Tuesday, June 12, 2012

X'ing


Note: To those teens googling for information about Ecstasy, just say "No!"

So last week Katie and I started a different workout routine.  We started doing the P90X program in the mornings to give Katie's plantar faciitis a break from the rigors of running.  Prior to the start I had a few preconceived notions about the program. My week of personal experience has given me few more insights.

1. P90X is very difficult
I figured the program would be difficult, mostly because of the cardio intensity.  The advertisements show a lot of bouncing around and jumping.  I was pretty sure that some of the work would be difficult as much of my fitness is for endurance sports, not for intense cardio.  However, I considered my self to be a fairly fit individual.  I am NOT fit by P90X standards.  Not only is the intense cardio difficult, but the strength exercises are also very difficult!  The workout includes tons of lunges, planking, push-ups, and any other number of body resistance exercises.  We did the Kenpo X workout yesterday and my arms are more sore than they have been in years.  Who would have though that throwing hundreds of punches at imaginary opponents would work your biceps so much?!  I thought with all of the biking and running that I do that my legs would be the good part of my workout, but there are so many lunges and squat positions that you hold for great lengths of time that my legs actually give out!  I did wall squats for the first time since high school and I thought I was going to start crying!  My legs were shaking and the sweat was poring down my face.

2. I am not flexible
I know that I am not the most flexible of individuals, but I thought I was about average.  I can stand with my feet shoulder-width apart and touch my toes.  I was concerned about the Yoga X workout, but I never thought it would be the workout that did me in; it was!  The workout is 90 minutes long!  And if I had to guess I would bet that I was in plank, downward dog, and runners pose for 45 minutes of the workout. The workout has you do these "vinyassas" over and over and over.  At one point, I didn't think I would be able to take it anymore.  Finally, we halted on the vinyassas and started these strength poses.  I thought it might be a bit of a reprieve for me, but the poses had me falling all over the floor as I attempted to contort my body into these arrangements all while remaining upright.  Honestly, the workout made me feel very inadequate and my attitude got really shitty!  Sadly, the only person that I had to take it out on was Katie.  Not a good idea, but thankfully she has forgiven me!

3. Tony Horton is annoying (see above)
I had seen Tony from the commercials and actually witnessed him in action on the Ab Ripper X workout.  All of these experiences were just short spurts of Tony, but even still I found him to be kind of dorky, somewhat conceited, and sometimes a pore instructor.  After having spent several hours with Tony this past week, I now find him to be VERY conceited, confusing as hell, and he seems to have some strange aversion to commitment to romantic relationships.  Thankfully, in the next couple of weeks as I gain more experience and familiarity, I can turn the sound off and just use the visual cues for the workouts.  Katie's distaste extends beyond Tony as she actually became annoyed with one of the other participants this morning.  " I hate Dreya.  She is too [darn] eager!"  I couldn't agree more, Honey!

All of these points aside, I think it is a good workout program, I am glad that Katie and I are doing it together, and I think it is doing the trick. I hope I get better at some of the coordination and balance, and I for damn sure want to get better at that Yoga, or at least do it without crying like a little girl!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Half-Marathon Sufferfest, and How I Learned to Love It

There has never been a question that my first half marathon was not what I would have considered a success.  I struggled and suffered my way to the finish.  When I was done I doubted that I would ever do another half again.  But my attitude quickly renewed and I signed up to run another half, in my hometown, in Galesburg.  Sadly, my second half marathon results were about the same.  I struggled and suffered and in some ways the run was not a success.

It didn't start out that way.  I drove myself to the starting area, as my family had a plan to catch me out on the route.  No sooner than locking my car door, I heard someone say, "Brian!"  I turned to find Shawn.  I almost did not recognize him at first.  It had been probably 18 years since I had last seen him.  Shawn and I played baseball together most of our young lives.  He was a year younger than me in school.  I had his father as a teacher, and I knew his now wife, Melissa, very well also.  I caught up quickly with Shawn, his wife, their lives, their 3 sons, and Shawn's Dad, who I got the chance to talk to for a few minutes. I left to go and stretch and found one of my best friends Matt, who was helping to organize the race.  I had seen Matt the day before at the running store, but had not figured on seeing him today.  He asked how I was feeling and I responded, "Good."  The weather was temperate, about 70 degrees, sunny.  I felt rested and ready.  Soon I ran across Mike and his wife Terra, then April, her parents, and her new husband and baby.  We all quickly caught up with our lives, where we were, what we were doing, and how our families were. 

Before I knew it, it was time to line up and run.  I got into the crowd near Mike and asked what he thought he would be running today.  He said about 8 minutes per mile.  I responded that that was my goal as well and settled into the idea of sticking near Mike.  The gun went off and we were going.  The crowd was nice, not too big, and I saw quite a few familiar faces.  As I attempted to stay up with Mike, I felt like I was moving pretty quickly, but the legs felt good and I was having no trouble breathing.  By mile 1, I wondered if I had made a mistake.  I was still feeling pretty good, but I had just run the first mile in 7:20, not at all what my race plan had been.  I watched as Mike continued to push forward, and attempted to reel myself back in order to conserve some energy.  I still crossed mile 2 at exactly 15 minutes, way too fast.  Pretty soon we exited the city and headed out a county highway.  At that point we turned directly into the sun, and what I had thought was temperate weather turned out to be pretty damn hot.  There was no shade to be had and the sun was really starting to heat up the country blacktop.  On the way out the route took you into a small subdivision on the north side of the road. This was the last place that I saw Mike, o the turnaround, and I yelled, "So much for 8 minute miles, Mike!"  To which he responded, "I am feeling good!" Mile 4 went by at 30:15, still too fast, but it did feel good to see that I was definitely in the early part of the pack.  I headed back out to the blacktop and soon came across my family at mile 5.  Katie, the kids, my dad, my cousin, and her boyfriend had all come out to cheer me on.  It felt really good to see all of them, and considering that there was literally no crowd cheering us on this far out of town, they were like a little oasis for me.  I stopped to hug the kids and I took my first official walking break to hydrate and fuel.  The sun was brutally hot and I took my headband off to release some heat and to avoid an embarrassing tan line.

The stretch between 5 and 7 took a lot out of me.  The wind was at our back, headed straight in to the sun and all one could see was road, cones, and runners.  It was a bit demoralizing.  My speed had begun to lag mightily.  I pulled into mile 7 at exactly 56 minutes, so I was on target, but I was deteriorating quickly.  I grabbed a GU gel and shot it into the back of my throat, first to avoid vomiting from the texture and second in the hopes of gaining some much needed energy.  Mile 7 to 9 were on Blaze Road.  We finally had the sun at our backs and there was a gentle breeze in our faces.  there were a few spots of shade, but all of these pros were soon outweighed by the fact that Blaze Road is freaking hilly!  I continued to trudge up and down the hills.  By mile 8 I decided to take an unprescribed walking break.  I was burning up bad and my legs were really beat.  I knew my family would be at mile 9 again so I bucked up and pushed on.  It was in this shirt stretch that I came to a few realizations.

