Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back again...

I've had various blogs over the last 10 years, and each has served as a creative outlet.  They've explored different topics and had different focuses, and I've found a balance with each. 

I'm still trying to figure out that balance with this blog.

How much do I reveal about myself?  What topics do I explore?  Running, weight loss, sure.  But how much of the rest of my life to I let leak into my posts? 

In the past I've probably erred on the side of revealing too much.  Letting personal drama play too much of a centrist role makes for juicy reading, but it also has real life consequences.

In general I'm a pretty withdrawn and private person...until I know someone well enough to trust them.  Then it seems like I reverse myself and over-share.  Clearly I have boundary issues, but like everything I do I have to make it complicated and have issues on both sides of the plate.

So I'm blaming my sporadic posts on that.

It's my story and I'm sticking to it.

While I've been away several notable things have happened.

First, the good:
  • My weight has dropped into the 220s.  It's probably been 10 years, or more since I've been in the 220s.
  •  I had my first run at sub-9 minute pace.  I really have no idea how long it's been since I've been about to run continuously at that pace.  High school is the last time I know for sure...
And, the bad:

I tweaked my knee. 

I'm not sure how, or exactly what I hurt anatomically, but I have flashes of sharp pain in my right knee.  There doesn't seem to be a particular motion that causes it.  There doesn't really seem to be a rhyme or reason as to why or when it hurts.  It's been swollen and stiff at times, but anti-inflammatory meds don't seem to help.  With my medical background if I had to make an educated guess, I'd say probably there's a small fragment of meniscus cartilage floating around in there causing problems. 

I took several days off to rest it, and today was my first day back running.  I had a couple of tense moments at the start of my run, but then it settled down and hasn't hurt since. 

Regardless, I think I may be pushing too hard to go further, and faster all the time.  And so to push back at some of the stressors putting pressure on me, I'm scaling back my race expectations.  I was pushing to run a 10k in just 2 weeks, and a half in March 2014. 

Right now I'm putting off the 10k for sure.  I'm almost certain I could run the race, and finish. 

But at what cost? 

To date I've never run 10 kilometers.  And I'm just not comfortable with the race being my first time to conquer that distance.  Maybe that's the way I'll have to approach a marathon, but for a distance as relatively short as 10k, I want to have several runs at least that long under my belt before I step onto a race course. 

I guess I just want to be in control of my race.  No matter the preparation, there's always the possibility of having a bad day and running a terrible race.  I want to step to the starting line with the confidence of knowing that the distance is well within my reach.

What does that mean for my planned half marathon in March?  I don't know.  I'll just have to see how I feel as it approaches.

The drama:

And here's the part where I possibly stray out of bounds for this blog.

My wife and I planned on selling our house and moving this coming summer.  After contacting a realtor to get some advice on improvements to help get the house ready for sale, we actually sold our house, without it ever being on the market. 

We closed on the sale 3 weeks later. 

Now the new owner is allowing us to stay in the house until we find a home of our own--a very generous arrangement.  However the inventory of homes for sale in our desired neighborhoods is ridiculously low right now.  Like 2 or 3 potential homes on the market. 

That's it. 

Somehow through all of this we decided that if there wasn't a perfect house out there for us, we should just build one.  (Because it's every just that easy.)

Facepalm.

The neighborhood we moved into in 2005 has unfortunately bottomed out.  For example, when we moved here, my oldest daughter was in first grade, and the elementary school was rated as exemplary by the state authorities. 

Flash forward 8 years and my middle daughter is now a first grader at the same school.  Unfortunately the school is now a Title I school. That in and of itself isn't a bad thing, except that the entire school seems to be proud of that status.  Instead of expecting the students to perform at exemplary levels, they instead insist on giving students an out and an excuse for not performing well.  Instead of simply taking the extra money and creating programs to enrich the academic experience of the kids (like the program is designed) the administration seems intent on using the money to tell the kids they aren't as good as other kids in the district and require extra help to perform as well.  In my (often jaded) opinion, if you tell kids something enough, they start to believe it.

