Oh We’re Halfway There

At this point, I definitely feel like I am living on a prayer…

 

But let’s back up a bit.

JANUARY

January seemed to creep up on me. It was as though from Sept 28th, the day I signed up for the marathon, to Dec 31st, just flew by. And all of a sudden it was January and I now had a specific schedule to follow. January didn’t seem as daunting as I thought it was going to be. I kept up my running through the end of the year – doing running between 3 miles to 5 miles max. I tried to find a balance between not wearing myself out to not January“losing my base.” I also very much so enjoy running and my running club, so it was easier to keep going through the holidays. I felt prepared for January. There were a few days in the middle of the week that I was unable to run – or even truly think about reworking my schedule – so I didn’t feel all that guilty about it. In the past, I beat myself up if I didn’t follow my schedule exactly. I found that I would let that affect the rest of that week and I would miss even more running. I swore not to do that this time.  I had an important two-day work conference. Life happens. I didn’t let myself miss any of my long runs. I typically run Sat morning – in fact, about 90% of my long runs are on Saturday morning – but if something came up, I would do it on either Fri or Sun. As long as I got the long run in, I felt great.

It is really hard to not get caught up in the numbers game. I try to have a minimum of 80 miles per month; however, I ended January with 51.90 miles. I reminded myself what more frozenoverwas to come in March and April… more than I have ever ran, so I let myself not be so focused on the number.

January had it’s challenges though. Cold weather running is a beast all on its own. I had to learn what worked and didn’t work for laying my clothes. The photos looked pretty, but it was chilly.   (Photo Frozen Over. ) We even hit some Canadian-cold weather with a -21 degree day… before windchill. And no, I did not run outside. In fact, I didn’t even get in my car to go to the gym. Our “feels like” temp was -50.  Frostbite in 5 minutes. No thanks. But alas, this was during the week so my long run wasn’t moved around.

FEBRUARY

Now, I know that this is Wisconsin, and I know what winter in the Midwest means. I’ve lived here my entire life. Snow. Cold. Dark. I was prepared for that. Well. I was more prepared for the cold than I was for the dark. The thing is, I’m actually a morning person. But there’s quite a difference in “Oh it’s 0430 and I can’t sleep, so I’m going to lay in bed Februaryand scroll through Facebook and scowl at the fact that Josh is a heavy sleeper and still sound asleep” to “Oh my gosh is 0430! I need to get out of bed and find my 576439 layers of clothes and get out the door and START RUNNING by 0500/0530.” It’s a way different feeling. The darkness made it very hard to get up.  When I was asked, “How did you get up?” “What was your motivation? It’s so early!”  Part of it is the fear of “well if I don’t slowly increase my mileage, I could overexert some muscles and pull something.” And it’s true. There are reasons that professional lay out a training plan they way they do. Slowly increasing mileage is the safest way to train. So part of my “motivation” was fear. May sound silly I realize this, but it’s the truth.

Another part is having accountability buddies. It really makes such a huge difference. I will not cancel a run if I know I’m meeting someone.  Plus, sometimes my work days are just too unpredictable. I cannot always guarantee that I can run by a certain time, so early morning plans were necessary. Did I whine about it? Absolutely. It was barely 0 degrees. We are allowed to whine about it.  I truly tried to give myself the first few minutes of running to whine about how cold it was. But that was it. Why focus on it? Unless I plan to move, this is what I get. (Let’s be real though… if I move more south, I’m going to whine about the heat in the summer…)

February is the shortest month, yet I somehow jam packed a lot of things into my month.hearthimom I started doing more cross training – which included lifting weights at the gym and snowshoeing.  I had done weight training in the past, but just never kept up with it.  Snowshoeing is a new adventure that I am learning to love. If it’s going to snow, I may as well enjoy it right?? I planned a Valentine’s Day run with the Kenosha Running Club. It was another early morning run but I have to say, making fun shapes really helps the time go by quicker!  I planned a weekend get-away in Galena with Josh the last weekend of the month (it was our 6 year anniversary), which prompted me to have to run on a Friday instead of the weekend. So I created a route for my mom as a surprise. I mapped out a “Hi Mom“- it truly helped get me through when I just wanted to be done. I closed out February with 91.60 miles. 

It might look like I have it all together. I’ve been asked for advice, “So how do you do it? How do you fit it all into your schedule?” And the truth is — I don’t. I have inner struggles every day that I don’t always advertise to people. Some days I do. Some days I don’t. I’ve had to rearrange social events. I’ve had to tell people “no you can’t come visit in March and April because I will be too exhausted to actually hang out with you.” I have really long days. I typically work 45-50 hours a week, so in order for my work to not suffer, I NEED those 0500 or 0530 runs.  I try my hardest to commit to hill training with the running club, but being somewhere by 1700 on a weekday is incredibly difficult. I’ve had to tell people “No I can’t hang out Friday night – Sat is my long run.” more times than I can count. And now, Wednesdays are up to 7 miles… starting 8 miles next week.  I’ve pushed off cleaning my house, which was NOT a good idea. It stressed me out even more.  (Don’t worry, it’s clean now! Josh and I spend 4 hours cleaning last Sunday.)  Finding a balance it really difficult. I’ve felt like I needed to apologize to people for not being around… and I’m only half-way through this journey. The next two months are going to really pick up.

