Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Monday Update

It's New Year's Eve. Wow, has this year flown by. It's hard to believe 2008 is upon us.

Starting with the usual stuff, I noted yesterday my gym workouts. That was about it for exercise this week. 4 1/2 hours of spinning, a couple of miles on the treadmill and a few hours in the pool with the kids. A good week!

As for the scale, it continues in the right direction. I've finished the year at 241.5, down 1.7 from last week. Pretty good considering I spent the week at home, too close to the fridge and snacks.

For the year, I lost 71.9 lbs, on top of 100.6 last year, a total of 172.5 since July, 2006. Although I didn't hit my original goal of 100 pounds for 2007, or my revised goal of 75, I am very happy with my progress. I know that I'm much healthier than I was even a year ago. My fitness level is improved and my endurance continues to increase.

In 2007, my running mileage totaled 344.0. This is well off my hopes for the year to break 500, but, considering the two injuries, not a bad year at all.

Looking forward to a great 2008. Best wishes to you all for a happy fitness and healthy eating new year.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fit Week

It's been a good week for fitness.

I took advantage of the week off to pick up a 7 day pass at the local Lifetime Fitness club. If there is a nirvana for fitness clubs, I think this must be it. The equipment is pristine and plentiful, lots of classes, free weights, a gym for basketball, two indoor and one outdoor pool, even a rock climbing wall.

I sat through the mandatory sales pitch on Wednesday, planning to get the most out of the club through New Year's Day. On Wednesday afternoon, I took the kids for family swim. Thursday and Friday, were spin classes. Saturday was another swim day with the kids, plus some hoops and our first ever try on the rock wall. This morning, a 2-mile run and the 90-minute "recovery" spin class.

The club is fantastic. Even the locker rooms are sweet. I've not been in anything else like it. Even better, we swam yesterday with some neighbors and today, Jill was in the spin class.

Not a bad way to spend the week!

So, when will we join? As they say in real estate, location, location, location. The club is about a 20 minute ride from home and there are other options that will better serve our needs. Hope to seal that deal in the next week. But for now, looking forward to two more days of fun!

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Shoe Fetish?

It struck me as I was packing up to leave the gym yesterday that I might be have some sort of male shoe fetish.

18 months ago, I think I owned four pair of shoes:
  • sneakers that I wore around town and to work at my local office

  • dress shoes for well, the obvious, one pair, black

  • canvas boat shoes, for around the house

  • water shoes -- something for the beach

That was about it.

Today, I took four pair TO THE GYM!

  • around town sneakers for going to and from

  • mountain bike shoes with hard soles for spinning

  • running shoes for, well running (duh!)

  • shower shoes (compliments of the fine folks at Spenco and the Philly Distance Run)

I think I'm up to 10 pair total. Is it just me? Maybe need some kind of scientific review of this phenomenon -- as weight goes down, shoe ownership goes up. Just an observation.

Merry Christmas, all!

L'Chaim!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays Monday Update

Another good week in the books on the scale as I lost 1.4 lbs (15 day average) down to 243.2, a total of 170.8 with 44.2 to goal. I seem to be back in the groove as the year is coming to a close, much like this time last year.

Looking back, I was trying to hit 100 lbs by years end 2006. On 12/28, I had 5.4 to go (daily weight, not 15 day average.) By New Year's Eve, in just 3 days, I had lost 6 pounds to make goal.

This year's goal seems to be much more daunting. With a week to go, it will be very difficult to get my 15 day average to a point where another 4.2 falls. I'd need to be down about 10 pounds from where I am this morning. Unlikely, but I'm game to try!

Good news on the exercise front as well. This morning I attended my second spin class. Another enjoyable experience. After the class, I gave my ankles a try out on the treadmill. I was able to run a mile non-stop without pain. This is excellent news. I'll continue to push the running at home. Although I won't hit my previous goal of 400 miles, with 60.6 go to, I should be able to easily run 10.6 to break 350 for 2007 and possibly 30.6 to hit 600 for the "new-life-to-date."

Merry Christmas to all that celebrate. If not, have some chow mein on me!

L'Chaim!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Father Kicked My Ass. . . And I Liked It!

I had been wanting to take a spin class for months. My gym, unfortunately, doesn't offer it. About a month ago, I asked my dad if he would bring me as a guest. I have been more excited about this than just about any exercise I've done in this past year and a half.

Finally, today was the day.

I met dad at the gym just before the 9 o'clock class.

We went in and picked bikes , then warmed up.

The instructor came in and introduced himself around the room and got set up.

Just after nine, the music was on, the lights were down and we were off.

For the first 10 minutes, we were warming up. I was in full sweat though, and the heart rate was definitely elevated. I looked over at dad and he was doing just fine. By 15 minutes, we were all more than warm and I started to clock watch. How the hell was I gonna get through the next 45 minutes. I did okay for the first 20-25 minutes, but after that, I struggled on the "out of the saddle" rides.

Somewhere shortly after that, a reggae style cover version of the Eagles' Hotel California came on. This is my favorite song and I was trying desperately to sing along but couldn't quite keep up with the ups and downs of the spin instructor and the music. Fairly early on, my pace caught the instructor's eye and he shouted over to me to tighten the resistance on the bike. I did, and he yelled "MORE!" That 7 minutes or so was totally intense, with six or seven in and out of the saddle portions. It was fantastic.

By this time, I was pretty much running on fumes. Dad was holding steady.

I could barely get off the bike when the hour was over, but I loved it! Totally impressed with my mid-60's dad too! He kicked my ass!

Can't wait to go back for more.

L'Chaim!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Chinese Food on Christmas

I've alluded to the fact that it's Chinese food and the movies on Christmas. Only four days and counting!

Found this video about just that. This guy is a local and the scenes are all from around Baltimore.

Enjoy!

L'Chaim!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life is Good.

I was thinking on the way in to work today how great things are. It's been a tremendous year and I feel better today, on my 43rd birthday, than I probably have on just about any other birthday.

Beyond the obvious improvements of lower weight, better fitness and a healthier body, I have a fantastic wife and great kids. They are loving and supportive. My extended family is equally loving and supportive. I have terrific friends that I know I can count on. In the past year, I know that all of my relationships have become more rock solid than they already were.

I'm grateful for my new found blogosphere friends and the folks on the Runners World boards, too. You've helped keep me focused and in line. I'm proud to count you among my friends too and hope that I'll get to meet more of you in the flesh.

Since I am a numbers guy, I'll share some numbers from the past 365 days:

1,824,306 -- smiles :)
284,200 -- calories burned in excess of calories consumed
6,982 -- kisses received from Deb and the boys -- equal to the number dispensed (yes, I counted!)
402.8 -- miles "jalked" between December 2006 and November 2007
337.7 -- road miles biked
-10.7 -- change in BMI
-81.2 -- change in weight

For Hanukkah, Deb gave me a t-shirt with a little guy on a bicycle. On the back it said "Life is Good!"

Yes, it is.

L'Chaim!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Confused and Dazed

After re-reading yesterday's blog post, I realize that I wasn't quite clear on my activity from yesterday. I meant yesterday to be a dream sequence. Kinda like that season on Dallas when Bobby wakes up. (OK, I didn't watch Dallas, but I remember the endless press details of the bizarre episode.) Anyway, my activity yesterday was very much like the 2 1/2 weeks before, zippo. Sorry if I confused.

That was yesterday.

Now, the following is a TRUE account of today's activities. This is not a dream, it is real. Any confusion with something that might have happened, but really didn't happen is merely coincidental.

First of all, I finally caught up on all of my regular blog reads last night. One read made me feel particularly guilty. I've been following the pursuits of Emil, who had been having tremendous success dieting and running. About four weeks ago, Emil was told that he had a stress fracture and couldn't run. In the interim, he continued to lose weight, despite curtailing most of his exercise regime. Turns out, Emil didn't have a stress fracture, and he was immediately back at it. I'm very happy for him and know he is en route to tremendous success battling the bulge through diet and exercise.

It got me thinking, though, how I had done diddly (other than whine) in the past few weeks (exercise wise) and had let a few opportunities slip by when time was on my side. I needed to get back on the horse, since I'm still a few good weeks away from running again.

My eldest plays basketball every Saturday about a mile from home. My first activity was to walk to and from the game. With #2 riding his bike along side, I walked to the game and met Deb there. As our team (Penn State) was beating Notre Dame to go 3-0, I mentioned to Deb that I was thinking about a ride this afternoon since I knew my Sunday ride would be rained out. Go for it, she said.

With temps hovering around 35 and winds of 10-15 mph, this would be my first cold weather test.

I double layered every where that I could, hoping that I'd be warm enough to get home from where ever I'd go to. Then, there were the new digs from Nashbar: skull cap, baklava, no, no, sorry, I didn't mean the Greek pastry, I meant a balaclava and of course wool socks. On top of that were cold weather tech mock shirt and running pants. One more thing: toe warmers.

Finally, at 3:15, I was out the door. I had no idea how long I'd last. I hate the cold, so if I made 10 miles, I'd be happy with that. 20 would be fantastic, but I realized that 20 would be tough with daylight ending sometime shortly after 4:30.