Either way, it's time to get my kids somewhere that is intent on challenging them. 

So that's what I've been up to lately.  :-)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Calorie Anxiety

I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories every day.  Every single day, otherwise my calories get away from me.  It's a truly perfect tool for me.  I love that it scans bar codes and imports nutritional info.  I love completing my diary every day and getting the evaluation, "If every day were like today, in 5 weeks you would weigh Xlbs".  Talk about keeping your eyes on the long term. 

But something I've noticed is what can only be called "calorie anxiety" and I'm a little worried that it might be interfering with my health.

Essentially, calorie anxiety (as defined by me, and I'm making it up) is skimping on breakfast and lunch calories out of fear of running out of calories later in the day, and ending up hungry.

It tends to be my general MO.  I'll eat a packet of oatmeal for breakfast--130-160 calories.  And then for lunch I'll limit my calories to around 320-350 calories.  What this often means is I've only eaten 500ish calories by dinner time, and I end up eating the bulk of my daily calories in the evening between dinner and bedtime.

So far I've been extremely lucky that this practice hasn't sent me into starvation mode and I've continued to lose weight.  But it's something I continue to work on, with some success lately.  I've left my breakfast routine alone most days, although I've added a glass of juice before I leave on work days.  I had to do this because I've had days so busy that the first time I've thought about eating has been about 2 in the afternoon.  At least with the juice I've had a few calories.  Lunches I've allowed myself more calories--500-550.  Choosing wisely allows for a great deal more food than before. 

I've continued to lose weight, so I can only assume that it's at least as effective, and probably more.  I think it's probably a more healthy approach both metabolically and mentally.  At times I could see how people might end up with an eating disorder...

Overall it's a lot less anxiety.

How do you break down your calorie intake through the day?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shoe fly, shoe!

Much to my wife's chagrin, I added another pair of shoes to the stable--a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s.  I had gotten the Brooks Adrenalines as my go-to pair, and my Brooks Pure Cadences for speed work and intervals.  However, I find myself spending a disproportionate amount of time in the Adrenalines.

At this point, I'm not sure I want to push things with the Cadences--they are more of a minimalist shoe, and designed for midfoot strike.  I've heard and heeded the warnings of both minimalist and non-minimalist proponents:  If you're going to transition, do it slowly.

Very slowly.

I have been 100% pain free using the Cadences, both while wearing them and in the days immediately post run.  But given the fact that I'm still dramatically increasing my mileage and my paces, I just don't want to chance it.  So far, one workout a week (I'm running 5 days pretty consistently now) has proven to be just enough.  I love the feeling of wearing a different shoe.  And I can feel my pulse quicken when I lace up in them, because I know they are for running fast, and I'll soon be in the midst of a blistering intervals workout. I do notice my legs are tired in different places after my Cadence workouts.

It's a great feeling.

Anyway, all that to say that I thought another go-to pair would be a good idea for the rest of my runs.  This way I can rotate between the Inspires and the Adrenalines and potentially eliminate any overuse injuries from running on the exact same platform all the time.

I read lots of reviews from lots of different sources, but I couldn't find a place locally that had my 14s in stock.  So I took a chance--and I'm thankful that after trying them on for the first time today they feel perfect.  Haven't run much in them yet, but the heel grips my heel, the laces snug them down on my midfoot, and the toe box is nice and roomy.  Looking forward to putting some miles in in them. 

And just look at them.  I'm crushing on that blue and yellow scheme.

Another exciting and proud-papa moment is when my 7 year old daughter came home from school and announced she wanted to be part of the running club.

After making sure she knew what running actually entails, I set about finding her a good pair of shoes.  The poor girl is cursed, unlucky, blessed with my long and narrow feet.  So it only stands to reason that the same shoe would fit her needs.

Introducing her very cool purple Brooks Adrenalines For Kids.

Too bad the first day of Running Club she was promptly informed that 1st graders weren't allowed.  Only 2-4th graders.  She was devastated, and we were a little miffed we'd spent the money on these shoes for her.  But what can you do?  Public school will be public school--nobody every claimed it all made sense.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Aaaaaand we're back.

