Sunday, August 31, 2014

Going the Distance

I dislike running. I mean, you go outside, in nature, and just start running. Nothing is chasing you and unless you're in a race that you pay an absorbent amount of money for, there isn't usually anything waiting for you at the end except for a couple of Tylenol and a hot shower. But, in the long run (hehe), it's worth the feeling I get afterwards. The feeling of accomplishment that I have when I collapse into a chair or get that t-shirt or medal afterwards.

If you've known me for awhile or even for a short amount of time, you know that I've gone through some big changes over the past two years. A Master's degree, a love lost, and shedding just over 200 pounds. Having the gastric bypass surgery has helped me do things that I never thought I would ever do. And I will tell you that even though I made the decision to have the surgery, I still accomplished this by a lot of hard work and determination. It was NOT easy. I didn't sit on my butt and do nothing. I got up and started moving. I started making better choices. And while I still make bad food decisions, and there are days where I'm super lazy, I have still accomplished more than I ever thought possible.

So, the running story. I've never been a runner. I was in band. No running involved but I could a 12min field show, while playing the piccolo with no problem. A different kind of fit for sure. When I started losing all the weight, I started getting a feeling that running could be something that I wanted to do. I was getting into hiking but because of previous knee injuries, hiking on rough terrain was too hard for me. So, why not try running?

My first run was at CSUSB. It was a color run. A 5k. 3.1 miles. March 2013 was when the race took place and I didn't even finish. I only did two out of the three laps because I was so out of shape that my body (mostly my head) gave up. Even though I didn't finish, I was still proud of myself that I went out there and did something out of my comfort zone.
March 2013

After my first race I kinda got hooked but didn't know where to start. Contrary to popular belief, running is expensive! Almost every race costs some kind of entrance fee and then there's parking and usually breakfast afterwards. Not to mention the gas it takes to get to each race. And don't even get me start on the running gear! I have never spent so much money on shoes before. AND they only last for a few hundred miles before you have to buy new ones. Like seriously, I need a second job to just afford all this.

So after my first race, I continued to do my regular workouts and kept losing as much weight as possible. I didn't have another run until October 2013. It was technically a walk but let's just all admit that most of us are all super competitive and want to do better every time. I participated in my first NAMI Walk with the encouragement from a couple of my weight loss friends. NAMI is the Nation Alliance on Mental Illness. Something I'm very passionate about. I also barely finished this. I wore pants (stupid me) and didn't bring enough water. Needless to say, I didn't create any personal records that day. I was just happy I finished.
NAMI Walk 2013



Again, I felt amazing afterwards but still didn't know how to get into running a regular basis. Enter my friend Jessica who started her own weight loss journey and started running on a regular basis.She has helped me so much and has been a wealth of information and support while I've been doing this. In February of this year (2014), she talked me into singing up for a 10k. At Disneyland no less. A 10k! That's 6.2 miles. But she assured me that I had plenty of time to train and I'd be ready by the end of August to do it.

So, I started training. I signed up for the gym and started hitting both the treadmill and outside running. I started hiking an easy trail on the weekends. Something that was about 4 miles round trip just to give my body a breather from the running. And of course starting to do more weight training for my legs.

You have to understand that I'm on my own here. I don't have friends who live close by who are willing to work out with me and I can't afford a personal trainer to push me into doing more and showing me that what I think my limits are, are not actually my limits. So I have to figure things out on my own. Are these excuses? No. Just the reality of my life.

I started signing up for more races. I knew that the only way I could really prepare for this 10k was to do more 5ks to help with my training. This year (so far) I've completed 5 5ks. Each time my times are around 45min which isn't too bad but I know I can do better if I had the discipline to train like my other friends who run. I tried to do a race each month leading up to the 10k. And I almost did. I missed June. Each race I felt myself getting stronger and I could go longer and longer without feeling like I wanted to fall over. Still about 40-45min to finish but I finished and to me, that's all that matter.

 March 2014


 April 2014 (My first medal!)


May 2014

 July 2014 (Soooo hot outside!)
August 2014 (My second medal!)

So finally, it's the end of August and my Disney 10k was finally here! I was so nervous. I knew I hadn't trained as well as others. I didn't follow a training plan. I probably didn't do a lot of things that I should have done while training for a longer race. Or at least a long race for me.

