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Transform Yourself

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As chatty and oversharing as I am to many of you, sharing this part of me is tough because many of you haven’t heard this part.  This transformation may not seem significant to you, but not all transformations are strictly physical and I can guarantee these are two completely different people. The person on the left was stuck in an emotionally and physically taxing relationship because she felt she couldn’t do any better.  She smoked nearly two packs a day and drank to the point of numbing the mind, body, and soul often, because it was easier than dealing with the reality of her unhappiness.  She struggled with binging for days then not eating for those that followed, overexercised to the point of exhaustion, and drank 2 liters of full-sugar soda like it was the last beverage on Earth.  She lived alone, so it was easy to hide the pain, frustration, and depression.  And even with friends and family nearby, she felt utterly alone.

Why am I writing in third-person when this very clearly is me?  Because I’m no longer the shell of a person on the left.  I made one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make and moved 400 miles away from nearly everything I knew shortly after that picture was taken.  Since then my life got flipped, turned up side down (Fresh Prince said it best).  I escaped the horrible relationship that created even more trust issues, and eventually let the love of my life in past my rough, rough exterior.  I quit smoking cold turkey after witnessing my now husband doing the same 5 months earlier and will be celebrating 10 years smoke-free this November.  I have reached a point where I can drink socially without getting to the point of black-out drunk just for fun (which wasn’t really fun or safe now that I think about it), but it took some time stepping away and deciding what was more important.  I have a much healthier relationship with food and know what it takes to fuel my body and meet its needs, but still acknowledge my struggle with binge-eating and am always a work in progress.  I work my body to a point I know it can handle, but also know to listen when it tells me to take it easy.  I haven’t had any soda, full-sugar or diet, in nearly 4 1/2 years, and feel no need to deal with that addiction ever again.  I removed as many toxic people out of my life as possible, and have learned to deflect the negativity of those around me that are still struggling with demons of their own.  And I’m sincerely and truly happy.

Why have I not told the whole story before? Because it’s messy, imperfect, sad, depressing, and negative.  It’s not me anymore.  It has been like a second job working on ME the last 11 years of my life, but most especially that first year after I moved away.  It’s been much easier having a loving, caring partner by my side.  And even better with a community of strong, powerful, and positive-thinking people around me!  Parts of me are definitely still a hot mess.  I’m far from perfect and still get sad and depressed.  Negative thoughts still creep in from time to time but I try to stay as positive as possible.  But I’m in a much better place and it started with recognizing something wasn’t right.  I’m not saying change is easy…far from it actually.   But it’s so, so, so, so, SO WORTH IT.  You should never forget your “person on the left,” but make it your MISSION to never become her again.  I hope I encourage at least one of you to start your Transformation today.  All it takes is one step forward.  And I’m here if you need someone to hold your hand.  I sure did.

#transformationtuesday #faceyourpast #overshare #health #messy #positive #emotional #happy #mission

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Marathon Recap (yes, finally)

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marathonSo since I’ve had some time to let it settle, I figured it was time to give the full run-down of my first Marathon experience. It’s long, detailed, and probably boring for most of you.  But I wanted to get it down 🙂  If you have any questions or anything, let me know!  You know I’m a open book ^_^

<< I posted this image before I even started training and it didn’t ring this true until right this second.

I first and foremost want to say that even though it didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to, I’m proud of myself for pushing through and finishing…even after I tore a muscle in my calf right after mile 16. Even if it doesn’t seem like I listened to my body, I definitely did, as I always do.  I may have only been running for about five years now, but I’ve learned what little tweaks and twinges indicate to me and whether it’s a good idea for me to stop or keep going.  You know your body best…so just listen to it and it will steer you in the right direction.  

So, here we go…sorry if there’s a little bit of TMI, but I’m sure many can relate haha 😛

The Training

First Training Run!! >>1strun

I officially started July 24th, after an action-packed few weeks of July (a trip home to NY for a wedding, a trip to New Orleans for a Beachbody conference, and a trip to Columbus to hang out with some family and do a Color Run).  I was going to do 30 weeks of training…even started slow in April in hopes of that happening.  But with the end of school (yay SOLs) and lots of crazy summer plans, I decided to push it and do 16 instead, which seemed okay on most training plans.  I honestly should have been blogging throughout the entire 16 weeks of training, but anyone that follows me on Instagram or Facebook pretty much saw everything I put into this that led up to the main event.  So I’ll just give a recap on what I did each week, especially for those of you that have already contacted me about possibly being ready to run your first marathon, or work toward your first long-distance event! (Super excited for all of you, by the way!!! It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget and will change your life forever – promise!).  If you want more details of each week, feel free to ask or to check out my social media outlets ^_^

Week 1: 16.2 total miles, 6 mile long run.  I used this first week to try and figure out where my run/walk intervals would take me for training.  I knew I would adjust along the way, especially since it was still so HOT out!  Gotta love training for a November race in July!!

Week 2: 19.1 total miles, 8 mile long run.  I started a cross training program this week – Shift Shop!  It’s agility training so it kept my endurance up and really worked the right muscles to help my body strengthen and recover for runs.  It was rough to double up, but my mileage wasn’t too horrible yet.

Week 3: 22 total miles, 10 mile long run.  With increasing mileage, it was getting harder to cross-train, but I kept going with it since I was seeing positive effects.  The nutrition portion was a little tricky since I couldn’t cut calories for weight loss but couldn’t eat everything I wanted without seeing negative effects. Tricky stuff.

Week 4: 22 total miles, 12 mile long run on the schedule but decided to do my first 20k (a little over 12 miles).  My pace was still under the 10 minute mile mark, which I felt was awesome! My half marathon paces were between 9 and 9:30, so only having a 30 second to 1 minute difference for a marathon pace would be ideal!  But I also knew that could change as my mileage increased.

Week 5: 17 total miles (taper back), 5 mile long run.  My training had some mid-schedule taper happening to keep my body recovering and not pushing too hard too fast.  It’s all about progress.  My pace was AMAZING this week, because it was a lot less miles!