It's so tough to get going again when you take a blog hiatus.  Ideas form in the head, take shape into potential posts, and then the hurdle of restarting causes them to wither like fruit left on the vine too long.

There's the pressure to explain why it's been a month since your last post.  There's the mild embarrassment that others have had to reach out to make sure you're doing OK, that nothing bad has happened.

Well, I had a little hiccup.  I had a crazy work week, combined with exhaustion on my days off.  And then I left town, and then crazy work schedule when I got back.

Oh, yeah, and that event that sent 5 years of work and focus down the drain--not getting into grad school.  I'd like to think I took it all in stride, and certainly I didn't have a nervous break down--I kept getting up in the mornings, and going to work, and playing with my kids.  But all that was habit if nothing else.  Sticking to the routine was a way to avoid dealing with and feeling the loss of a dream.  I was bobbing and weaving, my gloves were up, but I was against the ropes and more than a little punch drunk.

Through all of this, I did the worst thing I could have.  I stopped running.  And so, add the loss of my stress outlet to all of the above.

But I'm here now.  I've been running regularly for almost 2 weeks back now, after a 2 week hiatus.  It's always amazing how quickly things start to regress after a break.  Especially when a new runner like I am.  Something I'm glad didn't regress though, was my weight loss.  I gained a couple pounds, but it was easy to get back on track.

The blog, apparently not so much.

Soon with new content.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

5K Finally

Finally.

That's all I can say.

Finally I had a decent 5K experience.

This morning I ran the Rahr Oktoberfest 5K.  It's an interesting race to be sure.  It's put on by a craft brewery that's become a fixture in Fort Worth, and there's a whole sub-culture that has developed around it.  It's an interesting crowd that shows up on race mornings--beer culture meets running culture meets local Fort Worth culture.  It's a lot of culture packed into one pretty small place.

The start line from half pack.
With a 9 am start time (the crack of dawn for the beer people and nearly lunchtime for the running culture) the unpredictable Texas weather had the potential to turn this into an ugly venture.  In fact the morning dawned overcast and muggy.  Temperature was in upper 70s with humidity in the 80-85% range, and a wall of thunderstorms out to the west were steadily on the march towards Fort Worth.

In a word, the weather was sticky. 

But what I was truly worried about was the sun coming out and really steaming things up.  And I forgot my sunglasses at home.  So I was hoping it would stay overcast, and it did.

My own little starting pothole.
Rahr & Sons Brewery is set just south of downtown Fort Worth in an older part of town.  It's a little dilapidated, a little overgrown, and a little rough around the edges.  But there are also scores of thriving small businesses firmly entrenched in old business districts of yesteryear, with older neighborhoods surrounding.  It's an odd juxtaposition of living, breathing community in such run down surroundings--especially here in Texas where society seems to worship the almighty new construction.

After the gun, (and about 1:30 getting up to the line,) the course left out of the brewery, headed south down the block, and turned west onto old Magnolia Blvd.  It was fun to run along the wide, divided boulevard under the old growth pecan trees.  The Fort Worth PD was out en force, with officers and cars at every single intersection--big and small--making sure we were safe.  We ran several city blocks along Magnolia entering into the hospital district.

Pretty cool bib.
Save a few brief uphills, almost the entire time from the moment we left the brewery we were headed downhill.  I concentrated hard on keeping a handle on my pace, trying to balance keeping my cadence up but not going out too fast.  Scores of people blasted past me, lured in by the downhill course--and I got seriously cut off several times to the point where I was worried I was going to get tangled up in them and trip.  But I just smiled to myself thinking, "We'll see y'all again in a little while."  There was the usual dodging of people that never had any intention of running the course, but insisted on starting at the front of the start line.  I'll never understand it, but I'm hoping they just don't know any better.  The worst is when there's 5 or 6 of them spread out abreast of each other, like a slowly moving roadblock.  I'm hoping as the length of my races increase, the number of joy-walkers decreases.

