Monday, October 27, 2008
If variety is the spice of life, last week was close to a habanero pepper with nothing less than a buffet of activities: boot camp, two Body Pump's, two spin classes and a 21 mile ride yesterday.
As for South Beach -- I was able to maintain the plan with one intentional variation -- Kashi Go Lean. A couple of months ago I was reading one of Lance's posts about the virtues of the stuff. I tried it and now, I'm hooked. It's not on Phase I of South Beach but it is on Phase II, so there's my exception. Bowl of Kashi, skim milk and a banana (also Phase II). Aside from all the good stuff in it, it sure keeps the body plumbing moving -- one thing that South Beach has a tendency not do.
For the most part, I had no issue with the reduced carbs and exercise. One notable exception was yesterday's bike ride. By 70 minutes in, I was hurting and started to trail the group I was riding with. Even though I had the cereal and included a bottle of G2 on the ride. Only question is whether that was a function of the reduced carbs or the exercise for the week. Guess time will tell on this front.
With all of this good stuff going on, the numbers on the scale have been shrinking. Since my request for ass kicking two weeks ago, I'm down 14 pounds, from 237 to 223, a new 30+ year low and a far better result that I thought that I would see. It's only two weeks, but it definitely feels like the first couple of weeks on a new plan.
Next up is to plan out the activities for the next six months. With no major runs or rides on the calendar until April, time to make some plans.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
When I checked my mail this morning, what awaited me was a five start comment from a guy that found this blog by accident.
Hi Jeff, By accident, I stumbled upon your blog and immediately was sucked into your story. A very inspiring read.
I too am turning my life around and I can very much relate to your experience of running the 10 miles when you realized you would never be the same Jeff again. I had that same experience a few weeks back when I completed my first sprint triathlon after training for several months.
After that experience, never will I be the same unfit, depressed and overweight David again. While my weight problem was not close to what yours was, I could feel myself heading that direction fast.
Let me say this, One of the best gifts you can give yourself is the gift of health. In giving that gift to yourself, you will inspire others to also give the same gift to themselves and the domino effect goes on.
You have no good excuse not to give yourself this gift. You owe it to your future, your family and your loved ones. I assume you have no illness or disability. You have everything you need to become the person you want to be. No excuses. I hope I didn't just waste the last 20 minutes reading your story because when I found out you were back to 237 I was kinda
disappointed. It was like I was watching Rocky and I just knew you were going to win...and now...237.
So you let the old Jeff...the old unmotivated coward that gives in at the first hint of something tasty, you let him kick you down. That behind you now. Its time to "kill the coward" Jeff. You have everything you need to get it done. What you've done so far is incredible. Congratulations. But guess what, your not done yet.
Its time to make some bigger sacrifices with your diet and your exercise. Its time to feel a little more pain.
Getting and staying healthy is a lifestyle. A LIFESTYLE. So get it out of your mind that someday you will "arrive" and you will get to go back to eating lots of ice cream and late night snacks. Those days are over Jeff. Say goodbye. Its a lifestyle not a diet. It will be hard but you will thank yourself for having the determination someday.
Here are some quotes that have inspired me...
"Genetics might load the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger"
"Hunger is ugly leaving the body"
"There is a certain joy in the pain of exhaustion"
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
'I become a happier man each time I suffer.'-LA
"There are two times to train - when you want to, and when you don't."
"Stop saying 'I'm going to exercise' and start saying 'I'm going to train'...it makes you more bad ass"
"Ride like you stole something"LA to F Landis
"Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks."Scott Martin
"Don't look away, it's the life that you choose, now believe it."
Posted by David S.
I read this and then reread it. It pretty well stopped me in my tracks. This really sums up so many things that I needed to hear.
"So get it out of your mind that someday you will "arrive" and you will get to go back to eating lots of ice cream and late night snacks. Those days are over Jeff. Say goodbye. Its a lifestyle not a diet." Long ago in this journey, I had wondered what happens when I get "there". You know, that place where dreams are made -- the goal weight. That magical, mystical, subjective weight that is really little more than digits on a screen. David points out that realizing that number is not then a license pig out. The goal should not be a number, but a level of health. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of easy measurements to figure out a part of this. Nobody is going to have blood drawn to check their cholesterol every day. Besides, I'm a numbers guy, so it's easy. I just need to put it all in perspective. I've said it to people hundreds of times -- I'll be dealing with my weight for the rest of my life. Now, I just need to understand and accept what that means.
Since this was a late post, I know a lot of my friends are also struggling with weight that they're having to lose again. I hope that David's words will help you too.
