Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life Just Isn't Fair!

I have been doing very well with my workouts and my diet.  The first week after my re-commitment to weight loss, I lost 4 pounds.  Since that time I have increased my running to 21 miles per week in preparation for a half marathon in September.  Katie and I have hardly eaten out at all and when we do, we make pretty good decisions for our dining selections.  I have kept the beer consumption under terrific control, including this past holiday weekend.

However, I may have made a few tactical errors in my food choices over the Memorial Day weekend.  We had 2 parties and a birthday celebration over the 3 days.  I kept the beer under control, which certainly helps with making good food choices, but I did have a couple pieces of peach pie and a tiny sliver of a cookie cake.  I went back for seconds at both parties, but I kept my portions pretty small.  Plus, I will reiterate, I did not miss a workout and ran 9 miles on Saturday!

But when I got on the scale this morning I had gained 6 pounds!  What the hell is that all about!  I had been a pretty good boy, yet I still gained an obnoxious amount of weight!  I still have another day before my official weigh-in on Wednesday, but I have to figure I am going to have a gain this week.  It just sucks!

I feel as though there are plenty of people who eat more than I do, drink more beer than I do, and workout much less than I do.  Yet, they don't seem to gain any weight.  I understand that everyone is different, and we each have our own struggles in life.  But I am certainly having a whoa-is-me moment about my struggles with weight.  I hate that I have to be so "good" all the time in order to expect any success!  I want to have some fun sometimes too, but I don't want it to come at the expense of my ultimate goals!  Maybe is am being a little selfish, but it just doesn't seem fair! 

 Anyway, I had a great Memorial Day weekend, and I hope you all did too!  Now I better get back to my ab contractions to burn off the celery I had for lunch!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are These Pants Wet, or Am I Just Happy To See You: A Love Story

When I stepped outside this morning for my run, it was sprinkling rain.  I normally choose not to run in the rain, but as the alternatives were to run on the treadmill, or skip the run entirely, which I have committed not to do, I went for a run.  It was only sprinkling.

Over the first mile, it continued to sprinkle, but overall the experience was alright.  The temperature was nice.  I wasn't getting too wet.  And the run was going well.  Just after completing the second mile, I noticed that the chest of my shirt was getting damp.  I also noticed that I was having a lot of run off from my head and face.  I was surprised that this run off would cause such dampness.  But my feet remained dry, which was honestly the most important part.  The thought of turning around and heading home crossed my mind more than once, but every time it did, I remembered my commitment to running.

Between miles 2 and 3 things got really interesting.  Not only was the chest of my shirt getting wet, but the whole darn thing was soaked!  Water was still cascading off my face, but as I looked around I realized that the rain had gone from sprinkle to steady.  The shirt began to stick to my entire torso and was very uncomfortable.  The funny thing about sweat-wicking shirts, they don't work so well in the pouring rain.  I considered my next course of action carefully.  I wanted to continue to run, but was getting very uncomfortable.  I grudgingly decided to remove the shirt.  There were a few problems to consider with this action.  First, I have never run shirtless and I am not flattered by my shirtless appearance.  Second, as this was my favorite running shirt I was not about to throw it aside, so I would have to hold it for the rest of the run.  Lastly, I was very curious how my HR monitor would work when entirely saturated.

As I completed mile 3, several things began to irritate me about this run.  The rain had now soaked through my shorts making me extremely uncomfortable and downright itchy, and the rain had lubricated my earbuds enough that I was having a lot of trouble keeping them in place.  I was adjusting my shorts and headphones about every other stride.  But at least my feet were still dry!

Finally, somewhere between miles 3 and 4, it happened.  The dampness had hit my feet!  It started slowly; just sort of a wet feeling on the tops of my feet.  But within a few strides, it was all over and there was a distinct "squish" with every foot strike.  There is nothing I hate more than wet underwear and socks, except maybe opera.

When I completed mile 4,  I had a good opportunity to cut the run short.  However, it would have only saved me a half of a mile.  So I continued on.  I inadvertently landed in a couple of puddles, but at that point it didn't matter at all.  I was soaking wet.  And you want to know something?  I LOVED IT!

It was really liberating running in that rain.  I felt as though the rain had trapped me inside so often, and I had finally broken free of its tyranny!  Sure, I was wet, but so what!  I would be dry soon.  It felt great to overcome this obstacle ( albeit, a small one) and complete my scheduled run.  I cannot promise that I will feel this way every time I run in the rain, but it sure felt great today!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Struggle Within

I was sent an email today from the Livestrong website that included a letter from the Editor; you can see it here.  It basically talks about those moments, or tipping points, in life especially related to health, where you have a choice to soldier on or pack it in.