We turned the corner and headed back north on 8th Avenue, and it was time to pay the piper.  The uphill was mercifully shorter, but diabolically steeper.  And that's when I began to catch up to and pass the jackrabbits.  I concentrated on not tripping over the walkers, keeping my cadence up, and also on attacking the hill.  With such a large crowd, and a well protected course, I pumped up the volume on Pandora and let the music drive me up, up and away.  The trip up 8th took us past Cook Children's Medical Center where my wife has been a PICU nurse for more than 11 years.

Thistle Hill
As the hill topped out, we turned the corner and headed east on Pennsylvania Avenue.  This took us past Thistle Hill mansion, (where my wife and I got married), and past more hospitals.  The course was mostly gentle rolling hills at this point, and I began to catch the faster runners that were casualties of the hills and the humidity.  As I went by I tried encouraging those that had dropped to a walk, reminding them we didn't have but a mile left in the course.  I started seeing some of the much speedier runners running back on the course to find friends and family members to help cheer them in--easy to identify since they were holding the commemorative pint glass, ha!

As we turned back south to head to the entrance to the brewery I hopped up on the sidewalk to miss a sudden walker, and nearly ran into the traffic light pole, hidden just around the corner.  At the same moment I realized that the entrance to the brewery was much closer than I had anticipated, and I belatedly picked up the pace for my final push to the line--much later than I could have.  Dang.

One final turn into the back alley of the brewery, and up the short, uneven, pothole-y chute to the finish line.

Into one hand the volunteers thrust a bottle of water, into the other my commemorative pint glass--which I promptly dropped while juggling my phone, my headphones, and a slippery bottle of water.  Miracle of all miracles it didn't break even though it was dropped from waist level onto asphalt.  Weird.

Beer line!!
Storm Cloud IPA.
I strolled around a bit to cool down, and then headed over to get my beer glass filled.  The lines were long, but the beer was good.  I picked the Storm Cloud IPA.  It seemed fitting with the weather, and a good crisp IPA was just the perfect thirst quencher (after my bottle of water that is!).

As far as the race goes, my official chip time was 31:33, for what they're calling a 10:07 pace.  RunKeeper said I ran 3.17 miles in 31:43 for a 10:00 pace on the nose!  If only I'd realized how little of the race was left and started my final kick just a fraction sooner, would I have broken into the 9s?!?  That would have been so epic for me.  But a 10:00 pace in humidity and unknown hills?  I'll take it!!

According to RunKeeper, my splits broke down like this:

Mile 1:  10:12
Mile 2:  10:01
Mile 3:  9:52
Mile 4:  9:22

I'm pretty proud of the fact that my splits got progressively faster, despite the humidity and terrain.  Obviously work yet to be done, but it's certainly gratifying for the moment.

Now that I have a solid race under my belt I feel a little more prepared to start pushing the distances and paces in the future.

After the race I skipped out on the belly-busting German/Czech food and headed home to shower for soccer games and birthday parties.  The race was a great way to start a busy day though!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interval Boost

I decided to just head home after work last night.  It had been a rough day, I was tired, and I was hoping to get to bed early.  I had planned an interval workout yesterday, then take today as a rest day, an easy run tomorrow, and then the Rahr Oktoberfest 5K on Saturday.  Instead, I counted yesterday as a rest day, then got up and ran my interval workout before work this morning.

Last week when I ran my interval workout I found myself feeling so strong by the end of the 5th fast interval, I just pushed straight through to the end of the workout without taking a rest interval. That kind of clued me in that maybe I better step up my paces.

So this morning I did just that.  I ran 1/4 mile intervals for 3 miles.  I increased my slow interval pace from 10:43 to 10:21, then I ran my first two fast intervals at a 9:05 pace, then the 3rd at 8:57, 4th at 8:49, 5th at 8:42, and last at 8:34.  Overall average pace for the 3 miles was 9:37.