Fitting in time for Josh, my family and friends, running/working out (including Hot Yoga and cross-training), my job, including some social media work on the side, meal planning and keeping up with the house and the dreaded laundry, it has left little time for blogging – which I really love to do – but most importantly, just me time. I need a mental health day.  I am trying some new time management tactics this next month, which is starting with taking a mental health day on Monday. No work. No running. No social hanging out. My plan is to go to Hot Yoga in the morning (I will need it since I’m running 15 miles on Sunday), then get my office at home organized, and then just catch up on some TV shows. Knowing myself, I will probably only be able to sit on the couch for two hours, but hey – baby steps.  Whiteboards are my new best friend and I have ordered one for my office… I’m slowly putting together a post of what’s been working and not working for time management, so after a month, I should have something ready. Boom.

“So if it’s that much work and you don’t have time for it, why are you doing it?” (Yes, I’ve actually been asked this…)  Because it’s a challenge. Because it’s pushing my beyond a point I’d never thought I’d be. Because it’s helping me grow. Because it’s helping me better my time-management. Because I’m healthier at nearly 33 than I was at 23. Because it’s teaching me discipline. Because I am capable.

Because. I. Can.

As of March 3, 2019, I am halfway through marathon training. I’m halfway there. HALFWAY! Livin’ on coffee and dreams (and carbs and Honey Stingers and protein powder) over here.

Here’s what’s to come:

March

April

(Special thanks to Molly who put together this calendar!)

On that note, Happy International Women’s Day! And thank you to everyone who has been supporting me along the way!

Cheers to early morning and frosty hair.

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New Challenges. New Beginnings: Marathon Training – How I Got Here

The second I crossed the finish line for my first half-marathon in 2016, people started asking me, “So, when’s your marathon?” Running a half-First Half-marathonmarathon for the first time was so emotional. My family was there at the finish line. I kept telling myself to “keep it together,” but I could feel my eyes started to get watery. And from so much mental fatigue, I just let it happen. A few tears had started falling down my face: first because I was just so happy to have crossed the finish line, but second because I was laughing at myself for crying in the first place. And my niece was the cutest. I wanted to hold her, but I was so exhausted, so a photo on the ground was the safest.

I did not think I’d run a marathon.

At the end of July 2016, I did one of those Inflatable races in Madison and jammed my knee. You’d think it was because of the running — nope. It was because I slid down a slid and the ground just came up too

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quickly and BOOM. My knee jammed when i hit the ground.   I did some PT stretches and weights for my knee, and I was cleared to run my half-marathon at the end of August. I knew I wasn’t going to be going for a PR, but I had already signed up with my work, and we were sponsored. So I ran it, well, I walked most of it.

I definitely did not think about running a marathon then.

I’m pretty sure I had some major runner’s high in 2016, and not because I had racked up a ton of mileage, but because I was doing new things. I had signed up for 3 half-marathons. I couldn’t tell you now what possessed me to do that. I do remember that I had signed up for these right away, not realizing how close the dates were to the last two, but I was just really ready to take on the challenge. The 3rd one was in September 2016. This half-marathon went pretty well, despite the rain. The scenic route made it easy to forget how far I had left to go.

Third Half-Marathon

Even though I had a 4 minute PR, I still didn’t think about running a marathon.

2016 running season ended. Not a marathon thought passed through my mind. It only came up when other people would ask me about running a marathon. I had zero intentions of it. “You really want me to run 26.2 miles? I think not.”

May 2017, I ran a half-marathon by myself. And, by that I mean, I trained for it alone. I drive up there alone. I had no one waiting for me at the finish line. I grabbed lunch Kings&Queens Half-Marathonby myself. And drove home by myself.  Any race that I do, I typically end up running by myself, even if I come with other people. I know everyone is at different places in their running journey, so I can’t expect someone to run NEXT to me the whole time. But Pewaukee, I was literally by myself. It was something new for me. Not having anyone around to celebrate. While that may seem sad and depressing, it was a really powerful feeling. Doing my absolute best with no one watching was oddly satisfying.

I still didn’t think about training for a marathon.

My 5th half-marathon was in Colorado. I did want to train to actually run it, but my friend was nervous about the altitude change, so we agreed ahead of time to walk it. This particular race didn’t have a time-limit, so it was perfect for that. I brought my camera and took some breathtaking photos in the mountains. It was amazing to have finished my 5th half-Colorado Half-Marathonmarathon, but there was also this feeling of “did I REALLY finish it?” just because we didn’t run it. It didn’t feel as much like an accomplishment as the rest of my races, but I was still really happy that we did it.

I most definitely didn’t think about training for a marathon after this.

