Monthly Archives: January 2009

A Dog Found

Washington Post


Page Three Random Acts

Wednesday, March 12, 2008; B03

There is nothing like a lost dog to bring out the best in people.



A Found Dog — or Two

I waddled (as I was quite pregnant at the time) down to our local puppy group to let my old dog and my new Weimaraner, Jackson, work off some energy.

For the first couple of minutes they were great, but a dog who roams our neighborhood sauntered in and kept luring my puppy away from the group. As I didn’t feel like spending all of puppy group chasing down my dog, I headed home.

As soon as we got into a patch of mud, Jackson started pulling away from me, trying to chase the other dog. Not wanting to end up face first in the mud, I let go of both of their leashes with the assumption that they would come right back to me when I was on the other side of the mud. After all, I had a pocket full of treats.

My older dog did just that. But Jackson was nowhere in sight by the time I got to the other side. For the next several hours, with the help of my puppy group friends, I searched the woods and the neighborhood.

I finally found him in the back yard of the offending dog. Later that day, as Jackson slept off his little escapade, a van pulled up. One of the moms I had encountered early in my search for Jackson jumped out and proudly announced that she had my dog. She had found him wandering three miles away.

So she chased this 80-pound brute of a dog down and lured him into her van and delivered him to my door.

Considering her efforts, I didn’t have the heart to tell her I already had my dog. Instead, I asked her exactly where she had found him. After she left, I loaded him in my car and spent the rest of my day knocking on doors in that neighborhood until I found his rightful owner.

— Ann Brennan,  as published in the 

Washington Post


Page Three Random Acts

Wednesday, March 12, 2008; B03


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Charlottesville Marathon

            Over the years I have learned that registering for a race is the most effective method to staying in or getting back into shape.  So last June, about a month before I delivered my beautiful baby boy I signed myself up for the Charlottesville International Marathon.  Following his birth I waited the required six weeks to start a regular exercise program and resisted the urge to jump in with both feet the minute I was given the go ahead.  I had exercised throughout my pregnancy so I had maintained a degree of fitness but as I had not been able to run after the first couple of months I had to start slowly with my running regime.  Fortunately it came back quickly and by the time January rolled around I was ready for a proper marathon training program.  I had run a triathlon in Charlottesville prior to getting pregnant so I knew to expect hills and lots of them.  I pulled out an old marathon program my husband had printed out years ago that included a long run, a tempo run, a hill run and some track work and got serious.  Though finding the time and having the energy to run while getting up three times a night with Zane was a challenge it was helpful to have the date on the calendar staring me down. 


            A little over a month before the race I decided to use the B&A Trail Marathon as a training run.  I live close to the trail so I thought I would start the race and run the half marathon event and then run down the trail and home giving me a long, slow eighteen.  As I ran that day though, with no pressure of an expected finishing time I felt great.  I called my husband and asked him to meet me at mile twenty two with our daughter Megan so she could finish the marathon with me.  As he is the husband of a marathoner he was not at all surprised.  As, my friend Ron Bowman says, “You know you are a runner, when you go out for a long run and come home with a finisher’s medal.” 


            For the next month I was terrified that I had messed up. That I had pushed myself too hard and ruined the marathon I had trained for.  I began to think everything was an omend.  I had written the marathon down as April 22 when I registered and discovered the Monday before the race that it was actually the 21st, a Saturday.  Who schedules a marathon for a Saturday?  To make matters worse, when I told my husband, he was not able to get Friday off so we would have to wait to leave after he got off that evening.  Luckily the race directors were having a packet pickup on race morning for those of us who wouldn’t make it the evening before.  I still hoped if we left by six we would arrive in Charlottesville before they closed at 9:30.  And after a late dinner I thought we might have the chance to drive the course and map out the hills.  No such luck.  Any one who has ever driven in Northern Virginia at rush hour is probably still laughing at me for such optimism.  As my last marathon was close to home it took no real prep time for race morning.  I had gone to my pantry and fridge for everything I needed and not given it a second thought.  Unfortunately I had not given it a second thought for this marathon either so we drove all over Charlottesville after our midnight arrival looking for an open grocery store to get some cereal and berries (my race morning breakfast) to no avail.  Luckily, the bar was still open in the hotel and provided a couple of very ripe apples and very green bananas. 