David -- thank you for taking the time and effort to write. I can't help but wonder if your accident wasn't the product of something unworldly. I'm grateful that it happened. Please stop by again.
On another note. . . I had planned to write about something totally different today.
This is Bryan. We've ridden together a few times and we both belong to the same gym. About a month ago, I got Bryan to try out Body Pump at the gym and now he's a regular. In return, he told me of all the virtues of Basic Training class. There was one excuse and then another why I didn't go. Yesterday he reminded me again and it was all about the weather. I don't do sub-40 degrees outside. (Okay, yeah, wimp, fine, I can live with that.) Monday was in the mid-30's at the 6 am start.
So last night I checked the weather and we're looking at low 40's. What could I do. No more excuses.
I met the instructor (drill sergeant, actually, right?) and he looked me up and down. I could read his mind -- "this guy's in no shape to handle my class." Just then, Pat, one of the Body Pump instructors walks by -- "Hey, Jeff, how was the Baltimore Marathon?" Sarge looked at me again -- "You ran the Baltimore Marathon?" Well, half, but yeah. The change in his demeanor was instantaneous. Timing was perfect.
Anyway, at 6, a group of 60 or so gathered outside. Start with 15 - 4-count jumping jacks. Okay, 20 push ups. Alright everyone, we're running to the college, about a mile and a half away. At the college, it was time for 20 minutes of intense calisthenics. More more push ups, 100 full range sit-ups (I didn't think anyone did those any more!), crunches, more crunches, squat thrusts -- oh man, it's been 30 years since I've done a squat thrust -- jr. high gym class -- they still suck. OK, now, run back. Then more jumping jacks, still more push ups, finally some stretches. Thankfully, form doesn't count, cause I didn't have any for most of this.
The hour was about as intense as anything I've ever done. The chill in the air was refreshing, for sure. I figure I'm good now to about 38 degrees! It will be nice to work this into the weekly repertoire.
I told Bryan that I hated him, but, of course, I don't. (He told me the same thing after the first Body Pump, too.) I'm thankful that he kept "reminding" me. Not sure how I'll feel in a couple of days when the soreness from the morning's activities set in, but I'll be back!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Today I headed back to the beach. . . South Beach that is. I had great success with South Beach from July 06 through early 08, but as my marathon training heated up, I found the need for more carbs. Since then, my weight has essentially been stable. Now I have nothing of significance on the calendar and workouts should be mostly an hour or so, so it's back to what worked before.
Last night I skimmed through the new "Supercharged" South Beach book. Best I could tell, the big difference is the section on exercise. The diet is the same -- lean meats and non-starchy veggies, especially during Phase I -- the first 2 weeks. No fruits at all. Gets more generous during Phase II after that with the addition of some fruits and more veggies.
I'm looking forward to some positive, ass kicking results in the near future.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Well, my friends, that was then and this is now. Seems like all of those "free" calories took their toll. I haven't seen the 220's in almost 2 months. Yesterday, two days after the half and just 9 days removed from the Seagull (and the 8000 calories burned that day), the scale showed an eye popping 237. (Point Four!) The last time I weighed in at this heft? March 17, nearly 7 months ago!
Unlimited carbs for all of that exercise, right? Um, yeah, right. Ice cream before bed is cool, right? Hey, it was all low fat. I admit, it might not have been exactly the serving size on the container, but who eats those paltry servings, anyway. OY! Okay, I understand why. I did it to myself.
Now, before you start to comment with "It's okay, you'll get back on track" and "Hey, Jeff, you did it before, you can do it again" or "Dude, look where you came from, this is just a small blip, you'll be right back," wouldya just save it! Look, I'm just pissed at myself. I did it to myself and I missed an opportunity to drop those last 25 pounds, which are now the last 38 pounds.
Problem is, I started to enjoy food again. For two years, I got myself into a position where food was just subsistence. Now, I look forward to food again. I have my favorite places to eat and things to eat. For a long time, there was the boring old salad bar at the local Weis market for lunch. Now I crave Panera. Crave may not do my feelings for Panera justice -- when I die, I want to be baked into one of their multi grain baguettes and dipped into vegetable soup. I'm telling you, I'm in love. After Saturday's half, we hit my favorite Mexican spot -- chips, salsa, my clean plate, then I finished my kid's plate. There's the old Jeff in fine form.
What I need is a kick in the ass. Some serious tough love. Gotta get outta my friggin' food loving ways or I'll be playing Santa this Christmas without added padding!