October 2017 was the most emotional race I have ever run (even to date.) My brother-in-law’s grandma had passed and running was something he turned to. He expressed interest in running a half, so I said I would do it with him. He trained with his daughter Baylee, pushing her in the stroller every mile. He was THE ONLY one who pushed a stroller in the

screenshot_20190211-165931.pnghalf-marathon.  This race wasn’t even my best time. I actually got sick half-way through it (pretty sure it was from what I had eaten the night before). So not only was there a ton of emotion from pushing through a stomach ache, but seeing my family and Chris at the finish line… I don’t think there will ever be words to describe that.  This could be an entire blog post as it is, so I’ll leave you with our photo.

And, yup, you guessed it — I still didn’t think about a marathon!

 

 

This was of great surprise to a lot of people. I had finished 6 half-marathons with no intention of running a marathon.  I wanted to set some more challenging

2018

goals for 2018, but a marathon just wasn’t one of them. And I was 100% okay with this decision. It wasn’t something that weighed heavily on me. Not one bit. No one was going to make me feel guilty for not running a marathon. I decided to do Ragnar, so that was a huge step for me. And I also wanted to beat my half-marathon time.  I knew I would need to change what I was doing for training. I had slacked on cross-training: whether it was weight lifting or swimming or literally ANYTHING else other than running. My friend Sarah convinced me to sign up at the Kenosha YMCA with her, so I did.  I also signed up to run 2,018 miles in 2018 with my friend Sokhon as a team of 2. (So 1,009 miles a person).  My highest mileage ever for a year was around 650 or so. So shooting for 1,000 scared me.

March 3rd, 2018

My first run with Kenosha Running Club. And the day my life changed — I just didn’t know it yet. I felt so accepted. The first thing I told Josh was, “I found my people.”  I made more and more friends who I eventually opened up and shared my goals with:

  • Running 1,000+ miles in a year
  • Running Ragnar
  • Getting a half-marathon PR
  • Running from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine.

I will save the anticipation — I accomplished every single one of these goals. Every Single. One.

My half-marathon was May 5th. I shaved off another 3 mins from my PR time. screenshot_20190211-171855.png

I did not think about running a marathon.

Ragnar was May 18th-19th. This should really be another blog post as well.  My three legs weren’t very long, but running on no sleep, and not a lot of food was challenging! screenshot_20190211-172032.pngI did not think about running a marathon..

Looking back, though.. the next few months is when the seeds started to get planted. I just didn’t know it yet.  Throughout the next few months of making friends in KRC, I had expressed how I wanted to run from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine — and some of my friends hopped right on board! 17 miles. It would be the longest I had ever run.  Also during these few months, I was asked to do the Ragnar Trail in Sept. It would perfectly align with running to

my mom’s  so I hopped on board to that too!

When the day came to run to my mom’s I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going 17 Miles to be. But there was just not any pressure to be done by a certain time. The day before, I dropped my car off at my mom’s along with everyone’s bag for a change of clothes. I planned the route, including where all the gas stations were for water and bathroom breaks. I was prepared. It was the most fun run I have ever done. We even joked about how we weren’t that far off from the marathon training plan.

For the first time ever, I toyed with the idea of running a marathon.

Ragnar Trail

Ragnar trail came and went, and marathon training was in the back of my head.

“You know, when you train for a marathon, you only run up to mile 20. You’ve ran up to 17 miles already. That’s only 3 runs that you haven’t run the distance for yet.”

 

 

 

And that’s how it happened.

Three weeks after running to my moms and running my second Ragnar trail, it hit me. I COULD do this. I knew I had the support system. I had so many people I could run with. Okay, so there were also margaritas involved.  BUT, whenever people ask me why I decided to run a marathon- it just isn’t quite a simple answer. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around running a half-marathon, and here I am training for a marathon.

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I’m going to honest though, It still doesn’t quite feel like I am training for a marathon yet. The distances I’m running now are all for a half-marathon. I think my mind is secretly tricking me, but I’ll figure it out real quick after the end of this month when I’m not stopping at 13 miles…

I plan to post more of my marathon chronicles every Monday. Time got a little away from me, but better late than never!

Cheers to sore legs.

 

 

When You Run, You Win the Day

Megan, that is some life you’ve already had for a young person. Judging by the progress on your bucket list it seems like you’re winning… Depression is, rightly, being more recognised and accepted as an illness. Have you found (or not) that your running helps you in this regard? Oh, and what’s your target time for your half-marathon?

Roy McCarthy
Blog: https://backontherock.com/

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Hi Roy!

Thanks for stopping by! I definitely feel like I’m winning at life, although, I cannot say that I always have felt this way. Our inner struggles might make us who we are, but understanding them is quite difficult. It isn’t until we truly understand and accept what lies within us, that we can overcome it.

I shut a lot of people out at an early age. I was seven when my parents got divorced, and, for a long time, I thought it was my fault. (Mom, I know you’re reading this, so don’t worry, I haven’t felt this way in ages. Love you!) I wasn’t one of those kids who turned to the school books to distract me. I was a very average child when it came to school. But sports kept me going. I started basketball in 5th grade and, while I wasn’t the best on the team, I certainly wasn’t the worst. Our practices in grade school weren’t very intense — I mean, we were in grade school, not in college — but going to practice and running up and down the court and learning the plays kept me occupied enough to not have to think about depression.