I was sucking at this particular half marathon.  I was already 4 minutes behind my goal time split and my tank was empty.  I considered a few things.  First, should I ever run a half marathon again?  Experience would tell me that I am not very good at them. Second, should I ever consider running a full marathon?  If I have this much trouble with a half, how bad would I be at 26.2 miles?  Third, I am not having very much fun, and I like to enjoy myself especially when venturing into athletics.  If I am not having fun, should I just quit? It was that last thought that stuck with me.  I struggled with the idea quite a bit.  Should I just tell my family that "I quit, take me home!"?  What kind of example would that be to my kids?  So, I hatched a new racing plan.  HAVE FUN!  I went through the plan in my mind.  I would jog when I could and walk when I have to.  I would enjoy the last 4 miles instead of making myself sick with suffering.  And most importantly I would not quit.

So, when I reached my family, I stopped for a minute, talked about how tough the run was, how hot the sun was, and how much I was struggling.  I thanked them for coming out and being there, and I told them how good it felt to have them cheering for me.  I also said, "Take your time getting to the finish because I am."  And with that I was off again. 

Over the next few miles, I walked a lot.  I also jogged some, but very slowly.  I saw an old classmate and runner, Heather, on the side of the road.  I said, "Shouldn't you be out here?"  It took her a second to recognize me, but it was nice to see her smile when she did.  I joked with a few more of the fans as I got back into town.  I told the other runners how well they were doing as they passed me. I saw the funniest sign of the race and told the 2 young kids holding it "Thank you!"  The sign read, "No Candy?  Worst. Parade. Ever."  It still tickles me.

By mile 12 my legs were cramping and I was walking a lot more than I was running, but I kept moving forward.  About a quarter of a mile form the finish line, I saw Matt again.  This time he had his fiance with him.  I had never met her, so I stopped, introduced myself, and gave her a hug.  she was obviously a bit surprised to be getting a sweaty hug from the runner she just met on the street, but I was having fun!  She told me to keep running to the finish, and I told her I would get there eventually.  Finally, I saw the finish line.  Right before I left my family that last time my son said to me "Dad, when you see that finish line, you sprint to the end!"  It was my words to him during many of his training runs and definitely during his first 5K.  It really touched me that he would say the same thing to me today.   So, when I saw the finish line I "sprinted" or at least what I could do to resemble a sprint.  I finally crossed the line at 1:59:56, not even close to any of my race goals.  But you know what?  That is OK because I definitely learned to have some fun!

Friday, June 1, 2012

No Fear




So I haven't talked about it much, but I have a half marathon this weekend.  On Sunday, I will be participating in the Galesburg Half Marathon Express.  This will be my second attempt at a half marathon and I have a lot of thoughts running through my brain.

Will I bonk again?
In my first attempt at a half, I did not reach my goal in large part because my in-race nutrition fell apart.  This time I have been training with a fuel belt and I will be wearing it during the race.  I have been using a sport drink that has a significant amount of calories and should avoid any low blood sugars.  But still I have the fear.

Will it be too hot?
On my first half, the weather was almost ideal for a long run.  The temps were around 45 degrees and it was overcast (it rained and hailed after I had finished; I was glad not to be a full marathoner that day!).  On Sunday, it could get as hot as 85 degrees.  That is not a terrible temp, but it is much hotter than my last attempt.  I worry about dehydration.  I know that there will be water on the course, but I am just not good at working that into my races yet.

Will I be able to sleep the night before?
Last time, my mind was racing the morning before the race and I had a terrible night's sleep.  When it got to race time, I felt fine, but I wonder if a little more sleep would not have helped.  Considering that I am writing about how much is on my brain already, I have a feeling that sleep will difficult.

Have I trained enough?
The early part of my training went very well, but the last few weeks I found that I was not getting the miles in that I felt that I needed because family obligations and a lack of motivation got in my way.  My eagerness to follow a training regime wanes as the race gets closer.  I have been able to rest my legs this week, but I wonder if I have rested too much and I won't have the stamina come Sunday.

Have I been loading too many carbs?
I started taking in more cards around Tuesday and have begum to peak today and tomorrow.  Since I don't usually eat too many carbs, I have been getting a bloated feeling.  When you add the lack of exercise in favor of rest, I just feel fat and bloated.  I am carrying a couple of extra pounds over what I weighed at my last half, and I question if it will be a strain on my performance.

What is my goal time?
I want to beat last year's time of 1:51.  I have a safe goal of 1:45, but I would really like to beat 1:41.  I get so worked up about how to run a race to meet these goals.  I plan to go out running slightly less than 8 minute miles.  That may be difficult if I get swept up in the start of the race and my legs feel good from the rest.  However, part of my problem last year was that I went out of the gates way too fast.  I will have to tone it down a bit at the start.  About mile 6 I will begin to evaluate how I feel and hope to pick up the pace until about mile 10.  At that point, after evaluating my body, I hope to really pick it up and finish the race strong.

Will I get a poop out before I start racing?
Pooping is a constant concern of mine.  All too often I have had to stop training runs to find a restroom.  I have to get a good poop out before I start, but if I am nervous I wonder if my body will rebel against me.

As you can see I am very fearful of what this race may hold for me.  I hope to calm my nerves and have a good race.  Honestly, I just want to have a good time!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If You're Not First, You're Last



I am a very competitive person.  I always have been.  I struggle with the thought that this is still a good quality to have.  It is helpful in my professional life as I work to be the best at what I do.  But I actually take it a step further.  Not only do I want to do my very best, but I want to be better than the guy/girl that did the work before me.  All in all I don't think it is a bad thing, as the result is that I usually elevate the performance of wherever I am working.

However, when it comes to my personal life, I am not so sure that the competitive bug is a good thing.  Example: When I was in high school I played in the Western Big 6 athletic conference.  To this day, if anyone tells me they are from Quincy, I have an inclination to dislike them.  When I hear the name Brian Moline, a reporter on the local radio station, I cringe a bit because of his last name.  And when I read about my daughter's birthday party on my wife's blog and saw the name "Treasure Rock Island" my stomach turned a little.

I race innocent girls on the streets over my lunch hour and I challenge Olympic athletes to half marathon races.  Sure my ultimate goal is to do my very best personally, but my best work in a race is done when I am chasing somebody down from behind. Competition helps to keep me sharp, but is it really a value I want to display and possibly have my own children emulate?

I don't know the answer.  I am asking.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bubba's 1st 5k

After Katie and I ran in the Kirby Derby last year, our son said that next year he wanted to run the 5k.  I was a little leery of the idea.  I didn't know if he understood the commitment that it would take to run that far.  We suggested that he could run part of the race with us and he said, "No, I want to run the whole thing."  We told him that it would require a lot of work and effort; that he would have to train to run that far.  And over the entire Fall and into this Spring he has stuck with the training, running several training runs and calculating his total miles.  A couple of times, on really hot days or lengthy runs, he would really struggle and I began to wonder if it was healthy to have a 6 year old running 3.1 miles.  But he stuck with the training and often talked the race.  Finally last Saturday, Bubba ran his very first 5k!

We had t-shirts made for the event.  the whole family was going to participate in support of Bubba.


 You can see that he was really excited, to have his own shirt, his own number, and to be racing his very first 5k!


