Thursday, December 22, 2011

Out With the Old and In With the New

As 2011 comes slowly to a close, I thought it would be a worthwhile venture to look at all of the things that my family and I accomplished this year, as well as take a look at what 2012 may have in store for us.

Note: I do not have time to put links to all of these events, but if you would like to read more about them please check out the archives on the right.)

-In March, I received an amazing birthday present, a fitness evaluation, from my wife.  The process was informative, and I continue to use much of the information I learned from my appointment.

-In April, Katie and I ran with my sister in the Illinois Marathon Relay.  It was our first experience participating in a big race atmosphere.  While somewhat intimidating, I think we all really enjoyed our time.  We performed well and couldn't be happier with our finish!

-In May, we officially became a Racing Home as Katie, the kids, and I all participated in the Kirby Derby.  I had a new 10K PR, and a spark for running was lit for my children!

-Most of the summer was spent preparing for the Quad City Half Marathon.  I experienced a weight loss roadblock and pinched nerve in my back.  I spent a lot of time out on the road training.  But in all, it was a fun and exciting summer journey.

-In September, I suffered through my first half marathon.  I finished the race, but did not meet my goal time.  While initially disheartened, I have recognized the error of my ways and am determined to do better the next time.

-In October, I ran in my first trail race, the Allerton Trail Run.  I ran well, and enjoyed the change of pace from my regular road running.

-I spent a couple of months working on my overall fitness with some simple crossfit exercises, which have certainly done the job.  Along the way, I ran a sub-30 second 200m dash and have done more pull-ups than ever in my entire life!

-Katie, my sister, and I have agreed to once again run the Illinois Marathon Relay.  This year we have decided to include our 18yo cousin, also named Katie.  We hope her youthful exuberance will help to elevate our performance.

-My 5yo son has determined he would like to run his first 5K in this year's Kirby Derby.  He has had a couple of training runs, but he continues to be anxious for preparation, as he will ask me every so often, "When are we going to run again?"

-I did not participate in any bike rides in 2011.  In fact, I felt as though I was cheating on my bike, Roxanne, with all of the time that I spent running last year.  I am committed to change in the new year.  I would like to participate in the Sangamon Valley Bike Ride in May, as well as the Bike MS ride later in the summer.  I am hopeful for good weather, as the Bike MS ride would still constitute the furthest 2-day ride of my life.

-I would also like to train a bit more with my swimming because I would like to participate in my first triathlon.  The Fighting Illini Triathlon Club hosts a sprint triathlon in late September/early October.  I like the idea that it would be a local race and the swim for this particular event is only 300m.  I am determined to work my way up to that.

-I would once again like to participate in the Allerton Trail Run.  It is a unique race in one of my most treasured places.  Honestly, I would like to make sure that I never miss this race again!

-Finally, I would like to try another half marathon, improving upon my performance in 2011.  Some folks I know are talking about hosting a half in Galesburg, where I grew up.  I would really like to run in that race!   Galesburg is dead flat!  if I can avoid all of the trains, I think I could really improve upon my time under those conditions! 

As we enter into the holiday season, the opportunity to write any posts will be limited.  So from my family to yours, "Have a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah and a safe, happy New Year!"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indian Summer Run

When I woke up for my run last Saturday, it was 17 degrees out with a wind chill of 10!  I bundled up with nearly every piece of gear that I had.  I had my stocking cap and gloves on and I pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt and cinched it tight.  By mile 5, ice was caked onto my beard and moustache and the tears from my watery eyes were freezing on my cheeks!

When I woke up this morning, 5 days later, it was 59 degrees out!  I ran in shorts and had no use for my stocking cap.  I wore my long sleeve compression shirt, but was actually hot with it on! 

Weather in central Illinois can change frequently, but such a dramatic change was disorienting.  However, I had a great run!  There was a slight breeze out of the south which made the trip out a little cooler and more difficult.  But as I turned around, I had the wind at my back and a couple of times I felt like I was really flying.  Overall, my time was better than I had expected, 5 miles in 36:30, and certainly better than I had been doing. 

It was great weather for running and I was very appreciative for the mild temps!  It may be awhile before I can run in weather so nice.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All I Want for Christmas

'Tis the season to spout off about all the things that you want.  While I am pretty sure all of the gifts have been purchased, it is never too late to drop a few subtle hints.

1.  First and foremost, I want world peace.  My children and I pray for world peace every night; every Sunday that I am able to I light a candle at church as my additional prayer for world peace.  It sounds naive, but I just can't believe that we still live in a world where evil people can rise to positions of power and influence under the banner of ignorance and intolerance.  And in retaliation, all sides, "righteous" or "evil", send other people's sons and daughters to fight their battles.

2. In a very distant second, I would like Fat Cyclist's new book.  It is titled Comedian Mastermind: The Best of, 2005-2007.  The title is pretty self-explanatory, but if you have not taken the opportunity to visit the Fatcylcist website, I highly recommend that you do so...right now!  Fatty (mild-mannered, alter ego: Elden Nelson)  is hilarious.  He is able to take his own unique, comedic approach to a wide variety of subjects.  Seriously, this guy writes diatribes about cycling that even a novice cyclist such as myself can follow, and often openly laugh at.  This first book covers the early years before his wife Susan began a renewed battle with cancer, a battle that would eventually take her life.  The money that Fatty makes on this first book goes to the publishing expense of writing his coup de grace, The Cancer Caretaker's Companion.  So, when you buy this for me, you can feel good about your purchase, knowing that it is going to a greater cause!

3. I could really use some new running gear.  The items soon to be mentioned will soon become needs, rather than wants, but I thought it would be worth mentioning before the situation gets critical.  As usual, I need a new pair of running shoes.  I have not completely worn through the sole my shoes, but I am really close!  I figure these shoes have more than a thousand miles on them, the tread is nearly gone, and the whites of the insole have began to appear near the toes.  In the next couple of months I will wear completely through the insole; that does not work well in the winter snow!  Next, I have been running in the same compression and running shorts for over 2 years.  Further, I never purchased these items in the first place, but instead procured them from the lost and found at my old job after they had been left behind for months.  Which is secondary to the fact that both shorts have seen better days.  Especially the compression shorts that are showing signs of overuse as I am wearing holes in very uncomfortable areas!

4. I would like some financial assistance with registration expenses for runs and races.  Because of a lack of fiscal means, I participate in very few races every year, and the ones that I do participate in are carefully scrutinized for their value.  As an example, I signed up to run the half marathon in the Quad Cities last year because at $45 it was far cheaper than any half marathon in the Chicago area.  Additionally, the locale decreased my cost as I was able to stay at my parents home the night before (bonus: I could eat my parents food. Thanks Mom and Dad!).  Certainly I could run for a charity at nearly free of charge, but as I would be contacting the same friends and family to donate to the charity, I figure it would be less expensive if they just gave their money to me.

5.  I really want to run a sub-1:40 half marathon and a sub-20 minute 5K.  Much like my first request, I am pretty sure that no one person in particular could give this to me, but I thought it would be worth mentioning just in case Santa can work up some Christmas magic!

6.  Lastly, I want all of my family and friends to have a safe,enjoyable holiday season.  I hope that you all have time to appreciate the things that we have.  And in an effort to bring a little Peace to our World, remember and be kind to the folks who are not as fortunate as ourselves!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

There has been so much going on; it is hard to know where to start!

First off, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!  I monitored my eating when I could and got in 2 great runs.  One of the runs was with 2 of my closest friends from home.  I have known Brian and Matt almost my entire life, and I was so excited to get the chance to run with them.  It is amazing to think about how far we all have come, starting at virtually the same spot, and ending up with many of the same values and interests.  When I proposed going for a run early Thanksgiving morning, there was almost no doubt that we were all going to be there.  It was so enjoyable running through familiar areas, catching up on our lives, and reminiscing about "the old days".

Matt had brought along a couple of friends, one of which, Nick Pigg, is the owner/operator of a shoe and fitness store in Galesburg, Go_Outside_and_Play.  It was interesting to hear some insight from Nick about running and fitness in Galesburg.  Turns out that Nick, Matt, and some others are organizing a half marathon in Galesburg in June!  I have already signed up on the mailing list and look forward to running my second half marathon in the town I grew up in!

