Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Bracelet is an Oxymoron?

I have this ID bracelet that I wear when running from Go Sport ID.  The idea is to have something for identification, such as if some car sends me flying into a bush and knocks me out.  It's got my name and emergency contact information.  There were 2 more lines available so I put 2 things down:  Philippians 3:13 and Remember the Rain.
I never really thought about how contradictory they seem.  The verse speaks of forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead (very definite runner's language there, yes?).   And then there is this phrase that is definitely pointing to what is behind.  Forget the past.  Remember the past.  My bracelet is an oxymoron.
I think there is a balance involved there.  When you think of running, if you are constantly looking behind you it makes it impossible for you to run ahead well.  In thinking of this half marathon, it's all about setting a goal.  You're working towards something, not away from something.  At the same time, it helps to learn from the past.  For me it's about looking at this time in my life I never want to go back to.
I have times that I reminisce about things from my younger days.  I think about when I could run most of an 18 mile walkathon or do a 42 mile bikeathon with hardly a thought, I just did it.  I think if I dwell on that, lamenting how I can't do that any more, maybe that's the kind of looking behind that hinders.  But here's the thing.  I'm doing things now that I just couldnt imagine doing for a significant part of my life.  It's kind of nice to be rolling into 50 seeing my fitness improving and being able to say I'm in better shape than I was for pretty much all of my 30's, most of my 40's, probably even a good bit of my 20's.  There's something to be said about getting better with age.
I was thinking too of when I attempted the MS-150 bike ride about 15 years ago.  A long run was out of the question, but I thought maybe I could train up for a long bike ride.  I actually did pretty well, and while I did not complete the ride I'm still proud of my accomplishment, I look back at how I just totally ran out of gas towards the later part of the ride and think, if I knew what I know now about nutrition and preparing for something like that and such (stuff I'm really only beginning to learn) I wonder what a difference that would have made.
And maybe that's the key.  Maybe it's about what we do with the past.  If we see the past as stuff to defeat us, if we look back and say I couldn't do it then...  that's the stuff that hurts us.  If we learn the lessons as part of moving forward, that's where the past can be pretty powerful.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Toto, I Have a Feeling I'm Not in Kansas Any More... Yet!

I've posted before about my virtual race across America.  I just got done updating my runs and bike rides for the past month.  I recorded 126 miles on my bike this month including 26 today, and since I started tracking a couple years ago I'm now at a total of 1,527.4 miles,nearly across the state of Missouri.  Getting into familiar territory now!

That's the view from the point where I am according to the website.

Looks like kinda an ugly hill to try to climb.  I better get pedalling.

The Ultimate Training Food

I’ve always considered training to be a purely physical thing.  I think I always brushed off the nutritional aspects.  Which probably also explains some of how I got to be 300 plus pounds.  But it’s the little things I never really payed much attention to in the past, even when I trained for a 5K before.  Things like the value of a good recovery meal or drink after a good workout, things like how certain carbs at the right times really make a difference in your energy levels.
In particular, here are some interesting tidbits I’ve learned.
One, chocolate milk is said by many to be an ideal recovery drink.  It has the right mix of carbs and protein to help the muscles replenish after a workout.
Mmmmmm….   Chocolate!
Two, peanut butter is great as well.  A lot of distance runs will have PBJ sandwiches out along the course for energy, sometimes a bagel with peanut butter on it can be a great breakfast for right before a run or workout.
Mmmmmmm…  Peanut Butter!
Anybody see where I’m going with this?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 1 In the Books

From Remember The Rain, my half marathon training blog (aka being lazy #3, though this time I'll copy the whole post onto here).

