Monday, March 28, 2011

Biggest Loser 5k

Ahhh the joys of running, doing things stupidly and hopefully learning from one's mistakes. Saturday morning I had my Biggest Loser 5k, something I had been looking forward to for more than a month now for several reasons. The first being the fact I haven't run a 5k race since November and in that time I have gotten vastly faster. And secondly as I would get to meet several of the contestants from the Biggest Loser, people I could relate to and wanted to talk to.

I have to admit the last several months of running since my half haven't gone very well at times and it has taken a lot to just keep plugging at times. I spent a week recovering from the horrible muscle spasms I suffered from that half and the moment I got better enough to do more than a slow miserable recovery run I got the flu which knocked me out for another week. Then another week recovery from the flu and then once I got better of course spring reared it's ugly head and my allergies set in with a force. But despite that I slowly increased my miles and actually have run seven straight weeks of 30+ miles.

But with training not going as good as I hoped and needing a shot in the arm mentally, I planned my last tempo and speed work for my race on Wednesday thinking I had a full two days to recover before my race. Many other runners called me out for this stupidity as I ran a 23:49 5k that day and followed it up by getting my full 5 miles in with another record pace of 41:31. The 5miler also resulted in a pretty good fall and tumble. Tired and about a half mile from my house my foot caught on a rock on the edge of the sidewalk as I was running past some of that rock landscaping. After several steps of trying to catch my balance you know your going down and there is nothing you can do about it. At that point it just trying to fall on the sidewalk rather than the darn rock landscaping. That wasn't to be my luck as I went down on the rocks instead. Bruised up and battered I got up and ran the last half mile home and a nice truck did stop to help and even offered me some water. So even with a minute lying on the ground stunned I still managed my best 5miler ever.

Ok on to race day details. I woke up about 10 minutes before my alarm went off at 6:50 am. Nervous like I always am before a race I only managed a banana and a handful of peanuts before heading out to get there before they closed the parking lot and to be eligible for early bird prizes. It was very cold I think around 28 degrees and I did not dress well for it only wearing a short sleeve tech t-shirt and shorts. Around 8:30 I went out and did a mile warm up run at an easy pace of around 11mm. And my hands were numb after just that one mile run.

Not to fazed about it I lined up at the front with a guy running about a 7mm pace and we kidded and had fun pre-race. Went out and everything went great first mile except I forgot to start my watch (so I had no idea how I finished tell Saturday night more on that later). After the first mile or so it was all uphill and not nice hills either. The gradual %2-4 grades that just wear on you after awhile. There is no mile markers so there is no clue how far you have gone at this point I said screw it lets just throw it to the wind and run what feels comfortable.

Around mile 2 somewhere who knows it was on the 2nd parking lot loop I am really starting to hurt and I decide to take a walk break but the guy next to me is like come on and encourages me and after walking for 3 steps I say screw it and pick back up running. I am cold and wet and miserable by this time but I go to the pain cave thinking I might still be in the range for a pr not knowing how long I have been on the course.

I finish and walk back up the stairs to get some refreshments and as I am getting my refreshments I notice they are calling out names and times and its been a minute or two since I finished and they are calling out high 26's and 27's. Now I know no pr there is no way I am likely somewhere in the 26 minute range and am totally depressed.

So I sit depressed and start to watch the runners finish. All the biggest loser contestants came in after me but I think they started at the back. But eventually watching all these first timers finish gives me a boost and I start cheering them on. It was so much fun to watch these runners finish something I barely found a love for just last August that it gave me the boost I needed. I sat there cheering in the rain and the cold and shivering with my teeth chattering for nearly 25 minutes tell I couldn't take it anymore as I was so freezing. I walked back to my car to get my phone to take some pictures.

And then I waited in each of the constants lines to talk to them and I showed them my before pic I had loaded on my camera pre-race. I waited in all 6 lines to get a pic with all of them and to get them to sign my bib. And since I waited in all the lines everyone else was clearing out because it was so cold and I got to actually talk with them quite a bit. Me and Ada a runner from season 10 I think who is doing marathons talked for a good 20 minutes and so did me and Daris another runner from season 9. It was so much fun to talk to them.

Still feeling depressed about my time I had to wait all day to find out my official time. Saturday night the results are finally posted and while the results are what I expected miserable I get a shocking surprise to see where I placed. My time was 26:37 but I was 22nd out of 572 runners. That was the huge boost I needed, it meant I wasn't the only one to struggled in the rain and the freezing cold and it was the first race I had ever run as a front runner one of the faster people. No awards but still wonderful to place 22nd.

I tell you what despite how miserable the race was and how cold it was and how I didn't even come close to my personal best time it was one of my favorite races I have ever done. to cheer on all those first timers and get to talk to former biggest loser contestants who are runners was amazing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Milestones, wonderful milestones

This weekend I hit not one but two milestones. On May 19th of last year I found DailyMile and started plugging my mileage in there every day just like any OCD lunatic would. Friday I logged my 1000th mile in daily mile which was pretty exciting for me. It consisted of 883.99 miles running, 109 miles cycling and 7.21 miles swimming. Granted my the end of the day today I will be at 1031 miles as the miles do pile up quickly but it was so exciting to see daily mile say 1000 miles. And sometime by the middle of next month or earlier I should hit 1000 miles running by itself.

I do wish I would have started tracking back in January of 2009 as it would be fun to see what kind of miles I have logged in my 27 months of weight loss and craziness. 2009 was all about consistency and days in a row for me. I did a minimum walk of 1.6 miles 354 days out of 365 and it was always the goal to see how many days I could go without missing a day (longest streak was 169 days). So I know that I must have logged around 600 miles in 2009 as I also would occasionally do longer walks of 1.8 or 3.0 miles and in December of 2009 I started running and my pattern then was 2 miles running. That was also the month I joined the gym (yep didn't join a gym for 11 months and lost 110 pounds without one) and my typical day was 3 miles on the elliptical machines and 2 miles on the treadmill. So if I were to count elliptical miles I am sure I am well over 2000 right now but it was still fun to see my 1000th mile logged.