Next, I did not meet my weight loss goal of losing 10lbs before Thanksgiving; I only lost 6.  I had been working pretty hard and I thought for sure I was going to make it.  However, I decided go for some "hill repeats" on a Sunday in order to strengthen my hill running.  When I woke up that morning, I was not feeling quite right, but I headed out anyway.  Finding a decent hill in central Illinois is difficult, but I warmed up with a 1.5 mile jog to the golf course where I knew there were a couple of decent hill to train on.  I finally scoped out the hill that I thought would be good for me.  The first couple of runs up the hill went well.  The distance was very short, probably 100 yards or so, but the incline was good.  After about 4 trips up and down the hill, I noticed that my hamstring was feeling a little tight.  Ever since I started doing sprints, lunges, and squats, having tight hammies had become the norm, so I thought I could just run through the pain.  On my sixth trip up the hill, I would swear I felt a snap and a hot shooting pain in my hamstring.  I immediately stopped, called an end to the hill repeats, and attempted to jog home.  The problem was I couldn't even jog without being in pretty significant pain.  I ended up walking most of the way home. Which felt really weird because, I know this is going to sound like Forrest Gump, for the most part anywhere I am going, I am running.  Walking that mile and a half back home felt very foreign.
I think the hamstring pull might have been because I was getting sick, because by that afternoon I had a pretty nasty virus.  I had the chills, the sweats, body aches, and nausea.  It lasted for a few days and I ended up taking a week off of working out.  Ergo, I did not lose the remaining 4 pounds before Thanksgiving.

The hammie still gives me some trouble, but nothing significant.  I did cause me to re-evaluate my workout routine.  I had been going pretty hard for a few weeks, and I think I may have pushed things a little too hard.  I completed my goal of running a 200m dash in less than 30 seconds, plus you know, I pulled a hamstring, so I have decided to not do any sprints for awhile.  I am still going to the playground and doing my pull-ups and other body resistance exercises, but I am just incorporating that into some longer, slower runs.  I know I am going to have to get back into the hill repeats if I want to do better in the distance running, but I am going to give my leg a few weeks to fully heal.  I still would like to lose the remaining 4 pounds and get below 185 before Christmas, but multiple holiday celebrations may throw a wrench into those plans.  My ultimate goal is to keep working out and not gain any weight.

Lastly, I have entered into a contest to receive free marathon and/or triathlon training for a year.  Coach Jennifer_Harrison is offering one full year of training for no charge at all.  Now, I have entered to win probably a hundred fitness and health swag items, but none of them quite as cool as this.  The only problem is that it scares the shit out of me to think about actually winning this thing.  The time commitment would be significant, but the thought of running a marathon in the next year, plus having the coaching to perform well, is intoxicating!

Anyway, that is all I have; it felt like a lot!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Am Not Perfect!

I know, I know, it comes as a surprise to me too.  But it is true; I am not perfect.  I have a lot of flaws.

Sometimes I eat too much.  Other times I obsess about eating less.  Sometimes I do not workout hard enough.  Other times I push myself too far, too fast.  Sometimes I don't care about the scale.  Other times I fret about every ounce. 

Most importantly, sometimes I forget to tell my wife what an amazing wife, friend, and mother she is.  Sometimes I focus my attention on the things I think I have to do instead of focusing my attention on doing things with my children.  Sometimes I don't finish projects around the house.  Sometimes I don't say what I am thinking, and sometimes I don't think before saying.

I am not perfect; I don't know if I ever will be.  But I am going work damn hard to do better!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thursday, I will be with a bunch of extended family, enjoy turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and pie, and will be unable to do a post.  So in honor of this most glutinous of holidays, I have decided to talk about a few of the things for which I am most thankful.

I am thankful for my wife.
A journey of health and fitness is a very personal one, but my journey would be impossible without the love and support of my wife.  She has been my partner in this weight loss attempt since its inception.  She has shown me the utmost support for my races, changes in routine, and crazy ass ideas.  She is also the one watching the kids when I run or bike for several hours at a time.  That in and of itself is invaluable.

I am thankful for my children.
My kids are a big reason that I decided to travel down this road of wellness in the first place; I want to be around for them for a long time.  Their energy and enthusiasm for my races is so intoxicating, and their desire to run and bike and just get outdoors make this whole thing well worth it.

I am thankful for my health.
During my time I have had a few bumps in the road.  Specifically, I have had IT_band_syndrome, thrown my back out, and suffered from Fatty_Liver_Disorder.  But sincerely, overall I feel great.  I am in the best shape of my life (by the way, I ran a 29.12 second 200 yard sprint today; that is one more off the list!).  I feel lucky to be not suffering from so many other possible ailments, diseases, or disorders.  And I am looking forward to continued health and wellness.

I am thankful for Jackson Chiropractic.
When I threw my back out before the half marathon, I was officially freaking out!  But the good people at Jackson_Chiropractic had me on the mends in no time.  I believe very strongly in the overall benefit of chiropractic care.  I believe very strongly that the continued adjustments at the masterful hands of Dr. Clint Jackson has been a major contributing factor to my feeling of overall health and wellness.
Additionally, I am thankful to have health insurance that sees the wisdom in preventative health care, such as chiropractic care.

I am thankful for all of the people that have help along the way.
Adrian, when I had shin splint problems
Jeff, when I had no idea what an IT band even was
Mira, for all of her advice and encouragement along the way
My weight loss support group, for keeping me accountable well past my breaking point
The staff at Spin_City_Cycle, for helping me pick out the perfect bicycle for me
The staff at Body_and_Sole, for fitting me with the perfect pair of shoes for me
And everyone of my friends and family, for all the love and support (financial and otherwise) that you have shown me along the way.

I am thankful for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie!
Man, I hope I can keep the weight off this weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gimme A Break!

So when Bubba was at home recovering from his surgery, I have to admit that I fell off the diet wagon a couple of times.  More specifically, when he wanted chips and queso dip from the Mexican restaurant, he was far from the only one that partook.  And when he wanted to go to Pizza Hut for lunch, I am pretty sure I hit the buffet line more than anyone else, including a sample of all 3 desserts.  I did stick with all of my scheduled workouts, but by Friday afternoon I knew that I needed to shape up a bit if I wanted to lose any weight this week.

So, I went for a 17 mile bike ride on Friday.  I ran an extra 2.5 miles on my Saturday long run.  Plus, I threw in an extra 4 mile run on Sunday to try and make up for my bad behavior.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I did not lose any weight this week, but I did not gain any either.

I am not terribly disappointed for two reasons.  The first is because I honestly believe that with my cross training work I am building a significant amount of muscle.  I can visually see that my arm are getting larger and I am able to do a lot more reps of the strength work than I was when I started.  Since it is said that muscle weighs more than fat, I am of the belief that while my weight did not change, I am definitely building more muscle and losing more fat! 

The second reason I am not disappointed with not losing any weight on the scale is that I went down a notch on both of my belts this week!  My pants are a little looser!  So, the truth is that my waistline is getting smaller, even without losing any weight!

The problem with all of this is that I have not had a day off from working out since Sunday, Oct. 30, and even on my regularly scheduled days I have added additional work.  When I went out for my 5K run this morning, I realized that I need a break! 

I usually try to push really hard in that first mile on Thursdays and I did today, 6:27 for my first mile.  However, my legs felt like lead!  Every slight incline felt like Mt. Everest, and the down hills brought no relief.  Even as I tried to take an easy second mile, my form was horrid and I kept having to remind myself to straighten up.  When I kicked it up for my moderate 3rd mile, I really didn't know if I would make it home.  Now, this morning I have felt sore pretty much all over.  Muscles that I have not worked in a couple of days are actually showing some signs of fatigue.  I think my body is telling me to slow down for a minute. 

However, I am constantly reminding myself that I want to lose 4 more pounds before Thanksgiving, and the fear of gaining any weight keeps me from stopping.  I keep saying to myself, "If I can just make it a couple of more days, I can get a break on Sunday."  The trouble is I do not know if I can make it a couple of more days; I am exhausted.  I might be able to sleep in a little extra tomorrow morning before my ab workout, so maybe that will be enough to get me over the finish line. At least I hope it is.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Non Sequitur

On my Saturday morning run I saw and was followed by a young whitetail buck.  It was pretty cool to see and seemed to be relatively interested in watching me.  The buck waited in the adjacent cornfield for me to get close to it, then trotted up the trail aways.  Then as I neared it again, it did the same thing.  As this was happening, I thought about the ancient tribes that used to run animals to death (you know, the ones talked about in that book, Born to Run).  And in the same thought, I had a new found appreciation for modernity.

