Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nothing worthwhile - just an update...

Well, it's roughly five more months until Marathon Week-end at Disney World!  Hope everyone's training (and running) is going smoothly!

Anyone else sleep-deprived from watching the Olympics?  I sure as heck am.  And my training's suffered for it.  I only got in one run all of last week I was so tired!  As much as I love the Olympic Games, I'm glad they're coming to an end.

As for my training, I was going back and forth between two of Galloway's methods for the full marathon training.  One being the "finish upright" program, and the other being the "time improvement" program.  In the end, I've decided to stick with the "finish upright" program.  Between my job and the upcoming Cross Country season, I simply cannot afford the time and commitment to use the "time improvement" program. 

I was also debating with the run/walk method as well.  Well, I figure I'm going to stick with my run-but-walk-through-the-water-breaks method for now.  It worked really well for my half-marathon training earlier this year, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  I figure as the week-end runs get longer and I'm able to make it through them one week-end at a time, I'll be good to go.  And if I hit the proverbial wall on these longer runs, I'll switch to the run/walk.

The weight loss is at a standstill.  As some of you know, I managed to drop 15 pounds earlier this year.  But I've plateaued since April.  The bulk of it's on me.  I haven't been eating as well and my sleep habits have been pretty crappy as well.  My soda intake shot back up, but for the past week I've been drinking only one glass a night.  I hope to eventually wean myself off of it, except for an occasional glass or two during the week (there's just some meals I gotta have soda with).  My lunch habits haven't been that good, either.  Lets just say it's a lot cheaper to eat like garbage than it is healthy.

I've also been doing the bare minimum as far as training is concerned.  I haven't lifted weights regularly since March, so I know that's hurting me as well.  And I'm also doing the bare-bone amount of running during the week as well.  But on the bright side, my wife is going to start training for the 5K in a couple weeks!  Yea!  That'll get me out there a couple more nights during the week to get in some good exercise.

On the bright side, I really haven't put on much weight over the past couple months.  Some days I do hit about 187 or so, and other days I'm at 185.  Plus I'm still able to hit that same middle notch in my belt as well.  That was a really cool feeling when I was able to tighten it one notch COMFORTABLY back in February.

My big goal is to be below 180 pounds by the end of this month.  Heidi (my wife) has been awesome in helping me accomplish this, always guilt-tripping me and stuff.  But I could really use some more extra motivation as well, and this is where I'm asking for YOUR help.  Any type of encouragement, words of wisdom, and advice would be much appreciated!  I NEED to get that motivation back I had earlier this year...

My tip for the blog:  experiment with equipment on your training runs before you use them in an actual race.  That way, there are no unpleasant surprises in store for you during the race, and you can enjoy yourself!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Top 10 Things I Enjoy About Running

Hey all!

Hope everyone's still staying cool during these hot summer months!

I've always been told to end stuff on a positive note, so in response to my previous top 10 lists, here are the top 10 things I enjoy about running (not racing - that's a whole different post) in no particular order:

10)  Being able to run and chase my son around without losing my breath.

9)  The various looks I get when people find out I run half-marathons and the occasional full marathon, and that my week-end training runs are crazy-long.  These looks range from awe, to appreciative, to smell-the-fart face, to skeptism.  I'm not exactly the smallest person, and I was actually in the Clydesdale division when I did the Marine Corps Marathon back in 2009!  So I guess it's only natural people find it hard to believe I do such long distances.

8)  Buying cool new running shoes every 6 months or so!

7)  That feeling of tiredness and satisfaction after an afternoon week-day run.  I always sleep good on these nights.

6)  Hopefully inspiring others to think about their own fitness.

5)  Throwing a wave to the old guy out on his porch next to our church.  He's out just about every time I run by, and and he throws me an emphatic wave and smile in return.

4)  Being able to run around (notice I did not say WITH) the Cross Country team I coach with some sort of level of respectability (at least, for myself).  Yeah, those kids pretty much leave me in the dust but at least I'm out there with them.

3)  Being able to clear my head of the day's clutter and issues.

2)  The RUNNERS' HIGH.  I can't explain this, but I'm sure most of y'all have experienced it.

1)  Being able to bust out a 10-mile run or a half-marathon in the morning, going somewhere in the afternoon, and being able to say "I did a half-marathon this morning!  What did YOU do?"  Not trying to brag or be cocky or anything, but I just enjoy the sense of accomplishment this brings to me!

But anyway...  Congrats to Mush for losing that 30 pounds.  Awesome job, brother!  Keep it up!  As for my weight loss, I really haven't lost much at all since late March.  Still at around 185-ish, so you can say I've plateaued.  Some days I'm close to 190, other days I'm at around 184 or so.  It's pretty much all on me, though.  I haven't been eating as well during the day, and my soda intake started increasing again over the past couple months.  I'm going to re-dedicate myself next week to see if I can get down below 180 by the end of August.

Does anyone know if beer is better to drink than soda??

My Tip for the Day:  Always remember your form.  Not just on the uphills, but on the downhills and flats as well.  Having good form will make you run faster, naturally.  Always good to practice good form.  If you haven't, work on it.  It might take some time, but eventually it'll become natural.

Until next time...

Monday, July 16, 2012

30 lbs and counting!

Well, folks, it has been a little over 4 months, and the weight loss thang is still going on. I've actually plateaued a bit, but I actually planned this one to A) break the monotony of a diet; B) to not go too far below where I was when I got measured for a tux that I'll be wearing in a couple of weeks; and C) hopefully put a bit of muscle on.

WAIT A will I put muscle on if I'm not weight-training?


With my IT band issues toward the latter part of my half-marathon training, I didn't want to risk re-aggravating it, so I took quite a bit of time off to let everything heal.  I made our local 5K as the target as I was guessing at least one son, if not both, would want to run it.  As expected, when I asked, Eric (the 7-year old) said that he wanted another go at the race in the hopes of bettering his last (and only) time.  Aaron (the 9-year old) was dealing with allergy-induced asthma and didn't want to run.

We started off slowly...only 1 mile.

The knee and IT band felt AWESOME!!!

1.5 miles....all is good.  I also noticed that the feet weren't hurting like they used to and that the pavement didn't crack when I set my foot down (it still bowed down, but at least I'm saving the village money by not having to replace the pavement as often as before).

We got to 2 miles and then up to 3.1 pretty quickly.  I let Eric determine the pace, and I started getting antsy to open it up to see how I could do.  With each increase in the distance, I worried about how the legs would hold up; luckily, there were no problems at all. 

Eric's best time last year was just under 45:00.  This year?  I saw his competitive side come forward at the end of mile two, when I told him what we needed if we wanted to shoot for a 40:00 time.  He dug down, ran longer intervals, ran them faster, and walked shorter intervals.  The end time?  I knew we weren't going to break 40:00, and I was concerned about breaking 45:00, but his last 1.1 miles got him a 42:17 time!

With the training, I added more calories and carbs in so I didn't end up killing my metabolism.  While I didn't lose much weight during the training, I could start to tell that I was definitely on the right track.  The first time that it really hit me with the weight loss/fitness was the first time I put on the water belt.  I hadn't worn it since the half marathon in January, and, when I put it on for a training run, it was WAY too loose.  I had to tighten it several inches to fit around my waist.  I physically paused for a moment to take in both how much I have lost and how heavy I was before I started the diet.

When I starting gathering my thoughts to write this up, I took a look at where I was at in January...about 6 lbs below my heaviest.  I posted the following picture in one of my first posts here on FartlekGiggles:

January, 2012, during the WDW Half Marathon (around Mile 7)

I knew I was heavy, but seeing it again really makes me cringe.  It's no wonder that my knees and hips were killing me on the 12-14 miles runs and why I couldn't go more than 4 miles during the half without being forced to walk.

Here's where I am at now:

June 30, during the Downs Freedom 5K, with Eric

I've still got quite a ways to go, but the motivation is there to keep going...I can see and feel the difference.  Seeing Eric's smile in the above picture is also motivation - it's something that he likes to do, and I want to be around to do it with him (and also do baseball/football/etc. with Aaron) (and hopefully be around to live life with my wife for the next 50 years or so).  My next goal is to break 214 lbs...that's my lowest weight in over 12 years.  If/when I get there, hopefully a sub-200 number will be next!

It's weird to not be in training for a Disney running's the first time in 3 summers that I am not doing so, and it's driving me crazy as I read everyone on Team AllEars starting their marathon training plans over the past week or two as well as formulating their fundraising efforts over on Facebook.

