Cherry Blossom 5K

Boy, oh, boy. Where to begin with this one? Well, Sunday I ran the Cherry Blossom 5K and my feelings on it are… complicated. It started off as a huge cluster, unfortunately, but I still felt pretty good about it at the end. So, again, complicated. I felt the slightest bit weird about it in general, since I originally had signed up to run the 10 Miler but then dropped down to the 5K (smartest decision EVER, I should add!), but I still had my 10 Miler bib and everything. Still, I was excited to get another 5K under my belt (a distance that I’ve admitted many times to enjoying), and had plans to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law after they finished the 10 Miler.

The 10 Mile race had kicked off at 7 AM, while the 5K didn’t start until 8:40. I figured I had tons of time to get there, so I left for the Metro around 8 AM. Well, apparently I am fail at riding the metro, because even though the Smithsonian stop is only supposed to be 20 minutes away I didn’t get there until almost 9 o’clock! I hatehateHATE being late, so as soon as I got off the train, I started sprinting to try to find the 5K starting line. Unfortunately, it was blocked by the end of the 10 Miler course! Since I got there so late, there were a TON of fasssssst runners booking it towards their own finish line. I ran back to ask some race volunteers how to get across to the 5K start, and they told me that I did, in fact, have to cross the 10 Miler course… carefully. So I ended up having to wait another 4 to 5 minutes just to find a break in the stream of runners that I could sprint through (and felt like a total toolbag/douchecoaster doing so).

I tried to shake off my humiliation and continue towards the starting line… which had already been converted into the finish line. D’oh. I tried to peek at the clock to see what time I’d actually started at and I started my RunKeeper app to get some semblance of an idea of how I’ll do by the end. At this point, I was pretty disheartened. All of the stuff I love about racing — the crowds, the kick-off, the other people surrounding you — was gone. It was just me, a handful of other latecomers, and a steady stream of runners who are already heading for the finish. I had pretty much resigned myself to having a horrible race experience at this point. It was really difficult not to feel embarrassed as I trudged along by myself, despite all the encouraging words for volunteers and whatnot. I kept wanting to announce to them that I just started really late, that I wasn’t really in last place! Discouraged and already exhausted (after sprinting almost half a mile just to get through the starting gate), I ended up walking most of the first mile. Womp.

As it turned out, all was not lost, however. I did make a friend on the course, a fellow latecomer and 10 Miler drop-downer. After commiserating with her for a little while, I started to get a little bit of my spirit back. We started jogging again, and once we hit the turnaround point I was feeling much better. At this point, we began to pass the majority of the walkers, and as we ran back over the Memorial Bridge one of the volunteers yelled out “You caught up! I remember seeing you on the other side. How did you catch up so fast?!” which made me feel pretty good, haha. The second half of the race went by much faster, and was generally much more pleasant as we passed groups of people and the finish line came into view. I caught sight of Jenny and Dan (who had already finished their 10 Miles before I could even finish my 3.1, haha) near the end and started to really book it. I sprinted across the finish line and, though I don’t have an official read on my time, ended up finishing in ~38 minutes. Not a record by any means, but given my craptastic start and the fact that I walked in the beginning, I actually feel pretty good about. (I also feel I should remind myself that my very first 5K — which I didn’t walk at all during — took me over 40 minutes to complete.)

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In the end, all’s well that ends well, and despite its less-than-stellar beginnings, the race did serve as a good reminder that the actual 3.1 mile distance is totally doable. With a little more dedicated outdoor training (since I’ve been doing almost 100% treadmill runs lately), I know I’ll be able to get back up to a 4 mile running stamina for the Reach the Beach Relay in May.

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The last item on the agenda before Jenny, Dan, and I braved the smelly Metro back to Falls Church was to pick up the 10 Miler finisher medal that I had prematurely ordered, hahaha. Oops. At least you can’t argue about my INTENTIONS to have run that race, right? I bequeathed it to my very deserving sister instead. 🙂

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So the name of the game now is simply to continue training for the RTB Relay, go out with a bang there, and then never have to run ever again! Bahahaha. 😉

Feelgood Friday: The Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! For those of you who will be playing the Mega Millions Lottery tonight (estimated jackpot of $540 million!), good luck! I’m playing with a pool started by my office, hehe. I mean, who knows? SOMEBODY’s gotta win eventually, right? Also good luck to those of you who are running the Cherry Blossom Race on Sunday! As you know, I dropped down from the 10 Miler to the 5K, so if you see me chugging along at some point, be sure to come say hi!

