Bay Breeze 2018!

Hi! How are you? I’m great!

I got to run the Bay Breeze event put on by Brazen Racing today, 2/10/18. I ran the 5k and two miles afterwards. I ran this event in 2015 as my first half marathon. I picked this course because registration prices were great, the course is flat and has a generous finish time. Photo from 2015 below:

In 2015 I was naive and had no idea what I was doing. I cramped the last few miles because I chugged too many fluids. It was our first Valentines Day after we got married so I made my husband take care of me the whole day after 😊

That year we spent the night there because I didn’t understand things like day of packet pick up. This year we decided we were too cheap to spend money on a hotel room, so I had to wake up SUPER EARLY since we are about an hour and 20 mins from the event. So I laid out my clothes and set the alarm. My new Goodr Sunglasses came in the mail so I could wear them!

Ugh. And waking up was horrific. Nice hair, eh? Serious kudos to people who do this daily.

And we picked up our friend who was running too, and headed out of town at 5:30.

When we got there, we got our stuff and Mr. FtoF went to get ready for his half which started 30 mins before my event. I smooched him for good luck.

Then I eventually lost my friend when I went to the bathroom so I went to warm up. I will admit I’m horrible at dynamic warm up before running. HORRIBLE. I also got to meet fellow Mermaid Series Ambassador Kerri which was a treat!

I was running for time but not with intention of PRIng. I’ve come to terms that I won’t PR anything until I lose weight. My body is so slow right now until I drop the extra pounds. But I refuse to stop running. I identify the importance of knowing if you’re doing an easy run or pushing, so by phrasing it with “running for time” rather than “aiming to PR”, I didn’t feel like I was setting myself up to fail. And then off I went!

A half mile in my right calf tightened up so badly I couldn’t unkink it. Man, it hurt like nothing before. I rolled it out the night before but I don’t think I did enough. I warmed up but maybe not enough. Who knows what exactly happened. But since I knew I wasn’t breaking any monumental records I ran as much as I could and gave myself a half dozen walk breaks when it acted up. I saw a gal that ran in the pace group I was in at Hot Chocolate SF while running and said hi on the course, and at one point I stopped at the aid station for water but couldn’t find a trash so I just held my empty cup til I gave up and put it in my Amphipod. I’m gonna have some great race photos holding a 12 ounce cup 😝

I crossed the finish line in 38:46 (my Garmin said it was 3.20 miles not 3.1 😫), and felt pretty good. A little bummed my leg was a jerk but still good. I got a photo of my cool medal, and then packed it away in my pouch so I could get my last few miles in.

I’m gonna be honest, I felt tired and slow after that and was having a hard time justifying that I had to keep running while I watched everyone else enjoy post race food 😫 and was hoping there would be stuff left when I was done……

On my way to the food table I saw a booth where they were stretching people out. There was no wait, and my right calf really was tight so I gave it a try. It was a great idea and a horrible idea. The nice man who had to deal with my sweaty horrible hot mess ness did a great job stretching out my hamstrings and calf, but it HURT and I made some faces and some noises and some swear words may have come out. It’s all kind of a blur.

But then I was on the hunt to see if there was any ice cream left…..

And guess what, there was!!!!!!!! I had an It’s It, which was probably as many calories as I burned running but worth every bite. And I got to put my medal on. And I found my friend too (pro tip: just plan to meet your friends where the food is. You’ll look less like a fatty cause it’s a meeting place)

And as I went to throw away my trash I heard the announcer say my husband was finishing so I ran over to see him!

It was hot so we found him some shade and I offered to get him food. While I was getting him food, a nice gal named Krystal said she followed me on Instagram and gave me some nice compliments! Thanks for saying hi Krystal!

Then I got back and found my better half…

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

After he ate I got to see my other friend and her husband who were running the half (her first!) cross the finish line and then it was off to (real) food because ice cream for breakfast is only good in theory. The coffee shop was out of avocado which broke my heart.

And as we headed out, we were greeted with this quote on the ground.

And I was reminded of an important lesson today. Today I was inspired and motivated by all kinds of runners. Not just the elite fast ones. I am always impressed by those people. But to those people who toe up and are 3+ hour half marathon finishers, first time runners, new runners, and people who are kicking butt and taking names even when it is hard and scary, I am inspired by you. I am grateful to share the course with you every time I line up.

Until next time Brazen Racing!

