Monday, August 22, 2011

Weighing on my Mind...

Something is wrong with me.

I've known it for a long time, but I didn't do anything about it. Not really. Made half-hearted efforts here and there, but when I saw no results, I backed off. Because I was too busy to take care of it, and because it didn't keep me from doing what I wanted to do in life. Did it keep me from doing it well? Probably. But I wasn't ever going to win at this anyway, unless by winning you mean finishing, and I was finishing races just fine, left and right, all over town. So I didn't do anything to fix it. "It" of course, is my weight. I've struggled with it for pretty much my whole adult life. I was able to keep it in check and be relatively healthy if not ideal for the past 6 years, when I started serious distance running.

Oh, I tried. I went to see a nutritionist last summer, knowing that if I was going to perform at my best for the NYC Marathon that I needed to drop weight. And I was pleased with my results, as they were. In 3 1/2 months working with her, having every meal, snack and post-run recovery spelled out, while I was running upwards of 150 miles a month, I did see results. I could see muscles in my legs for the first time in forever. I felt stronger, and I got faster. And my weight? Showed a whopping 3 pounds lost. In 3 months. Yeah. Wheee. I know the scale is not the only measure, and my clothes were fitting better and I was able to fit into some things that I hadn't been able to button previously. So there were non-scale victories for sure.

But, they were small victories, and they were dearly paid for. I had to be so stringent and pay so much attention to what I ate and when. I measured and weighed EVERYTHING that went into my mouth. I missed ONE workout in 4 months. And at the end of all that, when you figured out the cost-benefit ratio, I had very few "results" to speak of. My stomach still pooched over the waistband of my jeans. I still couldn't button my favorite jacket, even though it fit right on the rest of my body. But I finished New York City, no thanks to my knee. And my finishers' pics show someone with a medal around her neck who is clearly a marathoner, but otherwise still didn't fit the image of an athlete.

Even at the fittest I've been in my adult life I was still  categorized as "obese." Yay.

Day before NYCM. Jeans still too tight around tummy. 

So I soldiered on, because that's what I do. I am willful and stubborn and what I can't do with natural talent or ability, I bulldoze through with sheer force of will and tenacity. And despite unexpected gall bladder surgery, I went on and did my first 2 trail 50ks and 3 other marathons (1 trail, 2 road marathons) in the next six months. I was in a constant cycle from January through May of race, recover, long run, taper, race... Rinse and repeat. All spring. During that time, I barely took a week off, and maintained long runs of 16-18 miles on the weekends I wasn't racing. I was having fun, for sure, but I wasn't training with the same intensity I did in the previous summer. I ate well, though, but again, I didn't watch what I ate with the same intensity as when I was working with the nutritionist. But I kept the principles in play, probably at about 85 percent. As much as I enjoy the greatness of Smashburger and sweet potato fries, I only allowed myself to indulge after a marathon. And over that time, five months or so, I put on about 10 pounds. It was imperceptible at first, more noticeable later on, as certain clothes didn't quite fit so comfortably. A lot of it was a result of the gall bladder surgery, but some of it was because I just wasnt' keeping up the intensity I had earlier in the summer. It wasn't affecting anything, though, really, except for my self-esteem as I posted things like this about my race pictures, and in the mornings when I had to dress in something other than running clothes, when I went through four changes of outfits before I found something I didn't hate. But it was wearing on me, for sure, and being an emotional eater, well that doesn't help. I ran through this scenario many times during this part of the year: "I can't lose weight. I'm so fat. It makes me sad. I'm sad. Oh, cookies - yummy! Eating crap makes me feel better. Sugar high wears off. Not really, too late. Hey, look, I gained MORE weight. F me."