I didn't have the issue of feeling too strong at the end of my 5th interval this time.  In fact I had push to make it through the 6th.  Which is exactly what I was looking for. 

Here's to getting stronger and faster.

What's your favorite interval workout?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hour to Hour

It's funny the ups and downs we experience just within a few hours.

Yesterday I ran a 5K in under 30 minutes for the first time.  3.13 miles in 30:00, a 9:35 pace.  It was a great feeling.

And hour and a half later I was reading a rejection letter from TCU's Nurse Anesthesia program. 

It's only been the focus of my life since August 2008.  So no, not really a big deal.

I don't know what else to say about that right now.

Back at work today feeling extremely trapped and demoralized.  This job is now a stepping stone to...well I don't know anymore.

Hope you're having a better day than me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Backwards

So late last night, approaching midnight in fact, I couldn't sleep.  My wife was at work, the kids were in bed.  Not knowing what else to do, I started browsing Netflix, and ran across this movie, Backwards.  Not sure what it was that drew me in, but I clicked, and I watched.

The movie opens with Abi Brooks, played by Sarah Megan Thomas (who also wrote and produced the film!) in the midst of hard core training for the US Olympic Rowing team.  It's not a spoiler to let you know that she doesn't end up on the team.  She limps home with her tail between her legs, (well to home to her mom's house anyway), and spends some time wallowing in self pity.  When her mother (Margaret Colin) gives her an ultimatum to snap her back to reality, Abi ends up with the girl's crew coaching job at her old high school alma mater.  It's serendipitous that this position is open--after all she is a small celebrity at the school given her athletic exploits as a student.  Only the fact that her high school sweetheart Geoff, (played by James Van Der Beek), is now the Athletic Director and her new boss is more coincidental.  I think you can see where this is all going.  Don't let me spoil it for you, but romance, drama, and feel-good life-lessons ensue.

This isn't a fantastic movie.  As you can tell from the short synopsis above, it's awfully contrived.  And it's blatantly predictable.  It's also full of underdeveloped characters, and a myriad of plot lines sprout up, only to be resolved within a scene.  The movie's star (and writer and producer) is a terrible actress.  Research reveals that she does actually have some rowing experience in her background and it shows--to the detriment of the movie.  She revels in banging the viewer over the head with the fact that she knows her subject, and it actually comes off as clunky and trite.  The supporting cast is really the saving grace in the acting department--Van Der Beek and Colin are excellent.  Even more refreshing are the real-life student athletes cast as the high school rowing team members.

However, with all it's contrived predictability, all it's poor writing and acting, I sure did watch the whole dang thing.  And I was rooting for the HS girls rowing team.  And yes, even for Abi and Geoff to end up together.

So, if you're looking for a well written, well acted, thought provoking film...well, keep looking.  But in the end this wasn't a total waste of an hour and half, and I enjoyed it.  Even if I don't know why.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Peaceful

If only every day, every run could be so magnificently refreshing. 

Here in Texas, the summer heat finally broke with a day of rainstorms that beat back the dogs of summer on Friday.  This morning the temperature is 64* at 0440 when I roll out of bed and tug on my running shoes.

When I step out the front door, the cool northern breeze nearly takes my breath away as it tickles its cool tendrils against my skin.  An unexpected prickle of goosebumps flickers across my body.  I greedily suck in a deep breath of the marvelously cool air and set off down the street.

The morning is quiet save for the occasional breeze creaking the summer-dried cedar fences.  I pass and startle a possum who in turn gives me a baleful glare as it scurries away from the edge of the road.  As I turn onto the sidewalk of the more major cross street, a car approaches and has the courtesy to move to the inside lane as it passes.  And then I am alone with my run again.

Glancing back over my shoulder I spy Orion in the southwestern morning sky, and I'm sure he gives me a curt nod of approval.  As my patron constellation of unending endurance and perseverance as he chases his quarry relentlessly across the sky, I often look to the heavens for him.  During the winter months, he flashes by in the late evenings.  But during the summer months I only greet him when I rise before the sun itself to run.