Turned out to be a really nice ride. I was doing very well, on a 15 mph pace for the first 10 miles or so, but some big hills into the wind after that really hurt me. In the end, I rode 16 1/3 miles in about 1:15, including one brief stop when my chain came off (again!), but that was about it. The cool air felt really good sucking into my lungs. Not sure I like the balaclava -- when I kept my mouth covered, my glasses got fogged up -- not really advisable for riding!

When I got home, my toes were absolutely frigid. Poor little guys needed some relief. I hopped in the hot shower and holy moley did they hurt! I've gotta believe it was some kind of rush of blood back into the toes. Had to get out and dry those puppies off.

Anyway, today was a great day for riding and walking. It felt good to be back! Thanks, Emil, for the bit of guilt I felt (not to mention the jealousy for not being able to run!)

L'Chaim!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Riding with the Wind

Got out on my bike and put in 25 miles yesterday. It was chilly, but it was an awesome ride. My first "really cold" ride with temps in the mid 30's. All of that cold weather gear from Nashbar was perfect, from my feet to my hair! I felt really strong as I averaged 14.4 mph, a personal best. It was awesome.

Felt so invigorated when I got back, put my running gear on and did 5 chilly miles. Nice run!

Alas, I came out of my stupor. Wish I was there! Another crappy weather weekend on tap makes me wonder if I'll remember what it's like to ride.

Work's been crazy. Life has been crazy. Barely time to breathe. Sorry for not writing, and I'm way behind on my regular reads, too! Thanks, too, for all the Hanukkah wishes. We survived the holiday. Looking forward to movies and Chinese food on Christmas Day. (That's what Jews do on Christmas, in case you've wondered.)

All for now. . .

L'Chaim!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Slug. . . Continued

Another week without activity. I was so looking forward to getting out on my bike yesterday, but again, the weather man would not cooperated. Overcast early morning skies turned to rain by 9, which lasted 'till early afternoon.

By that time, we were in full preparation for my family Hanukkah meal with my parents, brother and his extended family in attendance for Deb's amazing and spectacular potato latkes. That preparation included three separate trips to the grocery store, peeling 12 pounds of potatoes and getting the house and table in order. Ma brought her famous glazed corned beef and the order to eat was given.

Everyone left the house in good spirits with a full belly.

That, of course, led to this morning's weigh in. Not surprisingly, the scale is up 1.4 pounds over last week and 2.6 over two weeks, at a 15-day average of 245.1.

With 3 weeks left in the month, I have much work to do to get down to the 239 goal for year end. Hanukkah is now over and medium the canister of Williamsburg Peanuts is now gone (in a record three days, I might add!) I'm ready to lose!

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tapeworm

Yeah, I know I'm a few days late. Sorry for those that have been awaiting my next post. (Sorry ma!) Been feeling like a slug lately. Eating like I've got a tapeworm inside of me and exercising like I'm the guy before the Formerly Fat Running Guy that I am now. In other words, not at all.

So the scale was up this week a little over a pound, but still rising. No surprise to me. I'm seeing some of the same eating patterns that I've feared would return for some time. I ate just about every bar in the house -- granola, Special K, some Target bars. I was on a mission to purge via my belly. Monday was a really bad nut day. These days were really scary, but it's subsided a bit since earlier this week.

As for exercise, there has been none in more than a week. The first full dry week since I started, I think. Now the weather and the ankle are working against me. Gotta get to the gym.

Went to see a podiatrist yesterday. Good news is that he thinks some custom orthopedic insoles will solve my ankle problems and I should be running again just about right away. (Even better news is that my insurance covers 90%!) I hope he's right. It'll be a month for delivery.

I told the doc about my goal to run a marathon. He suggested biking. He told me about another patient with foot problems that started to do triathlons. "They have all different distances, you know." No kidding! Thanks, doc. Between my blogging friends, this doc, and my Sunday biking group tri guys, I think my goal for 08 is to join a gym with a pool. An 08 triathlete? Maybe so!

On some other notes -- JoBrotha hooked me up with a ticket to Monday's Raven's game against the Patriots. First game I've been to in about three years. For anyone that missed the game, temps were in the low 30's, light flurries and the crowd was in a frenzy. Ravens led from about 5 minutes in until less than a minute left in the game. Major downer. Great game though.

Tonight was the second night of Hanukkah. Great holiday for the kids. Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and family.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Emotions, but not Mixed

So today was the big Columbia Metric Marathon. I wish I was writing to talk about how awesome the run was. How I beat the 3:30 cutoff by ten minutes or so. That I was sore, but it was all worth it and I was ready to go for my first full marathon.

Unfortunately, there'll be none of that. Please indulge me as I whine just a bit.

As I left my house to take the kids to Hebrew School, I turned right a block and a half from the home and there there it was. . . the water stop at mile 5 and lots of runners doing what runners do. I was supposed to be right there with them (well, just a few miles back at that point,) but alas, I was driving my car, not paying attention to my kids arguing about whether Army-Navy or Michigan-Ohio State were the biggest rivalries in college football, me just bumming, wishing I was pounding the pavement. (The correct answer is Army-Navy, by the way.)

The backup plan was the Sunday ride, but the weather was crappy. Calling for rain and just barely not ice. The car thermometer read 33 and I woulda been there if not for the precip forecast and the few droplets I felt before we left.

At school, there was one lone rider who proclaimed the rain would hold off until 1. Another plan foiled? I hope not.

With my free time, I headed off to the nearest Starbucks and then to the finish line of race to watch for my buddy Dave. I arrived with 1:38 on the clock. The first few finishers had crossed the line and there were but a few spectators. Dave should cross just after 2:00. In the mean time, I did my duty and clapped for all the finishers. I think I was the only brave sole not wearing gloves so the runners could actually hear me (and a dozen other muffled, gloved claps.) Dave crossed at 2:04:16. We chatted as I still wished I was on the course at about mile 11.

Then it was time to pick up kid #2. I hadn't realized that part of the course was right near Hebrew School at about mile 14. Again, wishing I was there (and at that point, I probably would have been right there.) Or, on my bike as the rain did, in fact, hold off. But there would be none of that.

So, tomorrow is the day. I must call the doctor and I must get my ankles in shape. After all, just five months till Frederick and these legs need to carry me 26 miles.

End of whine. Thanks for indulging me.

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What Jeff Did

Quite some time ago, I wrote about the company weight loss contest. Usually, the organizers get fed up in early fall and the contest is in full swing by this time of year, but not this year. Apparently, they waited till they had their fill of turkey to figure out that they needed to add a new larger pants size to their holiday shopping list.

The memo came out a couple of days ago and was followed by the usual self-deprecating too-fat admissions and admonitions e-mail chains. Just about everyone has opted in "for the last time."

One memo really hit home as to how far I have traveled. It went something like this: I am in big time! This is the final time for me too. I want to do what Jeff did, lose a person!

The writer certainly doesn't have the spare tire that I had (maybe spare tires that I had is more like it), but he is the very respected company Chairman. It meant a lot coming from him.

Frankly, I think I've scared the hell out of many of the usual participants. Over the years of the contest, only one or two people have managed to maintain their losses. Many have put the weight right back on, as I have always done. With all the losing and gaining going on, there have been two of us that have been in the supreme-fat category that those medium-fat folks have always been able to look at and think that at least the two of us will always be bigger than them. Well, now I'm pretty close to where they are and soon to pass, for good.

I commented to one of the guys a few weeks ago that I was catching up to him fast. He responded "no shit, I've gotta get moving." It's interesting that there seems to be a fear of my passing them by on the scale. A feat once hundreds of pounds of impossible.

I'm not threatened by their apparent fear, but maybe more energized by it. I'm actually considering joining the contest, even though I opted out (but would have won) last time around. It goes for four months and 15% loss usually takes it, if not less. That's about 36 pounds or 9 pounds a month. Certainly that's more than I've been losing, but it can be done. I've got a couple of weeks to decide. I'll keep you posted.

In the mean time, I'll just enjoy the respect!

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Day Late

The scale showed a 0.7 loss for the week on the 15 day average, but the trend over the past few days has been going the wrong way. Total loss at 171.5, while my max loss has remained at 175.0 for several weeks.

Total mileage for last week was only 14.3 with my long run cut short on Saturday, plus the 21 mile ride on Sunday.

This morning I hopped on the treadmill for my test run. I had hoped to be able to work up to a run of 3 miles, which would give me support for Sunday's Metric race. I laced up my new Saucony Stabil Grid 6 (below) and got ready to go.

Starting out in a walk, I was familiar with the every little pain syndrome from my prior injury. You know, every tiny little pain is amplified and you wonder if that's the end. I walked about 1/4 mile to start and things felt pretty good.

From there, I pushed to my normal "tread" pace of 5.5 mph. So far so good. The new shoes felt good, but a bit stiff. Just need a bit more breaking in. I ran to about a mile, but as I got close to a mile, the mild pain became more slightly more severe and my worst fears were now being realized.

I slowed back to a walk for another 1/2 mile and then tried running again. The pain returned almost immediately.

