Friday, July 31, 2009

Fun-filled day

I had a bunch of stuff to do yesterday so I took the day off. Being that I have almost 5 weeks vacation on the books, I figured ONE day off wouldn't hurt me so I just took Thursday off. I scheduled my to-do's on my day off just like any other work day. Everything had an appointment on my Blackberry so I would be where I was supposed to be. It looked something like this.

5:30 - Run with the gang (Memorial Park)
8:40 - Orthotics fitting (Spine & Sports Medicine)
9:15 - Breakfast with Will (Buffalo Grill)
12:00 - Massage (Cosa Bella Day Spa)
1:30 - Dietician (The Houstonian)
3:00 - Haircut (Bellair's Original Barber Shop
7:00 - In Flight Seminar, Top 10 Running Injuries (Fleet Feet Rice Village)

I threw in a visit to My Fit Foods in Uptown Park after my visit with Catherine. I had heard about My Fit Foods from Anna and wanted to check it out. It's really quite interesting. They have a menu of pre-packaged, pre-pared meals that you can basically just take home, pop in the microwave and enjoy. Nothing is frozen. All natural ingredients. For the most part, wheat and gluten free. Most of their lunch meals are "higher" in complex carbs. Dinners are higher in protein. I had the Cran/Strawberry Patty which is "the fourth flavor in the Patty line: strawberries and dried cranberries! This is a steel cut oatmeal pancake. We pack the protein in with five egg whites . Agave nectar is used for a low-glycemic glaze. Eat the whole thing for a regular meal or split in half for two snacks!" It was quite tasty.

After my haircut, I knew I had some time to kill. I got this bright idea that I wanted to run AGAIN!!! I don't know if it was the massage or the Cran/Strawberry Patty or what but I really felt like running. One problem, the only clothes I had with me were the nasty, sweaty clothes from my morning run. I knew by the time I went out to Cypress in afternoon traffic, changed clothes, and hopped back into traffic to get back over to Rice, I would not have time to run before the 7:00 seminar. I called Mom but she was not at home and now answering her cell. I had to get these clothes washed and get over to the track. The quarters in my ash tray got me thinking, "Why don't you just go to the washateria?" So, that's what I did. The only washateria I knew of was over by my parents' house so I drove over, got some change and got to work. About the time the cycle started, Mom called and asked, "Did you call?" I told her why I had called her. She said she was going to be home in a few minutes. I finished the wash and then went over to Mom's to dry. I'm glad I did 'cause I was also able to grab a sandwich and a couple water bottles. I made it over to the park with time to spare and got in another 3.2 miles for a total of just over 6 for the day. I'm glad I got to burn the extra calories. It really showed on the scale this morning. A new low...287.5

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yoga and Hills

In the course of only 12 hours, I enjoyed not just one but TWO new experiences. First, I attended and actually participated in my first yoga class last night at 6 pm. After a good night's sleep, I met up with In Flight to do some hill work. Running hills isn't completely foriegn to me as I ran hills a few times back in 2006 but this morning was the first time in a very long time I've hit the slopes. Needless to say, my legs feel like jell-o right now.

The yoga was tough, on par with a tough boot camp workout if you ask me. Not with all the cardio but I'll tell you what...I was sweating like a pig about 15 minutes into it. So, the class is billed as Yoga for Runners. We did what they call hip openers. It was kind of interesting in that we did no "hamstring stretches" whatsoever. But pre-class we tested how far we could reach when bent over. I could just about put my fingertips on the floor. By the end of the class, without doing any "hamstring stretches", I could put my palms on the floor. I learned from the instructor that it's the hips and glutes that really release the hamstring, not necessarily just doign hamstring stretches.

