Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finish the Job

Week 11 of half marathon training.

We shall neither fail nor falter; we shall not weaken or tire...
give us the tools and we will finish the job.
-Winston Churchill

We rate ability in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt"

Two great quotes to help me realize what is about to happen.  Finish.  In a week, it will no longer matter that I put in almost 200 miles over the past 2 1/2 months.  It won't matter that I have seen some tremendous highs and heartbreaking lows through this.  None of it will matter if I come up short.  There is only one thing left to do, and although this week has been a struggle, it is not negotiable.  I will run my half marathon next weekend.  And I will give it my all.  Come around 9:15AM on Sunday, May 6th, I will have a medal around my neck.  

When I cross that finish line, it will be one little ounce of proof that life is all about possibilities - and it is up to each of us to make amazing things happen.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.11 miles - 27:57 - 8:59 pace
Good first mile, then started to slip.  By 2 I was exhausted.  By 3 it was difficult to breathe.   I don't know what's been happening - I've been feeing so much more exhausted all the time, and the last couple runs have been difficult.  I am happy with the time, but it did not feel that good.  And I finished feeling light headed.  I'm starting to get a little concerned.

Wednesday - 5 Miles 
I feel like I have been close to ready for my half marathon.  However, this week everything is starting to come undone.  I feel sluggish.  I feel exhausted.  Runs are becoming tougher instead of easier.  Even the short runs.  I feel like I have been pushing myself so hard over these past 2 1/2 months that it's finally catching up with me.  So while I still need to keep running consistently, I also need to rest.  I've been going to bed earlier, drinking more water, and trying to take care of my body.  It's tough to do all of these things at the same time, and I am getting a little nervous.  I'm a week & a half away.  But there will be nothing that stands in my way of this.

Thursday - 3 Miles
4.01 miles - 38:13 - 9:31 pace
I hate running in the morning.  I really enjoy late morning, but waking up early and pushing myself before 8 is the last thing I want to do.  My body feels weird and it sucks the fun out of the run.  Today, the 4th mile actually felt the best - maybe it takes my body 3 to wake up.  But, the run is done, and I can start my day.  A big test is coming on Saturday, and I feel like it has the potential to make or break my confidence going into the home stretch.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - 15K Race
9.32 miles - 1:35:07 - 10:12 pace
My last big test before my half marathon next weekend.  My knee has been acting up but usually feels ok during the run.  I was nervous for this race but also excited.  To date, it is the longest race I have ever done.  A chilly morning with piercing wind made me more nervous.  But by the time the race started, it had warmed up enough.  The race started uneventfully.  Between miles 1-2 I was already having issues with my bib - so I awkwardly tried to repin it mid-run.  I am very much a mental benchmarker when I run... because well, there's not a whole lot else to do.  When I crossed mile 1 - "Ok, just 8 more of those" - a little bit after mile 3 - "Ok, 1/3 of the way there." So on and so forth.  When I hit mile 4, I was still feeling strong - stronger than I usually do at that moment.  Breathing was great, legs felt good - hopefully I can keep this up.  During this stretch, I got a kick out of the signs along the man-made stream that leads to the reservoir - it was warning of the cold water and strong current that goes underground down river.  CERTAIN DEATH would result.  Mile 5 came and went, and I started catching a bit of a second wind.  So I picked up the pace a bit.  Mile 6.  Yesss!  It was unbelievable how I was feeling at this point - normally I ma struggling but today - magical.  Between 6-7 it got interesting.  I wouldn't call it hilly, but there were a couple of strategically placed hills that were enough to throw anyone off.  I felt great going down.  I felt pretty solid going up.  When people would stop to walk up, I would keep going.  That motivated me.  After a couple of the hills I was left out of breath, but I didn't stop.  And I quickly recovered.  Today's run was the best my breathing felt in any long run I've ever had.  I was amazed how steady and consistent it was and how easily I would recover when it started speeding up.  Normally, by this point I am panting.  But not today.  Mile 7.  Mile 8.