Black Bean Soup by Progresso is disgusting and currently has me feeling quite nauseous.

I ran my first 200 meter sprint in 30.78 seconds!  I was freaking ecstatic.  I am not sure that I can count it as my 30 second 200m because I was slightly wind-aided and may have cut over a couple of lanes around the curve; it was dark and I was having trouble seeing the track.

I am thankful to Brian Sowinski for providing healthy vegetables at last night's gettogether!  Although, the gooey, warm cheese dip tasted way better!

I did 4 pull-ups in a row again!  Still ecstatic!  I think I am going to get that 5th pull up before Thanksgiving!

Because of some sympathy eating with my son during his recovery, I threw in a 17 mile bike ride on Friday, 2.5 extra miles on my Saturday run, and an additional 4 mile run on Sunday.  I think I am going to show a loss for the week, but it is going to be close.

I think I get a little obsessed about calorie intake.  I chose a Miller Lite over a Bud Heavy last night because I thought it would contain fewer calories.  But then I did not hesitate when Sean offered me a Rogue Mocha Porter.  So, my obsession certainly has its limits.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Highs and Lows

To those of you who read my blog and are aware that my son had surgery: Thank you so much for your support, prayers, and well wishes.  Bubba is doing great!  The surgery went smoothly and his recovery is going WAY better than we expected!  He is being spoiled by many friends and family, so our biggest concern is the reality check of a post-recovery return to normalcy.

Considering the guilt that I felt last Thursday for my splurge at the Chinese buffet, I am equally as pleased with this week's weigh-in results for my losing 10 pounds before Thanksgiving challenge.  I lost 3 pounds this week, for a total of 6 pounds in three weeks, and only 4 pounds to go in the next 3 weeks.  Of course, there are quite a few obstacles laying in my path, including the 2 barrels of Halloween candy still beautifully displayed in my home, but I am confident that I will be able to achieve my goal and lose 10 pounds before Thanksgiving.

And that is how things are going for me; I feel terrible one moment for splurging, and elated the next for having some success on the scale.  Then other times I feel bad because I REALLY want to splurge or treat myself or just throw in the towel completely and eat whatever I damn well please, but I don't and I question what the hell I am doing all of this for.  And then other times, I am so excited that I have committed to boxing up half of my dinner out before I ever start eating, or actually leaving a few bites uneaten on my plate knowing that I may have dessert or snack later.  It seems as though if I am truly committed to losing this weight that I am going to be faced with a lot of highs and lows throughout my struggle!

The good thing is that the exercise has now become habit.  It is something that I have built into my normal day, and I feel terribly out of sorts if I fall out of routine.  So, I have got that going for me.  But the real stumbling block is my food.  I LOVE food!  All kinds of food: junk food, fast food, gourmet food, healthy food, dessert food, and pretty much anything that you put in your mouth and can be classified as food.  So, when I have to deny myself something that I love so much, it makes me a little sad.  But I also love losing weight and getting fit.  I love the way I feel, I love when Katie likes how my arms are looking, I love getting on the scale and seeing it read less than it did last week.  So, when I eat something, or too much of many things, that I think will be a detriment to losing weight, it makes me feel a little sad, as well.

I wish I were one of those people that could eat pretty much whatever they wanted, and as long as they were working out, they would never gain a pound.  I wish I were not one of those people that could gain 5 pounds on a good night of food and beer.  But wishing does nothing, and it definitely cannot change who I am. I think this is pretty much what I can expect until I get down to an "ideal" weight, a lot of highs and a lot of lows.  I just hope that my highs can continue to be about my low weight, and not the other way around.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Allerton Park Trail Run 2011

I love Allerton Park in Monticello!  I feel extremely blessed to have this amazing natural area in my own hometown.  Allerton was one of the first places that Katie took me when we moved back to Illinois.  She knew that the wooded trails and river pathways would be a good break from the monotony of Illinois farmland and serve as a reminder of my time in the mountains of North Carolina.

I was fortunate to work at the park for more than 3 years.  And while employed there I learned of an awesome race over the trails of the 1500 acre natural woodlands, the Allerton Park Trail Run.  I had participated in the run a number of times,but only in the capacity of helping to set up for the event as an employee of the park.  But this year I was finally able to participate in the race as a runner!

The race consists of a 5.7 mile run through the wooded paths.  There are a tremendous amount of obstacles such as natural springs forded by fallen logs, tree roots, concrete culverts, and random walnuts that all serve as trip hazards along the run.  The organizers do a great job of identifying as many of these obstacles as possible, but nevertheless I was still very nervous about the opportunity for injury.
There are approximately 500 runners every year and in the open areas of the park, one can run pretty freely.  However, as you enter into the trail areas the race becomes very bottle-necked and you really have to pay attention to the pace of the runners around you, as well as look out for fallen participants.
The family came out to cheer me on.  We all love Allerton very much and Amara still loves to refer to the park as "your old work".  You can also see that everyone had to bundle up as the temps at start time were in the upper 30's.

I really took my time in the first part of the run, partially to avoid the possibility of injury and partially because of the congestion of runners on the early trails.  I finished my first mile in exactly 10 minutes.  I was well below my normal pace and was not even breathing with difficulty.  As the path flattened out along the river bed and the congestion began to clear up, I picked up my pace significantly as my confidence increased.

There were still a couple of times that I was not so sure-footed.  You would be amazed at how close you can get to breaking an ankle when you step on a fallen walnut the wrong way.  I also got lazy a couple of times with my form and stumbled dramatically; I never went all the way down to the ground, but I was really close!

When I reached the Death of the Last Centaur sculpture, I knew it was time to pick up the pace.  The slow start had afforded me plenty of energy to finish strong.  I did forget that there were a couple of significant hills to finish the race, and as I neared the finish line I was feeling pretty gassed.  Just then I heard another runner start his final kick and I gave a quick glance over my shoulder to size up the competition.  Just that little glance gave me the motivation to avoid being passed.  The other runner kept up with me for a couple of strides, and then I heard him say "I am not gonna do it," and I knew I had him beat.

"You can't catch me!"
I finished the race in 47:51.  As this was my first trail run, I guess I get to count this as a PR, whatever that means.  I had inadvertently signed up as a Clydesdale (fat guy) participant and I finished 5th out of 39 in that division.  Overall the race was a lot of fun.  I will definitely participate in it again, and I would like to run on these trails more for entertainment, especially if the trails are dry, leaf and walnut free, and maybe a few less tree roots.  You know, more like pavement!

P.S. I ran my first 200yd dash in 32.09 seconds and did 4 pull-ups in a row!  But the winter weather is fast approaching.  I had better hurry up if I want to get to 30 sec and 5 pull-ups!

Friday, October 28, 2011


I have been working really hard to lose 10 pounds by Thanksgiving.  I have been extremely conscious of my diet.  I have made sure to avoid going back for seconds, and if I do, I make sure to take more vegetables than anything else.  I have been very aware of my beer consumption.  If I overindulge on beer, I make sure not to overindulge on food, and vice versa.  Also, I have not been consuming beer unless I feel like the occasion calls for it, i.e. wienie roasts, guy's nights out, Oktoberfest, etc.

I have been working out very hard, and have not missed a single day!  I have worked hard to improve on my sprint times, pull-up reps, and stair step speed!  I have added maneuvers that I have not done in over 10 years like squats and cleans.

And all of that work and discipline has been paying off; I have lost 3 pounds in the last 2 weeks!

And then yesterday, Katie and I closed on the refinance mortgage on our home.  We saved a ton of money in interest, will possibly pay off our home before the kids graduate from high school (just in time to pay for college!), and for some odd reason it worked out that we do not have to make a mortgage payment in November!  Right after the closing, Katie and I decided that we should go out and celebrate with a dinner out.

There were several options that we had for dinner.  Some of them have healthier options like the local pubs that we have.  There are possible healthy choices at Mexican, but the chips and salsa usually blow it for me.  There is of course pizza which is not necessarily healthy, but I can control the portions more easily.  And then there is the Chinese buffet!

