Monday, July 25, 2011

Sound Barrier

One of my favorite movies is “The Right Stuff,” which is all about the early Mercury space program and man’s quest to break the sound barrier and beyond.  One of the primary characters profiled is Chuck Yeager, one of America’s true heroes.  Chuck was the first to break the sound barrier after piloting a jet that everyone thought would crash like all the others before him.  The sound barrier was considered by many to be impossible to breach by man. 

What does this all have to do with running, health, etc.?  We all have our own sound barriers.  And I’ve been thinking about mine quite a bit lately.  Today I had even more time to think about it because I had a miserable run to start the day off.

So here it is publicly: my sound barrier is 200 lbs.  It has been so difficult for me to get under this weight; I relate it to that which at times can seem impossible.  About eight years back I was on a pretty good health kick, and got close to getting under 200 lbs.  I didn’t quite make it, and ballooned back up (and down, and up, and down) again.  This current period has been my most successful period to date where I’ve lost over 65 lbs., and again I’m close to it (and have been for a couple of weeks).  I’ve been stuck, though, and just can’t seem to get under.  I know with effort and time it’ll happen, it is just frustrating to see it right in front of me and not be able to get there.

I’ve switched things up this week in order to break through.  I have abandoned my slow-carb diet and have gone back to Weight Watchers.  This was not an easy thing to do.  Slow carb took me down all this weight, so moving away from it is a bit daunting.  I had stalled on slow carb, though, and I think it may be due to my body becoming accustomed to the plan and me not getting enough calories/carbs to support my running.  So I figure I’ll try WW, which has worked for me in the past, for a few weeks at least to see if it kick starts a loss. 

Day One did not go well.  Might have been something mentally, but I didn’t stick to it very well.  I didn’t eat well at all this last weekend, and this morning my run was awful.  My nutrition likely contributed to it, but the heat was also fierce.  I struggled after two miles, pushed through to four, and quit before my goal of five.  So those excuses probably contributed, but I still think a lot of it was mental more than anything.  Ugh.  That barrier. 

I’m staying positive.  It will happen.  I have no choice but to keep pushing.  Barriers are meant to be broken.  My nutrition for the next for today and tomorrow will be good, and Wednesday morning my run will be awesome.

Enjoy your progress,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Run with the Son

Last week’s worth of running was a real treat.  My son and I took a little trip out of town to Omaha, Nebraska, primarily to see the zoo and to catch a minor league baseball game.  I checked and while we were scheduled to be up there, I found a 5k (well, actually 5.8k) that we could run.  My son is nearing the end of the Couch to 5k program, so I thought it might be a good way to keep him interested in running.

Our trip was made a little more difficult from the fact that northern Missouri, western Iowa, and eastern Nebraska have been experiencing problems with flooding along the Missouri River.  Because of this, sections of our main route, Interstate 29, were closed.  This meant that we had to take some back roads to get to our destination.  This added a little over an hour more to our drive up.  I became concerned that because of this, we might miss out on a race t-shirt.  Not a huge deal, but this was my son’s first run so I thought if at all possible we should make an effort to get there early for packet pickup.  While I registered for this race super early, we were told that we couldn’t be guaranteed a t-shirt unless we got to packet pickup on Friday. 

So we rushed up there (obeying all speed limits) to make it in time on Friday for packet pickup.  We arrived with about one hour to spare.  The packet person advised that they only had one large shirt left (they had about 50 mediums and smalls; why so many?).  That’ll work for the boy.  I’ll just take a medium and, well, I don’t know what I’ll do with it. 

The race was called “Kiliismycasa,” a benefit for CASA in Omaha (court advocates for children).  The race director had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro the previous year (a 5.8k climb) to also benefit CASA.  That explains the unusual distance.

 Being in an unfamiliar town, the next morning we got to the race site pretty early.  It was a lot of standing around for about 45 minutes, swatting an inordinate number of gnats (close to the river, I guess)?  We talked it over and he said he was going to do a run/walk, while I was confident I could run all of it (or close).  I told him I’d loop back around and help him to the finish, and the plan was established. 

The horn was sounded and we were off.  We ran together at the start and it was awesome!  I was so glad that we were able to share this experience together.  After the first half mile or so, he slipped back into his pace.  It was a pleasant morning for a run. 

After the first mile, we encountered some pretty challenging hills.  Actually, they were quite challenging.  When I hit the third significant hill, I decided I’d power walk up it.  I was surprised that Omaha had such beasts.  I was able to get through and hit the finish line at 38:10. 

I looped back around and looked for my son, and a little later saw him coming down a hill.  I jumped in with him and we went the last quarter mile together toward the finish line.  It was really cool!  High fives finished the day for us, and he seemed to really love the run.  All around, it was awesome.

We then spent the day celebrating and eating like kings; we deserved it!  Omaha is a neat town with a great zoo, and the minor league baseball game was a lot of fun.  The only sad note of the trip: he left his t-shirt in the hotel room!  Argh!

I’ll never forget the weekend.  Hopefully it won’t be our last race together, but you can’t ever duplicate the first.

Enjoy your progress!