(FYI, if you want to donate, head over to HERE and give what you can...if you want to have it go toward a TAE runner's amount, add "TEAM ALL EARS (runner's name)" in your name...I think that there might be an author or two from FartlekGiggles that are on the team again cough cough...most of them...cough).

I've started increasing the distance over 5K (over 4 miles now, with a 5 miler on my mind in the next week or so), but don't read into that as me planning for a 2013 Disney run...I want to get the cardiovascular part improved so that in May/June of next year, I can rejoin the ranks of those in training, and I firmly have the 2014 WDW FULL 26.2 mile marathon on my radar.  I'm even contemplating a half or two in the meantime, though locally run instead of through the theme parks.

Save a spot for me for Team AllEars 2014!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Top Ten Things That Annoy Me About RACES

Okay folks...  This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with my previous blog (Top 10 Things I Hate About Jogging).  Again - my standard disclaimer.  I'm not out to offend or anger anyone, but just wanted to express my opinions.  Some of you might agree with them, others not.  It's just all in good fun, right?  So here we go...

10)  Traffic.  Both pre-race and post-race.  Sad to say, I schedule most of my races based on traffic.  I do the Baltimore 10-miler (not this past year, though) because it takes me next to no time to park, and maybe about 10 minutes to leave after the race.  No need to explain the Disney races.  But I am hesitant to do Marine Corps again because the only time I did it I got lost looking for the parking deck, and I wound up waiting over an hour to board a shuttle bus after the race.

9)  Walking an obscene distance from the finish line to my car after a half or full marathon.  I am going to pick on the Williamsburg half for this one.  It was a couple hundreds' yard walk to the post-race celebration from the finish line.  No big deal.  It was another quarter-mile or so to the shuttle buses, which happened to be the same shuttle buses used to transport the regular tourists from stop-to-stop.  Again, I can deal with it if the tourists can deal with my sweaty behind.  But being told I have to WALK back to where I parked my car by the bus driver - after being told by THREE race volunteers between the finish line and the shuttle bus that the shuttle bus WILL drop me off where I parked my car - ridiculous.  Especially since the walk back was close to a mile from the shuttle bus stop.

8)  Water stops running out of Gatorade and/or water.  This happened to me in a race a couple years ago.  They had water, but was out of Gatorade towards the end of the race.  I usually drink water the first two-thirds of a race, and switch to Gatorade (or whatever "-ade" is being offered) for the last stops.

7)  Trying to be conversational during races - especially the longer ones.  Maybe it's because I'm butting in and people don't appreciate it or whatever.  I'll hear someone talking about something, and every now and than I'll comment or put in my two cents if it's something interesting.  Most people are really polite and cool about this.  But there's always a few that look at me like I have three heads.  Makes me want to crawl under the tables at the next water stop.  Just trying to be friendly and make the miles go by quicker, folks.

6)  And this is why I don't do that many 5K races...  Every time I do one, I always seem to get stuck around the kid who always sprints ahead when you catch him/her, and then starts walking.  And turns around and looks at you.  And when you catch that same kid, he/she sprints ahead AGAIN and starts walking.  And turns around and looks at you.  And when you catch that same kid, he/she sprints ahead YET AGAIN and starts walking until you catch them...  I think you can all see where I'm going with this. 

5)  Playing host to runners from out-of-town for a race.  I won't get into this here.  All I'll say is I guess I give off a bad first impression.

4)  Having no one to hang out with before a race.  This is pretty much every race except for Disney.  I get bored, and lonely...  But at the same time I'm the guy who always gets asked to take pictures of groups of people beforehand, and this can be pretty fun.

3)  Is it me, or are goody bags starting to become more and more basic over the past few years?  I remember the first couple races I did back in 2007 and 2008 the goody bags had TONS of freebies in them.  Head bands, wrist bands, candy, gloves, magnets, pens, candy, can/bottle holders, bracelets, cool stuff that lit up, socks, bottle openers, candy, band aid holders, little first aid kids, etc, etc, etc...  Did I mention candy?  Now, it seems like you get a free sample of some sort of lotion and a whole bunch of lapcards.  Plus a boatload of coupons for that respective town that the race is being held in, which would be cool if I was actually local.

2)  Getting up waaaay too early for a Saturday or a Sunday.  I am NOT a morning person.  But the atmosphere and races make it worthwhile.

And I actually have two number 1's...

1)  Walkers who insist on walking four or five abreast blocking pretty much the entire road.  Hey, I'm all about the walkers and the run-walkers.  I've done the majority of my races with the run-walk method.  I don't have an issue with people walking two abreast, or even three abreast.  But when it gets beyond that, you're holding people up.  I'm all about supporting your friends or fellow fund-raisers, but please have some consideration for the other runners around you.

1a)  Runners disrespecting other runners.  This is the only negative experience I've ever had with a Disney running event.  It was a couple years ago at the Disney Marathon week-end.  A couple guys who were obviously Goofy finishers were ragging on a lady who was wearing a marathon finisher medal behind her back.  This one still gets me fired up to this date.  This is a lady who just ran 26.2 miles!!!  You have no frigging idea of what she's been through or what her journey was like.  Maybe this was a lady who just lost 50 pounds and had completed her first marathon.  Maybe this was a lady who was running for a cause.  Maybe this was a lady who was running in honor of someone.  Again, you have no idea what this person (or any person) has been through.  Lay off, and show some respect.  It doesn't matter if you run the 5K, the half marathon, the full marathon, or a combination of the races.  EVERYONE deserves the same amount of respect!  So unless you've been in their shoes, back off.  Everyone who competes in one of the races over the marathon week-end is doing a heck of a lot more than what most other people are doing.  Okay, rant over.

And my tip for the day...  Don't forget your chafing cream.  If you're a big-time sweater like me, you'll regret it on your longer runs...

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Top 10 Things That Annoy Me About Running

Well, it's been a few weeks since I last blogged.  I hope everyone's training is going well and everyone is dealing with the heat okay!  To be honest, not much new on my homefront.  I decided to skip the Goofy Challenge this year and stick with the 5K and the full marathon.  I don't think I'm quite ready for the Goofy in 2013 (at least, with my own personal goals), so we'll see how the next year of running goes.

I'm still trying to decide if I want to do a run/walk for the marathon or to try and run the whole darn thing.  I change my mind pretty much every day in regards to this.  The reason why I'm considering the run/walk is that I set my personal best in the half marathon distance using a 4-min. run/2-min. walk ratio.  And that was my first ever half!  Since than, I've tried various ratios and even ran the whole way (with walks through the water stations) and I've never approached my PR for the half.  The closest I got was about 3 minutes at the Frederick Half last month.  We'll see...  I'll probably keep changing my mind up until the longer runs ramp up this fall!

But anyway, now on to the title of my topic.  Ten things that annoy me about running (this is mainly about training runs and not the races)...

10)  My ear buds won't stay in!  The more I sweat (and I sweat a lot) the looser they become.  I do have the wraparounds, so it's not like they're completely falling out of my ears.

9)  Being able to smell EVERYTHING in my house upon returning from a long week-end run.  This includes the cat litter and the laundry.

8)  Forgetting my nipple guards on the long runs.  Can make for a painful shower and a long day.

7)  When approaching a driveway and seeing the driver preparing to back down.  No matter how far away I am - I can be 100 feet or 10 feet away - the driver will ALWAYS wait until I'm right at his driveway to start backing down.

6)  When I wave or say "hi" to a fellow jogger and get completely ignored.  This one really grinds at me.  At least give me a head nod or something.  Running snobs...

5)  I can smell cigarette smoke from a hundred yards away (no offense, smokers.)

4)  People who only make a half-hearted effort - and in lots of cases NO effort - to contain and/or control their dogs when they chase after me.

3)  The dirty looks I get from the people in #4 who - for some reason - think it's MY fault that their dogs chase after me.

2)  The motorists who make a point of driving as close to you as possible.

1)  Dodging the piles of dog poop that - for some reason - people don't pick up ON THE SIDEWALKS.  Not the grass, which I can understand maybe a little bit, but on the SIDEWALK.  Probably the same people mentioned in #'s 3 and 4.

In closing, my Tip of the Day:  Don't be a hero in the hot weather.  I used to not take water with me on runs of 8 miles or less.  I took an 8-mile run (or attempted to) a couple week-ends ago, and was totally regretting not taking water with me about 4 miles into the run.  And I paid dearly for it.  Again, don't be a hero.  Better safe than studly.