Week 6: 24 total miles, 15 mile long run.  I was still feeling pretty good and keeping about 9:30-10 minute mile pace during all training runs this week.  But school was starting and I was getting less sleep so I was starting to feel the effects of that.

Week 7: 21 total miles (mild taper), 10 mile long run.  This mild taper week was pretty nice after doing 15 miles the week before, which was my longest run to date EVER!  I had only done the two half marathons before, so 15 miles felt pretty good!  But again, with school back in session my nutrition was faltering.  I knew I needed to real it in, but running so many miles and exerting extra energy definitely makes you hungry.  And when my body is hungry, it craves CARBS :-/

Week 8: 23 total miles (back to back days to simulate fatigue), 17 mile long run.  This was certainly an interesting week.  I wanted to see how my body would feel running three days in a  row.  There’s a training plan I was going to try (Hansen’s – before I committed to a modified Higdon plan) that tries to simulate the fatigue your body would feel during the long run by using shorter ones back to back.  So I did that and it actually helped so that I could see how I would feel in those higher miles.  Pace was still on track and the cooler temps were helping!!

Week 9: 24 total miles (taper back), 12 mile long run.  I think this was the only picture perfect week of training – 4 miles Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and 12 miles on Saturday.  I had planned to to MTThS the entire training, but you know how things have to get shifted.  Pace was right on track, but had to do a bit more treadmill running due to train.  I HATE THE DREADMILL haha.

Week 10: 25 total miles, 16 mile long run.  This week had my birthday in it, so I felt pretty badass for attempting my first marathon at the age of 36 haha.  But I was supposed to do 19 miles on Saturday and only made it 16.  I was so distraught for not being able to finish (just utterly exhausted and dehydrated) that I sat down without stretching and started crying.  Well, I couldn’t catch my breath and started hyperventilating which turned into a panic attack, which turned into a Charley Horse.  I felt like I was going to die.  Not only was I disappointed in myself but I was disappointed in how I reacted to the whole thing.  

Week 11: 28 total miles, 19 mile long run. I figured there was no point in tapering this week like planned, since I didn’t achieve 19 miles the first go around…so second time was a charm!  I planned ahead better – better nutrition, hydration, and sleep.  Finished in a bit more than my goal pace, but allowed me to see where I might be at for the full marathon once it arrived. One more long training run on the schedule (after some adjustments)…eep!

Week 12: 29 total miles (taper back), 12 mile long run.  Didn’t feel like a major taper since I did an 8 mile run during the week (that’s seriously fun after a full day of work (NOT).  Shorter run paces were great, longer one was right where I expected (10:30).  I realize now that I should have done more speed work, but you live you learn!!

Week 13: 31 total miles, 21 mile long run.  The culmination of my training and I completed the 21 the first try!!! My pace was almost an 11 minute mile, so that gave me a much better indication of where I would be race day.  I was okay with that because it still meant I could finish in under 5 hours!!!  I was so freaking stoked to finish.  It was a great day haha.

Week 14: taper week 1, 26 total miles, 12 mile long run. Did a little running around work and across town since I was a little bored with the routes around my house (loops will do that to you haha).  I was trying to emulate the downhill finish so I could see how my legs would feel at the end.

Week 15: taper week 2, 22 total miles, 8 mile long run.  Felt like I should be doing more, but that’s pretty typical for a taper week.  I had to remember that I was running the longest distance ever, by over 5 miles, the next week.  Tapering is its own beast for sure.  The mental game needs to be STRONG this week for sure!! I was going NUTS!

lastrun

Last Training Run! >>

Week 16: race week, 33,42 total miles, marathon long run!  The final week arrived.  I took it easy, listened to my body, and stretched every single day.  The foam roller was my friend.  Had some stiffness in my left calf (yeah, the one that I tore the muscle in) all week…even went to the sports doc to see what was up.  He gave me some suggestions and I think I overworked it. Again, you live you learn.  I do think the 1 mile shakeout the day before the race was a saving grace for me.  I always thought people that ran the day before a race, or worse the day OF the race, were crazy.  But I can see how it helps for sure.  I did it!!! About a 12 minute mile pace for the race, but honestly not bad for everything I endured.  See the full details below.

The Gear

flatcat

Underneath: Aquaphor.  EVERYWHERE.

Sports Bra: A worn-in but form-fitting, tried and true Victoria’s Secret Incredible (old school kind with no adjustable straps…the new ones piss me off).

Tank: A custom-made (thanks Kari) Next Level burnout tank that said “Because I Can’ on the front and RVA 11.11.17 on the back to commemorate the occasion.

Jacket: Danskin Now breathable running jacket with thumb holes  (wish I had gotten two when I bought it 1.5 years ago since it’s no longer sold!)

Pants: Nike Dri-Fit Epic Run Cropped Running Tights (I have them in three different colors.  Love them and hate running in anything else!)

Socks: Injinji toe socks (BEST. Creation. Ever.  Especially if you have Morton’s toe and chafe/blister)

Shoes: 361 Sensation (I even bought a second pair toward the end of training)

Headband: Treadbands (the only headband that will actually stay put on my head and takes care of flyaways – check out treadbands.com and use discount code CAT10 to save 10%!)

Watch: Garmin Forerunner 630 and a Fitbit Charge HR (yes, I wear both because I love challenges haha.  I didn’t wear my heart rate monitor with the Forerunner though, since I didn’t want to be overfocusing on more data during the race)

Headphones: Samsung Iconx (hold 4 gigs of music without having to be attached to your phone – wireless as well!  Battery life only goes about 4 hours so I brought the case with me so I could charge them at points when there were large crowds to listen to rather than needing music!)