At this point, I would say that my running is done for 2007. I'll give a call to the doc, but I suspect he'll want to give me the boot that I rejected out of hand last time through.

Not much more to say, really. Ugh!

L'Chaim!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You Win Some. . .

Yeah, the next line is "you lose some."

Things were going just too well. The miles were adding up and then. . . blammo! it all falls to pieces.

The Columbia Metric was just eight days from yesterday and I had my last long run scheduled -- a 12 miler. I ran the 5 on Thursday and recovery was a bit slower than usual. In fact, I would have expected no recovery needed at this point in my training. There was no unusual pain on Thursday, but I felt some on Friday -- just some aches, no big deal.

I had thought about running, but instead, I exercised my credit card at the mall with all the other crazies making my pitch to keep the retailers in business for another year. The boys and I spent three hours raking and bagging leaves, so that was good for the day.

Yesterday, I was doing everything I could to delay the run, mostly annoying Deb whose plans changed with every half hour I put off getting the shoes on. Finally, I got moving around 12:30. I put on all the newly acquired cold weather gear I bought at Dick's Sporting Goods, perfect for the 40 degree air temp, and hit the road around 1.

Down the road I went to again climb Toll House Road. The wind was stiffer that last week which made it tougher to climb without a break, but I was able to make it with just a short walk. Then, around to a 5 mile up and back on Columbia Road. At a mile down or so, 3 1/2 total, I started to feel the ankle pain once again. I began to walk to see if the pain would go away, but after a quarter mile, it only felt worse so I turned back for a two plus mile walk home, the whole way thinking about next week's run and preparing myself mentally for it not to be.

The run was going so well, too. Looking at my splits, the first three miles were 11:21, 11:29 and 11:50. I don't think I would have been able to hold that sub 12-minute pace for the remainder of the run, but I was feeling really good.

Having been through this before, I headed to the house, took a shower, some anti-inflammatory drugs and got a bag of ice for the ankle. I suspect that my increased street running has done me in. This was my third street run in eight days and probably the most in such a short time.

Today, my ankle feels better, but this seems to mirror my injury from last time. I'll give it another couple of days and try it on the treadmill to see if the race is out, though I'm not counting on running it at this point.

Bummer!

Today, as my ankle pain had subsided, I joined up with a friend for a coffee ride. This would be my chilliest bike ride, with temps in the mid-40's, and perfect for a mid-ride coffee stop. (We were to be joined by another rider, who called shortly before it was time to go to let me know it was too cold. I'm told that when someone bags a ride or run because of the weather, you're entitled to give them a hard time. In this case, since it was my dad, I guess I'll just let it go.)

Sheldon is also a new rider and is part of the regular Sunday group. He has really embraced his new wheels, as have I and we're pretty close in our speed. At about 5 miles, we stopped for coffee at Iron Bridge, which is more known for dinner, but the coffee wasn't bad and the conversation was good. Then, off we went to the back roads of our area for a very nice 21 miles. I think I'll need a bit more cold weather gear for my feet, hands and head, but otherwise, the temps were not bad. I think I'm good at least for another 10 degrees down!

So, that was my weekend. I'll be checking out the ankle over the next couple of days, but if I can't run, so be it. Guess I'll get to ride with the guys on Sunday after all.

L'Chaim!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Trotting Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Hope you are all having a great holiday.

We started our day with a little exercise. I spied this Turkey Trot from an e-mail I received from a local running store, Fleet Feet. The family agreed and the plan was set. What a better way to prepare for an evening of gorging than a few miles on the road. I would do the 5-mile run and Deb and the boys would do the 3-mile walk.



Since the day I signed up, the weather had appeared to be a bit iffy, but last night, it looked like we were all set -- unseasonably warm and overcast. The rain looked like it would hold off until later in the day.

After I awoke this morning, I went out to get the paper (to prepare for a household ritual of Black Friday shopping) and it was amazingly warm out. Perfect for a run in shorts and a short sleeve tee. Is it possible that it's late November? Got the kids and Deb up and out the door and we were on our way.

We arrived just after 8 for the 9 am start. I have a tendency to be a bit early for things and today was no exception. We were far from alone, however as the area was filling fast. This event is somewhat loosely organized. They publicize no times and no water on the course and they mean it. The start line, such as it was, was in a residential neighborhood. I'm certain that the weather helped out immensely as the starting temp was 66! They were also helped out by publicizing an appearance by Baltimore Oriole Legend Brooks Robinson, which certainly enticed my kids. Unfortunately Brooks turned out to be a no show. We did have plenty of time for a family photo!

At about five past nine, they sent everyone off with little fanfare. With 800-1000 participants, early running was tough, especially since they set off the walkers at the same time.

The course was VERY hilly, but since it was a loop, tough uphills were ultimately rewarded with down hill runs. After the first 1/3 mile or so, most everyone was in a pace and we were enjoying the weather, the late fall color and the relatively traffic free roads. A few locals even hung out in front of their houses to cheer on the runners.

My goal for the run was to break an hour for the 5 miles. With no official timing, I was relying on my trusty Garmin for the official time. For the first 2/3 of the course, I was able to keep a steady running pace, with one exception as I came close to the top of one of the bigger uphill parts of the course. Time was on my side as I had nearly two minutes in the bank after three miles. Walking about 1/3 of a mile through the last third of the course, I was able to break my goal with a couple of minutes to spare. Ultimately, the course mapped out to 5.17 miles, completed in 59:53, a pace of 11:34. Ending temp was a very nice 72!

Once I arrived back, I went in search of my walking family. I found Deb and boys a short way out from the finish line and I walked back with them. Once we arrived back, we were all in need of water and it seems that the temps and the crowd caught the organization off guard as there was none to be found. So, off we went for a bagel brunch at our favorite bagel spot -- Goldberg's Bagels.

I am immensely proud that we found a healthy way to start off our turkey day! Maybe the start of a new family tradition!

Of course, what's an event without the swag:






Happy Thanksgiving all! Hope you have or had a great one. Now, off to get some turkey. . .

L'Chaim!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Seems Like Monday Once a Week

It's Monday again, but I'm looking forward to the short work week and the long holiday weekend.

All of my exercise this week was on foot as I did 20.2 miles, my highest mileage week in quite some time, highlighted by the 10 miles on Saturday and wrapped up with the Dazzle Dash Walk for our local hospital foundation.

The Dash is in a park-like area known as Symphony Woods where there are holiday themed light displays throughout the 1.4 mile course. My eldest led the pack of 800-1000 participants by chasing after Santa in the lead car and finishing first. Deb and I strolled through and enjoyed the lights as we wondered if our #1 would be waiting at the end for us. He was most excited to tell us of his "run" in the "walk". I would have kept pace with him had I not picked this night to eat half of my first hot dog in well over a year. (Is it possible that I used to like those things? Blech!)

The scale was again positive as my 15-day average dropped 1.3 pounds to 243.2, a total loss of 170.8. Included in the average was my first sub-240 reading on Sunday. Looking forward to moving into that neighborhood permanently over the next couple of weeks.

With lots of miles planned for the week ahead, I'm looking forward to another positive week as Turkey Day will be a minor blip in the road.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Duatha-run?

Truth be told, I do not look forward to the long runs. Up to about 6 or 7 miles, I'm good to go, but pushing up towards double digits, not so much.

For one reason or another, I've struggled to get in the miles that I've needed for the long runs over the weekends. Last weeks planned 10 turned out to be 6.6. Yesterday, I really needed to put in 10, as the Columbia Metric Marathon is just two weeks out now, but I got started too late and darkness hit before I could finish. As I approached the house, I thought I could come in and finish on the treadmill. I cleared 7.6 outside, then wrapped up my own little duatha-run on the treadmill to make the 10.

Part of the Metric course goes just a block and a half from my house, then down a big hill and up a monster hill -- Tollhouse Road. Those that have run the race consider that the hardest part of the run. I had wanted to run Tollhouse, but most of my training was indoors up to now. Yesterday, I did it. Tollhouse is about a mile long and runs 2/3 up hill, about 1/6 flat and 1/6 slightly downhill. The uphill portions run between 7.5% and 11% gradient. The picture below is from the full run. Push pins show Tollhouse Road.



The run was good, but slow. Average time for the full 10 miles of about 12:30. Problem is the Metric has a 3:30 time limit for 16.2 -- I project yesterday out at 3:24, and I've not been prone to negative splits. I decided that I really want to do the run, regardless of the time. Looks like they publish 3:30, but don't enforce it. The last two years they've had times in excess of that. Regardless, I'm all in. Check goes in the mail tomorrow!

Felt a bit of muscle pain, so I bagged the Sunday bike ride. Caught some serious hell when I ran into the guys after the ride. Note to self: next time, suck it up!

Picked up another race this week. We had nothing planned for Turkey Day (we're leaving the cooking to JoBrotha and Mrs. JoBrotha) so I found this 5 mi Turkey Trot not too far from home. Deb and the boys will do the 3 mi walk.

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Since When Does 100 Equal Zero?

