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...