Until next time...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Let's Talk Shoes!

Well, the running writers of this blog got together and came up with the idea of talking about the stuff that helps us with our running.  This is the Part I of a series of group posts, where we discuss what we use and why we use them.  Today's topic...SHOES!  This is an often-debated and little-understood yet vitally-important piece of running equipment.   

Feel free to comment with your own ideas or ask questions in the comments section!

With that, here we go:


Shoe: Brooks Pure Flow

I have used Asics Gel Cumulus for the past 4 years. The shoes were durable but my feet began to feel heavy as if they were dragging behind me. I've experimented with Vibram Five Finger KSO's during training cycles and enjoy the freedom of having feel that feel lightweight. I visited my second home which is known as Inside Track and began trying on shoes that were closer to something on the minimalist s Le. I was looking for lightweight, flexible yet sturdy with very little heel to toe drop. My last shoe had a significant drop, I wanted less. I stumbled across the Brooks Pure Flow and was sold! The Brooks Pure series is geared more towards the minimalist movement. I found a sturdy shoe with a nice wide toe box and very little heel to toe drop. The shoes provide strong support. The upside is that the shoes are ridiculously bright green and yellow. The downside is that I only get 300 miles to a pair versus 500 with the old Asics.


Shoe: Asics Gel Foundation 10 and 2160s

Being a new runner, I had no idea where to start with shoes.  I went to the local shoe store  Often Running), where they watched my step and recommended a strong support shoe (the Evolution).  It was a little too overcorrecting, so we went with a little less support (the Foundation).  The 2160s were my idea after a year of running to go with moderate support but weighing a little less.  I go with 4Es on the width, and the Asics fit really well, so I'll stick with them!  Since I still weigh more than an average-sized grizzly bear, the support on the shoes tend to go out after 150-175 miles, though I hope my weight-loss will help with this cause.


Shoe: Saucony Omni 10
Buying shoes for me is a real pain in the neck. Here in Mexico you can get all brands of running shoes, Brooks, Saucony, Asics, Nike of all sizes but..... you can only find one width size, Standard. So for people like me with very wide feet it's impossible to get a proper pair of running shoes.

I have to cross the US border to get a decent pair of shoes. And don't think that just crossing the border solves the problem. the closest US cities are McAllen or Laredo texas and they don´t have specialized stores for runners. If you want to go to a decent runners store you have to go all the way to San Antonio Tx (Thats a six our trip by car). That has given me lots of trouble regarding running shoes. I got a pair of Asics GT-2140 a couple of years ago and they worked great, the best thing is I could find this type of shoe in Academy or Sports Authority stores, they have those stores at McAllen and Laredo so no need to get to San Antonio. The bad thing came when Asics changed the GT-2140 to the GT-2150. when I bought the 2150 after a couple of months I began feeling pain on my left foot, later I learned it was Plantar Fascitis.

Since I didn't have any other pair of running shoes and at time I couldn't travel to the US I stick to them. Then Asics changed the model to the GT-2160, I got them and the pain increased.

So after deciding that my plantar fascitis was due to the change of models Asics did I decided to get a pair of Saucony Omni10. The bad thing is that Saucony widest shoes are not wide enough so whenever I ran more than 13 miles I get blisters at my left foot arch.

So right now I'm on the search of a new pair of shoes. i've been doing some research and it seems like the Brooks Beasts are going to be my next pair of shoes. It seems they are great for, overweight runner, low arch, over pronator, with current foot injuries and for long running sessions.
Being so difficult finding the right shoe I think I will need to buy them online and pay the high custom rates the governemnt charges. I will let you know how it goes.


Shoe:  Mizuno Enigma

I got these shoes back in late January - just in time to break them in for the Disney Half Marathon.  So far, this has been my favorite pair of shoes.  I was wearing the Mizuno Wave Inspires (which I also really liked), but the big difference with the Enigmas is that - for me - it's a little wider in the front.  What this means for me is that I no longer get the blisters on the sides of my big toes!  Lots of room and good padding.  Plus they're predominantly black so they look bad-ass!  I'll more than likely get another pair of Enigmas when my current pair runs out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free Beer After Races!

Yeah, just another catchy title to get your attention!

But the past two half-marathons I did this past month were both giving away free beers.  Two at each race, to be exact.  But I'm still chicken to drink beer right after a race.  Not sure how it will feel in my stomach.

Well, it's been a loooong couple weeks for me between running two half-marathons, training runs, and coaching.  To put it all in perspective, the coaching is going great, the halfs went okay, and the training went kaput the past couple weeks.

Both of the half-marathons really had me thinking afterward about how I want to approach my next long race.  I've always wanted to be able to run a half-marathon or full marathon completely from beginning to end.  Just something I've always wanted to accomplish.  I came really close in Frederick, but succumbed to achy calves and wound up stopping around mile 11.5 to stretch and walk for about 2 or 3 minutes.  I than went to a 2-min. run/1-min. walk ratio for a couple cycles, and was able to run in the last .75 miles or so.

I came relatively close in Williamsburg.  I felt great until the "turn-around" at mile 8 on the Colonial Parkway.  Was actually on PR pace until that point.  As soon as I turned around - whoosh! - a bit of a head-wind caught me off guard.  I was okay until I hit a nasty hill (although it wouldn't have seemed that nasty at mile 2 or 3) that just sucked it out of me.  For some reason, my legs were still a little dead from the Frederick half.  And the hot weather didn't help.  I only got in two training runs total between half-marathons - one each week. 

So, after contemplating and reflecting after each race, I'm seriously leaning toward re-incorporating the run/walk routine into the remainder of my long races.  I set my personal best of 2:30 in the half using a 4-min. run/2-min. walk ratio for my very first half-marathon five years ago.  And the closest I've come to that time was Frederick a couple weeks ago.  And I don't think I was nearly in as good as shape five years ago as I am today.  Maybe after another year or two, I'll re-think my "racing" strategy again.  So from here on out, I'll continue to completely run my week-day "maintenance" runs of 4 to 5 miles, and incorporate the run/walk for anything over 10 miles.

As far as anything else, lets just say it's time to re-dedicate myself.  Now that the races are out of the way, I'll probably take this week pretty easy  Maybe get in a maintenance run on Friday and a longer run on Sunday or Monday and take it from there.  Also time to start adding the weighlifting back into my routine.  I've gotten away from it the past couple months. 

Here's a little poster I think we can all relate to in one way or another.  I posted it on my Facebook wall a few months ago, but I think it's too funny not to share...

My tip for the "blog" - when in doubt, rest...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mea Culpa...

For having been away from the blog for so long. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing for the sake of writing. Anyway here is my long awaiting update (he says sarcastically). Things have been going really well. My running, weight loss and weightlifting have all seen improvements. Of course one could argue they are all related, but you and both know they are not all mutually exclusive to each other. So lets go point by point.


After having dealt with so many nagging issues since last October I have really scaled my miles back and I only run 2-3 days a week. In fact my weekly mile totals have only recently begun to creep back into double digits. Sure it sucks that as of May I only have 140 miles for the year… but I DON’T HURT. My pace is also improving. I chalk a lot up to that to 1)weight loss and 2)a focus on form. Although I have not made my transition to minimalist running yet, I am constantly focused on a midfoot strike and attempting many of the principles discussed through CHI RUNNING. To give you an example of my improvement, on a 9 mile training run with hills and pouring rain for the duration I ran at a pace that would have put me under my half marathon PR. I also ran a 5k training run almost 4 minutes under my PR. Don’t get me wrong… I’m pushing it a bit, and its still hard… but it is fun to get home and look at your times. Of course I still have shitty runs too but we won’t talk about those.


 If you are a runner and you don’t lift twice a week… you need to start. Think about it… stronger arms lead to better pumping and form, stronger core leads to better endurance and form, and stronger legs lead to making hills your bitch. Sure it also feeds a sense of vanity a bit (I won’t lie about that). I don’t know one guy that would turn down arm definition. But in two months I’ve added 50 lbs to my bench, 80 lbs to my leg press and 50 lbs to my leg curls. I’m still not throwing up big weight but its cool to see the improvement. I am still following a similar circuit plan that I mentioned a few months ago, although I have cut back a bit due to the extra running.

