My Running Journey

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In 2012, my 5″1′ frame clocked in at about 130 pounds, and my doctor told me I needed to lose at least 10 of them. Before that, I hadn’t really thought much about my weight or about the foods (read: Taco Bell) I put into my body. I didn’t care about organic or sustainable or exercise. But I had noticed that it was harder to play ddr (that’s Dance Dance Revolution, for anyone who didn’t spend high school in arcades dancing in sync with colorful arrows scrolling on the TV screen), and I figured that my doctor might be on to something. So, challenge accepted.

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At right, in 2010, about a year and a half before my doctor suggested I lose weight. At left, me now: not my lightest weight, but at my healthiest.

I started with food: I downloaded the MyFitnessPal calorie-counting app and painstakingly plugged in my meals. It got easier over time and pretty much became a habit; I still do it, mostly to check myself when I want to eat too many chocolate-covered mangoes or coffee-nut M&Ms. Bit by bit, I gave things up: soda, fast food, mindless snacking. I still eat burgers and ice cream and candy, only I do so now in moderation instead of all the time. That philosophy became, and still is, my mantra: Everything is fine, in moderation.

Then I added in some exercise. At first I only did the warm-up to Shuan T’s Insanity workout videos, because I couldn’t complete any more than that. By 2014, I felt ready to attempt my first race, mostly because you could score a cuddly stuffed elephant if you raised a certain amount of money. Todd and I finished in 34 minutes. Afterward I wrote: “I wouldn’t call myself a ‘runner’ by any stretch of the word. I don’t pace faster than eleven and a half minutes per mile. I don’t jog more than file miles per week, most weeks.” So I started doing practice jogs; I added weight training to my routine. I struggled my way to push ups and chin ups (well, I’m still working on that; I can only do one) and burpees.

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A family photo at the hotel gym the night before the third annual Chocolate 5k Race in April.

Now I can do speed runs and intervals and long runs and half marathons. Sometimes I run alone, or with Todd, and sometimes we do races as a family. I weigh 110 pounds, give or take a few depending on the day, and I can see muscles (baby ones) in places I didn’t have any before. My best 5k pace is now about 26 minutes, and Todd’s is even faster. We’ve come a long way.

But I still want to keep improving. This past weekend, Todd and I ran a 10k in Queens, our first in Flushing-Meadows Park. It was drizzly, and the course was muddy, but we completed the 6.2 miles in 58 and a half minutes. We crossed the finish line holding hands. For me it was a win, even though I placed 1,878 out of 5,101 women and 5,963 out of 10,884 total racers, even though the fastest female finished the course in 34 minutes, a full 24 minutes ahead of me. I can’t even wrap my mind around that kind of strength and speed, but I’m going to keep reaching for it.

And I won’t stop trying to reach new milestones—like next year, when Todd and I attempt the NYC Marathon. I’m scared, but determined. After all, I am a runner.

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Running in Winter: My Motivation

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I didn’t run very much or very often over the holiday season. Instead, I baked cherry oat bread, feasted on lobster, and practiced yoga—all of which I enjoyed immensely but didn’t leave me with the elation or satisfaction I experience after a good run. I wanted to run more in the new year, and today I received an acknowledgement of my progress in the form of a Nike+ badge for running five weeks in a row.

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Recipe: Four-Berry Wheat Muffins

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Though I posted a recipe for cherry oat bread only a week or so ago, I decided to post my four-berry wheat muffin recipe today in case you wanted to do some healthy baking during the blizzard that’s coming our way!

Featuring strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, it’s based on a recipe that I found on Yummly. For the most part, my modifications were done out of necessity; I didn’t have enough strawberries to mix into the batter, so I used all four types of blueberries instead. It tasted delicious, so I highly recommend the method outlined below. And, as a bonus, your muffins will come out a stormy shade of blue—the perfect color for a blustery winter day.

Four-berry muffin

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My Garden, One Month Later

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On June 12, one month had passed since I last updated you on my garden, just after planting. I spent part of this weekend weeding and pruning and watching and watering. Then I blended some purple basil (1 cup), Italian parsley (1 cup), and thyme leaves (0.5 cup) with olive oil (1.5 cup), vinegar (0.5 cup), lemon juice squeezed from half of a lemon, and a teaspoon of sugar to make a tangy yet flavorful salad dressing. Later, I helped my dad plant some more seedlings he found in the shed; I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they grow. For now, I offer you a mini photo tour in celebration of my garden’s one-month birthday.

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Learning Yoga: Chair Pose

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After injuring my knee several months ago, I started doing yoga at least once per week in an attempt to stretch out my IT band, strengthen my core, and improve my posture and balance. I quickly realized that yoga is hard work! Even seemingly simple moves like downward-facing dog take effort. After several breaths, you can really feel the pull in your hamstrings and the ache in your arms from holding the position.

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Growing my Green Thumb: Learning about Purple Basil

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If I had a car, I would read the owner’s manual to determine how to keep it in good shape. If I had a pet, I’d buy books that teach how to keep it happy and healthy. So why shouldn’t I learn about each plant in my garden in order to help it thrive? First on the list: purple basil.

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