I have those moments a lot.  When my family goes out for dinner, I have a choice to go ahead and order the patty melt, add bacon, with fries and a large chocolate malt or the grilled chicken salad w/ light ranch and a glass of water.  When the alarm goes off at 3:30am because its my long run and the kids need to leave early, I could shut off the alarm and go back to bed for another couple of hours or I can get out of bed and run.  I have to admit that I do not always make the most health-appropriate decision, but recently, more often than not, I am making the "good" choice.  When life gets tough, these good choices become a lot harder to make, for me at least.  I want to find comfort in food or sleep.  But again recently, I am finding the comfort in making the "good" choice.

I would like to say that all of this new found fortitude comes from my commitment to a healthy life, to grow old with my wife, and to be there for my children.  And much of it does come from these places.  However, for me, when I make these tough decisions, I am making them because I said I would do this.  I said it here on the blog and I said it to my weight support group. It is this accountability to others that has kept me in check.  I don't like reporting that I have gained weight; I don't like to fail others.  So for me, being accountable to others has helped me to make the right decision.

How do you find the motivation to make the right decision?  Are you still searching for it?  Let me know!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Class Citizens

As I stated in an earlier post, I was extremely pleased with the Illinois Marathon experience.  However, there was one particular situation with which I was disheartened.

At this particular race and many others across the country, the organizers offered several different competitions for its registrants.  There was a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and of course the marathon relay which I participated in.  I cannot speak for the rest of the participants, but as a runner in the relay I felt as though I was treated as a second class citizen.

When all of the other racers received nice string bags and performance t-shirts, the relay racers received plastic bags and regular old cotton t-shirts, which had to be discounted because of their atrocious color (beige).  I wanted to base this on money paid to participate, but we actually paid more per person than either the 5 or 10K runners.

Second, relay racers were forced to wear additional racing bibs that read in big, bold letters, "RELAY".  Just as every other racers had their race listed on their regular race bib, so too did ours read "Relay".  What was the purpose of making us wear an additional bib to single us out from the rest of the group?

Lastly, when receiving congratulations for completing the race, a volunteer was actually heard to have said, "Oh, you just did the relay."  Huh?  You have got to be kidding me!  75% of my team just ran further than any one of the 5 or 10K runners, and the other teammate just ran further than they had ever run in their whole life!  I realize we did not compete in an entire marathon as individuals, but we just ran our asses off and paid good money to do it!  As you can see the whole treatment still sticks with me

On the back of my team's shirts was a quote:
If you run, you are a runner.  It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you have been running for 20 years.  There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get.  YOU JUST RUN!
That is the mentality I would like to see at these races.  We should be proud of every person that is out there, no matter the race.  I would even include the volunteers and spectators in this fold.  Every single person out there has taken time out of their busy lives to be there to participate or in support of a healthy lifestyle, and we should all be proud that we have done so! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kirby Derby

Last week at work was pretty tough.  The University had required that we do an annual inventory of our stock, and that just so happened to fall at the end of last week.  That is why I was unable to post on Thursday.  What was worse was that the inventory had required long hours of work, which translated to little sleep and limited training on my part.

So when Saturday morning rolled around and it was time for the 2011 Kirby Derby, I was not nearly as psyched as I should have been and much less enthused than I was for the marathon relay.  I resigned myself to finishing the 10K race in less time than last year and tried not to focus too much on setting any records. 

The weather was cool and rainy when we arrived to the staging area.  I figured the cool temps would be great for racing, but the rain was a little disheartening.  Katie had signed up to run the 10K.  Since training up to 7 miles for the relay, she figured she could carry that on to this race.  I could not have been prouder of her for committing to the longer run.  Plantar Faciitis had reeled in her training a bit, so she too was not exactly excited about the race, but she soldiered on anyhow.

We ran into quite a few people that we knew.  Some we knew we would see, others we were pleasantly surprised!  I must say it is a lot of fun having a race like this in our small town!  It says a lot about the community.

The start of the race was delayed by about 15 minutes, but as the rain began to sprinkle down, everyone began to line up for the start.  I kissed Katie goodbye and wished her good luck.  Last year, I felt like I got kind of stuck behind some slower runners at the start.  So this year I lined up towards the front, hoping that space would open up more quickly.  Finally, the gun went off and the race started.  I took off very quickly and space certainly opened up soon after the start.  I was running near the head of the pack.  I knew that I was probably starting off a little too fast and was worried that I might be expending too much energy too early.  But then I thought, "Who cares! Run as fast as you can for as long as you can, and just see what happens."  So I ran hard, surprisingly hard.  I ran my first mile in 6:30.  Again the fear of burning out crept in, so I decided to pick out a runner to keep up with.  It took awhile for me to pick somebody that was not quickly pulling away from me.  Then I saw a 10 year old kid running ahead of me, and I decided that was a worthwhile target.  I chased that kid for the next mile and a half and never got with in 50 feet of him.  That little kid was fast!  I was thankful when the kid stayed straight for the 5K route and I turned for the 10K; I don't know if I could have handled being beaten by a child!  I had run the first 3 mile in almost exactly 21 minutes.  I felt great about that!  I was starting to get pretty tired about mile 4.  I had picked out a woman to try and keep up with and was again humbled by her superior speed.  Eventually I came to a spot where the route has runners going in both directions.  That was when I passed the leader.  That guy was flying!  I turned to one of the volunteers at an aid station and said, "I don't think I am going to beat that guy."  He laughed.  As I continued to push on I ended up by myself for awhile.  There was nobody for me to really catch and nobody really pushing me from behind.  At that point I was really tired and reminded myself that time didn't really matter, so I worked on my form and continued to try and push myself.  Eventually, I was caught by a couple of other runners, but I managed to stay within shouting distance of them through the end of the race.  I ran my second official 10K in 44:29.4.  I finished 17th overall and second in my age division.  All of which are improvements over my performance last year.  I am still very excited about the results.

