Saturday, January 26, 2013

From Fat to Finish Line!

Catch up!

Read about our day in Miami, my first leg, leg 2 and leg 3.

Angela is working on the documentary and sent me a clip from my last leg. If anyone is interested in how hot that leg was, here is a very short clip to illustrate just a percentage of how hot it actually was.


We just arrived at the finish line and congregated there with our significant others where we got to meet Kerry Sanders from the Today Show.

We hung around the finish area for a little bit, there was a little confusion as to who was getting interviewed by the Today Show, so I don't think anyone really knew what to do for a short time. So we mostly just hung around and drank beer. I was a little scared to drink because: a.) I did not want to get totally hammered before van 2 got there, and b.) I had no idea how my stomach would react. Mark drank beer and I took a few sips off of his until I finally decided it was safe and claimed it as my own. ;)

For some reason I really like this picture, maybe it's because I look like a huge dork . ;)

There was still some confusion as to what was going on... I went to ask someone, and when I turned around everyone was gone! I had no idea where they went, but I figured that the couples must have decided to branch off and do their own thing until it was time to meet up with van 2, so I wandered off with Mark and Charlie to drink more beer and to let the guys snack. (Charlie is Linda's husband who rode down to Key West with Mark. By the way, for complete strangers, these two got along great and I was oh-so-relieved  to hear this upon arriving in Key West! I think Linda was, too! :P) I was still worried about my stomach, so I ate a bite of Mark's hot dog and called it good for the time being, although I will say I started catching a buzz around this time. ;) One and a half beers is a lot when you have absolutely no water left in your body!

We met up at the finish line with the rest of the group and all of van 2 except for John, who was close to running it in! We all visited with each other and chatted and got ready to do our grand finale together; of course we had to cross the finish line together!! We started moving closer to where John would be coming in, so we could meet up with him behind the finish line. We soon saw an orange cape. An orange cape that represented victory and AWESOME! We joined hands and ran up to John and then pivoted and started running towards the finish line together. 

I like this picture because I look much thinner from behind . :P Most of the other shots were hard to see anyway. ;) 
 When we got across the finish line, it was emotional for everyone, we all hugged and congratulated each other. To be honest though, I felt pretty awkward. I've spent so much of my life trying to stay in the background, I didn't know what to do with myself when I was (along with the rest of the team) supposed to be the center of attention! I kept wanting to back away from the group and "get out of the way", not to mention I was still rather dazed from the whole experience. The story of my life: keep your mouth shut and stay out of the way! I couldn't miss out on all the hugging and such, though, so I got over my shyness and got in there for some loving. 
I love this picture of our group hug, this is a moment I'd like to remember forever.
I have to say, Jerry got some great shots of the finish line, I stole most of my finish line pics from Katie. ;) She gave us permission though, don't judge!!!!
Our mini award ceremony, Rik gave each of us our medals, another emotional moment.
LOVE this pic of John giving Rik his medal.
Then we got our final pictures taken in front of the finish line.
I like this one because we are all cheering and I look like I'm about to go into war.

Here we are all together, team From Fat to Finish Line, and we've made it to the finish line.
We all milled about for a few minutes when the Today Show notified us that they wanted to take Rik, Katie, Ada and Carly to get some more shots for the clip they were going to air on the show. This turned into a little emotional mess because the members that were chosen did not want to leave the rest of us since we were all a team and in this thing together. I felt bad for them, because it wasn't a nice position to be in and you could tell they felt terrible, but we assured them it was completely okay and to go do their thing. I, personally, don't do well with emotional upheaval under already intense circumstances, so I had to take a few steps back from the situation. All I wanted was for our teammates to go do their thing and come back and party with us! After some persuasion, our teammates went on to do their shoot and make us all look good for the piece they did on the Today Show the following Thursday, and the rest of us were left to fend for ourselves. And what else to do at this point except..... ? Drink beer, of course!!!!  I got to chat with fellow members on the team during this time and also with Jerry some. I have to say, Jerry is a pretty cool dude. We were all walking to the beach together when after telling Mark that I needed to find beer because I had a long couple of days under my belt, Jerry handed me his, just like that! I have to say he has good taste in beer, too! And I also need to say here that Katie is not lying when she talks about Jerry being hilarious, he had me rolling in fits of laughter just moments into my first conversation with him. When the beach had almost cleared out, we headed back to the van that remained and started cleaning it out.We took the opportunity to take a couple more pics. ;)
Claiming our van magnets.
Shortly after, the rest of our team rejoined us and we finished cleaning out the vans and started making plans for the rest of the evening. Some of the group were going to a bar kinda place and some were going for sushi. We decided to try to get with the sushi group at first, when Mark realized he left our camera in Linda and Charlie's room, so we headed there first to pick that up. By the time we got to the car and started heading in the direction of sushi, we got on the phone with the group and found out there was only 10 minutes left to order food. We didn't have time for that and by this time I was ravished after having not eaten anything of substance in quite over 24 hours. I did not care if my stomach revolted, I needed FOOD!! So then I remembered that Katie and John were going somewhere else and I thought I would check and see if Katie had eaten yet and if there was food at the place she was at. I told her that we would check in to our room and shower and then see about maybe joining them. Well this part of the night was a bit of a blur, but let me put a disclaimer in here: I was hyper emotional, had been drinking, was exhausted, dehydrated and feeling kinda shitty. So we are driving to the motel, when apparently I snapped at Mark about something, I don't even remember doing this, but Mark says it happened *eye roll*. Naturally, he snapped back at me and then I promptly burst into tears. And then of course Mark tried to calm me down, but I proceeded to cry harder like my pet hamster died or something (I do remember this part) and started incoherently blubbering about being tired and hungry and about how sick I'd been the past two days and about why couldn't he just give me a break. It was rather pitiful and around this time I decided I was in no condition to be around others so I told Mark to just get me to the hotel so I could shower. After I showered, (the BEST damn shower I have ever had!) Mark apologized (even though it was very likely my fault), comforted me and we set out to find some food to take back to the room. Surprisingly, Key West has very little options for places to eat at 10:00 at night! We did, however, find a sub sandwich drive-thru place that had really awesome turkey subs, one of which I devoured in probably all of 5 seconds as soon as we got back to the room. The time between brushing my teeth and my head hitting the pillow is all so blurry, I just very vaguely remember the feeling of a pillow underneath my head before I was suddenly opening my eyes to a text message from Rik, announcing the time and place for team brunch that very morning. 

