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!