Hydration Belt: Camden Gear (ordered on Amazon – cheap and effective)

Nutrition: Beachbody Performance Energize (30 minutes before run), Beachbody Performance Hydrate (a swig every mile and when feeling crampy), Jelly Belly Sport Beans (1-2 every mile), Glukos Gummies (1-2 every 2 miles), Honey Stinger gel (every 5 miles), Gu gel (mile 10), Beachbody Performance Recover (30 minutes after race), Shakeology (1 hour post-race).

I had bought a cheap pair of throwaway gloves at Target but since I had my running jacket with me, it was easy enough to stick them in my pockets and they came in handy on both bridges 🙂

The Day Before

I had Friday off for Veteran’s Day and Ricky got out of work earlier than usual due to training, so we decided to get on the road sooner rather than later.  Traffic can be such a pain heading down to Richmond on a Friday afternoon (been there, done that, 7 times now…once there and back in the same night…NEVER again!).  I had my heart set on Famous Dave’s for lunch, since we tried to go to the one in Gainesville around my birthday and found it to be closed down.  We knew there was one in Fredericksburg because we used to stop there on the way home from King’s Dominion.  We pull into the parking lot and realize there is no sign on the front.  They were shut down, too.  Boo.  So, Red Robin (yum) it was.  Thankfully they had a delicious new chicken sandwich on the menu and I already knew I loved their garlic parmesan fries haha.  Got into a chat with the waitress about her husband running his first marathon earlier this year (ironically it was the Shamrock marathon – the one that I did the half and the conditions were RIDONKULOUS.  They even made t-shirts to commemorate the crazy weather conditions haha). She was a riot.  

nightbeforeDecided to head to the Expo to get in before traffic got even worse, and to beat some of the evening rush. Got my bib and shirt, picked up some freebies, and picked up a map.  I got the crazy idea that I wanted to drive the route so I could anticipate elevation changes, turns, etc.  The nervousness was starting to creep in.  There were bus tours you could do, but they took almost 2 hours and Ricky wouldn’t have been able to join me.  So I asked Ricky if he’d drive me around instead.  Well, it turned into a 2 ½ hour adventure anyways!  There was a ton of construction, plus many “no left turn” signs that made it difficult to navigate our way around.  We checked out about 70% of the route before deciding that I’d seen the last portion of the course when I did the half twice, so we rolled out.  

The Night Before

Ricky realized he hadn’t grabbed any hat or gloves to wear while he was waiting for me in the cold, so we headed to Target.  I also wanted to grab some Immodium, because my nervousness was making me, well, nervous haha.  Even though they say don’t do anything new on race day that you didn’t in training, I figured this was one thing I could do that wouldn’t affect things way too much.  I mean, it’s supposed to make you NOT poop, and the chance of it actually MAKING you poop is slim.  I can honestly say I’ve never taken it before, so I didn’t know what to expect.  More about that later 😛

When we go to the hotel, we realized they were having a pasta buffet for dinner and we didn’t really feel like going back out so that worked for us.  It was spaghetti with both red and alfredo sauce, garlic bread, salad, steamed veggies, chicken, and meatballs.  Wasn’t anything gourmet or special, but it was cheap, easy, and quick, and I was okay with that.  I laid out my Flat Cat and made sure everything was ready for the morning.  I figured it would take us 15 minutes to get to the parking garage, so I could sleep a little later and not be way too worried.  I didn’t want tons of extra time to psych myself out and have the nervous poos (since getting in a porta-potty ONCE takes enough time as it is with over 17,000 runners starting around the same time!!). So I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could eat at least 2 hours before race start and get some fluids in before heading to the start line.  I fell asleep pretty quickly, but woke up about every hour on the hour to pee (another nervous reaction).  Yay for proper hydration, though!

The Morning of the Race

morningI woke up before the alarm and ate my caffeinated granola bar (all food and beverage had been thoroughly tested multiple times during the previous 16 weeks just to be sure!).  I started drinking water and blue Powerade (being provided on the course) and reciting my positive affirmations in my head. Anyone who has trained for a long-distance race understands how important positive-thinking can be.  It’s completely a MENTAL event.  Yes, the physical training is extremely important, but if you can find any way to get out of your head, I highly recommend it!  I do a lot of pacing and active stretching before a race, since I often forget (or don’t have time) to do any static stretches before beginning (which proved to be the case later…).  I ate a bagel with peanut butter to get some protein and carbs in.  

Another part of the process that I started doing during training that was extremely important is to use Aquaphor EVERYWHERE.  I did this in March when I ran the Shamrock Half (which was raining/sleeting the entire time) and I didn’t chafe one bit.  I had started using it on my toes for shorter runs since learning about Morton’s toe (second toe longer than my big one, so it rubs against my socks and shoes differently), and that helped me to not get the blisters I always got.  I think it also helped me to never get black toenails or the risk of any of them falling off!  Chafing can occur in any condition and Aquaphor was my savior for sure. I highly recommend!  And it’s much cheaper than BodyGlide or any of the expensive alternatives that do the same thing.

I got all my gear on and realized we were running close on time, so we ran out the door (brr, it was freaking cold). We get downtown and traffic is a bear, of course.  I realize I had left the cash for the parking garage in a different bag, so Ricky just had to drop me near the finish line and be on his way.  We had planned for him to meet me around mile 22 (when I figured I’d be struggling since I had only gone up to 21 miles in training), so he wanted to get situated for when I got to that point.  

I jumped out of the car, kissed Ricky goodbye, and headed up to the porta-potties where there were lines like crazy of course.  Start time was about 15 minutes away, so I figured I’d be okay.  I chatted up a few other first-time marathoners in line, sharing our struggles and successes and wishing each other good luck.  Didn’t get the nervous poos for once (thank you Immodium), emptied my bladder, and had just enough time to straighten my gear, get my GPS signal, and start!!

During the Race

Everything started out great.  They really move you through the line.  All of my devices were working, the weather was cold but not frigid (the sun was coming out to warm us all up), and I wasn’t having any stomach cramps.  I didn’t have time to get really nervous since I had cut everything so close, but I actually preferred it that way!  