However, that my friends, is a post for another day. Good night!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lealah on a Mission

I know I "promised" (really I just stated, but I hate saying things and not doing exactly what I say) a Finish Line post next, but I feel moved, no rather compelled to write about something else tonight.

The Ragnar Relay with all my new friends was so incredible and I do love each and everyone that I've bonded with, but I hate for other important people to fall to the wayside while I recap that amazing experience. So that post is put on hold for the moment. Tonight, I wish to write about my welcoming committee.

When we got home, my family and coworkers of course made me feel missed and happy to be home. But the people that really stood out in my mind were a entirely different group of people. The week before I left for Florida, one of the ladies in my Zumba class asked me to bring some sunshine home with me. (Because Florida is so damned hot they could definitely spare some!!!!!) I laughed and replied, "Well how about I just try and bring some into the classroom?" Her response was that I already did that. Wow. That meant so much to me; I am not sure if she has any idea exactly how much, but it made my day. In fact, it makes my day just thinking about that. Another one of my Zumba ladies posted this on my Timeline in Pictures page: "What an amazing job! Your story is inspiring to all of us. I'm so thankful to have such a bubbly zumba instructor. You make me want to continue to workout more. I'm learning everyday that healthy weight loss is a one day at a time battle. I know with determination one day I can be where I want to be :)" Again: wow. You know what, not just wow, HELL YEAH! Now, THAT is what I am talking about! That is my MISSION! That is what I am passionate about now! Just knowing that I can die one day saying I've touched even one life will make this blog and all the struggles I still to this day go through worth it. I have another young lady that smiles, waves and says "Hi, Lealah!" every time I see her in that gym, and numerous others that smile and truly seem glad to see me. These people are starting to become pretty near and dear to me. They brighten my days. I could have the longest, crummiest Monday and I will come in, visit with people and start the class and by the end of the first song I'm glowing and oh-so-glad to be there. The same goes for my Thursday night classes, I could go into class all wound up and stressed from a long week, and leave refreshed and ready to enjoy my weekend. 

Right before the first class I instructed after returning from Key West, I joked around with one of my Zumba ladies that they might have it easy yet since I was still fatigued from our arrival the day before. I honestly thought I was too drained to give it my all. Do you know that was one of my favorite classes yet? My excuse quickly flew out the door and I was reaching into energy stores I didn't know I had! This is what pure awesomeness looks like:

How lucky am I to have a class that will do that?!? Guess what? We did it again last night! ;) 

Now I have a confession to make. After the holidays and vacation, I gained three pounds. Now I have already confessed that part, the part that I am embarrassed to share is exactly how ashamed I felt. Through three holiday seasons of living a healthier lifestyle I had yet to gain weight like that (weight that was actual weight gain), it's been hard to deal with this notion. I feel guilty, fat, ugly. I went into Zumba feeling humiliated because I am supposed to be a good influence on them! I am not supposed to show them that gaining weight is okay! I left Zumba that Thursday night feeling on top of the world and on fire. I had forgotten all about my initial apprehension to them seeing me "fat" (for crying out loud, three pounds???) I LOVE my class. I have a great bunch of men and women that enjoy Zumba and come into class and give it their all! And not one person asked why I let myself get "fat". :-P Who could ask for a better group? What I have realized since coming back from Key West? 

A.) I'm one vain biotch.
B.) I'm still as insecure as ever.
C.) It is OKAY to gain weight, I'm not super human!
D.) The most important example to set for my class is not to never gain weight, but to lose it healthily when you do. Shit happens.
E.) I was reminded once AGAIN that I am my own very, very, very worst enemy! I am not fat, I am normal. And who gives a flying crackhead whether or not I'm fat? Just me. No one else is staring at me, judging me, criticizing me. Except for myself. (Okay, some people are mean and do just that, but you feel me.)

The difference between gaining weight the first 24 years of my life and gaining weight now? I know exactly how to get it off and I know that it works; it's not some scary situation that I am not in control of. So for the new year I have set a few goals. They all fall into line with my mission of bettering myself and encouraging others to do the same, health wise and otherwise.

1.) Get to goal size, there is no particular number on the scale that I want to see, I just want to fit into the rest of the goal jeans that have been hanging in my closet for a year now.
2.) Blog more frequently - how can I spread the word and inspire/encourage others unless I'm sharing?
3.) Forget completely about the scale and focus on leaning up.
4.) Last and just about most importantly to become a better Zumba Instructor. This includes getting new music out faster and trying to learn everyone's names (I'm SO horrible with names), which I have already started by having people wear name tags. These people have become an important part of my life and motivate me to be better - a better example, a better instructor, to have better knowledge of fitness and health - and they deserve my all, it's as simple as that.

So here is a call out to all my Zumba ladies and gentlemen, you all are so special and I'm so glad to have you all in my class! Truly thank you for being a part of that! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys - Day Three - Leg 3

Catch up!

Read about our day in Miami, Leg 1 and Leg 2.


Van 1 before our final leg!
We arrived at the checkpoint where van 2 would finish and our van would pick up. My stomach was still aching and I felt weak and nauseous. Van 2 had some issues overnight and were running quite a bit behind, so I would not start my run until close to noon. At this exchange point they provided snacks, coffee and hot chocolate. I felt  so groggy and out of it that I could not get to the coffee fast enough. I decided to also try eating a mini Clif bar provided by Ragnar and hopefully get a little fuel in my system before my upcoming long run.

10-15 minutes after eating my Clif bar, I felt a rumbling in my belly and I knew I had a potential disaster on my hands. I made it to a porta potty in the nick of time and my stomach let me know again that it was not to be tested. This had me worried. Shortly after we sent Katie on her way and made our way to our next exchange point. When we sent Meredith on her way, I really started worrying. My stomach was not behaving and I felt so ill and weak and my turn was coming up. I had never done a long run under these circumstances and had no idea what to expect. To make matters worse, it was hotter than hell outside and the humidity seemed as though it was getting increasingly worse the closer we got to Key West. We stopped at a McDonald's while  Meredith was running her 9+ miles in the intensifying heat and I sipped on ice water while the rest of the group drank coffee. I again had to visit the bathroom. Let  me state here that I am aware that this may be TMI for some of you, but as a runner I have no filter about things of this matter. Not to mention this is an important  detail to show you exactly where my mindset was at. Tummy troubles is no light matter in the world of running; I can tell you right now that many runners have a fear of crapping themselves mid run.