Whomever was the marketing genius that thought up the 100 calorie pack should get the next Nobel Prize for marketing. I thought it was a great idea to package snacks into 100 calorie bundles. When it started out, it was things like baked crackers and pretzels. I could live with that (as if I had a choice.) 100 calories is not going to kill any diet, so long as you don't eat a dozen packs in a sitting.

I started to notice the creep of some less healthy 100 calorie packs in the past few months. I've seen packs of Doritos and Baked Cheetos.

It gets to a point that you have to look beyond the calories into thought behind all of this. You can now buy Oreo crisps, Chips Ahoy crisps and Nutter Butter granola bars. All for the small price of 100 calories. The fine folks at Nabisco, who sell these not-so-bad-for-you-if-you-can-eat-just-one cookie packs will even tell you how to burn those 100 calories off. Just click here to find out that 28 minutes of dish washing will burn those 100 calories. (My dishwasher runs a 2 hour cycle -- does that mean that I burn 400 calories by pushing that start button?)

I had to laugh last week when I was in the 7-11 and I saw Milky Way bars packaged into 100 calorie packs. No, not bars, but packs. Two bars, a little bigger than Halloween sized, in a box. Each BAR is 100 calories, each pack has two servings. Is it possible for anyone to eat just one?

My point here is that the people that sell this stuff are playing on our desire for lower calories and it's to the point where 100 calories is nothing. What's 100 calories, after all. It's almost zero!

They're playing on our desire for healthier kids. Do we buy some of these for our kids, well, yes, at least for the snack stuff, not the candy, but I'd rather them eat 300 calories of carrots than 100 calories of Milky Way bar.

Can't wait to see the 100 calorie Thanksgiving Dinner! I'm just saying. . .

L'Chaim!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Update

Another pretty good week now gone by.

On Saturday, one of the local fitness clubs in the area had an open house. I took advantage of the day at Lifetime Fitness. Went with the kids. They have kid care where you can drop the kids off for up to 2 hours and go do your thing. I hit the treadmill for 6 1/2 miles and the kids played basketball, played in the ball pit, etc. After lunch, we did the pool for 90 minutes or so. (You shoulda seen the look on their faces when we got to the pool and not 5 minutes later, they blew the whistle for adult swim. I felt bad for them, but they're over it!) 16.4 running miles total for the week.

Couldn't get a bike ride in on Sunday as we were preparing for our quarterly poker group and we were hosting. By the time the day was out, I realized that I missed my ride AND my money, although Deb was the big winner of the day! (Just wonder how come it works out that what's mine is hers and what's hers is hers?) (Just kidding, love!)

The scale has been cooperative as well. For the week, I'm down 2.9 to 244.5 on the 15 day average.

L'Chaim!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Big 4-0

I'd been meaning to write about this for a couple of weeks, but never got around to it.


When I started down this journey almost 16 months ago, I was busting out of size 58 pants. I was determined never to hit 60, so my 58's were decidedly snug. It's also worth noting that I said the same thing about the 5x shirts, but I did ultimately gave in to the 6's cause you can really notice a too tight shirt. You know, all the fabric pulling away from the buttons with a clear view of whatever is underneath. (Not that you don't notice too tight pants, but I couldn't see them busting out. I just felt it when I put them on.)

It didn't take long to need new duds and at first, I was really enjoying moving down through different sizes, particularly when I could stop shopping at the "Fat Man Store." I pretty much always had one or two pair of pants and shirts in the next smaller size to give me a goal to shoot for.

About a month ago, my 42's were falling off and found 40's in the back of the closet. It was exciting to pull them up and be able to button them comfortably. They go well with my XL and 2X shirts.

Last week, I picked up a pair of 38's, thinking that my 40's days had a few months to run, but wanting to have that next pair to shoot for. Deb encouraged me to try them on. First I picked them up and held them, looking at how small they seemed. "No way I'm anywhere near squeezing into these," I thought. So, I pulled on one leg, and then the other. Then, with the slightest struggle, those babies buttoned. Whaddya know!

So, for anyone keeping track, that's 20" -- I said TWENTY INCHES.

Time to go buy some 36's!

L'Chaim!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some Monday's are Better than Others

The start of the work week is not usually the happiest day of the week, especially when I've got travel on the schedule, but the past few weeks have brought good news from the health and wellness department.

Finally got back on the treadmill on Tuesday night at Deb's urging as I wrote about last week. I added 4 on Friday. My original plan was to run 8-10 on Saturday in the neighborhood or at the local park, but the morning waned and so did my desire to go out. I was able to complete 8 on the treadmill, though for a total of 16 miles for the week. Yesterday, I wrapped up the week with the regular Sunday ride of 21 miles. Given the temps in the low 50's, I was surprised that we had a fairly large group 8 to ride. I definitely felt a bit sluggish half way into the ride, probably coming off the long run on Saturday. My target for this week is 20 miles of running as the Columbia Metric is less than 4 weeks away.

The scale continues to move strongly in the right direction. 15-day average is down 4.4 pounds to 247.4, a total loss of 166.6. I also hit my low on Saturday of 241.6. It seems that as soon as I reset my goal for this year to 75 lbs, the scale started moving quickly and I'm now just a couple of pounds away.

L'Chaim!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Global Cooling

I hate being cold. Always have. Always will. It wasn't really a problem for the old blubbery me. I was never cold. I mean NEVER! I could go outside at 38 degrees without a jacket and be fine. We slept with the ceiling fan on in our bedroom -- year round.

One of the things I've learned over the past year is that old blubber was insulation. Sure, it makes sense, mentally, but it's leaving me COLD! As the temps drop, this winter looks to me like global cooling, not global warming. I got through last winter, but I'm a good 50 pounds lighter now. Sorta miss that permanent warm fat, in a sick sorta way.

The thermostat in my office is set to 72, but I'm cold as hell. I had to clean an inch of dust off of that old space heater in my office to warm up my frigid buns. It's damn cold! Yesterday, I was thinking about converting my desk to kindling so I could torch the damn thing.

Anyway, just thought you should know it's cold here outside Baltimore. Brrrrr!

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

10:58

So yesterday's sucky day at work followed Monday's sucky day at work. How come the phone never rings unless I'm on a deadline?

Along with that, I found out that my health insurance wasn't going to pay for some of my kid's bills leaving a few hundred for me to pay, the tickets for Deb's visit to see Paula Deen on Sunday never arrived and they have no record of my order and an on-line payment I made on the Amex card never got posted from a few weeks ago.

Oh yeah, and we had two uncarved pumpkins on the front porch.

I had all that going for me.

I got home after 6 and Deb was on her way out with the boys to get flu shots and pick up dinner. I declined to join her in those festivities, preferring instead the couch, the remote and pre-dinner snack. In her infinite wisdom, Deb suggested a run on the 'mill. "I wanna see you sweaty when we get home!"

Great idea. It had bee 10 days since my last run. I needed it and there was no time like the present.

The house was now quiet so I changed and headed down stairs to the basement to run. As I got started, I was feeling really good. Everything was moving right and there was no pain anywhere. I finished the first mile in just over 11 minutes. Pretty good, but I'd been there before, always to slow in the later miles. Two miles down in 22:15. Good pace, feeling good. Three miles in 33:15. Now I'm rolling. One more mile to go. Can I break an 11 minute average? My PR on the 'mill is 11:20 for 5k. In the last mile, I have to walk more than I had hoped, but I pushed the final half mile and finished at 43:53 -- an average of 10:58. Now that felt great!

I fired up the computer to log my time and found that my old PR of 11:20 was set in June. I've been struggling with the times since then, often running 12's or slower, even for shorter distances. I'm thinking that the weight loss over the past month -- about 7 pounds -- is finally showing up on the clock.

As I logged in my time, I also noted a couple of other milestones. That 4 mile run included my 500th mile since I started this program 15 1/2 months ago and 296 so far this year. Not bad!

But enough resting on my laurels. There are two months remaining in the year. I've definitely got 100 miles in me -- well, make that 104 to get to 400 for the year. Need to get serious for the Columbia Metric Marathon, just 32 days away!

L'Chaim!

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's Monday!

The rain kept me and many others away from the Lance ride on Saturday. Ultimately, I found out yesterday, the ride was cancelled by organizers, but Lance did attend and he did run the 5k and bring in quite a bit of dough for the cause. An article from the Baltimore Sun about the event is here.

As for the week, exercise was almost non-existent. Even though I did travel for work with plenty of work out clothes, I never did make it to the fitness room. I got out yesterday for my weekly ride though. It was my first "cold"ride, but it was a good ride. When I left the house, the car thermometer said 49 and I knew the wind chill on the bike would drop the temp even lower, especially on longer down hills. For much of the ride, particularly one section of 2-3 miles of low rise but wide open road, Dave was the recipient of my lead as he found the spot behind me where I blocked the wind. It was a great ride, certainly aided by the lower temps. Need to beef up my cold weather gear, for sure!

Despite the lack of exercise, the scale continued to move in the right direction. The 15-day average dropped 3.8 pounds week-over-week to a new low of 251.8. Today's weigh-in also hit a new low of 248.6. Now, I need to get back on the treadmill.

L'Chaim!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crazy Week and a Questionable Lance

The week has been crazy. Three days in Boston for work and 450 miles today driving in rain to and from a funeral in NJ.