I had run the Richmond Half Marathon twice before, so I knew for the marathon we ran alongside of them for close to the first mile.  It’s really cool seeing so many people aiming to achieve a huge goal at the same time.  It’s all about PACING for long distance running.  You don’t want to go out too fast and peter out too early…and you don’t want to start too slow so that you have to make up time later on.  That’s why so much practice is necessary, and my training runs were all helpful in this regard.  I try not to look at my watch way too much, because all that constant turning of the wrist can actually make your arm cramp up when you get into the later miles (happened during weeks 11 and 12 for me!).  So I covered my watch, put my thumbs through the holes in my running jacket and figured I’d just let my heartrate guide me.  My watch was set up for 3 minute run/1 minute walking intervals, which is what I had trained in the entire time (running between 8:30 and 9, walking between 13 and 14, average 10:30).  So I was good to go…

Until I reached the Mile 1 marker and realized my intervals never kicked in.  Usually my watch will vibrate on my wrist when walking should begin and then running again.  It worked for all 16 weeks of training, even when I was in Race (rather than Running) mode.  Well, best laid plans right?  Without working intervals, I just had to trust the process and go with the flow.  Though I had trained in intervals the entire time, I knew I could handle long bouts of running as long as my total pace was what I was used to doing.  I got into a nice 10:30 pace with a decent sized group of runners and just kept with them.

start

We skimmed through the water stations (every two miles) and I didn’t really fully stop for any bout of walking until well after mile 10!  I felt amazing and it was looking like I would finish around 4:45 if I kept it up!  WOOT!  The scenery was GORGEOUS, it was warming up, and the crowd support was AMAZING (like I should expect anything less in Richmond…it’s my favorite place to run!). The half marathon mark came and went, and I didn’t have the “Oh my god, I have to run that same distance AGAIN” dreaded thought running through my head. 

I knew the hardest part of the course was coming…between miles 15 and 18 it was a pretty steady incline and went over a very long bridge that other RVA runners had dubbed HELL.  We had driven the route, so I knew what to expect, and I ran hills (big, small, and gradual) throughout training, so I figured I was ready.  I started the incline trek over the bridge and I was expecting a major struggle, but it was going great!  I went through the Mile 16 water station, right after the bridge, then turned the corner about a half mile later.

And then I got SHOT in the back of my left leg.  At least that’s what it felt like.  I had experienced severe muscle cramping during my first attempt at 19 miles a few weeks prior, so I figured that’s what it was.  My calf muscle was spasming so freaking bad that I had to stop completely and try to stretch it out. I couldn’t straighten my leg completely and anytime I tried to pull on my toes to stretch more, it would spasm again. There were course coaches throughout the race and one happened to be nearby when I slowed and came over to see what was up.  I explained everything that was happening and he said he thought I had torn my calf muscle.  He offered me Medic assistance, which I refused.  I wanted to try at least walking it out.  I hadn’t trained 16 weeks to give up now.  He offered me some Ibuprofen, which I accepted, but I had run out of water/Hydrate and needed to make it to the next water station to take it (which was 1.5 miles away).  He had run out of water as well, and said he would try to make it back to me after checking on some other people.  I think the course coaches know how freaking stubborn runners can be, so he didn’t push me and I was extremely thankful for that.

(FYI – I’m getting super emotional reliving this experience right now…crying as I type this haha).  

I was PISSED.  At EVERYTHING.  But more-so at the fact that it wasn’t going the way I had planned.  I expected there to be some SNAFUs throughout the race, but not this.  I definitely never expected a torn muscle at mile 16.5 of a freaking 26.2 mile race. I anticipated pain, exhaustion, mental fatigue making me think I couldn’t do it…but not the fact that there would be an actual PHYSICAL limitation to keep me from completing this goal I had worked so hard for.  The next mile and a half were the worst I had ever experienced.  I had to make it to the Mile 18 water station to take the Ibuprofen and hopefully feel a bit better.  Another course coach stopped me around mile 17.25 to check on me and offered me a salt tab since I was still cramping, which indicates dehydration.  I gladly accepted, but again needed water, so my trek to mile 18 was still on.  

during1Once I reached the Mile 18 water station, I drank probably four little cups of water, took the Ibuprofen and salt tabs, refilled my Hydration belt bottles with some Hydrate (extra packet in my pack for the win!), and ate some more fuel.  I was going to finish this race, come Hell or high water, dammit.  The cramping was easing up and I could put more weight on it.  I started running my regular pace and my body quickly let me know that THAT just wasn’t going to happen. So I slowed my pace, ran more on my toes than mid-shoe, and that seemed to help. But it was still extremely frustrating not being able to run the way I planned, and seeing my 5 hour goal time come closer and closer.  This picture was at mile 19, during one of the Party Zones and you can see how pissed off I was!

I don’t bring my phone with my when I run, so I had no way to tell Ricky that I was running behind.  I knew he and other people were tracking my progress through the website, so it should have alerted them when I crossed the 10k, half marathon, and 20 mile marks.  He was scheduled to meet me in a little residential area around mile 22, so I just set my sights on getting there and spotting his bright green hoodie.  I took extra walk breaks and just kept chugging along.  When he came in sight, I was actually feeling much better and knew I only had a little over 4 miles to go to complete this beautiful mess 🙂 Apparently the tracking system at the half marathon (13.1 mile) mark wasn’t working, so everyone was freaking out that something had happened, until they got my 20 mile indicator.  All was well, not perfect, but okay.  Ricky took a picture with me to make sure everyone knew I was okay and still on the path to finishing.

during2The last 4 miles were the most emotional of my life thus far, I think.  Running has been such an individual event for me for the last 3 years and it can honestly get very lonely sometimes.  Maybe lonely isn’t the right word for it, because I honestly love my “me-time.”  It relieves stress and allows me to let everything go and take in beautiful scenery. But it’s also too easy to get caught up in your thoughts.  Like I told you before…it’s a MENTAL GAME for sure.  You have to talk yourself OUT of things just as much as you talk yourself INTO them.  I put on a happy face, and tried to forget everything that had happened up until now and just finish as strong as possible. Thankful to the photographer that caught this photo of me trying to stay strong!! 