The hills were tough too. The hardest drill we did was the last drill, a high-knee walk up the hill, then down, up, then down for 5 minutes. By the time I got to the top of that hill each time, my hip flexors were burning and my legs felt like lead. I should feel good in the morning. Oh, crud. I've got bootcamp in the morning. Yipee!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Slow and steady

Well, it's not biggest loser numbers but I've been losing weight slowly but on a steady glide down since October of last year. I've lost about 41 pounds since the beginning of the year, 60 since October of 2008. That's an average of just over 6 pounds a month. I'm not one to look back but if I had to look back, I know I could have done much better. As you can see below, there are about 5 periods of time this year of 1-2 weeks where I got off track. 5 little humps. But overall, I like the trend that the chart shows. Now, my goal for the next 6 months is to avoid the humps. Consistency is my next giant I need to slay.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

So close to double digits

When I walked out the door this morning, I was pleased at not being hit across the face with the thick, hot air we've had for the last month on Saturday mornings. Don't get me wrong. It was still a hot, Houston, summer morning but just a little closer to bearable.

Michael continues to keep it fresh with new routes every week. This morning, we had a change of venue. We met at Fleet Feet, Rice Village and headed south around Rice, around Hermann Park, and out Braes Bayou. The paved run/bike trails along the bayou are really nice. Not a whole lot of people like around Memorial and Allen Parkway. At one point, I looked down the bank of the bayou and a huge red-tailed hawk was just sitting there on the ground, about 15 feet off the path. I stopped and just looked at it. It looked at me. Bored, the hawk eventually took off down the bank of the bayou and glided along the water, about a foot off the surface, like a fighter jet flying through a canyon. That was a joy to see.

Total, I got about 9.9 miles. It doesn't seem quite right rounding up to double digits. I'm waiting until next week for that. I'm not really getting any faster on my long runs but that's really not the goal right now, right? I'm covering the distance every week but I really can't fathom right now being able to finish in 6 hours come January. I'm running ~14:50 right now on average but with water stops and potty break, it's about 15:30. I know I just need to cover the distance but when is the speed gonna come? With cooler temps? I know the answer to this question and that's why continuing to lose weight is as critical to my marathon training as long runs and weekly mileage. That's where my speed is going to come from. It's just a matter of physics. Catherine wants me to get a big bulk of my goal weight off by middle of September, before my 15, 16, 18, 21 mile runs start and I really start ramping up weekly mileage. It's really hard during that kind of training to be cutting your calories and trying to lose a massive amount of weight. So, I've really gotta kick the weight loss up a notch over then next month, month and a half.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Indecent exposure

After a great visit with Catherine this morning (we got some things straight and set some new goals), I headed over to the park for my run. Today was P day which for In Flight means pick up the pace. It's really flexible. Do a tempo, or some pickups, or a fartlek, whatever, just spend some time in the "next" gear. I opted for a little tempo work.

After a mile warmup, I did some stretching and got some water. Then after another .5, I went right into my tempo gear. For me, the tempo run is as much about pacing and consistency as it is about running at a higher effort. Too fast, and you burn out (which I've done many times). Too slow and you don't get the benefit of training right at threshold. I dropped my pace to ~5K + 30 seconds and gradually eased it on down to finish right around 5K + 10. None of that is too scientific but I held my pace and even picked it up a little over the 2nd mile. I did a half mile cool down and took it on in.

Oh, the indecent exposure...Well, after I was done with my 2 tempo miles, I knew I had a little cooldown left. It was really starting to get hot. I don't know what in the world I was thinking but I just took my shirt off and it was good...and bad...and of course, ugly. The good? Well, it took my mind off of how tired I was and set my running on auto pilot. I wasn't thinking about running. I was thinking about how much I was jiggling and whether or not I should have worn sunscreen and how heavy my sweat drenched shirt was to carry and how I wanted to just throw it to the side and pick it up later. Another good thing is it definitely was cooler. Now, the bad...and the ugly...they kind of all go together. Well, suffice it to say, a man with my physique has no business running without a shirt. PERIOD!!! But Like SteveB always refers to running Memorial's running SHAMELESS!!!

