Thursday, June 30, 2011

6-minute Mile

When I was in high school, I was a pretty fast runner.  I was no Roger Bannister.  Hell, I never even ran track because it was in the same season as baseball.  We did some endurance running in all of my athletics and I always ran to finish first, and every year we would have to run the mile for the Presidential Skills Test.  In my prime, I was running very low 5 minute miles (I think 5:07 was my best, unofficially).  I remember having friends that fretted about running a sub-6 minute mile to make the varsity soccer team, and I always thought about how easy that would have been for me to run.

Now that I am an old man and have spent many years not caring for my health and well being, if I run a sub-7 minute mile I feel pretty darn good about myself.  In my most recent 10K, I ran the first mile in 6:30 because I thought I could run out front with the big dogs.  I probably paid the price for the rest of the race because I went out entirely too fast.  But it also got me to wondering if I could run a sub-20 minute 5K.  Honestly, it just got me to wondering if I could run a 6 minute mile.

So, when I went out for this mornings 5 mile "tempo" run, I ran hard for the first mile just to see how I would do.  And it went pretty well!  I have noticed that I do not have a "good" form when I run.  I typically run pretty straight-legged/flat-footed.  So I worked on getting a good push from my rear leg, while "pulling" with my fore leg.  I worked to keep my core, hips, and glutes engaged.  And I focused on having a good arm swing to sort of "pull" me along.  I realize that it sounds like I am trying to be some sort of expert with my description, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I am simply repeating what I have read in some magazines, and trying to incorporate what I think it all means in my runs.  Whatever I was doing seemed to work!  I ran a 6:23 mile!  Not bad, if I do say so myself.  Just a few more seconds and I will be able to make the varsity soccer team!

Anyway, it seems kind of silly I think, but I am going to keep this goal of a 6 minute mile hanging around.  When I get done with the half marathon training and get back into some 5K runs, it may just come in handy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I am sad to say that I feel as though I have been cheating on someone very special to me.  I have been spending a lot of time with others and had many passionate, intimate encounters behind my loved one's back.  Often times, when I am with these others I am sweaty and out of breath.  I look at my loved one in sorrow, failing to admit my indiscretions, knowing that more time should be spent showing them my love.  I have to admit that I have been cheating on Roxanne.  (If you suspected that I would say anybody else, you can leave your personal apologies in the comments.  Thank you. -BF)

With so much of my focus this year being on my running, I have not spent nearly enough time riding my bike.  I have had only 2 real decent rides on the bike this year; probably less than 100 miles total for the season.  And I feel terrible about it.

I feel terrible because I spent so much time and money researching, purchasing, and fine tuning this bike to my personal style, and now I hardly spend any time riding.  I feel terrible because I really, really enjoy riding a bike.  It is such a "free" feeling, when you are out on the road.  But alas, no mater how terrible I feel I still don't get out and ride.

One reason is that going for a good ride of 25-40 miles take a lot of time, 1.5-2.5 hours per ride.  And that is just really time that I do not have.  Especially when you consider that I am now training for a half marathon, which is already taking a bunch of my time.  The thing about running is that I can do it freely in the dark of the early morning.  Riding my bike at that time would require me to further invest in some lights, and even then I do not know that I would feel entirely safe riding on the country roads around my home.  Besides the time, I am feeling really confident about my running right now.  I want to do really well in my half marathon, and I don't want any distractions from running a good race.

I know it seems like I am flip-flopping about my passion for biking versus running, and maybe I am.  But honestly I just wish there was enough time in the day for me to do both and still get all of the other things on my docket completed.  I am committed to performing well in the half marathon this season, but I think that taking some time and evaluating how I can get more time for both running and biking next season may be in order.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Turning Back

The logo is deceiving.  I did not sign up for a full marathon. I did, however, sign up for a half marathon.  As one of my goals had been to run a half marathon before next May, I think I can count this as 50% completed.  Now all I have to do is show up and run the darn thing.

The race sounds pretty neat.  The course dips into Iowa and Illinois, includes crossing a couple of bridges over the Mississippi River, and covers some territory I am somewhat familiar with, since I grew up less than an hour away in Galesburg. 

I considered this decision for some time, and the race certainly fits into my programming.  The race takes place on September 25, giving me ample time to prepare.  It does not take place in the ungodly heat of August, as many of my other choices did.  Housing is affordable as I assume I can stay at my parent's home in Galesburg.  And the price was right, only $45 for the half.  Compared to the cost of some of the races in Chicago, this is downright cheap!  Should I get injured, there are no refunds and I cannot defer payment to any future races.  But I am going to keep all of these negative thoughts out of my head.  I have signed up and I want to race!  There is no turning back now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Giving, made easy

Giving to charity has been a big part of my life in the past few years.  Last year, I raised $300 for Bike MS, I periodically volunteer a local men's shelter, and at each one of our birthdays, my family dedicates either money or items to be given to a local charity.  In the last few months, Katie and I have gotten our financial outlook organized and include contributing money to the charity of our choosing, including our church, another local food pantry, my cousin's basketball team, and our friend's Bike MS goal.