I knew my hormones were a mess from the fibroids I'd been dealing with. So took care of that issue and had the hysterectomy, sacrificing the Minneapolis Marathon in the process. Between Oklahoma City and when I went in for surgery, I gained another 10 pounds. In 6 weeks. And as a bonus, I earned ANOTHER 6 weeks of lowered activity level during recovery. Yay! Just what my body needs - less calorie burn. No worries, I kept walking, hiking, started swimming, borrowed a bicycle, so I'm still active. I watched what I ate, logged it all in dailyplate, counted f'ng almonds for my mid-morning snack (13 almonds = good, 14 almonds = too many). And the net result at my 4-week post-surgery checkup? My weight was 2 pounds higher than pre-op. Yay! Well, no worries, right? As soon as I ramp up the training again, dial in the nutrition even tighter, and the hormones are handled now, well, hell, the weight will just melt off now, right? Um, no.  Even jumping right back in with 20 miles in my first week back, 32 miles the second week, and 33 miles the following, plus adding swimming and cycling into the mix, my weight results were: EXACTLY THE F'NG SAME! Well, hey, maybe you've just gained muscle, right, muscle is smaller than fat, that's what's happened, right? Um, no. I took measurements and despite showing an initial promising loss of an inch in the first 2 days, at the end of the 2 weeks, my measurements are EXACTLY THE F'NG SAME. So, wait, I just busted my ass, working out 9+ hours a week, not counting the time needed to get to and from the pool, or the time to get the bicycle to and from the park paths, and I get a big zero change in body composition to show for it?  Sweetness.

Compression tights = muffin top. 

End of January, 2 months after gall-bladder surgery. 

Mid-March. Rockin' chupa shirt barely fits. 

Early April. Fit enough for 50k but fuel belt isn't doing me any favors.

Post OKC, pre-hysterectomy. We blamed it on the uterus.

4 weeks post-hysterectomy.  Tutu can't hide much.
 But it's not all about the measurements, right? There are other benefits, like increased speed, and this whole running thing gets easier the more you do it right?  Or not... It could feel harder and tougher than ever before... And the tangible results, tested by an all-out puke threshold 5k race? Well, that shows that I'm a full minute per mile off my PR pace. Woot and squee! And the half? That was a freakin' death march, hard when we started and only got harder as we went on. And even though that was a 9 minute course PR, it is a full 40 minutes off my half PR from New Year's Day. So, while I can go on all day about this being the new me, and that we aren't comparing to my old self, and it's a new beginning, it's just talk. Unless I believe it. And right now, friends and neighbors, I don't believe it. I'm not buying into it, as much as I know that it's the right thing to do. As much as I know that all I'm doing when I compare myself to myself is beating myself up, I can't help it. It's frustrating and maddening and depressing. And it makes me worried for the races that I've already signed up for, and the commitments that I've already made for the rest of the year. And that pressure is building.

I had 18 miles scheduled on Saturday. Shouldn't have been a problem since I did the half last weekend. Yes, it's kind of a big jump in mileage, but overall, for the week, the mileage was within the 10% threshold for increasing mileage safely. So, no worries. Easy-peasy, right? No. I slept in late, a conscious decision because this was the first Saturday in a long time and for a long while that we had ZERO things to do. I had planned to do trails on Sunday so I knew Sunday was going to be an early wake-up and with school starting, 5:30 is the normal wake-up from now until May. So I was savoring and needing a break. And I took it. Then I spent the rest of the day putting off the run. Until late in the day when I went to the gym, all set for 18 miles on the treadmill. I figured I would set the pace per McMillan and just run. But I couldn't. It was all I could do to stay on that thing for 3 miles. I wanted to get off at 1.5. It wasn't that I couldn't do it. My legs were fine. My body was fine. My head? Not in the game. At all. My iPod flipped out on me in a big bad way, zooming through all my songs like the Chipmunks. So no music and no playlist. Well, hell, fine watch TV. Yeah, no, nothing good on the TVs at the gym on a Saturday night. Gah. Fine, I'll just run. But I couldn't do it. Mentally, I just could not go one step further than 3.00 miles. If I didn't think I'd freak out the four other people in the gym I would have let loose a primal scream right there. I waited until I got to the parking lot. I called in my support system, and realized I was putting too much pressure on myself. So I would just go to the trails the next day and have fun and rediscover the love. Nothing like some trail magic with great frunners to restore my love of the run. So I tried to shake it off, went to bed early, and got set for some trails the next morning.