As we waited for Meredith and I prepared for my final run, 9.7 miles with no van support, I decided to try eating a couple Clif Shot Bloks to see if I could get some energy from them and hoped that they would not adversely affect my stomach since they were so small. Ah, false hopes, even those refused to stay put in my system.... Rik and I were standing at the exchange point waiting on Meredith as I gave myself a little pump up talk. I told myself that we were not doing this thing with time goals in mind and that most importantly above all was that I was about to be done! DONE!!! So I thought "Screw it, no pain  no gain!" and convinced myself that I would be done before I knew it and it would not be so terrible after all.
Pre run.
This was a virtual exchange point, which meant that Meredith would come in across the street and upon visual acknowledgement I would continue on. When they announced our team number, I got into place and kept my eyes peeled, Rik came with me and made sure I was set to go. I told Rik to go wait for Meredith because after such a long in this hellish heat she surely needed him more than I; and then I was alone for what felt like minutes, but was really only seconds before I would start one of the most difficult runs I had ever experienced.

I see Meredith, screech "Yeah, Meredith!!!!!" and take off. Again the heat/humidity hit me like a stack of bricks. It was close to noon and the sun was blazing down on me and I was already thirsty. I sipped on my handheld bottle frequently, drinking only enough to keep my mouth from getting pasty. I was dripping with sweat and I craved a breeze. About a half a mile in, I got my wish! A breeze flew in and caressed me, comforting my burning skin.  I kept going at a slow, steady pace for the first couple miles, I was SO grateful for the breeze! Around mile three or so, I lost my breeze! It was like the small breeze had existed only to dangle in front of my nose like a carrot to a horse. Even worse, I ran with a man for a half mile or so whom informed me that we had around three hills on our route, all bridges. Fucking A. I told my knee right then and there that it had better behave itself.

I ran straight for at least the first four miles of my run (I'm thinking closer to five). Then everything hit me at once: fatigue and weakness; stomach acting up; my knee would randomly have a sharp pain here and there - mostly after going downhill; the heat was just horrible - I could not seem to drink enough water, but I restrained myself for fear of agitating my stomach even more. You know, looking back, I cannot even tell you which aspect of the run was worse: hunger, fatigue, weakness, pain, being overheated, tummy ache - pick one. I kept running for at least the first 5-6 miles of the run with very short interspersed walking breaks in the last couple of miles. I started sucking on the Clif Shot Bloks just to get some sugar in my system; I figured so long as I did not chew them up and put them in my stomach that I should be okay. Around mile 6 or so I met up with a pirate named Jonas. He was completely decked out in pirate gear, quite the costume indeed, he must have been smoldering! . I kept up a run/walk with Pirate Jonas and we chatted quite a bit. He seemed to be feeling the effects of being Runner 3 in the heat as I did. It's funny how so many runners have the same sort of story, he had a lot in common with my team as far as how running changed him. Having company helped motivate me some to try and keep running, but not nearly enough because we still ended up walking quite a bit of the next couple of miles. I kept telling Pirate Jonas that he should not feel obligated to stick with me, that if he felt he could pelt it out then by all means do not allow me to hold him back. And Pirate Jonas either has a really kind spirit, or he was glad to have an excuse not to run, because he stuck with me all the way! I chose to believe he has a really kind spirit. ;) At the last mile marker, we decided to run it in and with a quarter of a mile left, I insisted for him to go ahead and finish strong, I was giving it my all at that point and I felt like I was hardly moving and I hated to kill his finish, so off he took! I finally crawled into the exchange point and my team was waiting for me all smiles and holding water. I feel kind of bad because I am not certain I even mustered up a smile. I felt so groggy and weird, almost like I was disconnected from the whole scene (and maybe my body), I mean really? I'm done? Okay, hmm, well then, perhaps I should find some AC. LOL. My poor teammates were all super nice though and gave me water and led me to a safe haven - the van! I regretted not getting a picture with Pirate Jonas, he really made the last few miles bearable and he's obviously super awesome if he's running a Ragnar in the loathsome heat dressed as a pirate, no? I had lost track of him by the time I gathered my wits, though, and regrettably I never did see him again.

Back at the van I drank tons of water, sat on my shower curtain and tried to cool off with one of those disposable ice packs. It did not feel like the stupid thing was helping at all. I sat in a daze all the way until the next exchange point. I sat in the van, trying desperately to cool down while we waited, I did manage to lean out of the van as Ada came in and Andrea ran off to offer a bit of van support on my part. It was my turn to drive so Rik could get ready for his last leg, so I moved my shower curtain (I was dripping with sweat) up front and wedged my ice pack around my knee and went into driver mode. I was starting to feel a bit better now, my body temperature was starting to get closer to normal and I did not feel as if I were going to puke anymore. We sent Rik off and brought Andrea in at the next exchange point and then headed to our final exchange point before the finish line while I continued to drink fluids and started actually feeling normal! When we got to the exchange point, we were circling a lot trying to find van 2, when Andrea suddenly hollers "honk, Lealah!!" So, of course I honked, braked, and worried that I had just missed smashing someone under our wheels. At this time, Andrea says "look!" and points out the window at a van that has clearly written across the back "Honk if you're horny!" then proceeds to burst in a fit of giggles (this was actually rather adorable). I retorted that even if I could get laid at the moment that it was the absolute last thing on my mind. We continued our search for the other van in a parking lot further back (I was all too happy to get away from the hereby dubbed "Horny Van"), but ended up heading back to the first lot when we realized no one was at the van (to my dismay). I navigate around the parking lot (grumbling about the "Horny Van") and find a spot that seemed not entirely impossible to squeeze into and began the process of edging into the spot. My team got a crack out of me engaging my mad parking skills (I can be quite impressive, I tell ya!) I'm sure everyone in the surrounding vans got a good look at the tiny, horny girl that stepped out of the 12 passenger van after having maneuvered it into an ultra tight spot.

