Friday, October 26, 2012

The End of an Era

Almost exactly one year ago I decided that I was tired of being fat and sad. I was tired of crying in dressing rooms...and in my bedroom...and in the shower...and in the living room...and in my car...and...well, you get the picture. I decided that I was going to start exercising again.

Before I continue what will be a very long (you've been warned) post, let me just mention that I make a lot of assumptions of my readers. I assume that people who read this actually know me in real life and therefore know a few things about me. I assume you all know the following, and if you don't already know, now you will:

  • I was naturally skinny my entire life until the age of 22.

  • I'd been relatively active throughout my life even though I lived for a year off of doritos and easy mac.

  • I've run a half and full marathon.

  • I went from being around 145lbs to probably 220lbs in the span of roughly 15 months.

  • I've battled severe depression for a large portion of my life.

I'm sure there are more things but those might help you understand why things are such a big deal and why now I try to keep such a generally positive outlook. So what I'm going to do is recap this past year, the highs and the highers and bring to a close what will likely be one of the most important years of my life.

November 2011

Technically, it started in October but it was the very end of the month so we'll go with November. In an effort to reinvent myself I began a personal challenge called 30 Days of Yoga. I've been doing yoga off and on since I was 19 and have always enjoyed it. I thought it would be eas(ier)y for me to start my transformation with yoga because it was something I liked and though I wasn't great at it, it made me feel better. Yoga is an equalizer. It doesn't care how small, big, fast or slow you are. There are big people who can do splits and marathon runners who can't touch their toes. It's a technique thing and that made it something I wasn't entirely intimidated by. I was in no way prepared to be seen in public working out so I bought a Yoga for Beginners dvd by Rodney Yee and did it faithfully. I also completed the Louisville Pure Tap 5K. There is not a single photo of me from this race because again, I wasn't proud of how I looked. I also wasn't proud of my performance. Looking back, I wish I could've been more proud of myself that day because it was a big deal!

December 2011

Moving into December, I kept up with yoga some but just really stalled and realized I had no clue what I was doing. I'd lost about 8 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas but had no idea how to lose weight. Again, lifelong skinny mini doesn't lend itself to being all that knowledgeable about health and fitness. I finally decided to admit to the world my goal of losing 60 pounds. I sought the help of my sister and guided by her and a lot of internet searches tried to find my way. I got some exercise clothes and shoes for Christmas and I really think the support helped to set me on the right track. I also got a stand up mixer. Probably counterproductive.

January 2012

I started the 10lb Slimdown program towards the end of January and my intention was to do all 28 days and lose *hopefully* 10 pounds. That did not happen. I did a lot of it. Well, some of it. And it's a great program by Chris Freytag that I'd definitely recommend. I also finally started to venture out into the world and start taking hot yoga classes at Yoga on Baxter. It was hard. It was hot. There were mirrors and I had to do a lot of fighting to overcome my negativity towards my body when I saw my reflection. Starting hot yoga was the start of my mental workout. Definitely a necessary evil.

February 2012

In February my birthday came along! On the actual day I allowed a photo to be taken just before my sister and I headed out to Jefferson Memorial Forest with the dogs for a hike.

ImageJust before the hike

I got out of the house a bit more this month and started to (very slowly) build some confidence. I also decided to run the full Triple Crown of Running in March/April. It turned out to be a really good idea.

March 2012

Running re-entered my life in March with the Anthem 5K.


Anthem 5K 47:19

Rodes 10K 1:26:38

Papa John's 10 Miler 2:22:55 (that's not's my sister but we were pretty much wearing the same thing)

April 2012

My Triple Crown overall time added up to 4:36:52 across 3 races and culminated with the Papa John's 10 Miler in April. Finally, I felt proud of myself. When I finished that race I was literally stunned by what I'd been able to accomplish in a few short (though they seemed long) months. It was after the race that I decided to try my hand at a triathlon. I don't know where along the road I changed but I suspect it had something to do with the thrill of racing again. There's something about a race of any kind or any distance that makes people feel good. Maybe it's the camaraderie or sense of accomplishment, maybe it's endorphins, or maybe I'm just crazy. But I turned a corner in April and haven't looked back since. It was also in April that I started blogging again! Well, kinda.

May 2012

May was a big month for me! I learned to ride a bike! I re-learned to swim! I learned how to run regularly again in my new body! Labor Day weekend was the bi-annual Mayor's Hike, Bike and Paddle and I was super excited to take my bike out for it's first group ride! I think I made it about 5 miles and man was that a big accomplishment. It was a little scary since I had next to no bike handling skills whatsoever but I finally was able to ride. And ride I did.