Sunday alarm came at 4:30, so I got up, got dressed, fueled, loaded the car and drove 45 minutes to the lake. Right before the entrance to the lake, I was filled with an awful sense of "I don't wanna." I pulled into the neighborhood and cried in the car for five minutes. The thought of even hiking that morning was too much to bear, much less running. I knew that it would be a struggle to lift my feet like I need to on the trails, or I would fall early and often. The thought of seeing all my friends, who I normally am excited to talk to and laugh with and be motivated by, was just too much. I was not in the right headspace for a morning on the trails or a morning with frunners. And that's what freaked me out. I love my frunners. I thrive for my runs with frunners. I am so jealous that I don't live closer to them (even if they live nearly in Oklahoma...) when I see that they run hills and track together on early weekday mornings. I love hanging out with them pre-race, post-run, any time I can. I get my energy and enthusiasm from them, and I love to cheer them on and celebrate their victories.  But on that morning, sitting in my car in the dark, seeing them was the last thing I felt like I could do. I felt I would be letting them down if I showed up in the mood I was in, with the current state of my psyche. So after five minutes, I texted 2 of them that I wouldn't be coming, and I turned the EBV around and headed home. Through tears I drove all the way, and thought about stopping at River Legacy and getting a loop in on my own, but dismissed that as even a more dismal prospect. In the end, I got home at 6:30, crawled back into bed and cried some more in my husband's arms. He reassured me that I am the only one who puts pressure on myself and let me sleep until it they left for hockey at 9 AM. I spent the rest of the day on the couch with the boy, working on photo books from vacation and catching up on iCarly and Good Luck Charlie on the DVR. I considered going for a ride later, but then when I went outside at 5 to go to the grocery store and almost instantly seared my brain with the heat, I decided that, no, I wasn't going to ride. Nope. And that was OK. I need a break.

When I can't even bring myself to run with these aweome guys? That's a problem. 
I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to fulfill these mileage goals and to meet this training plan that I put together to get ready for Wild Hare 50-miler. Who decides to do a 50-miler five months after major abdominal surgery?  Um, me... Who has been under constant physical stress, with the rigors of training for an A race since last June? Me... who has been through not one, but TWO surgeries in the last 8 months?  Me, who has also had a little bit of drama in my life for the past 18 months, with my husband's job loss/changes last summer, ramp-up for NYCM, surgery, losing my dad, worrying about my mom now, all kinds of stuff in that thing we call life. And I took on even more. Willingly. Of my own accord. Why? Why not. Because I was bored? Because 50ks aren't enough anymore? Or to prove something to someone? Who? Hell if I know. Probably myself. So where does that leave me?  Stressed out and without the joy of running that has brought me so many new and wonderful experiences and so many truly caring and wonderful friends. What the what?  As my little one was so fond of saying when something puzzled him, "that don't make no sense." So now what?

Well, for one, I went to an endocrinologist for an evaluation. She has ideas. Might be thyroid, might be insulin resistance, might be excess cortisol. Might be a combination of them. All I know is that I buried my father this summer because of complications from diabetes, and my mother had to go on injectable insulin this week. So do you think I'm feeling good about my genes and my predeliction for diabetes right now?  Yeah. So we're going to let the doctor run tests (had huge vials of blood drawn this morning) and next Friday I go back and we start to figure out why despite all my efforts I can't lose weight. This is more encouraging already than the last few times I've gone to the doctor, different doctors, who have advised me to walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week (before or after my Wednesday morning 8-miler??), or stop drinking sodas (don't touch them, diet or regular) or quit waking up in the middle of the night and stuffing myself (yes, I swear to all that I love a doctor told me that with a straight face). For the first time in a long time, I am hopeful.