We went down to the exchange point to cheer Rik in and to also give Jen Roe some added van support since she had a tough run over night. We cheered her on and sent her off in a wave of glory while Rik ran with her a little part of her third leg to give her some encouragement. When Rik came back, team captain that he was, he admitted to us that he had done exactly what he had preached against to us. He pushed  himself pretty hard in the heat and almost overdid it. I can't imagine having gone my hardest in the temperatures and humidity we were experiencing! It was around this time that the jubilation started to kick in, my teammates and I had done what we set out to do! Our van was done, the second van was close to being done and I had no doubt that they would finish in glory. I may not have had the smoothest road to victory, but I made it! (And without having a heat stroke!!)

Now it was time to head to the finish line and Key West!  And soon, the celebrations would begin!!!

To be continued...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys - Day Two - Leg 2

To catch up, read Part 1 and Part 2


I am getting ready to run my second leg 8.2 miles through the Everglades - it's pitch black outside, there's a mugginess in the air that would have made me guess that we were in swamp area had I not already known. I found the air smothering and the blackness around me a bit nerve wracking. However, I absolutely LOVE running at night in the dark. It's exhilarating, mysterious, and a little bit dangerous. Because I so love running in the anonymity of night, my excitement overruled my nervousness. My stomach was a little off, but it did not seem to be serious; and I joked around about being afraid of alligators, but logically I knew that they probably would not bother me. However, I was a bit nervous about it all; running in the dark in a completely foreign atmosphere is a new thing for me. And because me, being me and as random as I am, if there were a random alligator attack on the course, I would most definitely be involved. To make matters worse, we saw this massive, freaky looking insect on the ground of the exchange point; it walked around a bit and then just sat there pulsing in a very intense manner. I pictured it reproducing thousands of offspring to assimilate around unsuspecting runners as they cut through the Everglades. My imagination went wild about the other creatures that awaited me in the night. I was golden. What seemed like ages later (but were actually only minutes), Meredith came running in and slapped my wrist and off I went. 

I had some trouble getting started, I have never run on gravel and I suddenly realized that pretty much my entire run would be on gravel. Great. And the air was even thicker while running, though at least at night the sun is not blazing on you and there was actually a nice cool breeze! My pace definitely suffered from the humidity and the gravel, but I reminded myself that the team was really supportive and would not hold pace against me.The film crew had strapped me into a GoPro - a little camera that projects from your chest, so I set about trying to make conversation with myself. This task was a tad trickier than I envisioned. In fact, I'm sure I made a fool of myself on the little camera, babbling nonsense the whole time. So I'm running along, rambling on about this and that (I am hoping they got SOMEthing they could use for the documentary!)... I made a Finding Nemo reference at one point in my monologue and I think I talked about my weight loss some... and people would come running up behind me making me "roadkill" ( a Ragnar thing). I would get really quiet as they passed to avoid looking like a raving lunatic. A couple miles in, someone came running up behind me and thus I quieted, but this person stayed behind me and to my right and would not pass me. This unknown person made me nervous after awhile and finally I turned back to ask how it was going. It turned out to be a fellow (and luckily not someone planning my demise) and he ran up beside me and we got to chatting. Apparently I was a good pacer for the fellow. We talked about all sorts of things and come to find out he was quite the experienced runner and was in fact running on an ultra team! I was impressed! And the poor guy was pretty worn out. :( I also mentioned that I was wearing a GoPro and I appreciated his company because it beat talking to myself the entire time. He seemed relieved that I was not a crazy person (I guess he heard me!). ;) I also mentioned my nervousness about the alligators and mentioned that I was kinda disappointed that I had not actually seen any. Apparently this young man had seen several and all one had to do was look for their beady eyes glimmering off the lights! Then I was really disappointed. Of course I would not have been thrilled to be charged at by an angry alligator either. During this time, the guys were following along in their Jeep, filming and dealing (quite gracefully) with my attempt at wit. Again they were SUPER awesome. I asked them if they knew about how much further we had to go. Would you believe that they actually pulled out a map to check for me? How awesome is that?? I promised them beer at the finish line, but unfortunately I never got the opportunity, so here's to next Ragnar! I am so thankful to have had company for those middle miles, it really helped the time fly by and to distract me from the smothering humidity and the endless stretch of gravel road. Probably about a mile and a half from the exchange point, my running company's van was waiting to give him water and support so he branched off from me. It was probably less than a minute later when my GoPro started beeping at me and sputtered out the remainder of it's life. I felt strangely alone. Then I swear less than 30 seconds later I heard this crashing/thrashing noise coming from the swamp to my left. I started running faster and freaking out a little bit (I think I even started cursing and talking to myself again) though all I could see was my head lamp light bouncing around the swamp as I searched desperately for the cause of the disruption. I was also cursing the GoPro for dying right when things got exciting! I passed the "One mile to go" sign a couple minutes later and tried to pick up my pace. I still felt as though I were running through quicksand,  but I was proud of myself for not stopping to walk at all during my second leg. When I finally got to the exchange point, I felt so relieved. I was done with leg 2 with only one more to go tomorrow mid morning! w00t w00t! I think my pace ended up being around 11 minute miles, totally unsatisfactory under normal circumstances, but at this point I had thrown pace out into the wind.

I was again absolutely drenched in sweat at the end of my run, I felt disgusting. My stomach was really bothering me, as well, and I was hungry at the same time so I snacked on a Cutie, hoping it would be a safe choice. Ada was doing a 12 mile leg with no van support so we had plenty of time to kill, so I asked that we stop at a gas station so I could clean up and grab something cold to drink. My adrenaline was rushing due to my recent run so I was wide awake while the rest of van was incredibly quiet and subdued, the fatigue was starting to set in. When we stopped, I went to the restroom and completely wiped down with wet wipes before changing into my leg 3 outfit. It made all the difference in the world, I felt SO much better and wet wipes have definitely made it to my permanent Ragnar list! My stomach had been cramping up on and off during my run, but luckily not bad enough to have to stop running, however it caught up with me at the gas station. My stomach erupted violently and uttered it's complaints about the heat, humidity, and the swamp air, it was not happy with the way I had been treating it. This was not good, but I was confidant that after a little rest and plenty of fluids that I would be able to coax my stomach to behave before having to run my next leg. 

We drove to the next exchange point and after awhile, we got a text from Ada saying that she was having horrible stomach problems and was having to walk, no bueno! Poor Ada had to walk a large part of her leg due to her stomach issues, but she toughed through it and got to the exchange point at the end of it all! Now it was my turn to do my half of the driving. We got through the next three legs with little incidence, however we all complained about upset stomachs, it was an epidemic! 