I am also excited because we officially became a RACING HOME.  Katie finished her 10K in 63 minutes; not her ideal finish, but a tremendous feat nonetheless, especially considering her injuries.  Plus both kids participated in the Kid's Race!  They had so much fun!  The got finisher medals, and most importantly, snack when they were done.  Alaric actually said he wanted to run in the "adult race" next year, and we are actually considering it since they offer a 5K walk/run.  I could not be more proud of my family!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oh, how the mighty have fallen, and I am not talking about the Lakers.  It's me.  Since I reached my goal weight of 185 on March 10, I have gone completely off the reservation.  Now two months later, I am 8 pounds heavier and have been struggling to stay at that precarious weight.  I have plenty of excuses, but unfortunately these ideas are just that, EXCUSES!  I allowed my confusion about fitness nutrition to translate into uninhibited eating, late night snacks, and junk food binges.  I allowed my fear of performing below expectation in the relay translate into not abiding by my heart rate routines.  I have allowed the nice weather and vacation time to translate into skipped or mediocre workouts.  In general, I have fallen into a pattern of undisciplined behavior.

I think what has happened is that I have lost focus.  I will always have the long term goal of getting fit and staying healthy, but I need to be able to achieve this ultimate goal by conquering more short term goals; I need to continually challenge myself to stay focused.  I had originally said that I wanted to weigh 175 pounds by June 25, because that was the first day of the Bike MS Ride.  As that ride has become financially impossible for me, I lost focus on losing weight.  Additionally, as my goal of running my leg of the marathon in 49 minutes got closer, I lost focus on running in my heart rate zones. 

Jeff told me once that fitness is a moving target and sometimes you need to readjust to hit your mark.  So with that in mind I am updating some goals in the hopes of having greater focus and achieving my ultimate goal.


1.  I want to weigh 185 pounds again by July 10.  That means 1 pound per week for the next 8 weeks.  This one will be tough, but I can do it.

2.  By this time next year, I will have run a half marathon.  I have a couple in mind, one of which is in September.  I think the additional training will help with the weight loss.

3.  I want to weigh 175 pounds by October 1, 2011.  Again, another tough goal, but if I can stay focused on this goal I know I can get it done.

To help achieve these goals, I will limit my alcohol consumption to 7 drinks per week.  To some of you this may seem like a no brainer, but when you live in my neighborhood this can be a tough one.  Also, I will be more disciplined with my eating habits.  I realize that is a very general statement; I need to work on the specifics of this idea.  Lastly, I will stick to my HR workout routines, 3 runs per week, and I will ride my bike at least once every 2 weeks.

There, I said it.  All that's left is to go out there and just_do_it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Results Are In!

The 2011 Illinois Marathon Relay is officially over and the results are in.  Team Brothers & Sisters kicked major booty!!!  I had originally set a goal of 4:20 to finish the whole route.  That worked out to be about 10 minutes per mile, which I thought was a very respectable race.  We blew that out of the water; we finished in 4:03.  Team Brothers & Sisters finished 27 out of 63 mixed (boys and girls on the same team) teams.

The only runner not to run better than expected was me.  I had a goal of 49 minutes and I finished in 50:30.  Honestly not too bad and my original goal may have been a little lofty, but all of it matters very little to me.  I had an absolute blast with this race!  It was so much fun to have crowds cheering on the streets and volunteers at hydration stations and so many runners on the streets.  I had a blast running with my teammates!  I had so much fun cheering other runners on while we waited for teammates at exchange zones.  I enjoyed hyping up the crowds.  Overall, I just love the Illinois Marathon Experience!

I ran well enough for me to seriously consider a half marathon (I sincerely hope to accomplish this in the next year), and I am even throwing the idea of a full marathon around. Watching so many of the runners at the Illinois Marathon really made me realize that the pace doesn't really matter; it's getting to the finish line and enjoying yourself that matters the most.  However, another thing that I realized was that as long as I can get a good team together, I will never run anything other than the relay at the Illinois Marathon.  It is just too much fun!