No, I'm not doing weight training right now, I know that. But, honestly, with as much as I have to lose right now, that shouldn't be the deal breaker. With the old standard calories in/calories out formula, I should drop weight by eating less than I burn. Well I eat 1400-1500 calories a day and actively burn anywhere between 400-1600 a day, not counting what I burn just by existing. So what is going on? I am tired of guessing and I'm tired of experimenting and I'm tired of busting my ass for no results. I'm tired of working so hard and not having anything to show for it. I'm tired of swimming upstream. I am worn out of hearing people talk about how they started running 3 miles a day and lost 15 pounds in a month. Yay for you. It doesn't work for me. It hasn't worked for me. But mostly, I'm tired of running and working to stave off the diseases that have taken my father and threaten my mother and feeling like it isn't doing any good.  I'm not going to put my children through what I have gone through in the past four months. I'm NOT DOING THAT. So I'm going to let the doctor unravel this mystery. It will probably take time, so meanwhile, what does that do to my running, to my activity? What does that do to my goals and my race schedule?

For one, the open water tri I had on the books for September 11 is off. No way am I anywhere near ready to swim in open water yet. And trying to make myself ready in five weeks added a lot of stress to my life. I know it did. I can see that I have lots of room to improve the swim, and I will spend time on that this winter, but I'm not going to do that to myself right now. It's not safe to go into that undertrained. The pool swim tri on October 2 is still a possibility. Worse case scenario I hold on to the pool edge at the end of every lap and come out DFL of the water. No biggie. I've been there, done that. So it is still a possibility.

What about the races I had planned?  The first one up was Palo Duro 50k. I've heard amazing things about this race. I really want to do this race. I had the entry form printed out and filled out and on an envelope on my desk but we ran out of checks. So I haven't sent it in yet. I may not. if I do, it will be for the 25k. Maybe I won't enter but will just tag along for the ride and the company and cheer all the folks that are doing it. That way I can run in folks if they need it at the end, or just hold down the fort and cheer while everyone is out running. I don't know yet. I won't know and I won't make up my mind about it until after Labor Day. Rocky Raccoon 50k is another one I am signed up for. I will go and I might run the 50k. I might downgrade to the 25k. I don't know. Again, I won't decide until after Labor Day. Until then, I will run if I feel like it, but won't force myself to keep to any schedule or pace or any other expectations.

What about the big one? Wild Hare?  I don't know about that yet. I want to do a 50-miler. I do. Is it the right time? I'm not sure. Probably not, if I can't even bring myself to get out of the car at the lake right now... so, yeah, we will have to see. Worse case scenario I downgrade to the 50k here. How stupid is that? My "downgrade" goal is still a 50k. wow. Next on the agenda is the double full marathon on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Those are still totally on the table. That will be a weekend filled with frunners and awesome people and the goal for those is just to finish and support my RD friend and all the folks out there those days. Plus it's still 4 months away, so even if I wanted to start from a base of a 6 mile long run it is completely do-able. After that? Hard to say. January is a long way away.

Am I disappointed at having to adjust some of my race goals? Of course. Am I more upset at possibly missing out on the fun with my frunners? For sure. But, you know what? The most awesome thing about my frunners is that they love me and support me and back me up whether I run a 50-miler, a 50k or 50 yards. If I do nothing more than show up with my camera and a tutu they won't love me any less than if I run a thousand miles. That's the beauty of the community, of the FAMILY that I have built through running. I've seen it in my "bubble of love" at Cowtown, in the finish line picture at the Hottest Half where two amazing women crossed the line holding my hands on either side of me. I saw it with the texts and phone calls and messages from people this weekend. I can't miss out on this for long. So I will be back. Soon. I just need to fix my body, and fix my head, and take a break until I can come back and be happy with just the act of running, no matter what the clock says, or the distance. I need to rediscover the joy and really be able to embrace my new beginning instead of being resentful of my setbacks and jealous of my friends' successes and unhappy with myself. I need that. And for everyone who has been so supportive and so loving, I very much appreciate it. I feel my bubble expanding further with each setback, so while I am having a hard time right now, I know I will be back. Stronger than ever, happier than ever, and ready to spread my zest for running and for life even further.

Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for being my support system. It means more than any of you will ever know.


gene @boutdrz said...

thank you for being honest with....yourself! sure, it is nice to be honest with 'us' (let's face it, not all people are....), but you are.
and i appreciate it.
hang in there, figure out what you need to do for you, and do that.
every once in a while, though, try this?
rate yourself on a scale of 0 to 10 in terms of happiness with your fitness level. let's say you pick 6. next, think about what it would take to get you to a 7. focus on that. getting to 7. not to 10. just to 7.
drop me a line any time!!!!

be well...

Marci said...

Running brought us together but it's not what we're friends. You know I support you in anything you do and I will always be there to hold your hand. Love you!

Melinda said...

Oh, I wish I was there with you to give you a hug right now. While I don't run, or bike, and have watched you do these races with awe and, I'll admit, jealousy. I wish I found the same joy in exercise that you and so many others appear to. I wish it was that easy. I wish I didn't have to DRAG my behind to the gym. I wish it brought me that adrenaline rush, or at the very least satisfaction at pushing my body a bit. But it doesn't. It brings me exhaustion, frustration, and generally tears.

I have to admit though that I hear that scream you are sending out reverberating in my head. I have SO been there on the weight thing. I've done the same thing, I've heard the same things from doctors. "Gee if you'd only eat less". At the time I was doing high intensity workouts twice a day. I was eating next to nothing. I would show them my food diary and prove to them I'm taking in far less calories than I burn, and yet here I their definition morbidly obese. They will NOT admit that there are other factors at play. After awhile it all seems so pointless. Why should I even bother trying to eat right and exercise when clearly it doesn't make a difference?

Because it does. It DOES make a difference. It's just you have to find the right combination for your particular lock. I found it once, briefly. I've since lost it again. My own fault. Moving is a bitch on diets and exercise.

So, from someone who has the thyroid issues and the type 2 issues, let me tell you there is hope. And don't give up until you find a doctor who takes you seriously.

I did find what works for me eventually. And it's not fair, it takes a hell of a lot more work for someone like me to do what someone with better metabolism does without thinking or even breathing hard. But, it's doable. And with your stubbornness, you'll do it!

The trick for me is to not eat the things I love the most. I see it as an allergy. If I eat bread, I gain weight. The more bread I eat, the more I gain. Bread includes any kind of flour - cereal, pancakes, wheat toast, all those things they push on you in the food pyramid...completely off limits for me. IF I want to lose weight. And I can't even begin to describe how much I love them. Or how unfair it all is.

If it turns out you do have some issues with thyroid and/or insulin resistance, and you want to chat with someone who has been there/done that, give me a shout.

Above all do be patient with yourself, you've just had one hell of a year!

Alicia said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this because it touches on some of my own struggles. I hope the Endo Doc figures out something and helps you! I gained a God-awful amount of weight with my last child and managed to lose it by doing the Body for Life program over the course of a year, but what Ive discovered with longer distance steady running is I tend to gain, so I struggle to find a balance between weightlifting and running.

hokgardner said...

Oh sweetie, I'm sorry your are going through all this. And I'm feeling a lot of the same stuff about running. I've switched to walking because I can't force myself to run in this weather.

Hang in there, and come to Austin for a frun.

And for what it's worth, I think you look awesome in all your pictures.

Libby Jones said...

Great exposition, Corina. Way to tell it like it is. Having spent 10 months "on the sidelines" and then possibly not being totally open with just how hard I had to claw and scrape my way up that recovery mountain, I understand. Running will be there when you are ready for it, and we, your "frunners" will be here for you whether you are ready for us or not!

Cherry said...