In every single stage of my life, running and sports have pulled me through. I have something to focus on. Something that didn’t necessarily require me to engage with other people emotionally. I had my teammates and while I didn’t trust them to keep any of my secrets, I trusted that they wanted to win as much as I did so we performed well as a team.

It was funny though… I always had this want to be around people. I didn’t like being alone. I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t know how to be alone. I would surround myself with my basketball or volleyball teammates, but not have any friends. They were my teammates. They were not my friends. I had a very very small group of friends once I got to high-school, but it was a very close-knit group of about 5 girls. And that’s it. But I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Now my experience and thoughts on my actual high-school days isn’t all that revolutionary. High-school is high-school. Filled with unnecessary drama and a lot of awkwardness. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of people in high-school have suffered depression to a certain degree. I was wont who turned to sports because of it.

Throughout college, I dealt with failing a few classes, switching majors, boyfriend drama, the death of my grandma and my grandpa within a year and a half of each other, learning the hard way how to handle money which lead me to $0 to my name, transferring schools and switching my major again. But through all of that, the one thing I really enjoyed was volleyball. I was on the Club Volleyball team at my first college, and then I joined an intramural team at the second college. Since I started volleyball in 7th grade, there had not been one year that passed where I didn’t play on a team. (Even to this day! I play sand volleyball every summer.) Going to practice and focusing on how to better pass the ball or how to serve in the spot I wanted to – those things kept me from falling into the trap of self-loathing. I have always had the tendency to get into a slump and focus on the bad things in my life. It wasn’t a constant throughout my entire college experience, but it happened often enough to affect my friendships and relationships. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that great at dealing with it in college. I thankfully have a few friends from that time in my life who stuck around. Most of my friendships from then faded away, but that isn’t something I dwell on anymore.

Ironically, I didn’t really enjoy running all that much until after college. I was a seasonal runner for the longest time. I would run only during the summer, and it was never consistent. About a year and a half ago, I really started getting into running. June 18th 2016 I ran my first half-marathon ever. I ran two more after that. And thus year, I have three more scheduled in the books. I finally call myself a runner. And not even a seasonal runner – I have ran in all of the seasons. The hottest it’s been was around 90 and the coldest has been around 15 degrees F. I’ve rain in pouring rain and snow. Not going to lie, I felt pretty bad ass running in the snow.

runRunning has become such a lifeline for me. And, to be honest, I really wish I would have started running sooner. Because running releases endorphins, it just makes me feel like a rockstar when I’m done running. And that will happen to everyone. I really believe it will. Now, don’t let running fool you. It is very much so a mental game. I can’t tell you how many times I have said “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” or “I HATE RUNNING” while I was running. But I have never once been done with a run and said “well that wasn’t worth it.” Because it’s worth it every single time. It’s almost like an addiction at this point. A healthy addiction. Now if that isn’t an oxymoron!

Running or any other form of exercise has been proven time and time again to help reduce stress levels and help lower your depression. The endorphins that get released while exercising interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

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If anyone is looking to start running, just know that it is never too late! I’ve read about so many 90 year olds, yes ninety, that still run – some of whom didn’t even start to pick up running until well after retirement. I encourage people to try the Couch to 5K app. It’s amazing. It helped me get started with running. You can find their website here for more information: http://www.c25k.com/ It’s a free app as well, so there’s nothing to lose!

When you run, you win the day.

Love always,
Megan
#CaffeinatedOpinions

P.S. My current half-marathon PR is 2:46:33. I have a half-marathon coming up May 13th that I’m shooting to shave off 10 minutes. Big goal for me!

 

 

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Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to submit your questions HERE (not in the comments)

My 2016: Medal Monday

Looking back on 2016, I’m still in shock at how far I’ve come. It shouldn’t surprise me, because I worked my butt off, but sometimes, just looking back at my progress, I can’t believe it. I skipped out on a lot of drinking nights. I sacrificed lazy nights in lieu of meal planning. Instead of getting brunch with friends, I made healthy breakfasts at home and met up with them for coffee. I skipped out on some work parties so I could get home at a decent hour because I knew I had to get up early to run. “Sorry I can’t; I’m running in the morning” was a text I think my friends got use to hearing. And you want to know the best thing about all of that?

It was worth it.

Every single decision. Every gathering I CHOSE to miss. Every glass of wine I decided not to pour and drink water instead. Every Sunday I would meal plan or plan out my running schedule instead of doing nothing. Every time I turned down going out to lunch at work and getting major crap for it… “you never come out with us!” Sorry guys. Plus, Chicago is expensive. All of it. Worth it.

I feel great.
I have more energy.
My skin looks more youthful.
I’ve lost weight.
I gained some absolutely amazing friendships.
My self-confidence boosted.
I am more positive.
I fight less.
I forgive more.
I listen more and talk less.

In 2016, I ran 21 races. TWENTY-ONE. Of those 21 races, three of them were half-marathons. I ran my first ever in June 2016 and loved it so much that I did two more. 2015, I could barely run 4 miles…. and I completed THREE half-marathons. I am so proud of that!

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I also participated in the #HolidayMile which was a challenge to run or walk one mile every single day from Thanksgiving to New Years. And that was a challenge, let me tell you. I missed a few days, but I ran more than I would have without this challenge.