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Though I have a feeling the race course will be unfortunately blossom-less this year.

I’m actually in a pretty good mood this morning, which is rather novel for this week. Hopefully it hasn’t shown TOO much here, but I’ve been doldrum-dwelling for the better part of this past week. I guess that with all the mental power I’ve been devoting to my career path, I was feeling a little burdened at the end of the day. So I figured that today I should capitalize on this feel-goodery and take a departure from all the big, life-changing decisions I’ve been contemplating and celebrate the little things that have me in such a stellar mood instead!

I took some of your advice from yesterday’s post and whipped up a large batch of awesomeness last night. I made a light pasta salad out of whole wheat angel hair with red peppers, onion, green onion, celery, and just a wee bit o’ bacon. I tossed it all together in a large bowl, then portioned some out and added balsamic vinaigrette to it separately. It was delicious, packed in a bunch of veggies, and was very satisfying. And now, I have a huge bowl of it in the fridge, where it should definitely keep for a little while, and for variety I can simply add whatever dressing or additional toppings to it that I want! I’m thinking I can try peanut sauce for an Asian twist, shake in a little parmesan cheese, or even just do a simple toss with oil and vinegar. I’m excited about the possibilities!

Daxter has been putting the “terror” in “terrier” lately by reigniting his chewing phase. I’ve lost a sports bra, pair of flip flops, and a camera tripod to the little monster so far, and he utterly destroyed Erin’s copy of “A Game of Thrones” (everybody’s a critic). Hopefully he is coming out of this phase though (Please… please let it be over…) with the help of chewable toys and treats that he’s actually ALLOWED to destroy. I submitted a picture of him for a contest by Embrace Pet Insurance (they’re the BEST if you’re thinking about getting pet insurance — and you really should!) and won a little package of stuff including an edible card! Hopefully it will help stave off the little mongrel from attacking any more of my footwear. He’s lucky he’s so cute.

I’ve been getting in some supplies for the EPIC AMAZINGNESS that will be my 24th birthday party. And yes, the rumors are true: It is going to be Harry Potter themed. (NO JUDGING!) I’m trying very hard not to go too-too overboard with the planning, but let’s just say that there most DEFINITELY be some adult Butterbeers served… and if people are really lucky, they might just get their hands on a vial of Felix Felicis as well.

What’s a little thing that’s making you happy today?

I Heart DC

I’m a Northern Virginia gal, not-born, but bred (I was actually born in Hong Kong, if you were curious). My father, a career-long employee of the State Dept., had our family moving from country to country every three to four years while I was growing up. Of course, as a snot-nosed adolescent, having to pack up and leave my friends behind so often did not sit well with me. As an almost-sorta-adult with 20/20 hindsight, however, I am now exceedingly grateful for the opportunities I was able to have thanks to living abroad. That said, I knew pretty early on that I would not want a life that included such frequent upheaval once I was out on my own.

We only lived in Falls Church for four years, when I was in grades 5 – 8. Hardly long enough to say that I’m “from” here. But those formative years were enough that when my brother settled back in this area after he graduated from college, I know that I would be following suit. While most of my former classmates and colleagues who grew up in one house, one city, or even one state tout their intentions to get out of here, I don’t feel that same desire. I’m laying down my roots here, at least for the meantime, and I like it.

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When I got my new job that would be starting in the city, rather than the safe suburban confines of the Beltway, I was admittedly a little apprehensive. For all my declarations of loving Falls Church and Northern Virginia, I rarely ventured inside DC city limits. Despite all of my world travels, for which I considered myself quite culturally adept and urban, I was actually a little bit scared of the city. Pretty silly, huh? As it turns out, I kinda love working in DC. My office is barely a stone’s throw from the National Mall, my commute isn’t as hellish as I thought (well, this morning was pretty terrible, but it’s not the norm), and it makes me feel… grown up.

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As I said earlier this week, since it’s been so unseasonably warm, the cherry blossoms are peaking incredibly early this year. They probably won’t make it to the Cherry Blossom Festival or race, in fact. So yesterday I took the opportunity to stroll around during lunch to try to soak in some of these springtime beauties before they all blew away! I didn’t make it down to the Tidal Basin, of course, but I did get the chance to see the trees they still have on the Mall, as well as some other familiar sights.

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This was taken after I offered to take a photo for a family who was on the mall, and they offered to take a photo of my in return. Apparently posing with the sakura brings out my super Asian side, haha!

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If this rain (blehhh) doesn’t blow them away, I think they will be getting a little fuller and more pink over the next couple of days. If you haven’t gone out to see them yet, you should! They’re really beautiful, and they just make it feel like Spring.