I don't know what it is but I really like Chinese buffets.  Beyond the fat and calories, I know there are very serious concerns for food-borne illnesses at a Chinese buffet.  However, I just really enjoy the food available, crab rangoons, egg rolls, fried rice, General Tso's Chicken, Spicy Chicken, oil-laden green beans, sugar dusted fried biscuits, and so much more.  I find portion control to be simple, but small portions of 15-20 items adds up to about 5 pounds of food!

Needless to say I lacked the self-control that made my efforts so successful and I completely overindulged.  Now this morning, I feel extremely guilty; I feel like I let myself down.  I have plenty of time to make up for my lack of discipline, but I have certainly thrown an obstacle in my way.  I also feel angry.  How can it be that I cannot screw up one time without screwing up my whole effort? I just feel terrible! I hope it's not Listeria!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I had a terrible night's sleep.  I went to bed around 9pm, but woke up at 11:42pm and could not get back to sleep.  At 12:30am, I went out to the family room and turned on the TV which usually puts me right to sleep, but at 1:30am I moved from the recliner to the couch in the hopes that my horizontal position would finally put me out of my misery.  I eventually did fall back to sleep, but was up again at 3:45am.  At that point, I settled on just getting up and starting my day.

My workout went pretty well.  I ran my first 200yd sprint in 33+ seconds, nearly a whole second faster than my previous best.  My pull ups did not go great, but I still did 2 in a row and 4 overall.  I did pump out 8 dips in a row on my first set; I was very happy with that.

Now I have had meetings all morning long, an on-line tutorial in a few minutes, and guests coming over tonight.  I need a freaking nap!

I know full well why I had trouble sleeping.  I have a couple of things going on at work that have me thinking and strategizing.  I am concerned about my son's upcoming surgery and more specifically his recovery.  And, in general, I just have a lot on my mind.  But now that I am at work (don't worry, I blog over my lunch hour) and supposed to be taking care of business, I really just want to lay down for a few hours.  My workout provided me with some energy early on in the day, but that has worn off.  I sure hope I can get some sleep tonight!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get Your $#!^ Together!

This past weekend, Katie and I participated in the Town & Gown 5K run at the Illinois State University Homecoming celebration.  The actual race went well.  I stayed back and ran with Katie, since it was her first run in 2 weeks after twisting her ankle and having surgery.  We finished in 32:49.5, which is a good time for Katie considering her interrupted training.

The slower pace aloud me to really enjoy the run.  I was able to cheer Katie on and get a couple of action photos.  And I really enjoyed the interaction with the participants and spectators.  I saw an 8 year old boy running the race with his father.  I asked his dad how old his son was and how many races he had competed in.  this was his second 5K and I was very impressed.  Plus, it got me excited to train and race with my own son next spring!

The picture at the top of this post would make you think that the slogan for Homecoming was "Get in the Game", and maybe that is the official slogan, but all over town were streetlight banners that read "Spread the Red!"  I got such a kick out of that phrase.  I just kept repeating it over and over.  It still makes me giggle.

While the race itself was entertaining, the organization of the event was terrible.  Katie had complained at length about website and registration process.  And when I checked out the webpage, looking for a map, the confusion was easily recognizable.  The race map also included the parade route and what seemed to be a couple of other notations.  There was a race blog that was filled with people's questions and the organizer's poor responses. 

On race day, when we went to check in, the attendant said that we were not registered.  Katie said that was not possible as she had a confirmation (which we failed to print out) and our credit card had already been charged!  The attendant said something about the site having problems for a couple of days, but that he was sure that all registrants had been accounted for.  Then, I heard a volunteer whisper "Another one?  That makes two."  Obviously, the webmaster had failed to find at least one other registrant!  The guy gave us new bib numbers and did not charge us anything additional, but we did not get goody bags or shirts (until Katie asked one of the nice volunteers if we could have a leftover shirt and they gave us a couple).  There must have been quite a few mistakes because the volunteers had run out of goody bags before the race even started.

It was pretty cold out the morning of the race, so some of us headed into the brand new student fitness center to keep warm.  While initially inviting, as more and more participants came in, looked around, and used the facilities, the staff there became a bit more apprehensive about our presence.  They even announced over the loud speaker that everyone was to stay in the atrium area.  I don't know where anyone else had wondered off to, but the staff must really not have liked it.

The finish of the race was good enough.  They had some water, clif bars, and bagels (with cream cheese!).  they had a table full of medals that Katie and I thought were for participants, especially since they were right at the end of the food line.  We started to grab a couple until we overhear someone say that the medals are for the different winners.  We coolly placed the medals back where we found them and headed off.

The organization of the event was definitely frustrating, but it was also a big eye opener for me.  I have mention on a couple of occasions that I may want to organize a race in my community.  I became very aware that I had better have my shit together, if I want people to have a good experience at any race I am associated with!

Note: I weighed in yesterday for the first week of my 6 weeks to lose 10 pounds before Thanksgiving, 192lbs, down 2 pounds since last week.  Yeah!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Joy and Pain

I have mixed emotions about my Tuesday workouts.  On the one hand, I enjoy the physicality of the workout, and on the other, the workout is very difficult and hard on my body.

My new workout routine means that on Tuesdays, I jog the 1+ miles to the high school track to warm up. I sprint 800 yds in 200 yard intervals with 200 yard jogging in between.  Then I do, between 15 and 20 successive standing broad jumps, run up and down 10 flights of stadium stairs at the football field, and jog over to the playground for pull-ups, chin-ups, tricep extensions, and dips.  Then I jog the 1+ miles home to cool down.

I enjoy the jogging as time to get outside and just really stretch my legs, think about life, and enjoy the quiet. However, part of the last 1/4 mile is on an uphill, which can be exerting after the workout is complete.

I love the physicality of the sprints.  Honestly, when was the last time any of us have run out on a dead sprint for anything?  It is extremely intoxicating.  My first 200yd sprint today I completed in 34 seconds!  I was extremely pleased with that number!  I know it is far from setting any sort of land speed record, but I feel like it is pretty good for a man my age.  I would like to see me run a 30 second 200yd dash before winter really sets in.  The remainder of my sprints are not nearly as fast, but I push myself hard, and by the end I am breathing very heavy.

There is nothing I like about the bounds (successive broad jumps).  I am a terrible jumper and I feel lucky not to fall on my face.  However, I would like to get better and I think this training will help.  Plus, I read somewhere that a person should go out and work on something they suck at; I suck at jumping! 

The stadium stairs are cool.  I feel as though they may help with my difficulty with hills, but sometimes I wish there was more steps in a row than what exists at our stadium.

I am getting really geeked about the playground work.  My pull ups are coming along.  I would like to do 5 in a row before the snow falls.  And I recently added the dips into the playground work and I have been pretty impressed with how well I have been doing.  I can crank out 2 sets of 5 dips before I am falling apart.

Overall, I find a lot of joy in my Tuesday workouts!  My success at the physical work makes me very happy.  Plus, I am anxious to see greater results.  However, the workout does leave me in some pain.  My body is drained and my muscles really feel the sum of all the parts.  But, no pain, no gain, right?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I have a few things that I need to cover, but none of them individually would make an entire post.  So you get them all in no discernible order.

1.  I did 3 pull-ups in one shot today on the playground.  I have never done 3 pull-ups in a row, ever!  I think that may have scored a C or better on those Presidential Skills Tests in school.  I think my 7th grade gym teacher, Coach Bob, would be proud.  I did 6 pull-ups total, plus 6 chin-ups, 20 tricep extensions, and 10 dips.  I think it is working!

2.  I couldn't sleep last night very well, so I watched the "World's Fittest Man" competition on ESPN2.  It is a competition where contestants perform all manner of CrossFit exercises.  First off, those contestants are freaking amazing!  Second, I think I have come up with a couple of different moves I can try if I get complacent with what I am doing now.  I need to build a box to jump from.

3.  I have 2 more races scheduled in the next month.  The first is the 5K race at Illinois State's Homecoming celebration.  The race starts at 7am; that is really early, even for a race!  Katie is very concerned about her ability to run so soon after her surgery.  We have a plan to make her more comfortable, and even though I have an inkling to burn up the course, I think I am going to stay back and run with Katie.  We don't get to run together very often, and this would be a great opportunity.  Plus, if I wasn't with her, all I would be able to think about was if she was okay.  The second race is the Allerton Trail run.  It is one of only 2 races in Monticello all year, and when I used to work at the park, the race always intrigued me.  I have never run a race on a trail, so that will be a new experience.  However, I am very concerned about shoe selection.  I don't want to ruin my current running shoe on the muddy trails, but I don't really have any other shoe suitable for running.  It is quite the dilemma!