Oh yeah, about that rain . . . we've had almost no rain since like May on a weekend, until tomorrow -- the Lance Armstrong bike ride on the schedule. Jobrotha has already bagged and it's looking real bad. They say rain or shine, but this novice isn't ready for the wet stuff.

Besides that, my body hasn't done a minute of exercise since Sunday. Ugh.

L'Chaim!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is it Monday, Again?

As the great Chico Escuela would have said, the scale "been berra berra good to me!"

This morning's weigh-in was at 250.2, a new total loss of 164 lbs. The rolling 15 day average is at 255.6, so this should come down nicely for next week as well. The diet and exercise seem to be really clicking now.

Last week was one of my best for exercise. 16 miles running included a great 7.6 mile run at Centennial Park (3 laps around the lake) on Saturday. For any tri-interested readers, Centennial Park is the home of the the Columiba Triathlon. The swim takes place in the lake itself. The bike route leaves and returns from the southern entrance off of Clarksville Pike, and the run begins on the south central portion of the course that I ran, then heads west aroun the lake and north out of the park into some local neighborhoods. There is very little flat land in this area so both the bike and run are pretty tough or so I'm told. (I've run and ridden parts of both courses.)


View Larger Map

Topped the runs off with 32 biking miles.

As for the diet, I haven't changed a whole lot, but the increased exercise is certainly helping. Yesterday's 21 mile bike ride burned 1600 calories -- almost half a pound! I've been trying to focus snacking on lower fat foods (i.e., less nuts!). I figure I can eat all the fruits and vegies I can handle. They're not going to kill the diet.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Camp Shane

In the summer of 1979, my parents sent me away to Camp Shane. Camp Shane was (and still is) in the Catskills in upstate New York. Camp Shane is a fat farm. I was 14 and had just finished 9th grade.

We were a summer camp family, but this was to be my first experience at "sleep away" camp. I was nervous, but excited. Mostly, I was fat. I needed what Camp Shane had.

The night before departure, dad and I headed to Memorial Stadium to watch a scheduled double header between the Orioles and the three year old Toronto Blue Jays. Baseball was a passion and the Orioles were in their hey day, cooperating with lots of wins that summer en route to the World Series, where they would ultimately lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 7 games. It was a great send off, where I would enjoy just about all the hot dogs and soda I could handle prior to my trip north.

On Saturday, we headed to the airport in DC and I was on my way.

For the first time, I was part of a group that did not ostracize me. Everybody was big, if not fat. We started each day with calisthenics, then breakfast, lots of activities during the day. Lots of trips around the sprawling, hilly campus. The food was not memorable. I'm sure that was by design.

On my initial weigh in, I tipped the scale at 303. We weighed in just once a week. After the first week, I was something under 300. I remember saying to one of the counselors that I'd never go back to the 3's.

We spent lots of time building self esteem. It was hard not to. We were all losing. We all had new, relatively non-judgemental friends. It was paradise. They did try to teach us how to handle life after camp, back in the real world.

At the end of camp, my official final weigh-in was 254, a loss of 49 pounds.

I don't remember how long it took for me to regain my lost girth, but I have full confidence that I did not continue to lose. I've probably spent more days since then over the 3's than in the 3's.

When did I last weigh less than I did in August of 1979? I don't know, maybe a couple of years before that. Maybe even longer.

Well, actually, not. Today I weigh less than that. I've been writing this entry in my head for about two months as I've been single digits away from that final weigh in. How many 42 year olds (or probably anyone over 15, for that matter) can say they weigh less than they did when they were 12 or 13? Y'all know one!

L'Chaim!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Every Day Starts Out Good.

I started to call this post "A Good Day", but I stopped myself. The quality of a day shouldn't be judged by how far, how long or how much. These are just small parts of the the full picture. Part of the path to what constitutes a good day vs. a bad day.

Every day that starts with eyes opening is a good day. What happens from there is in my control. When I turn over and give Deb a kiss, that's good. The boys are alive and kicking, also good.

I've tended to measure good vs. bad in the sense of if the scale is up or down, if I feel like running or not, if I actually run or not, but now I realize that this is totally unfair to everything else that life throws at you. With that realization, I changed the name to Every Day Starts Out Good. It's what you do with it after that that makes it good or bad.

Anyway, yesterday started out good. Good 5k run on the mill. Home long enough to make the boys breakfast. Uneventful day at work.

Even though the days are getting shorter, the weather in these parts seems to be holding on to late summer -- upper 70's, low 80's all week, through early next week. Got in an unexpected pleasure -- 10 miles on the bike before the sun went down.

Kids off to bed and hung out with Deb to cap it off.

It was a very good day.

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Confessional

Dear Mom and Dad --

I thought that it was time to come clean.

In the summer of 1982, you guys went off to Germany for two weeks. You left Neil and I home alone.

I had just graduated from high school and, well, we decided to have some friends over and things might have gotten a bit out of hand. Before you get too concerned, I'll tell you that nobody died. Also, I don't think that the police were there more than once while you were away.

You see, it started with just a few people and then word got out in school and one person told another, who told another, etc. There were people there that we didn't even know. The jocks were there, the heads were there, the preppies even came. Just about every high school demographic was represented. It's fair to say that things got a bit out of control.

Unfortunately, we decided to have this "little" affair just a day or two before your return. There wasn't nearly enough time to clean up.

We got all the obvious stuff. The beer bottles and cans, liquor bottles, cigarette butts, puke off the obvious places, but we just didn't get it all.

I couldn't believe somebody had the gall to break all of the eggs in the fridge. I think that was our undoing. Mom, you found all the egg that went back behind the bottles in the door. I don't remember what excuse I gave you, but you weren't buying. It was pretty bad. Somebody else turned our basketball net from horizontal to vertical. Can't believe that they did that.

Since you're headed off to Europe for the first time since then for a much deserved vacation, I thought it was time to spill my guts. Have a great time. . . and thanks for the keys to the house!

Love,
Jeff

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's Monday!

The scale was not positive this week, but I wasn't surprised as I knew there were some higher days in the middle part of the 15 day average. The average was up 0.8 lbs at 258.4, but I've been running below that range recently, so the trend should be back to positive next week.

Now that the race is over, it's time to focus on weight loss again, with an effort to drop to 239 by year end. It can be done!

Total mileage of 13.6 this past week. None on the bike as I blew off the Sunday ride yesterday. Just two weeks until the Lance ride!

Looking back on the Baltimore run, I uploaded my Garmin data and found my leg was 7.27 with a total time of 87:08. My goal was to break 90 minutes and to maintain a 12 minute pace. Average pace: 11:59!




I went back into the archives to pull out my time from the Pikes Peek 10k in Rockville, MD. That race was on 4/29 and was the most painful and longest race I had ever done to that point. My time was 88:50 for 6.21 miles. In 5 1/2 months, I dropped my average mileage from 14:18 to 11:59 -- I added a mile and took off a minute! Both my leg of the marathon and the Pikes Peek race are downhill courses. Pikes Peek is known as a PR course as the net elevation drops 190 ft. What surprised me was the elevation change for leg four was only 94 feet, much less than I had expected. Can't wait to kick some butt in next year's Pikes Peek race!

This pic from the start of the marathon appeared in the Baltimore Sun yesterday. Guess I'm not the only one with a GPS device on my wrist!



L'Chaim!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Really Great Day (in Excrutiating Detail)

This morning started at about 5:30, as I awoke 20 minutes before the alarm. Just excitement, I think. I had prepped everything that I needed for today, so I was ready to go fairly quickly. Even then, I left the house at 6:30. I had planned to meet two of the folks from my team at 7:30 near the starting line.

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for an XL coffee and a bagel, then headed into town. Before I took my first sip, though, I checked the temp on the car thermometer. 49 degrees. BRRRRRRR!

At first, I thought I'd be quite early, but an at-grade train crossing, train included, took care of that. I arrived at the appointed spot at 7:30 on the nose.

I met Kim and and Rob there. After about 100 e-mails these past few weeks, it was good to finally meet them in person. Kim and Rob's wife Karen work for Alter Communications. (Didn't get to meet Karen as she already met the shuttle to the first transition stop.) Very nice folks. I was very excited for Kim -- this was to be her first race of any kind. No 5k's, no nothing else. Quite a first race! I warned her that she'd get hooked. Rob is an experienced runner, though he's moved on to triathlons. Only reason he was running today was so his wife would run. Very nice folks -- I was psyched to be a part of their team.

We hung by the start line as the pre-race festivities got under way -- intro of the dignitaries, Star Spangled Banner, yada, yada, yada. (Temp at the start was reported as 54 degrees, by the way.) Rob jumped into the street, Kim and I headed up to the starting line and watched as the gun went off as the runners headed north. Pretty exciting.

At that point, Kim and I headed off our separate ways. She had about a mile walk to the Maryland Science Center for the start of her leg and I had till 8:30 to get to the bus to my transition area. I took my time, checked out some of the vendors, hit the port-a-potty and headed to the buses. It was 8:30. On the nose. Something I should have learned long ago -- when they say "sharp", they mean "sharp." I look at my watch and it says 8:30 and the first 11 school buses have their doors close and they're starting to roll. I run like the wind and jump on the 12th and LAST bus as the driver closes the door and we start to roll.