No nice comments, please. Nothing peppy or I swear I'll delete it. I'm tellin' 'ya, I need the pain.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
My neighbor Brian was also running the half. This would be his first "major" race. He'd done the Annapolis 10 miler a few times, but this would be his first half marathon. He was already stoked about the expo. We decided to leave at 7 to find parking and watch the start of the full marathon. As we headed in town, his enthusiasm and excitement was obvious. It felt kinda strange being the "expert" for a change.
The starts to the Baltimore events are staggered. The marathon kicks off at 8, then a 5k at 8:30, then the half at 9:45. The full course runs adjacent to the half at the start, then split for three miles, then the two merge at mile 3/16 through the finish. The delayed start is so that the leaders of the full have an opportunity to pass before there is a merge.
We arrived by 7:30 and headed to the start of the marathon. The place was all abuzz with tons of spectators. The Mayor of Baltimore gave a speech followed by one of the Under Armor commercial guys. Finally, Georgia Cleland, daughter of the founder of Team In Training and subject of the initial fundraising activities, along with her dad Bruce counted down. As the runners headed out, I got chills knowing what they were all in for. I can certainly appreciate their efforts, especially those in the back of the pack, now that I have completed one.
Once they were off, the 5k runners toed the line and they were off. On our way to the half starting area, we stopped by the finish line to watch the 5k runners finish. 13:53 later. WOW, amazing how fast these guys are.
Off we were, with a quick stop at the bathroom we headed over to Light Street where the start of the half would be. What was cool about the location is on the southbound side of the road, there were marathoners at about mile 7. Cordoned off from the half route on the northbound side of the street were runners at mile 13. Lots of spectators and cheering all around.
Brian and I hung around for a bit, and then I headed back to wave 3 to look for some of my running friends. I quickly found Katie and Tawanda, the other members of the Blue Crab Running Club. Then I ran into the TNT group, including Ann Marie who I met and ran with when we were training for our spring marathon's. We chatted for a couple of minutes, wished each other well and I headed back to start with Katie, Tawanda and their friends from disneyrunning.com.
FINALLY, the start was here, but not for us. Us wave 3'ers wouldn't cross the starting line for 15 minutes. I must say, by this point in nearly any other event, we'd be looking for the finish line. Frederick's 6:30 start would have us on our second beer by now (at least for the half!) At this point by the time we've started, I've been at the event site for more than 3 hours, my throw away sweatshirt is long gone and the place is heating up. Let's go already!
At about 10:00, we were officially off. The word on the street was that the course was "challenging." After Frederick's nastiness, I decided once again to ignore the elevation maps and just enjoy the run. It didn't take long to hit the first of the hills followed by what seemed to be a constant barrage of hills -- more ups than flat or down. Good news for me was that despite the hills, I was feeling pretty good. No foot or ankle pain. Plantar fascia in check. All good.
After about 2 miles, the hills got the better of Katie and I kept on going. Quickly, though, I realized that 2:30 wasn't going to happen and a PR was well in doubt. With 12 minute running miles, I'd need to go non-stop to the finish. Never one to say never, I was pretty sure it wasn't to be on this day. At 4 miles, I took my first walk break as one more hill was one more too many. Still, though, I was enjoying the sights of the city, and what sights there were.
There was the chicken guy. Yes, a guy dressed up in a chicken suit. Kinda reminds me of this guy:
(This is Steve Stenzel, one of the funniest bloggers out there. I've shamelessly stolen this picture of him right off his blog. Steve wore this costume during the Twin Cities Marathon a few weeks ago. I'm using this picture without permission just to give you an idea what a guy in a chicken suit might look like. In fact the guy in Baltimore wore a white suit and his face was not covered, so just close your eyes and imagine Steve and a costume like that.)
I much appreciated the Baltimore Department of Public Works leaving all of the roadkill in place. I counted two on my part of the course. Only explanation I can think of is that some of those super elite runners weren't paying attention and squashed some poor unsuspecting predators. Damn them!
The street people were great. NO, I don't mean people hanging out on the street. It was awesome that all of Baltimore's finest street people came out to watch and cheer us on. Seriously. I'm sure that provided hours and hours of entertainment that was more than the norm.
From mile four, plenty more uphill to about mile 7, where we went down hill to Lake Montebello. This is by far the most scenic part of the run. Nice, wide open paved running path with tons of spectators. It's where I realized that sunglasses and sunscreen would have been a good idea.
I was able to run the lake and out 33rd street past the senior housing development on the site of the former Memorial Stadium. More walking and running on some more hills until I came upon Ann Marie again. I was quite surprised to see her, but it was a welcome sight to see a familiar face. Soon, we were on the slow downhill portion of the course as we pushed each other running, then short walking spurts. At one point, with Oriole Park in view, Ann Marie dropped back and I ran the rest of the way.
