I ran 5K, and no one was chasing me!

Saturday I ran the 5K race “Kona Run” in Northville! That’s right, I ran it!!
My official race time was 38:14 which is, by far, a personal best for me!

Getting ready to start the Kona Run 5K, June 8, 2013

Getting ready to start the Kona Run 5K, June 8, 2013

I am not a runner

If you’ve followed my monthly fitness stats at all, you’ll know that I am really not a “runner”. I’m more of a walker who sort of wishes she was a runner. But, my short little legs have a hard time building up too much speed (I am only 5’2″!). And I used to be an avid hiker. I have a knee injury from a hiking adventure many years ago which likes to flare up and cause me much grief when I push myself too hard trying to run.

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Somewhere around 8 or 9 years ago I did a 22 mile hike, in the woods (read: hills!), wearing a 30 lb. pack on my back, and with my dog – who loved the hike but tired out easily and repeatedly wanted to be carried! About 13 miles in, I injured a tendon behind my right knee and it became VERY painful to even walk. Every step was a new experience in pain. Unfortunately, I still had almost 10 miles to go to get out of the woods, there was no choice but to continue. My hiking partner also had a full pack and really wasn’t able to assist with my pack. I hiked in pain and in tears for hours!

My doctor diagnosed it as tendonitis and the problem with it is that while it heals up, it never really goes away. It is easy to trigger a flare up. About 6 years ago I had dabbled with running and found myself over and over fighting with flare ups in that knee.

In 2011 I bought a treadmill and started walking. I decided I’d learned my lesson in the past with trying to run, and bringing on the pain, and this time I would just have to settle for being a walker.

2012 found me signing myself up for a 5K race. Not sure what really possessed me to do that, I knew I couldn’t run it. But my husband and I went, and I walked it as fast as I could, and occasionally jogged a little.

2012 Shamrock'n'Roll 5K Race

2012 Shamrock’n’Roll 5K Race

This was the 2012 Shamrock’n’Roll 5K race in Plymouth, MI. I finished the 5K in 48:22. I wasn’t overly proud of my time, but I was very proud of myself for signing up for it, going and doing it, and finishing it! 🙂 At the time of that race I probably weighed about 138 lbs. and it wasn’t long after that I started putting on more and more weight, leading up to the re-birth of my fitness journey in September.

I am not a runner…Or am I?

So now, I’ve been using my treadmill for the last 9 months or so. I started out walking very slowly the first month. After a couple of months I decided to try out just a LITTLE bit of jogging. I worked in three 1-minute jogging intervals in my 45 or 50 minute walks. My ‘jogging’ speed was 4.0 mph. Which, is really a very fast walking pace but for me at the time was more of a jog. Each month I would add 30 seconds to my intervals. By April I was doing three 3-minute intervals of jogging, sometimes 3.5 to 4 minutes, and I had increased the jog speed the tiniest bit to 4.1 mph. My knee seemed to be cooperating with this VERY small and slow addition of jogging to my workout.

When I got into the month of May, knowing that this race I’d signed up for was in the beginning of June, I decided to up the stakes a bit and see if maybe I could do more running than I thought I could. I started with a week of 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes jogging. The next week I tried 4 minutes walking, 6 minutes of jogging. Then the next week 3/7. Seven minutes of jogging at a time felt like it might kill me, but…my knee seemed to be holding out pretty strong! This gave me hope and determination! Maybe I could be a runner?

Running 3.1 miles makes me a runner, right?

June 8, 2013 finds me standing a the starting line of the Kona Run 5K race in Northville, MI. The race starts at Northville Downs, a horse racing track. We start out with a lap around the track then hit the streets from there. I start out jogging out of the starting gate because, really, who wants to be the one who is walking right from the start right? I am thinking to myself, maybe I could jog all the way around the track then walk as we break out onto the street.

We leave the horse track, out through the parking lot and onto the street. I am still jogging. And I’m feeling pretty strong. With my Garmin Forerunner 10 strapped to my wrist, I am constantly checking time, mileage, pace, etc. I decide, as I’m getting a bit winded, that I will walk for just a few seconds. We’ve gone just under a quarter-mile, my mileage reads 0.20. I decide to walk until I get to 0.25 just to catch my breath, it is only the span of a minute or so. Then I start jogging again.