4.  Lastly,  I gained some sympathy weight during Katie's recovery from surgery, and with the holidays looming near, I am concerned about gaining too much weight.  So, I have committed to losing 10 pounds before Thanksgiving.  I even proposed the idea to my weight loss support group and 2 of them have decided to join me!  That is awesome!  In keeping with this commitment and my need for accountability, I will be reporting my weight every Thursday on this blog.  Today I weigh 194 lbs.  I have 6 weeks to get to 184.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How To Help a Cancer Survivor

Recently, my wife was diagnosed with skin cancer.  She does an outstanding job of describing the emotional ups and downs that are associated with such a diagnoses on her blog.  Fortunately, the particular type of skin cancer that she had is very treatable and last Thursday we went to the dermatologist to have the cancer surgically removed.

Following the surgery, I was faced with the moral dilemma of how to support my incredible wife, who does so much for our family.  I eagerly prepared myself to take care of all the little and big things around the house so that she could get the much needed rest she deserved.  Also, I prepared to indulge my wife's every whim as she celebrated her new cancer-free life.  However, I was wholly unprepared for exactly what that commitment would mean to my fitness.

The day before the surgery and immediately after both of us having success on our weekly weigh-in, Katie says to me that she is going to indulge in what might be considered "unhealthy" diet practices.  I encourage her to do so and I told her I would do my best to support her decision.  So, almost immediately after her surgery we drove over to Chili's and had a delicious lunch that included an extremely decadent dessert.  Shortly after we went home the party really got started when her friends brought over a new 6-person beer bong!  It may sound a little strange, but my wife is a champion beerbonger!  So, we funneled a couple of beer each and sat down to a meatloaf dinner provided by our neighbor.  The next day, I wanted to treat the kids who had been so patient and understanding with a trip to McDonalds.  The kids each got a Happy Meal and since I thought I deserved a bit of a treat as well, I had a quarter pounder and fries!  My parents came to town on Saturday.  My parents, Katie's parents, Katie, the kids, and I all went to the German restaurant in Gibson City, where I had a healthy portion of smoked sausage spread, weiner schnitzel, bread pudding for dessert and a liter and a half of German Oktoberfest beer!  Everyone was kind of tired the next morning, so we went out to breakfast and I had a huge Irish skillet with corned beef hash, eggs and sausage gravy.  Finally after everyone had left, Katie and I treated ourselves to the last of the caramel brownies a friend had made.  And what is a brownie without a scoop of ice cream?

All in all, I am fairly certain I was consuming about 7000 calories a day.  At least I was a supportive husband?!  Katie has been brave enough to step onto the scale.  I on the other hand have taken to shitting in the woods as to avoid being in the presence of the scale.  I have continued to get out for my regular workouts but essentially, I am writing this week off.  I may think about getting back on the scale next Wednesday. 

The real moral to this story is that my wife is cancer-free and I could not be any happier!  I love you with all of my heart, Katie!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You Can't Triple Stamp a Double Stamp

...but you can re-post a post from another blog.

When Dan Malinski of Cubicle Dad put out a request for guest bloggers for "Dads who run", I jumped at the chance to write a post.  You can check it out here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Seeing Results

The new workouts are already starting to pay dividends!  I have lost 4 pounds since last Thursday! 

My diet has been okay.  I have had a couple of splurges, but on the good days I have been eating lots of salads and other health-conscious meals.  I continue to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables at snack times.  I have begun drinking the occasional beer as well (Thank God!) and had one night with the kids and a bowl of ice cream, but overall I think I would give myself a B+, good but not great.

The workouts have been a work in progress as I try to find a new routine.  I did throw in a half mile swim last week, but because of expense ($11 for entrance and a towel!!!!) will not be doing that on a regular basis.  I had an interesting workout today.  I jogged one mile to the high school track to warm up, then sprinted two 400m laps with a 400m cool down in between.  I ran my first lap in 1:20.  I thought that was pretty good for a fat, old guy.  I followed up the track with about 30 "bounds" (think standing broad jump over and over and over...), then I ran one time through the stadium stairs and went over to the grade school for some more pull-ups and dips.  I finished it all off with another mile jog back home.  I am sure that I will eventually tire of these workouts as well, but for now I find the switch to be exciting and my body seems to be responding very well!

But the most exciting part has got to be watching the scale weigh a little less every morning.  It is amazing the kind of motivation that one gets as soon as they start seeing results!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"He's a big, dumb animal, folks."

"What's next?"  It is the same question that I ask myself after each big accomplishment.  Since I just finish my first half marathon, I was again faced with this familiar question.  But this time more than others, I feel as though I have a pretty good answer.

I have a handful of races that I would like to compete in over the next 2 months.  There are a couple of 5K's and one 5.5 mile trail run, nothing too serious.  My biggest effort is going towards losing some weight and improving my overall fitness.  I understand that running has been very helpful moving towards these goals, but over the last few months my weight loss has again stalled.  Additionally considering my epic bonk at the half marathon, I feel as though I could improve my fitness level a bit more. To that end and in my infinite wisdom, I have decided to throw my body a little curve ball and try some cross training.

I have heard some scuttlebutt about the crossfit craze from friends and on a couple of blogs recently.  I looked into some info on the web.  While I cannot afford to join a gym that has a crossfit program, I have seen a few general lifts and movements that I can do at home or out on a run, that should keep my body guessing and hopefully improve my fitness.

By Wednesday, I felt as though my body had recovered enough from my half marathon that I could lift some weights while Katie was out on her run.  I settled on 4 sets of 10 burpees, 20 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, 20 lunges (10 each leg), 10 squats, and 10 cleans.  The experience went pretty well overall.  I had not done a burpee in probably 20 years.  While I am confident in its ability to help my fitness, I did not find the burpee to be terribly difficult.  I was impressed with my push-ups; I don't know when I have ever done 80 push-ups in one session.  The sit-ups were a bit disappointing and I may have to consider a separate ab/core workout.  The clean went fine.  I severely decreased my weight in order to make sure I was comfortable with the form. The toughest parts were the lunges and squats.  I used a small amount of weight for both maneuvers, and was shocked at how difficult they were for me.  When I was in high school (yes, I do understand that was over 15 years ago!), I could squat over 350lbs probably a dozen times, maybe more.  I had 45 pounds on my shoulders and my legs were burning when I was done with the workout.  But I was happy!  I was sweaty, my heart rate was up, and I could feel my body reacting to the shock.

Today, was my run day.  I was sore (really sore) from the workout the day before, but I am truly trying to take an aggressive attitude towards these workouts. So, I went out and damn near sprinted a 6:15 mile to the elementary school, went around back to the playground and did 4 or 5 pull-ups, 6 chin ups,and 40 elevated tricep extensions.  Then, I finished with a relatively slow 2 mile run home. I need to clarify these statements with the fact that I have never completed more than a couple of pull-ups.  I have always carried extra body weight and never had a tremendous amount of upper body strength.  So, I am feeling great about the work!

There is only one problem...I am so sore that I can barely walk today.  If my pencil falls to the ground, I am writing it off as a loss because I may make it down to to the pencil, but there is no way I am getting back up!  I am so sore it hurts to cross my arms.  My glutes (ass cheeks) hurt so bad I can't sit for too long before I have hobble around the storeroom to stretch them back out.  The only good thing about this whole situation is that I think the workouts might do the trick, if only I survive to talk about it!  And what does a dumbass like me decide to do with a night to himself? Oh, I signed up to go swimming this evening at the University pool.  It should be okay, I hear that swimming is very low impact.

"He's a big, dumb animal, folks."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My First Half Marathon Sufferfest!

I am having a terrible time writing this post.  I find that I want to be witty.  I want to reference earlier posts.  but sadly I just don't think I have it in me yet.  So, all I can do is write what I remember, as I remember it.  Hopefully, it turns out to be a decent post.