Wednesday night was our first class in Change through Challenge.  We got our training binders and covered some basics.  Most of it was introductions and covering what we would be covering.  Typical first class in that way.  
I find myself really looking forward to it.  Andrew, the instructor, just led his first class this past spring semester.  I believe he had 21 people.  All 21 finished their marathon.  Some walked, some ran, all finished.  That’s pretty impressive. 
Initial thoughts: Where I know I can learn the most is in nutrition.  This may take some work, it especially might take some humbling myself.  I’ve developed some strong opinions over the years, much of them coming as a result of some tremendous albeit temporary success several years ago on the Atkins diet.  Now, to this day I believe that low carb dieting is terribly misrepresented but I will say it’s hard to fathom the idea of anything good coming from carbs.  Fiber carbs, okay, other carbs?  Not so much.  
That’s not to say I don’t really enjoy those dipped ice cream cones they have at McDonalds right now.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post.  
When my wife and I were dating and she was in the midst of her training for a half marathon, she had commented that one of the huge values was the way it shifted the way she looks at food, that it has helped her shift to seeing food as fuel, especially as they got into the longer portions of their training.  Looking back on what I talked about in my last post, when as a kid I could just go out and do this 18 mile walkathon without any real thought or training, I think that kind of mentality has always been with me.  I could just do it.  But if I’m going to stretch myself into the kind of thing I didn’t ever think I could do, I have to think differently.  And that includes nutrition.
There is a phrase that came out already that is sticking in my head.  I’m not sure if it was in class or in our discussion after class:  Trust your training.  
Yesterday was our first “long” training run.  It was just a mile.  
Okay, I have to jump in here.  I LOVE that I say it that way.  Having been at a point where running a mile ever again seemed a bigger pipe dream than running a half marathon is today, I’m thrilled to be able to now say “JUST” a mile.  A couple of years ago when I started doing the couch to 5k training program, I hit the point in the training where I could run a mile without walking.  It wasn’t a fast run by any means, I could probably have walked it as quickly, but…  I ran it.  That ended up being a bigger accomplishment to me emotionally than even being able to run the 5K.  It was like when I hit that first step I knew te other would follow.  That’s maybe why I feel good about this now.j
So, we did this run on a good old fashioned track, 4 laps for a mile.  We did a couple of laps as warmups and then did our first mile.  13:48 was my time.  I’m happy with that.  We talked some about a few different things, got back to nutrition, discussed warmups and stretching afterwards, and I felt good.  It is going to be something like 15 or 16 weeks total, so it’s a very incremental increase in distances.  
I’m optimistic.  It’s a great group of people, seems like a good class…
And already I start wondering if a full marathon is in my future.  
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Not just yet anyway…

Walkathons and Half Marathons

Or you can call it being lazy #2.  I posted this on my half marathon training blog.

Being Lazy #1. Posting a link to my half marathon training blog.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Remember the Rain

Note:  I started a new blog,, specifically for tracking my training journey for this half marathon.  I'm sure I'll repost most of that over here as well.  I probablly don't even need to put this note here, it's just that I think i've told the rain story a few times over here, maybe too many times.  But it seems to be a good start to the whole thing.  I know, why two blogs, why not keep this one?  I don't have a good answer for that really.  But then again, I could give the same answer to why do a half marathon?  It just seemed like the thing to do I guess.