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I ended my year with 547.34 miles. My original plan was to do 1,000 solo miles, but due to some poor planning in the beginning of the months and lack of discipline, I did not hit that goal. But my running buddy Ally and I decided to do a team effort and we hit 1,000 miles together. (More on that here.)

With the 21 races and 2 challenges I participated in, I gained 17 new shiny medals to proudly display:

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I have a plan of attack for 2017. I’m going to hit 1,000 solo miles. But I’m giving myself a different kind of challenge than I did in 2016.  I split the months up into sections of three. So, for example, Jan, Feb March is one set, then April, May, June is the next, and so on so so forth.  I picked one month out of the set of three to be my 100 miles in one month (one set I chose two) and I made sure I didn’t have any back to back months of 100 miles. I was strategic with what I decided to pick.

Here’s the breakdown:
JAN-Because it’s the first month of the year and I should start off strong.
APRIL-It’s my birthday month
JUN-I’m training for a half-marathon anyway. Plus, it will get me outside.
AUG-Josh and I usually go on vacation in Sept, so I can’t pick that month, and I needed at least a month in-between the last 100 mile month.
NOV-Because Nov 2016 was my first 100 mile a month ever.

So there’s half of my 1,000 miles in a year right there: five 100-mile months. Which will then leave me with six months to do an average of 84 miles each (which can consist of running, walking and biking). The month directly following my 100 mile month will most likely have a higher biking mileage since I’ll want to give my knee a rest.

But my challenge to myself is a two-parter. In my 100 mile months, I’m only counting actual RUNNING miles as a part of that. Here’s a visual to make more sense:

janfebmar

aprmayjun

My plan for 2017 is to also incorporate some biking, which I will count towards my grand total of 1,000 miles in the year, but during my 100 mile months, I’m keeping a separate note for just running.  So, for example, today I ran 3 miles and did a half mile cool-down. I logged my 3 miles in for running and the half mile down for walking.  So, my grand total for the year (including my New Years Day walk), is 4.75 miles, but only 3 miles of that I’m counting towards my 100 miles for January.

The reason I’m doing this is because I wanted a little more of a challenge. I really learned a lot in 2016 about the importance of planning week by week. When I hit 100 miles in Nov, I counted both my running and walking. I accomplished that, so now I just want a bit more of a challenge for myself. I also found that I would make excuses to not run. “Oh I can just walk 2 miles and run 3 miles for a total of 5 miles for the day,” when really my body is perfectly capable of doing a 4.5 mile run with a half mile cool down. I want to get faster and break my PRs and that will not happen when I’m walking.  Again, I’ll still count my walks towards my 1,000 miles for the year. Walking is still very important. I am by no means putting down walking, but this is the goal I picked for myself.

Some of my other 2017 goals:
Plan my week every Sunday night
Blog more
Run a half-marathon in a different state that is far enough to have to spend the night. (road trip!)
Read 10 books
Cross-train (I literally did none of that last year. Oops)
Explore healthier foods and blog about it
Be more positive

I’d love to hear some goals my readers have made! Comment below with yours!

Best wishes to all.

My Fitness Journey

In my entire year journey of getting back into shape and training for a half marathon and changing my diet, I’ve never shared any before or after photos of myself. To be honest, I rarely took any before photos because I was embarrassed. I untagged every photo that someone took of me. I offered to be the photographer so I didn’t need to be in a photo. I didn’t feel good about myself. I didn’t like how I looked, so why have a memory of that? I have measurements and my weight from before, but it hasn’t been anything I’ve shared.

Let me take you back to the beginning…

In college, I was 155 lbs. That was my ideal weight. I was playing volleyball – both on the club team at UW-Oshkosh as well as a rec league- and running. I was a casual runner in college… Maybe like 5 miles a week and definitely NOT consistent. Plus,  I walked to and from class. All that adds up. I was health conscious and ate healthier than most of my peers, but not really. Thank you metabolism. I graduated college in 2010 and moved back home. I continued to play volleyball in summer. I would run a handful of times, but nothing more than a few miles sporadically. I had a job at Sam’s Club which very much so kept me on my feet all day.

April 2012, I moved to Chicago. And this is when the slow downhill started. Yes, I had to walk to the nearest public transportation option, but then I sat. All. Day. Long. I had a desk job. And then being in a new city, all I did was eat out and eat too much. Thanks a lot Groupon. There was always a plethora of free food at work, which was never good for you. I gained about 10 lbs my first year working there. I still continued to play volleyball in summer though, so that was at least something. But summer in the Midwest… it doesn’t last long.

August 2013, I quit my job in Chicago and moved back to Wisconsin and in with my bf Josh. I quit because I found a job opportunity that was close to home. (Walking distance!) I thought it would be a good career move, but a few months later, they fired me for no reason. (Oh I have a post about that entire drama filled job…) Unemployment and depression led me down a very not good path. I was unemployed for MONTHS. Dec 19th, 2013 until May 22nd. 2014, I had no job. I had no motivation to work out. I cried myself to sleep often. I would go for days of eating burgers and ice cream and getting drunk and binge watching Gossip Girl.