BAM!  There's the wall.  I tried to keep the pace up but it started slipping.  I tried to regulate my breathing but it started getting out of control.  I had a water belt on me, so I took one of the bottles out.  I kept taking sips.  I kept dumping some on my head.  I started slowing.  I started overheating.  I could see the finish area in the distance - only about 1/2 mile away.  Just finish.  So about every 10 seconds I would squirt a little more on my head.  I rounded the corner and saw the crowd of people relaxing after the finish.  So close!  I rounded the final corner and saw the finish line.  I took the final steps as I kept gasping for air.  I rarely feel that exhausted after a run, but I felt miserable.  I needed shade.  I needed food.  I needed water.  It's a little funny how after such a long, strong, and great race, the last mile can kill you.  Yet through the end, there was no stopping - there was no quitting.  I sometimes find myself amazed the determination I can muster up when there is a finish line waiting for me.  I am excited about this run, and it was a great last long run going into the halfathon.  13.1, I'll be seeing you very soon!

Sunday - Rest
My knee hurts...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Little Voice

Week 10 of half marathon training

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” 
– George Sheehan

The last couple weeks have seen their fair share of ups and downs.  I am excited that I have been able to overcome most of them and continue on this journey.  From missed runs to zero motivation to pain and soreness, one thing has been consistent through these 10 weeks of training - the desire to quit.  It would be so easy to just stop, stay on the couch, and not put myself through all of this.  I have quit too many times in my life.  I've been running for over a year, but so much of me has not enjoyed it.  But now that I have gotten relatively good at running, I enjoy it more and more every day.  I love the feeling I get from it.  I love the brief chance I have to push myself and just escape.  So this attitude I have goes toward my half marathon coming up in two weeks as well as for however long I continue to love running.  I can't quit.  I won't quit.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 3 Miles
2.12 miles - 18:45 - 8:49 pace.  
The purpose of today's run was to see how quickly I could run a mile.  I hadn't tested in a while, so I got the bug to see what I could do.  7:49.  I shaved off about 30 seconds in a month & a half.  I would love to see this closer to 7, so we will see how it goes.  I have also been planning on adding some speed work to my running after my half, so this was fun to do.

Wednesday - 5 Pace
5.00 miles - 44:57 - 8:59 pace
My previous personal best for a 5 mile run was 47:47, set during my Moab race a month ago almost to the day.  My first mile felt good.  2nd didn't feel the greatest even though the time was good, and I was wondering if I started too quickly.  3rd was more of the same.  During the 4th, when I normally start to taper off, I still felt good - and I realized that I probably wouldn't hit it, but I could be within reach of sub-45:00.  Last mile was my fastest.  Splits were:  8:58, 8:49, 9:16, 9:06, 8:44.  Recently, I feel like the stars have been aligning.  I hit my 10 miler over the weekend, I've been having great times this week - all gearing up for the big day in 2 1/2 weeks.  My (good) knee hurts, I feel tired and worn out a lot, but for the most part every run feels stronger and stronger.  Time to finish strong!

Thursday - 3 Miles
My knee has been bothering me all week... so I decided to rest it a bit more.  I'm getting a little worried about it but I'm hoping it won't make a big difference for the next couple weeks.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - Cross
Started doing P90X Stretching and Abs, but both hurt...

Sunday - 11 Miles

7.55 miles - 1:15:50 - 10:02 pace
I knew in the first mile that my body didn't want to run.  Not sure why... The first 4 miles were uneventful - had 9's for 4 miles but then the pace dropped a bit.  Once I hit 5 I was spent.  Over the next few, I had to take a couple breaks, and the sun started getting to me.  I'm a little nervous considering I'm 2 weeks away from 13.1.  Oh well, if I have to be disappointed with a 7.5 mile run, I can live with that.  I know there will be days like this on the journey.  It's days like today I try to focus not on how far I still have to go.  Instead, I think about how far I've come, and I smile.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fat Kid Chronicles

Recently, I've felt like I've been having a lot more conversations about health, weight, fitness, etc.  Granted, many of them spark from talking about all of the running and training I've been doing, since a lot of friends have been keeping tabs on my progress.