Cheers runners!

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Choices.

The other day I was at the coffee shop before work getting my caffeine fix. I was behind a customer who ordered a large iced drink with half and half, multiple pumps of syrup, four mini pastries and a full size pastry, warmed up.

This isn’t a reflection of judgement on the customer. It is a reflection on me.

I stood in that line and watched the banana bread go into the toaster and get crumbly and warm. I saw the cream color of the coffee drink that can only be achieved by the perfect balance of cream and sugar. And I felt a little sad. I miss those kinds of meals.

I walked up to the counter and ordered a double shot of espresso and egg whites with a sense of jealousy. And wished I was nibbling on mini scones and drinking a medium soy iced chai with an add shot of espresso. And the barista handed me my usual and I reflected.

I felt disappointed that I couldn’t have those pastries and that warm gooey banana bread for breakfast.

Then I reframed.

I’m wrong.

I CAN have those things for breakfast. I can have that, and a super burrito for lunch and a burger and fries for dinner. I can spend my free time doing nothing, and going through way less loads of laundry if I didn’t exercise as often and have to constantly wash my clothes. I can have tons of money by not having a running coach, a gym membership, and signing up for races.

It’s not that I CANT eat what I want, spend less money, and not force myself to fight mental battles to workout when I would rather go home and read.

I CAN do all of those things.

But those things aren’t the things that make me who I am and help me achieve the goals I have.

So next time I HAVE TO order the eggs instead of the muffin and the espresso instead of the whole milk latte, I will remind myself I GET TO do those things because they are supportive of who I am and the goals I have.

And you GET TO make those choices too! ❤️

You don’t have to justify your why.

When I first joined Weight Watchers, I was desperate to lose weight so I could get cast in musicals. I was fresh out of college with my degree in music and singing showtunes day in and day out. My size was holding me back, and after going to an audition I thought I really stood a chance at and not being called back, I knew I had to make a change. And to be honest with you, I walked into the doors of my Weight Watchers meeting expecting to just lose a little and quit, just like I always had. But I didn’t and now here we are.

The topic of my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday was “what’s your why” and after hearing numerous people share amazing reasons like health and being around for great grandkids, I shared that I wanted to lose weight because I wanted to perform in musicals and I wanted to run faster. I also shared that I, and I quote, “felt like a real a-hole” that my reasons seemed so shallow compared to everyone else. I swear, everyone in the room (a great group of WW members that I’ve known for years) groaned at me at the same time and almost beat me up for devaluing my why, reminding me that they love watching me on the stage and to not give it up. And after the meeting I told my leader I felt like a really piece of work that I didn’t raise my hand and say something inspiring like “I want to lose weight because I want to be healthy to have a baby!” and she assured me it was ok to have the reasons I have. I don’t know that I felt convinced of that when I walked out the door, but didn’t put much more thought into it. And I left and decided it just wasn’t a topic I could find more value in.

Pre Weight loss

But then I went for my Sunday long run, and I was in a bad mood. I was tired, and when I’m tired I do NOT carry myself well. I am a nightmare to be around when I’m exhausted. But somehow as I was running, this bizarre montage of events began playing through my head. But not just the moments. The feelings that corresponded with those events.

  • Not PRing the 5k I ran in October. Disappointing.
  • Sitting in a chair and breaking it many years ago. Mortifying.
  • Walking into a dress store at my heaviest to find a senior recital gown, picking one up and the sales associate saying “YOU KNOW THATS A SIZE 12 RIGHT?!?” Embarrassing.
  • “You’re pretty but other girls are way hotter” Devastating.
  • Crossing the finish line at CIM and wondering what I could have run if I wasn’t carrying extra weight. Frustrating.
  • Auditioning for a musical and not getting cast. Heartbreaking.
  • Being too heavy to walk for long periods of time just on a simple day like a trip to the mall. Scary.

And then I realized the cool things that will be afforded to me with losing weight.

  • Running way faster
  • Shopping for clothes
  • Less potential health issues when it’s time to start a family
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • More musicals
  • Looking how I want to look

And I realized that while the biggest reasons for my why are musicals and being faster, I also have many past moments in life that I don’t want to go back to, and many potentials that I do.

A woman in my meeting said she simply “did not want to be the fat one” anymore, and I so identified with that. I want people to describe me as “the one with the glasses”, or “the Filipino”, or “that one funny girl”, or “that girl who performs in musicals and runs marathons!” I don’t want to be described as, “you know, that one heavyset girl”.