Weight Loss…

So I adopted the Wheat Belly approach to diet. I essentially consume no wheat or processed grains with the exception of my “beer night” which is when I allow myself one evening to partake in the nectar of the gods. I also use recipes that would be found using the Paleo approach as well. I will admit I cannot make the full jump to Paleo. Its hard enough giving up the grains… but cheese too?!? No way. I know some of you will read a description of Wheat Belly or Paleo, see the guidelines and assume “its another Atkins” simply because its low carb. It is so much more than that because it not just saying no carb, its clearing out the processed crap we all assume to be safe. Think about it… our bodies have evolved over thousands of years and our food has been morphed and modified in the last 50 years. Did you ever think you just can’t seem to lose those last 10 lbs because your body doesn’t know how to? Sure I miss sandwiches, spaghetti and eating a whole slice of pizza and not just the toppings. But you know what? I am not sluggish through the day and I hardly ever eat in the middle of the night (and when I do its usually after a cheat day when my body immediately craves the carbs). I have not consumed a single energy drink or gel pack on a run either, just water. And I am down 12 lbs since March. So something is working. Thanks for stopping by.

 Until next time…

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Do I Run?

"Hey Rob, why do you run?"

That's a question I get asked a lot when people find out I run half-marathons and the occasional marathon.  Some people are just making small-talk, others are genuinely interested, and still others are just being polite.  Than of course you have the occasional knuckle-head who always has a wise-@ss comment, such as "I don't drive that far!" or "Man, you're crazy!" or one of my personal favorites:  "Why, don't you got nothin' better to do?"  And each sarcastic comment is always followed by some sort of sarcastic guffaw.  Yuk, yuk, yuk!  Just imagine you're best red-neck laugh.

Laugh it up, fuzzball...

So, why do I run such far distances?  Especially since I come from a track background?  Is it about the "bling?"  No.  Well, maybe a little bit about the bling.  Okay, you got me.  Yeah, part of it is about the cool-looking medals you get when you finish.  Very colorful, big, and shiny.  Like a new car...  Is it about the cool tech t-shirts you get?  Sometimes.  The Baltimore Running Festival is sponsored by Under Armour, so that's usually a nice looking, well-constructed shirt.  I was very jealous of the ones I saw during the Frederick Half a couple days ago.  And the Baltimore 10-miler held every June also has a sweet race premium.  A couple years ago I got a nice, heavy jacket.  The next year, I got a nice half-zip warm-up jacket.  But for the most part, I can care less about the shirts.  Don't get me wrong - the Disney long-sleeve tech shirts are my favorites.  But the other ones that I collect that are short-sleeved, I'll wear maybe two or three times before they go into my collection of old jogging clothes.

So why do I run?  I run mainly for my health.  When I graduated high school, I was 145 pounds and able to run a 5K in the 18-minute range.  I wound up being the #4 runner on my Cross Country team.  Not bad for a sprinter/jumper.  When I graduated college I was around 180 pounds.  I discovered something called weight lifting my junior year in college.  And of course, when I stopped lifting all that muscle turned to fat.  Back in March 2007, I was 205 pounds.  And my cholesterol was through the roof.  Five years later, I'm down to around 184 pounds as of this past week-end.  Not sure about my cholesterol, though.  Have to get that checked out in a month or two.  More than likely, I'll be back on the Lipitor again.  I must have my pizza and chicken wings occasionally.

So the next thing I'm usually asked is "Why don't you just run?  Why do you do the races?"  Good question.  You see, I've tried "just running" in the past between 1993 (when I graduated college) and 2007.  I would run for a few weeks or so, and stop for a few years or so.  I lacked motivation.  I figured if I had something to work towards, i.e. a race or something, it would keep me more motivated.  It would keep me honest.

Why half-marathons, 10-milers, and marathons for me?  Because of the challenge.  With all due respect to the 5K and 10K runners, I'm not trying to slam you guys.  But like I said earlier, I ran Cross Country in high school.  So the 5K distance to me is pretty much "been there/done that."  And the 10K distance, we'd run a couple times a week to train.  Again, I'm not trying to belittle the 5K and 10K distances.  It's just that the challenge wasn't there for me.  The half-marathon and marathon distances offered me a new, unique challenge.  I once read somewhere that less than 1% of the entire world's population that has existed since the year 1 A.D. has run a marathon.  That's pretty exclusive company.  That's something I wanted to be a part of.

You also can't beat the camaraderie and the feelings you experience with yourself and other runners in a marathon.  Especially after mile 20 of a full and after mile 10 of a half.  Really, it's too hard to explain.  It's something you have to experience for yourself. 

It's taken me a couple years to realize that I'll never be a fast marathoner.  I used to get frustrated when I saw people I went to high school with running faster times than me.  I would often say "I used to run circles around that guy/gal."  I often wondered what people I've known for over 20 years thought of my times.  And that took awhile for me to come to terms with.  And you know what?  It's okay.  I look at the weight I've lost over the past few months and that's my motivation.  Heck, my big goal is to finish in the middle of the pack and around the 50th percentile of my age group.  If I can do that, I will be happy.  But so long as I can maintain my health, that will be enough for me.

My Zip-Ah-Dee-Do-Dah Tip of the Week:  It wouldn't be a bad idea to stash some toilet paper in your fanny pack during races.  I actually did this for the Frederick Half a couple days ago.  You never know what the port-a-pots will be like after the half-way points..

Monday, April 30, 2012

I promise...I Actually WILL Talk About Running on This Running Blog Soon!

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post, and I actually do have some good news on the weight loss front.  I no longer see a "4" in the second digit of my weight...the scale shows 237, which is down 19 lbs in 2 months of dieting!  I actually topped out at 261 in mid-March, so I'm unofficially down nearly 25 lbs since my heaviest this year.  I've dropped 2.5 inches off the waist, 3 inches off the chest, 1/2 inch around the neck, an inch around the arms, and 1/2 inch off the thigh.  The #@$^(^@#$!#@$%&& Easter Bunny has not been kind to me with all the chocolate over the past 3-4 weeks (I've heard that hasenpfeffer low in've been warned, wabbit!).  The clothes are definitely fitting a little better, and there is a slight change in the way I look.  I'll post a pic when I'm down 25 lbs!

I was planning on taking around 3 months off of running to rest the IT band as well as to get around 20 lbs off - that's NOW, so I'm hoping to start pounding the pavement (hopefully without cracking it this time) in the next week or 2, so long as I survive the last couple weeks of the semester.  I'll be posting my running on Daily Mile (profile is at ... feel free to link me up over there if you haven't already done so...I'd LOVE to track your progress, too!).  My 7-year old wants to do the local 5K again in July, so that will definitely be the motivation to get back out there.

Oh, and for those wondering how Tory (from my last post) did at was a finish, even with the (REALLY) hot conditions out there...9:38 pace, which is awesome...congrats!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Running Against an Olympic Gold Medalist

There!  Maybe the catchy title caught some new readers' interest!  But seriously, I guess I should follow up a little...

I had the pleasure of running track at Shippensburg University from 1989-1993.  For most of you who don't know, Ship is in south-central Pennsylvania.  It's about a two-hour drive west/northwest from Washington DC.  Included in our alumni (athlete-wise) is Green Bay Packers FB John Kuhn, former Green Bay Packers NG(?) Rob Davis, and 1991 World Champion Bronze Medalist in the marathon - Steve Spence.

Anyway, my first outdoor meet as a freshman was a small meet down at the University of Virginia.  It was us, UVA, and a couple other smaller D-I schools.  Why little D-II Ship was there, I've still no idea.  Heckuva way to start your season.  I remember it started snowing on the way down - to the point where we had to pull over at an IHOP while the coach ran in to make a phone call to see if the meet was still on.  Yes, the weather was THAT bad!

Eventually, we make it to UVA about an hour late.  I was scheduled to run the 400 meters that day.  I report to the staging area only to find out that I was in the fast heat of the 400.

** Gulp! **

Where's the heat for freshmen?

I'm just glad my best friend and future roommate was in the same heat as I was.  Somewhat comforting...

So the marshal starts barking out lane assignments.  Of course, I was in lane one.  For those of you who ran track, you all know how crappy lane one is for a 200 or 400.  Whatever.  I'm a rookie freshman.  I just had to deal.

Than the marshal called out "Paul Ereng!"

Wait.  Who?

Again, the marshal called out "Superman Ereng!"