            I had checked out the weather before we left the house and knew to expect highs in the eighties.  Unfortunately I hadn’t looked at the lows.  It was in the low forties as I stepped out of my car and made my way to the packet pickup in one of the best specialty running stores I have every been in.  Definitely a store worth visiting when in Charlottesville.  Apparently half of the field had been stuck in the same traffic the evening before because everybody seemed to be there to pick up there packet.  Five minutes before the gun went off I was finally convinced that I was right.  This race was doomed.  There was no way I was going to have a good race.  Too much had gone wrong.


            For the first eight miles I was sure I was right.  The hills start before you even leave town and are best described as continuous rolling hills, there was no gently in there.  They simply rolled over and over and over again.  It was beautiful without a doubt but I couldn’t foresee anyway possible I would actually finish this race.  I had planned on running the first thirteen and then walking a minute of every mile after that.  Sometimes plans are meant to be altered.  I started the minutes earlier, thinking to myself that I could change it to two minutes every mile if this kept being so hard.  Almost immediately things changed.  First of all we turned off of the asphalt road onto a beautiful dirt and gravel drive that went for miles past family farms.  It was the beauty I had hoped for from this race and it was well worth the previous eight miles.  I also noticed something else. I had taken a gel just as I reached eight miles and suddenly I felt it kick in and to make things even better I passed somebody (by the way I should say the person I passed was a nice gentleman from Arlington who had also run the B&A Trail Marathon the month before.)  And then I passed another and another.  The hills were still there and seemed to be getting steep because as I was running up them I was passing more and more people.  They were all grumbling about the hills and the heat and I was feeling great.  I started to realize that all the training I had done was done with a jog stroller containing eighteen pounds of kid.  I had done all of them, the long run, the tempo runs, and the hill repeats with resistance.  That is what made the difference.  It was like losing eighteen pounds without the dieting.  I loved just the thought of it.


            There were a lot of favorite moments in this race but there were two that stick out for me.  I was running along feeling pretty good when I started to pass this young man.  He was clearly feeling miserable so to make him feel better I told him we only had ten miles to go.  Just as I said it I looked down and saw how I was wrong.  We had just passed the eighteen mile marker.  What a wonderful surprise.  But that was not the best surprise of the race.  At mile marker twenty-two I began my one minute walk and looked ahead to what had to be the biggest hill I have ever seen in my life.  Oh man, how was I ever going to make it up that thing?  Though I am willing to change my plans for a race I don’t like to walk except on the schedule minute.  It is psychological and has become important to me.  Just as I was beginning to panic about making it up that hill without walking I took a breath and tried to notice all of the other things around me besides the hill.  The beautiful house across the grassy field, the cars parked on the side of the road, the people at the corner.  The sign with the arrow pointing to the right… Yes, right.   I didn’t have to run up that hill.  The course turned.  That was the best bit.  Maybe my favorite moment of any race ever.  I actually raised my arms in the air and started cheering.  I was ecstatic. 


            The next four miles did not get easier.  The hills kept coming and they were just as steep.  We didn’t run back on the road we ran in on so we didn’t get the downhill I had been expecting for the last twenty six miles.  As a matter of fact one of the biggest hills of the race was at mile twenty five.  The race directors for this race do seem to have a sick since of humor. 