Hello 185 lbs. 

I finally landed a job at Starbucks May 2014. At least i was on my feet all day, but I didn’t do anything outside of work. I ate crappy foods. I made excuses. “Oh I work weekends now. I can’t do anything.” “I work a morning shift-I’m too tired when I come home.” “I work a late shift, but I don’t feel like working out before work.” You name it, I had an excuse.

I quit Starbucks beginning Aug 2014 because I found a new role back at the company I was originally with in Chicago. I should have never left the company, but that’s another blog post. 

Commuting was hard. I left the house at 6am and didn’t get home until 8pm. The hours were brutal. (Shocker, I wrote about this previously too!) I was able to switch my hours after a few months (Nov 2014). So I was gone 6am to 630pm. Still a very long day. I ran occasionally, but not too much.

Summer 2015 I ran a few 5Ks with some friends and decided that I needed to run again and be active. I was so embarrassed of myself at this point. I hit 189 lbs at my heaviest. I never hit 190 lbs, but it was kind of a wake up call. I had become really good friends with Ally and she quickly became my running buddy. Aug 2015 was when we really started to think about our goals for 2016. We were running a decent amount, but focusing on stairs. We signed up for the Chicago Skyrise Climb. 103 floors up in Sears Tower (yeah yeah Willis Tower. It will always be the Sears Tower). I dropped a few lbs by this point, but I was still around 175-180 lbs.

Nov 8th, 2015. We climbed. 103 floors.  Words cannot describe how I felt that day. I almost cried when I finished. The fundraising money was for RIC, (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago). As I did my climb, firefighters in their gear passed me.  I passed a few older people who were walking with canes and a PT just in case. It was so incredibly inspirational. And then, the people handing out medals at the top of the stairs were in wheelchairs. People who could no longer walk.

“Why am I wasting my life not being active anymore?”

After that climb, Ally and I talked about our 2016 goals and decided that we should make a goal of running 1,000 miles in 2016. Very very high goal, but hey, we did the math and it was definitely feasible.

Dec 2015 I applied for an internal position which I got hired for (and an currently in this role) in Feb 2016. (My manager wanted me to stay for a month to train the new people. Yippee!)  My new job was way more flexible. I left my house at 6am, but I was able to be home by 540pm. It made all the difference. 

And running just took off from there.

January, I ran 86 miles.

Somewhere around March, Ally and I talked about doing a half in August maybe, so that was something we were aiming to do. We ran a lot. We read a lot about half marathons.

April 2nd, 2016, Ally and I ran a 10K… in 28 degree weather… IN THE SNOW. It was my last run in my 20s so there was no way we were backing out of this one. It was a tough run to get through. I lost feeling in my toes after the second mile. But we finished it! And we knew if we could get through that, we could get through so much more.

In May, we realized how far we had come, and signed up for our first half marathon in June! JUNE!

June 18th, 2016 – we ran our first half-marathon. It was beautiful. It was hot. And I cried when I was done. My family and bf were there to meet me at the finish line. Hello emotions. At this point, I was around 165. I watched my diet, but not too much. I was starting to feel so good about myself! We even signed up for another half marathon in Sept!

junehalf

July 2016 I did a 5K obstacle course in Madison. As I was sliding down the slide, I jammed my knee. This was a little bit of a setback; however, I took more initiative than the Old Megan would have done. I went to see a PT, I got some exercises to do (and actually did them!!). I took a little time off running to heal up. I would do some slow jogs, but stopped when the pain went from an achy dull pain to a sharp pain.

Aug 28th, 2016 – I ran another half marathon with my coworkers. I had signed up for this one months ago, before I hurt my knee, so I unfortunately had to walk the majority of it because my knee hurt so badly.

aughalf

Sept 10th, 2016 – Yes, 13 days apart, Ally and I ran another half-marathon, and I even beat my time from our first one in June!

septhalf

The longer runs because easier. And I just wanted to keep running. Running kept me happy. It kept me sane. I hit a plateau with my weight – I was hovering around 163-166 lbs. I wasn’t even all that concerned about it. I’m not really one to weight myself often, mostly because it led to disappointment. But I wanted to know what more I should be doing. Well, the one thing that didn’t really change was my diet.

Nov 2016: November was a huge month for me. I made a goal of running 100 miles this month. One. hundred. Miles. At the end of Oct, I was at 367.5 miles total for the year. Not where I wanted to be. I knew 1,000 miles would not happen this year. But Ally and I teamed up and added our miles together. This has been a learning year for us, and we didn’t want a number to get us down. So we are doing a team effort of 1,000 miles this year. Well, I still wanted to reach a high goal, so 100 miles it was! Not only did I run more, but I changed my diet. I had gotten a wellness exam at my work, which showed a slightly elevated cholesterol level. 212. 12 points above the max “normal” range. Because my good cholesterol was at 92, they told me “you really don’t have to worry about it because 100milesnovyour good cholesterol is so high, that it balances out your bad cholesterol.” But all I heard was “you have a slightly high cholesterol level.” I cut out red meat, pork and eggs, and I VERY much so limited my dairy. I made a conscious decision to eat more fruits and veggies. I had oatmeal with pb and bananas almost every morning. I just felt SO much better. By the end of Nov, I didn’t want a ton of cookies. I didn’t want to have a steak dripping in butter. I felt great. I was getting plenty of protein and fruits and veggies. I didn’t really track calories as much as I just paid attention to sugar, cholesterol, fats, sodium and ingredients. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t eat it. If it had WAY too many ingredients, I didn’t eat it. Yes of course I helped myself to some not so good foods, but it was a few times the entire month, instead of a few times a week. Hey, I’m not perfect and I love chocolate. I ended up hitting my 100 miles in Nov. It was amazing.