For those of you who don't know, Paul Ereng was the 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 800 meters.  Kenyan.  A current undergrad at UVA.  Whoa.  This is a big deal for me.  All of us from Ship started whipping our heads around trying to get a glimpse of this guy.  But he was nowhere to be seen.  I like to think he was psyched out at the prospect of facing big, bad freshman phenom Rob Wilhelm over 400 meters.  He was afraid to get his butt handed to him by all 6 feet, 155 pounds (at that time) of me.  But I guess the reality of it was the weather was still pretty bad, and it was actually still snowing.  Whatever.  Chicken. 

But seriously, it was still pretty disappointing that he didn't show up.  Not many people from D-II schools can say they had the chance to race head-to-head against someone of Ereng's caliber and pedigree. 

I had to wait until my junior year to get another opportunity to race against someone of that same caliber.  It was at an indoor meet at the Naval Academy.  Only this time I had advance notice of who I was going to run against so there were no surprises.  I was scheduled to run the 55-meter dash that day.  So, who was it that I was up against?

Jamison Reynolds might know this name.  It was a guy named James Jett, a senior at West Virginia University, a future NFLer, and a future gold medalist in the 4x100 meter relay at the 1992 Olympics.  He actually beat Carl Lewis at the Olympic Trials later that year.

** a bigger GULP! **

I remember that day well.  I was in lane - you guessed it! - one.  Again.  He was in lane 4.  I remember getting out well and even with everyone else.  Heh heh heh...  I had this.  About half-way through the race, I clearly remember him blowing by everyone and winning by like five meters.  I slowed up just to admire it.  I was like "dang....."  Look at him go...  It was actually my slowest time of the year in that particular event.  But what a story I could tell my kids years from now.  I can tell little Harry that his daddy got to run against an Olympic Gold Medalist in college, and proceeded to get his butt kicked by him.

But anyway...  I really couldn't find anything else to blog about today.  I did do an 8-miler this morning, and I spend a good bit of the time trying to find something to write about, but nothing really came to mind.  So I decided to use this week to give you all a deeper glimpse into myself and my running "career."  Not much has changed in the past week.  Weight's still the same.  Still not thrilled with the way I ate last week, but it could've been a lot worse.  Been trying to increase my water intake and decrease my soda intake (again) with success. 

And speaking of junk food intake, this leads to my weekly tip.  My wife and I had a chance to attend a coaching clinic back in December at the University of Maryland.  One of the speakers they featured was a nutritionist.  I forget what his credentials were, but they were pretty impressive.  But anyway...  He said if you want to eat something junky and cheat on your diet, the best time to do it is within 45 minutes of your run.  Something about your body is still in a state of trying to replenish what you had burnt off during your run and things being absorbed and burned more quickly since you just got done working out.  My wife can probably explain it better than me.  All I know is that it made a lot of sense when it was all said and done.

Until next time...  Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My week of gluttony, soda, and grease

Wow.  A heckuva week last week, and not in a good way exercise or diet-wise...  But it's all good.  My wife's cousins came in from out-of-town (Carmel, Indiana) late the previous week and all of last week, and we had an awesome time!

Unfortunately for me, my nagging cold/flu/cough was still hanging on, so I figured it would be best to take the last week off of running, rest as much as possible, and try and kick this cold.  So, what'd I do instead?  A whole lot of walking! 

On Sunday, we dropped in at George and Martha's house at Mount Vernon,VA.  Hadn't been there since like middle school, and the place is HUGE.  Much walking, and much history there for you history buffs.  And I even managed to get us lost driving home and somehow ran into Embassy Row, which was really cool.

On Monday, we walked/drove around Monocacy Battlefield Park in Frederick, MD.  Most of you have probably never heard of Monocacy, but around here it's billed as "the battle that saved DC."  Another awesome place for anyone who's local to the central Maryland region or is an avid Civil War buff.  One cool thing that happened while I was visiting the museum and talking to the ranger behind the desk was that "Jeopardy" called asking how to pronounce "Monocacy." 

On Tuesday we were attacked by the bugs and bees at Harpers Ferry, WV.  Another really cool place to spend the day despite the bugs.  And for some reason I couldn't get that "Kansas" album cover or the song "Carry On My Wayward Son" out of my head.

On Thursday, we hit up Annapolis, the Naval Academy, and Chick and Ruth's Delly (featured on the show "Man vs. Food"), and this is what I indulged in:

This is called the 1-lb. Colossal Burger.  I got mine with American cheese, ketchup, lettuce, and bacon.  I wish I would've put something better next to it to give it some size perspective, but this thing was big.  Height-wise it was okay to eat, but the width...  You can see the patty overflowing outside of the bun.  The patty was probably the same size of my son Harry's face.  Chick and Ruth's also features 2-lb. and 3-lb. (double- and triple-stacker) Colossal burgers.  I could probably down a 2-lb. Colossal, but a 3-lb. would be a completely different story.  I'm just glad we ate lunch first than walked around downtown Annapolis and the Naval Academy afterward!

Also, my wife and and her cousin's wife are both awesome cooks, so we were all eating very well the whole entire week.  And with the sizeable meals come left-overs for lunch.  And of course with such delicious meals, I gotta have soda with them!

But anyway...  Do I regret my week of gluttony?  Not in the least.  After all, even though I wasn't running I was still getting in a ton of walking.  I also had track practices and a couple track meets that kept me hopping last week as well, so that helped out too.  And I think I did a fairly reasonable job of keeping my weight in check.  Right after my 8-mile run two Saturdays ago I was around 185 lbs. As of yesterday, I was at 187, a gain of two pounds.

March overall wasn't such a hot month for me.  I upped the soda intake a little and got away from my healthy lunches at work sometime as well.  The good news - I didn't put on any weight.  The bad news - I really didn't lose any weight.  Starting tomorrow, I'll have to re-dedicate myself to everything.  Just hope my foot and ankle cooperate with me.  Over the past 48 hours, they've just been reminding me exactly who the boss is.  Hopefully over the next day or two it will work itself out.

This is the only "before" picture of me that I can find.  Not the best pic in the world - it didn't enlarge very well.  But this is me coming down the finishing stretch of the 2011 Disney World half-marathon - all 202 pounds of me.  Again, this is/was the heaviest I've been since I graduated from college back in 1993.  Hopefully between the Frederick half and Williamsburg half I can post a current photo.

My Zip-Ah-Dee-Do-Dah tip for the day:  if you run with headphones, make sure they fit properly.  I tried out some ear buds from "Yur Buds" at the 2012 Disney Marathon expo and loved them.  I bought a pair when I got back and was pretty satisfied with them up until my last long run a couple weeks ago when the right one kept falling out because of my excess sweating.  Luckily it stayed in place until the last half mile of my run.  But I should've listened to the salesperson when he suggested a different brand.

Until next time...  Stay tuned.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One Month Down, and the Results Are In - OR - What You Learn at the Local Hooters Restaurant

I can't wait to see how many new readers we get with THAT title!

Well, the month of March has been over for a bit...the end results were good!  I ended the month down 12.5 lbs from the beginning of the month (WOOT!!). do I tie in our local Bloomington Hooters Restaurant into this?

Well, I took a day off from the diet to partake in some of the best wings in the world.  Our server (Tory) comes over to get our initial drink order and comments on my Mickey Mouse watch.  She then notices that all of us have Disney clothing on and mentions that she is also a Disney fact, she was just down there for a week in January.  Our interest was immediately grabbed.

"So was I" (as I'm starting to contemplate giving her the smolder look a la Flynn Ryder).  "I was there for (in my lowest voice) Marathon Weekend.  I ran down there during (low voice) Marathon Weekend

About this time, Sheri is scooting over around the table to be within kicking distance of me.

"ME TOO!!" Tory tells us.

She tells us that she did the marathon and was dressed up as Snow White for the race.  I say (too quickly) that I remembered seeing her running and that Lou Mongello even caught her on video running by; actually, there was another girl running the marathon in a similar outfit that Lou mentioned in his live broadcast.  Still, I saw about 85-90% of the marathon runners, and I do recall seeing a couple of Snow White's out there running, so I'm pretty confident that I did cheer for her out on the course.

All of us now know that we could talk to each other for hours about Disney and running, but we also know she has at least one other table, so we release her from our talons for a few minutes.  She's back in a couple of minutes, though, to pick up where our conversation left off.  I ask her what she finished at.

"Around 3:47."

Thud (the sound of my fainting body hitting the floor)

Her pace was around 8:40, and she stopped for a few pictures, from what it sounded like (I was still trying to wrap my head around her pace when she was talking about it).  It was her fourth or fifth marathon...that prompted me to ask her if she hoped to qualify for Boston.