There was quite a crowd at the starting line.  The race had a record 770 participants in the 5and 10K races.


All sorts of family and friends came out to cheer Bubba on in his race. 

The grandparents...

The Morrison's...

...and the Haas' (Ian was so proud that he ask his parents to help make a sign for Alaric!)


Bubba's first mile went so incredibly great!  he had never run a full mile without having to stop for a walking break, but not today!  We crossed the 1 mile marker at 12:35!!!  Bubba was flying and he even ran a little further to the first water station before taking his first break.  We walked for a couple of blocks and were back to running.  By the time we reached the high school he was asking for another break.  We had worked out an agreement that every time we stopped for a break we would establish 3 distance goals before we would stop.  he cleared his three goals and we began to walk again.  We were still making great time.

Then bubba asked if he could use the restrooms.  Because there were no toilets on the route we told him he was going to have to try and hold it.  We realized that we would be running right by a public park that had a restroom and he could stop and go there.  A couple of blocks up, Bubba and I ran to the restroom at Nick's Park.  I told him to use the toilet and while I was there I would use he urinal.  Bubba put the seat down on the toilet and I asked "What are you doing?"  "I have to poop!" he exclaims.  Is this kid just like his father or what?!

Bubba finished his business and we were back on the road.  Bubba kept pushing hard but you could see he was starting to wear out.  We took another couple of breaks and headed for the homestretch.  As soon as we started running Bubba saw his karate Sensai on the roadside cheering him on.  It gave Bubba an extra pep in his stride. 
Finally we turned the corner to the finish and Alaric turned on the afterburners and cruised over the line!

He finished in 46:32; just a shade over 15 minute per mile.  Considering that we had to stop for several minutes during the bathroom break, I am certain that he ran much faster than that!


Here he is with his finisher's medal!  He was very proud and we could not have been prouder for him!  Good work, Bubba! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cat and Mouse



After pushing pretty hard for the Marathon Relay and keeping with a tough week of workouts following, my 12 mile training run on Saturday was very physically taxing.  So, when I left for my lunch time run on Monday, I thought I would take it pretty easy and treat it like more of a recovery run.  When I started the run my legs were still tight, but the quickly began to loosen up in the first quarter mile or so. 

Right about that same time another runner, a female, entered onto my route.  Every time I come across another runner, I spend a significant amount of time evaluating their form and pace.  I also take note of what they are wearing as far as clothes and gear, i.e. HR monitor, GPS, iPod, etc.  There was nothing extraordinary about this particular runner, white shirt (non-tech), orange running shorts, no watch.  Her form was good, but she didn't "look" like a runner.  She was short, medium build.  The most critical thing that I noticed was that her pace was faster than mine!  I tried not to worry about it.

"You're not racing, Brian.  You are recovering."

"So what if it's a girl.  There are plenty of girls out there that are faster than you."

"Stick to the plan."

As she began to pull away, I could actually feel my pride draining away.  My shoulders hung and my head dropped.

"It doesn't matter.  You are not racing.  You're just out for a nice, easy run."

By the time she got a full block and a half ahead of me, I was taking stock.  I was a half mile into a 3 mile run.  My legs had loosened up, and my lungs felt great.

"Fuck it.  Let's race."

I opened it up right away, and within 2 more blocks I was within striking distance.  Then, unfortunately for her, she got caught up at a red light.  As she waited for the walk sign, I am pretty sure she turned and saw that I was coming, but if she did she gave no real indication of taking notice.  I was within 30 feet of her when she was finally able to cross the street.  Not having to break my own stride, I made up the ground quickly.

The dilemma of passing was a real threat now.  I could pace behind her a few feet, but I always feel a little "stalker-ish" when I do that to a anyone, let alone a woman.  I could pass her, but sometimes I feel a little "dick-ish" when I do that in a non-race format.  Then I considered that I had just spent the last half mile "racing" this girl down Lincoln Ave., and I decided that I would go ahead and pass.

I pulled to the left and began to make my move.  As soon as I reach her blind spot, she gave a little glance over her shoulder and she took off!

"Oh, I see we have another competetor on our hands!  That's fine."

I tucked back in behind her, encouraged by this little match of wits.  I stayed a couple more feet behind her and looked for my next opportunity.  As we approached the next stoplight, I saw my break.  having run this route 3 times a week for the last several weeks, I have become familiar with the timing of the lights and traffic.  I knew that the walk sign would be on just as we were to get to the crosswalk.  So, she probably slowed a little out of concern for her safety, and I opened it up again, veered to the left, and passed her a couple of feet before entering the street.  I know its petty and I know that I took advantage of 2 stoplights to catch her, but a little smile came across my face as soon as I passed her.

Now, I don't know if she stayed straight, turned left/right, or stopped completely because as I turned right and headed down Kirby, I told myself to never look back.  The last thing that I wanted this girl to know, if she did go the same way as me, was that I was racing her and I was deeply concerned about her turning around and passing me!

When I finally reached 4th Street, I glanced back and the girl was nowher to be found.  She probably stayed straight at Kirby and headed out to Windsor for a long ass run, but what I would like to think is that she was so awed by my superior racing abilites during our little cat and mouse that she no longer wanted to run on the same path as me. 

Is it any wonder why I run by myself most days?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Illinois Marathon Relay 2012

 Once again, I participated in this year's Illinois Marathon Relay.  Originally, we had tried to bully my 18 year old cousin into running with Katie, my sister, and me.  Therefore, we came up wit the name Flatheads, an term of endearment for our grandpa.  When my cousin bowed out due to Senior obligations, we recruited or friend Lara to complete our team.

Lack of time and commitment to other obligations made training pretty tough for most of the team.  Katie probably prepared the most, but her feet have been giving her enough trouble that even the most prepared were having concerns.

I ran the first leg of the race and my whole goal was to do better than I did last year.  I had held back on a few recent runs just to be a little more fresh when it came to this race, but not enough to endanger my half marathon training for June.  As soon as the race stared I felt great.  The weather was cool and cloudy which turned out to be perfect weather for a really good race.  I started well back of the pack because our corral position was based on our predicted finish time, 4:20 or about 10 minutes/mile, but I run much faster than that and therefore got caught behind the crowd.  I did a few nifty maneuvers and managed to work my way through the crowd, while still maintaining a good pace.  As the mile ticked by I was running a pretty regular 7:30/mile.  I was feeling good and I was concerned that pace would not beat my lasts year's time.  So I picked it up a bit for the last couple of miles and finished my leg, 6.7 miles, in 50:01.  I felt like it was a great run.

I handed off to Lara,  who was joined by her husband Phil.  Lara had some concerns about her abilities to complete her leg, so Phil ran with her as moral and, if needed medical, support.  Lara ran past her parent's house where her son was cheering them on. Phil grabbed a hot dog.  Lara claims to have struggled a bit with a few aches and pains, but she completed her 6.9 mile leg in just about 1:10!  Right on schedule.  Note: Phil ambushed the remainder of the race with a couple of other friends!  No recent training to speak of and he ran about 20 miles on a whim!