I went to the expo and picked up my packet. And then I met Sean Astin who told me to not just run until I feel tired. I needed to follow a plan. Considering this was the day before my race, I was thinking 'great, everything I've done for the past 7 months was stupid and I'm going to crash and burn'. But then he told me to keep going. No matter what I felt like, I trained hard and I've been through too much to give up now. It was amazing advice.


I also met Jeff Galloway who is the guy who started the run/walk/run program. I asked him if he had any advice for since I did all my training on my own and while I do technically run/walk/run, I didn't do it to his program. So, he told me to listen to my body and to do each run/walk/run for 30 seconds and I would see an improvement in my running because I'm not exhausting my body right at the beginning and I'll be able to do longer without feeling like I was done. 




Leaving the expo I felt good. Ready for what was ahead and praying that I finished. That was my goal. To finish. To prove to myself that when I set my mind to something and when I dedicate myself to something, I can do it.

And I did. I completed a 10k! I won't go into details about every mile because the only person it's important to is me. But long story short is I did a lot more running than I ever thought possible. My poor friend Jessica probably did a lot more running than she would have liked to but no matter what, she still stayed with me. And we both finished at the same time!

Finished!
 
Official Time



If I've learned anything from this experience, it's that no matter what goes through my head; my self doubts, and self hate, I can complete anything that I want to. I've worked hard to accomplish a goal that I didn't thing I would be able to do.

I have signed up for another Disney race. This time though, it's the Tinkerbell Half Marathon for May 2015! BUT I'm going to do a lot better this time. I'm going to do an actual training plan, read as much as I can, and do a couple more 10k races to get ready. I'll be even more ready for the next race.

In the end, I still dislike running. But I love the feeling of accomplishment even more.








Sunday, April 27, 2014

Crock Pot Sausage and Cheese Tortellini

I'm always trying to find new things that I can make in my crock pot. As a busy professional who has recently gotten addicted to working out (even though I still hate it), I need quick and easy things to make that are done when I get home 7-8pm every night.

I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course). The original link is here Original Recipe. I'm posting it to my blog simply because it may be easier for you to just go to my blog instead of searching through all my pins. Also, I've made a few changes to the recipe to fit it for my taste buds.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. Italian Sausage (I used the mild kind and then added chopped onion and hot chili pepper.)
  • 20 oz. Frozen Three-Cheese Tortellini (The Buitoni kind is in the specialty refrigerated case in the deli area of the grocery store. I popped them right in the freezer when I get home.)
  • 32 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cans Diced Tomatoes – The kind that are seasoned with basil, garlic & oregano. If you don’t have the seasoned ones, you’ll need to add in your own seasonings.
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese or Neufch√Ętel Cheese – I used the low fat kind of cream cheese.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese (not pictured) for topping.
 Step 1: Brown your meat first. This is where I also added my onion and chopped up my peppers. I de-seed my peppers. It's a trick I learned when I used to make my own salsa. All the heat is in the seeds so to cut it down a little, I take them out.




Step 2: Add the sausage and tortellini to your Crock Pot. Pour the tomatoes, liquid and all, and broth over the top. Add your cream cheese to the Pot in chunks. (I have a smaller crock pot so I ended up not using all of the broth only because I didn't want it to overflow. I used about 3/4 of it though.)

Step 3: Give your Crock Pot a good stir to get everything evenly distributed, making sure the liquids are adequately covering the tortellini.
 

 
Step 4: Cook on LOW for a total of 4 1/2 hours. Stir at 2 hours, and again at 4 hours, removing the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking ( I just set timers on my phone to remind me). This will give the sauce some time to thicken up.

My Review:

I had to move everything from my crock pot to a big pot on my stove after 2 hours. I have a smaller crock pot and so I ended up putting too much inside and it started to overflow. I set it up to simmer for about 30min before I removed it from the heat. I then let it sit, covered, for another 30min before eating. The sauce isn't super thick but not watery either.

It tasted amazing though. I had one small bowl and I was stuffed. I also have a much smaller stomach so I'm thinking for a normal person, one full bowl would be okay as a serving size. I have enough to last me for the whole week.

Overall, I will make this again but I'll scale down the amount of ingredients I use unless I know I'm having a lot of company over.