We round the first corner and start to make our way uphill. The first 2 miles of this course are mostly uphill. But I keep jogging. My breathing is pretty steady, knee feels good, I keep going. Again approaching half a mile I slow down at 0.45 miles and walk until I get to the half mile. I decide at that point I AM GOING TO RUN THIS WHOLE RACE! The only reprieve I decided to allow myself was at every quarter-mile, just that distance of 0.05 mile to walk and catch my breath.

Mind you, I am not running fast, in fact while I look like I’m jogging I feel like I’m moving in slow motion, lol! But I am jogging it and it makes me feel so good, so proud of myself! Around the 1.50 mile mark there is a very steep hill. My husband swears it was Mt. Everest but I think it was not quite that steep 🙂 People around me are slowing down as we climb this hill, many are dropping off to a slow walk. I press on and RUN UP THE WHOLE HILL!!! (OK, so I did allow myself a few seconds of walking once I got to the TOP of the hill, lol!)

As I am closing in on the last mile I have to admit I was really winded, my legs were tired and I wasn’t sure if I could keep running. Luckily the course was downhill the rest of the way and I started picking up speed a bit without as much effort.

The finish area was in a valley down a steep hill, and you had to follow this narrow sidewalk that was winding its way around this park to (presumably) a finish line…somewhere. The problem was it was winding in a circle and you couldn’t really see how far you were from the finish line. I really, really wanted to “finish strong” because this is a mantra that often rolls through my head as I’m working out – “FINISH STRONG!!” But I couldn’t help but start laughing a bit because it seemed like the finish line would never come into sight and I didn’t know how much more “finish strong” I had left in me, lol!

Finally, I am sprinting as fast as I can, the finish line is in sight, I hear the announcer call my name as my feet cross over the chip line. I stumble onto the grass at the end of the chute and drop to my knees, breathless and exhausted. I looked at my Garmin and see my time, 38:18 (I didn’t click the stop on the GPS right away so it recorded 3.14 miles, just a few seconds more than the official race time was recorded at.) Tears stung my eyes as I was overcome with joy.

I ran that! I ran that whole race! 3.1 miles, I did it!!

I am runner at last!

Crossing the finish line Kona 5K 2013

Crossing the finish line Kona 5K 2013

Then I looked up and saw my husband ahead of me in the crowd, smiling and waving at me. He finished 10 minutes ahead of me and also got a personal best time for him – 28:14! Hooray for us! 🙂

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During my training, remember I was doing only very short intervals of jogging at 4.0 to 4.1 mph. My pace for this race ended up being an average of 4.9 mph!! It’s amazing sometimes, how much more we are capable of, compared to what we think we can do.

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May 2013 – Monthly Fitness Stats

Ok so as I’m posting my stats for May, this will finally bring me up to speed and I’ll have all my months progress reports on here from the time I started getting back into shape up until now. After this I can start putting out some posts of other stuff that’s been on my mind! 🙂

When May started I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with the month, training-wise. This was sort of another “last chance workout” month for me, as the last weekend in May I had an appointment to take my bridesmaid dress in for fitting. That meant that if I was going to lose any more weight, I needed to do it now, because once the pins go in the dress I go into maintenance mode until the wedding in July.

What I ended up doing throughout the month was a complete hodge-podge of various things.

BASIC STATS:

Speed: 2.4 mph starting speed, Max walking speed 3.2 mph. Run interval speed 4.1 mph

This was another 0.20 mph increase over April for starting speed. I am reaching my full speed much quicker now which helps to increase my overall mileage and calorie burn. As with other months, increase speed by 0.20 mph every minute until reaching ‘max’ speed. First set of weight reps during this warmup. Max walking speed stayed the same as last month.

Duration: Aimed for 50 minutes.

Because I did some different things this month, my timing was different all the time, but if I didn’t have a specific plan in mind I just set my sights on basic intervals for 50 minutes.

Weights: 1 to 2 sets, 12 reps

This is the first time in many months that I started to drop off on the weight sets while walking on the treadmill. There were a couple of reasons for this. First, I did more workouts that were other types of strength training and didn’t feel as much need to work upper body during my walks. Secondly, I was doing more speed intervals, outdoor runs and 5K test runs where the weights were just too much distraction.