 

tofinishThis last trek of the race was the same last few miles of the half marathon I had done twice before, so there were no surprises.  But I was getting worried about the very end of the race, since it’s a crazy downhill finish.  I trained for this, so I was confident…but with the muscle tear, I wasn’t sure how that would be affected.  I really wanted to have an amazing finish…where I picked up speed as I went down the hill and flew across the finish line!  But that couldn’t be the case with my leg in the condition that it was.  I took a little time to walk more on the flat levels above the downhill finish to ready myself and get everything situated.  I didn’t fly down the hill, but definitely picked up the pace.  I love that this picture caught both feet off the ground!!

finishThankfully my calf cooperated (mainly because it’s a lot of toe running), and I crossed the finish line in 5:15:50, far from the 4:45 I was on track to have, and even the 5:00 which was my main goal.  They say to have a Plan A (ideal conditions – mine was to finish in under 5 hours) and a Plan B (what you would still be satisfied with – mine was to finish without injury or death ha). Thankfully I had set this for myself and it was part of my positive affirmations…so I didn’t beat myself up too much about it.  Even though I didn’t really achieve either Plan A or Plan B, Plan C of FINISHING A FREAKING MARATHON was honestly still an amazing experience.  It was definitely an emotional moment.


After the Race

medalI got my medal, blanket, and cup (yay for free stuff – that’s why we run, right?!), and found Ricky.  Got my official finisher’s photo taken. Went through the line for my post-race food, hit up the porta-potty to empty my bladder (can you believe I didn’t pee the whole race?! Talk about dehydration!!), and then to get my free post-race beer.  My calf was not feeling too hot, but I was in a post-race high so it was easy to ignore haha.  I tried to meet up with some people that I knew had finished long before me (both half and marathon finishers), but many of them had already left (I don’t blame them!).  One of them was still around so we walked up a few blocks (uphill, yay) to meet her and chat a bit about the experience.  It was nice to decompress talking to another marathon runner who understands what I did and why haha.  We called the hotel to get a bit of a later check-out (I had explained at check-in I had no idea when we’d be back because it was my first), and then headed back to the car so we could head out.  The post-race shower felt freaking AMAZING (no chafing, YAY!).

famous davesThe only thing that could culminate the entire experience into a more positive one was to find a Famous Daves for me to indulge after burning thousands of calories.  Thankfully there was one in Woodbridge, VA and Ricky agreed to drive me there, a bit out of the way of our route home, but totally worth it.  It doesn’t take much to make me, or my belly, happy 😛 YUMMMMY!


The Shout-outs

*I want to give a huge shout-out to Rebecca Webster for giving me tips on my first marathon and answering SO MANY QUESTIONS throughout the process.  I really couldn’t have done it without you and your support!

*The Run the Year 2017 group was also a huge support and soundboard for everything I did throughout the 16 weeks of training.  These are other walkers, runners, and crawlers that had a goal to finish 2017 miles throughout the year. (I did achieve this on December 26th! WOO!).  

*Thanks to all my family and friends who probably thought I was crazy multiple times for putting myself through this ON PURPOSE haha.  Only other runners can really understand WHY and believe me, your support was exactly what I needed at various points throughout training.

*The biggest thanks is to my husband, Ricky.  Not only was he my soundboard throughout this entire process, but he saw it all.  The good, the bad, the ugly, and the freaking unbelievable. His unwavering support meant everything throughout the process.  From postponing meals and sacrificing sleep due to my training schedule, not being able to attend specific events because I had goals to achieve, making sure I had proper nutrition and hydration during long runs, helping me through the second panic attack of my life when I thought I was going to die, easing the ridiculous cramping that occured in my thigh after the previously mentioned panic attack (another event I thought I would die from), and everything else he does daily just to help me through life in general. You’re my rock, baby.  I know most of the time you didn’t understand what the hell I was doing to myself, or why…but thank you so much for dealing with my crazy running ass and doing everything you could to make it easier.  This was your marathon as much as it was mine. You deserve a medal!!!

Reflection

finisherNow that it’s been 7 weeks and I’ve had the time to reflect on the whole experience…I’m actually okay with it.  It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life to date, and the training it took to achieve that goal was the toughest thing ever.  It was also the most fulfilling.  I am now one of the 0.5% of the US population that has ever run a marathon.  I may not have run the entire thing, or finished in my goal time, but I finished nonetheless.  I put in the time, I crossed the finish line, and I lived to tell about it.  It may not have been pretty, but it was definitely worth it (torn calf muscle or not!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Would I do it again?

I get this question a TON.  I said throughout the entire experience that it was going to be a ONE AND DONE type of thing.  I continue to say this, but part of me wants redemption.  But training fro a marathon is like a second job.  It takes a lot of dedication, time, and commitment.  It’s not for the weak or the weary.  It will change you from top to bottom, inside and out.  It’s definitely not something to be taken lightly.  But again, it’s all worth it when you cross the finish line.

What advice would I give to a first-time marathoner?

Practice, practice, practice.  Everything.  Not just running – hydration, nutrition, sleep, cross-training, rest.  It’s all important.  Don’t underestimate the commitment that goes into it. You can’t half-ass your way into it or you could end up injured.  I mean, shit…I did everything right and it still happened to me!  Figure out what works well and keep doing that.  Figure out what doesn’t work and stop doing it…make changes and tweaks constantly.  And above all, don’t expect everything to be perfect…but ENJOY EVERY MINUTE.  Because when it’s all said and done, you’ll get to say “I RAN A FUCKING MARATHON!”

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Beachbody OnDemand All-Access Pass!