Once Rik finished his leg, we headed to the next exchange point at Key Largo High School, where we got ready to settle down for a couple hours. Rik got a picture of the school's sign, pay special attention to the time and temperature.
76 degrees at 1 in the morning? Really???
 There were choices between showering, eating, and sleeping in the gym; all available for a small price. None of us were interested in eating (yuck!!!), but some of the group decided to shower. I was satisfied enough with my "sponge" bath earlier and decided I would rather try to grab some sleep and chill in the van until it was time to move. I milled around some before heading back to the van, went to check out the school and of course the restrooms since my stomach was on strike. Katie and I chatted for a bit while we laid in the back two bench seats and whilst we were chatting people kept coming up to our van and talking excitedly about our pictures. I did not have the energy or desire to pop up out of my seat and make conversation, so I just laid there wishing for sleep. I feared I would not be able to sleep at all since we were really close to the actual exchange point and it was awfully loud, however I did pass out for a couple hours before people started fidgeting and getting ready to move on to our next point. I woke up feeling slightly refreshed, albeit groggy and nauseous. But I quickly became excited, it was time to get ready for our third and final leg!

To be continued...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys - Day Two - Leg 1

You can read Day One *Here*


Before I get back into my summary, I thought I'd post a few informative tidbits about our Ragnar. First, a map:
 I was Runner Three and my estimated mileage was 20.3 miles total: a 2.4, then an 8.2 and finally a 9.7. In my opinion they did it ass-backwards. When I requested to be Runner Three, I mostly paid attention only to mileage; I wanted a challenge and since I would have just recently ran a Marathon, I thought high mileage would be ideal. I did not think about the fact that I would go from easy, to moderate to hard. I would say that's the way it goes without increasing mileage just because of sleep deprivation and fatigue! I say estimated mileage because apparently many of the leg distances weren't accurate and unfortunately I do not own a Garmin so I did not get to see exactly how far I ran. Here is a link to a breakdown of the different legs, if you click on the numbers, it describes each leg. Leg Breakdown

Friday morning I woke up bright (or dark) and early and got out of bed feeling wired and refreshed. Every early morning before a race, I wake up and my blood is automatically rushing and I am so full of adrenaline that I may as well have an unlimited supply hooked up to an IV. It's actually rather nice to have that extra burst of energy pre-race. After getting ready and drinking a couple cups of (unnecessary) coffee, I go down to meet the rest of the group at 5:30. I left Mark in bed and kissed him goodbye, he's no good that early in the morning anyway and I did not see any point in making him get up early on his first day of vacation. Besides, I was so nervous and emotional about the whole event that if he had gotten up, I may have started tearing up before we parted.

We split all the food between the vans and put our before and after magnets up on both vans. Then we set off for the start line. I was in Van 1 which meant my group ran first; our runners ran in this order:  Katie, Meredith, me, Ada, Andrea and Rik. Rik would then pass the "baton" (it was actually a slap bracelet) to Jen Roe in Van 2. While we were separating reflective vests and head lamps between the vans, John made a point to ask me how I was feeling (he is SO awesome about making everyone feel as though they count). I responded that I felt great... but that I was nervous about my knee acting up on my longer runs. John, sweetheart that he is, responded that if that were the case then I would just walk until it felt better and then continue on! I can't describe how comforting that comment was, almost as though he were giving me team approval to walk if I needed to! That helped when things got really tough on my last leg.

Once we got to the start line, we went through all the preliminary race stuff. The Today Show was already there filming and we focused on getting through the safety briefing (which took FOREVER) and rushing Katie to the start line.

This sign was actually posted in front of the safety briefing, super neat!
The whole group together to send off Runner 1!
It's REALLY hard to see Meredith, Carly and Ada in this one...  Not quite enough lighting =/

The Ragnar people held the entire wave (scheduled to start at 7:00 am) three minutes to wait for Katie! Is that not awesome?! They even made a little announcement about our team and the airing on the Today Show the Thursday following the Ragnar. It was pretty cool. So off Katie went!

We sped away to exchange point one, where we started "tagging" vans with our From Fat to Finish Line magnets while we waited for Katie. When we first started doing this, I was SUPER paranoid. I did not realize this was a Ragnar thing and I worried about pissing people off. After I got into it, however, the excitement of doing something "wrong" turned into pure fun for me! I felt like a black ops spy sneaking around slapping our magnet on every van I came across... the most fun was running up on a van that was driving through the parking lot, that felt super sneaky! Soon we cheered Katie in and sent Meredith on her way, at this point it's already super muggy and starting to get a little warm. Next it was my turn! I did not really have anything I needed to do to get ready so I just sat in anticipation as we traveled to our next exchange point. This run would be a piece of cake, it was only 2.4 miles and my knee typically had not been bothering me until 5 or so miles in the past few weeks.

When we heard the announcer call our team number, I started bouncing on my toes and warming up my legs, my nerves were on edge and I was ready to run, run, RUN! Meredith came running in and slapped the bracelet on my wrist and off I went! The humidity that had me sweating from the moment we met Katie at her first exchange point slammed into my body; it was as though my feet had turned to bricks and I was trying to run through a swamp! I just kept thinking about how nice it was that my first leg was so short and that 2.4 miles would take no time at all to run. I'm running along when I suddenly notice a silver Jeep driving quite slowly alongside me. I kept running. After a minute, I look to my right again and the Jeep is still there. I think to myself "Who the hell is that? Haven't you ever seen someone running before???" Suddenly I am filled with annoyance and am half tempted to throw my hands up in a "What-the-fuck?" gesture when I see a camera man pop out of the vehicle and I suddenly realize I was getting ready to go all gangsta on the documentary film crew. Needless to say, I felt a little dim-witted. This is the point that my run turned into fun, I spent quite a bit of my run making jokes and comments to Jay as he ran ahead of me, came running out from around bushes and trees and leap frogging me all the while. He was fast! And allegedly not a runner! I never would have known! He was also a good sport, I can be quite annoying at times! This made the rest of my run just fly by, before I knew it I was running into the exchange point and slapping the bracelet on Ada's wrist and I was done in 23 minutes!