            All in all, I had done it.  I had completed what turned out to be my tenth marathon on one of the hardest courses I had ever run and I had done it just nine months after giving birth to my beautiful baby boy. Originally published in The Streak – an Annapolis Strider’s publication and’s eNewsletter

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Filed under Pregnancy and Post-pregnancy Fitness, Running, Uncategorized, Weight Loss

Fit and Pregnant

Some women are beautiful when they are pregnant. Some women lose all of their pregnancy weight the minute they plop out that baby. And some women are gracious. I was not one of those women. With my first two pregnancies I was big, round and complaining for most of the nine months. So when I found out I was pregnant after a ten year hiatus from childbearing, I knew I would have to take some offensive action.

I decided right away to handle the pregnancy the way I handle a new marathon or triathlon. I would train for it with all that that entails. I had been preaching the “food as fuel” theory for a couple of years to anybody who would listen and decided that my first order of business was to apply this to the pregnancy. I knew I would have to avoid the junk and fuel my body and my baby with healthy choices. This worked better than the first two pregnancies because I had no cravings and only a couple of food aversions.

The second order of business was base building. Again this was easier than the first two pregnancies because I had just completed a marathon the week before I discovered I was pregnant. I had to approach exercise a little differently than I would for marathon training since I would actually be slowing down as I progressed. But I would follow one of the golden rules at all times. I would listen to my body. The first thing my body told me was no more running. So, I switched to biking. There again though I had to make adjustments. I didn’t want to take the risk of having an accident so I brought my bike inside and put it on my resistance trainer. I rode every other day alternating with vigorous swim sessions and light weight training. I read about women who lifted very heavy weights but most of the advice I received from doctors discouraged this and I decided to follow their advice. I was able to maintain this routine until I was about seven months pregnant when the bike seat just became unbearable. I gave up the biking, kept swimming and added some yoga tapes. There are so many to choose from and unlike my first two pregnancies there are some available for women who are fairly fit. I even found some that were real butt kickings and was able to use these as a challenge. Finally, I left the yoga, swimming and weights behind in the last week of pregnancy and started walking more. Not the walking my dogs kind of walks though. I borrowed my sons Ipod and walked to Linkin Park and some of his other heavier rock and rap music. I am sure to the passersby I was just waddling but I know I was going as fast as these little legs would carry me and even if I wasn’t getting as much fitness benefit from the walks my mental health was getting a kick out of this routine.

Speaking of mental health, I decided early on that the “complaining me” from the last two pregnancies was to be avoided at all costs so I developed several strategies that worked ninety percent of the time. The most fun one of course was shopping. We all know that looking good is half the battle. So I decided to go all Rachel Green for this pregnancy (without the bare belly). I shopped for clothes I would like even if I wasn’t pregnant. No more tents for me. And while I was at it no more paneled bellies either. This helped much more than I originally thought. I even had some clothes I didn’t mind putting back on after Zane was born because they weren’t that same old frumpy mess I wore the first two times.

But my all time favorite mental trick for this pregnancy was stepping on the scales backwards at the doctors office and asking not to be told what I weighed unless these was a problem with my weight one way or the other. People are so nice when you are pregnant and love to tell you how good you look so I chose to believe them and not find out for myself.

As I approached the end of the pregnancy I decided to take the same planning approach to recovering and getting back in shape without losing my mind. First of all again I resorted to shopping. I bought myself clothes that I knew I might where for less than a month. But a month is a long time to walk around in sweats and your husband’s shirts. After I started losing some weight I gave them away to people who I knew could use them so I didn’t feel bad about the money that seemed like a waste at first. Feeling good about myself helped me to maintain a good attitude which in turn lead me back into exercise.

For the first six weeks I took the doctor’s advice and took it easy. I was able to walk some and start some very light abdominal exercises. Honestly though most of those six weeks were spent gawking at my new baby. I decided early on that since it took nine months to gain the weight I would give myself nine months to lose it. I wanted to be realistic.
At the six week checkup to get the okay for exercise I finally asked the nurse to write down how much I weighed when I came in originally, how much I weighed at the last checkup before I had the baby and what I weighed currently. I was glad to see that I only gained three pounds more than the recommended amount and had already lost twenty of that. With the final eighteen to go I resumed my old life. I signed up for some races and started training.