Whatever your why is, don’t feel any shame over it. It may feel deep, or it may feel shallow. But it is your motivation and you deserve to hold on to it hard, and use it to motivate you with all your might.

Cheers to holding your why close by. ❤️

When unicorns and Hot Chocolate 15ks collide

After CIM I had nothing immediately following on my race calendar. I told myself to take one week off from even considering registering for anything because I was in extreme Runner’s High and was likely to sign myself up for an Ironman or something because I felt so invincible. 😂 I toyed with the idea of signing up for the San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15k that entire week and knew if I did it, I would wanna do the 15k and not the 5k because the 5k doesn’t get a medal. So when Stephanie from Run Strong Run, who I met through the CIM ambassador program told me she was pacing the 15 minute per mile group, I thought that would be a great way to run the event without burning myself out just 5 weeks after a marathon.

I decided to rock some unicorn attire for this because I’ve wanted to run as a unicorn for fun, so I decided this was the perfect event!

When I registered, we decided to share a hotel room, use the same shuttle and go to the expo together. It was fun to have someone to buddy up with since I almost always do everything alone!

Saturday

aturday morning I drove down to visit some friends who lived near the race Expo, including Stephanie from I RUN California. I’ve got a theme going with spending this weekend with friends named Stephanie who run!

<<<<
hen I went to the Expo and got my bib and sweatshirt. The sweatshirts are awesome. They're fleece lined with thumbholes and some of the nicest swag I've ever gotten! At the race expo we had lots of shenanigans, like eating chocolate and trying a thousand times to take a good jumping picture together. Finally we had to give up and do a video

<
nd of course we ate a lot of chocolate because chocolate is delicious. <<<<
fter the expo we went to our hotel and had Mexican food for dinner and I had a burrito with French fries in it because it sounded good and some lady in line told me it's the only burrito her husband eats at that taqueria. Stephanie and I got to chat about all kinds of things, and it was fun to hear more about our non-running lives… as well as our running lives!

Since we had to be up early to catch the shuttle (well, early for me. She told me she wakes up early regularly and I told her that was gross…. I love snooze!) we laid out our clothes, put on our PJs and watched some TV before turning in for the evening.

Sunday<<<<
larm went off at 4:45 and I rolled my lazy butt out of bed to get ready so we could make it on the 6 AM shuttle. Stephanie had to be there early to get her pacing stuff and I had some friends I wanted to try and see before the race.

<<<<
got to the park and it was COLD! I did not want to take off my jacket. This is my first year doing the event but last year they told me it was pouring rain so hard that they changed the 15k to be a 5k 😬.

At the park I also got to see my friend Russ. Riss is awesome and is turning 40 this year so he is celebrating by running 40 races! This was the second race of the year for him. And then it was time to port o potty, gear check and go to the start. I heard there were 12,000 people! It was so well organized though that it didn’t feel that way.

At the back of the pack I had the opportunity to talk with quite a few people, since I wasn’t focused on pushing myself for time. That’s pretty unusual for me to get to do during a race so it was lots of fun. A lot of people were in the last corral. That’s where the party was at.

Along the course there were some hills which I enjoyed. Surprisingly over the last few months I’ve enjoyed hill training and want to do more races with more rollers. If anyone know of any good ones, throw them my way! It was a lot of fun to run in Golden Gate Park. This is my 3rd event that has taken place there (other two were Kaiser Half 2016 & SF Marathon 2nd half, 2017) and it was nice to run the park but MAN it is always SO HUMID IN GOLDEN GATE PARK. This little unicorn was so sweaty. I had sunglasses but I couldn’t wear them because they got so foggy, so I just carried them the whole race.

Along the course we went past the ocean which was great. Helped me cool down after the humidity.

About an hour and twenty minutes in I realized I needed to take a fuel pack in. Even though I wasn’t pushing, I was still being active and losing energy and felt it so I had a Gu. They had chocolate chips and marshmallows at some of the aid stations which was fun!

I also saw bison.

What did the buffalo say to his son when he left for college? Bye-son. What did the buffalo say to his son when he left for college? Bye-son.