"Actually, I'm heading out there in a few weeks to run it for the first time."


She qualified in Chicago last year and ran even faster at the San Francisco marathon (got her PR there at 3:37).

Thud (TKO!!!)

Long story short, we all agreed that Tory rocks!!

Over the rest of the meal,we discuss running, Disney, WDW dining, etc...all the fun things I love to talk about.  She's a student at ISU (and, no, I probably won't see her as a student...she likely won't need an Econ course any time soon).  She'd love to be able to work down there at WDW in restaurant management or being a sous/head chef.  I can't remember if she did the College program or really wants to do the program (I don't think she has done it).  We talked to her about Team AllEars, and she recalled seeing several of the blue team shirts on the course as she ran (WOOHOO!!!!).

Since she's a BQ, she had to know what a fartlek was, so I gave her the address for our blog as I thought it would be something she'd be interested in reading.  I jokingly said that it felt like I was giving her my phone number with my wife right next to me.  I even got her number, too...her bib number for Boston so I can follow her progress.

When we got our total, see signed it with the standard Mickey head in place of the 'o' in her name...Sheri, Aaron, Eric, and I all immediately fell in love with her.

Hopefully in January 2014, I'll be on the same course as her in Lake Buena Vista, watching her marathon finish time notification come in to my phone as I pass the mile 8 marker.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

We Quit!!!

No more running.  No more diet.  No more caring.  We now smoke, binge drink and eat nothing but quarter pounders and McNuggets.


Its a beautiful day (at least in the DC area).  I hope you made the most out of it.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Husband, Parent, Coach, Employment

Happy Saturday everyone!  Perfect conditions for a run this morning - partly cloudy, mid 40s, low humidity!  Did an 8-mile run this morning in my best time ever.  This weight loss is starting to work for me...

So...  One of the questions I get asked a lot is:  How do I juggle working full-time, being a Cross Country and Track coach, chase a rambunctous (spelling?) 5-year-old-boy around, be a good (I hope) husband, and still manage to squeeze in half-marathon and marathon training?  Well, it's not exactly easy, but once you get into a routine it's actually not too bad to manage.

The one thing that stinks is getting up at 5:30 a.m. during the coaching season.  This might seem easy for lots of other people, but for a night owl like me I absolutely, positively detest it.  I hate mornings.  Not a morning person at all.  I was going to start taking my runs early in the morning to get it out of the way, but that ended the moment the alarm clock went off at 4 a.m. and my hand slammed the snooze button multiple times.  So when do I get it my week-day runs?  When I get home from track practice, which is sometime around 5:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. or so.  So basically I wake up, at work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., hustle to track practice (which the assistant coaches start at 2:45), wrap up practice around 4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m., hustle home, run 4 to 5 miles, eat dinner, play with Little Guy and spend time with my wife.

What makes everything bearable is the support system I have - particularly at home.  Heidi has started running and she fully supports my endeavors.  She has actually started running with me so that's a big positive.  It makes up for time that would otherwise be lost if I were running by myself.  I think I'm extremely lucky to have a wife who runs with me.  Around my area, you don't see very many couples who do this.  The Cross Country kids are also great.  I think they like seeing the ol' coach strap on the running shoes and tackle the course with them - particularly during the hot, humid days of August and early September.  At least, I think they like it...

After working a full work day, running also serves as a sort of "therapy" for me.  For me, it's a really good way to decompress and process what happened over the course of the day - particularly if it was a busy or bad day at work.  I actually look forward to the week-day runs.  It's "running therapy" as it's known in the runners' circle.

So, is it a lot work juggling all these duties (heh heh, I said "duties!")?  It sure is.  I'm usually whipped by the end of the day, and by the end of the coaching season I'm pretty much toast.  But what makes it bearable is that I enjoy what I do.  Work is okay.  I have some good co-workers who make the days bearable to be at work.  I love coaching.  I love teaching kids the sport of running and I really enjoy watching them improve over the course of the season.  And I've finally discovered the joy of running again.  So, yeah, the rigors I put myself through both physically and mentally - particularly during the coaching seasons - is well worth it.  You have to enjoy what you're doing.  You have to have a positive outlook on things.  You have this, and you can make it through the days, weeks, and months with no problem.

So here's my Zip-ah-dee-do-dah Tip of the Week:  I learned this lesson the hard way this morning.  If you're going out for a run in which you know you'll be gone for over an hour.  Always remember your water bottle.  I didn't bring one this morning and was regretting it around mile 6 of an 8-mile run.  I used to never run with a bottle unless I was going 10 miles or longer.  I'm not sure if it's because I was sick or what, but I will never go without water again on the long week-end runs.  Something else I try and do is gauge my water intake.  For example, I know Disney has water stops every mile.  During my training runs I'll only take water in at every mile.  I try and adapt to the water zones of every race I run.  It gives me one less thing to worry about on race days.

Until next time...  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Urgh, Do I HAVE To Follow Josh?

Geez did you read what Josh wrote?  My gosh... how do I follow that?!?

Well I will keep it simple.  My time off from running has helped.  My form is crap but I don't feel pain and I am back into double digit miles for the weeks.  I had a chance to run at the Shore this past weekend but dragged my feet and didn't get up in time before my drive back to WV so instead my long run was along route 11.  Not nearly as scenic.

My supplementing the running with weightlifting and core work was the way to go.  I have NO IDEA why I didn't lift last year but it was a stupid mistake.  I feel stronger after only a month and I am convinced it is why I am not hurting in the knees.

The diet is going well too.  My weight loss has not been as dramatic as some, but I think the lifting is offsetting the weight loss.  I am down about 10 lbs this month, give or take the day.  But my waist is back to about where I was before the Chicago Marathon in October '11 so I am happy about that.  Cutting out wheat and gluten was a great diet choice for me.  Any diet where I can eat all the meat, eggs, cheese, pickles and pistachios I want?  Sign me up.  I am also limiting my beers to only a few (two-three) on the weekends and thats really because I still have some great craft brews I have not gotten to yet.  In fact...


Are you a runner who really craves sweets during or after a run?  If so, I fully recommend Breckenridge's Agave Wheat.  The flavor from the agave almost completely overwhelms the traditional wheat taste, but that familiar wheat taste is there, make no mistake.  If your only idea of "wheat beer" is Blue Moon then you will be completely surprised.  About the only thing this beer has in common with Blue Moon is wheat and the fact that they are both from Colorado.  You will also get about 16 grams of carbs after you are done with your run in case you are looking for another reason to try it.  To further highlight its refreshingness (I lay claim on that word), its bitterness level is only a 9.  To put that in perspective, an American light beer is in the same bitterness range, while a Guinness Stout is about 50 IBU's.  Don't worry, if you are reading this and you are a HopHead, we will be drinking some heavier stuff as the year goes one.

Okay folks... til next time just remember... "Proud and defiant we'll slay the giant, let us seize the day!"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Do You Begin...Again?

July 2011 with my 2 boys and my baby girl
Sorry I'm late to the party. But allow me to explain myself. You see, I sit and stare. I stare at the blank screen. The cursor flashes at me like a red light at an intersection in a small midwestern town at 3 in the morning. I’ve got my hands gripped tightly on the wheel, there’s not a soul to be seen and yet I don’t make a move. I watch the tumbleweed roll across the intersection, but I’m paralyzed. As I stare at the cursor I am convinced I can hear it tic and toc like an old grandfather clock reminding me that time is passing me by. Eventually, it is as if the cursor speaks to me in short bursts in rhythm with it’s flashing. At first, with encouragement, “C’mon, let’s go.” “You can do this.” Then with a tone of irritation, “You agreed to do this, the boys are counting on you.” Finally, I hear the drill sergeant “Get off your ass and get started!” “LET’S GO!” I try to make the connection between my head, my heart, my fingers and the keyboard, but I just sit and stare. My wife, my kids, the cat, even the four 1 week old kittens we are fostering and bottle feeding (don’t ask) are asleep. Finally, I slowly push down on the gas pedal, I try to type, I try to express myself, but I cannot get this unrelenting mantra out of my head. It is marching around my brain like a goose-stepping fascist military parade “How do you start? Where do you begin?” “Where do you begin? How do you start?” And then it hits me. “Maybe I don’t want to start?” I have tried to start this blog nearly a half a dozen times and I failed. I could give you a laundry list of reasons why I haven’t written my introduction. But maybe the honest truth is that it is easier to sit here, stare and do nothing. You see I am not just starting, I am starting again.