Zane is six months old now. I have run three races and just started training for my first post pregnancy marathon. I have made some adjustments (I now run with my jog stroller) and kept some adjustments that I made when I was pregnant (I still ride my bike in my basement). And best of all I am back to my original weight.

So no, I am not beautiful when I am pregnant. I still get round and big all over. But with my program of eating the right foods, exercising throughout and of course shopping, I felt better throughout this pregnancy. No, I didn’t lose the weight the minute I plopped the little guy out but I did lose it all and I didn’t get stressed out about it. And I would like to think with this routine I was a little more gracious throughout.

Originally published in’s eNewsletter in 2006

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Raising a Runner

I started running with Megan about three months ago. The idea being that she would run with me a couple of days a week on my easy three milers and we would get the opportunity to chat before getting our days started. The truth is Megan does most of the chatting. These runs quickly became something to look forward to.

So when Meg asked if she could join me in my next five mile race I said yes, hiding my disappointment. I had planned on running this as a real race, hoping to improve my standings in the club series. Now, I would have to run slower and possibly even walk since the longest distance she had run was a 5k a couple of months before. I suggested a strategy. We would start out slow and only pick up the pace if she felt like she had something left in the last mile. We talked about walking some of the bigger hills if she needed to, since the first three miles of this race are very hilly.

The morning of the race Megan started complaining. About everything really. Her shoes were too small, her stomach didn’t feel right, it was a bit warm. I explained that she was just nervous. We all get that way. But if she wanted to just not do it that was fine. We could go for our three mile run and forget the race. I knew she wouldn’t give up so easily. She just needed a little encouragement. I had talked about this race many times over the past month and she knew I was looking forward to it. She agreed to at least go to the start and then make up her mind.

Once we reached Severna Park High, I helped her get registered, showed her how to pin on her number and suggested that she run around a bit just to get warmed up before she stretched. Anything to get her mind off of the race itself. With a couple of minutes until the gun we waded into the crowd and placed ourselves right in the middle of the pack. Megan who is always so cheery and talkative had gone silent at this point but having run with her in the past I knew she would become chatty as soon as we started running. So I waited. And the gun went off and, just like most beginners, Meg started off a little too fast. I reeled her in a bit and told her to let the people pass her assuring her she would see many of them again. She was very patient but still not chatty. At the time I thought it was nerves and I worried whether she could finish the race. I realize now she was in the zone. At the first mile a volunteer called out our time and my heart sunk as I envisioned my name sliding down the list for the club series. Now all I could do was enjoy the race and make it as pleasant for Megan as possible.

That’s was when I noticed Meg was about ten feet in front of me. I yelled up for her to take it easy and received a “You told me to run my pace, Mom. Don’t worry this is my pace.” And with every step she pulled further and further ahead. Just then the hills started hitting us hard and I was sure that I would soon be seeing Meg walking up ahead. I did see her but not in the condition I expected. What I saw was this eight-year-old girl with NIKE written across the back of her shorts weaving in and out of the runners, passing everybody and doing it with ease. By the two mile marker I had completely lost track of her. I spent the rest of the race asking the spectators how far up she was and receiving a variety of ever widening answers.

“She’s just about a minute ahead of you.”

“She has a good minute and a half on you.”

Still, I thought I would see her up ahead. Of course I expected she would be completely dejected and walking when I caught up with her. She had to be running too fast. Just trying to catch her was killing me. I continued to ask the spectators if they had seen the little girl in the NIKE shorts. Finally, I received the answer that blew my mind.

“Yeah, I saw her. She’s at least four minutes ahead of you. She looks great.”

I couldn’t believe it. Now, I freely admit when I first started running with Megan I knew she was going to eventually be a better runner than I but I expected it to happen sometime in high school. I certainly did not expect it to happen when she was eight years old.