Finally about 2:19 later, we were crossing the finish line and the photographer got this hilarious photo of us crossing. I was telling the finish line announce that unicorns, are in fact real. He said he spotted one! It was funny. Then we had post race shenanigans again. More jumping photos. The other gal is Katherine, who hung out with us for most of the race until the very end when she finished on her own. This little unicorn had a blast. This little unicorn also got lots of fun comments about her unicorn attire.

We gathered our fondue and our belongings and headed back to the shuttle. Mmmm fondue. Overall I had a BLAST at the event and am so glad I did it with the 15 minute group. It was so fun to hear their stories and listen to them push hard and work hard for a well earned medal. Lots of rockstar ladies on that course.

After we took the shuttle back to our cars, I got straight on the road because I like to go straight home after a race and eat when I get home if it’s possible. I stopped at Amy’s Kitchen Drive thru because I figured I could use a vegetable.

Overall I had so much fun! I will likely be back later in life for the event. It was a blast. Glad to have been there this year.

As for the unicorn horn, I’m thinking this was the first race it appeared at but won’t be the last. Too much fun to retire it now! Next fun run race I do it may just appear again… because unicorns are rare and you can’t see them at every event!

Cheers runners! Happy 2018!

How to make 2018 my best year yet.

I usually set goals. Big ones. And then I spend a lot of energy focusing on the goal, and not on the process to get there. Im changing the way I look at my goals for next year. I’m excited to brainstorm my desired outcomes (not goals necessarily), of achievements that I can see myself accomplishing as long as I put the work in to get there.

I am ready for some kick butt stuff in 2018, but need to trust the process and allow success to follow. Here’s what I hope for!

1. Desired outcome: PR my half marathon time. Action plan to get there: stay consistent in being active.

I have been hoping to PR my half marathon time (2:26:01) for over a year. I have not been looking at it the right way. When I set that PR, it was an 11 minute achievement over my previous PR. I did not expect it AT ALL. I had, however, been eating well, training well, and staying consistent, which led to a huge and unexpected accomplishment. For the last year I have been signing up for races and hoping I was capable. Next year I am not going to set timelines on races. I’ll sign up for them when I feel like running one, and so long as I kick ass and work hard, my PR will come when I have earned it and not simply because I want it.

2. Desired outcome: get to my goal weight. Action plan to get there: actually eat better.

I have been so inconsistent with my eating lately and have not made any effort to cook meals or make the best choices when eating out. I can’t just get to my goal weight because I half ass my tracking and show up to Weight Watchers each week. Which is what I have been doing. It’s time to do it. For reals.

3. Desired outcome: less stress. Action plan to get there: take on less.

I spend lots of energy on relationships of people who don’t give me the same energy back. It drains me. I spend lots of energy setting ambitious goals and I’m going to dial those back. I spend a lot of energy thinking about what’s coming next and trying to create plans and structure. I’m going to do less of that. I’m going to do more of what renews me and less of what dissolves me. More reading, running, blogging. Less stressing. I’m excited to go with the flow.

2018 is going to be the best year. 2017 was great and taught me a lot about myself, and I think I saw amazing personal growth in myself.

Cheers to 2018! Let’s be the best we can be.

Review: First (actual) week on Weight Watchers Freestyle

****this post is in no way sponsored or affiliated with Weight Watchers. I am merely writing this as a personal recap of my personal Weight Watchers journey

On Sunday, December 3rd, Weight Watchers announced changes to their current program. For those of you who aren’t WW members, the WW plan (prior to the change) is that everyone gets a daily target of points to eat each day, and a set of weekly points that you can choose to eat or not eat at your desire. Every food has a smart points value and the higher in sugar or saturated fat something is, the more points it is, and the higher in protein something is, the less points it is. The only exception is that all fruit and most vegetables are 0. For reference on that plan, I got 30 points a day and 42 weekly points.

The changes to the plan maintain the same algorithm of calculating points, however, the list of foods that are 0 points has grown to now include lean proteins (chicken and turkey breast), fish, plant proteins, nonfat yogurts, eggs and all vegetables except potatoes. In turn, daily points targets have decreased to compensate for this exchange. Additionally, if you do not use four or less of your points a day, they roll over into your weekly points. On the new plan, I get 23 points daily and still get 42 weekly.

This plan launched the day I ran CIM, and so when I went to my Monday night meeting I switched over. I did not, however, really abide by the plan because I was ravenous for DAYS after the marathon and went to two holiday parties and I gained that week. I am NOT blaming it on the plan change. My first real week where I focused on the plan, was December 10 through 16.

