaped candy and blue taffy. Love it! Other prizes were really nice wine bottles (including from the nearby Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge) and beer.

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The race benefited the Syracuse Rescue Mission and participants were asked to bring unwanted clothing, sneakers and purses to donate. I am still cleaning out the clutter at my house, so this was perfect timing for a little Spring cleaning.

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Overall, I thought this was a very nice race. It was a great way to celebrate Earth Day. I enjoyed the course, tshirt, medal, food, prize and people. I would recommend this race as a low key way to start off the Spring running season. It was in stark contrast to the frigid 13 degree day and 5 mile race I ran in March. My next race most likely will be the 3.5 mile Corporate Challenge in July. They are moving the location to downtown this year and they moved the date. Normally, it’s in May. I do not like running summer races, as it can be hot and humid, so we will see how it goes.

As always, thank you for reading! See you on the roads!

P.S. I saw official photographers at this race, so I will update this post with photos as they become available.

Time: 8:40 am
Weather: Sunny, 40s, not windy
Location: Emmi’s Farm, Baldwinsville, NY (near Syracuse)
Course: Up & back 
Results:  Not up yet – will post when they are

Amenities:
Parking (ample, on site), Multiple porta potties 
Waterstops: None 
Photo credits: Earth Day 5k FB page (photo of route) and my own photos
More Info: Race Web Page

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Race Review – Johnny’s Runnin’ of the Green 5 mile, Saturday, March 11, 2017

shamrockThis upstate New York race is known for being the kick-off race to the Spring running season. It’s held in the morning before the St. Patrick’s  Day parade in Rochester, NY. It certainly didn’t feel like Spring at race time – with temperatures hovering in the teens. When I got to the Blue Cross Arena, it was 13 degrees outside. Honestly, I was second guessing myself if I even wanted to do this thing. It had snowed the night before, and the city was still recovering from a major windstorm (81 mph winds) a few days earlier – thousands still without power. Runners are hardcore people, so I knew the race would not be cancelled. However, attendance was definitely down. Someone told me as many as 1/3 of the people who originally signed up did not show. I can’t blame them – it really was frigid out. The race ended up having 877 participants.

I’ve never done this race before. 5 miles is a long way for me to run at this point. I normally do that distance split in two parts. But, I had my green attire (so ready to be Irish for the day!) ready. For that reason, I decided to give it a try.

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I waited inside the arena until five minutes before the race start. I was very grateful to have a warm place to linger, as well as access to real bathrooms instead of porta potties. I saw many fun costumes – tutus, hats, headbands, men in kilts, etc.  In it’s 19th year, the race is known for being very festive with many people decked out in green – from socks to skirts and much more. I had picked up my bib and long sleeve tshirt (dark green – very nice) a few days before at Johnny’s Irish Pub (race sponsor).

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At around 9:25, we headed out to the start. They had told us there would be no fanfare or national anthem etc. Due to the cold conditions, I was perfectly fine with that. The race started on time and we headed out. Normally, people (including myself) start out fast. This crowd seemed to be starting at a slower pace – at least where I was. It was slippery. I just followed the crowd and kept going. The route was on the street and then up the bridge towards the University of Rochester, and then along a trail type section. We passed by a roped off fallen tree by a power line – another reminder of the damage/devastation of the storm earlier in the week.

When I started running, I was freezing – especially my hands and feet. I had two sets of hand warmers, although I wish I had also brought a face mask. Because I have Raynauds, I always have to be careful of not getting a painful attack in my hands. Fortunately, I ‘warmed up’ a bit as we continued running. There were mile markers and, at the halfway point, we turned around and headed back. In the first mile, we had to run past a downed tree, from the storm damage. I didn’t run with my water bottle, but instead grabbed a cup of water at the water stop. There was an unofficial beer stop as well. I don’t take photos while running, so I don’t have any photos of that.