Well this ENTIRE story leads up to this photo and the reason behind this novel:

scale

I randomly decided to weigh myself on Monday (I always weight myself at night before going to bed. Gotta keep it consistent) and I was 158.7. Wait, what? I was back in the 150s. I weighed myself every night, but I never got above 159.6. It was anywhere from 157.9 to 159.6.

Holy crap. This whole eating healthy thing actually works. 🙂 Ha. Not that I had my doubts, but when you start seeing results, there’s just NO turning back now.

I’m 30 and I feel better now than when I was 25.

(Also, side note. I really love the app I used. Ha. PicsArt)

And here we are Dec 9th, 2016 and I’m already on pace to hit 100 more miles this month.

I got this!!

New Shoes, Sweaty Shirt, No Problem

Getting back into running has been challenging. I was doing well for about a month before I went in to have a sleep study. I was so focused. I was running stairs in my house every night to make sure I hit at least 10k steps every single day. I did a Fitbit challenge group with my friends that I usually won. My running partner kicked my ass, even though most of it was virtually since our schedules didn’t always match up.

And then my sleep study…

I’ve had issues sleeping since I could remember. Back in high school, I could run on 3-4 hours of sleep. The thing is, back then, I would get 3-4 hours consecutively. Now… Not so much. It goes something like this:

Bed at 10pm
Restless until1045pm
Up at midnight. So restless I get up, walk around my house, avoid looking at my phone since the bright light shocks me from half awake to wide awake.
Back to bed at 100.
Wake up at 130.

…..I think you get the point. I wake up at 530am for the day. I cannot tell you the last time I felt rested. I would get a total of maybe 3-4 hours of sleep, but without it being consecutive, I started becoming more tired and hazy than I ever thought was possible.

After my many many restless nights, and many years later, I finally caved and went to do a sleep study. This has been on my bucket list for years, so I finally just caved and booked an appointment.

Diagnosis will take a while to fully find out. But here’s where I’m at: I have Restless Leg Syndrome. And possibly an acute form of insomnia. (Honestly, neither of these I’m shocked by.) Here’s the tricky part we need to figure out: RLS is caused often (not always) by anemia. I’ve been border-line anemic my entire life. I donated plasma in college (because beer money…). My iron count was hit and miss for donating, but I’d say I was fine to donate 75% of the time. Donating blood though? That’s another story. I had never been able to.

In June, I made a diet change which incorporated some OTC iron pills and mostly spinach salads for lunch. I donated blood through work for the first time that month. So my RLS couldn’t be because of that then right? Well it still could be …

For two weeks, my doctor gave me some guidelines to follow and keep a sleep log. No strenuous exercise after 6, no alcohol at all and no caffeine after noon. The alcohol and caffiene rule I can handle, but no running for two weeks?? I don’t get home from work until 630pm and running before work was out of the question because of my long commute.

Ugh. Fine. It was only two weeks. She needed a baseline to see if these three things could be affecting me. And then the two weeks after that (which I’m currently doing now) I could do what I wanted. And we will be comparing the two weeks to see if there is a difference.

In the meantime, I had to get a blood test taken so they could do a full synopsis to see if my iron levels are too low. If my iron levels are too low, she will give me slow-releasing iron tablets. Seems like an easy fix right? Except it can take THREE MONTHS to fully tell if RLS is caused by anemia. If I need iron pills and after three months, I’m still having issues, they will do an overnight study. On the flip side, if my iron levels come back normal, then we will do an overnight study right away. At this point, its too hard to tell of my insomniac symptoms are just secondary to RLS or if I have both.

Needless to say, this will be a long journey to figure this out. But I’m ready to face it.

Back to running:

Since I was not able to run for two weeks, every morning before work, I did 30 squats. The second week I increased to 45. I needed to do soooomething.

Monday I went running in my new running shoes (which I ordered the DAY BEFORE my sleep study so I was torchered for two weeks staring at a box of perfect new shoes I couldn’t use). I was determined to run 3 miles. I got a mile in and the sky drastically changed. I thought I was going to get stuck in a bad storm, so I turned around and went home. I finished 1.75 miles in 18:39. My first mile was in 10:07. My best time ever. I was so so proud of myself!! I can’t help but think squats had something to do with this. And those shoes. Amazingly comfortable. My feet don’t even hurt today.

image

Because I neglected to stretch after my run on Monday, my quads were quite sure yesterday. I did an ab workout, along with a bunch of stretches instead last night, and tonight I’m lacing up those shoes!