Let me start by saying I eat most things but one thing I CANNOT STAND is beans. Everyone seems to be elated that beans are now 0, and I wish I could be excited with them, but I cannot handle eating beans because of their texture (unless we are talking jelly beans)

I have been eating a lot on the go (which explains why I’ve been gaining weight the last few months), but promised myself I would be dedicated to weight loss again after the marathon. Perfect timing that this aligned with the marathon training ending.

(Because I had gained the previous week, it brought my weight to a range where I got 24 daily points last week but I now get 23)

Day 1: Monday. (The day my points reset)

My first real day on plan and I struggled. I had not gone to the store because I slept almost all day Sunday. As a result I ate all my meals out and didn’t make great choices. For breakfast, I had a breakfast burrito and a protein shake with espresso. For lunch, I had a chicken bowl from chipotle and for dinner I made eggs and Kodiak cake pancakes. I sprinkled in some snacks throughout the day but I wasn’t taking advantage of the 0 point foods.

Day 2: Tuesday, I got to roll over a point!

Tuesday was a much better day for dinner I made a quinoa/tofu/broccoli slaw and edamame stir fry which was low in points. Eggs and toast were a low point breakfast, and the deli near me does a grilled chicken breast sandwich which has become my new favorite thing to eat. I ran a few miles, and felt satiated all day.

Day 3: Wednesday, which also happened to be Mr. ftof’s birthday.

Thank goodness for weeklies because I ended up eating some birthday cheesecake (which I tracked after taking this picture) when Mr ftof and I went to dinner on his birthday. Since I was low on points because I was seduced by candy, I requested that the restaurant make me buffalo wings but use chicken breast instead of wings. I told them it didn’t have to be pretty but that’s what I wanted. They obliged! BAM! This plate was 0 points but I used blue cheese dressing, which I willingly used points on.

I’m realizing that going out to eat is less intimidating than it used to be because previously I would try and make decisions based off of numbers of points from menu items, but now I just look for lean proteins, vegetables, and can ask for substitutions.

Day 4: Thursday, which is also the day I thought would never end.

Poor planning, and the fact that I ran out of my stash of hard boiled eggs at the office meant I didn’t make the best choice and got a breakfast burrito for breakfast, which was higher in points and made me have to adjust accordingly for the rest of the day. For lunch I found some leftover broccoli slaw/tofu/edamame/quinoa stir fry in the fridge which was low in points, and since my better half had to work late that night I made eggs for dinner. 0 points! I cheered with excitement! So did the fire alarm when it went off in my apartment 😤

Day 5: TGIF!<<
idn't take a picture of my tracker, but at the end of a long work day where I left an hour later than I was planning and didn't go running, I had no idea what I was going to have for dinner. I had eaten breakfast and lunch on the go (a protein box from Starbucks for breakfast, and a turkey breast sandwich for lunch), and was determined not to throw in the towel. We went to our local supermarket and I got a miniature burrito from the taqueria stand with lots of shrimp and veggies and a teeny weenie amount of rice and cheese. No sour cream and no guacamole, but I did get some nonfat Greek yogurt to use as sour cream substitute in case the salsa was too spicy. Hmmm…. maybe I can do this plan after all!

Day 6 & 7: the weekend<<
Saturday I managed to stay heavy on my protein (eggs, chicken) and felt satisfied for a long time and within my points. Sunday however, we celebrated Mr. ftof's birthday and you can see the damage….

<<
eighed in Sunday morning (prior to this 55 point day) and drumroll please….< strong>DOWN 4.4! <<
me things I've learned over the course of the week:

  • I’m going to have to plan out my breakfast and lunch at work better so I can ensure that I’m taking advantage of the 0 point options
  • Looking at menus is less intimidating now
  • Because I have the option to take advantage of more 0 point foods, I feel full longer. I am, however, struggling to break old habits of eating at the break times I used to make myself eat at during the work day. I can now go for hours without needing a snack, but I’m not used to that so I need to listen to my body more.
  • Having less points a day is really not as horrible as I thought it would be
  • I wish I could tolerate beans because everyone is so excited about them being 0 points 😭

Was my first week perfect? Nope. Definitely room for improvement. But it was pretty darn good, all things considered.

I am gonna have some growing pains figuring structure out with this program but once I do, I know it will be great for me!