Next came Katie.  She had the good fortune of running past her parent's house and they made a great sign for her and recruited the rest of the spectators to cheer her on as she passed!  A couple of miles later, Katie passed by her brother and nephew, who were out cheering her on.  There was also the offer of beer from a neighbor, which she bravely passed up.  Her feet held up great and she completed her 6.9 mile leg in about 1:11!  by this point we were ahead of our predicted time!

For the Final leg we handed it off to my sister, Anita, to bring us home!  Anita's job had kept her from thorough training, but she had recently completed the Shamrock Shuffle in preparation.  She was not nearly as nervous as last year, and her performance proved it.  She only stopped to walk one time on the only hill of the entire course, and met us at our designated meeting place right on schedule!  We all joined up and ran across the finish line in Memorial Stadium as a team.  We finished in 4:11:34.  We were 26th of 65 teams in our division and 97 of 202 overall relay teams.  I think we kicked ass!

We had a lot of support along the way.  Besides Katie's family on the course and Phil's assistance in the race, my parent's and our kids came to the stadium to cheer us on.
Anita's friend Betsy was also huge support!  She ran the half marathon in the race, lined up with me at the start, and came back out to join our triumphant run across the finish line!  i am trying to get Betsy to be my marathon partner for next year, but she seems a bit hesitant. And let's face it, I am pretty hesitant myself!

In my typical fashion, I attempted to incorporate alcohol into the event.  You can see from our shirts that the intent was there.


Mission completed!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why Does Everybody Have to Pick on the Fat Guy?!

When I finished my ride last Wednesday, my neighbor took notice of my new cycling jersey, a brand new Fatcyclist.com jersey that I got for Christmas.  In big, bold letters on the front and the back is the name "FATCYCLIST".  My neighbor chuckled and said, " I like your shirt, but it doesn't suit you anymore."  I was touched by this simple statement, and it was very uplifting to me.  As much as I espouse that I think I look thin, I more often than not look at myself in pictures and in the mirror and see a chubby person looking back. 

Since the beginning I have always been able to admit that I was a fat kid.  If one only knew me in junior high and high school, they may not think that, but from first to fifth grade I was a fat kid.  And it has always been the events in my life that took place during those few short years that have shape how I look at myself ever since.  Many times when I look in the mirror, I see that sad, chubby little kid looking back at me.

I remember my parents had bought me a nice yellow hoodie and had my last name and the number 7 (my favorite at the time) printed on the back.  I liked the sweatshirt and I wore it a lot.  Then one day in 3rd grade art class one of the girls pointed to the back of my shirt and said as she giggled, "Hehe, Ful-ton.  You're a full ton!"  Then another kid chimed in, "No, he's seven full tons! Ha Ha Ha!"  I don't think I cried, but I wanted to, and I am sure that I wore the sweatshirt again, but I never liked it as much.

When we were picking teams on the basketball court at recess, to other big guys and myself got lumped together and the others kids called us the "Hillbillies" because I guess they thought hillbillies were fat.  Again, I never cried but I also never forgot being excluded and labeled because of my weight.

But the worst was something that is still uncomfortable to talk about.  I was riding to my aunt and uncle's house across country by car with my mom, sister, and a family friend.  We were somewhere in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas or Nebraska.  I had been listening to my Walkman and staring out the window for what seemed like days.  When suddenly on the horizon I saw those golden arches and with joy in my heart said, "Can we go to McDonald's?" I realize that it had only been a few hours since we had last eaten, by I was young, growing, fat, and fucking bored!  McDonald's sounded like a great idea to me.  My request was met with a response that I did not expect from a person that I did not expect.  But the family friend, driving the car at the time said, "God, does that kid ever stop eating?"  I am sure that she never meant anything by it the statement and was probably just as frustrated and bored with the trip as I was, but that statement crushed me.  It was bad enough getting harassed by the kids at school, but here was an adult bagging on the fat kid!  I immediately put on my sunglasses and began to weep behind the lenses.  I remember turning to look at my sister and while she had sympathy in her eyes, she shook her head as if to say, "Don't cry.  It's gonna make it worse." But I couldn't help it and soon my tears were audible as I sniffled.  My mom turned to ask me what was wrong, and I blurted out "I'm sorry that I'm hungry!"  And unfortunately, my mom was in an unfortunate situation of being stuck between her son and a friend.  We eventually pulled off at McDonald's and got a cheeseburger for me. While we waited my mom asked me to stop crying because our friend felt really bad.  And I am sure that she did, and so did everyone else, and so did I.  I attempted to stop crying, but there I was a fat kid stuffing his face with McDonald's as he wept behind sunglasses.  I felt terrible that I was hungry, but when I feel terrible I want to stuff my face.  I remember the cheeseburger tasted a lot like shame with dash of salt from my tears.
   
I hate still feeling like that fat kid.  I hate seeing fat kids get picked on in movies.  It took me years to finish Lord of the Flies because of the way the other kids treated Piggy.  I was taking a look a the upcoming Ebertfest line-up and I noticed a review of one of the movies, "Terri".  It is the story of a fat kid that gets bullied in school.  I sounds like it has some heart-warming parts, but I don't think I will ever watch it.

I want to look at myself the way my neighbor looks at me, not fat.  But sometimes I wonder if I will ever get rid of that kid in the mirror.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Small Ring

With so many bike rides and a triathlon this year, I have decided to spend more time with Roxanne and get out for some rides.  When the weather report came out for Wednesday, I knew it was going to be great temps for riding.  But I also saw that it there could be 15 to 20 mph winds!  Oh well, you can't always have the PERFECT day.

I got home from work and immediately changed into my gear.  I already had the route mapped out in my head, a quick, beautiful 25 mile route that follows along the Sangamon River north of town.  As soon as I started riding I knew the ride home was going to be tough because the wind started at my back and I was riding at some pretty good speeds. 

I had made a tactical error during the day.  I knew I was going for a ride Wednesday night, but I figured it was only 25 miles and I should probably stick to my normal workout routine, which consisted of an early morning leg workout with burpees, lunges, and squats, and followed that up with a lunch hour, 3 mile run!  I considered that my legs may be tired, but with the wind at my back I pushed even harder to take advantage of the increased speed.

At mile 6 or so, I got the first glimpse at my future as my path turned into the wind for about a quarter of a mile.  Just to keep my speed, I was forced to get up off the seat and do a little pounding on the pedals.  I was thankful to turn back to the north and out of the wind.  Otherwise, the first 13 miles went without incident.  It was a beautifully sunny day.  The trail takes me over the river in several locations and has several well-wooded areas, a relative oddity in Central Illinois.  While much shorter than I would have wanted, the ride would have been darn near perfect if I had stopped there.  However, I would have been far from home.

So, reluctantly I turned into the wind and headed for home.  Right off the bat, I knew it was going to be a tough ride.  The wind immediately smacked me in the face and my pace slowed significantly.  In order to compensate for the greater effort, I had dropped my gearing down a couple of notches.  When I got to the first "hill" (it is difficult to classify anything in central Illinois as a hill, but I struggle with them nonetheless), I dropped down a couple a couple of more gears and had to get up out of my seat to make it all the way.  I knew from that point it was going to be tough.  At the next hill, I downshifted a couple of gears again and half way up, rather than get out of my seat, I downshifted one more time.  When the hill continued to challenge me, I went to downshift again but when I hit the lever, nothing happened.  I hit the lever a couple of more times and then looked down at my drivetrain.  My chain was actually at the top of the cassette!  I had exhausted the downshifting capabilities of the my big, front ring!  I got out of my seat and pushed hard to get to the top of the hill.  I barely made it!

