Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Slippery Slope of Fueling and Marathon Training

I’ve always had a healthy appetite, but my stay in the ICU caused me to lose weight. Part of this was because I was in a fair amount of pain from being intubated. I’d assume the O.R. used the smallest tube they could find, but still at only 4’ 11 (and half), my mouth and gums were bruised and it hurt to eat. I’d try to eat a little bit between my drug-induced naps, and still couldn’t manage to finish my meal before the next one would arrive. The 5 pounds I shed during my stay was putting me over the hump and well on my way towards those last glorious extra pounds that everyone wants to lose before they reach their ideal weight.

Shortly after being discharged, I was indulging in stress and holiday eating with my family. Despite walking a mile nearly every day after Christmas, and slowly building into short run/walks, I quickly gained the weight back. Then, I gained back even more weight.  I was operating under the guise “I survived brain surgery- I deserve to have cookies for a breakfast appetizer.”

I’m still short on the weekly mileage that I was running prior to surgery. Now, I’m walking the slippery slope of marathon training that many people encounter… I’m wicked hungry and I WANT FOOD. The problem here is that, I also need to lose weight. Many people want more food while they train, and who can blame them? When begining a new excercise plan it's tough not to gain weight. Many first time marathoners fall into the trap, I'm running more, so I need to fuel more. Then they gain weight. Now that I’m feeling healthier and a little more vain, I need to date again, at the very least to lose weight.

Shortly after I took up long distance running, I started dating my last boyfriend.  He is a runner, and even qualified for Boston. If he told me to run, I’m so stubborn, I woulda said, “are you off your rocker?” Lucky for the two of us, I already had the fire burning in my belly to run a marathon when we started dating. It was a perfect storm for weight loss success- cardiovascular activity + new boyfriend + vanity = 17 pounds lost. J 

Now that I’m single, losing the weight is more difficult. I have no one to impress.  When I was dating my ex, I didn’t want to look fat or gluttonous, so I didn’t eat as much as I wanted when we were together, which was usually every night after our runs. Naturally I lost weight.

May has been a good turn-around for so many things. I’ve got the most energy I’ve had since surgery, and my mind is becoming more singularly minded on being fit and healthy. I still need to remind myself that I don’t need dessert with every meal and that being a little hungry is okay, but with my 5 small (pre-planned) meals a day and my mantra when I go into the kitchen, “I know what cookies taste like,” helps get me through. My huge desire to reduce my carbon footprint also helps with my weight-loss goals.  Weight loss isn’t fun, but it helps not to think of it as weight loss. Last time I lost the weight, I kept telling people, “I’m not trying.” Their response was, “You’re running almost every day, that’s trying.” I’m taking each day in stride, working to get stronger and just make the healthiest choices for my body while remembering to enjoy life and make time to have unexpected fun and indulgences.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

I love the Smell of Expo (in the morning) - A look at the weekend of May 14 & 15

If you’ve never gone to an Expo before a race, I’d recommend it to see what you’re missing, and if you’ve gone you know what I’m talking about. 

Member of Team Ray at the Children's
Tumor Foundation walk
Despite running the Malibu a half-marathon one-month before surgery, Saturday was my first expo in nearly a year. The Expo at the Malibu Marathon consists of a couple vendor tents set up next to the beach and a few folk passing out bibs and timing chips. The Expo prior to the Pasadena Marathon series didn’t smell like salty ocean air— It smelled like Expo, combination of Tiger Balm and Ben Gay. It was more ritualistic like other expos: Walk to the wall and look up your bib number, check in and get your bib, packet & D-tag, then walking up and down the rows of vendors. Doing all this made me feel even more like I’m back.

The Expo makes me hungry to eat the road for breakfast tomorrow, even if it is going to go down at a much slower pace than what I was once training at.  Nonetheless, I realize that I have to stop comparing running speeds I had when I first started running and after I was running consistently to today. I need to keep just looking forward to the next mile.

I feel like I’m finally getting healthy….
Yes, I’m working 40+ hours a week.
Yes, I’m running 15 miles or more each week.
Yes, It’s not brain cancer; it’s just a tumor.

But this, this is the picture of health- smelling crippled runners getting to put their toes to the starting line and push their bodies to do their best.

Storm Troopers at the CTF Walk-
A good reason to walk fast!
And this weekend was not about running- it was about enjoying the company of fellow athletes on a journey. Saturday, I did a 5k walk with the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) and ended up walking with a friend from the NF Endurance Team.  After this, I went to the expo to pick up my bib and race packet for Sunday’s Pasadena Marathon series.

Sunday, I took the to the road with my running buddy and his girlfriend and we raced to raise money & awareness of Celiac Disease. And here, again you can see the indomitable spirit of the runner… she was training to RUN this as her first official 5k, but she had a cold for several weeks that she couldn’t shake. Still, she trained. And, it wouldn’t be the Pasadena Marathon if it weren’t raining… We huddled in the dry as long as we could before we put our toes to the starting line to see what we could do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Off the DL

Last week, while I was leaving the control booth of our TV show, one of my bosses paid me the complement, “Wow, Sarah- you actually look good.” I had spent more time putting on makeup, using my 10x magnifying mirror, but still I was a little shocked. My other boss called me back and gave my boss a lesson in how to pay a complement, which was marginally better. At the end of the week, he did a little groveling and basically said that I don’t look as tired.  THIS was probably the most accurate thing he could have said.

Two days after I returned to work in late January, the Disability Department phoned to tell me that my neurosurgeon indicated that I could return to work as late as May 10, 2011. Apparently, I looked less fatigued last week because I was less fatigued. I hadn’t realized I still looked that worn out from just healing.

The healing process has only made me marginally more patient. I want to get better quick, and like many friends who are going through brain surgery or some kind of Cyber Knife therapy, we are all impatient with healing. The need to get better and to run and just be normal won’t be satiated a few weeks after surgery. Lacing up the shoes and feeling your feet click against the road feeds the spirit. Even on days where I feel crummy, but still run, it reminds me how far I’ve come from lying in the ICU.
My incisions have healed, the hole from where my head was secured to the operating table has vanished, and my hair is slowly growing back. Here, on May 10th, the day I could have returned to work from disability, I did my full 8-hours and then a 3.5 mile run after work. This was one of those days that I’ve had since surgery where I feel better than I’ve ever felt. As I’ve gotten farther and farther away from surgery, the number of those better than ever days have increased. It feels as though with my workouts, I’ll be battling myself more and my “To Do” list than battling recovery fatigue.  On those days where I am tired, I’ll have to access if it’s a true fatigue (where my body is telling me it needs rest) or that lazy “To Do” list waiting kind of fatigue.

I struggled with training consistently prior to surgery because I had taken on a new job with new hours and new mental demands. On the upside- I am now lacking a brain tumor, so sticking to my training schedule is possible.

Let's hope I can maintain this positive attitude after a follow-up tomorrow with an additional doctor I gained this year.