After just this first leg I was completely drenched from head to toe, I literally could wring my clothes out! I did not think to grab towels when I packed my gym bag, so I did not have anything to sit on in the van - plus I felt disgusting. I grabbed my first gallon sized Ziplock bagging with my leg 2 running clothes in it and headed to a porta potty to change. First of all: don't judge me, second of all: don't judge me. :P Just so you know it was not nearly as difficult as you would think to change in a porta potty without touching anything. You use your thighs, your arm pits and your teeth to hold various things and you make sure you have some hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes to clean off with when you're done on the chance that you accidentally DO touch something.

We drove to the next exchange point to wait for Ada and to send off Andrea, then headed to the next exchange point. As Rik got ready to run his first leg, we decided that I would drive to the next exchange point and then after that, as well, so Rik would have a chance to rest after his leg. Most of the van did not want to drive at all, I think driving such a large vehicle made them nervous. To be honest I was not too thrilled when I volunteered to drive, but once I got behind the wheel it was like home. I have driven all sorts of ridiculously sized vehicles over the years so it was no big deal to me, but apparently I impressed the group with my mad driving skillz! ;) At our van's last leg 1 exchange point, we set ourselves to tagging vans again and then started decorating our van. On one side we wrote all our names and put check boxes for for each leg we completed. On the other side we wrote "I run for:" and then listed off things we all ran for and drew little pictures beside them.

Meredith in yellow, Andrea and me in front.

Of course there was picture taking during our newly found downtime. 
We decided to go grab some breakfast and maybe do a little shopping with our newly found free time. We found a Denny's and realized we were all pretty famished. Billy (another one of the awesome film crew and also a self proclaimed Miamian - though we won't hold this against him ;) ), came and filmed a bit of our breakfast. I ordered double egg whites, turkey bacon and whole wheat pancakes with sugar free syrup with plenty of coffee! It definitely hit the spot! Let me just state here that I don't normally advocate eating turkey bacon because since it is so highly processed, studies I've read state that regular bacon is actually not as bad for you. The thought of grease, however, really made me sick and they were all out of chicken sausage (and honestly I do love me some turkey bacon, nutritional value be damned!). After breakfast we decided to walk to the Dollar Tree across the parking lot to pick up some towels and other handy items. I wanted towels for sitting on and wiping off with, but they only had one or two large towels left. I suddenly was struck with an idea, towels would get all damp and stinky from our sweat anyways, shower curtains were what we needed! And awesomely they had plenty of shower curtains! We then hit up Winn-Dixie so people could get the special snacks they craved. I was completely and utterly satisfied with the apples, Cuties (those teeny, tiny, tasty oranges), and pretzel chips with hummus. Those are all some of my most favorite snacks!

After that we headed over to exchange point 12 where we laid out blankets and relaxed to wait out van 2. We talked a LOT and I read a little bit in my Kindle while we lazed about.

We also added some night time flash to our van for the upcoming night leg.

It was a lot cooler if you saw it in person.

After a few hours, we decided to go ahead and go grab some dinner before our next leg started. We found a nearby Subway and I got to drive again (I'm not being facetious, I really got to enjoy it, it had a calming effect on me for the most part). I started feeling pretty nauseous around this time and could not decide if I wanted to buy a sandwich or not, I finally decided on getting one and figured that so long as I did not get any creamy type dressing that it would last if I did not eat until after my next leg. As we are walking up to Subway I got a call on my cell saying that van 2 was getting ready to get to exchange 12 pretty soon and we had better hurry up!

We finish up at Subway and rush back to the exchange point so Katie could get ready to do her next leg. I decided to go ahead and eat so I would have fuel for my next leg and also because I felt a littler jittery and thought that perhaps I was nauseous because I was hungry. Eating definitely helped.

We went to the exchange point and met up with van 2, excepting John, who came flying in on a wave of glory shortly after. It was such an exciting moment, we got to see the first leg finale of van 2 and cheer John in and got to send Katie off to start our next journey! But this was also the point where I started thinking about my next leg... we were getting ready to send Meredith off into the Everglades in the dark for 4.7 miles and then I would pick up and do my 8.2 miles through the Everglades in the dark... This was going to be fun.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

SP 7th Blog - May 20, 2010

So I had every intention of posting part 2 of my Ragnar Relay Series, but to be honest, it's not quite ready for posting. I have just now had the chance to sit down at my computer (I got home from the gym about an hour ago and still had to eat and do a couple chores, YUCK!) and am so utterly exhausted that I think I will wait until tomorrow to finish that post. It was such a special event to me that I want to make sure I do not forget any of the important details. So instead of just leaving you all hanging, I thought I would at least post something; and it's been quite some time since I've posted a Sparkpeople blog.

This one is a bit interesting because I remember that exact day... and I remember the hunger gnawing at me (in fact I experienced quite the similar feelings today!) and feeling as though I could just eat and eat and eat! I hate that feeling because of my all time fear of getting fat again. Thinking back, however, I never felt exactly like that when I was fat. It's kinda nice knowing that I've completely rejuvenated my metabolism.

So what stands out to me about this post is not so much what I wrote... but the comments that fellow Sparkers posted on it, so I shall include those on this blog, as well. This was about 3 months into my weight loss journey and I was approximately 35 pounds down. In fact, here's a picture of me from around that time to visualize:
37 pounds down, enjoying margaritas on the balcony of Chelinos.
 find it so difficult to even remember being that big, I feel like that is someone else in the picture.  Okay, now on to the blog!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm SO hungry... I've been snacking all day, too, I don't know what's wrong with me, but every time I eat something new it's like it doesn't affect my hunger or I'll be satisfied and then an hour later I'm hungry again. What the hell??? I've had almost 6 cups of water already.. I keep drinking and drinking... Arghhh I wish my stomach would just SHUT UP!

JUSTLEALAH5/20/2010 9:06PM Thank you everyone!!! Let's see... I had a banana, a 90 calorie granola bar, a turkey equivalent of a slim jim (only 35 calories!), some crackers, and a yoplait light yogurt with blueberries in it. I ate the yogurt after my blog post, that set me for another 30 minutes, by the time I got from my office to the gym I was hungry AGAIN. So then I worked out and went home and ate a whole can of tuna on top of some rice with spinach a fat free cheese with a lil fat free mushroom soup. That finally set me. I didn't go over my calories, I just felt so insatiable, finally I'm full now and feel good, but honestly I felt like a pig all day! I'm guessing I should have had more protein earlier in the day, I'm just glad I made it without binging or going over my calories... in fact, I have 90 to spare and I don't even want them. emoticon 
What is it exactly you're snacking on? If there is no protein in the food you are eating you will NOT stay satisfied.