You know the kind of downpour I'm talking about, right?  The ones where you would swear it's made up of little drops of air amidst all the water falling down?  That's what we were looking at coming out of the store.
I really don't know who all was part of that 'we;' it was myself and a lot of strangers.  Anyway, we all stood there, waiting for it to let up.  It was becoming pretty clear that this stuff wasn't letting up any time soon, and one by one people would give up waiting and dart across the parking lot to the shelter of their cars.  Pretty soon there was no we, just me, and I realized it was my turn.  Off I went.  Walking.  There was no dart.  There was no dash.  Just a slow, resigned trudge while getting thoroughly drenched.
I wanted to run.  I just... couldn't.  Maybe I forgot how.  Or I didn't believe I could.  I don't know, I just... couldn't.
I couldn't tell you what I weighed then.  If you asked me, I'd have said maybe 350 pounds.  Of course I'm quick to point out I'm 6'5, so that's like 225 pounds on someone 6'2, right?  Once upon a time I'd lost 86 pounds.  I knew I'd gained a lot back, but I wasn't about to weigh myself.  One, my scale at home didn't go high enough, and I'm not about to spend money on a scale when what I should be doing is losing the weight enough to use the one I have.  Two, I probably really didn't want to know.  All I know is, it was maybe a year later, after I'd already started getting a bit more active, that I finally found my way to a scale that went high enough, and weighed in at 393 pounds.  Had I gained more by then?  Or had I already been over 400?  I don't know, but I was miserable and out of shape.  That walk across the parking lot, as you can imagine, took forever.
That's a forever of feeling completely defeated.
That's forever of being embarrassed that all these people who had dashed to their cars could now see me completely unable to do the same thing.  Not even for the fifty freaking yards to where my car was.
That's forever of wondering how I got this way.
Sometimes that kind of forever can be a good thing.  It's that kind of moment that tells you, I don't want to be this way.
I wish I could say that it was the kind of thing that inspired this overnight change, that I set my teeth and vowed never to be that way again, that it affected the kind of overnight life change that puts those guys on The Biggest Loser to shame.
Here I am six years later, with a long way to go.  For some of us, maybe most of us, that kind of thing doesn't happen over night.  Which sounds like it's making excuses.  Maybe it is.  Maybe it could be an overnight thing, I'm sure it should be a more complete and direct transformation than what it was.  There's no question about that.  Just like there's no question I never should have got myself into that position in the first place.  But here I was.  And here I am.
It did spark something though.  Maybe it was a slower, quieter revolution.  It started out as a sort of resolve that I wanted... I NEEDED to get better.  No, I HAD to get better.  And I've slowly gotten better.  I currently weigh about 338 pounds.  That's not as better as I'd like to be, like I said, I have a long way to go.  But it's getting better.  Better enough to be ready to take this next step anyway.
This is what will serve as my training journal as I begin training this week for a half marathon.  I've run (as in run from start to finish, without walking) a 5K now, a couple of times.  Run is a relative term, some could walk faster than my run.  Sometimes I can walk faster than my run.  Nonetheless I've done it.  I've run a 10K as well.  And walked it.  I did it with splits of 2 minutes running, 2 minutes walking.  But I was able to keep that pace.  So this just seems the next logical step, right?
This is not the story of a guy who has it all together, of a guy who has turned it all around and is now this great success story.  This is the story of a guy who is still getting there, is still working on it.  This will probably be a story as full of failures and mistakes as it is of success, because after all it has been that way ever since that day in the rain.  This is a story of a guy whose progress has been slow, way too slow.  But here's the point.  It HAS been progress.  Despite my blunders, setbacks, fallbacks, backslides and whatever other kind of backs, here I am today actually believing that I can do this.  That's a long way from being that guy who couldn't even run the 50 yards to his car.
Many things have kept me moving forward.  My wife has been a tremendous part of that.  She has encouraged me, but more than that has been such a part of bringing me to this point in my life where my outlook on life is such that...  moving forward is the most logical place to be.  It's where I deserve to be.  And it's where I want to be.  There is something about that time six years ago that I think will always be part of that.  I don't think I'll ever forget how that felt that day.  In some ways I hope I don't.  I think it's because even though I get frustrated that I'm still so far from where I want to be, remembering the rain reminds me how far I've come.
And it keeps me going.

What am I thinking???

Okay...  a half marathon?  Really???

I remember when friends or family would talk about running a 5k, thinking kind of wistfully and nostalgically about the days I could run, knowing that was never going to be part of the conversation for me.  I had a time where I didn't think I could ever do something like that again, that was something for when I was in my 20's.

And then I did it, 2 years ago.  I did it again this year.  I'm not just talking a mixture of jogging/running, but running the full distance.  Yes, it was slow, very slow, but...  I did it.