There are no highways through Baltimore. It's nothing but surface roads with a light every block for the 7 mile ride. Normally, a 45 minute ride, if your lucky. However, if you happen to have a police escort, it's only 15 minutes! I was shocked to see the four or six police motorcycles jockey back and forth to close off streets for us to get to our stop led by a cruiser up front. Very cool way to go.

We arrived at Lake Clifton HS -- mile marker 19 -- at about 845. Now for the wait. Its only a half hour before the first wheelie came through. Man those guys are fast! It was another half hour before the first marathon runner came through. The stream started as a trickle but slowly built up to a massive throng, especially as the half marathon runners joined the group. (They started the half at 9:45 and designed the course so that at about mile 3, they would converge onto the marathon course. Marathon, half and relay finish together.)

At about 10:50, Dave arrived from completing his third leg. I expected to see Kim between 11:15 and 11:30, but I needed to be ready for earlier. Much to my surprise, I heard my team number called out at 11:05. I stepped out into the lane and got the chip from Kim. See you at the finish!

Finally, 4 1/2 hours after leaving home, I was finally running! (And you're saying to yourself, "Finally, after all this reading, I'm finally hearing about the race!)

My leg is officially 7.2 miles. The first mile or so if a descent up hill run through some North Baltimore neighborhoods. Then, the trail heads quickly downhill to Lake Montebello. As we're descending, you could see about a mile of the race ahead as the course routes around the lake and up 33rd St. The next mile or so is pretty flat around the lake. So far, so good. Two miles in, feeling fine. By now, it's probably close to 60 with a nice breeze across the lake. Staying right on track at my goal of a 12 minute pace.

For the first time in any race I've run, I'm actually passing people. Felt kinda wierd. By this point, there were lots of full and half marathoners walking. I'm still running steady as we head west on 33rd Street, site of the former home of the BALTIMORE Colts and Orioles. First time I've been by that site of so many games I attended over the first 25 years of my life. Today, there is a YMCA and senior housing on the property.

Next we head left towards the finish. Four miles to go.

There are LOTS of people on the course cheering. At one point, as we head through the Charles Village neighborhood, there's a regular block party going on -- some guy acting as a DJ, even. This really keeps you going. Hard to slow down now. At mile 23, there's the Gummy Bear Guy -- Stewart. Apparently he's a fixture. To get a flavor, here's his post on the marathon web site:
Once again I will be manning my Gummy Bear Station, at 28th and Guilford, This is approximately mile 23. With 200 pounds of Gummy Bears, up from 150 last year, I promise to be there until the least-fastest marathoner passes me. For those that don't yet know... Gummy bears are a great late marathon snack. Here's why: - You can hold them in your hand and they won't melt. - They are chewy, and give your mouth something to do. - They give you the carbs you need and crave. - They are small enough that you wont choke on them. - If you do inhale one, you won't die. - They taste great. - You can bite their little heads off. Say Hi as you go by. Stuart
Gotta love the Gummy Bear Guy! They were good, too.

I hit 5 miles on the Garmin in just under an hour. Still managing to keep the 12 minute pace. By far, the longest continuous run I've ever done. As we approach an incline in the road, I need a break. I walk a 14 minute pace for about a quarter mile, but then, I start to run again as the elevation declines.

I can see Oriole Park off in the distance and I know that the end is near. On the downhill, the pace picks up to close to 11 minute miles and I'm back on the overall 12 minute pace with a mile to go.

Let me say that I am truly enjoying this run. All these people, running with actual other runners (not at the back of the pack), perfect weather. Just a great time and I have yet to hit the finale.

As I get ready to turn down for the final half mile, Kim yells out to me and then runs into the street. "Wow, you're doing great! I'm going to finish running with you, if that's okay." I say "you're hooked aren't you?" "Yes, I am." The last half mile goes down the Eutaw Street promenade that is along the outfield of Oriole Park.

As we clear Oriole Park, the finish line is now in sight. Of to the right, about 50 yard from the end, I see Katie holding a sign that says Jeff. "Hey, Katie, Woo Hoo, I yell." Very cool. People are lined up to the finish at least three deep. It's an awesome sight. The clock reads 4:30:37. My leg: 87:11.
Actual Medal Awarded

As we cross into the runners area, pandemonium is apparent. First you've got to find the person with the right medal, since three races are ending simultaneously. Then you've got to ask for enough medals for the whole relay team. Then get past all the people laying all over recovering. Then find the food. Phillips Seafood is giving away crab soup -- one of my favorite foods. I snag a few servings. The line for other food -- fruit, chips, etc, is waaaaay too long. I need to go find people. Kim goes on her way and we agree to keep in touch.

Getting out of the runner area was also tough. Then it's just wall to wall people. I don't think that any one of the finishers has yet to leave the area. After 10 minutes of walking around, I throw in the towel. I won't meet Katie. I won't see Dave. Time to head home.

I get back to the car and call Deb to tell her of my awesome day. She's very excited for me. Then I get Dave. He did see me finish and pretty much knew we wouldn't be able to meet up with the huge crowds.

In all, it was a great race. It was a great day. I really loved everything about it.


Actual Formerly Fat runner wearing race Performance T and cool crab medal.

Reverse side of actual Performance T. Pretty sweet, huh!

Time to start planning for the next run!
L'Chaim!

Friday, October 12, 2007

One Day Till Baltimore

Just one day until the Baltimore Running Festival. I finished my last pre-race run this morning and I'm as ready as I can be.

Last night, I hit the expo. The primary function of the expo is to distribute all the stuff that the runners need for the race: the bib number, t-shirt, and other important information. The secondary purpose is sell lots of stuff. There are vendors selling shoes, Powerbars, sweats, socks, sunglasses, etc. There are also booths for future races and usually lots of giveaways.

The expo was held at the club level of M&T Bank (Ravens) Stadium. A very cool spot, but not exactly conducive to this type of event. The organizers had everyone enter from a single door by elevator only. When you arrive, you are directed to the left as far as you can go. This gets you to the stop where you show your id and pick up an index card with your info on it. From there, you walk back to where you came in, show your card and pick up your race number. Then, all the way to the right, as far as you can go, to get the t-shirt. In between each of these stops are 50 or 60 vendors, so they make you look. The corridor is also too narrow for the heavy two way traffic with booths set up on both walls and in the middle.

It was a bit of a zoo, though they did get me for a $10 pair of socks! (YES -- I paid $10 for two socks. Five dollars each.) There were a few goodies that I picked up but not a lot.

They are projecting 14,000 runners tomorrow and I feel like I'm gonna know almost half of them! Well, maybe a few less than that.

Good Luck to:

Scott -- First Full Marathon -- what a way to celebrate your 40th birthday!
Ann Marie -- Full Marathon
Stacey -- Half Marathon
Bob -- Half Marathon
Dave -- Relay (3rd Leg)
Rob -- Relay (1st Leg -- Team Alter)
Karen -- Relay (2nd Leg -- Team Alter)
Kim -- Relay (3rd Leg -- Team Alter)
Katie -- 5k

After Katie finishes her 5k, she's going to be looking for running friends and she says she'll have a sign -- including for me! Katie will add wishes to the sign -- e-mail her here. Thanks Katie.

I'm running the 4th leg for Team Alter. We're bib 9858 and you can track us here.

Right now, the weather forecast is for a high of 70, low of 49 and sunny. Should put us in the upper 50's around start time at 8 am. PERFECT!

Next report: the post-race over the weekend.

L'Chaim!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Better Late than Never

Just a few days late for my Monday update. I was away on business for a couple of days and then life just takes over.

The scale was even for last week, which is okay, I guess. Good week for exercise -- 15 miles running, which is my highest miles in several months. Also 21 miles on the bike on Sunday.

Two days and counting until Baltimore Marathon Relay. Getting pretty psyched for the run. Weather should be perfect -- high of 69, low of 53 and sunny. Planning to hit the expo tonight. More on the race tomorrow.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Anybody Know a Good Glass Company

A couple months ago, my eldest along with the next door neighbor eldest boy put a baseball through our small basement window. We were totally cool with it -- it happens. Neighbors agreed to pay for half. We called out a handyman that we use (as I am definitely not handy) and $132 later, it was done.

With that came some important lessons: stuff happens; don't lie and the pain will be minimized.

I thought we handled it well, but it appears that the lessons were short lived.

Late this afternoon, the kids started acting weird. Finally, #2 tells me that the window "got broke." Tells me that they were playing baseball in the yard and it went through the same window as last time. Tells me where they were standing and that they were playing with a tennis ball. Okay, I tell him that he and his brother will share the cost.

So I go downstairs to survey the damage. The hole is definitely big enough for tennis ball, but I didn't see a tennis ball. I did see a golf ball, though. Can't possibly be a golf ball from the kids 'cause they told me it was a tennis ball that went through the window. Can't possibly be a golf ball through the window 'cause golf balls are not approved back yard equipment. Can't possibly be a golf ball 'cause the kids know that golf balls are not approved back yard equipment.