And that was when it hit me, I was going to have to move to the small ring!  I am sure that for many seasoned riders in varying part of the country, this would not be that big of a deal.  In the flatlands of Illinois, I took it as a sign of defeat.  Thankfully, I could blame the defeat on Mother Nature and her ferocious wind, and not at all at my inferior training and abilities!  Seriously, who can truly defeat Mother Nature?!

With the realization of moving to the small ring came some concern.  I didn't even know if it worked, or which lever to hit to get to it, but I definitely needed some practice before the next hill.  So, I impatiently presses the levers on my left hand (I still don't know which one actually made the chain move), and it took the front derailleur some time to come to life, but eventually my chain came down and I was riding the small ring.

I rode the remaining 6 or 7 miles home in the small ring.  There were times when I could have moved to the large ring again, but they were far outnumbered by the times I was happy to be riding in a little lower gear.  And I learned a valuable lesson in the process: Pride can be painful!  I had been riding in strictly the big ring out of a strange matter of pride, but the small ring was incredibly helpful and probably was the only reason I was able to make it home!  So, in the future I promise to forget my pride and embrace the small ring.  I will never judge others who may or may not be riding in their small ring.  I will continue to be impressed by single speed riders who fore go the luxury of gears.  But I will never ride in Granny gear!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What I Did On My Spring Vacation

So I was off of work all last week, which is why I did not post anything, and really enjoyed my Spring vacation.
There were plenty of things that I did NOT do.  I did not wake up before 6am.  I did not do many of my workouts.  And I did not shower or shave very often.

There were also plenty of things that I did do.  I did some minor improvements to the kids play structure, which included installing a sandbox and removing enough sod to fill a New York City apartment.  It was quite ridiculous how sore I was from the sod removal, but bending over and swinging a spade for a couple of hours, while only taking breaks to wheelbarrow the remains around the house, can be a pretty darn good workout! 

I also tilled one of the flower beds in our backyard.  I think that this is normally not too difficult of an endeavor, and considering the acres of leaf mulch I have added to this particular bed, I assumed it would go pretty smoothly.  Boy was I wrong!  The leaf mulch had done nothing to penetrate the clay that is our backyard.  It hadn't rained in some time so the clay had nearly morphed into slate!  I struggled to hold onto the handles as the tiller bounced and jumped as the tines attempted to breakthrough the impenetrable soil!  After another couple of hours of this, I believe I had done a decent job of churning the dirt, but my arms were exhausted.  It was the best arm workout I have ever had!  My arms were so sore that I could hardly bring my hands to my mouth to eat.  I considered requesting a pureed meal and straw, but that did not sound appetizing in the least.

Oh and I consumed a bunch of food while on vacation as well.  I had pizza 2 or 3 times, probably half a dozen of Mom's buttery-rich, chocolate chip cookies, and a big old steak and potatoes.  I consumed many liquid calories as well, having plenty of occasions for beer and wine drinking.

In an attempt to counteract these indiscretions, I walked 18 holes of golf, and when you play like me you spend a lot of time walking (read: "searching") after my ball.  I also went for the first bike ride of the season. The wind had been pretty significant most of the week, so I avoided the idea of riding my bike in those conditions.  But then one day, it was like 58 degrees out and the wind was very calm.  The sun was shining and it was quite possibly the most perfect day for riding a bike.  I went for a 20 mile ride around Allerton Park.  I did not have any encounters with mother nature, which I often look forward to, but I did have a great early season ride and I look forward to getting a few more of those under my belt before June.

I also took my kids to school nearly every single day.  I had lunch at school with my son, played in the sand with my daughter, and continued to prep our garden for the upcoming growing season.  I also hosted a Footloose-themed prom for neighbors and friends! All in all, I had a great vacation.  It was nice to get away from work and even better to spend time with family and friends.  What has everyone else been up to?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

One Great Run

With the upcoming Easter holiday and my family's usual holiday travels, I decided that I was going to do my long run this morning.  However, it seemed as though the universe was conspiring against me.

I went swimming again Tuesday night (1450 meters straight, a new personal record!), and really enjoyed the opportunity and the workout.  But when it was time to go to bed that night, my body and mind were still amped up a bit.  I was also starving.  So, I ate a snack, but was still wide awake until nearly 11:30pm.  I slept like crap all night, waking up constantly.  I was so tired that I skipped my Wednesday morning workout, and my body was really sore from the extended swimming.

Then I decided to do my long run, and I skipped my lunch hour run, saving my energy for the 10 miles the next morning.  My lack of sleep was apparent at 8:30pm when I was tired and cranky, and sad that my alarm was going to be going off at 3:30am.

I woke up before my alarm at 3:14am.  I was tired, but excited to go out for a nice long run.  I got the fuel belt ready, loaded with Carborocket, and I decided to return to some static stretches (read "toe touches").  I had gotten away from these recently because of some recent articles about dynamic stretching (read: "skipping").  However, as I have been searching for my lost speed, I decided to go back to some of my old tricks in the hopes of finding the answers.

And I must have found it because I felt great when I went out for the run and I did my first mile in 7 minutes!  I knew I was pushing a little bit too much, so I pulled back a touch and aimed for 7:30 miles.  At mile 4, I slowed to a walk and drank half of my bottle, planning to drink the remainder at another stop.  I caught my breath and walked a couple of hundred yards.  When I took off again, I felt great!  I completed the first 5 mile loop in 38:30, or 7:42 per mile.  Considering the walking break, I felt like I was spot on with my speed.

The wind was picking up during my second loop, but any rain managed to stay away.  I was ripping off miles at a pretty consistant 7:30 pace.  Some of the hills were a bit tougher the second time around, and I knew I was pushing my abilities a bit, but I was so excited to be having such a great run.  At mile 8, I extended my walk a little bit further and refueled once again.

This time when I started running again, I did not have the energy that I did at mile 4.  But I concentrated on my form, making sure that I was using my arms to pull me along, and I pulled in front of my house at exactly 1:17:02!  I ran 10 miles with two refueling breaks at a consistent 7:42 pace!  It really felt good!  I knew I had had one great run! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Runnin' Shit!

New York was AWESOME!  We ate great food, visited some wonderful friends, saw an absolutely hilarious Broadway show, took in the sights and sounds, and had an overall wonderful weekend!  A couple of us even got to take a run in Central Park!

After the show Friday night, we went out for drinks with a friend and that turned into a long evening that included drag queens and show tunes.  It also meant that we did not get back to our hotel until 2:30am!  I had wanted to get an earlier start, but when I finally got moving at 8:30 the next morning, I knew it was going to be a tough run.  My sister opted out of the run in favor of some much needed rest, but Katie soldiered on and came on the run with me.