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After the race, you could head back inside the arena. They had water bottles and a local distillery had alcohol/coffee samples. For some reason, I thought there would be green bagels, but alas there were not. I have to admit it – I was disappointed by that. Compared to other races I have done (and I am closing in on almost 90 races to date), the lack of any post race spread was a bummer. They normally get almost 2,000 people at this race, so I get it can be expensive, but even so…They may have channeled the money into the race awards – very nice shamrock labeled wine bottles from Casa Larga, a local vineyard. I believe top finishers also received cash prizes. I was just too cold and sweaty to hang around for the ceremony.

Overall, this was a nice, festive race. Well organized, decent course, fun theme. Truthfully though, I’m not a big fan of the 5 mile distance. I prefer a 5k or – if I really wanted to do longer -would opt for a 10k. But, that’s just me. I’m glad I finally did this race. My next race is in April – an Earth Day 5k in Baldwinsville, NY (near Syracuse). Hopefully, the weather will be better. I also need to lose weight, or my times will continue to suffer. There was no reason I could not get under a 10 min mile pace. I erred on the side of caution due to the slippery course and cold, but that really is no excuse. Sadly, this is my last race as a 49 year old. I will be in a new age group bracket next month. #eek #OlderRunner

As always, thank you for reading. Best of luck to you on your running season ahead. 🙂 Until next time, see you on the roads.

Time: 9:30 am start
Weather: teens – brisk breeze at times and periods of snow.
Location: Starts downtown Rochester at the Blue Cross Arena. Certified course.
Course: Up & back to the University of Rochester, over bridges – mainly flat
Results:  2017 Runnin’ of the Green

Amenities:
Parking – on street or free in nearby garages. Wait inside at Blue Cross arena, bathroom access inside. 
Waterstops – one official, one informal, one beer
Race Results: 564 out of 877. 51.35 (10:18 min mile),  30 in 40-49 age group range
Photo credits: photos taken by me – except running shots from Fleet Feet  FB page

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Running to stand still – my 121 lb. weight loss journey

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At my heaviest at the Corporate Challenge a few years ago (I could only walk)

Last December, I was at my lowest point emotionally and highest point weight-wise. I could not run; I could barely walk. I literally did not want to live anymore. I am not being dramatic. I was tired of it all. Every breath, every move, every day was painful and humiliating. For some reason, I decided to try to get this under control one more time.  I vowed to do what I had to do to lose weight and to be able to run again. 

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Looking silly, but feeling so much better – Ugly Sweater 5k – November 2016

Flash forward 12 months. A whole year has passed. It has been a long, challenging journey. It was not easy. EVERY SINGLE DAY I wanted to go off plan. EVERY SINGLE DAY I dreaded eating healthy and working out. It has gotten easier, but it’s still a work in progress. I am not at goal weight yet, but I have lost 121 lbs with about 25 to go. I was able to start running again in June. I’ve run 6 races and even improved on my speed. I’ve learned a few things on my journey:

  1. Discomfort is part of the process – & that’s ok.
    There will be times you want to give up. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. There will be times you’re tired, frustrated and hungry. I actually did not feel a lot of hunger – for me it was more an emptiness. This makes perfect sense, as I was/am a huge emotional eater. I still struggle with those tendencies.
  2. I am not a weight loss expert
    What works on my weight loss and running journey may not work for yours. I appreciate the advice and support. You don’t have to take everyone’s input – just be appreciative they cared enough to offer it.
  3. The quick fix is NEVER going to work
    I cringe when I see people drastically cut calories and do fad diets. This is not my first rodeo. From experience, I know that in the long term that kind of plan is just going to backfire.
  4. Progress not perfection
    This one is the hardest for me. I am what I like to call a “failed perfectionist.” I like things to be perfect. I’m the kind of student who wanted to get all A’s and never let anyone down. If I went off plan with my food, I would just crumble, beat myself up and head into a binge. I had 4 BAD binge days this year. This is my main obstacle.
  5. Tap into your competitive spirit
    My main competition is myself. At the same time, I still pit myself against others – like the contestants on the Biggest Loser. I am not a fan of the starvation diet and 8 hour workouts they put them through (or the humiliating challenges). Yet, it really helped motivate me to see if I could lose weight EVERY week – knowing that those contestants did not. They may lose faster (and in my view in a more unhealthy manner), but I could get the same results – it will just take longer.
  6. There is no end game
    6 years was my previous record for keeping the weight off. The odds are NOT in my favor. I’m a lifelong yo yo dieter and former teenage anorexic (not bulimic – there is a difference) who already has a compromised metabolism with thyroid issues. In addition, I work a sedentary job. I will always have to be vigilant and  exercise more and watch what I eat more than people who have never had a weight issue. I either accept that and do what I can to counteract that reality or gain the weight back. It’s that simple.
  7. Be accountable and respect the scale, but focus on fitness too
    When I stopped weighing myself, I gained tons of weight. I was in complete denial. I need that weekly weigh in to hold myself accountable. At the same time, my only goal is not to just fit into a certain size or weigh a certain amount. While those are among my goals, I also want to be fit and healthy. I want healthy cholesterol and triglyceride numbers (which I now have – woot woot!!). I want to be able to go up stairs without getting winded, outrun people at races if I can and just feel like a normal, healthy person. I want energy. I also don’t want to be ashamed, mistreated or discriminated against due to my size. And yes, that does and did happen.
  8. Give yourself NSVs (Non Scale Victories)
    When you stick to plan and don’t lose, it can be devastating. Look for other accomplishments. For me, it was fitting into a chair I weighed too much to sit in. That chair now has room to spare. It was also when I went in for a physical (after losing 40 lbs) and my doctor thought I had a weight loss surgery procedure. It was when I fit into pants I saved from my thinner days.
  9. I’m not an inspiration
    Many kind people compliment you when you lose weight. I am grateful for their support. The truth is  – the people who inspire me are the people who did not gain and lose all the weight numerous times like I did in the first place. But, that’s the thing about addiction. Some are more prone to their demons than others. Mine is food and emotional eating. You can’t hide being overweight. The best I can do is try to control the addiction.
  10. Habits and mantras help
    I would say the hardest part for me this year keeping on plan was the emotional aspect. I am not one for positive self talk, so motivating myself to work out and adopt a new healthy eating plan for life was hard. Setting guidelines and creating a new, non destructive inner dialogue helped. I constantly told myself – “You have to do this – you HAVE TO work out on lunch and immediately after work. If your schedule changes or something comes up, then you work out BEFORE work. You have to track every single thing you eat. You HAVE TO stick to plan. There are no compromises. There are no days off.”

    You either want to lose this weight and move on with your life or you don’t.

  11. I had to declutter my life too
    When I lost 100 lbs before (yes, 3x now- sigh), my house still had too much stuff. I felt overwhelmed with material things. It didn’t help that I once worked for a catalog company where I could get cheap crap I did not need. As I started purging all the extra stuff, I felt like a weight had lifted. I donated car load after car load of items. For me, I needed to let go of that clutter that was weighing me down. It changed my mindset to looking for experiences (like travel, hiking, etc.) instead of shopping or the next thing to buy/collect.
  12. Be prepared for bad days
    Motivation wanes and is not enough! Days when I had not slept were tough. There were many of those, as I am an insomniac. Days when temperatures dipped below zero (I despise winter and have a circulation issue called Raynauds) were tough. When we got 17 inches of snow in one day and I had to dig myself out of my driveway and still go and exercise – that was hard. When I got in a car accident, when I had a bad/stressful day at work, when I had to avoid treats, restaurants and delicious food when others were pigging out  – those things were tough. But, all of that builds up your resolve and determination.
  13. Get a support system & don’t let “I have no time” be an excuse
    Even if you have kids, a spouse or a significant other, you can still do this. Believe me, I know all about excuses. Bust through them!! My support system were my friends and coworkers. I know it can be hard if you live with someone without a weight issue or if you have a big family. As a single person, I DO have more time to focus on this than others. But, that does not mean I want to do any of this. Take that time you spend on social media or watching TV to work out. You can still watch TV – just work out while your show is on. You can fit in exercise. I ran in hotel gyms at 4:30 in the morning on no sleep at over 200 lbs  – next to skinny people. It can be done – it’s just a matter of planning, preparation and wanting it very badly.

