Reflections Of A Lackluster Life

The Random Thoughts Of A Captive Midwesterner

Costs March 24, 2011

Filed under: Running — The Shelly Belly @ 8:44 pm
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Upon reading an exceptional post by Annabelle Winters about fitness planning and goals, I went out for my morning run with thoughts of the post still in my mind.  Normally my runs are filled with daydreams.  I imagine that I’m actually running in the marathon I’ve been training so hard for.  I picture how my family will be there at the finish line.  I try to imagine the cheering crowds and energetic atmosphere.  Basically, I let my mind do anything it can to take me away from the reality of the brutally cold, wet and windy weather that has been plaguing my runs all winter.

Today, however, my head was not full of happy thoughts.  It was one of those runs… everyone has them.  Only 5 miles long, it felt like 15.  My feet hurt, my legs were tree trunks, my lungs weren’t working, I was tired.  Battling the wind took every ounce of my tiny supply of energy.  So instead of thinking about the happier aspects of my running, I started thinking about costs.

I know what I’m gaining from this, and it is a lot.  I’m losing weight, feeling better about me, achieving goals, gaining respect, etc etc etc.  I am becoming a new person, it’s hard to describe what that feels like.  But you can’t become a new person without leaving the old one behind, or at least large parts of the person you once were.  As much as I disliked who I used to be as a whole, there were parts that I really liked that I am giving up for my new goals.  To ignore this is ignorant and to cling to these things is holding me back from becoming who I want to be.

So in an effort to further my fitness and life goals, I am going to acknowledge the things that I am giving up for this new life and attempt to let them go.  I might grieve these losses briefly, but if I didn’t believe it was worth it to leave them behind, I would never have started this in the first place.

__________________The Costs_____________________

Drinking. Let’s be frank, I like to drink… a lot.  When I think about relaxing and having fun, I rarely picture it without a drink in my hand.  I still consider one of the best times in my life to be the year that Kiel and I spent every Wednesday night at The Spot, a local Karaoke Bar with our good friends (the lovely Annabelle included)!  We closed the bar down every week, stumbling down the stairs and making our way to someone’s abode or the nearby train station.

For the majority of my adult life I could be counted on to always be up for a beer.  And now I just can’t do it.  Don’t get me wrong, I will occasionally on Sundays indulge in some white wine after a really long run, or enjoy an ice cold Corona with a slice of lime after a mid-summer 90 degree run, but my days (or nights rather) of sitting around watching TV (we’ll get to that in a minute) and drinking are essentially over.

Now that every aspect of my life revolves around my running, I am going to bed early and waking up earlier.  I can’t get up at 4:30 and run 10 miles if I have been up past 9 or have had even a glass of wine.  I need to be at my best pretty much all the time.  I am sure that when I am not training, I will indulge a little more often, but considering I’ve signed up for two marathons this year, I’m not going to have a huge break from training.

And then there is the issue of my tolerance… I have none.  I used to be able to drink most people under the table, now I’m feeling pretty drunk after a glass or two of wine.  And don’t even get me started on anything stronger (just ask Peter about the Vodka in Barcelona).

So, to my party/binge drinking days, I must say goodbye.  It was fun while it lasted, but I need to let it go.  As one of my good friends Allison told me recently, “there comes a point in your life when being happy is more important than having fun”.  Wiser words were never spoken.  From now on, nights of drinking and debauchery will be reserved for the off season and special occasions.  I’m sure that my liver thanks me.

Buffy.  Ok, not Buffy specifically, but that’s the one I feel the most.  I miss TV.  I used to get home from work every night and chill out on the sofa in my PJ’s with a beer (or a case of beer) and marathon episodes of Buffy, Alias, Greys Anatomy, Angel, Bones, Sex In The City, Dollhouse and The OC.  The only breaks I would take were to get up for mass amounts of food and smokes.  Now, I’m lucky if I can find time to catch up on the Grey’s recordings on my DVR.  I won’t even start new shows because I don’t have time to watch them.

I lived for TV.  I spend hours wishing that I was like the girls on my shows.  Instead of living my life, I was watching fictional people living out theirs.  Part of it is my over active imagination, I am captivated by stories.  I love to get caught up in other worlds, it truly is an escape.  But when it becomes a regular thing, it’s not an escape anymore, it’s a trap.