It was an truly incredible experience.  Central Park is such a blessing to the concrete jungle of NYC.  There are so many trees, rock formations and grassy areas.  There are also a ton of trails and roads for running and biking.
The weather had failed to cooperate and it was cold and drizzling when we started our run.  I had a vague idea of the route that I wanted to take, but when you are actually in the labyrinth of trails it is difficult to recollect which path you are supposed to be on.  So we tended to follow everyone else.

There were many runners in the Park, and I have to figure that is a regular occurrence.  While we were running I did make note of an interesting notion.  On an island of more than 10 million people, and literally hundreds of runners in the Park.  Most people still choose to run alone.  I know running can be a solitary hobby, and I frequently run solo, but with so many people out at one time I was amazed at how many were doing it on their own.  There were certainly groups of runners as well, and they all seemed to be a part of an organization or team, but they were far outnumbered by soloists.

Another thing that occurred to me was that for being located on a relatively flat coastal island, Central park is freaking hilly!  All told we ran about 5 miles or so, but with all of the up and down, it was way more difficult than my normal  5 mile jaunt.

Eventually, we came upon the Jackie Onassis Reservoir.  A pretty big lake in the middle of the Park.


Katie and I decided to run around the lake.  Katie was a little apprehensive at first, but I assured her it was not nearly as far as it appeared.  The trail up next to the reservoir was water-logged so we opted for one of the other three trails that circumnavigates the water.

Shortly though, some of my poor decisions from the night before began to make their presence known.  I had to take a crap something fierce! I have commented on my need to poop on the run before, but this time I was about a thousand miles from home and there was no Hardee's to be seen.  We continued to slowly run but never came upon a public restroom.  So I decided that we had to get out of the Park and find a restaurant or something. 

Funny thing though, there is not a restaurant or any commercial businesses on Central Park West Drive.  I assume it is because the real estate is just too valuable and rent would be astronomical.  We finally saw a subway stop and we went underground.  I asked the attendant, "Where are the bathrooms?"  There are none!  I thought about asking where he takes a dump, but I did not have time to argue.  I finally came to the conclusion that there had to be a restroom in the public park, somewhere.

We went back in the Park and finally found a map and there was a bathroom about 200 yards away.  It was the longest 200 yards of my life!  My sister had awoke and was calling to find out where we were. Tthe sweat was running down my forehead as I clinched my butt cheeks for those last few desperate steps to the bathroom.  When I got in there a homeless man was trying to dry his clothes at the hand dryer and I was actually thankful for the background noise as my bowels finally unleashed there tormentor.

A couple minutes later I was all better.  Katie and I jogged maybe another mile, caught up with my sister, and went out for brunch.  I was very thankful to have narrowly avoided a very embarrassing situation, but I think I am coming a bit of an expert as I so frequently am faced with these emergency situations. 

The rest of the weekend was without incident, and as I said before we had a wonderful time.  I was glad I got the opportunity to scratch a Central Park run off my bucket list.  Up next on the list, running the Great Wall of China!  Do you think they have porta-pottys?     

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New York State of Mind


For Christmas this past year my sister surprised Katie and I with a HUGE gift.  She bought us a trip to New York, including a hotel stay and Broadway show!  I know, I know, I have a very generous sister, and no, you cannot have her; she is mine.

Since receiving this gift I have been fairly preoccupied with the planning of the trip.  We are just there for the weekend, so time is of the essence.  Our sightseeing will be constrained to just a few highlights, Times Square, Empire State building, Ground Zero, etc.  But mostly I have been concerning my self with two important affairs.

The first being food.  For a formerly fat guy such as myself, food continues to be very important to me and New York is a great place for food.  There are all kinds of celebrity chefs with literally dozens of restaurants, as well as any number of just great places to eat.  I will make the effort to get to Katz's Deli and possibly convince Katie to fake an orgasm (see When Harry Met Sally), but for Friday night we chose 21 Club in the heart of the theatre district.  "21" is an old speakeasy that continues to be a hot New York spot.  We have to eat early because of the show (The Book of Mormon, super excited!), and because of that we will be eating off the prix-fixe menu (read "short and quick"), but I am excited to eat here nonetheless.  Dinner for Saturday night was a much more difficult decision; which chef do we go with?  I am a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain, but Les Halles did not seem to fit our ideas.  I despise Tom Collicchio, but I here Craft is really good and therefore ridiculously expensive.  Wylie Dufresne's food seems a bit haute-y for me and again expensive.  So we settled on a downplayed Daniel Boulud establishment called Bar Boulud.  The menu looked exciting and I hope it lives up to my expectation.

With so much emphasis on food, I knew that exercise was going to be necessary.  So, I will be going for a run in Central Park.  This was actually my first idea before any other thing on the agenda.  When am I ever going to get the chance to run in Central Park again?!  I figure it will be a great way to see the park, and while I don't have a bucket list, I am pretty sure this would be on it.  The problem now is the weather.  While it should be great weather back here in Illinois, they are calling for 35 degrees Saturday morning with a chance of rain.  I am certainly concerned about this affecting our planned activities for Saturday, but I am most concerned with what to wear for the run.  I just got off the phone with Katie and asked her to pack my hat and gloves "just in case".  I am also curious about the route to take.  There are several running routes recommended online, the longest one being about 6.5 miles.  the only problem is that I don't think I can convince Katie and my sister to run that route with me.  I may have to vale the idea with something about, "we wouldn't want to miss seeing anything, would we?  what if there is something really cool on this end of the park?" Do you think that will fool anyone?

Anyway, I am super excited for this trip and I expect to give a full report of my run through Central Park, when I post again next Tuesday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Winds of Change


On Friday, I made the announcement to my weight loss support group that I would no longer be reporting my weight to the group.  This was a very tough decision for me and one that I had been going over in my head for some time.  The group was initially and for a long time critically important to my fitness goals.  Reporting weekly to the group kept me accountable for my actions most of the week.  I used that accountability to lose a significant amount of weight.  It has been rewarding to see other participants lose significant amounts of weight as well.  The encouragement and support that I received was very helpful along the way.

However, I believe that I have changed.  Working out and eating healthy are more of a habit for me then ever in my life.  Certainly I have indiscretions, but for the most part I acknowledge those moments and commit to working a little harder or longer to account for the extra calories. I have also changed physically.  I have significantly more muscle than I have ever had in my life thanks to my commitment to strength exercises.  The problem with this muscle is that it most definitely weighs more than my former fat and the scale had become a source of frustration.

My mood for nearly the entire week would be based on what the scale read the previous Friday.  When I lost weight I was happy, and when I gained weight I was distraught.  There were a couple of weeks with significant swings dependent upon if I had indulged on a Thursday.  These reading were not indicative of my overall health, and simply pointed out that I had eaten or drank a few extra calories Thursday evening.  However, I was despondent nonetheless, and the following week when I did not have any treats on Thursday I was elated to have a big loss.  But again, it probably was not a loss at all, but rather an indication of where I had been all along.

So, I decided to stop reporting my scale readings to the group.  As I said it was a tough decision, but one that I think was necessary to take.  I will still be weighing in, but using it as one of many indications about my overall fitness and health.