When I did finally cross the finish line I still had not fully grasped the idea of how well she had done. I asked her what her finishing time was and she didn’t know. It had never occurred to me to tell her to look at the clock as she crossed the finish line because I thought I would be with her. So, I asked her to look around and tell me who she came in with. She pointed to a very athletic looking six foot young man and said, “I think I finished with him.”

“There is no way you finished with him, Meg. He is twice your size and very fast.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure it was him.”

You can imagine my embarrassment as I approached this gentleman to ask his finishing time. “Excuse me but my eight-year-old daughter doesn’t know her finishing time and thinks she crossed the line with you.” You can’t possibly imagine my astonishment when he answered me.

“Oh no, she didn’t finish with me. She passed me at the four and a half mile marker.”

Still not knowing her time we decided to hang around a bit to see if they would post the results. As we made our way to the bagel line we were stopped several times by club members praising Megan for a job well done. She was lapping it up. A morning that had started with so many complaints was ending much better than either of us had expected. I bought her a t-shirt to commemorate her first five mile race and, giving up on the times being posted that day, I started to lead Meg to the car when she asked if we could stay and find out who won. Ever the protective mom I leaned close to her and made sure she understood she would not be winning anything. The age group she was in was 14 and under and there were a lot of girls there from the local cross country team. She assured me that she was fine with that so we stuck around and admired the prize table laden with cases of sodas and juices that would be given to the winners.

As we waited for the awards ceremony to begin, several more runners came up to congratulate Megan on a great race. Many telling her how amazed they were at the stride that such a tiny person had or how easy she made it look. Megan beamed. Soon the race director began announcing the winners. As with most club races the winners were easily predicted. The same men and women at every race traded off first, second and third position in any given age group. When he came to Meg’s age group the first place girl was announced and as I had expected it was a fourteen year old girl from the cross country team. The second place girl was more of a surprise – Megan Brennan, age 8. I wish I could preserve forever the excitement I saw on my child’s face. She proudly but shyly went up and shook hands with the race director and picked up a case of root beer. I could not have been more proud of Megan for just showing up that morning and running in spite of her nerves and doubts, but the thrill of seeing her place in her age group and getting such a kick out of the whole experience was indescribable.

A couple of days later all of the times were officially posted online and we discovered that Megan finished only thirty two seconds behind the age group winner, almost two minutes ahead of the girl who came in third – and four minutes ahead of her good old mom.


Originally published in The Streak – An Annapolis Striders Publication and’s eNewsletter December 2006

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If Oprah Can Do It

I can give you a dozen reasons why I ran my first marathon.  They would all be true but the real reason, the main reason was because I thought to myself, “If Oprah can do it so can I.”  Okay, so it isn’t a mature reason but it is true.  I became competitive with Oprah Winfrey. 


So earlier this month when I saw the story on newsstands this week about Oprah and her weigh gain I thought, “Whoa, if Oprah can do it then so can I.”  And to be honest with you that almost scared me right into the pantry and into a bag of Oreos.  But it didn’t.  I will admit, I bought the magazine and looked at the pictures and even skimmed the article on how she managed to go from looking fit and healthy to weighing over two hundred pounds.  I was looking for answers. 


Since I have recently gone through a health and lifestyle transformation I took a real interest in this information.  Having lost fifteen pounds after more than ten years of trying to lose that last ten, I can’t stand the idea of gaining it back.  To be honest I had stuck my head in the sand a bit about the possibility of that happening.  But when Oprah puts the proof into pictures and sticks it on the front of her magazine for everybody to see I think it is time for me to face it.  My transformation will not be over until I have all of the plans in place for keeping that weight off and continuing a healthy lifestyle. 


As if in answer to this anxiety, Christmas snuck up on me.  You know Christmas?  That time of the year when we should be focused on the spirit of Christmas but instead we are busy stuffing our faces with all the goodies given to us by friends?  In our house it is the time of year that I pull out the mixer and the begin baking.  Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am obsessed with two things.  First, fitness and second, cooking.  Maybe not a logical combination but so far it has worked for me. 