Bringing home Big Red

Hike, Bike and Paddle

June 2012

By June I had moved to a new place and was full on into tri training. I also was for real back into blogging because now I had material! I announced to the world my triathlon plans and was following a training plan. I ran another 5K which just so happened to be The Colonel's first race ever and that was a lot of fun. I was also down a solid 15 pounds. Training didn't have a great effect on my weight in terms of numbers lost but now I'd started to understand what people meant by losing inches. I was toning up big time and I could finally see a difference. I was addicted to exercise. I was addicted to the endorphins. I started blogging more often and most importantly, I was blogging positively. And that was the most welcome change of all.

Indatus 5K 46:42

July 2012

Another big month followed, right in the thick of training. I logged my first 33 mile week, got my first training related injury, started noticing more progress on the inches lost front and my sister graduated! There was no racing but lots (for me) of blogging and a lot of fun was had training. By the end of the month I was down about 30 lbs overall which is hard to do while training and had dropped into a snug size 12/14 pant size. I was rockin and rollin so hard that August really snuck up on me!

August 2012

The most obvious accomplishment of August would of course be the Go Girl Triathlon but before that I had a pretty horrifying and life changing dip in the Ohio River. I also adopted (finally) the race recap method and started actually telling you about my races in hindsight and realized how much fun that can be. There's so much that can be said for August but this post is long enough. I'm just so grateful that this month and all of the good, bad and scary happened because it really turned me into a much different and much better person.

Before the Ohio River debacle

My first tri finisher's medal!

September 2012

Well by now you know that I'm a race machine. September was fun, fun, fun! The stress and worry surrounding my first tri were gone and my confidence was at an all time high. I raced, I brought home another new bike, and I generally stayed active and did what I wanted without a plan to dictate my days. I still swam, I still biked, I still ran but I also did yoga, kickboxing and hit the weights again. I started to become well rounded and started thinking about next year. It was a great month for reflection and redirection.

Pioneer 5K 38:13

Meet Dottie :)

October 2012

And now we come to the end. October has been phenomenal. I've blogged more, randomly taken pictures of myself for blog purposes only, and raced! Twice! Including one incredible PR and my first marathon relay. I truly cannot believe how much I've packed into one quick little year but it just gives me so much hope regarding what will certainly come next. I'll try to keep up with my blogging and I hope you'll stick around for the fun!

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 10K 1:04:21

Indianapolis Marathon Relay Team [My leg 7.15 miles 1:26:34] Full Marathon 5:27:05

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Indianapolis Marathon Relay Race Recap

ImageTeam JART bibs ready to go

Yesterday was the big day for me and my relay team. Of course it was not without incident but I'm happy to say that we all finished our legs and we finished the race!

Thursday night I spoke to Jade who informed me she was working on Friday until 10:30 or 11 pm. Cue freakout one. She also informed me that she and her fiance wouldn't be leaving until Saturday morning. Cue freakout two. I immediately became convinced that not only would there be construction resulting in immense amounts of traffic but she would also get a flat tire and then get into a slight fender bender with no injuries but 3 hours worth of waiting for insurance and law enforcement officials. Early Friday morning I got a text from Tiffany that she had been up sick all night and was still planning to come but didn't know if she'd be ready to leave at 2 like we planned. Cue freakout three. An hour or two later Autumn sends me a text saying her stomach is really upset and that she wasn't feeling well but was still coming. Obviously, cue freakout four. At this point I was considering going up to Indy and seeing if I could sell our bib because this was looking hopeless and I was in no position to run multiple legs especially since I was already running the second longest one. I talked to Autumn on the phone and the more she talked the more confident I felt that she would be ok for her leg but I was nervous since I was still unsure about the other two. Me, Autumn and Tiffany did end up rolling out around 4.

We got up to Indy and checked into our hotel which just so happened to have free dinner, drinks and popcorn! (insert shameless plug for Drury Inn) My two counterparts wanted nothing to do with food but did nibble some popcorn at least and get drinks. I was really excited to find something vegetarian friendly behind the meatballs and jumbo hot dogs and ended up with a simple penne pasta with tomato sauce. After we ate we headed out to packet pick up which is always fun then back to the hotel to lay around and watch tv (a perfect pre race evening). It was around this time that Tiffany got hungry! It was a big moment and a sign she was feeling better. Our hotel was like 300 feet from a Cracker Barrel so she ordered some carryout and we walked over to pick it up. While waiting I came across this gem:

ImageYep, a pound of Reese's Cups

Finally it was back to the hotel and for me and Tiffany, time for bed. In the morning we learned that Alexis pretty much never went to bed because she was a little sick and had some heartburn. We were up at 5 and left around 6 to get to our 6:40 shuttle. Jade sent me a text around 5 letting me know they were on the road and that helped ease my nerves a bit. We left our hotel just to drive to the race sponsored hotel where the shuttle would pick us up.