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Okay, okay, I know I haven’t posted in a long, long time…but that’s all about to change!  And I wanted to start it off by announcing some CRAZINESS!  Seriously, Beachbody is off of their rocker haha.

ALL ACCESS BEACHBODY ON DEMAND MEMBERSHIP NOW AVAILABLE!

So I’m super excited about this INCREDIBLE opportunity that Beachbody is giving all of us.  If you’ve been following my journey, you already know that over the past almost 2 years, I’ve done SEVERAL of the incredible Beachbody workout programs and loved every one of them. So it’s always tough for me when people ask which program is my favorite! Because they ALL are for different reasons. And when I help people get started for my Challenge Groups, I ask them several questions in order to help them determine which one program is for them! That has worked out really well because they get started with that program and see such amazing results that they want to keep going and try out another program in order to switch things up! But in order to try out another program, they have to spend the money to BUY that next program…

Well…NOT ANYMORE! Because now OnDemand can be ALL ACCESS, which includes:

EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM THAT BEACHBODY HAS EVER PRODUCED! PLUS THE ONES THAT WILL BE RELEASED in 2017!

Yes, you heard me. That’s not a typo. You will have 24/7 access to all of Beachbody’s trainers and their incredible programs! And you can do all of these workouts at home or even stream them on your phone, tablet or laptop no matter where you are (hellooooo, vacations or out of town business events! Or bring the workouts with you to the gym!). And yes, I seriously mean ALL of them!

21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Insanity, Insanity Max 30, Core de Force, PiYo, Cize, Country Heat, Hammer & Chisel, P90X series (so yes, X, X2, AND X3!), 3 Week Yoga Retreat, T25, Brazil Butt Lift, 22 Minute Hard Corps, Turbo Fire, Body Beast…I mean, I can’t even name them all because there are just way too many. And beyond that, the Beachbody trainers even make EXCLUSIVE workouts that are only available through the BOD Membership! Y’all, there is over $6,000 worth of workout programs that are going to be available to you!

PLUS, when a new workout program comes out through Beachbody (they typically release 2-3 per year!), you’ll AUTOMATICALLY have access to it…no having to buy it, waiting for it to ship, or anything! I mean, holy crap. I’m seriously freaking out right now because this is the most incredible thing ever!

I know I’m probably sounding like a lunatic haha, but I’m seriously just so blown away by this offer! Let me break it down a little bit more for you:

What IS The Beachbody on Demand All Access Membership?

The Beachbody on Demand All Access Membership is an annual membership where you can digitally stream every single workout program that Beachbody has ever created.  It also gives you access to each program’s nutrition plan, full meal planning with grocery lists, menus, recipes, and tools for success.  You can watch Fixate, Autumn Calabrese’s cooking show, along with other shows yet released.  And anything new that Beachbody decides to add in the next year!

How Much Will the Beachbody on Demand All Access Membership Cost?

There will be 2 options to purchasing the Beachbody on Demand All Access Annual Membership.

The first, and my personal recommendation, is by Purchasing the Beachbody on Demand Annual All Access Challenge Pack! This Challenge pack will ONLY be available until February 28th, 2017! It includes the full annual all access membership where you can digitally stream all the workouts, and you will also receive a full month supply of Shakeology (the nutrient dense meal replacement shake that I drink every single day!) as well as a full set of the Portion Fix containers that work with all of the Beachbody program nutrition guides! PLUS, when you order through me and make me your Team Beachbody Coach, you’ll also have access to all of my Challenge Groups for the entire year (I run one each month)! So you’ll have ALL the tools you’ll need to get started and STAY motivated for the entire year!

The Beachbody on Demand Annual All Access Membership Challenge Pack with Portion Fix containers & month supply of Shakeology is only $199!

The 2nd option will be to just purchase the Beachbody on Demand Annual All Access Membership! This will be the digital subscription only and allow you to access and stream all of Beachbody’s workout programs for an entire year!  This Digital All Access Subscription is available for $99.95!

ALL ACCESS BEACHBODY ON DEMAND MEMBERSHIP NOW AVAILABLE!

Ordering Options:

The All Access Annual Membership & Shakeology Challenge Pack: With this challenge pack, you will get a one year subscription to the All Access Beachbody on Demand, plus a set of color coded portion containers and a month’s supply of Shakeology, the nutrient dense meal replacement shake that I drink every day, in your choice of flavors! So you will literally get EVERYTHING you need in order to start the year off strong! Cost: $199. Order HERE.

Annual All Access Membership: Already have the containers and Shakeology, or just want the OnDemand? You can purchase just the year of all access membership for $99.95! When ordering, be sure to select the 12 month option as that is the only option with ALL ACCESS! Order HERE.

What Programs will be Available with the BOD All Access Membership?!

Seriously, I mean it when I say EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM that Beachbody has ever created will be available. There are far too many for me to name them all, but here are a few…21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Core de Force, 22 Minute Hard Corps, Insanity, Insanity Max 30, T25, Country Heat, Cize, PiYo, TurboFire, TurboJam, TurboKick, Chalene Extreme, P90X, 3 Week Yoga Retreat, Brazil Butt Lift, Body Beast, Hammer & Chisel…the list goes on & on my friends!

Plus, there are also tons of EXCLUSIVE workouts that you can only get through BOD!

What if I don’t end up liking the Shakeology or any of the programs?!

If for some reason, you are not completely happy & excited with any aspect of this Challenge Pack or All Access Membership, you will have 30 days to return it for a complete refund!

So what are you waiting for?!

These options are only for a limited time (through February 28th, 2017!). So don’t wait another second! I have already upgraded to All Access – who’s joining me?! 🙂

ALL ACCESS BEACHBODY ON DEMAND MEMBERSHIP NOW AVAILABLE!

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Summer Body Bootcamp!!

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Now accepting applications for my brand new Summer Body Bootcamp! It’s only 21 days, and it’s got everything laid out for you. You’ll know EXACTLY what to eat and what workouts to do to get amazing results. If you want details, comment below with your email address or message me. I’m only accepting TEN people who want to be one step closer to their summer-ready body in only 21 days. You can also apply here:http://goo.gl/forms/5CwHxS4i5m.