There is something to be said about running into the chute with lots of cheering people. I got chills as I cleared the desolate Eutaw Street promenade of Oriole Park and went into the wide open area leading the way to Ravens Stadium. As I finished, I turned to see Ann Marie just 100 yards behind.
Official time: 2:49:24.
Considering that I ran less than 25 miles in the four months leading up to the race, about 10% of any training plan worth it's weight, this is pretty good. Considering the hills and the hills on the hills, my goals would have bee a stretch even if I had trained properly. Considering the starting temp at about 68 and finishing at 72, that's the hottest I've run this distance. Considering the couple of miles of walking we did before the run and the three hours from home to the start line, it was a long day. All things considered, I'm thrilled with my time and my finish.
After the race I hooked up with Brian sporting a big smile to go with his 1:55 time. Then it was time to find the Maryland Double award. This is the award for completing either the half or full at both Frederick and Baltimore. With 39 miles in the books, I wasn't leaving without it, despite the 20 minute wait in line.
The Corrigan Sports promoters do a great job and having Under Armor as the lead sponsor, there are no cheapie premiums. Back of the shirt and the two medals are below.
Looks like next year's Baltimore is out -- I'll be trading the flat Seagull Century ride for the Baltimore hills on the same day.
Thanks to all of my friends and Deb who encouraged me to stick this one out. It was well worth it.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
With tomorrow being the UnderArmor Baltimore Running Festival and, for me, the Carefirst/Blue Cross Blue Shield Baltimore Half Marathon (shameless promotion here, hoping for some free UA gear or maybe a comp doctor visit) and all of the big biking events in the rear view mirror, it's time to run.
The plan for Tuesday was a long run of 6 miles. Not exactly setting the world on fire, but it would be my longest run since June and with little consistency, I was hoping for some kind of barometer for the big one tomorrow.
When I woke up Tuesday, everything inside of me said to turn over and go back to sleep. I didn't. For some reason, my mind was intent on me not getting out of the house. I crapped around for a good hour and a half. Can't even tell you what I did, but it wasn't run. Finally, I headed to the gym with just enough time to get in six, I hoped. What happened then was totally unexpected. It was a great run. I mean like one of those (seemingly very rare) runs that reminded me that I actually liked to run. I was able to run non-stop for more than three miles. As four and five ticked off, I was trying to figure out if the clock (the job, really) would let me do seven. Unfortunately, my screwing off at home came back to haunt me, it would only be six, but I left the gym totally stoked and psyched for the race ahead. My 11:23 average pace won't set the world on fire, but it's pretty good for me considering my lack of preparation.
Wednesday was another story. Hoping for some more magic, I think I pushed it a bit. Almost 2 1/2 miserable miles, but I'm chalking that up to needing recovery.
So tomorrow is the day. The blogger get together will just be Katie and me after some other friends bagged us (not that I'm taking it personally or anything.) Hoping for another run like Tuesday. As for goals, much as I'd like to break 2:30, a pace of 11:26 is probably out of reach. Would love to hit a PR of 2:36:02 or better. The course is challenging, though, with some early hills (up). At the end of the day, it's all about finishing.
Race report to come!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Before yesterday, my last ride was a full three weeks before. That was a bit concerning, but between travel and weather, there was little I could do other than pick up every spin class I could find. On the positive side, there was no opportunity to break me or my bike in that time, so I had that going for me.
Before each event, I most definitely get stressed. More so for this one. There's just so much crap to schlep. Aside from the obvious, the bike, there's the clothes, the helmet, the gloves (full finger or half), tire pump, water bottles, etc., etc., etc. I started writing a list around Tuesday. When Deb spotted the list she remarked that it wouldn't keep me from forgetting anything. (Yeah, thanks for the positive thoughts, love.) Anyway, there was plenty of stress leading up to our departure. Thankfully, my family stands by me, knowing that next time around, it'll be easier (I swear!)
On Thursday, I pulled something in my right shoulder. I think it was something I lifted, but by Thursday eventing, I could not lift my right arm above my shoulder. This is not good. Not good at all. Deb massaged the area and that helped. Friday morning I was at the chiropractor for more relief. All helping, but still pretty scary.
The plan was to pick up the kids from school on Friday and head 2 1/2 hours east to Salisbury on Maryland's Eastern Shore. We loaded up the CRV with enough stuff to to last us a week. (Well, at least 3 or 4 days.) We were on the road at 3:30 with plans to be in Salisbury by dinner time. Unfortunately, we hit far more traffic that we should have due to construction and a couple of accidents. We spend about an hour getting through the town of Cambridge, otherwise, 5 minutes max.