But those 10K people, they are out there more.  That's an accomplishment.  Maybe a bit more extreme, but still...  that's pretty darn good.  A year ago, I walked the Bolder Boulder 10K (talk about a party!), this year I did the full run with 2 minute walk 2 minute run splits.  Now, so far, that's not totally something that I ever saw as a huge accomplishment, especially walking because even at my worst I've always known I could walk, even several miles, when needed.  But I know a lot of people who thought that was an accomplishment though.  I felt good with this year's run, but still, those people who could run the whole thing...  that's fit.

And then there are those marathon and half marathon people.  Now we're getting insane here.  That's over the top.  That's just torture.

So...  here I am, signing up.  Hesitant, but looking forward to it.

13.1 miles?  Are you kidding me?

So here's what it is.  My wife teaches at Red Rocks Community College.  She was telling me about a course that a friend was teaching called Change Through Challenge.  It's actually a business course, but it's about the soft skills a person needs to be successful in business such as goal setting, perserverence, discipline, etc.  But it's not just about learning what those skills are or look like, but it's built around developing those skills...  by training for a marathon.  The final for the class is a marathon.  I remember thinking that was just brilliant.  They have a flyer on it here:

Anyway, later she came to find out they were doing a special course of it, for faculty, that is adapted around a half marathon.  She's done a couple of half marathons before, something that I think I always figured I'd never be able to catch up to her on, you know?  But anyway, something about it was intriguing, she was thinking of doing the course and of course I blurt out, well if I could get into it, I can do with you.

Me and my big mouth.

And here I am enrolled.  Class starts Wednesday night.  I've committed myself to this whole half marathon thing.  We do our long training runs Sunday mornings, though I think the initial one is just a mile.  Now lately I've not been running as much, I ride my bike in to work most days of the week, I go to the Y a couple nights a week for weight training, I even signed up for a Taekwando class with my kids (another what was I thinking moment)...  so I get in a run maybe once a week now.  But I did get out Saturday to just try a one mile run..  so after a bit of a walking warmup, I got in a mile at just over 13 minutes with no walk breaks...  I'll take that.  I could have kept going really, maybe I should have...  but it's still like... I'm happy to be at that point I can begin this.

I'm not sure if 338 pounds is a great spot to be at running a half marathon.  That could be a bit brutal on my joints.  And yet I find my joints seem happier being abused by running and such than not, which really makes me question the sanity of my joints...  but anyway...  It begins this week.

So, if I don't end up posting in a long time it means one of two things.  I'm still really bad at posting frequently.  Or, I'm wrapped up in intensive care somewhere because this was just really reallly stupid.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Still Kicking

And it's still a long slow battle.  Still in the 330's, it's not like the weight is just dying to come off.  And yet I remain encouraged.  One, it's summer and two, I'm more active, and three, it still feels like progress.

I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K again.  Okay, I think I"m hooked, that's just a fun race.  I get into it I guess when you get to these parts where people are lined up to give you high 5's, honestly I'm amazed at how many people line the streets to watch you run in.

And of course, at all these races they have photographers who take your picture at different spots and then offer the pics for sale.  Which I never buy.  Except this time...  I just really liked this one.  Maybe because they got me at a good angle and I look thinner than I really am, but...  I just liked it.

And, I shaved about 15 minutes off last year's time.  Which really isn't that much of an accomlishment since I completely walked the whole thing last year.  This year was better, I did splits of running 2 minutes, walking 2 minutes.  But the good things is I was able to maintain that.  I'm thinking that'll be an annual tradition for me.

I know,it's been months again since posting.  I get so bad at this.  I might be posting more frequently though. I gave up on trying to promise that some time back because I know myself.  But, I have new purpose now.  This is about to become my training journal.

I'm going for a half marathon.  

It's called the Bear Chase.  I start training this week.  I'm sure I'll look atl this over time as one of those major "what was I thinking!" kind of moments.  Quite sure.  I'm thinking that now come to think of it.  And there's a story to it, which I'll get to soon enough.  As for now, I just got back from a run, have somewhere to be soon, and...  well, I need to shower.