Sunday was another test run at the dreaded 15miler that has been killing me of late. My plan was good, my execution of plan was good and yet it still ended in disaster. During my 15miles I drank 34 ounces of water, 12 ounces of Gatorade, ate some GU chomps and had a GU Gel and despite all that I bonked severely around mile 14. Cramping badly I limped home once more humbled by a run longer than 12 miles. I am at a loss where to go next with trying to figure out this problem. A lot of solutions have been offered to me and the next test is going to be sodium tablets to see if it's just more than an electrolyte imbalance. After that maybe some hammer anti fatigue caps, and who knows what else. With six months to go tell the marathon the problem of runs longer than 12 miles still humbles me. But at least I know I got plenty of time to figure the problem out and do something about it.

There could have been a lot of other factors involved yesterday from the fact that it was very warm for the first time this year resulting in me getting quite the sunburn to the fact that I altered my route. Normally on a 15miler I do three loops of my normal 5 mile loop. But growing weary of the same 5 mile loop every day I increased my loop to 6.33 miles doing it twice and then doing a 2.33 mile loop to finish it all off. And the extra 1.33 miles of the loop alas were all uphill on a hill that could give the Veyo hill on the marathon course a run for it's money. It's a two mile hill on grades of %8-12 and just never seems to end. I think the Veyo hill might be more steep but at least it has the courtesy of ending after a mile or so. Adding these two additional factors in to what was already giving me problems probably was not wise. But that led me too milestone number 2.

Pre-run I weighed myself at 217 pounds and post run I weighed myself and I was down to 211 pounds. That means I lost a whopping 6 pounds in 2 hours and 50 minutes beat that biggest loser. It also meant for the first time I had lost more than 200 pounds since I starting losing weight making my grand total 204 pounds. I reweighed myself this morning and I kept 4 pounds of it off only going back up to 213 pounds making it official. I have lost 202 pounds in 27 months or 48.6% of my total body weight. This was my original goal more than two years ago and know I wonder if I can get down to 200 pounds or 190 pounds.

So two milestones in one weekend, sore muscles, cramps, sunburn and looking for a new strategy what more can one ask.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It never gets easier, so suck it up buttercup

Here I am again probably coming down sick once more (kids are germ machines I tell you) and it got me reflecting on how it never seems to get easier. They always tell you when you start running or working out hey it will get easier eventually. That or we try and fool ourselves into thinking that and I am sure it would get easier if we stopped trying to obtain new heights and always pushing ourselves further and further.

So yesterday was supposed to be my first 40 mile running week ever, I had already put the 25 miles in leading up to what was supposed to cap the week off a 15mile long run. Saturday night sitting on the couch chilling my son walks up to my wife who is sitting on the other couch and throws up on her and the couch. So I am already freaking out about getting sick again as I hate being sick and have already been sick twice this winter. Despite being a little tired and feeling a little under the weather I veered out for my long run determined to not let it beat me. The first 5 miles go ok nothing great as I have been fighting lead legs the last few days already. Knowing I want to switch to gatorade half way through the run I decide to run my 2 mile loop in reverse as I have a gatorade stashed in the bushes. This is where the wheels fell off the bus. Seven miles in I feel like I have nothing left in the tank but I refuse to give up but not being able to face the uphill on my three mile loop I also decide to run that in reverse as well.

Big mistake, while the first mile is all uphill going normal it does then turn into a nice two mile downhill run after that. Going in reverse only enjoys me a quarter of mile of downhill before having to face some serious uphills. About a mile in and running all uphill I am done and like a dog with its head between his legs I head back home enjoying the downhill I just ran up. Still determined to not be beaten I attempt my 2 mile loop in reverse again and only get a half mile in before giving up and heading home. All told I managed 10 miles of my planned 15miler which is quite the accomplishment with how bad I felt after the first seven miles.

It's been a very rough month of struggles first recovering from my half marathon and muscle spams then getting sick and having to recover from that to only be hit by allergies as soon as I recover from being sick. Then of course to finding myself getting sick once more. It almost makes you want to give up but then I got to thinking about it never getting easier and realized it has gotten easier I have just made it harder and harder as time went by.

This time last year I ran a 39 minute 5k several times a week with the other days just being two mile runs in about 25 minutes. That 13 minute mile wouldn't even be close to my slow recovery pace as my regular runs are at or just below 10 minute miles and my recovery runs are at 11 minute miles. My race paces are sub 9 minute miles as I have run several tempo runs at a near 8 minute mile pace several times the last month or so in training for my upcoming 5k. Not to mention my normal run is now 5 miles a day and usually under 50 minutes. I am sure if I were to run one of those 39 minute 5k's it would feel vastly easy and almost not even like a workout. So it has gotten easier but I have made it harder.

Last week I was surprised at what had happened to the person I had become. I got home from a bicycle commute from work and went inside put my bike away, kissed the wife hello, grabbed a handful of peanuts to eat and instantly left to go for a 5mile run. Two years ago I could have never imagined being that person who could so easily go from a 5mile bike to a 5mile run and not even need any rest in between. Or the fact that it had become so common place that I didn't even need to think about it anymore.

It does get easier but we always want to improve ourselves so sometimes we lose focus and get frustrated and lament why isn't this any easier. We forget we are no longer that 13 minute mile runner and that because we want to better ourselves we are always striving for new heights and new achievements.

If your doing it right it will likely never get easier, so suck it up buttercup and keep pushing yourselves because you may never know where you might find yourselves.