We got to the hotel just after 7, dumped my bike in the room, and headed to the expo at Salisbury University. The kids, who had been fairly well snacked on the ride, spotted the pre-race party (food!), so the cries to get out of the expo started pretty much immediately. The one thing that I was concerned about for the ride was the temps. Looked like low to mid 50's at the start, but 70's by mid-day. I figured a pair of arm warmers would do the trick. I picked up a pair of US Postal Service removable arm warmers and it was time to enjoy the party. Chicken wings, home made potato chips, corn on the cob (drowned in butter) and ice cream. Not bad for an appetizer.
We headed from the University to get some dinner, then back to the hotel for a quick visit to the pool and whirlpool. I laid all of my stuff out for the next morning (and I had it all, thanks for the confidence boost, Deb.) Then to bed.
Morning arrived much earlier than necessary. No, not the alarm, set for 5:50, the little ones, who went to bed with no problem, but seemed to dislike sharing the queen size bed beginning just before 5 am. After a few dozen shhhhhh's and "get back to bed's", there was no point to further sleep. I was up and had a few helpers getting things organized for the day's event.
After a trip to the Hampton Inn breakfast bar, with my invited little ones, Deb joined me out front for last minute preparations and requisite pictures and I was biking off to the start, a short ride from our hotel.
At about 7:15, I was at the starting line for the "show and go" start. It was really hard to judge just how many people and bikes were actually there at that point. Seemed like there were bikes everywhere. Hundreds, at least. I quickly got in line and off I went.
The route was set up nicely with rest stops every 20 miles or so. The first two stops were pretty run-of-the mill. The third was at Assateague Island National Seashore. A great locale with water surrounding the stop as well as some home made breads baked in the University's kitchens. The last stop included various pies and vanilla ice cream. Not bad rewards after 62 and 82 miles done.
Being alone in an ride where it seemed that everyone was with a group or with friends, the goal was to find pace lines and grab on to the back. The first 20 miles I found a few loosely organized pace lines, but nothing lasting more than a mile or two before they fell apart. On the way, it was obvious that everyone had out their bike jersey finery.
I was totally impressed with many of the groups out there. Most outstanding were the Team In Training riders. They had 150 riders in the event and seemed to be everywhere. Each group had their locale printed on the back pockets that showed home areas from as far as South Texas. Always impressive at any athletic events in the area is the Naval Academy team. Being passed by their perfectly cadenced team in white was a site to see. That's teamwork. There were also "Guys who Get Fat in Winter" and "Big Fat Bastards" of note. Not to mention jerseys from just about every major college and university in America.
The good news for me was how I felt. After struggling through the metric just three weeks before with some pretty bad back pain, I put myself on a pretty strict stretching regime. Just about every night, I stretched for 10-15 minutes, mostly concentrating on my back. Then, of course, there was the panic from Thursday. I added some stretches at each rest stop as well. For the first 30-40 miles, I had no back pain whatsoever. Even then, the pain was pretty mild relative to a few weeks before.
- This was fun, but would've been a lot more fun with friends. I've got four or five volunteers for next year already.
- Training matters. No surprise here. I had hoped to get in a 70-75 miler before yesterday, but I ran out of time. This woulda pushed the wall back another 10-15 miles, at least.
- It's easier to train for a biking event than a running event. Don't know why, but it was. The marathon was 16, grueling at times, weeks of training. This was less than 10 and I took the last 3 off.
- Biking events are VERY different from running events. Biking is much more social and there's a lot less stress. Not that one thing is better than another, just my observation.
- My wife has more confidence in me than I have in myself. . . and thank goodness for that. Woulda been a pretty boring weekend if she didn't tell me that I could do it. (I just hope she doesn't mention Ironman or anything stupid like that.)
Time to go. Gotta START training for the Baltimore Half. Just six days away!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The weather was just about perfect, probably upper 50's at the start, low 70's at the finish.
Did the ride in just about 6 hours riding time, 7:15 with stops.
It was a great day for a ride.
All for now. More tomorrow, with pictures, too.
P.S. Thanks for all of the positive comments on the blog redo, too.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Thank you all for your suggestions. Seems that the right name was right in front of me -- L'Chaim! (Thanks to Pat for pointing that out.)
L'Chaim is how I end each post and it really is the essence of the new and hopefully much much longer life that I've given my family, friends and myself.
The picture on the new masthead on the left is from 2004 at Mt. Kilauea, HI. The middle is from the St. Michael's Metric Century in September. The one on the right is from this past weekend.