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One year wrap-up in 905 words ^_^

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So today marks one year since I started this weight loss journey and decided to change my lifestyle to a healthier one FOR GOOD.  Though I did my first 21 Day Fix workout on February 24, 2014, I have to backtrack a little bit to when my challenge pack first arrived.  There was one bigger book with a whole lot of colors and lists, and like three little pamphets, plus three dvds, a bunch of containers that seemed so tiny, a shaker cup and this giant bag of Shakeology.  I was very nervous and trepidatious at first, because everything else I had been trying hadn’t worked.  I’d lose some weight then gain it right back the second I looked at chocolate cake or pizza.  It was logical to be skeptical right?  But then I sat down and started calculating.  TWO THOUSAND CALORIES.  The program had me eating five times a day and 2000 calories.  Sheyeah right.  I had literally been shooting for 1200 ever since I could remember…but I decided that I had to give it the three weeks and put my trust in something unknown to see what it could do.

My coach had added me to a private online accountability group and we had to check in, and show pictures of our food, and take sweaty selfies, and share our experiences with each other.  Not only had weight loss and fitness been a pretty individual thing for me up until that point, but a lot of the other challengers didn’t have much to lose and I felt like the token fat chick.  But I quickly learned a lot of things about myself and others in just those three weeks.  The first thing I learned was, just because someone is a size 2 doesn’t mean they are happy with their body.  I was confused why someone so small would want to be doing a diet and exercise program.  I had assumed that everyone did Beachbody programs because they wanted to lose weight.  Little did I know that the nutrition plans that were provided with the programs not only could help someone lose weight, but could assist in maintaining and even GAINING weight!  And the workout programs all have a modifier to make things lower impact, while there’s always some over-zealous person on screen to amp things up a bit, too.  And I was also participating in this group with some ladies that were very comfortable with their size 18 bodies, but just wanted to be healthier wives, moms, lovers, etc.  I quickly learned that everyone is on their own journey, and you should never compare your journey to anyone else’s.  We all have different steps to follow, and even missteps we will take along the way.  We have different reasons and motivation that push us in the directions we go, and temptations that will drive us backward if we let them.

Those little containers weren’t so little after I realized how much food you really could eat when it was fueling your body for optimal nutrition and health.  Long gone were the days of starving myself on purpose, eating 1200 calories without taking into account the workout I did for the day, or chain-smoking to keep myself from overeating.  This was a much more advanced way of thinking but strangely simplistic and easy to follow once I got the hang of it.  The workouts kicked my ass, but in all honesty I hadn’t really put forth the effort I needed to start burning fat and raising my metabolism to help me from the inside out.   And 21 days later I was 6 pounds and 9.5 inches smaller and on my way to being healthier, happier, and more confident.  It was then that I made the decision to become a coach because I had found a solution that works and it was like the Fountain of Youth…I just needed to share it with everyone so they could see results, too.

Fast foward to today and here’s a quick recap of my accomplishments over the past 365 days, of which I’m pretty darn proud…

–I completed three dedicated rounds of the 21 Day Fix
–I nailed the 14-week Focus T25 program (Alpha, Beta, and Gamma)
–I dabbled in a TurboFire/PiYo hybrid while training for the half
–Oh yeah…I trained 12 weeks for and completed a half marathon (with no walking)
–I am three days from completing the 60 day Les Mills Combat program
–I am about to start 21 Day Fix Extreme on Monday, March 2nd
–I now coach 133 people and lead a team of 11 coaches
-I have lost 49.1 pounds and 36 inches.
-I went from a size 18 to a size 10; XL to medium.
-I have more confidence, I’m healthier,  I have plenty of energy to complete my tasks, my body is able to handle more than it ever could, and I’m happier.

And my journey is not over yet. No, I didn’t quite make it to fifty pounds before my one year, like I had imagined, but with everything else that I’ve gained (and lost) this year, I could hardly be disappointed in myself.  I’ve worked really hard, but played really hard, too.  I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes.  And I’ll be the first to admit that some of the choices I make still aren’t the healthiest.  But I make it work and I know how to reel it back in and get back on track.  This isn’t just a diet or a 21 day program…it’s a lifestyle.  And I’m never going back.

year

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Banana Yum

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Whenever I do another round of the 21 Day Fix, my husband helps me come up with “fix-approved” recipes that don’t take long to prep.  This is one of my favorite desserts, and it’s ONLY FOUR INGREDIENTS!

Ingredients:
1 small banana or 1/2 large banana (1 purple)
2 tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut (1 orange)
1 tsp. raw honey (1 sweetener allotment)
2 tsp. natural peanut butter (2 tsp).

Directions:
1. Turn oven on HI broil.
2. Slice banana and place on plate.
3. Spoon a little bit of peanut butter onto each slice (I just use my finger haha)
4. Place coconut on an ungreased cookie sheet (the natural oils of the coconut keep it from sticking).
5. WATCH THE COCONUT UNTIL IT BROWNS.  It doesn’t take a long time and burns quickly if you step away from it too long ^_^
6. Sprinkle toasted cocout on top of banana/peanut butter slices.
7. Drizzle a tsp, of raw honey on top.

BANANA…YUM 🙂

bananayum

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A family that weighs together, stays together?