I am a 37-year-old husband and father of 3 living in Boston (yup home to the granddaddy of them all, this year’s 150th running of the Boston Marathon). I have struggled with my weight my whole life, spending most of it straddling the fence between overweight and obese. Like most people who struggle with obesity my weight has gone up and down more than the price of gas. But also like the price of gas, despite the ups and downs, the trend was clearly upward. I am a veterinarian. Actually, I am a veterinary cardiologist (yes that’s right a dog and cat heart doc) and I spent the most potentially athletic years of my life (18-30) in college, veterinary school, an internship and residency. At the time, I felt as though I had no money to eat well and no time for exercise. As a working husband and father of three little ones, I now understand that I actually had plenty of time to exercise and enough resources to eat well. But it is what it is, I am where I am now and I cannot change the past. I really started to pack on the pounds during my residency in veterinary cardiology at the Animal Medical Center in New York City (2001-2004). Yup, NYC, home of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With each passing year I looked more and more like the blimps that floated through Times Square on the 3rd Thursday of each November. I left the residency and NYC in 2004 for the suburbs in NJ. My wife gave birth to our baby girl in 2004. We ultimately moved back to my wife’s hometown – Boston, MA – in 2007.
June 2008

When I began my first “real job” after my residency at the age of 30, I was working hard, yes, but there was plenty of time for exercise. But much like this blog post, I didn’t know where to begin. I felt like Jane from the Jane’s Addiction song “Jane Says” “I’m gonna start tomorrow / I’m gonna kick tomorrow / Gonna kick tomorrow.” I was Jane and my addition was food. With the constant over eating and absolute lack of exercise, I was being walked ever so slowly to an early grave. It may have been a longer walk than the inmates on death row, but there is no question I was a dead man walking. The “Tomorrow” Jane speaks of finally came in January of 2009. This is when I had my moment of enlightenment, my moment of clarity.

January 2009, 270lbs of love! Ugh.
My wife has a wonderful memory and remembers so many details from her past, I, on the other hand do not. My wife remembers the color of shirt she wore on the 4th day of 3rd grade. I cannot remember what I ate for dinner last night. But I will remember this moment for the all eternity. I was in the YMCA locker room just finishing “open swim” with my then 5-year-old daughter, 3 and 1 year old sons. As we were changing I caught a truly unflattering view of myself in the mirror and I literally thought, “Oh, my God. Is that really what I look like?” I avoided looking in mirrors as much as possible during those years, but I could not escape this image. I was obese and horribly unfit. I had a BMI of 36, I touched 270lbs on the scale and I was so sad with what had become of me.

That moment changed me forever. It was if someone had given me truth serum. I saw myself for what I was. I could see my world more clearly than ever. It had taken me 34 years to get there, but I finally realized that the winds of change were here. I had run out of excuses and now was time for a change. So I began to make more healthful food choices, I counted my calories and I started walking and exercising on the elliptical. Then eventually I began a run:walk routine (inspired by the ever amazing and gracious Jeff Galloway). Even though I had finally started to make a change, it was clear that it was not going to be easy. Going to the gym was always humbling and was often emotionally difficult. If you have ever been the “fat person” in the gym, you know what I mean. If you have not, count yourself fortunate. After about 3 weeks of exercise, I was on the treadmill and I kept catching this very attractive woman looking at me. At first I thought, “Hey, I’m making progress! ‘Looking good Billy Ray! Feeling good Louis!’ (“Trading Places” For those of you who missed it see video) I’m getting looks from the ladies!” Then I caught a glimpse of myself again in the dreaded mirror and quickly realized that I looked horrible. I was struggling and it looked like I was one French fry away from cardiac arrest. I realized the only reason the woman was staring at me was to try and figure out at just what moment should she call 911. Nonetheless, I persevered. I had the wonderful support of my wife and family. I continued to make progress. I started to participate in some local races. I walk/ran a local 5 miler, then my wife and I ran the Goffstown 5 miler in NH. 
Goffstown Gallop 5miler Summer 2009
Cailin and Josh Jan 2010 at 26.0 miles WDW Marathon
This was where we met our friends and AllEars Teammates Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean (Team AllEars is a team of people who compete in races during the Walt Disney World marathon weekend while raising money for breast cancer). At this point, I had my sights set on the Walt Disney World Marathon in Jan of 2010. Despite some orthopedic setbacks, my wife and I ran:walked the Walt Disney World marathon in Jan 2010 as part of Team AllEars. The WDW marathon was the race that fortified my addiction for endurance events.

Summer 2010 Boston Urban Epic Sprint Tri
Cailin, myself, JP and Jen after the Half WDW Marathon Weekend 2011
I won’t bore you with the details, but 2010 was a great year. I trained for and ran the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT. In the summer I started training with the great Coach Jeff from Team PRSfit. I had a terrific summer. Coach Jeff guided me through the Falmouth Road Race, a couple of sprint and a couple of Olympic Distance triathlons. I was losing weight and gaining fitness. Mentally I was beginning to feel like an endurance athlete. I, “the slow fat kid”, was becoming an endurance athlete! I was having a great year and decided to train for the 2011 Disney’s Goofy Challenge – the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. Again I did this as part of the wonderful Team AllEars. My wife ran the half marathon that weekend and I ran most of the half marathon with my closest of friends JP and Jen. I had a minor orthopedic setup back during the half, but I was able to run the full with great friends Dominic and Stan from Team AllEars and had the time of my life. During the full marathon, my wife was the best Sherpa! She always found me out on the course when I needed her most - a bottle of Hammer sports drink here, a banana there, a gel just when I needed it. She was my savior. Despite the distance (39.3mi in 48hrs), I can honestly say it was the greatest sense of accomplishment I have had as an endurance athlete.

Jamison and Josh Post Goofy WDW 2011

The 2010 racing season had ended on such a high note with the 2011 Goofy challenge and I was so excited to run Goofy again in 2012. But it was not to be. After Disney’s marathon weekend I began to focus on the upcoming summer tri season. I had thrown my hat into the ring for a June ½ iron distance tri (70.3mi). But while on vacation in Mexico in Feb 2011, it all came to a screeching halt. Everything I had gained I was about to lose and I never saw it coming. I was blind-sided. I herniated a disc in my back (L4-L5 on the right). I would spend the next 6 months on the sidelines trying to recover. Everyday was painful. There were times throughout each day when the pain was tolerable and other times during the day when I would have rather had my leg amputated. The pain was often immense. Most days, I could not make it through the shower without being in tears by the end. Standing and walking was tortuous.

So I tried to get well. I rested, I went to physical therapy, I did acupuncture, I went to see the chiropractor, and I had 3 steroid injections in my back. Nothing helped. So I ultimately ended up in the surgeon’s office. We scheduled the surgery for Aug 1 at 8am. I was so unbelievably scared of the anesthesia, the risks of surgery, everything. I was petrified. But I knew in my heart this was the right choice. I was put under general anesthesia and when I awoke, I was told everything went very well and that I should make a full recovery. The rest of that day I was on some great pain medications and I was euphoric. Fourteen hours after surgery they finally let me stand up. I was so excited. I even tweeted “I’m about to take my first steps in training for my 70.3!” But as soon as I stood up, I had the EXACT same radiating pain down my right leg that had me so incapacitated the months prior. The resident assured me that this was not that unusual “post-operative swelling/edema and inflammation” he said. But the pain persisted 1 day after surgery, 1 week after surgery, 2 weeks after surgery. At the recheck all the surgeon could say was, “Well, that was unexpected” The follow-up MRI demonstrated that my lesion had not changed! The disc was not fixed, the herniation was still present. I still had an anatomic reason for my pain! Another steroid epidural did very little. My surgeon clearly wanted nothing to do with me and he did not want to take me back to surgery. He told me there was nothing else to do but give it time and consider a spinal fusion in 4-6 months. Spinal fusion? When there was still a herniated disk present on the MRI? I couldn’t understand. I had 2 other “spinal physicians” tell me off the record that it looked like I needed another surgery. So I found another surgeon, a kind and compassionate man. It took me nearly 3 months to get an appointment and by the time I went into his office, I was in such extreme pain, I could not sit still for the physical exam, the repeat MRI or the 5th epidural steroid injection. I was in so much pain, I would have opted for partial paralysis if it meant they could make my pain go away. 