Now I’m not saying that I want to go back to living for TV, but I do occasionally find myself longing for a stretch of two days when all I have to do is eat and drink and watch Buffy.  I need to get over it.  I might have those days occasionally in the future (likely every time I see Peter), but that kind of lifestyle doesn’t mesh with who I am today.  I probably wouldn’t even enjoy it as much as I remember, but the feeling of nostalgia sometimes nags at me, specifically at 4:30 in the morning before a 10 mile run!

A social life.  This one has to be the worst.  I miss people.  I haven’t seen most of my friends in months, between my job and my training schedule I barely have time to cook dinner or grocery shop (and don’t even ask about the cleanliness of my house) let alone go anywhere or see anyone.

The last time I saw Jessica was on my birthday, back in January!  I have been trying to schedule a dinner date with my friends Jennifer and Nikki for months.  I haven’t actually SEEN Annabelle in about a year.  I don’t even have time for “date night” with Kiel.

Being a runner is often times a solitary and lonely thing.  I wake up by myself and I run by myself.  I see Kiel for a short time after my run while we are both getting ready for work and then I go to bed at night before he gets home so I can get up at an obscene hour of the day.   I just miss being with people.


So that pretty much sums up the big costs for me.  And I am happy to pay them!  Because what I am trading them for is something much much much more valuable.  This year has been a test for me and will continue to be that until winter.  I wanted this and though I seem to have to remind myself of that more and more often lately, I still remember why I started all of this in the first place.  I know I can make it.  I will run my races and be more proud of myself than I have every been.

Once I am done with these races, I will take some time to re-evaluate where I’m at, what I’ve achieved and what my new goals should be.  And for now, I will concentrate on bidding farewell to the old me and embracing the new me.


Half January 24, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:36 pm
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About 4 months ago, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon.  My legs were dead, my lungs were dead, my entire body ached worse than it had in my entire life.  I was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment like I had never known before.  People were everywhere cheering and congratulating.  And I even go a medal!

Yesterday, for the first time since that fateful day, I ran another half marathon.  Except this time there was no cheering and no medal.  It was just the same as any other day where a long run was involved.  Somehow 13 miles has gone from being the number I worked towards for months to just another distance that I am perfectly capable of running.  It has been reduced from one of the most exciting things I have ever done to a boring treadmill run with bad Sunday TV.  It was a challenging run and I probably could have run it faster, but speed was not my goal.  My legs were a little tired, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Now I realize that the same fear that a 13 mile distance had once filled me with has now been replaced with a new number, 26.  I can’t imagine running double the distance I did yesterday.  A few more miles sure, but double?  I know that is what a training program is for, to get you to that distance.  Today starts week 5 of that program, and I have 13 weeks to go after this one.  I have faith in myself that I will be able to do this, I just can’t visualize actually doing it.

For now I will focus on smaller goals, next weekend I run a 14 miler.  That will be my longest distance ever, though it doesn’t fill me with the dread of 26, it’s still further than I’ve ever had to go before.  Hopefully I will be able to run outside next week, I don’t think I can take another boring treadmill run.


Short January 21, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 6:03 pm
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Who wears short shorts?  Apparently I do.  While modeling my newly purchased pink running shorts for my husband, he eyed them speculatively while asking if they were indeed shorts or underpants.  This morning I took my new “underpants” to the gym to run in, but of course I had his criticism on my mind.  Where they too short?  Had I really worked hard enough on my legs/ass to justify wearing them?  Were people looking at me with a “who does she think she is” glare?  Was my butt hanging out? I hadn’t worn shorts in public more than 3 or 4 times since high school for exactly this reason!

I took a few deep breaths and told myself very firmly that no one was looking at me before I got on the treadmill.  After a few minutes of running, I assessed the situation.  My butt appeared to be staying put inside the shorts and my legs, toned and muscular from months of training did not jiggle about, perhaps I had earned this after all?

All in all, it was a great workout!  I ran 6 miles, and the last time I did that (Wednesday) I was wearing long yoga/spandex pants (another big step for me a few months ago) and I was sweating up a storm.  Long running pants are simply too hot for indoor long runs.  Shorts on the other hand are great!  I never once felt overheated.