Incline: 5

Worked on getting consistent with incline at 5, but found this to be very challenging. Found I could do my walking at 5 but tended to drop it down to 4 during run intervals. Also, as the month went on and I started doing more focused goals on my runs I used less and less incline.

Average Burn: 300

I feel the need to comment here, that it bums me out the more weight I lose, the harder I have to work to get my burn! What used to be over 300 calorie burn workouts for me now are often just a little over 200 calorie burns. No fair that I work just as hard, if not harder and now I have to start eating less to maintain because I’m not burning as much as I did when I weighed more!

Ending Weight: 123.6

This is 2-1/2 pound loss from last month. I have now lost almost 27 lbs. YAY ME!! 🙂

At this point I will be moving into maintenance mode, although my “goal weight” was actually 120 lbs. But I need to maintain this size now until after Terri’s wedding in July so the dress I just had sized will still fit me!

OK – so I’ve mentioned a few times here that I was doing some “different things” this month. Here is a run-down of what that looked like.

Cross Training:

There is a workout that my husband found on an On-Demand video by a trainer whose name is Declan. He was following this video doing this workout for some time before our cruise, and when it was about to be taken off the On-Demand menu he wrote it all down so he could keep doing it. This month I started doing this cross training workout with him. I need to start building strength and muscle in my body in areas other than my legs!

This workout is a collection of things like push ups, jumping jacks, planks, high knee lifts, lunges, squats, side-punches, crunches and a bunch of other stuff. It takes us about 40 minutes to do 2 sets of everything and by the end of that 40 minutes I am sweating like I ran a 5K twice! And the next two days my gluts and hamstrings are so sore I can barely walk! I think that means it’s working 🙂

I added this about twice per week and over all cut down my treadmill time to about 3 times per week instead of 4. So, I was actually working out about 5 days a week most of this month.

Strength Training:

I had recently been reading a book called “The Salt Solution” which talks about the epidemic of high sodium diets in this nation and all of the health issues this causes. The author of the book offers up a solution to lowering sodium intake, and outlines a program for eating to break the salt habit. I am not at this point following that program, although I am going to be putting some of the recipes into use.

What I liked in this book was there was an accompanying 6 week workout plan that had a 6 day walking/running plan combined with a weekly strength training plan. I’ve been thinking about following some sort of set plan for a while just to go into auto-pilot and not have to think too much about what I want to do for my workouts and decided I wanted to try this plan. However, I am scheduled to run a 5K race on June 8th ( www.konarun.com ) so I was also wanting to push my training more this month in preparation for the race.

The last week of May, I did start adding this strength training in twice a week. But it is just a short, 20 minute workout. I’m using small weights, they are not more than 5 lbs. each, but they have metal plates that can screw onto the ends to increase the weight as I get stronger. The program is just 7 different exercises and is pretty easy to follow. It doesn’t burn a ton of calories, but I like having something fairly easy some nights that is still helping me build my muscles and upper body strength.

The walking/running schedule part of the program I will wait until June to begin, after the 5K race.

5K Race Training:

Did a few “test runs” this month to work on my time for the 5K race.
Last year, I did my first 5K and I walked most of it. At the time it felt like I was walking as fast as I possibly could, I jogged a little of it (a very little bit of it), and my time was 47:11. Not a great time to more experienced folks I understand, but to me, I was so happy to just have done it, and to have finished it!

Mid-month I did a 5K on the treadmill and attempted to do as much of it as I could at my normal ‘run’ pace of 4.1 mph. I did it in 42:00!! I couldn’t believe I could do that! I was hoping maybe I could come in under 45 minutes this year.

Later in the month, my husband and I bought ourselves Garmin Forerunner 10 watches so we could start hitting the pavement to be free of the treadmill and still be able to track mileage, pace, calories, etc. This has been fun, and challenging too. Heat/humidity fatigue, hills and wind resistance – these are all new challenges to a girl who is used to always being on the treadmill!

We did a 5K training run outside and to my SHOCK I was able to do it in just a few seconds over 40 minutes!! So now, I can’t wait to see what I can do in that race!