What you are eating might be at least part of the problem. Boredom also brings about false hunger.

Keep your chin up! emoticon

I find that something high fiber (like a Fiber One bar) coupled with lots of water works well most (I said most) of the time. I wish it always worked....

Every once in a while I have those kind of days, and I hate it too! Mental can have some to do with it, as well as around the time of your monthly friend. Fiber bars are great. I buy the Kellogg's ones and they are really tasty and you get a bit of chocolate...which is HUGE for me :)
Good luck getting through it!

Good luck! Just keep eating the RIGHT kinds of snacks, like fruits and veggies. That might help you out a little, and help you feel fuller. And it might be that you "feel" hungry, because you're THINKING about it; I know for me, 99% of the battle is mental. 

I really just wanted to share the support of Sparkers on Sparkpeople. The comments start at the bottom and work their way up, I deleted their names and such, because I have no idea how they would feel about me sharing this on my blog... I would assume they would be okay with it since my page is public, but no sense offending anyone when it's easily avoided. Life was so different almost three years ago (wow, has it really been so long!?!), yet so many things are still the same. This weight loss journey is more than being about weight loss, it is about all the obstacles that come with it and how I worked to overcome them and  how much effort I still put into staying on top of them now (like that irksome bottomless pit feeling!).

Until tomorrow folks!

Lealah (Layla for pronunciation purposes ;) )

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys - Day One - Miami

First of all, some of my team, From Fat to Finish Line, was on the Today Show! You can see the clip here.

Alright, now to business. :-P  So I've been struggling over the past week to put into words the amazing experience I have been blessed enough to be able to participate in. I still have not sorted out those details, but I figured I would just do as I always do - jump in feet first, head up. Hopefully I can get at least within sniffing distance to describing how wonderful the experience was from beginning to end. Wednesday, Mark got off work early and came home to help me finish packing and getting ready for the trip. I spent the previous week stressing and worrying over the entire deal. I suddenly suffered from a severe case of traveler's anxiety. I had not flown in 16 years and even if I could remember it all, everything has changed! I worried about packing liquids, getting through the TSA checkpoints and the airlines losing our baggage. I went through a small airline that had crazy baggage fees and poor reviews about being uncomfortable, etc. It's only a two and a half hour straight flight to Fort Lauderdale, so I was not terribly concerned about comfort and luckily all we had was one checked bag and one carry on. Even with a rental car and the baggage fees, the tickets were cheaper than going with a larger airline, so it worked out nonetheless. As for being nervous about the airline losing my bag, I packed everything essential to running the Ragnar Relay in my carry-on bag: 3 sets of running clothes, my tutu, water bottle, Clif Shot Bloks, all our electronics, wet wipes, and a whole slew of other necessities. My gym bag was STUFFED! Another disadvantage to going with the smaller airline was that the closest airport they fly in and out of to the OKC area is DFW, so we had to drive to Dallas Wednesday night to make our 6:00 am flight Thursday morning. The perk to this, however, is that Wednesday after finishing packing, we drove down to Dallas and had a drink with my lovely SIL before crashing at her place for an early evening.

I did not sleep well at all Wednesday night, I was nervous about travelling, but on top of that I was nervous about the reason I was travelling. I had gained what I thought was 7 pounds over the holidays (later, ON the flight, I found out it was freaking Mother Nature and I ended up coming home weighing in at 132.8, only 2.8 pounds up from where I've been maintaining the past year), and I was slowly filling with self doubt and self loathing. I quickly fell back into that trap where I did not feel worthy, where I felt fat and like a failure and however did I think I would pull this off without letting my teammates down. And on top of the travel anxiety and self doubt, my knee still had not completely healed from my Marathon and I was terrified it would cause problems for me during my runs. I worried about my knee completely fucking up on me and having it documented that I failed. I started freaking out about being on camera and what people would think about me for having gained. I felt as though I had somehow let everyone down, all this over a few measly pounds! Logically, I was not concerned about the weight gain, I know how to lose it now and many, many times throughout my weight loss journey I've gained and lost the same few pounds and instead of ignoring the problem now, I face it head on and fight the pounds. But it all goes back to my core fear of being fat again. I think in my own mind, the worst thing would be to regain all the weight I lost. In my defense I have experienced just that before, when I went from 280 lbs at the end of high school and got down to where I maintained between 150 and 170 for several years and then in 2007 I started gaining until I got back up to 260 lbs. And I suppose I fear more than anything the self-loathing that comes with that. As I reiterate time and again, I'm my own worst enemy!! . Anyway, I digress. So I'm going through all this emotional turmoil the week prior to leaving for Florida and by the time we boarded the plane Thursday morning, I just really did not even want to go. Luckily I was so wired on lack of sleep and adrenaline that I did not have the attention span to dwell on these thoughts.

When we unloaded the plane in Fort Lauderdale, before we even got through the jet bridge, my jeans were plastered to my legs and I was  sweating. My first thought was "Oh shit, I have to run in this." We picked up our rental car and got on the road to Miami. In Florida, I got a sense of nostalgia, it reminded me so much of California, where I lived until the age of 10, it was almost as if I were coming home. Everything felt familiar and beautiful and strange all at once: the palm trees, the bodies of water, the sunshine, the busyness.. I loved it. What really kept coming to mind though, the entire time we spent in Miami, was Dexter Morgan in his button up shirt, strolling the same docks we were passing. Obviously I did not actually expect to see him (and yes I know his real name is Michael Hall), but it was kinda neat pretending I was in Dexter's territory! ;)