Thursday, July 14, 2011


I was supposed to do my long run this morning because I have a 5.8k race Saturday.  Last night, however, the wife was busy and the weather wasn’t too bad, so I decided upon a night run.  I started out at around 8:30, and all went well except that it got a bit dark on me.  At one point I run through a park without street lights.  It was extremely dark!  I cut that part of the route short and then got back to the streets and streetlights.  At 7.5 miles, I really started to struggle (the wall?).  I had to push very hard to get through the last 1.5 to make a bit over 9 miles.  This was on target for my half marathon training plan, so I’m all good with it.  And it helped me sleep in a bit the following day.  

There are lots of motivations that you have as you move toward a goal, such as weight loss or a run.  I think one of the best motivators is success.  The more weight I lose and the longer my runs are, the more motivated I become to do even more.  

I was told by someone today that what I have done was inspirational in their eyes.  I don’t think I’ve ever been told something nicer than that.  To think that my transformation may help others to do the same is humbling.  We get wrapped up in our own challenges but often don’t think about how we are seen in the eyes of others.  Perhaps that is just some additional stress that we really don’t need.  It is nice to hear, though, that you are a positive influence on someone else.  

If only some of that inspiration would help my muscles repair quicker…

Enjoy your progress!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No Pain, Slow Gain

Had a nice morning run of 5 miles today.  I wasn’t sure how it would go as I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before.  I hit my goal and I’m ready for my Thursday long run of 9+ miles. 

This weekend is the Kilismycasa 5.8k in Omaha.  I’m running it with my 17 year old son, who is toward the end of the Couch to 5k program.  I’m glad to see him running and I hope he comes to enjoy it.  I will discuss how he wants me to run it (with him or not) before we head up to it.  We’re going to Omaha to go to the zoo and see the Royals’ AAA farm team play some baseball.  Just a weekend getaway with a race thrown in.  I’m looking forward to it.

I was thinking today about how well things have been going physically for me.  Early on when I ran, I would usually have some sort of pain to deal with in my legs or feet.  Knock on wood, but I haven’t had any problems there as of late.  I may have some stiffness from time to time, but nothing more than that.  And I have a bad left ankle from a high ankle sprain a couple of years ago that reminds me that it is weak, but it has held up much better than I thought it would.  I am either used to the pain and it doesn’t nag me or just better developed physically to run, or both. 

There is one exception.  My lower back usually aches after a run of 5 miles or more.  I’m trying to build up my core to see if that helps it out.  I think my posture at work is pretty bad and that might contribute to the issue.  It isn’t anything that is going to sideline me, but it is just a bother.  

Maybe I'm doing something right.  I am staying well below the 10% rule, increasing my weekly mileage by only a half mile to a mile (about 5% or less).  The gradual build up to the half marathon distance seems to be working well for me.  

Enjoy your progress! 


Sunday, July 10, 2011

DNF: Don't Leave your Partner Behind

This morning, I went to the Running of the Dogs at a local park.  It was a benefit for a Boxer rescue.  I took along our 7 yr old poodle Jasmine.  The plan was to walk the 5k, as Jasmine hasn't ever run with me and I don't think she has the interest to do so.  We take some one mile walks from time to time, though, and of course she loves hanging out with other dogs.  So the wife, my parents (and their poodle) and I showed up for the event.

It was a good time, but of course a bit steamy outside.  The park is nice and there were lots of smells and sights for the doggies.  About 2 miles in, however, Jasmine was done. She was panting heavily and didn't seem interested in drinking more water or getting into the kiddie pool to cool off.  Apparently she's averse to public bathing.

So I got my first DNF out of the way, but it was fine with me.  I wouldn't leave my dog behind.  Many mornings, she's the only one up when I come back from a run.  She'll often look at me with inquisitive eyes, wondering if I'm going to be okay.  Or maybe she's just wondering if I'll cook some turkey bacon that she can share.

Jasmine and I pre-walk
Post race exhaustion

Friday, July 8, 2011

Highs and Lows Week

It was somewhat of an up and down week this week.  Unfortunately, my wife lost her grandmother and the family traveled to Iowa to attend the funeral.  She had suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years.  It was a sad event, but one that reminded me of how precious life can be. It is always time to live life to its fullest!

I stuck with my training throughout, and I’m pretty proud of myself.  While in Iowa, I was able to run for five miles one evening through beautiful neighborhoods around the hotel.  It was nice to be able to run in a different area and see some new sights, and I felt well.

I decided to move my “long run” day to Friday for a couple of reasons.  First, it allows me to enjoy the weekend a bit more, which will now include only a three mile run.  Second, I can gain some sleep back on the weekends, which is always nice, without having to worry about running when it is hot outside.  It also fits well with my schedule for the next couple of weeks.

This meant an early morning for me, though, rising at 5 am after not being able to sleep until about 12:30.  It was noticeably cooler this morning, and actually a bit (but not completely) dark.  It felt great!  I was still fresh after about 4 miles, so I had it in my mind that this was going to be a good run.  I ran through the park and there was a beautiful mist across the lake as the sun rose.  I pushed through and took a meandering path to build up some distance and complete the longest run of my life thus far: 9 miles.  I’m at the point now where my long runs will probably each become my longest distance to date, which can be pretty exciting and motivating.  It also feels good to be “just” 4 miles shy of the half marathon distance; my goal for this year. 

I’m ready for the weekend, and a bit of catch up sleep! 

Enjoy your progress!