Run Intervals:

On my standard treadmill workouts…I had been (very) slowly working in run intervals. I think I started out with 1 minute intervals every 10 minutes a few months ago and have steadily added 30 seconds to that each month. Last month I was doing three intervals of jogging for 3-1/2 minutes throughout my 50 minute walks. So I was on pace this month to go up to 6 minute walking/4 minute running intervals.

Well, the first week of the month I decided to take that up a notch further and did 5 on/5 off. I amazed myself I was able to jog for 5 minute intervals! The next week I went to 4 minutes walking/6 minutes running and at this point I dropped my incline down to 3. (Yes, I was actually doing the 5 on/5 off at an incline of 4!)
The following week I did 3 minutes walking/7 minutes running. However, when trying to do this outside I found it really hard to keep up the run that long, as my pace seems to increase significantly when the treadmill is not pacing me, so I tire myself out quickly! The last week of May I worked on 2 minutes walk/8 minutes run and I have to say, it was hard for me. Really hard.

I’d like to think I could attempt to “run” this whole 5K race, but I’m not sure my stamina will hold out. We’ll see.

Stay tuned next month for June’s stats – I’ll be trying to follow that Salt Solution workout guide through the month after the race so I’ll give a full report on that next time.

April 2013 Monthly Fitness Stats

April brought with it a fresh sense of determination. After having struggled a bit in March with consistency & intensity dropping off a bit, I knew I needed to kick things back into high gear.

APRIL STATS:

Speed: 2.2 mph starting speed (which is 0.20 increase over last months starting speed), max speed stayed at 3.2 mph.

Duration: 50 minutes

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Run intervals: 3-1/2 minutes at 4.1 mph
(this is a 30 second increase on the interval time, and a 0.10 mph increase on the speed)

Incline: 4-5

I really tried to get up to a consistent 5 on the incline, but I have to admit, that was HARD! Especially on the run intervals. The best I got up to by the end of the month was starting at 5 incline and keeping up with that through the whole walk except dropping it down to 4 during the run intervals.

Average Burn: 306

Ending Weight: 126.0

This is a 2.6 lb loss over last month! 🙂 Considering my initial goal was to get to 130 lbs, I NEVER thought I could or would reach this low of a weight, I am very excited about this!!

The size 8 pants I had bought in the last couple weeks have all been taken back to the stores for credit as they are all huge on me now. I’m feeling very comfortable in size 6 and even a couple of things are fitting well in size 4. I can’t believe just a few months ago I was SO excited to buy size 8 pants and now those just fall off me, LOL!

The Happy Cat

The Happy Cat


This is my cat, “Happy”, affectionately referred to as “The Happy Cat”. This is him doing his imitation of me flopped down, exhausted, after 50 minutes on the treadmill at a 5 incline!

March 2013 Monthly Fitness Stats

March was a bit of a struggle. Several challenges, but I stayed determine to at least be doing SOMETHING even if I wasn’t able to do as much as I had done in recent months.

Week 1 on vacation (did workout a few times while on our cruise though), week 2 trying to get back on track from being on vacation, week 3 was full-on raging PMS and week 4 was “that” TOM. (I’m on a 3 month controlled cycle so luckily I do not have to work around this issue every month). Although, in review – I did good ramping up a lot of the key points of my workout, really what suffered was frequency – I only got on the treadmill 3 times per week – all month, instead of 4. And I seemed to have completely dropped off the band wagon with the Aero Pilates so my over all week went from 5 days of exercise to 3 for this month. Hopefully April will be better.

We clean up pretty nice, huh!?

We clean up pretty nice, huh!?

I really felt great on that cruise after having lost 20 lbs!! Jim had started working out as well as watching his calories too in the last month or two before we left. He got so thin we had to buy him a new suit!

Treadmill stats:

Speed: 2.0 mph start, increase .2 per minute to NEW max speed of 3.2 mph

Decided to just keep going with that new max speed of 3.2 mph that I started on the cruise.

Duration: 50 minutes

I’ve gotten real consistent now that each treadmill workout is for 50 minutes. I can’t believe just a few months ago I started at 30 minutes and couldn’t even imagine I could do more than that!