Cheers to 0 point foods!

-Vanessa

Someone has to be last: how running has changed my mindset about my weight loss journey.

If you haven’t heard the story about why I started running, the short version is that my coworkers at my old job and I signed up to do a 5k mudrun many years ago. I had such a fun time that I told everyone I was going to run a half marathon. I had no idea how long a half marathon was, but true to my word, I ran my first half marathon months later. Now here we are two and a half years, ten halfs, and two marathons later.

Because I didn’t run my whole life, I’m not fast. I am traditionally not one of the last people to finish, as I tend to hang mid-pack. The experience was different at my marathon though. I knew I would be towards the back. I also knew that it was entirely possible I would be one of, if not the last, person to finish. I was nervous about it. And a little ashamed to realize I might be the one closing down the finish line after 26.2 miles. It was a scary thought for sure.

But as race day got closer and closer and closer, I had a big reality check that stuck with me.

We are all setting out for the same 26.2 mile goal but someone has to be last.

It seems like a total “duh” statement. But there’s more to it that stuck with me.

Maybe I was going to be last. But that meant I showed up. That meant I put in the work. That meant I gave it my all. That meant I had the courage to start. I wasn’t last but I was nearly last but I was successful. And this was an experience where I understood how running and my weight loss journey tied together.

Races can be intimidating sometimes. I toe up to the start line with some seriously amazing people. People who run mile times I dream of, or distances that blow my mind, or are in such good shape I wonder if they spent their whole lives being active. But we don’t see peoples back stories. How much work they put in. The early alarms to get up and work out. The sacrifices made. The internal monologues and dialogues that happen. Everyone has their own story.

All I know is what I know about myself and my capabilities. I am capable of doing whatever work I want to put in to achieve goals, and there are people who may look at me and wish they were where I am. It’s all perspective. I’m comparing my chapter 1 to other people’s chapter 20’s. But some people may look at where I am at, and in comparison to where they are, I am at their desired chapter 20.

At my race this morning I ran without music and I felt like my mind was full of great thoughts and comparison of how similar watching others lose weight can be. We can often find ourselves stuck in a rut while seeing others experience more success and we wish we were there. But of course, we don’t know the work they’ve put in to get there. The sacrifice it took. The times they had to say no to cookies, the times tears were shed in the dressing room when pants didn’t fit. The work that is put in.

Much like running, in weight loss there isn’t always someone cheering for you. There are a lot of times we fight our own internal battles. We talk ourselves through crappy meals or crappy runs, or bad choices, or times we give up. We talk ourselves through disappointment of thinking you’re going to hit a PR or instances where you thought you would lose enough weight to fit into a certain dress on a certain day but that doesn’t always happen. In running and weight loss, you set a goal and people may look at you and say “wow you’re so lucky that you’ve been successful” but you know it isn’t luck. It’s hard work. You study the menu before you go out to eat, or you run on the treadmill when it’s raining because you have to.

Running and weight loss have reminded me that you can’t just stop – you keep going. You can take a pause, or break, or be flexible, but you can’t give up. There are people who give up. There are people won’t don’t show up at all. It can be frustrating to see the success of others and feel like you’re behind on the bandwagon, but again, we all set out on the same goal but someone has to be last. I’m not saying it’s a competition with losing weight, but what I am saying is that we are all working towards the same goal with very different back stories.

It would be easy for us to just watch from the sidelines and never needing to compare ourselves to others because we never started.

When I made the decision not to quit my marathon, I told someone I would rather take 7 hours to finish than to never start at all. With weight loss, I would rather take years to get to my goal weight than to never try at all. Despite the hard times, the struggles, and frustration… I do not ever want to give up on myself.

I have become mentally stronger and am so proud of that. I would rather be last than to ever give up on being my best. That’s what I have learned from running this year.

❤️ Vanessa

Always earned, never given. California International Marathon recap.