34 miles for June so far.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Execution of a Long Run

My execution of Saturday's 8.6 miler began on Friday. I woke up drinking water and frankly, by the end of the day, don't think I could have drank another drop. I had a great lunch, snack, and dinner. While I was craving some pizza, I gotta thank Jan for making and AWESOME, healthy dinner with grilled chicken, corn and black bean salad, and INCREDIBLE yellow squash sautee, all topped with a scoop of guac and pico. When I was done with that meal, I felt like a KING!!! Oh, and we topped off the evening with a Skinny Cow Fudge Bar.

I got up right on time for a change, had a good breakfast, picked up where I left off Friday night with more water, water, water and headed out. I actually arrived at the park early so I did not feel rushed at all. After a quick pep talk from Coach Michael, I headed out. I set out at a very easy pace for the first couple miles. Our route took us west out of the park and up Memorial Drive. I didn't dilly-dally much at all at the first water stop. I was feeling pretty good. Of course, by just two miles in, I was already just about soaked from head to toe with sweat and it wasn't even that hot...YET!!! All week, the heat has really been getting to me. Of course, I've been running mostly in the evening so that explains that. My plan yesterday was to RESPECT THE WEATHER!!! I wasn't going to worry about my pace at all. Just go out, keep my effort at LSD effort and just get my miles done and get out of there.

I saw lots of In Flight peeps as they hit their turnarounds and were heading back in. Our routes were great. We had folks doing 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12... all depending on what race and what level they were training at. Four through nine mile routes were pretty much the same, just with different turnaround points. Water stops were all very strategically placed. Great job In Flight and crew on the logistics this morning. You just don't know how much that makes a difference in a long run to know everything is in order, that you don't have to worry about water and bathrooms being where you said they were going to be. First class job. Nannie-nannie-boo-boo all you groups who have to CARRY your own water. :) Sorry, I'm quickly becoming an In Flight snob. Just kidding around so don't get your shorts in a wad.

Anyway, my turnaround point was just a block short of Chimney Rock. The crew not only had water and Gatorade for us but COLD, ICED TOWELS!!! That felt so good. I took a little longer at the truck than at the first water stop. I just kind of cooled down, hydrated and prepared for the return trip. I had just under 4 miles behind me and still felt REALLY good. This surprised me as during the week, I had a couple runs where after mile 2, I was done. But again, I was respecting the heat and just getting it done.

I've already dragged this story out too long. Suffice it to say, I finished the run strong. I really had no need to walk ANY. I took 30 seconds or so after each of the next 3 water stops to walk a little but pretty much I'd have to say that given the conditions, I nailed this run. Good prep, good execution.

Our efforts were rewarded with some trash talking and fun times at Starbucks with a couple of our HFit buds, Doreen and Anna. There was even a Cassie and Manny sighting which MADE MY DAY!!! Congrats to everyone on a great run Saturday. And like coach said, it's that time. 6 months to game time. Let's turn up the heat and get this show on the road. I'm really looking forward to the season and the challenges ahead and sharing them with good friends and my family.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Back on track...

After a mediocre month in June, I'm back on track with my running and weight loss and the scale is showing it. I weighed in this morning at 293.75, the first time I've dipped below 295 since my 2007 Houston Marathon weight and probably the lowest I've been in many a moon, like since 1997. After this afternoon's run, I'll already have 23 miles behind me for July, more than half of what I ran the whole month of June. Working on a good 80+ mile month in July if all goes well.

Right now, I'm walking that fine line between NOT trying to "catch up" for a bad 2 or 3 weeks in June but trying to get to where I need to be so that I don't have to throw away San Antonio. I'm definitely not close to that but I don't want to get any further behind. I'm anxious to see how my 8 miler goes this Saturday.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Not pleased with myself

Let me get one thing straight right out of the gate here. I'm not displeased with my time for this this morning's 5K. Frankly, I had no time goal at all and figured if I just did what I was supposed to do, the time would be what it was. There's really not much I can control as far as the actual time result of my 5K. I can't control the weather which was a huge factor today. But what I can control is my mind and that is where I'm not at all pleased with my performance.