A lot of these conversations as well as many others have hit on the topic of food, and I have heard myself say "...and that's how I became a fat kid" several times.  It wasn't really until I had a conversation during a lunch with my coworkers that I really started to think about it.  Some of my old (and not so old) tendencies were brought up, and it sparked a lot of thoughts.  Thoughts about how I got to this point.

I have always loved sports.  Ever since I was a wee lad I would walk, talk, play, watch, live, breathe, and bleed sports.  I was very athletic as a kid who played just about every sport:  soccer, track, baseball, basketball, along with neighborhood pick up games of football, "rugby," and hockey.  Just about every waking moment in the summers was spent outside playing games and just running around.  Being a kid.

Then middle school happened.

That's really when I started chunking up.  Days outside turned into video games inside.  

And then it was the food.  Food has always been my weakness.  I was telling my coworkers what some of the things I commonly consumed.  So I started making a list of my middle school/high school tendencies.

-Buy a 24 pack of Mountain Dew.  Gone in 2-3 days.
-Eat a whole package of EL Fudge cookies in one sitting.
-Eat a large bag of Reese's peanut butter cups in one sitting.
-Thin mints.  Nutty Bars.  Oreos.  Nutter Butters.  Donuts.  Cinnabon.  Sour Patch Kids.  Chocolate covered pretzels.  These things would become my meals.  I would buy some and they would be gone in a flash.

Then came the fast food.  The worst is McDonalds.  As I started gaining weight, I started eating more.  Before I knew it, it was getting out of control.  It began with super sizing.  Then I would add a McDouble.  Then I would add another large order of french fries.  Before I knew it, my "regular" order became a super sized 10 piece nugget meal with a drink PLUS a super sized 2 cheeseburger meal with a chocolate shake.  All for me.  At other places, it was similar.  In high school, I would sometimes head to Krispy Kreme and order 6 donuts.  I would eat them in the car, head to McDonalds, and eat that on the way home.  In college, I would often miss some meals, then get hungry late at night so I would order pizza and breadsticks.  One time I ate 3 Chipotle burritos and chips.  This was my life.

In high school, I got fat.  I made it up to 275 lbs before I decided that things needed to change.  So I flipped a switch and lost almost 80 lbs.  I graduated high school at 197 lbs.  But over the years, my horrible binge eating tendencies returned and bad habits caught up to me.  My weight kept roller coastering up and down sometimes 20-40 pounds at a time.  Then in grad school, things reached a whole new level.  Many of the above habits came back and spiraled out of control.  I would drive miles out of the way to go to drive-throughs once employees at the ones close to me started to recognize me.  I made up backstories about imaginary roommates in case someone commented on the amount of food I was ordering.  I started feeling ashamed.  I started getting worried that it was out of control.  I legitimately started questioning whether or not I was addicted, and whether or not I had lost control.  I stepped on the scale and saw the number 284 staring at me.

I was fed up.  I did a lot of running in high school to lose the weight the first time, and did it off and on in college, so I decided to give it a shot again.  I made it just under 1/2 mile.  I have rarely felt more defeated in my entire life.  But I tried again.  I ran 2/3 mile.  3/4 mile.  1 mile.  2. 3.  I ran my first 5K.  The weight was slowly coming down.  270's.  260's.  250's.  I moved from Florida to Colorado.  I kept running.  4 miles.  6 miles.  8 miles.  10 miles.  The weight kept dropping.  240's.  230's.  220's.  Now here I am almost exactly a year and a half after I stepped on that scale and knew I was headed toward 300.  I am 3 weeks away from my first half marathon, and this week the scale read 222.

Food still is one of my biggest conflicts with my journey.  I go in spurts of when I am eating well and not eating well.  I still have a lot I need to change and a lot to learn.  But I will never go back to the places where I have been - where I was scared that I had lost control - where I could literally feel the negative effects of each meal impacting my body - where I hated myself with every bite but couldn't get myself to stop.