So this year as I pulled out the flour and sugar and chocolate chips and sat them on one end of the counter I had that image of Oprah burned into my brain.  Except somehow it wasn’t Oprah anymore.  Somehow my face had been superimposed on Oprah’s body.  Not the skinny, fit body but the one in the purple sweatsuit she was brave enough to share with the world.  Suddenly the cookies had to take a back seat to my health and fitness.  I needed a plan. 


Of course, it is just a plan so I don’t know how it will work but I do know it starts with that picture.  It also involves remembering to keep on my computer and keep track of what I am eating.  That chocolate chip cookie has one hundred and fifty calories.  If I have to put that in the computer along with all of my other food I won’t be able to deny that I am eating poorly and going over my calorie needs.  This might be alright for a night but fitday will show me when I am doing it night after night after night.  Hopefully, that will keep me honest. 


As I said earlier I did skim over the article about how she let it happen to her and I can see how it is possible.  She leads a different life than I do for about one hundred million obvious reasons but the same thing can happen to me.  She says that she stopped taking care of herself.  Stopped putting herself first and that is where she lost the plot.  I can see how that happens.  One morning you wake up and the heat in the house is out so you have to wait around for the furnace guy all day long.  A couple of days later one of the kids is sick so you have skip the gym again.  The next week there are dentist appointments.  You see where I am going with this?  All of these things were happening when I was in the midst of losing the weight and getting fit but losing the weight was my priority so I would schedule the furnace guy after my time at the gym or I would work out at home while my child napped or I would run while they were at the dentist’s office.  I would make it a priority.  Since I have lost the weight I have noticed that it is much easier to let other things take precedence. 



One question I had for Oprah was how the weight snuck up on her this time.  How did she not see it?  The only thing I can figure is she didn’t want to see it.  She didn’t step on the scale or wasn’t honest with herself as she bought new sizes to match her expanding bottom.  So step number three has to be honesty.  I am there.  At least I hope I am.  I know that if it can happen to Oprah it can happen to me.  Oprah is on television everyday.  She can see herself every day and if she can deny it is happening I am capable of that too.  So to help on the honesty front I am planning on stepping on the scale every week.  Just once a week because I really am happy with my weight right now.  There is no reason to worry myself sick about it.  But it is important for me to pay attention to what is happening there.  To always be honest with myself about my weight.



So maybe it all comes down to honesty.  Honesty about what I am putting in my body, Honesty about how much I am exercising and finally honesty about what is happening to my body today.  Luckily Oprah has the honest thing down.  Luckily she wasn’t just honest with herself but with the rest of us as well.  Now I just need to remember “If Oprah can do it so can I.”


Filed under Weight Loss

How to Lose 15 pound in Just Two and a Half Hours a Day


            Okay, so it’s not a very catchy title and isn’t likely to be on the front of Self or Shape or any other women’s fitness magazine anytime soon but it really is what it took.  After fifteen years of running and worrying about my weight I felt jipped.  How could I possibly still have that last ten pounds to lose?  The truth is that the last ten had turned into the last fifteen pounds to lose.  I had become a bit desperate.  I read every article on diet and nutrition I could find and I felt like I was doing everything right.  I was exercising at least four days a week and had been for fifteen years.  I was eating healthy food with the occasional treat.  And I felt like somewhere somebody was lying.  Then about six months ago a scary thing happened.  I looked at the calendar and realized that at the end of this year I turn forty.  Seriously.  So, it was decision time.   I could keep doing the same things and gain another five pounds in the next decade or I could do something drastic.  The truth is it was a last resort.   I told myself that I would either lose the last bit and get in shape or I would resign myself to weighing exactly what I did.  I knew I was fit I just wanted to look it.  Thus began my quest.


            I had read about online and had even used it some in the past to keep track of what I was eating and how much I was exercising.  Several of the articles I had read discussed the benefits of keeping a food journal and Fitday was the tool I decided to use.  There was no real first thing I did.  It was not nutrition and then exercise or vice versa.  I made a decision that they would go hand in hand. 