Seems that they were less than honest. Not a happy dad. Not a happy mom. Happy glass man! Lesson for us -- we'll be putting that board right back over that new glass.

L'Chaim!

Intoxicating and Irresistable

Of course I'm talking about Deb! I'm also talking about her chocolate chip cookies.

Deb makes her chocolate chip cookies probably 10 times a year. I'd put them up against anything out there in the market. They are amazing. In the old days, I'd hang around the kitchen and as she'd take a tray out of the oven, I'd be nearby to snag a hot one off of the wax paper. On a good day, I'd down at least six, maybe more.

For the past 15 months, I've tried to stay away from the cookie baker. Can't hide though, that delicious smell permeates the whole house.

Yesterday, Deb made a small batch since my mom was coming for dinner. When they came out of the oven and hit the cooling rack, I picked out a small one loaded with chips and said "I want that one." Then I walked away.

Later last night, I saw that very cookie put away in the closet. Deb said "you said you wanted it." I was kidding of course.

This afternoon, as I was killing time waiting for the Ravens late start and I spied the cookie. I'm thinking what could it be -- 50, 60 calories? Maybe 100 at worst? I know my bike ride this morning killed at least 1000 calories. It looked so good.

I caved. That luscious baked dough was too much. I took it out of the closet and just smelled it. Oh, my god, what a smell. I just inhaled it for a minute and then bit off just a tiny corner with a big chip in it. Wow, how did I let that go for so long. I probably took 10 bites, maybe 12 out of that cookie that once upon a time was a two biter. Just amazing. I'm sure I enjoyed that single cookie more than I have ever enjoyed any cookie.

Do I feel guilty? No not really. If I had followed that one with two or six more, then maybe I would (and should.) This one was worth it. This ONE was worth it!

L'Chaim!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

2.67

The blah's continued last night. Pat and Jenny recommended running at football practice -- got home too late, but a good thought.

This morning, I got up at 5 to run, got dressed to run, got my shoes on to run, turned on the treadmill to run, turned on the tv to watch while I was running on the treadmill. Then, I just couldn't do it. I didn't have it in me. Every bone in my body, every cell in my head said not to do it. I listened. More blahs.

My plan was to come home from work, have dinner, put the kids to bed, then veg in front of the tv till bed time. But, I kept reading the comments and encouragement. Seems that there is a run of the blah's these days, but thankfully also a run of good advice.

Chubby said "Anyone can train hard when they feel like it. But the difference in results comes with the less-than-spectacular workouts - the "punch the clock" workouts." (She attributed this to Alwyn Cosgrove.) Kim didn't want to swim, but she did. Pokey didn't feel like running either, but she pushed on and had a great run. Mike was blah, too, but got through it. And now, I find out that my uncle is NOT an Ethiopian marathoner. (Who knew?)

So this afternoon, I talked to Deb and told her I needed to run through it. She wholeheartedly agreed. This needed to be outside, not on the 'mill. Time was not on my side. I got home at 6:15, changed, grabbed my Garmin and mp3 and headed out. No time to stretch (shame on me.) Off I went.

It was a really sloooooow run, but it was a really gooooood run! As dusk turned to dark, I turned into my driveway with 2 2/3 miles completed and, though my time wasn't stellar, I jogged the whole way and no pain in the ankle.

It felt great to be outside and to enjoy the run. Are the blah's cured? Thanks to all my friends out there, for tonight, they are!

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Blah

Just feeling kinda blah lately. Not sure what it is, but I'm really tired. Slogged through three slow miles on the 'mill yesterday and just couldn't get outta bed this morning. It's even been tough keeping my eyes open at night. Deb came home from a meeting last night at 9:30 and I was practically out on the couch. Just feeling blah.

#1 son has football practice tonight -- maybe a good time for a run. Maybe get me outta the blah's.

Blah, Blah, Blah!

L'Chaim!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Monday Update

After almost two months, finally a good week on the scale. Using the 15-day average, I am down 2.1 pounds from last week's 15-day average to a total loss of 156.3 at 257.7. Also during the week, I flirted with -160 for a day, but I think the scale was playing a joke on me as it didn't last long. For the month, I lost only 1.8 lbs. By far the smallest loss in the past 15 months, but a loss is a loss. I'll take it (as if I had a choice.)

Last week was a big week for exercise with 14.25 running miles and 21 biking plus one day of weights.

No doubt the increased activity made a difference. Still, after yesterday's ride, I think I ate just about everything in sight.

With three months to go, it's time to concede that I won't lose 100 lbs in 2007. Even 75 will be tough -- 18.7 to go -- but that's my target. Lot's of work to do.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hebrew School Dads

I've got to say I was nervous as hell going out biking this morning. I'm not generally comfortable in a setting with lots of new people. I would much rather hang with folks I know. Things like Deb's High School Reunion blow me away. I want to be more attached to her than my kids are to her during a nasty thunder storm right at bedtime. Once I get to know people, I'm good to go. So, it took a lot last week for me just to approach these guys, but I did. Today, I knew I'd have to go beyond meeting, to conversation and showing off my very new bike riding skills.

As soon as I got out of the car with kids in tow, one of the guys asked if I was going to ride. Okay, not to overstate the obvious, but I've got a bike on the back of my car and I'm dressed in spandex and a yellow bike jersey. Whaddya think? "Sure, If you're open for another." "Absolutely."

Knowing that these guys ride much faster that I normally do was intimidating too. It's also about the gear -- I was comforted to see at least two guys wearing street shoes (or so they appeared) with toe clips. Not everyone was wearing clipless. Ahh, I thought, there may not be a "C" group, but at least they're probably not all "A"s.

One of the guys asked me if I knew their route. No clue, so he gave me the low down, including Murray Hill. I was warned about Murray Hill. I've never ridden or driven it, but about three of they guys warned me. So I was prepared. For what, I didn't know, but I was on notice.

We headed out at about 9:15 and there were seven or eight of us. For the first mile or two, a few of the guys rode with me and we talked and introduced ourselves. I was pretty comfortable with the group. At about that point on a slight incline, I started to fall back. Not far, but not able to keep up. Over the first hill and down to the light, we were all able to cross at the same time, but on the next hill, I again fell back.

As I caught up again, Charlie warned me that Murray Hill was just around the corner at about the five mile mark. Charile was going ahead but he'd wait for me at the top of the hill. Murry Hill is a country road that runs about 7-8% for a mile or so. Just when you think your at the crest, there is a short flat portion followed by another 1/4 mile up hill. It's a bear, but I was doing okay -- slow but okay -- until I dropped my chain about 3/4 the way up. As I was fixing it, Charlie came back to check on me and I was able to ride the rest of the hill.

By this time, the rest of the group was long gone so Charlie rode with me. We hit some familiar areas and at one point he said that there was one nasty hill that he's had to walk. I thought no problem for me, even though I'm new at this, I've been able to tackle every hill I've seen since I got my new wheels. There is a very nice down hill leading up to this steep incline which would be great, except for the hairpin turn at the very bottom ensuring that you will get almost no help heading back up. This one slayed me. At about a 1/3 the way up the 3/4 mile slope, I started to walk. Honestly, I'm not sure my walking was much slower than riding at that point. As I got to the top, Charlie was again waiting and announced "17%". Wow, I don't feel so bad.

At this point, the "A" group caught up to us. Seems that they had taken a longer route and wound back around to where we were.

The rest of the ride was good, but I was pretty whooped so there wasn't a lot of speed.

When we got back, there were more we talked as we got our bikes ready to go and I definitely felt welcome. Can't wait until next Sunday!


L'Chaim!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Food Court at the Mall

I'm not a big fan of the food court at the mall. Kids love it, though. It's a virtual plethera of fried and other high-fat foods. For some reason, what I always think will be an inexpensive meal winds up costing more than going to a chain, espeically if it's just me and the kids.

I needed to stop at the mall tonight at around five with kids in toe and Deb out to dinner with some girl friends. After a painful thirty minutes in the sporting goods store with the 40% off coupon they e-mailed me that included one interim trip to the men's room and 419 sentences that started with "Dad, will you buy me. . .", I mercifully gave in to the food court.

#2 son is easy. . . always. I'm thinkin' this kid was born somewhere West of Hawaii. . . maybe China or Japan, cause there is no Asian food the boy won't eat. Chineese, Japaneese, Thai, he eats it all and the sesame chicken at the Chineese place is his ticket.

#1 headed to Popeye's -- home of everything fried -- chicken, potatoes, nice buttery biscuits (not fried, but maybe I'll suggest it,) too. Since we had spent the afternoon at a birthday party with all the requisite treats there, I suggested that he might look for a more healthy choice. Much to my surprise, he quickly gave in and ordered up a subway meatball sub. A much better choice.

After the kids settled in with dinner, I headed to Bistro Sensations. They do a great job with salads, baked potatoes and soups. Certainly one of the better choices in the mall. As I stood in line, I was fourth behind three other guys. It struck me as odd that four guys would be in line at the salad station. You know, for chick food. Anyway, I got my salad, a bowl of crab soup and a water and joined the boys.