I slept rather poorly the night before the race.  I had been trying to make sure that I was well hydrated, so I had been drinking several liters of water for 2 days.  I had to get up to pee 2 or 3 times in the night.  Finally I was up for good about 4:15am, when I had to poop.  Sadly, I was happy to be getting a good morning poop out of the way.  There had been some thunder throughout the night, that had me nervous.  When we got into the car at 5:30am, It was cold outside and was starting to rain.  I debated a lot about what clothing I was going to wear,but as the rain cleared I settles on just shirt and shorts, no long sleeves.  That decision turned out just fine.  When we got to the starting area I went to the bathroom one more time, lubed up my nipples, and stretched out.  I was thankful to have Katie with me.  We had good conversation; it kept me feeling light hearted.  I went for a 2 minute warm-up jog, and I was feeling good.  I removed my sweatshirt, put on my iPod, kissed Katie goodbye, and headed for the starting area.

When I got in the corral, I was unsure where I should be lining up.  The pacer for the 1:45 half marathon was easy to pick out, she had a giant floral arrangement on her head.  But I knew I would want to stay ahead of her.  The next pacer I saw was the 3:25 full marathon pacer.  A little bit closer to my goal so I settled on staying with him.  I started a couple of conversations with nearby runners.  I met Brett who had the coolest little tool that I had seen in awhile.  He had a temporary tatoo that had all of the split times for his goal pace.  You can check out the product here.  Suddenly, a pacer showed up with a 1:40 half marathon time written on his sign.  That was the guy, Dominic, that I wanted to race with.  If I could keep him insight, I knew I would be able to achieve my goal.

I turned on my iPod and watched as all of the dignitaries made their speeches.  Bart Yasso was there and spoke, which was pretty cool, but I didn't care about the 4 mayors of the Quad Cities.  Finally it was time to go and the gun went off.  I moved out quickly, but not as quickly as some of the pacers.  I caught and passed the 3:25 full marathon pacer, then I came upon Dominic and his 1:40 sign.  I stuck next to him for a while, and probably should have stayed there or even further behind him.  Instead, I came up with the ill-advised plan of staying in front of Dominic.  My theory being that I would stay ahead of pace while running and then let Dominic catch up while I took a walking break and drank some Gatorade.  I had my stop pre-planned according to the map the website provided.  I would be stopping at about 5 miles for some Gatorade and again around 8 miles.  Anyway, I put Dominic behind me and hit my stride.  I knew I was moving fast, but I felt pretty good.  The race took onto Interstate 74 from Illinois, over the Mississippi River, and into Iowa.  I have driven over this exact bridge several times in my life, and not once did I ever consider the incline of the on-ramp or the bridge itself as it crosses the expanse of the river.  I will tell you now it's freaking steep!  I shortened my stride and brought my arms up as I think I read somewhere before.  The first incline went well and I descended into Iowa.

Immediately, the course exited the interstate turned onto Kimberly Road in Bettendorf, IA.  I had investigated the topography of this portion of the race, as I was unfamiliar with this area specifically.  I knew it was going to be uphill again.  At the bottom of the hill I hit the 2 mile mark at 15:08, a little fast but again I thought it would work into my plan of staying in front of Dominic.  As I began the ascent of Kimberly Road I again shortened my stride and brought my arms up.  It seemed to help for awhile, but I began to slow a bit as the incline seemed to last far too long.  I hit 3 miles at 22:40, still fast but I was feeling pretty good with my plan.  The other runners and I finally crested the hill and hit the first decline of the entire race.  It felt great to really stretch out my my legs.  Then I came across a real surprise.  A girl was standing on the side of the road holding a Gatorade sign.  It was the first refreshment support of the race and I was supposed to see that it had Gatorade; that was not what the map said it would be.  As this break came a little earlier than expected and was on the first downhill of the race, I decided to for go the nutrition in favor of the speed.  I was still planning on stopping around mile 5 for my first break.

Mile 4 went by at 30:08, then mile 5 at 37:46.  No sign of the Gatorade station yet, but I was sure it was just around the corner.  Thankfully, the route had turned parallel to the river and was running relatively flat, but I knew I had been pushing hard and my "fuel" stores were running desperately low.  By mile 6, I was  full-on freaking out.  I had no water or caloric intake for 6 miles, and I had pushed my body much harder than I should have.  Finally, I saw the next refreshment station.  I was elated.  Then I was immediately heartbroken.  The station only had GU gels, but I was desperate so I grabbed one, vanilla bean, ripped it open, held my breath, and squirted less than a teaspoon full of gel into my mouth.  I was immediately overcome by the experience.  I had never had a GU gel before and was only taking one because I was in a bad situation.  However, it was a very bad decision.  The gel had the texture of thicker-than-normal toothpaste and while I am sure vanilla bean is a great disguise for regular ingredients, the sweetness of the flavor was overwhelming.  I immediately spit it out.

I crossed the 10K mark (6.2 miles) at 46:54.  I was averaging better than 7:35 per mile, but I was fading fast!  Finally near mile 7, I came across the Gatorade station that I had been waiting for.  I held up two fingers and yelled, "Two, please!"  I grabbed two cups and pulled off to the side to walk.  No sooner had I stepped to the side, than Dominic and the 1:40 pace group ran by me.  "SHIT!"  I caught my breath as best as I could, downed the two cups of Gatorade, and started off again.  By this point Dominic was about 200 yards ahead of me, yet it seemed as though he was pulling away rather than getting closer.

The next thing that happened was a great surprise.  As I am running along, I hear a runner say, "Fulton?!"  I turned and running next to me was Matt "Dawg" Davis.  Dawg has been one of my best friend in the whole world since I was 4 years old.  He has been present at some of the most stupid events of my life (which will remain unmentioned) and some of the best (he was a groomsman at my wedding).  Dawg is also one of those friends that I do not have to speak with for years, but the moment we see each other it is like we have never been apart.  Matt and I embraced in a rather uncomfortable hug.  Not because of any weirdness or the fact that it was two guys embracing, but because we were hugging while continuing to run at a pretty brisk pace with other runners around us.  We broke the hug after a few steps and I asked if he was running the full marathon, and he confirmed my suspicion.  I knew that Matt had taken up running in recent years, but I was amazed to know that he was already at the level of marathon.  Dawg introduced me to his running mate, Joe, and said how we had grown up together.  Dawg asked how I was doing.  I responded that I was struggling.  He said "Don't worry, you over half way there!"  I wished each other good luck and parted ways, as he and Joe were moving much faster than I at this point in the race.  Dawg would finish his first full marathon in 3:24, impressive by most any measure.

Very soon I turned off of the river path and back onto the roads.  But the speed and the lack of nutrition had taking its toll.  Even the small incline from the river to the streets of Rock Island had my legs burning.  I was nearing another bridge over the river to Arsenal Island, and before I could tackle another incline I had to stop and walk for a few meters.  I caught my breath, prepared for the next short incline and jogged up the hill to the arsenal bridge.  This bridge was terrible!  It was a metal grated bridge which organizers had laid a 3 foot wide carpet runner on.  I was shocked when I was finally able to grasp the entire situation.  Most people were able to stick to the carpeted path, but some were forced to the metal mesh in order to pass runners in front of them.  While running across the bridge, my energy level began to wain significantly, my run turned to more of a jog. My form was so sloppy that I was barely picking my feet up.  Suddenly, I stumbled on the carpet.  Not just a little slip, but a full-on flailing trip that nearly sent me to the surface of the bridge.  Thinking back, if I had gone down on the metal surface of that bridge it could have put me completely out of the race, OUCH!  Fortunately, I recovered before face planting, but my energy levels were almost fully depleted. 

A couple hundred meters after crossing the bridge to Arsenal Island I had to stop and walk again.  I had given up on my hopes of finishing sub-1:41.  Dominic was no longer in sight and I knew the clock was against me know. As my trip across Arsenal Island wore on, my condition became worse.  With each hill that I came across, I felt like Sisyphus pushing the boulder only to see it roll back down again.  My blood sugar levels were getting dangerously low, as well.  I remember coming across one station that was supposed to be water and Gatorade.  At the bottom of the hill was water, but the Gatorade was at the top and I remember feeling like some cruel joke was being played out.  How could the Gatorade that I needed so badly be at the top of another damn hill?!  As I got the Gatorade, I stopped and walked again, but as I finished my two cups I remember thinking "That is not enough; I am screwed."