I arrived at the race feeling REAL good, coming off a few good nutrition days and a couple of nice runs on Wednesday and Thursday. My weight was down around 296 and I was well hydrated. I had a good warmup and stretch and was ready to roll. I took off and got in a pretty good groove early. I was running hard but not CRAZY (I thought). Just under halfway, about the time you're supposed to start "hurting" in a 5K, I began to THINK about taking a walk break. I started to THINK about saving some 'till the end. I started to THINK about this 5K really not meaning much since it was so hot. All this THINKING!!! I dropped from a 12:26 pace for mile one to a 13:27 pace for mile 2. I HATE that I didn't ATTACK this race. I'm not pleased with my thoughts at all and my lack of real toughness. Right now, at 300 pounds and as slow as I am, my mental toughness is really all I have going for me. I really feel like it wasn't my body that gave out. It was my mind.

So, on a more positive note, I did finish pretty well the last .75, thanks to Maurice who came back and paced me just off Cedar Creek. I'll tell you what, Maurice knows what he's doing bringing a struggling runner in to the finish. He said all the right things, ran me on the tangents, and was a big motivation for me. Thanks, dude. Also, I felt NO pain in my ankle and knees and besides sheer exhaustion, felt really good. Finally, it was just FANTASTIC to see Amber and meet Mark and to visit with Elisa and Will and Matt...and...oh, I can't possibly name them all. It was just great to see my friends. And congrats on an awesome race, Will. The circle is now complete. When you left me, you were but the learner; now *YOU* are the master.

As for the race, well in my opinion, they get an A+. Great band. It looked like there was some incredible food although I didn't have any. Water stops were well serviced. The course was really nice, shaded even. Oh, and they had runners' showers at the finish in case you needed to cool down and to quote a good friend of mine, "That didn't suck!!!"

I've got some stuff to work on in July. I need a solid, consistent month of weight loss and running. I've got to put it all together and I mean now.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Even for June

I'm not ready to call June a setback or a failure. Some would say if you ain't moving forward, then you're moving backwards. If I did lose ground it wasn't a total retreat and the damage was minimal.

The following is not meant to be a list of excuses. It's just the facts and represents my one last area that I have yet to conquer, how to keep eating healthy and get my exercise, even when life does not go according to plan. As June kicked off, Jan had a planned 2-day work trip to California which had me doing Mr. Mom for a couple days. Unfortunately, when Jan was at the airport, she got a call the he dad had taken very ill and was in the hospital. Jan had to go there to support the family and to see her dad through his ordeal and she ended up being gone about 2 weeks. I missed a bunch of runs and didn't eat very well those weeks. Then, I joined a bunch of Junior High kids for a week as a counselor for our church's Beach Retreat. I basically ate like CRAP the whole week. I promise, if I don't ever see another Oreo cookie as long as I live, that will be fine with me. I wanted to do some running on the beach while I was there but I put it off every day saying I'd do it tomorrow. I never did.

What saved me was I did manage to run ALL of my long runs for the month and did manage to squeeze in 40 miles for the month, down from 61 in May. The scale showed that I had put on a couple of pounds but I think a lot of it was just eating salty food and not exercising. Believe me, had it been a total meltdown, which it wasn't, I could have packed on 10-12 pounds last month.

I'm not going to beat myself up. I've decided that. I'm back on track and had a good week running. My weight is already after eating good for that last week or 10 days, back to what it was June 1. I had an awesome 7.5 miles last week and tomorrow I'm going to tackle what will be my first race since falling completely off the wagon back in October, 2007. So, basically, I missed an opportunity to really progress in June and drop another 10-12 pounds. But it could have been worse. Let's just call it even. Bring on July!!!