After fending off a few hundred more requests to stop here and there, we were finally, mercifully, out of the mall.

Time to start looking forward to the "Hebrew School Dad's Bike Ride" in the morning. Sweet dreams!

L'Chaim!

Friday, September 28, 2007

What's for Dinner?

Once upon a time, in a land way too near, dinner was a major discussion point in my house. Deb and I would banter about all different kinds of proteins and different ways to prepare them. Fried, baked broiled, grilled, sauced, sauteed, spiced, rubbed. Always a new and different experience. Deb is quite the cook, too, so that didn't hurt. Unfortunately, my relationship with food certainly did keep me at 400+.

In the old days, Deb would call and ask what I wanted for dinner. I might throw something out, maybe not, but we'd pretty quickly come up with a plan. Definitely some potato and a veggie to go along. She'd also cook for 8. Well, 8 normal sized people. Seconds were guaranteed. Leftovers were not.

Today, she still asks what I want for dinner, and I almost never have a preference. Lately, I'm into chicken and fish more than beef and pork, but any derivation of those will do. My indifference has created a bit of stress between us, too, as the task of selecting the meal falls entirely on her shoulders. I am totally grateful for her flexibility in this department as my preferences have changed over the years as I'd go on and off various diets.

We talked about this indifference a couple of weeks ago and realized that my relationship with food has changed so dramatically over the past 14 months that sustenance has become more important than selection. I'm good with just about anything she puts on the table -- it's all good. Seconds are limited to the green of the day, which she still prepares generous volumes of, but if we're having burgers -- It's 4 on the grill, not 6 or 8.

Mike commented a couple of days ago: "It is funny to see how people like us have now replaced food with exercise." It couldn't be more true. When I get out on my bike or go out for a run, I try to think of more exotic places to run or ride. (Well, as exotic as suburbia can get, I guess, like which Starbucks will I stop at along my route for a jolt.) I definitely spend more time thinking about that course that what we should have for dinner. Some nights I feel like I'd rather go out and ride than eat. If it weren't the only family time we spend together most week days, I might actually do it.

I spoke today to a friend that I haven't seen in a couple of years. He asked me if there is anything that I miss from the old diet. Truthfully, no. The killer for me is the smell. Last night Deb cooked some cookies and cake for a meeting that she was going to today and the smell through the house was delicious. That was painful. But. . . I survived and didn't cave. I learned how to deal with goodies at the beach in August as previously detailed.

So the catharsis continues and I'm in a really good place and feel better every day at my chances for long term success.

Deb just called: "What do you want for dinner?" What ever you want, my love.

L'Chaim!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What's for Breakfast?

I overheard this converstation in my house yesterday morning as Deb was breakfasting the kids:

#2 son: What's for breakfast?
Mom: Waffles.
#2: Your waffles?
Mom: No, Aunt Jemimah.
#2: Aunt Sherri's making waffles?
Mom: Do you see Aunt Sherri here in this house?
#2: No.
Mom: Aunt Jemimah's waffles.
#2: Who's Aunt Jemimah?

Just struck me funny. Kid's been eating the same damn waffles since he was two.

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back to My Old Friend

I really enjoy running outside, but with Baltimore coming up way too soon and needing to get some training in, I still don't want to risk any further injury before the race. The best way to train, then, is back with my old friend, the treadmill.

Since I did 2 mi pain free on Sunday, I decided to bump to 2.5 on Monday. As I got to about 3/4 mi, my left thigh started to tighten up. Walked a bit, then shut it down at a mile. (Stretching? I don't need no stinkin' stretching.) Total of 1 mile. Bummer.

Yesterday, I got some stretching advice and spent about 10 minutes stretching before hand. While watching The Biggest Loser, headed down to the mill. Running was fine, but started to feel nauseous as I approached a mile. The thigh felt okay -- still a bit sore, but much better than Monday. Unfortunately, I had to deal with the other issue. Did 1.3 mi. and felt queasy the rest of the night. I've rarely run at night, so maybe I was running too close to dinner. I dunno.

Today I went back to the old stand by -- a morning tread. After stretching again and with ESPN2 and Mike and Mike on the tv, I again planned for 2.5 miles, hoping to run the whole distance. Again, some very slight, but noticable pain in the thigh, but nothing debilitating. No bad belly feelings, so I was set to go. As I got to 2 1/2 miles, I felt good enough to finish out 5K, which was my minimum run in the months before injury. Was able to finish running about 80-85% of the distance. Felt good. A few minor pains, but I seem to be much more aware of every little twinge. Averaged 11:50/mile -- quite good for me, especially considering my treadmill pr is 11:20 and I haven't been on it in almost 3 months.

This was a great test and I feel like I've passed it -- on the third try. I'd like to work up to at least 5 miles leading into Baltimore and I'll declare myself ready to go. Feeling good about that. Feels good to feel good!

L'Chaim!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Baltimore Marathon

It all started about a week ago when my buddy Dave told me he was asked about running a leg in the Baltimore Marathon Relay. Then he sent me the link for the medal, which, I think, sealed the deal for him.




I suddenly got a case of medal envy.

I started to think . . . hey, if I could do 13 miles a couple of weeks ago, why couldn't I do 5, 6 or 7 in three weeks?

Last night, Deb said -- "so are you going to do anything with the Baltimore Marathon -- you know they have a half marathon and a 5k". Door open. . . walk right in. "As a matter of fact, I've been thinking. . ."

So, I check the Active board for the race and found a couple of posts for people looking for one or two runners. I e-mailed one and they're still looking. Did the full disclosure thing -- make sure they're not looking for someone that will give them a shot a something fast.

THEN, Deb tells me she's got plans that day. Dad comes to the rescue to watch the kids and hopefully will bring them to the finish line.

Looks like I'm in -- 4th leg is the longest at 7.3 miles, but will get to cross the finish line at Raven's Stadium! Better figure out a quick 18 day training plan.

L'Chaim!

Breakthrough?

It has seemed like I would never break through the scale plateau that I've been on for the past six weeks or so. I first hit 257 point something on August 10 and since then, I had gone as high as 261.8. On 9/6, I hit 256.8, and had hoped to see a sustained breakthrough, but it wasn't meant to be. Today, the scale showed 256.2. Hopefully, this will represent the first of many new lows soon to come.

Before you comment about not worrying about the scale, this is definitely easier said than done. For my entire life, my level of physical fitness has been measured by the scale. I was reminded of my younger struggles with the scale when I read the obituary of my childhood pediatrician over the weekend.

The annual visit to Dr. Blue was dreaded as soon as mom put it on the calendar. Imagine the level of stress in a ten year old when, despite my parents best efforts, I knew that the scale would go too far in the wrong direction and, unfortunately, I was rarely wrong. After the exam, I would be excused so that Dr. Blue and my mom would be able to confer. In those days, the doc never seemed to communicate care to the minor patient as my kids' doctors do today. Mom would come out and we'd leave and I'd anxiously await "the discussion." If I was lucky, we'd discuss my weight on the way home, in the car. If I was unlucky, dad would be involved. Regardless, once we had the conversation, I was safe to start bulking up again until the next year.

Wow, amazing what skeletons pop out of your mind when an event jogs your memory.

Back on topic of the scale, despite my stagnation, I definitely feel more fit over the past couple of months. No doubt it has been due to the increased weight work and cross training. Also, I'm truly not stressing about the scale as I had earlier this year when I stagnated. I feel good and getting better every day. I won't hit my 2007 goal of losing a second 100 pounds, but I will feel better and fitter than ever before.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

First Brick

It's been a solid week since I've had a chance to exercise, since the Philly half. It's been two weeks since I've been on the bike. I've really missed it, too.

With a relatively open day, I wanted to try to run again, given last week's success, and get back on the bike, too.

Not wanting to push the ankle too much, I decided on just a two mile loop near the house. Heading out around 7, the house was still quiet. Outside temp was probably in the low 70's and humid -- pretty warm for that time of day and this time of year. As I started to run, every little twinge alerted me. I felt a few twinges here and there, but nothing lasting. The most pain was on the back of both thighs. Probably should have done a better job stretching. In the end, I finished two miles in about 25 minutes. It felt good to get out there and not feel the ankle pain. Something now to build on.

After the run, I went to drop my kids off at Hebrew School. On the way out, I saw a bunch of dads in the parking lot getting ready to head out for a bike ride. I asked one of them about their pace -- said 16 mph. I'm no where near ready for that, but one of the other guys said I should come out anyway, only way to get better. Maybe I'll check it out next week.

Deb and I had a brunch at the school at 10, so I had already planned to bring my bike and ride afterwards. I headed out at about 11 and did 20 miles in about 90 minutes. At around mile 12, I was exhausted and thought about heading home, but changed my mind. Made a left turn down a street I hadn't hit before. Correction . . . made a left turn UP a street I hadn't ridden before. For about four miles it was almost entirely up hill. I made it, slowly, but I made it. Felt really good.

It was a really good day, capped off by the Ravens beating the Cardinals in a much too close finish, but a win is a win.

Now, what should I do for an encore?

L'Chaim!