I write this not to rehash some of the trials that I have put myself through, or even to provide a sense of false hope that it's easy.  This has been one of the most difficult journeys that I have been on.  It is an ongoing struggle that will always be part of my identity and my life.  But I genuinely believe that with some motivation and a buttload of hard work, I can continue to see progress and finally put myself in a position to have long-term success and STAY healthy.  Same goes for everyone else - I think so many more people can go through the same transformation and have the same success - but probably even faster.  If there is one thing I'd like anyone to take away from this post, here it is:  sometimes, life sucks. Sometimes, life is hard.  Sometimes, there are things that get in the way of the things you want for yourself.  But if you want something badly enough and believe in yourself, then anything is possible.  With some love from friends and family, with some hard work and determination, you can turn your whole life around.  Even when the task at hand may seem impossible, overwhelming, or too much to handle, just stick with it and keep fighting.  Who knows - maybe when it's all said and done, you might end up surprising yourself.

October 2010 - 284 lbs.
April 2012 - 222 lbs.

Still a ways to go on this journey, but I've come a long way toward setting myself up for success.

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror.  I'm asking him to change his ways.  And no message could have been any clearer.  If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change." - Michael Jackson

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Believe That You Can

Week 9 of half marathon training.

"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself." 
-Josh Bingham

Last week wasn't the greatest.  I felt sluggish.  I felt like this task is insurmountable.  I started to feel defeated.  After spending some much needed time this weekend just relaxing and resting, I'm entering this week with a more upbeat mentality for two reasons.  #1:  I understand that it is now crunch time.  This is no longer something that is way off in the distance, several months away.  It is now 3 weeks away.  And counting.  So every run becomes that much more important.  Every meal becomes that much more crucial.  As I get closer, every decision I make has the potential to impact the end result.  I've come too far to screw up now.  #2:  I have really tried to reassess my running.  I have seen too much progress to feel frustrated by it.  I have tried to hard to feel like this training is bogging me down. I have spent the last couple weeks simply feeling warn out.  Tired.  Exhausted.  So instead of crossing each run off and treating each one like its a burden, I am trying to think of each run as a new opportunity - to get outside, enjoy spring, feel the buzz of the world around me, and feel rejuvenated.  I am realizing more and more that the physical aspects of running are actually the least important.  What it comes down to is your attitude.  What it comes down to is what you believe.

Monday - Rest
Push Ups
I'm trying to add a little bit to the regimen - push ups, abs, stretching, and yoga.

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.20 miles - 29:19 - 9:09 pace
After a not so great last week, this was the run that I needed to start my new week.  The first mile felt great.  2nd mile felt normal.  3rd mile felt a lot stronger than usual - I normally taper off at the end and I start seeing close to 10:00.  Splits were 8:50, 9:23, 9:23.  I like going in the 5:30ishPM time frame because it's cool enough to not interfere with the run.  I just hate the traffic...

Wednesday - 5 Miles
5.15 miles - 50:16 - 9:45 pace
Right from the start I knew this was going to be a long run.  The first mile just felt awkward.  Usually I start getting into a little bit of a groove but today it was tough to find it.  The whole run I just felt kind of heavy - like I was trudging along through the whole thing.  The times of the first few miles surprised me - splits were 9:09, 9:32, 9:58, 10:08, 9:59.  I would like to see more under the 9:30 mark, but I usually have multiple over 10 when I start hitting 5+.  I am actually pretty happy with the time, but it just didn't feel that great.  Silver lining = I made it out for a Wednesday run after missing the last 2 - yessss!

Thursday - 3 Miles
3.12 miles - 27:21 - 8:45 pace
Last week, I was excited because I ran my first 3+ mile run under a 9:00 pace.  Here's #2.  The coolest part about this run is that I have never had a run where mile 1 is NOT the fastest.  I normally start out more quickly then slowly taper off as the run continues (see yesterday's - that's typical).  Today's first mile was my SLOWEST.  Splits were 9:03, 8:30, 8:44.  I don't know how it happened, but it's an amazing feeling.  Also, another thought that I've been having a lot recently - it took me almost an entire year of running to finally run a 5K below 30:00.  Now here I am and I can run sub 30 5Ks without even trying.  The progression has blown my mind.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - Cross
Gearing up for the big day tomorrow.