In January I was chosen as an ambassador for the California International Marathon. An honor I was not expecting. I had spent the better part of 2017 sharing my joy, spreading a discount code and celebrating running through my social media. I had big plans to lose weight and get stronger before marathon training began. That definitely backfired on me and all did not go according to plan. In fact, I put on about 20 more pounds over the course of the year. My training was completely derailed when the Santa Rosa fires struck and I couldn’t run outside for two weeks. Finally, on November 5th, I decided I wasn’t going to run the marathon. I was 13 miles into my 17 mile run. I gave up. I called for a ride. My head won. I emailed to downgrade to the relay. I texted my running coach. I let my doubt get in the way. I waited for a feeling or relief to come and it never did. I imagined myself getting a relay medal instead of the 35th annual marathon medal and not being able to say I ran my second marathon. I felt disappointed that I had let myself give up so easily. Then, in a moment of clarity, I got home (we had been staying out of town), put on my running shoes and went back out and finished the last four miles. And decided I was worth putting everything out on the line for. So I took back my quitting and knew it was going to be a long road to 26.2, but made up my mind to complete my goal.

Friday: expo fun!

This weekend I kicked it off on Friday and enjoyed some amazing time at the CIM expo. First I picked up all my stuff and spent a bunch of money (oops!).

Then I had the opportunity to volunteer at the expo. I love volunteering for events when I can! I also got to meet fellow CIM ambassadors which was a treat.

After enjoying some pizza and ice cream with family from the area, I tucked myself into bed.

Saturday: race prep

Saturday morning there was a shakeout run. It was a great way to get in a few miles. I ran with one of the CIM ambassadors Stephanie (blogger at Run Strong Run), who I have tried at two different events to meet up with! I ran two miles but then walked back to the Capitol building for some fun photos and a dance party video 😊<<<
ent the rest of the day having lunch, hanging out with Mr. Ftof and eating pizza for dinner because the alarm was set for 3:30, so I was in bed at 7:00.

Sunday: race morning<<<<<
ut of bed at 3:30 and fought with an unhappy belly for a while. I got dressed and got in line for the bus at 4:45. You have to take a shuttle from Sacramento to the starting line in Folsom because it's a point to point event. It was early! On the bus I thought to myself that my former 264.2 pound version of myself would never envision my current self running a marathon. That feeling was a good way to start the day.

I got to the starting line around 6, and went to the bathroom a few times (I was paranoid and went like three times lol), checked my gear and waited to start. I found Stephanie again who was unofficially pacing the 6 hour group. Her Christmas tree headband was the best!

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he first ten miles seemed to fly by. It was strange how quickly those went by for me. There were rolling hills and I felt really strong and good during them. Flip side was that I probably spent a lot of energy on them. I was so focused on staying as close to the cutoff pace as I could (6 hour cut off), that I tried my hardest to hold on to those 13:44 miles. I was good for a while until about the 13.1 when I started to slow down. I was doing 4:1 Run:Walk intervals. I told myself after I got to 13.1, to get to 16. Then I told myself to get to 20. Then I told myself to get to 23, and finally to finish. I was so lucky to see Ann and Mary along the course, two awesome ladies who have done CIM before and are local to the area and are Facebook followers.

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t mile 18 I really wanted to give up. I was so tired and had so much longer to go. My dreams of getting to the finish line before the 6 hour cut off were long gone and I was just hoping a volunteer would still be there with medals when I got there. But I knew I couldn’t give up. I had come too far to give up now. So I changed my intervals to 2:3 Run/walk and just told myself to finish. I hit the wall around mile 22.6, but just kept doing what I could. I was GOING to finish.

And suddenly I was at mile 25. I don’t know how it happened. I turned a corner and recognized where I was. I saw the Capitol building. I knew I was close. I picked up my pace and suddenly could run again. I saw a fellow CIM ambassador Art, who cheered me on, giving me the boost I needed. And I gave literally everything left that I had. Every ounce of it. And at this point, I started crying. I had achieved the unthinkable. I had done something that felt so unattainable. And after 6:41:19, I had done it. I had run my second marathon!

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ugh it was the hardest thing I have ever accomplished, even harder than my first marathon, and it made the victory that much sweeter.

It wasn’t the best training I’ve had and I don’t feel size wise and Fitness wise where I would prefer to be, but it is a sweet victory to celebrate. I realized this weekend that because I have different goals that aren’t as elite as other runners, that does not take the value away of my goals nor does it diminish their accomplishment. I didn’t PR or BQ like other runners were shooting for but I finished my marathon. And that is something to be celebrated.

I may already be debating what Fall marathon I’ll be tackling in 2018…. but first I think I’ll rest up a little and stick to shorter distances.

Thank you everyone for your support. I am so grateful to have achieved this goal with you behind me❤️

Transformation Tuesday – it’s not about the pounds you lose, it is about the life you gain.