            After using the weight goal tool and seeing my daily calorie allowance I would be able to eat if I wanted to lose fifteen pounds in six months I almost gave up right there.  And once I realized that that calorie allowance was a thousand calories lower than the amount I had been eating daily for the past month I just crawled right back in bed and did give up…for about an hour.  But then that picture of me gaining five to ten pounds a decade from here on out and never looking like the athlete I knew I was got me motivated.  I got out of bed, threw away all of the cookies and chips in the house (sorry sweetie) and got started. 


            As much as it sounds like it, I didn’t starve myself to death.  I just changed the way that I ate.  I snacked on healthy snacks and ate several times throughout the day to keep from feeling as though I was starving.  After all the diet books and magazines I had read over the years I realized I had become a bit of an expert.  I knew the five things you are never supposed to eat because of Dr. Oz.  I knew that protein helps you feel full because of Dr. Atkins.  And I knew that doughnuts and cookies were not health foods because I do have a little common sense.


            The exercise part of the new routine turned out to be fun.  Running is wonderful.  I love to run and will not give it up.  But the same old running routine was not working for me.  I needed something more.  Something exciting so I decided to add some intensity to the running and some extras outside of running.  The first thing I added was weights on a much more serious basis than just a few dumbbells here and there.  I started lifting for an hour four days a week and copying all of the “hot moms” and young muscle buffs in the gym to add to my routine.  But I had tried weights alone a couple of years back and knew that was not going to do what I had in mind either.  So I did something that has never come easy for me.  I thought outside the box.  I got creative and decided I didn’t care what the other people at the gym thought about this crazy sweaty lady running throughout the gym.  I started a jump roping routine.  I wanted something that wouldn’t bore me stiff so once a week I started alternating fifteen minutes of jumping rope and two sets of weights.  I would do this for two and a half hours or until the pool of sweat surrounding my feet was so deep I could no longer do it without falling or drowning.


            I did a similar thing on the treadmill.  I would run for five minutes as fast as I could and then alternate it with weights.  This had a benefit I hadn’t considered.  I ran faster than I ever knew I could because it was only five minutes at a time.  As a result I became a faster runner.  In my past two races I broke out of a ten year rut and have gotten personal bests in both by over five minutes. 


            And finally, I tried a new routine that a trainer at the gym created.  It was adapted from a workout that he had seen in another magazine.  Every exercise I would do that day I had to repeat fifty times.  It alternated between strength exercises like pull ups (I used the machine that gives you assistance since I can’t do one pull up much less fifty) and cardio exercises like jumping jacks.  After two weeks of doing my jump roping routine and the speedy treadmill workout I had increased my fitness more than I expected so I was able to take his routine that was about an hour and add exercises to stretch it another thirty minutes. 


            I am working out six days a week now but no two days are alike.  I have discovered that pushing myself in this way has not only helped me lose that last fifteen pounds and get more fit than I have ever been but it has also been a bit of a boredom buster.  For fifteen years I felt like if I didn’t get my run in when I was supposed to I was cheating myself.  Now if I just don’t feel like doing that run I know there is something else I can do.  I have added hill runs, tempo runs and even a kickboxing class to my class to my routine to get me over a boredom hump and I am having a blast almost every step of the way.


            The funny thing about all of this is I thought I was alone.  I thought I was the only person out there running the marathons and the triathlons and still not being asked at race expos if I was there to pick up my husband’s packet but I have been on several weight loss forums and discovered that isn’t so.  There are a lot of other people who work hard and aren’t losing the weight or looking any better.  After six months of this I feel pretty good about how I look now.  But I still feel a bit jipped.  I would love to be one of those lucky people who say to me.  “All I have to do is get on my bike and I lose the weight.”  But then again, if I was one of those people maybe I would have never figured out just how far I could push myself and just how much fun it could be doing it.


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