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Ok I’m sure I’ll get some giggles and shaking heads from this, but it’s important to me because of their histories and I wanted to share.  My husband and I don’t have children yet (a major reason why I started this weight loss journey) so our two cats and pug are our fur babies.  We try to keep them healthy and happy, just as we would human children.  Those of you with a Wii Fit know you can weigh your animals, too, so today we all weighed in (including Ricky, but I promised I wouldn’t share his results haha).  So here’s a little background on our lovelies and their weigh in today.

pets

About two years ago, our gray cat, Junior, was diagnosed with feline diabetes and we had to start giving him twice daily shots of insulin.  I was devastated.  Not only because we have diabetes in our family and I know how difficult it can be to maintain a good diet and healthy regimen as a HUMAN, let along taking care of a diabetic cat that can’t tell you how it’s feeling or if his sugar is low or any of that.  I remember the vet having me practice giving him a shot with saline and he bit at my arm and I broke into tears.  I never thought I’d be able to do it twice a day, plus watch him for signs of diabetic shock and deal with all of that.  Of course with the diabetes, Junior then went from a diet of purely dry kibble to mostly wet pate cat food with a sprinkle of kibble to keep his tartar down.  When we go out of town, we have to find someone to take care of him or bring him to a boarder that knows how to administer shots and be knowledgeable of signs.  It was a huge change for us, but Junior stuck with it and we stuck with him.  Two years later we’ve dealt with a lot, but he’s stuck with us and we’ve stuck with him.  His weight has fluctuated but we like to see weight gain, and in the past month he’s GAINED 0.2 pounds.  Go Junior!!

Lady is our pug.  When people see her, most are amazed with how slim and trim she is!  A lot of pugs we know are quite chunky haha.  When I met Ricky (and Lady) over 7 years ago, Lady was almost 23 pounds which was above where a healthy pug should be.  Short faced dogs overheat quickly in the summer, and it’s harder for them to breathe cold air in the winter, so appropriate exercise is difficult.  She can’t run around for hours and hours and hours like a bigger dog can, so we take her diet very seriously to help with that.  We put her on a decently strict regimen of food but she still ate twice a day and gets treats a few times a week.  We don’t feed her table scraps (unless you count what falls on the floor during meal prep and she scarfs up before we have a chance to bend down haha).  Over the years her weight has fluctuated a bit, but as of today she gained 0.2 pounds and is at an even, svelte 19 pounds, which is right in that healthy range of 18-22 for pugs!  Go Lady!!

Last but not least is Orion.  He’s featured this week because his story is a little different.  Orion was a shelter cat that I got back in 2009.  He was the only cat in our household amid a bunch of other dogs at the time.  When my husband and I moved to our condo, Orion only had to deal with Lady, which he didn’t mind.  When we moved into our house a few years later, we aquired Junior.  Anyone with more than one cat knows that they can eventually become the bestest of friends, but usually at first that is not the case.  Over the last four years they’ve had their ups and downs, but normally get along.  When Junior came around we changed the litter on Orion so he retaliated a bit (ew).  We got that under control, thankfully.  When Junior got diabetes, we changed their diet.  This in turn stressed Orion out a bit but he enjoyed the wet food, we just gave him less and a little bit more dry food.  It affected him and he started putting on stress weight.  It wasn’t from the food, because we didn’t feed him any more than he was getting, but I think seeing Junior get more food than him (since he had to keep his weight under control) and also the change made it harder.  A month ago I got on the scale with Orion and he had put on THREE POUNDS.  Three pounds in a year is like 20-30 for a human.  That’s a lot.  So in the last month I’ve made sure to vary his food a little more.  A little less wet, a little more dry.  Sometimes all dry, just to see if it made any change.  Today Orion was DOWN almost a POUND!  Great job Orion!!  You’re our Biggest Loser this week ^_^

I know this was a silly post, but the health of your pets is important, too.  There are just as many risk factors for obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, etc. with pets are there are with humans.  They can’t take care of themselves the same way we can as humans, and it’s our responsibility to keep them safe, healthy, and happy.  I’d like to think we’re doing an okay job ^_^

 

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Cat from 21 Day Fix

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I’m finding that a lot of the searches coming through to my page are those looking for the modifier, Kat, from the 21 Day Fix.  Sorry, peeps, I’m not her.  But I did have great results from following the Fix three dedicated rounds and using the meal plan about 80% during other programs, as you can see from the picture above!  Let me know if you have any questions about the 21 Day Fix or any other Beachbody programs and/or supplements.  I’d love to help you reach your goals 🙂
Email me: losingfatwithcat@gmail.com
Find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bbcatmcmaster

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21 Day Fix, Round 3, Week 1

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Finished week one with NO CHEATS!  Got my workout in every day, plus trying to hit at least 7500 steps a day.  Lost 3.8 pounds this week!  Not measuring or doing photos until after the 21 days (the after pictures in my heading are the befores for this round).  Also was finally able to BIND in my yoga fix yesterday! See photo below the food ^_^

Started out this round at 173.3 pounds (up almost 5 since two weeks before the half marathon…took off a week and a half from working out and went out to eat too much!!), and am happy to report that I’m back down to 169.5 after this week. So I’m well on my way back to my goal of 50 pounds of weight loss by Christmas 🙂  A little less than 5 pounds and I’m there 🙂  Here’s some photos of what I got to eat on this “diet” this week (can you tell I like green beans best?!)!  Connect with me on Facebook if you want recipes and more ideas!

burger sweet potato fries
Feta-stuffed burgers w/homemade sweet potato fries and green beans!

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Tilapia w/ herbed potatoes and green beans!

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Turkey tacos with homemade shells!
turkey dinner
Turkey breast with mashed baby reds and green beans!

appleonionpork
Spiced apple-onion pork with saffron couscous and green beans!

 

And finally, what you’ve been waiting for (maybe?!) – my BIND!
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November specials (early!)

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GREAT NEWS! You don’t have to wait until November for new specials! A BRAND NEW PACK is available to help you get the added advantage you need to get through the holidays!

–ALL NEW PiYo Kickstart pack, which includes the 3 Day Refresh AND the PiYo challenge pack for only $180! Boost your weight loss with the 3 day refresh then follow it up with the stretching/sculpting benefits of PiYo!

–PiYo challenge pack – $140 (save $70!)

–and the Ultimate Reset is still on sale, too!

Click on each picture for the direct links or visit http://www.beachbodycoach.com/infinikitty!

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