So here is to the upcoming spring/summer running season!  Shorts galore!  Next big hurdle?  Ditching the shirt!  Sports bra running here I come!


Speed January 14, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 2:35 pm
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Last night I tried something new.  Thursday is my last running day before a day of rest, and it’s not a very long run.  This week it was 3 miles, a distance that is starting to feel like a waste of time.  3 miles?  Sure, that distance scared me when I started running, but that was  a long long long time ago.  So I decided to start using Thursday runs to work on my speed.

I split my workout into different intervals, 4.5mph and 7mph.  I ran a quarter mile at 7 (pretty much my top speed if I want to be able to run for more than 30 seconds) and then recovered for a minute to a minute and a half then I went back to sprinting another quarter mile.  I did that for three miles.  I finished my 3 mile way faster than normal doing this and I didn’t feel like I was going to die like I do when I attempt to run the entire run at the “sprint speed”.

Today I feel fine, though I was a little worried that the increased tempo would lead to increased muscle aches, that just isn’t the case.  I will continue to work on my speed intervals and track my progress on my long runs to see if my work is shaving any time off of my run.



Three January 10, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 5:51 pm
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And now we begin week 3!  Week 2 ended better than I would have thought.  I finished my 11mile long run in 2 hours 8 mins, I would really like to be at a solid 10 min mile for the marathon, but I’m not going to kill myself to get there.  “Slow but steady FINISHES the race” is my mantra right now.

11 miles took me from my house to North Avenue Beach and it was quite a beautiful view when I got there!

My halfway point!

Tonight I have cross-training, and I must admit a bit sheepishly that I have fallen head over heels in love with Zumba.  I look super spastic doing it, but it’s fun, and that’s what it’s all about right?  Fun?  I think so!

Week 3 is a “step back” week in my training, my mileage during the week picks up a little bit but I only have 8 miles to go on Sunday, I don’t know what I will do with all my extra time!


Second January 8, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 10:44 pm
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For the last couple of months whenever I thought back to my summer training building up to the half marathon, I found myself nostalgic for sense of accomplishment after breaking another personal best, for the soreness in my muscles telling me very clearly that I had worked my body to its limit, for the sight of the scale as it kept notching further and further in the direction I wanted.  I couldn’t wait until my marathon training started so I could get back to challenging myself with longer runs and more intense workouts.  I was excitedly counting down the days until I could officially say “18 weeks to go!”.  In short, I was an idiot.

How could I not have remembered what this was like?  Pushing my pace faster and faster?  Lifting weights to strengthen my stride?  Suffering the excruciating embarrassment that is Zumba class?  Spending night after night with ice packs tied to every inch of my body with ace bandages?  The inability to fit anything but running and sleep into my schedule?

Ok, before you go getting all worried about me, I should explain that I am currently in week two of training and therefor nothing I say should be taken too seriously.  Week two is brutal.  Week one is all about the optimism and the excitement, week two is more about feeling like a failure and forcing yourself to go on.  Week three needs to get here stat.  I need this to be a routine again, not an interruption of my schedule.

So tonight I will have a 5m run on the treadmill, I’m trying for interval training if I can manage it, but I might be forced to just run the damn thing.  Tomorrow I have an 11m run outside and I am actually really looking forward to that.  I miss running by the lake, the early sunsets and freezing temperatures of Winter keep me off my favorite paths after work, but the “warm” mid-day Sunday sun calls to me!

I hope that Monday brings with it the feeling of routine that I am hoping week three will bring.  If it doesn’t, I’m just going to have to throw in the towel and go completely insane for a few weeks.  I hope no one minds?


New December 28, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:48 pm
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Well hello there!  I’m back!  Did you miss me?  Probably not, but that’s really not the goal of this is it?  I am happy to report that today starts something serious and very important to me.  Today I start officially training for the Nashville Rock and Roll Marathon.  That’s right!  In just 18 weeks I will have trained my mind and body to travel a distance of 26.2 miles.  I can not wait to know what that feels like.

I plan on documenting the experience a lot here, so I apologize in advance if I get a bit obsessive as I do tend to do that.

In truth, I have never been more excited about a challenge in my life, but I have never been so nervous either.  This is the biggest goal I have ever set for my body and I really hope that my body is up the the task.  Only one way to find out though right?  Here goes nothing… wish me luck!