So 12 weeks after the 1st surgery, I was back in the hospital for round 2. Again, surgery and anesthesia went very well. In recovery, I was 100% pain free. A feeling I had not had in over 10 months. It was as if someone had turned off the pain switch. I went home and was as happy as could be. Unbeknownst to me, it was still not over. 1 week after discharge from the hospital, I developed the worst headaches I have ever had. Upon standing, I would become uncontrollably nauseated. Within 30 seconds of being upright, I’d want to vomit. I’d go back to a prone position and the headaches would resolve. Another MRI revealed I had a torn dura and I was leaking CSF (cerebrospinal fluid - the fluid that surrounds and coats your spine and brain). This is a reported complication of the surgery. But it is reported in less than 0.5% of all disc surgeries. The CSF was leaking into the muscles and subcutaneous tissue around my incision. I had a palpable bump on my back over the sight of the incision. So back again to surgery we went. The day before Thanksgiving, I was taken back to surgery to repair the leak. Upon waking from the anesthesia, the headaches were gone.  I was finally on the path to recovery. The next day was Thanksgiving and, hospital food and all, I had never been never so thankful.

This is the palpable bump on my back from all the fluid.
It has been 4 months since my last surgery. I was told to wait 6 weeks before starting physical therapy. I started going to physical therapy in January, but honestly it was very difficult to make the time (3 hours a day 3 times a week). Business and family were very busy which made my visits inconsistent at best. Then we went away to Mexico again in February and I have not been back to PT since. The reasons I have stated for not going to PT are just excuses and I know that. The real reason is that it is hard, both physically and emotionally. Under the best of circumstances, it is painstakingly difficult to begin. I am finding out now, that it is even more difficult to begin again. I understand the work that is ahead of me in order to gain back my fitness and to lose the weight. I understand this now better than I did 3 years ago when I first began my journey. Yesterday I weighed in at 227 lbs. Although this is a far cry from the 270 I saw 3 years ago, it is still a flabby 21 lbs heavier than I was when I ran the Goofy Challenge a year ago. Having an understanding of the work I have to put in is overwhelming. It is paralyzing. I sit and stare at my calendar. I am once again Jane, “I’m gonna kick tomorrow.” But this time it’s different.

Post op 2011.  I've gotta long ways to go, but I'm ready.
Because I had the ability to swim, bike and run, taken away from me for over a year, I now understand how truly special it is. I understand the pain and frustration of the thousands of injured endurance athletes that would give anything to swim, bike and run, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they cannot. I know there are millions of permanently disabled people around the world who would trade all of their worldly possessions just to be able to walk down the street. I know there are millions of people who are weakened by radiation therapy or nauseated from chemotherapy who pray that someday they will be able to walk to the bathroom without an IV full of anti-nausea medication. I’ve had 3 back surgeries in less than 4 months. But that is in the past and I’m done feeling sorry for myself. I understand that what I went through, although tough, pales in comparison to the struggles of many. On Friday, I found out my mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be 61 in May and I cannot begin to imagine what she is going through emotionally and what will lie ahead of her physically. She has already fought and beaten lymphoma when she was in her 20s. But unfortunately the radiation therapy she had for the lymphoma left her with a predisposition for breast cancer. She is just at the beginning of her journey and we do not know what her treatment options are. While we do not know specifically what the treatments will be, there will be days, I am sure, when she will be exhausted from her treatments. There will be many a day I know when she will be emotionally spent. There will be days when she will want to go for a walk, but cannot. I may not be able to do the things I used to do 14 months ago, but I will not waste my second chance at health. I will do my PT for my mother. I will train and race for her. The time has come to begin again. I will swim, bike and run for all of those who cannot. My name is Josh and I am a triathlete and a marathoner, but I am just beginning…again.

Please join me and my friends on this blog and following our journeys.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


There!  Hopefully my blog title got your attention!

So, why do I blog?  I was asked this question a few times over the past few years (I also did a coach's blog for a local newspaper).  Better yet, why do I blog when I know that not very many people read it?  I'll try my best to explain...

First and foremost, it keeps me honest.  I know my wife is reading this (hi, pumpkin!  I love you!), and this in turn, helps keep me honest in my training and diet.  I know there's someone watching out for me and making me delicious, healthy dinners.  And I know there's someone watching out for me to make me feel a little guilty about going for that second glass of soda or my son's leftover candy.  I know there's someone watching out for me and who notices when I lost a little chunk of weight.  And I know there's someone watching out for me when she notices my work clothes are fitting a little looser.

Secondly, I just hope I can inspire someone else to make a lifestyle change.  Even if it's just one person.  If I can do that, I would've accomplished my mission with my blog.  Again, I know I'm not reaching too many people, but I always hold out hope that someone new just happens to stumble on my blog and I can be of some help to that person - no matter how much or little I impact them.

So, in the end, does it bother me that my blog probably only does reach three people?  No, not really...  I've really developed a good "support team" around the home front.  Many thanks to my family for their support.  Got to give a shout-out to the neighbors for their kind words, and also to the parents of the kids I coach who have noticed the weight loss.

But anyway...  How's my training going?  Pretty crappy actually.  Last Monday, I was able to get in a good 4-mile run in before I got sick with a nasty cold.  Had to take the whole week off and ran again this past Monday.  What happened?  I got nasty side effects from the anti-biotics that I will NOT go into detail about.  Hopefully I can get a decent run in tomorrow (Friday) and start fresh next week.  So basically, we'll say in the span of two weeks, I got in 2 4-mile runs, no lifting, and that's it.  The good thing is that my weight has at least maintained.  If anything, I put on maybe 1 pound of what I lost...

My weekly training tip:  When you're jogging on the road - and you're like me and run the same route at the same time of day - keep oncoming traffic in mind.  What I mean is, if someone driving makes an effort to move over and give you space, give them a wave.  Most times, they'll wave back.  If you're like me, you start seeing some of the same cars over and over again.  Than they might start thinking "hey, these jogger nuts aren't so bad," and they'll start moving over for OTHER joggers as well.

Until next time...  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who's Got Two Thumbs and Forgot to Post His Update Last Week???

That's're reading his stuff now!  Sorry about that - in my delusional mind, I know the throngs of readers out there were on pins and needles, wondering if the previous week's weight loss was just water weight or the removal of rocks placed in my pocket at the initial weigh-in.  I'm happy to report that, as of today (Tuesday), I was down another 4 lbs!  I actually am seeing a 24X on the scale now...the next goal is that long-ago-seen "23X".

I would likely have been down more, but I felt like I was losing a little too quickly, so I added  a few more carbs for a bit (refer to my last post on here regarding ketoacidosis).  I allowed a couple of days where I added quite a few carbs (yes, even the evil high-glycemic index ones as wifey and I had one of our semi-annual date nights).  Luckily, I kept it somewhat within reason (not going completely crazy), and it wasn't too difficult the next day...

...and then last Saturday happened. 

Sheri made a Tastefully Simple recipe that I have decided will work perfectly as my carbo loading breakfast the day before my first marathon.  These muffins would have made Paula Deen proud.  I put it into my calorie counter, and it locked up on me (I think that was its way of mourning for me).  For those who are doing Wheat Belly, South Beach, Atkins, know how it feels when you cheat and have something loaded with enriched flour and sugar? 

Yeah, 2 hours later, the cravings hit me like I haven't felt in a LONG time.

We were over at my in-laws' house, and I was absolutely starving.  I should have just reached for the cheese sticks in the fridge, but they have a goodie drawer that was calling my name in a lovingly tone.  I channeled the Tasmanian Devil, tore into the drawer, and ate nearly everything in there!  Sure enough, an hour or so later, I was tired and starving.

Oh, and for you wheat belly fans out there...I have been able to cut my GERD medication in half...every other day now.  Well, I was able to do so before I had a couple of meals with a lot of wheat products in it. 


I had an accidental good-news event occur this past weekend...was putting on a belt and, without thinking or trying, I was able to go to a smaller hole when buckling.  WOOT!!!!!!

On the activity front - I've been doing a lot more around the house.  Once I get below 240, I'm going to start the lower-mileage running back up as I'm guessing my boys will want to do our local town's 5K in a few months.  I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of stuff as I haven't checked in on the Daily Mile web site since December (no, I haven't even uploaded the WDW half).  I can't wait to start getting those updates again on that site.

Current weight: 249

Total lost: 9 lbs in 19 days.