I know that this is not a running focused post. But, running was a huge part of my journey. Having running goals helps. The thinner I am, the faster and longer I can run. I don’t have huge running goals for the new year. I just want to get to my goal weight, keep running and be the healthiest person I can be. I turn 50 this year – the best gift would be to feel good about where I am weight and fitness wise.

My plan (in case you’re curious – since I do get asked)
Diet: 1300 calories tracked in the LoseIt app, Upped to 1400 or 1500 on a few days.
Food – healthy -fruits, veggies, lean proteins with treats as needed (hershey kiss, lollypop), healthy carbs, limited sugars. Goal was to eat less processed foods. This was not a low carb or low fat plan though. No fake diet crap foods! I am allowed to eat whatever I want. But, it ended up being healthy choices to maximize the calories I had.
Exercise: Twice daily. Exercise to a drenched sweat – get the heart rate up. Nothing wimpy – make it count! If I was going to take the time to get into my exercise togs, get to the gym and sacrifice every lunch break and work out at night immediately upon my arrival home (when I just wanted to wind down & eat dinner), you can bet I was going to make it count. At first, I could only do step tapes and walk vigorously. I worked my way up to running on the treadmill and outside. I supplemented this with exercise classes and online workouts (Jillian Michaels shred, kickboxing), jump rope, trampoline, situps and weights (2017 will be more strength training and toning in addition to cardio). While you can lose weight without exercise, it definitely helped speed up the process. And, I don’t want to be skinny fat. I want to be strong and fit! I currently run over 5 miles a day.
Rules: No eating after 7 pm (unless a special event – the kitchen is CLOSED). Very limited eating out at restaurants. Vacations don’t equal a free for all. Stick to plan AND exercise. Bring healthy snacks with you at all times. Limited visits to Wegmans – this grocery store is temptation/trigger central for me. I went to a less tempting store for 90% of my shopping. No (or limited) alcohol – don’t drink your calories. This one was easy for me, but I think a lot of people could drop weight quickly if they gave up that nightly beer or wine.
Weigh in: weekly – I kept track of weekly and monthly losses. I lost every week but one.
Fitbit: I got one in February. Getting steps is an admirable goal, but I did not fixate on this since some activities did not result in steps (spinning, etc.). Started by getting 10k a day. I average about 16k+ now.
Results: Started 1/1/16. Lost 121.2 lbs (average of 2.33 lbs a week). Exercised 363 out of 365 days. Stuck to food plan 361 out of 365 days.  44% of body weight lost.

Thank you for reading and good luck to you this year on your own fitness, weight and running journey! See below for before/after slideshow.

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Christmas Day Charity Run, Rochester, NY, 12/25/16

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Photo credit: Carlos Ortiz, Democrat & Chronicle Staff Photographer

I was drawn to this event because it was a good way to give back on the holidays and get in a workout at the same time. This wasn’t a race, but a group run. Prior to the event, people were encouraged to bring donations – from clothing to non perishables. The collected items would be delivered to the House of Mercy, a non profit housing shelter in Rochester, NY.

The event was a walk/run. Walkers started at 10:45, runners at 11. We gathered in front of Fleet Feet Sports first for a group photo with Santa. A few members of the media were there too, taking pictures and filming us. At 11, we were off. Weather was cold – in the 30’s – windy at times. Sidewalks were slippery in parts, due to ice. Thankfully, we could run in the roads as well.

Total turnout looked to be about 30+ people. I was excited to meet up with my friend Carrie, someone I ran with years ago in a running group. It was also nice to run with Santa, lol.  The route was through the city – down East Avenue, and then turning on Hudson Avenue. Some of us were dressed in Christmas attire. Many people beeped encouragement to us along the way.

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By the time we got to the House of Mercy, vans had arrived with all the donations. We then helped carry those inside. I was so impressed with all the items people brought! There were bags and bags and boxes of things! It felt good to help, even if it was just a little.