ImageWelcome to Indy

ImageAutumn and Tiffany waiting for the shuttle

There were 2 shuttles to the race site and we "lucked" into getting the 6:40am shuttle instead of 7:25. Did I mention the race didn't start until 8:30? And that it was 39 degrees before sunrise? Actually it was 41 degrees but the wind made it feel like 39. Same difference if you ask me. If there was any aspect of any race I've done that deserved a gold star it would be the race committee's excellent use of fire pits. The biggest perk of the early shuttle was that we got front row seats next to the middle fire pit and it felt soooo gooood.

ImageGod bless fire pits

Jade met us there around 7:30 and I instantly felt better to have the whole team together. We stayed warm as best we could and watched the sunrise and the clouds move out. It had been raining all day on Friday so it was a welcomed change to see sun again. We walked Jade to the start and handed off our gear bags. Autumn held onto Jade's bag, Tiffany held Autumn's and I held mine and Tiffany's. At our exchange Tiffany would take mine back to the finish. We managed to get one quick team photo and then Jade was into the starting chute!

ImageJade (no sleep), Autumn (no sleep and belly issues), Tiffany (belly issues), Me (forgot my compression sleeves)

ImageItty Bitty Jade in the starting chute for leg 1

I'd be lying if I said I missed being in the starting chute. Another perk of being the anchor (which I was) would be that I didn't have to do the start line shuffle or get nervous being crammed in with hundreds (or thousands) of other people. Shortly after the gun Autumn walked over to her exchange zone and Tiffany and I went back to the fire pits. It was strange to think that I still had 3-4 hours before I'd be running. I was due to take a shuttle to my exchange zone by 9:30 so I snapped a few pics of the pretty fall colors and then me and Tiffany parted ways. This was by far the most gorgeous course I've ever run. 

ImageI love the colors of fall!

ImageThe start/finish line

I saw Jade again before I got on my shuttle and was so proud of her! There was a lot of badassery on her face. The shuttle ride was easily 20 minutes and all of us anchors were anxiously chatting and checking our phones obsessively for updates. Here's a word of wisdom for anyone thinking about doing a relay style race, don't put the worrier in the anchor leg. I had anxiety until it was my turn to run and even then I was a little nervous. I nervous pee'd 3 times between 10:45 and 12:30 and turned my phone on and off about a gazillion times. Not that I didn't have cause to worry. Sleeplessness and illnesses seem pretty valid to me. I especially freaked when Tiffany text me and said she was worried she hadn't seen Autumn yet. Minutes later I got the word that she was in sight and a few minutes later Autumn reassured me that the hand off had been made. She was slower than either of us expected but it was still a great clip and I was glad she was feeling alright. I got off the bus and had about an hour and some change to kill before my hand off was expected. It was still cold so I was trying to keep warm and busy instead of watching the clock. I mentioned to one of the other anchors that according to the clock I had about an hour before I was going to really start worrying and no sooner had the words left my mouth than Tiffany came around the bend. She looked tired but again, was beaming badassery. We made our exchange and off I went. The absolute best part about being the anchor in a marathon relay (aside from getting to cross the finish line) is that you get to pass and not be passed back. My leg started at mile 19 to the end and by then the marathoners are usually tired but also in a slow and steady, relatively consistent pace. I was doing 7.15 miles and had just been hanging around for 4 hours so my slow and steady was finally faster than someone's! I came out right behind the 5:30 pace group and passed them early on. After that I literally picked people off left and right. I told them all good job and when passing a particularly spent looking woman who said she wished she had my energy I made sure to tell her that I was in the relay and had just started. Not sure if that made her feel better about herself or just hate me but either way, I didn't want people thinking I was someone I wasn't. My first mile was 10 minutes flat and the next a little over 10. I wasn't feeling nearly as great as I was last week so I backed off a bit to around 11 minutes but it wasn't long before I was wishing for those compression sleeves. My shins started pulling maybe 2 miles in which made 5 more miles sound not so great. Around mile 23 the cramps set in and lasted for another mile and a half. I still ran my intervals but backed way off of my pace. I just wanted to finish as best I could but also kept in mind that this was my longest distance run since a 10 miler in April. I trotted along and just took in all of the fall colors and before I knew it I saw mile 25. I finally got excited which made mile 26 come up quickly. Not long after I saw the mile 13 mark (for the half marathoners) and could see the finish .1 of a mile away. As I made the final turn and kicked it into full gear (which was, um...still slow-ish) I saw Tiffany and Autumn waving and cheering. The announcer even talked about me! So what if he called me by my sister's name? It was so exciting to be finished and to see my other teammates feeling better. We stopped by the post race cookout (where they had veggie burgers!!!) before loading the shuttle and heading back to the car. We went over to the YMCA where the race had arranged free showers for all competitors (amazing!) then we headed home. I had so much fun despite the anxiety and can't wait to hopefully have an encore next year!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 10K Race Recap