After I reported to the group for the last time, I went for my lunch hour run.  I went out with the mentality that I would just run and see how I feel.  If I wasn't up for it, I would not push myself.  But when I got out there, I felt great.  For the first time all spring the wind was not blowing at gale force, and I felt rested and ready to go!  I blazed through my 3 mile route (I still need to get my bike's odometer on this route because I would still swear it is longer than 3 miles) at 22:08, or about 7:23 a mile.  Normally that would be nothing to write home about, but considering some of my run times, it constituted a significant improvement! 

I took Saturday morning off because my niece and nephew had stayed overnight and I assumed that extra help would be needed in the early morn, and I did my long run on Sunday.  It was my first long run in a month, as other family commitments had taken precedence, and I decided to bump it up to nearly 10 miles (9.56) and strap on my new Crush Fuelbelt loaded with Carborocket for some in-race nutrition.  The run went outstanding!  The Carborocket flavor and sugariness, as well as the "bounce" of the belt, take a little getting used to, but I would say that overall both the belt and the fuel worked exactly as they are supposed to.  I made it back home in 1:16:09, just a hair under 8 minutes per mile.  I could not have been more pleased!

So the winds of change have arrived, I just hope they bring some nice "weather"!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I May Be Over-doing It


Mondays are my most difficult days.  I lift weights in the morning for 30-45 minutes, then run 3 miles over my lunch break, and finally play basketball in the evening.  This past Monday I through a couple of extra movements into my weight training.  I hadn't worked my chest much recently, so I threw in some bench presses and incline bench presses for good measure.  The extra maneuvers had a big effect on my ability to finish all of my reps as I neared total muscle fatigue.

My midday run was without incident, and when I showed up for basketball there were only 8 players so we played 2 straight games of 4-on-4 for an hour.  When the final game ended and people started heading home, I was a bit disappointed because I felt like playing a little bit more.  However, when I got home I was exhausted!  Then I started to feel really "out-of-sorts", like I could not get my thoughts together and was sort of wandering around.  I figured my blood sugars were pretty low after the exercise, so I drank some energy drink and ate a bagel with cream cheese.  I felt somewhat better, but was still not back to normal. 

I went to bed that night and when the alarm went off the next morning I was ready to skip my Tuesday workout.  Immediately, the guilt began to set in and I was out of bed a few minutes later getting ready to workout.  I jumped rope for 10 minutes, jogged a mile to the high school track, did 15 broad jumps, ran three 200m dashes, ran the stadium stairs, did my pull-ups and dips, then jogged the mile back home.  Again, I was tired but did not experience the same disorientation as Monday night. 

It was Bubba's birthday and I had taken the day off of work to help celebrate. So I immediately began preparing breakfast, ate, showered, and soon we were on the road to Bloomington for some family activities.  By 1 o'clock, I was exhausted again!  I was yawning so frequently that Katie asked if she should drive home.

I switched up my routine and just did abs Wednesday morning, just give me a bit of a break, and ran my 3 miles  over lunch.  After returning home from work and working on the new garden with my neighbors, I could hardly keep my eyes open last night.

So, I looked up "exercise fatigue" today, and it turns out that I may be overdoing it.  I am at least showing some of the signs of fatigue.  I had complained earlier about my lack of speed, and that trend has continued throughout the spring.  That is one symptom.  Exhaustion is another.  I haven't check my heart rate or blood pressure, but since the slower speeds feel just as strenuous, I can assume I am probably experiencing a bit of an elevated heart rate.

I have mostly been focusing on fueling my body during workouts, but the articles that I read indicate that muscle recovery with rest is vitally important as well.  And that is the tough part for me.  Exercise has become habit for me, and some of the new experiences like basketball and cross training have been successful and extremely entertaining.  I can't imagine slowing down on any of them.  In fact with a few bike rides on the schedule, I figured on throwing more cycling into the rotation.  A friend of mine said that he runs 6 days a week and completes more than 40 miles a week when he is not training for any races; his mileage bumps up to 60 or 70 miles a week when he is training for a marathon.  I am not anywhere close to that kind of time or mileage.  How come I am having so much more trouble than he?

Life is always a balancing act, and I feel like a do a good job of dividing my family time with my exercise.  My fitness time is some of the only time I get for personal endeavors.  I don't want to give that up, nor do I want to feel exhausted much of the time.  I have to find that sweet spot where my workout are increasing my fitness, but not overly taxing my body.  I am not sure where that sweet spot is, nor do I know if I will ever find it.  But I can tell you for sure that I could really use a nap.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Schedule

Everything is starting to fall into place, as far as my rides and races for 2012 go.  So, I thought I would take the time to write down all of my events.  As I was starting to go over this post in my head, it really felt like a lot of things.  let's just see how it look when I am done, shall we:

April 28- Illinois Marathon Relay
This is the second year that I will be running in this event.  I love the team aspect of this race.  it is an experience that you can only get in an event of this size.  The full list of team members is still being decided, but there is sure to be more about this in event in the near future.

May 12- Kirby Derby (Bubba's first 5K!)
This is my third appearance in the Kirby Derby, but my focus will not be on my performance this year.  We will be running as a family, in full support of my 5 year old son, as he participates in his first 5K.  I could not be a prouder papa!

May 20- Sangamon River Valley Bike Ride
This will be my second foray into the SRVBR.  I again plan on riding the 46 mile course.  I hope for better weather this time around.  It is a beautiful ride and I plan on using this as a good training ride for events late in the year.

June 3- Galesburg Half Marathon Express
I have no idea why they are calling it an "Express", but this is a new race organized by a friend of mine from Galesburg, my home town.  This is a race of redemption for me as I attempt to avoid the sufferfest that was my first half.  Currently, I will make no claims about beating any Olympic athletes, but I certainly hope to improve my overall performance!

June 23 & 24- Bike MS: Tour de Farms 2012
This is again my second attempt to ride 175 miles in one weekend.  The last time out I was thwarted by rain, but I am hopeful that the weather gods will be on my side this year and I can complete a big goal I have.  Reminder: this is a charitable event, and if you should feel so inclined, please make a donation on my homepage here.

October 7 (or thereabouts)- Tri the Illini
My first attempt at a triathlon will come after a much needed break from competitive events.  My biking and running should be up to snuff, and hopefully my swimming will keep coming along as I prepare for this event. The event is run by a local University club of triathletes, so the date is yet to be determined, but it usually goes off about the first weekend of October.

October 28 (or so)- Allerton Trail Run
Last year's race was such a great experience and the location is so beautiful, that it would be impossible for me to pass up another chance at this event.

Okay so my assumptions were correct; that is a lot of darn events.  Thankfully I have a loving wife and family that supports me in these ventures, and every once in awhile will race with me!  Would anybody else like to join me?!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Ability to Defy the Laws of Nature

I had a crazy intense week of workouts before my last weekly weigh-in on Friday.  The previous Saturday I ran 8 miles.  On Monday I lifted weights in the morning, ran 3 miles over lunch, and played basketball that night.  On Tuesday I ran 4 miles in the morning with pull-ups and dips then swam for about 45 minutes that night.  On Wednesday, I lifted weights in the morning and ran 3 miles at lunch.  Finally on Thursday, I ran 5 miles in the morning.  My appetite had increased with the extensive workouts along with my portion sizes and I indulged in some cookies and chips, but nothing like I used to do.  When I got on the scale Friday morning I had gained 5 pounds in one week!