Sunday - 10 Miles
10.26 miles - 1:45:04 - 10:14 pace
The first double digit run of my life!  In fact, even my 8.3 from two weeks ago had a brief pause, so my longest distance of continuous running just jumped from 7.29 to 10.26.  I've been saying all along that this run was going to be the big test of my training.  Once I can hit double digits, then I'm not as worried about the 13.1.  This became true today, because even when I finished, I felt like I could keep going.  I am thankful that the temp, clouds, and wind helped me make this happen.  I felt amazing for the first 5 miles - took it at a pretty easy pace and just ran.  Thanks to the cooler temperature, barely anyone else was on the path - a welcomed change of pace from constantly dodging bikers, walkers, runners, etc.  Then, my knee started throbbing.  My good knee.  It was this piercing pain that hit with every step right around the knee cap, and I've never had this before.  Kept going.  The next few miles were tough, but manageable - had some sips of water and gatorade throughout this stretch, and the off and on pain of the knee was really frustrating.  Once I hit 8, I knew that I was going to make it to 10 - I still felt strong but just felt like I wanted it to be over.  The last mile felt the best out of the last few, and I started debating whether or not I should keep going.  I decided not to - I could have, but it would not have been pretty - I was really encouraged by this! With this run, I felt a lot of my doubts and fears release, and I felt proud of the fact that I just ran 10 miles :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Every Additional Step

Week 8 of half marathon training.

"It's not so important who starts the game but who finishes it."
- John Wooden

"All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am reaching a low point in my training. The times keep getting faster and distances longer. But more and more I am feeling the motivation crumble. I do not want to get out the door and go for a run. I want to eat whatever I want. This 8 week stretch of constant pressure is getting to me. Pressure to run more... faster... farther... it's starting to wear me down. Some days I feel really motivated (they usually end up being my rest days), while some I just want to take the easy way out. I can tell that these next couple weeks are going to be tough to get through. But all I need to do it get through. Persevere.

I read the quotes about and realize that I haven't done anything special yet. If I don't see this through, it's all for naught. If you're reading this, don't let me fail. Don't let me stop. Don't let me make excuses. For just under two months I've been busting my butt, so I can't let myself trip at the finish line. I'll need some love through this last month. bring it on!

What do you do when the finish line seems too far out of reach? How do you persevere?

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.11 miles - 27:55 - 8:58 pace
A cold and snowy April day. I got done with work and didn't even want to do this run, but I knew I had to. I put on some athletic pants, my running jacket, headband, and iphone and set out. I was just looking forward to getting it done. The first mile felt like any other first mile, and then my Nike+ told me it was under 9:00. So I kept pushing it a little, hit my halfway turnaround and headed back. Mile 2. Still under 9:00 pace. At about 2.5 I started getting tired from pushing it. Final stretch was rough. When all was said and done, this became my first run of 3+ miles under a 9:00 pace. Ever.

Wednesday - 5 Pace
0 miles
I didn't miss a run in the first 6 weeks of training. Now it's 2 weeks in a row where I missed Wednesday. Not happy about it. I can feel the motivation starting to slip.

Thursday - 3 Miles
3.33 miles - 31:55 - 9:35 pace
Nothing like a 10PM run. The night just kind of got away from me and I had to get out. HAD TO. So I did. I have been eating like crap the last couple days, so this was a pretty good "cleansing run." I actually felt like I was gliding for the first mile - it felt really good... but then as usual tanked a little at the end. At least I made it out the door.

Friday - Rest 


Saturday - 10K Race
5.25 miles - 53:14 - 10:08 pace
I was definitely not feeling this run... in the first mile, I knew it was going to be pretty rough.  But I just kept trekking along.  3 miles into it when I was at City Park, I saw a lot of people - as I got closer, I realized they were doing a Easter 5K.  If it would have worked out, I totally would have crashed it!  But they were just finishing up. Oh, what could have been... So I just kept going.  I had to stop and take a quick breather at 4.5, then at 5.25 I was just done.  Not sure what's been up with me recently, but I've had so many ups and downs.  Let's hope for some more ups over the last 4 weeks.