At about mile 10.5, I was struggling mightily.  I found that I could only run about 100 to 200 yards before my legs would start cramping up, and I would have to slow to a walk.  Other runners were very encouraging, cheering me on to "keep it up" or "you're almost there", but I was cooked.  Finally, I heard somebody from the crowd say to a runner right behind me, " I love your hat!"  I knew it was the 1:45 pacer.  And thank goodness it was.  That woman was wonderful.  I told her that I hoped I would not see her the entire race.  She was full of encouragement and energy.  She asked me to run with her for a little while and I did for a very little while, but I was forced to say to her that I could not keep up.  She told me how great I looked, that my hands were relaxed (I knew it was because I did not have the energy to close them), and to keep moving forward.  She was great!

I had finally resigned to running when I could and walking when I had to.  I knew my condition was becoming a crisis because my vision began to deteriorate and I started seeing "stars" for lack of a better term.  There were lines of glowing geometric shapes twinkling on the periphery of my vision.  I was starting to get pretty worried.  My worry or condition must have been showing through, because a volunteer looked at me and asked if I was okay; I must have looked bad.  I told him that I needed sugar, and he said it was up (another freaking hill!) and around the corner.  That little jaunt felt like a mile and a half, but eventually I came to the station that he spoke of.  They were giving out oranges and bananas.  What a great idea!  I grabbed 3 orange sections and grasped for a banana but it slipped out of my hands.  The oranges were terrible and fibrous, but I sucked the juice out of those things like it was my life's blood.  Shortly after I heard sirens, but was pretty sure they were real and not some delusion.  It was the escort for the first marathoners.  I was just completing my twelfth mile and these guys were clipping past mile 19 for them.  Those athletes are absolutely amazing! 

Finally I came to the last bridge.  My energy had picked up a little from the oranges and I decided to run to the crest of the bridge.  I walked for a bit at the top, and finally decided that it was time to finish the race running.  The exit ramp of the bridge was steep enough that I felt as though my legs would give out and I would just rill down, but again I made it.  I turned the corner, saw the finish line and attempted to push with all I had left, but it wasn't much.  My wife,parents, and kids were on the sidelines.  I saw them cheering me on.  I knew I had failed at my goal, but nothing can make you feel more like a winner than your kids holding signs, smiling and cheering you on, no matter if you were in first or last place.  That was probably the best feeling of the race.

 I crossed the finish line, 1:50:44.  Ten minutes over my goal, but when I finished I screamed like a wounded warrior anyway!  I had done it, completed my first half marathon.  Immediately afterwards I would have told you that I would never run another half again.  The pain and the suffering were just too great.  But even now a couple of days later and I am estimating when I can run another one, how I could do it better, and accomplishing my goal.

When I looked a the stats later, I began to feel a bit better about my performance.  I finished 338 of 1638 runners and 36 of 100 male runners between the ages of 30-34.  Those are pretty good looking stats if I do say so myself.  And probably motivation enough for me to keep trying these races.

I did learn a few things:

1.  I overestimated my physical fitness.  I went entirely too fast out of the gates, and should have slowed down a bit at the beginning.  Additionally, I would have been better off if I was a few pounds lighter.

2.  I underestimated the terrain.  I knew this area was hilly and I knew that the first bridge and Kimberly Road were very steep, but I had no idea how steep nor how much it would take out of  me to climb them.  I need to work more hill training into my normal routine.

3.  I need to wok on better in-race nutrition and I never should have passed that first Gatorade station.

But what is the use of learning anything if you don't get the chance to use your knowledge?  So, I guess I will have to try another one of these things.  I sure hope it goes at least a little better.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Beware of this Man!

"Are you talkin' to me?  Are you talkin' to me?  Well, I don't see anybody else here.  So you must be talkin' to me."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Should I Be Nervous?

Here I sit just 3 days from my first half marathon and I wonder if I should be nervous?  I know that I have worked hard during my training.  I have completed a 12 mile run.  I feel confident that I can finish the distance.  Recently I have had some of my fastest runs, and I feel confident that I can achieve my goal time (Again, you're going down Ohno!). And I honestly question if I am not a little too cocky.

My allergies have been horrendous with the start of the harvest season, but I have been taking Allegra and it seems to have worked with none of the side effects of other drugs.  My asthma has started bugging me along with my allergies, but I have taken a few puffs of my inhaler and I seem to feel fine.  My back still gets a little tired and stiff in the evenings, but I feel markedly better thanks to Dr. Jackson.  But shouldn't these concerns be bothering me a little bit more?

I guess I am ready.  We will just have to see how it all turns out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Final Countdown

Believe it or not that is still one of my friend's, Benj's, favorite songs, and I have to admit that there is something about it, besides the big hair and synthesizer, that really gets me going.

That is right; it is the Final Countdown.  My first half marathon takes place in just 5 short days, but that is not what I am counting down to.  In just 3 days, I will be cutting my hair into a mohawk and shaving my goatee down to a moustache (don't worry, I will post some pictures).  No real reason other than I wanted to do something fun for the race, but this is not what I am counting down to either.  My countdown is for something much more important than any of these things.  I am counting down to my first post-race beer.

Back in August, I posted that I was going to be giving up drinking any alcohol until my half was finished.  I had tried to commit to just 7 drinks a week, but was not very successful, so I went Full Monty and gave up the sauce entirely until I was finished.  This has been the biggest commitment to my training, and if I had to do it over again I do not know if I would make the same decision.  I have been to a couple of guy's nights out, a 5 year old's birthday party (yes, there was plenty of alcohol there), and 2 tailgates with hardly a sip of alcohol.  I have been to our annual block party and several evening on the neighbor's back porch and stayed stone cold sober for them all.  I am not saying that one must consume alcohol to enjoy these things, and I have not regretted feeling good every weekend morning.  However, I would have enjoyed a good malt beverage or two at many of these events.  And sadly, my lack of consumption has not translated into greater weight loss, mostly because I have over compensated with food.  Simply, I have missed the taste of a good beer on a sunny summer day.  I think there is almost nothing more American than drinking a cold beer and grilling some good food in the parking lot of a college football game.

Fortunately for me, the half marathon is almost finished.  I am going to smear Apolo Ohno's personal best all over the course. And when I finish the race, I am going to receive my medal and walk straight over to the complementary beer tent (Thank you, Miller Brewing Co.) and have my first beer in almost 2 months.  I know it will be before 10am, but I think I deserve it.  Hell, I've been counting on it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm Going to Beat Apolo Anton Ohno

So Katie asked me the other day how I was feeling about my upcoming half marathon, and I have to admit that I had a pretty disheartening answer.  I told her that the race had become somewhat of an inconvenience.  I couldn't believe that something that I had worked so hard for, paid good money to do, and saw as a true challenge to my fitness had become an inconvenience, but the truth was that it felt that way.

My training had come to a bit of a roadblock due to my nagging back injury.  The chiropractic care has been critical to my recovery, but I have been nursing things along as my back still gets sore and tired everyday.  But prior to injuring my back I had completed a 12 mile run, so I felt as though I could finish the race even if I had to take it slow.  There in lies some of the problem.  I do not want to just finish the race.  I would like to burn it up. But again I hadn't really set any sort of time goals other than finishing in less than 2 hours, hoping for 1:45, and fascinating about 1:35.

What does any of this have to with Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Anton Ohno?  Simple, I have decided I am going to beat this Olympian at his own game.  No, not short track speed skating!  This guy would have me eating so much shaved ice I would look like snowcone.  However, Ohno has shaken up his training a bit and committed to running this year's New York Marathon.  Again, I will not be committing to any such distance, but in preparation for his marathon, Ohno recently ran in the Chicago Half Marathon on Sept. 11.  The world class athlete finished 13.1 miles in 1:40:59, a very respectable time, and in the process has given me enthusiasm for my own race again.

I am going to beat Apolo Anton Ohno's half marathon time of 1:40:59.  That means that I will have to average a mile every 7:42 for 13.1 miles.  With my new-found enthusiasm I went out for a 5-mile run this morning.  I ran 5 miles in 36:25; that's 7:17 per mile!  I felt pumped!  It was tough, but I feel great this afternoon.  I have all the confidence in the world that I can do this! You're goin' down, Ohno!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's a Crazy, Mixed Up World

I want a blender.  Katie and I used to have a blender.  We registered for it for our wedding.  And like most things that you register for your wedding, we hardly used it.  Then we took the blender over to a friend's house for a cocktail party and it burnt up on chopping ice.  I was not surprised.  The blender was affordable, and therefore not the most durable of things in the world.  Nor was I really broken up over it breaking down.  Like I said just a second ago we hardly used the thing.  We would make the occasional milkshake and maybe a couple of other recipes, but really not too much.