What’s your favorite thing about Spring? Mine is my birthday, OBVIOUSLY, followed closely by the flowering trees.

Retreat (Weigh-in)

I have something to say, and you’re probably not going to like it. Hell, I don’t like it. But, it has to be said.

Despite all my best intentions, I will not be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run on April 1st. I will still be running that day (there is also a 5K that I will be bumping down to), but not in the way that I had initially planned. I know that long ago I said that my ultimate running goal would be completing a 10 miler — this 10 miler, in fact — but the fact of the matter is that I have not been training for it. At all. And I need to own up to that.

It’s embarrassing as hell for me to admit, and it makes me feel like I’m letting you down (and letting myself down too, but you already know I’m usually okay with that). I guess this is the problem when you make declarative statements about your fitness intentions to the entire interwebs, eh? As much as I would love to be able to justify this with an injury, or sickness, or some other totally believable excuse, I can’t. I simply haven’t trained, and more than that, I just don’t have any desire to build my running endurance back up that much right now. Knowing me and my fickle, fickle self, this might change. And in a month I might be saying I’m going to train for a half-marathon — who knows? What I know right now is that I am not going to be able to just up and run 10 miles in 3 weeks.

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Sure, I’ve been running a few miles here and there as part of my greater commitment to exercise. But racking up two or three miles on the treadmill once a week does not an endurance runner make. Instead, I’ve been strength training and doing group classes and at-home videos and am actually starting to enjoy integrating exercise into my regular routine. I KNOW. Who am I? I wouldn’t say that I’m a devoted lover of sweating yet, but I can say that what I have been doing for the past couple of weeks seems to be working. So I figure I can continue to ride this wave of general working out, almost-kinda-sorta liking it sometimes… or I can force myself to huff and puff for long distances, and be miserable.

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When I began this blog, and started discovering the myriad of wonderful healthy living blogs that exist out there, I thought I needed to be a runner. After all, it seems like 90% of the bloggers in my Google Reader are runners. Not to mention the fact that I continue to read and be told that cardio is what helps you lose weight, and running is a pretty obvious form of cardio. So I gave it a try, and while it was hard in the beginning to even get through a full mile (I don’t care if it makes me sound pathetic, I still think that a mile is LONG!), I eventually worked my way up. I ran my first 5K, then a 5 Miler, and then I even completed a 15K!

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I am so proud of myself for hitting these milestones, and experimenting with running did help me discover how much fun participating in RACES is, even if I still find the running part pretty miserable. But I’m finally at the point where I think I need to stop trying to make this happen just because it’s what I think I should be doing. I want to do things that I want to do, not things that I think I should want to do. Because when I try to force myself into doing something, it usually ends up backfiring. And that applies to making myself hate exercise as well as to my weight loss in general. Does that make any sense at all?

I am in no way saying I’m going to stop running completely. After all, I still have the Reach the Beach Relay in May, and I am legitimately looking forward to it and will continue training for it (my longest leg should hopefully be no more than 5 miles). But I am going to stop focusing on ZOMGDISTANCE! so much. I enjoy running 5K races. While the half- and full-marathoners out there may scoff at a mere 3.1 miles, I consider it a good, challenging distance for myself. So come April 1st, I will be running the Cherry Blossom 5K, and I will try very hard to focus on it as a victory, instead of feeling like a flake about the 10 Miler.

Whew. So, there you have it. I hope that none of you will look down on me too harshly for changing my mind like this. I have openly admitted many times to being wishy-washy when it comes to exercise, but I hope you can see that this really isn’t about making an excuse or copping out. This is about the larger picture. It’s about me actually, actively wanting to continue getting healthy and fit. So I may be retreating from the 10 Miler, but only in order to strengthen my resolve as I move forward. And speaking of moving forward…

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 190.0 lbs
This Weigh-in: 189.0 lbs
Difference: -1.0 lbs

Ohhhhh hey, 180s! It’s nice to be back! Clearly, I am ecstatic that I have an entire pound’s loss to show this week, which pushes me firmly back into the good ol’, pre-holiday 180s. I feel like it just helps justify everything I just said with regard to the way I’m working out, y’know, working out (heh). Given last week’s wompy 0.1 loss and all the bad eating out that I’ve been doing lately, I wasn’t expecting much. But after so many weeks of half- and quarter-pound losses (if that!), not to mention the gains — Heaven forbid! — I am doing my superhappydance. So hey, at least we get to end on a positive note!