Wow, what a title right? Although I also could have titled it the greatest race of my life. Wanna know why? Yeah I thought you might.

The week leading up to the race wasn't a great one. Stress at work, general grumpiness etc. etc. etc. So I really wasn't expecting much as far as performance but I wanted to get a 10K in really badly before the marathon relay this Saturday so I thought What the hell and signed up. The atmosphere at Komen events is like none other. Pink everywhere and For someone who hates crowds (i.e. ME) there are few things that will lure me to a crowded place. Races just tend to be one of those things. Anyway, there was a great survivors parade and all kinds of booths and music and general funness. What there wasn't plenty of was parking. Which I guess is the norm for an event of this caliber.


Survivors' Parade


Great Ladies I never got the chance to meet...


Seriously packed at the start!

Autumn Alexis, The Colonel and I got in line at the start and realized our green bibs were awkwardly out of place and surrounded by white ones. We kept peeking at people until finally someone pointed us out and said all the white bibs were walkers. We apparently belonged up front and everyone parted and let us move up. Kind of like how when people find out you're a great dancer and they start to back up until they form a circle around you on the dance floor...anyone? No one? Not familiar? Hmm...just me then. Anyway, we got up to where we "belonged" and before long we were off. Autumn hung back with me for about a second before she was off. The Colonel went on and on about wanting to run "with" me beforehand since it was his first 10K. I'd told him roughly a billion times that he was much faster than me and that I would do nothing but slow him down. He doesn't listen well. He suggested we stay around a 10 or 11 minute mile which I quickly poo-poo'd informing him that I was a 12-13 minute miler on a pretty great day. He rolled his eyes and ran on. I was really excited to try out my new interval of running a mile and walking a minute. About 12 and a half minutes later I said to The Colonel, "Man! I must be really slow today!" because I still had yet to even glimpse a mile marker. There was a turnaround point and in the group of runners coming back towards us I saw Autumn! I was really excited as usual and figured the turnaround was a little ways away. It wasn't. It came up really fast. But I knew I wasn't anywhere close to her pace so I started to worry that her knee was bothering her again. On we went, me just trying to keep Colonel in my sights then him dropping back and me being pissed about it. We avoided some strategically placed roadkill before I finally told him to go ahead and he finally listened. We reached the 5k/10k split (without passing a single mile marker) and I had that familiar feeling of running the marathon again. [Sidebar: In 2010 when I ran the marathon, 12,000 people signed up for the race which was a mini (half) and full marathon. Only about 2,500 of those did the full marathon so at the split I instantly went from being surrounded to running what felt like death row. Made me rethink the marathon thing. Have I mentioned I've never done another one?] A great majority of runners were doing the 5k and all of the walkers were doing the same distance so I took the 10k split with 399 other runners. Into Iroquois Park we went. Iroquois is known for it's ridiculous long slow climbing hills so to say I was thrilled would be a bit of an overstatement...or complete lie. By this point I was on a run 15/walk 1 interval since there were no mile markers. I knew I was at least faster than 15 min/mi. I stuck to my intervals religiously until what I now know was about 5 or so miles in when I walked a 1:30 interval because I had just destroyed a nasty hill and ran an extra few seconds to do it. Just when I started wondering how much farther we had to go a woman's GPS called out "5 miles". Excellent! Best news I'd heard all day. It wasn't until 2 seconds after that that I noticed my shins starting to hurt. FIVE MILES IN! If that's not improvement then I don't know what is! Just as I was about to hit my last walk interval I heard the crowd at the finish line cheering. Well I knew I couldn't stop then so I ran on. I finished this race feeling phenomenal! Like I could climb a mountain! It speaks volumes about my new "base" fitness level. I was expecting 6.2 miles to feel like 30 and it felt more like...well, 5-6.2. Here are my official results...brace yourself!