On Monday, November 6th I walked into a Monday night Weight Watchers meeting, desperate to reset my path of weight loss. I love the Saturday morning group I’ve been going to, but that meeting felt stale and I felt like by starting my Points week on a Saturday, I was setting myself up to fail because I would eat so much on the weekends and my mind wouldn’t be able to recover during the week. I’m so stoked to say that since then, I’ve really felt focused again and have lost 5.6 pounds. 🎉🎉

At the meeting last night, we talked about how life has changed since losing weight. I have lately been holding back sharing in the meeting… I chime in on occasion but have allowed this new group to be an opportunity to just listen to people because they have great things to offer. But then I felt compelled to answer the question. I don’t know why, but my mind told me to speak up. How has my life changed since losing weight?

And many things floated through my head. I’m active! I fit into normal sized clothes! I sleep better! I run! I eat vegetables! I don’t live in fear of being away from a bathroom! But then, without the words even passing through my mind and coming straight out of my mouth, I said….

I don’t live life on the sidelines anymore.

And as I said that, my eyes welled a little and I didn’t even know what I had said until I said it.

Because I don’t share often, I tried to play it cool and not get teary eyed in front of this group of people I’ve only known a few weeks.

And I realized how many amazing things I get to do because I’m not on the sidelines.

  • I don’t have to worry about things like the weight limit at the trampoline park.
  • I don’t have to fear that a store doesn’t carry my size.
  • I don’t have to avoid events with friends because I don’t know how much walking will be involved and I’m afraid of getting winded.
  • I don’t have to make up excuses not to go to things because I don’t wanna be seen in a swim suit.

I can live life however I want and not watch from the sidelines.

I remember the days of wishing and hoping I could be part of the crowd. Living in fear to go somewhere because I didn’t know if the chairs would support my weight, or if it would be hot and I would be too sweaty (I was always way warmer before losing weight).

I remember looking in and wanting my life to be more than it was. And now I look out at the crowd and scream cheers of support for those on the sidelines, wanting to be part of the fun but feeling held back by their bodies.

And there is so much more for me to look forward to as I get to goal and achieve more things that I still peer at from the sidelines, but dip my toes into as I get braver and healthier.

I’m not on the sidelines anymore. I’m the coach, manager, and star player of this game.

Run the mile that you’re in. 

As you may, or may not know, I am 5 weeks out from my second marathon. Training has not gone as I would have expected, leaving me feeling a little frantic and full of self doubt. I recently reheard this phrase and it is bringing me a lot of peace. 

Run the mile that you’re in. 

I spend a lot of time overwhelming myself with planning, playing the “what if” game, and being so focused on the big picture and what’s coming next that I forget to be present in the moment, in the mile. 

This statement has meaning in two different ways to me right now. The first, running. 

I am so intimidated but excited to run a marathon again for the second time. With that excitement comes a level of fear. I know that my success will lie by focusing on the mile that I’m in and not thinking about all 26.2 of them at once. If I don’t let myself enjoy the mile that I am in, no matter how hard, enjoyable or easy it is because I’m so focused on what is next, there are lots of things I might miss out on. Yesterday on my long run I allowed myself to stay present in the moment and saw a lot of little joys I would have otherwise missed if I had been distracted by thinking about the next mile instead of enjoying the one that I was in. Run the mile that you’re in. 

Second, when life throws you a curve ball, run the mile that you’re in. 

Life has been tough lately between the fires and other chaos of life and instead of embracing where I am at emotionally, I’ve been too focused on what’s next and how to deal with coping. What I need to do, is analyze how I am doing right here and right now in the present moment.  What can I do now? Not what do I wish or what do I hope, but what can I do now?  Am I present in the mile I am in? Or am I focused on just getting to the end? Run the mile that you’re in, Vanessa and allow yourself to be present in the moment and practice self care.  

If I learned anything from my first marathon, it wasn’t that my life lessons came from the moment that I crossed the finish line. They came from the moments and miles where I was mentally present, battled through some tough stuff and enjoyed the journey and the struggle. That meant accepting every mile as it came. The hard ones, the easy ones. The ones I felt like a champion and the ones that made me want to give up. But every single mile counted as long as I ran the one I was in.  If you run the one you’re in you’ll eventually get to the finish line. 

I will stay present in the moment in both running and life. 

I will run the mile that I am in.