The science behind weight gain (as I know it) would tell me that I had consumed 17,500 more calories than I had burned (3500 cal/lb x 5 lbs).  Although I did increase my intake, I can promise you that there is no way in hell I consumed that many more calories than I burned.  I cannot even fathom the luxury of consuming that many calories in a week where I never worked out at all!

So the gain was a complete mystery to me and I was pissed.  I communicated with my accountability group about being less passive about reporting and suggested logging exercise and/or food.  The response has been mostly positive, as a few others have expressed some frustration and complacency.

I wish I could tell you that I turned over a new leaf immediately, but that would not be the truth.  Friday at noon was cold and windy with the threat of rain, so I chose not to run over lunch.  I was unable to run on Saturday as we had a family engagement to attend early that day, and while away for the weekend I indulged as if I had lost 5 pounds the past week.  I recommitted myself on Monday morning and lifted weights, ran 3 miles over lunch and played basketball that night.  I watched what I ate and was conscious of the foods I was eating. 

I stepped on the scale this morning just to see where I stood, figuring that I would either be the same or maybe even have gained considering my sloth-like behavior over the weekend.  Nope.  I have lost 3 pounds since Friday!  Holy crap!  This makes no sense to me, and it all seems to defy the laws of nature.  I can work my ass off for 7 days, eat a little bit extra and gain 5 pounds, or I can eat like shit for 2 days, workout for one, and lose 3 pounds!

My friend, Mira, has mentioned in the past that sometimes one should workout less and eat more, which she admits sounds counter-intuitive, but I think my experience over the last few days serve as a fine example of what she was talking about.

I really want to be focused on weight loss over the next few weeks.  I have about 15 weeks until the Bike MS ride on June 23 and 24.  I would really like to be down to 175 by that time.  Mathematically it works out to 1.33 pounds per week, or burning 4655 calories more than I consume.  We will see if the laws of math work out better than the laws of science. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Michael Phelps, I Still Am Not


But that's okay and thanks to the advice of some friends, I am getting better.

After my last post about my difficulties swimming, Mira and Jeff again came to the rescue with their comments!  Both agreed that I should check out some instructional videos on YouTube and Mira advised slowing down a bit.  So, I checked out a couple of videos and came across one that had shots from all different angles, and I came to realize that I had been kicking way too much.  My legs were moving like I was in a 100yd dash and my arms were trying to run a marathon.

So with this new found wisdom I headed off to the pool Tuesday night.  I was very concerned about my performance because since Monday I had lifted weights, ran two different times, and participated in a fast paced game of basketball.  My body was pretty sore and I was very tired.  I entered the water having no expectations, which was probably a good thing!

I started off very slowly.  I took my time with my arm strokes and I focused on kicking less frequently.  I was able to find a good rhythm within the first 100m, and as I became more tired I was able to focus on taking a good breath and maintaining good form.  Everything was going swimmingly (pun very much intended).

My original goal was to swim 300m without stopping, which is the distance of the swim portion of a triathlon I would like to do next fall.  I made that mark with little difficulty and decided to keep going.  I just wanted to see how far I could go.  By about 600m I was definitely starting to feel fatigued, but I got it in my head that I wanted to do 800m, or approximately a half mile, before stopping.  At 750m another swimmer joined my lane and I got a little nervous about being overtaken, but I just kept moving.  I finally finished the 800m  and I thought I would go just a bit further to see what would happen.  I finally decided to end the session at 900m!  I looked up at the clock just to estimate how long that had taken me, about 20 minutes! It felt awesome!

I noticed that a few of the other swimmers had already started taking breaks, which made me feel good because usually I am the one leading the charge in break time.  I watched the other swimmer in my lane and took note of a couple of techniques he was using.  When I went back to swimming I attempted to replicate some of what I had seen.  But suddenly it was like I couldn't swim again.  I was doing only 50m at a time and each time ended up gasping for air.  That was when I realized that I had completely lost focus of what had led to my earlier success.  I was attempting to swim like someone else, and that didn't work for me.  I realized that I needed to swim like me, just a little slower.  So I refocused once more and went back out.  Unfortunately, this time the extended effort and exhaustion caught up with me and my foot started to cramp.  However, I did complete another 100m before I called it a day.

Overall, it was a great experience and I think I learned a lot about myself.  I also got really geeked out about the possibility of not embarrassing myself in a triathlon!  I don't get to swim very often, but I hope to keep throwing these opportunities in every once in awhile, and hopefully by the time of the triathlon in the fall I will be ready to have a good showing!   

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The System


I went to open gym for basketball again last night.  I arrived a little bit later than usual and was the last player to shoot for teams.  No warm up, grabbed a ball and hit the free throw right off the bat; I had a good feeling.  I ended up on a really good, "young" team.  We had a big player that I had been forced to play against a few times, so I felt good that one, I would not have to guard him and two, he was on my team.

My team was first on the court and we had enough players that we could play 5 on 5 the whole night.  While this did mean that I would get plenty of playing time, I would also not get any breaks and the floor was really crowded.  The team started off really hot.  Several players made outside shots and I even had a couple of lay ups myself.  Before long my team figured out that we could really run the floor.  We started to get a ton of points off the fast break and most of our offense was in transtion.  We won the our first 2 games and then got our chance to sit one game while others played. 

While we sat on the sideline, the team talked about the number of points that we had made off the break.  When we went back out for the next game, it was as if Paul_Westhead was coaching on the sidelines.  Teammates were grabbing the defensive boards and players were immediately making a break for the other end of the floor.  It was like perfect harmony, rebound, release, outlet pass, drive, dish, lay up.  The points were piling up before we even knew it and we won our next 2 games in record time. 

We had time for one more game, but by this point most of us were pretty dogged.  The running and pace of the earlier games had taken their toll.  We ended up losing that last game, but it mattered very little because we had had so much fun in those first four.  I had not run like that in a competetive basketball game for 20 years, and it really did feel like we were playing System basketball.  It was a lot of fun.

I am really feeling the effects of last night's basketball today.  I took it really slow on my run this morning and my legs are still really sore now.   I am hoping to recoop enough to go for another swim this evening.

One thing that I have noticed while I am attempting to run 3 extra days a week, play basketball, and swim from time to time, is that I am starving!  My appetite is way up.  Which makes perfect sense considering the extra calories that I am burning.  However, I have yet to find that perfect balance where I am losing weight consistantly.  I may lose a couple of pounds one week, but I seem to be putting them back on the next.

 I do believe that I am gaining some muscle.  I have not been able to replicate my 5 pull_ups, but I do believe that has more to do with the weight training that I have been doing.  I have been able to do more reps with more weight and I feel like there is more mass and definition. 

Or I could just be a complete narcissist making exaggerated claims of success when really I just can't stop stuffing my face.  Only time will tell.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Can't Really Think of Anything To Write About

So, I started to YouTube some videos when I came across this one:



Holy shit!  Was that guy throwing up while riding his bike?!  Can anyone tell me what is wrong with us, that we would actually consider doing these things?  And it is not like I am innocent of fantasizing about an Ironman, but videos like this make me think twice about it.