We give to these charities for many reasons.  First, it makes us feel good to contribute to important causes in our community and in the world at large.  Second, we hope it teaches our children that we are very blessed to have the things that we have (our health, our home, and our family), and it is important to help out the people of this world whose lives may be lacking some of these necessities.

Why am I going on and on about giving to charity, when I am supposed to be writing about health and fitness?  Well, I would argue that the two can often go hand-in-hand when you run or race on a team in support of a charity, such as the Bike MS ride.   I have even heard of sorority girls panhandling on the streets while jumping on trampolines (who would not want to see this?!).  The problem with these efforts is just that; they require a ton of effort.  One must harass their friends and family in order to obtain the donations they need, or be forced to pay the balance of the commitment themselves.  Either way the task can be daunting.  I wish there was an easier way I could coordinate my fitness goals with my value for charity.

Oh, wait...there is! has made the act of charity about as easy as a cheerleader on prom night.  I can never explain all of the details here, but go check his post for thoroughly entertaining instructions.  Basically, you sign up to this website (don't worry, they don't ask for your credit card), join "Team Fatty", and start recording all of your workouts.  The workouts you record earn you credit which translates into dollars donated by SRAM (a Chicago company) to World_Bicycle_Relief, which gives bikes to kids in Africa so they can safely get access to schools and health care.  That is it!  You don't have to pony up any money, you don't have to harass your friends and family, and you don't have to go door to door soliciting your neighbors and being chased by guard dogs.  How much more simple could it be?

If you already spend time working out, then you can make that work count towards more than just calories burned.  If you are not working out, what the hell are you waiting for?!  If you were waiting for the chance to have your workouts count towards a charity, then your prayers have been answered!  Either way, I think everyone should sign up and get to work donating a few bikes to help the kids of Africa.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Think I Have Reverse-Anorexia

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to be insensitive!  Anorexia is a very serious disease, affecting at least 50% of the Olsen twins, and should not be taken lightly (Is that a pun?). 

While looking at some recent pictures of myself, I have realized that I suffer from a very debilitating disorder, reverse-anorexia!  It is my understanding that a person suffering from normal anorexia will look into the mirror and see a fat person looking back at them, no matter how thin they actually may be.  Only after counseling and years of therapy, do they begin to see the thin person they actually are.

I on the other hand suffer from the exact opposite.  When I look into the mirror, I don't see a fat "me", but instead see a me that is starting to look pretty fit, maybe even slender.  I check the outfit that I am wearing for the usual stains of food that missed my gaping mouth, and check that the wrinkles are not so bad that I look like I slept in my clothes.  I also admire how well the outfit seems to fit my physique, admiring what I believe to be slim lines.  I leave my home with the impression that I look pretty good.

On a few occasions my wife has been known to snap a picture or two, often including a shot of me.  This past weekend as we looked at the pictures from a friend's wedding I found myself commenting, "Katie looks really good, but who is that fat guy with his arm around her? Holy shit!  That is me!!!"  And that is when I realized I have the terrible disease known as reverse-anorexia!  When I look at myself in the mirror, I think I look really good.  Obviously, I do not suffer from a lack of self-confidence.  However, when I am faced with the reality that I am still a big guy, it really comes as a shock.

Fortunately, there are a few cures that I can look to for a solution.  The first is that I will never again take a picture while standing next to my tremendously slender wife, nor anyone who may be skinnier than me.  If I only take pictures with people who are bigger than me, I can continue my delusion.  The second is that I must continue to lose weight.  I have been doing pretty well, and may even make my earlier goal of 185 by July 1.  But it is obvious to me that I may have to set my goals a little bit lower if I really want to appear as slender as I feel! 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I want to do something...

This fitness and health stuff has really gotten ahold of me.  I enjoy the lifestyle, I am passionate about it, and I want to share that passion! 

I have had the opportunity to talk with a couple of members of my weight loss support group about the difficulty of scheduling regular workouts in an already busy life.  I have encouraged them to find the time, make the time, and keep the time.  I volunteered to show up on the doorstep of one of them, should they need that kind of motivation.  I want to mentor.  I am a regular commenter on another blog I follow (the guy probably thinks I am some sort of strange stalker).  On occasion the writer gets down on himself, or has doubts, or just gets stuck in his head worrying about things.  I want to reach out and be a cheerleader/motivator/head-slapper.  He doesn't necessarily need that sort of person, but it is the role that I am drawn to nonetheless.

I want to organize a race in my hometown.  I want the proceeds of that race to go to the cafeterias in our schools so they can buy, make, and serve more fresh fruits and vegetables (have you seen what these kids eat at school!).

I also talked to another member of my weight loss support group about some healthy, low calories recipes.  I have a ton of great recipes, some of which I know by heart.  I love talking about good tasting, healthy food.  I want to see/be a part of/own/run a business that makes ready to eat, healthy meals for families as a better alternative to fast food.

I want all of these things.  Plans are always developing and changing in my head.  I don't know if life will allow me to do any of these things (it can be pretty tough going without luxuries such as a salary or health insurance), but I like the idea of them.  And I hope I get the chance to do some or all of them.