Sunday - Cross
After 2 Easter services including sunrise, I was wiped.  Watched a little Masters (amazing), read a little, slept a little, lazed the day away.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dream It, Do It

Week 7 of half marathon training.

"If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney

In the late fall of 2010, I stepped on a scale. 284. Heaviest I've ever been in my life. So I started running. I made it 1/3 of a mile before I had to stop and rest. slowly it turned into 2/3 mile, 1 mile, 2, 3... As the months passed, my mileage went up. In Florida, as I was trekking through grad school, I made it from nothing to 3.5 miles in a 7 month span - 2.5 was my usual distance. Then I moved to Denver and things really took off. Within a month I was able to run 5, after a couple - a 10K. Now here I am, 8 months later running 7+, going to hit double digits in less than a month, running 4 times per week, and logging the miles. In the 3 months of 2012, I have ran 75% of the distance that I ran the entire YEAR of 2011. I am on pace to triple it. I got this crazy idea this past fall to run a half marathon. So I signed up. And here I am just over a month away from that. I am beginning to contemplate a full marathon, but go back and forth. Sometimes when I think about some of these things, I am blown away. I seem to be surprising myself every day. I am stubborn and competitive enough to be successful, but when I take that step back and really take a look, I continue to be amazed. If there's one thing that I want everyone who reads this to take away from my journey it's this - if you can dream it, you can do it. If you have a crazy idea, thought, or goal - that's a start. And if you're crazy enough to see it through, you will amaze yourself. When I was a 284 pounder sitting on my couch, the thought of doing all of this was impossible. But now, the 225 pounder is running miles upon miles and making these impossible dreams come true.

Your potential to do something amazing is right there waiting for you. All you have to do is just do it. Believe in yourself and the possibilities are endless. You are incredible, and now it's time to show yourself and others around you what you are capable of - and just what might happen if that crazy dream of yours comes true.

"Go forth and set the world on fire." - Saint Ignatius Loyola

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.21 - 29:58 - 9:20 pace
Good run! Legs were still sore from this weekend... Felt really strong the first half, and felt stronger than normal the second half. Fairly uneventful run, but an absolutely beautiful night!

Wednesday - 5 Miles
0 miles
Week 7 and this is the first run of training I did not complete. I am a little bummed, but I started stretching and getting ready and my legs are still dead. Yesterday made them worse. So part excuse, part listening to my body, I need another day off. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Thursday - 3 Miles
3.14 miles - 29:37 - 9:25 pace
This run was just ok. Decent time, but didn't feel that great. Felt a little sluggish. On top of that, my quads still hurt. As in excruciating pain that hurt with every step when I ran and now that I am done I am just sitting in pain. Who knew that one decision to play volleyball over the weekend would have this much of an impact. Not sure what the near future will bring with this, but I'm going to need some help from my body with this one... especially seeing the number coming up this weekend...

Side note: I love Nike+. I love the ease of the GPS and the cheer function has helped get me through some of my longer runs. But my favorite part is the random messages of encouragement you get from celebrities and athletes. Tonight's message at the end of my run was my favorite. "Tim Tebow here. I love your dedication. Way to go!"

Friday - Rest

Saturday - 9 Miles
8.30 miles - 1:25:48 - 10:20 pace
What a beautiful day for a run! I got out on the trail a solid hour and a half before I did last week so it wasn't blazing hot yet. AND I brought water with me so I wouldn't run out of gas. I started off pretty strong with a couple 9:30ish miles, then started to trail off a little. I felt pretty strong for about 5, and I got this crazy idea that maybe I should go for 10. Umm... not quite... after that, things started going a little downhill. The heat started getting to me, I had to take in more water on the second half, and the performance started turning less than stellar. I had to walk and take a little breather at 7.29 then kicked in another mile at the end. On the one hand, I am a little disappointed that I didn't hit the 9 I was supposed to. But I mostly feel good about this one - it's farther than I've ever ran before in my life! Double digits, I'm coming for you!

Sunday - Cross