I’m Climbing 103 Flights of Stairs… by Choice!

About three and a half years ago, I was running seven miles 3-4 times a week. I was in the best shape of my life. I lived at home with my mom in order to save up money to move to Chicago. My brother would accompany me to the gym and whip my butt into shape. We would spend at least two hours in the gym. I felt great.

Then, in January 2012, my friend Katie told me about the company she was working for. I applied, got the position, and the two of us moved to Chicago in April 2012. I was fascinated with Chicago. We learned the transportation system – usually by getting lost. We tried many different new restaurants and bars. We made a lot of new friends.

But I stopped working out because “I had no time.” Well, my excuse of “I have no time” turned into a year of excuses… and then two years…

Flash forward to about a month and a half ago: I had let myself go. I gained 25 pounds. I don’t care if someone is a size 0, or a size 8 or a size 18. Gaining weight sucks. I had gotten so tired of “but you don’t look like you weigh XX amount.” Or “but you’re still skinny.” I think that is one of the worst things to tell people when they are battling weight issues. I was not skinny. I had gone up 2 pant sizes, and I weighed more than I had ever been. I was uncomfortable. I hated looking at myself in the mirror.

I joined a fitness challenge at work (how many steps can you get per day for 100 days? Goal is 10,000 steps per day), I bought a fitbit, and I found a reliable running partner. Since a month and a half ago, I’ve lost 10 pounds and dropped one size. I haven’t worked out a lot, only running here and there due to conducting a sleep study (more to come on that). My biggest change was my diet. I had gotten into a bad funk of eating McDs breakfast, skipping lunches, eating very unhealthy foods packed with high fructose corn syrup, adding a ton of cream and sugar into my coffee, indulging in sweets way too often… you get the picture. I hated how my body felt after eating these foods. I felt bloated. My stomach always hurt.

I haven’t skipped breakfast in about a month. Maaaybe once or twice. I make smoothies every morning. And no, I do NOT use that Beach Body Shakeology or any other crazy powder concoction. I bring my lunch everyday and use my half hour to go for a walk and then eat at my desk instead of wasting time going to Jimmy Johns or Chipotle or somewhere else that’s sucking up my money.

I’m very proud of the progress I’ve made! I definitely have not blogged in a very long time. I recently posted one about my home. But part of why I didn’t blog a lot was because I had nothing to write about. I was being lazy and depressed and a Negative Nancy. No one wants to read that.

So, what’s with the “climbing 103 flights of stairs by choice?” My bucket lists contains a slew of things that I want to do. One of them is climbing 103 flights of stairs in the Sears Tower. (Whatever, sure yes it’s actually Willis Tower, but everyone knows it will always be the Sears Tower.)

What is the SkyRise TowerUp you ask??

I will be tackling the planet’s highest indoor tower climb at the Willis Tower to raise funds for the nation’s best rehabilitation hospital, according to US News and World Report – the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC)!

RIC provides world-class rehabilitation care to thousands of patients for traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, stroke and cancer recovery, and more. The funds raised through SkyRise Chicago 2015 will directly support advances in patient care and cutting-edge research at RIC.

SkyRise Chicago is truly a special event. It’s the only tower climb in the world to offer two modes of participation – by foot up the Willis Tower stairs and via stationary hand-cycling the equivalent distance uphill. These options give anyone, no matter their level of ability, the opportunity to participate.

In order to participate, I do have to raise $100 (none of that goes to my pocket!). If you’re feeling generous, feel free to click my page (here) to donate! If not, send me some good luck!

The Climb is Nov 8th. I will probably not be able to walk the next day. 🙂

I’ll be posting about my progress! So stay tuned!

xoxo
Megs

5K Color Run

The Color Run. The Happiest 5K in the World. This remained on my Bucket List for years. Finally, I decided I could no longer wait. I wanted to get this crossed off my list. And what better way to do that than to involve my family!

“I’m doing this with or without you. Who wants to join me!?” I blasted on our family Facebook page. Yes, that’s basically how we all communicate now… on Facebook. We have a private group that I set up to coordinate family dinners, holidays, events, etc. It’s very convenient actually, but still hilarious that Facebook is now a form of communication. Oh how times have changed!!

It wasn’t very difficult to recruit my family to join me. We’re an awesome goofy bunch! Because we had a team of four or more, DISCOUNT! So that was nice. I mean, I’ll save that extra $5 and put it in my piggy bank. Let’s be real here. I definitely used it to buy Starbucks afterwards…

I took many videos and photos during the race. I have never had so much fun during a 5K. Sure, you need to make sure to cover your mouth when you’re getting the color thrown at you – but who cares? This isn’t a timed-race. It’s for fun. I had fun. My family and friends had fun! And that’s all that matters! I included some photos from throughout the race… because #selfie! Right?

Yes, I just used a hashtag in my blog.

Hope you enjoy these photos! I definitely want to do another fun 5K next year. There’s so many to pick from!! I’m thinking maybe the Glow Run for 2015!!

Note: Some of them have captions, so if you hover over them, the captions will show.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with the Color Run! Link me to your blog if you posted about it! Or feel free to share photos!

xoxo
Megs