A great plan Corina! I have struggled alot with some of your same issues. But I do want to say ... that following you and other "normal sized" people on Dailymile & Twitter actually really inspired me when I was a beginning racer. I always kind of ran/walked around my neighborhood but I never really raced races until I saw you & some of our other "frunners" racing & having so much fun. I figured if these "normal" people can do it - so can I! You are an inspiration to others no matter what size you are! I'm glad you want to get leaner/faster ... always good! You've got my full support! I hope some of your renewed focus rubs off on me! Good luck Mama!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same as Marci. We started our friendship while running, but it's so much more than that. You girls are my family. I'm so proud of you and I know you'll get this health issue fixed and be back stronger than ever in every way.

Greg - @thelifeitri said...

hey Mama - since following you on twitter I've enjoyed your wit, personality, and honesty, but now you have my respect & admiration! One way or the other this will get figured out. Adjustments are part of this crazy adventure we're on, they suck, but they're part of it. As one comment said, running, racing, etc. will be there when you're ready. Your frunners, tweeps, and fellow bloggers are always here and ready to roll with you along the ups and downs!

Keep at "it" whatever "it" needs to be for you right now! I'll be seeing you at the double fo' shizzle!

Michelle said...

Oh this made me cry. I'm so sorry about Sunday, I just could picture and feel every emotion you were going through. (By the way, you are a ridiculously awesome writer.) I think the weight is going to end up being all internal body related, I hope your Dr. can help balance things out. I love what Derek said best, we don't love you because you run. We just flat out love you. Even if it takes longer than you think or would like, you'll bounce back and find your Mama C groove again. We'll all be here for the whole ride!

Fiona said...

You should have warn us: TISSUE ALERT!

I'm so sorry you are going through this. You've had a very tough year and I admire your strength. You are an inspiration to me and I'm sure to many others. Take the time you need to rest mentally and physically. You'll be back with more strength, energy, and intensity than ever. <3 U!

Michelle K said...

You know, I have seen a check list that gauges a person's stress level based on life events thst have happened to them in the last year. Your score would be off the charts, you have dealt with so many things--add them together and it is one huge stressor!! I know that it has to be hard right now, but you are going to come back stronger & when you do it will mean even more because you will have fought for it. We are friends that run, but not friends only because we run. We are all rooting for you! Hang in there!

Dagmar Mueller said...

You make me cry with all your posts! :-( So sad you have to go through all those losses...... I am with you about the weight loss. Started running in hope of loosing, lost squat, just maintained my weight and once I had to stopp running because of my meniscus I gained in 6 month whopping 20 pounds. It is crazy! I feel for you! Praying they find the reason at the endocrinologist and an easy way for loosing that stupid weight. Hugs

iJuls said...

Wow! We can all see how this has been eating at you. Your honesty is admirable. Perhaps being as honest about your successes as your are with your shortcomings will help you get to where you want. I don't know. Thankfully you have a great support system. Hang in there.

Amy said...

What an inspiring post. Thank you for being so honest with both yourself & your readers. You're going to get this figured out.

Have you ever looked into the Paleo diet? It sounds like it might possibly be something that could work - it's not about the old "less is more" approach - and once you start doing it, your body adjusts & it makes sense. And you don't have to starve yourself! Anyway, just my two cents.

Hang in there - you're awesome!!

Sharon said...

Dang Mama C, I had to download the Kleenex app to help me out here. My prayer for you is complete restoration of your body all the way to the cellular level and complete restoration of your mind and your spirit as God had originally designed it to be! Take your time to heal and we'll be waiting for you....and your camera! Take good care of yourself. FYI, I've had great success with eating the foods that are beneficial for my blood type. 30 lbs just fell off me and I wasn't running or exercising at that time, only walking about 2 miles every couple of days or so. I'd be happy to talk to you about it more if you'd like. And, ease up on yourself, my sweet!

Are Almonds Good for You? said...

discipline and dedication are the key to perfect figure :)