Name:Rennay CookeDivision:Female 20 to 24City, State:Louisville, KY
Bib:2681Division Place:15Total Division:22
Age:24Gender:FGender Place:209
10K - Timed Place:322Chip Time:1:04:21Pace:10:23/M
1st Half Rank:3171st Half Time:29:561st Half Pace:9:59/M
2nd Half Rank:3202nd Half Time:34:252nd Half Pace:11:28/M

WHAT????!!!!!????! A 29:56 5k split?! And a 34:25 second 5k?! Who was I? Not to mention the 10:23 average mile. I was completely floored when I checked my watch and saw 1:04:49, especially when I saw online that it was actually 1:04:21. My last 5 mile time was around 1:06 to give you a frame of reference. I've now learned that I train WAY too slow and really run scared a lot. I'm super cautious when it comes to training but I think I need to give myself a little credit and just see what I can do. During a lot of training runs I throw out a 10:somethingorother mile time and say, "Oh! That's too fast! I can't hold that!" and I slow way way down. Maybe there's something to be said for not having mile markers and clocks and GPS trackers. While you ponder that, here are some more pictures.


The Colonel in the flesh after his first 10K finish!


The Whole Gang!

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Great Training Week

Last week was (you guessed it) a pretty great training week and for only 2 reasons. The first reason would be my 5.2 mile run on Tuesday. Fleet Feet Sports started a Tin Roof Tuesday running group with a great little 5 mile course.

The last time I ran 5 miles it took around 1:09 (now do you believe me when I say I'm slow?) which I was pretty happy with particularly because I felt great when I finished and hadn't run that distance in quite a while. This run was also with my sister which made it really fun and kept it motivating but I decided to push a bit more than normal. It had been a rough couple of workouts leading up to this one so it was really important to me that I had a good run. I wish it was always as easy as just wanting it to happen. Well when we finished I checked the watch and to my surprise and delight, it said 1:06! To those in the running or any other endurance sport world, shaving 3 minutes off your time for a particular distance (especially when you actually added a bit to that distance) is a damn big deal! That was a generalization, maybe it's not a big deal to everyone, but it should be and to me it totally was. I was so super excited about it and even though we were the last ones back we were actually the slowest of the distance group which means not the slowest overall! There were people who did shorter distances AND were running behind me. Not to mention my first mile split was in the 10:30 range. Not sure why I've suddenly been unable to contain myself in my first miles but hopefully I can remedy that soon. Regardless, I felt so great after my run that I put on my slippers and forced The Colonel to take a picture and keep taking pictures until I looked skinny. Luckily, the second take worked.


So Wednesday I was a bit sore but thought a good bike ride would shake those muscles loose a little as well as work some new ones. I was also a bit delirious after reading all of the race reports from my favorite bloggers about Ironman 70.3 Augusta so I mapped a 10.2 mile bike ride through Seneca for after work.

This ride was a bitch. No short about it. It was an absolutely beautiful day and there's no reason this ride was hard other than I was just tired. It got so bad that as I was cruising past my car on my way out to the second lap I literally stopped my watch and got off my bike. I was ready to pack it up. But then I really thought about it and I had really spent my whole day thinking about this 10 mile ride, there was no way I could just stop. Now let's remember that my last 10 mile ride was literally over a month ago during the Go Girl Tri so I really wasn't expecting anything spectacular. It was also my first real ride on my new bike so I was riding cautiously, not to mention that my bike handling skills really aren't so great since I'm a beginner and I decided to ride some hills that had a history of leaving me in tears. All of those things combined left me not expecting much in terms of the time department. During the race I did my 10 miles in just over an hour, maybe 1:01 and this time I finished up at 56:13. Again, improvement. I'm most proud of this ride because I really really really didn't want to do it. I wanted to quit and give up and go home and eat klondike bars but I didn't! Another thumbs up day. This week considering a 12-15 mile ride. Who knows.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stay Tuned for the Big Reveal!

I know you're all excited and anxiously awaiting another race report. Fear no more, I've got another on the horizon! In approximately 19 days I'll be doing the Indianapolis Marathon relay. I've got a great team aptly named Team JadeAlexisRennayTiffany. If you missed that, it's Team JART. I'll be running the anchor and bringing in the last 7.15 miles. Meaning I should probably run more.

But now to the big reveal. Ladies and gentlemen, I am planning next year's racing season but the problem is that these silly people are taking far too long to post next year's dates! So stay tuned and I will do the big reveal of all of next year's races including my A race! Will it be Lake George? CapTexTri? But wait, what about Tri24? Oh I know the suspense is killing you!