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Run intervals: 2-1/2 to 3 minutes

Holy cow, you read that right! I am able to run for 3 minutes at a time!! I do three sets of this throughout my walk. It’s hard but I am very proud of the strides I’ve made in this area!

Incline: 4

Average Burn: 298

Ending weight: 128.6

February 2013 – Last Chance Workout Month

“Last chance workout” month before leaving for our cruise!

We went on an 8 night Caribbean cruise, it was fantastic! We planned all of our excursions to include a lot of walking and calorie-burning activities. And for the first time ever, we used the fitness center on the ship! So while we certainly did indulge in food (and adult beverages) we really kept the damage to a minimum. Most of the time we each gain almost 10 lbs on a week-long cruise. This time I only gained 5 and I think Jim gained 6 lbs. And we were both able to drop those pounds really quick within a week or so after coming home.

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February Stats:

Speed: 2.0 mph start, increase .2 per minute to max of 3.0 mph

While working out on the ship I started increasing my max speed to 3.2 mph. This seemed pretty comfortable, so I kept it going the rest of the month.

Duration: 45 – 50 minutes

Started trying to push duration out a little further, the month was a mix of about every other workout between 45 to 50 minutes.

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Frequency: 4 times per week

Run intervals: 2 to 2-1/2 minutes

Had one day on the ship that I just felt so full of energy, I pushed out my run intervals to about 5 minutes and couldn’t believe I could do it!!

Incline: 3 to 4, variable

Aero Pilates: once per week, 30 minutes

Average Burn: 269

Ending Weight: 130 lbs (yay! intermediate goal weight!)
I actually got to this weight right before we left for the cruise. Then I gained 5 lbs while on the cruise, then lost it again within about a week of coming home, so closed out the month at this weight still, yay me!! 🙂

January 2013 Monthly Fitness Stats

Keeping pace with December, kicked a couple of things up a notch like starting speed, run intervals and incline.

Me, my husband (Jim) and our daughter (Cecilia) in January 2013

Me, my husband (Jim) and our daughter (Cecilia) in January 2013

This photo is me and my family in January 2013. Looking a bit thinner here, down about 17 lbs from my most recent “fat” weight – although kind of hard to tell with the bulky winter clothes!

Treadmill stats:

Speed: 1.8 mph starting speed, increase .2 mph per minute to max speed of 3.0 mph

Duration: 45 minutes

Frequency: 4 times per week

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Run intervals: 4.0 mph 2 minute intervals, average 3 sets

Incline: 3

Aero Pilates: once per week, 12 reps of all, duration about 30 minutes

Average Burn: 240

Ending Weight: 133.4 lbs

December 2012 Monthly Fitness Stats

December I was in full swing momentum of embracing my lifestyle change. I had more energy and clothes were starting to fit better, this was good motivation to keep going full steam ahead!

I was, however, worried about the food frenzy that would invariably come with the holidays so I committed to working even harder to offset that.

Indulging in holiday treats like these resulted in gaining 5 lbs over Christmas!

Indulging in holiday treats like these resulted in gaining 5 lbs over Christmas!

Treadmill stats:

Speed: 1.6 mph start, increase .2 per minute until reaching max speed 3.0 mph

Notice a pattern here? Increasing starting speed by just 2/10ths of a mph each month. Still a nice slow start to warm up and avoid injury but slowly conditioning myself to be able to do more, and the faster I start the sooner I reach max speed and the more calories are burned in the end.

Duration: 45 minutes

Building consistency now on 45 minute workouts.

Frequency: 4 times per week

November my base goal was 3 X wk and I attempted 4 times in a couple weeks. This month I committed to 4 times per week, every week including Christmas!

Run intervals: 4 mph for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Incline: 2

That’s right, I said it! Incline! Adding this was critical to moving the needle on my calorie burn without adding more speed or duration (which have been key points leading to injury for me in the past).

Aero Pilates: once per week, 10 reps of all, duration about 25 minutes

Wow I am working out 5 days a week, is this for real? I’m loving it!

Average burn: 224 calories
Ending Weight: 137 lbs

(Proud to be down 3 lbs from November’s ending weight, considering I put on a couple of pounds over Christmas and took them back off, in addition to these 3 lbs!)