Why now do I want a blender?  Simple, because I do not have one.  But also I received this recent article from Runner's World about nutritious smoothies.  The smoothies sound really good, and sometimes (i.e. right now) I fascinate about being a creator and consumer of delicious, nutritious smoothies. I want to include all manner of antioxidant-loaded, carcinogen-fighting, cholestorol-lowering fruits and vegetables.  I want boost my metabolism and lower my fat with greek yogurt and whey protein.  I want to be a smoothie kind of guy.

There are just a few problem with this fascination; number one being I am not a smoothie kind of guy.  I sit here and think that these concoctions will be nutritious and delicious, but the fact remains that pureed spinach has a tendancy to taste like sand and a pint of heavy cream is about the only thing that can cover it up!  Plus I am a cheap bastard.  The moment I thought about getting a blender, I questioned if I might be able to find one at the resale store.  I am sure I could find a blender there, but not the kind that could whip through a carrot at 10,000 rpm.  A real smoothie making machine/blender cost a pretty penny.  When you add the cost of the fresh produce my dreams begin to crumble.  Don't get me wrong, I buy and eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies now.  But when you emascerate these items within an inch of their lives, it simply takes more of them to reach a satisfying volume.  When you add in the cost whey protein and ground flaxseed, you begin to relate to the alcoholics drinking their way into a bankruptcy.

It's a crazy, mixed up world we live in, and sometimes its mixed in a blender.  But for now, this guy is going to get his veggies the old-fashioned way, covered in ranch dressing (fat-free, of course)!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Answer

I you asked someone "Which former juvenile delinquent and NBA player went by the nickname 'The Answer'?", the answer would be Allen Iverson.  If you asked someone "How many calories are in a pound?", the answer used to be 3500 calories.  But according to a recent email that I got from the Livestrong Foundation, that answer maybe as ineffectual as Iverson.

It used to be that one could set their weight loss plans on the idea that one pound was 3500 calories.  If one wanted to lose any weight, one must either burn extra calories from exercise or consume fewer calories in their diet, or usually some combination of the two.  I subscribe to this theory wholeheartedly; faithfully tracking my calories consumed and calories burned.  After my fitness evaluation, I adjusted my calorie deficits to include a higher than estimated basal rate.  I wrote a whole spreadsheet to calculate my needed and burned calories that included how many grams should be protein and how many should be carbs.  Now that I read this article that it takes different calorie deficits to equal one pound for different people, it kind of flies in the face of everything that I have been doing.  But you want to know something?  I am alright with it.  In fact, I believe that I am a shining example of the differences discussed in the article. 

I have been very good with calorie counting and lost almost no weight at all.  There are weeks where I can show a 3500-4000 calories deficit and have actually not changed weight on the scale at all.  Then there can be other weeks where I splurge and show no calorie deficit, but I lose 2 pounds on the scale.  It makes absolutely no sense if you use the theory of 3500 calories to 1 pound.

The biggest thing that I can take from the article is that you have got to find what works for you.  I ate low/no carb for a long time and lost a lot of weight in the process, but eventually I started eating carbs again.  I gained a couple of pounds back, but not nearly as much as I lost.  I run and bike to burn extra calories, but I also drink beer and have dessert. I feel confident that I have found the answer.  I will work hard and be disciplined, but I will never forget to have fun and enjoy all the things that life has to offer.  Somewhere in that answer is the balance that will help me to get fit, stay healthy, be happy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back Crackin'

So last Thursday I went out for my morning run.  I was supposed to run 5 miles at a quick pace, but I had gotten up late and was feeling pretty tired.  I settled on a 3-4 mile run at whatever pace felt comfortable.  It was cooler than normal on that morning and since I was already late I failed to stretch and warm-up as much as I should have.  I got my iPod started, press the start button on my stopwatch and started off on a pretty leisurely jog.  I was even kind of shocked at how slow I was running, but honestly I didn't feel as though I could go any faster.  then just a couple of hundred yards into my run I got a real shock.

I remember it so clearly.  Absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary.  The road was relatively flat; there weren't any cracks or uneven spots.  I didn't trip on my own feet or get startled by a unseen dog.  I was just running at an ordinary gait and when my right foot struck the ground, an "electric" pulse shot down my right leg and up my back.  Now, it seems like the feeling lasted forever, but at the time it was over before I knew what had happened.  I stopped jogging immediately, thought to myself "that was weird", stretched down to my toes a couple of times, stood up and twisted from side to side, and then went off running again.

But everything had changed.  I no longer felt like I had an ordinary stride.  I felt like I was hunched over, and some smaller shocks ran through my leg and spine.  I turned around and walked home.  By the time I got there my back had really started to tighten up.  I lay on the floor and tried to stretch but nothing was helping.  I stayed home from work for the next 2 days, laying on my back, switching back and forth between ice packs and a heating pad.  Eventually, Katie found me some drugs so I could at least move a bit more, but really all I did was sleep.  I lasted through the weekend, but by Monday I was tired of feeling this way and I had to get back to work.  I struggled through the workday and called a chiropractor, our friend Dr. Clint Jackson.  Clint got me in to see him, ran a couple of tests and performed some maintenance adjustments until he could confirm my condition.  the next day he confirmed that I had a pinched nerve in my lower back (and a couple of other places), he performed a couple of manipulations, and by the next morning I honestly felt better.  I am going to see Dr. Jackson frequently over the next 4 weeks leading up to the half marathon.  I am certain he has me on the mends and soon I will be back to running (which I haven't done since that Thursday morning!).  Thank you, Clint!

I had to jump through a couple of hoops to get approved for chiropractic care by my insurance company.  It really wasn't too awful, but it just seems so ridiculous to me.  It makes so much sense that regular chiropractic care helps the body to fight off disease and leads to an overall healthier body, which would actually save the insurance companies and you and I quite a bit of money.  But instead the insurance company would much rather pay for a cortisol shot or muscle relaxers, since I wouldn't even need a referral to get one of those.

Anyway, if my posts seem to be few and far between it's because I am spending my lunch hours getting my back cracked by Dr. Clint!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Have An Admirer!

Last Saturday, I got up early to run my 12 miles before a scheduled golf outing with my neighbors.  As I was nearing the completion of my first 4 mile loop, a white Cadillac slowly passed by.  And as it did, an old man leaned out of the driver's window and said, "I admire you, young man."  I was a little shocked to have anyone speaking to me and I was even more shocked to be complimented by a passerby.  Now this old timer could have been making a bit of a pass at me, like old man Herbert up at the top, but I highly doubt it.  But the question of why this guy admired me kept me in a quandary for nearly the rest of the run.

Does he admire me because I am still physically able to run, something he may be unable to do in his advanced age?  Maybe.  But I think he could totally run if he took his time and started slowly.  Louis Zamperini, Olympic athlete, WWII POW, and the subject of the wildly popular book "Unbroken" (if you haven't read this book, you really should), was still running 6 minute miles into his 60's.  I have to work my ass off to run a sub-7 minute mile and I am only 34!  I certainly would like to continue to run well into my retirement and often use Zamperini as an example of what the human body is capable of enduring.

Maybe this guy admired me for being up early on a Saturday just to go for a run?  I hope so.  My Saturday runs usually have me finishing up around 7:30am.  At this time on the weekend, I have seen next to no one out on the streets or even in their yards.  It often saddens me that more people are not out enjoying the morning, going for a ride or a run, or just sitting on thier porch taking in some fresh morning air.  I worry that some people are sleeping away their lives or wasting their energy and time watching movies or chatting online late into the evening.  I worry even more that too many people are making dangerous choices with their health and lives; choices that will actually end up costing the rest of us a lot of money in health care costs as the incidence of preventable diseases increases.

The truth is I don't have the slightest idea why this guy admired me.  I am glad that he said something because it made me feel good to be admired.  And if he really was hitting on me, that's not so bad either; everybody like to feel attractive, even to 80 year old men.