When we got to Miami, it was still morning and we had time to kill before check in, so we decided to take care of a few errands, we got Mark a hair cut, got some Subway for lunch and by some miracle, found a Walmart. I do not think I've ever seen so many people in a Walmart in the middle of a workday afternoon! I imagine Miami probably has a lot more night jobs for people than Oklahoma City.  While trying to navigate the city of Miami, at one point we took a corner and I heard this horrible screeching/meowing sound. You know that awful some cat somewhere is getting some kinda sound? Yeah, that one. And I asked Mark if that was a cat, and he replies "No, it was that man!" and points to a man with a very bizarre expression on his face as he stared us down while we drove past him. Mark and I both cracked up and decided to get the hell away from that intersection. We finally got back to the hotel mid afternoon and I felt SO grungy and disgusting. Not only did I have that icky travelling feeling, but the humidity had my clothes plastered to my body all day and my hair felt like a huge mat of ick. All I could think to myself was "Please God, don't let me run into anyone in the lobby before I have a chance to clean up". As I was pulling bags out of the trunk and turning around I hear a "Lealah!" and low and behold was Katie, looking even more beautiful in person with one of the prettiest smiles I had ever seen and Jerry not far behind. I apologized about my grunginess as Katie and I hugged  and I started in on a nervous babble before I realized that there stood Mr. Awesome himself (John, of course!) and I quickly threw my arms around him. An awkward, yet somehow not at all awkward first meeting for us. John was taking Katie to go interview with the Today Show, so off they went while Mark and I checked in and headed up to the room. I was SO happy to take a nice long shower as soon as we got to the room; and I decided right then and there that I would not wear jeans again whilst we were in Florida, so a dress it was for dinner!

We rested for a bit before dinner and then I visited in Katie and Jerry's room until it was time to head downstairs to meet up with the vans and head over to Randazzo's for dinner. The Today Show met up with us at the restaurant and filmed us "meeting" for dinner and once they left we could all relax and enjoy our teammates company. It was so surreal because everyone felt so familiar, it was ridiculous how comfortable the atmosphere felt.
All 12 of us, I'm at the end on the right
 with half my head cut out :P
The food at Randazzo's was delicious (and probably calorific!), and the service was not horrible.... I just think the restaurant was not at all prepared for a group of our size. The owner was super nice and personable and used to be a boxer! He was definitely an interesting fellow. It took forever to get through the meal and I think we were all exhausted and ready to get back and prepare for our big day. We ended up not decorating the vans as we had initially planned and all just headed back to the hotel to retire to our rooms. Mark and I, however, walked across the street to Walgreen's to buy a knee brace since I had forgotten mine at home. I was wired and nervous about the coming morning and decided to buy a bottle of wine to help me sleep. We went back to the hotel and I tried on the knee brace to find that it was entirely too large - and it was a small! So we headed back to Walgreens. I decided that I did not want to spend the entire night trying on braces and walking back and forth, so I tried on the braces right there in the middle of the store... I'm pretty sure I flashed some people, but at that point I did not care. The clock was ticking and 4:30 comes early, so I was ready to get back and get to sleep! Finally I found a brace that was still a little loose, but felt that it would provide some support; it would have to do. On the way back to the room, we ran into Katie, Jerry, Katie's brother and some of their friends. I started telling Katie about my knee brace issue when a young woman (I think it was Becky, Katie's brother's girlfriend) asked if I was having knee issues. I told her yes I was (and hope sparked through my little heart that maybe, just maybe she might have a suggestion!) and she proceeded to feel my legs. She explained to me that she used to practice massage therapy on runners and that she could tell my outer thighs (and IT bands) were incredibly tight and muscular. She told me that the tightness in those muscles and my IT band were causing my knee caps to be pulled out and that to correct the problem (along with the foam rolling and other things I've been doing) I would need to work on strengthening my inner thighs. This makes SO much sense that I felt pretty dim that I had not thought of this before (you might be getting a preview here of what some of my next goals might entail ;) ); she also instructed Mark on how to massage out my IT band that night pre-Ragnar. I was so grateful for the advice (and for giving Mark instruction ;) ) that I thanked Becky profusely and said good night to the others and we headed up to our room. I poured myself a glass of wine and laid on the bed while Mark worked the hell out of my IT band. Let me tell you something - that shit is painful, but it also felt oh-so-good! The wine was awful, but I choked it down anyway for the sleepy affect and not long afterwards I drifted to sleep... surprisingly I slept quite soundly the few hours I had left before it was time to rise and shine! This was definitely a good thing since tomorrow was the big day! be continued...

Chicken Stir Fried Noodles

Recipe blogs are really difficult for me because typically I don't follow "recipes" per se, I just kinda throw things together that sound good. So I apologize in advance if this is confusing, just try to follow it the best you can and be sure to ask me any questions! *If I put an approximation, ie: 2-4, then this measurement is based on taste.

Chicken Stir Fried Noodles

In a large wok heat about a teaspoon of sesame oil. Add 4-6 chopped/minced cloves of garlic and saute a few minutes. Add 2 diced chicken breasts and cook until browned. Meanwhile in a large pot cook 1.5-2(I use 2, but I like it EXTRA vegetably) bags of various frozen stir fry vegetables (I use the deluxe and the broccoli stir fry veggies) as directed. Add 4-6 chopped green onions and a couple handfuls of bean sprouts (optional) to the chicken cooking. Drain cooked vegetables and set large pot of water to boil. Add about a tablespoon of oyster sauce to the chicken cooking... it's okay if there's a lot of broth gathered, that is the beginning of the sauce. Add various seasonings to chicken mixture... I put 2-4 tsp. of ginger, plenty of black pepper, lots of crushed red pepper (we love spicy), and about a tsp. of basil. Here's where it gets tricky... I wanted to give my stir fry a bit of a Thai twang to it this time around, so I added a couple tablespoons of Splenda and about half a bunch of cilantro leaves to the chicken cooking. If you're not a fan of Thai food, then omit. Add Asian chili sauce to taste and soy sauce to taste (I use Lite Soy Sauce to lessen the sodium). While all this is simmering, your pot of water should have boiled, turn off heat, add a package of rice noodles and cover with a lid for 10 minutes. Drain noodles thoroughly and add to chicken mixture. Squeeze a lime over the whole mess. At this point it's taste and go (hehe): taste and see what it tastes like. If it's too sweet, add some soy sauce and more lime. If it's too salty, just lime, add chili sauce until it's as spicy as you'd like. If it tastes just flat out bland, add more oyster sauce, soy sauce, lime and chili sauce, perhaps a bit more black pepper and ginger if you think necessary. Once you've found the perfect balance, plate and bon appetit!

I'm sorry I'm so horrible at the recipe sharing thing, I hope this helps!