After donating the items, people went across the street to the fire hall to sing Christmas carols. The organizer of the event should be proud. He should also be proud of the press he got – both newspaper and TV.  This event has grown from 6 to 30+ in just a few years. With the added press and social media exposure, I am sure it will grow even more. Runners are kind, generous and supportive. I was proud to be a part of this. It represents what Christmas is all about.

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Course:
Mainly flat on streets in and around Rochester, NY
Time: 10:45 for walkers, 11 am for runners
Weather: mid 30s, slight breeze at times
Location: Rochester, NY
Results:  Not an official timed race – 4 mile course
Press: Article from the Democrat & Chronicle, Story on WROC TV 8
More info: Event Facebook Page

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Race Review: Old Fort Niagara Holiday 5k, Youngstown, NY 12/10/16

img_2171I’m always game for a new race, so when I saw the description for this one, I was intrigued. “Soldiers will fire their muskets at 10:30am sharp to signal the start of the race which will take place entirely within Fort Niagara State Park. The course is USATF and will feature amazing views of Fort Niagara State Park; the Lower Niagara River; Lake Ontario; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada; Historic Old Fort Niagara, and the Toronto skyline!” Cool.

What was also cool was the weather – in the 20s. Brrrrr! There was also snow in the forecast. Not what you want to hear when the drive is at least an hour and a half away from your house. But, I needed one more race to get a running plaque I’m going for, so I decided to make the trip. The drive was fine until the last 5 miles. They had not plowed at all. Granted, it was early. Nevertheless, I made it there, parked, and picked up my bib outside underneath the tent. Thankfully, you could go inside where they had restrooms. You could also look around the museum and gift shop.

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The race started at 10:30 with muskets going off. It was loud and cool. The course was very slippery and ice/snow packed. So, my main focus was not speed at all. It was to get through this thing without falling. They had mile markers and one water stop. You went around the loop twice before you headed to the finish area. courseniagara

I didn’t dress in costume for this race. I just wore the tshirt I got at the Whoville 5k last Saturday. I felt good during this race, but was not fast at all. Instead of a tshirt, you got a finisher’s medal (which was awesome – very high quality), admission to the fort and a yummy “Ploughman’s lunch” which consisted of homemade soup, fruit, veggies, coleslaw and hardboiled eggs.  You had to go to a log cabin to get that. I was glad I did that immediately after the race because lines were long. I also loved that the bib had an image of Old Fort Niagara on it – very nice touch!

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img_2166Normally, I hate running in the cold.  I have Raynauds in my hands and I always worry about getting an attack. Sadly, I did get one after the race when I was walking building to building. I know the photo is graphic, but I include it to try and increase awareness of what Raynauds is (a circulation issue that can result in painful attacks). I always carry hand warmers, but sometimes that is not enough. img_2158

The awards/age group winners were announced in the French Castle. Age group winners got a sticker they could attach to their medals. It was too cold for me at that point, so I did not stay. I would like to go back and tour this place again in much warmer weather. They had a fire going outside which was wonderful. I didn’t want to walk away from that.

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This was a very good race – especially for an inaugural event. One suggestion – they might want to consider having two serving areas for the lunch because those lines seemed pretty long (and after running a race it’s never good to stand around in such cold temperatures). But, the fact that they included a lunch as part of your race fee was great. I think they hold two other races here before the end of the year. However, for me, my 2016 running season is over! I’ve earned enough points to get my bronze plaque. Woot woot! Until next time – see you on the roads…

Course:  USATF certified. Number of runners capped at 300. Sold out race.
Time: 10:30 am start
Weather: 20s – breeze at times.
Location: Youngstown, NY
Results:  Not online yet. 140/300  32.51 (11.02 min mile)
Amenities:
Restroom inside, ample parking outside.
Race Results: 32:51 (10.35 min mile), Age group 7/21, Overall: 140/278, Gender 48/147
Overall Results: http://www.itsyourrace.com/results.aspx?id=8416

 

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