Knee-high heads of grass gone to seed line the sidewalk on both sides, neglected and uncut, as I stride my way up the gradual hill that rises before me.  I skim the edges of the grass tunnel that opens in front of me, letting the tips brush lightly against my outside leg as I slip by, granted safe passage within the path the sentinel grass heads stand watch over.  I smile to myself because I know that I will be passing this way again soon and then it will be a gradual downhill and I'll be pushing the pace through to the end. 

A stray dog pants his hello as he marks time with me for a few strides before he jovially returns to his resting spot beneath a gnarled cedar tree, his pale blue eyes luminescent against his brown fur.  I'll see him again soon too.

Even the two sets of high voltage transmission lines I travel under are eerily silent this morning.  Normally in the heat they buzz and arc, chattering amongst themselves and making the hair on my legs and arms stand on end with their disapproving comments.

As I pass from the residential areas and approach a major city intersection with gas stations and strip malls, the first hints of the impending morning become apparent.  Delivery trucks idle roughly outside the convenience stores, laden with their bottled diabetes, waiting to refuel the mother-ship.  In & Out, Kwik Stop, Run In--they all have such purposeful names.

RunKeeper whispers in my ear, and I abruptly turn heel and head back towards home at the 2 mile mark.  I'm 100 feet short of the intersection, and I wonder why I didn't just travel to the junction before turning back.

I invite Mr. Blue-eyed-Brown Dog to breakfast as I pass by again.  And he smiles his toothy smile agreeably, but returns to wait patiently under his tree to witness what else will pass by his particular part of the universe.  Maybe he's waiting for a better offer.

I concentrate on keeping my cadence up on the downhills instead of falling into ragged lope.  I'm sure my pace is greatly increased with this strategy, but my perceived effort isn't any more than running uphill the other direction.  The downhills cease to be a chance to recover, and instead present as opportunities to bank pace.  Indeed looking at my splits, this is my fastest split by over :40 secs/mile.  I'm slowly learning to use my body to attack the run, rather than merely holding on for dear life, hoping to survive.  More than banking seconds toward my pace, I'm banking experience for my runs and races I've yet to attempt.

As I turn up the steeper hill towards my home, I glance at RunKeeper, and try to determine if I'll have to skirt the cul-de-sac halfway up the street to make sure I'll make 4 miles by my driveway.  The remaining distance before me seems much shorter than the distance left according to RunKeeper. I'm surprised to see that I turn over 4.01 miles as I coast into my driveway.  This disparity only highlights the fear and trepidation that--even now--holds me hostage.  The corner to my driveway is not far by sight.  0.15 miles remaining feels much farther.  But they are the same.  The difference is merely gazing at the goal rather than the work left to get there.

Inside again, I sit on the ottoman at the end of our bed, the fan blowing cool air over me.  I listen to the rhythmic breathing of my 7 year old daughter who came in last night in the fog of a nightmare.  Her insouciant breathing speaks to the safety she feels in our bed.  And I'm glad for that.

In fact, in this moment I'm...grateful.

It's hard for me to be content, sometimes, when I let the world dictate my demeanor.  But for now--this fleeting instant--I am peaceful.

And it all started with a run on a cool Autumn morning.

Here's the song that Pandora chose for me to contemplate to at the end of my run.  One of my (if not my absolute) favorite artists--Gregory Alan Isakov.  Hope you enjoy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Interview


As alluded to in previous posts, I interviewed for the Nurse Anesthesia program at TCU yesterday.

I'm happy to report I feel like the interview went very well.  I was nervous to be sure, but conversation was light, and words flowed easily.  I felt at ease enough to take the time to consider each of the questions and answer thoughtfully.  Rapport with the interviewers was excellent and they were easy to talk with.

In comparing notes with other interviewees on a post-interview tour of the facilities I discovered I received no questions of a clinical nature.  Each of the other interviewees had at least one clinical question designed to test the breadth of their knowledge from each panel interview.  The questions I  heard weren't terribly difficult, but definitely would require solid clinical experience to answer.  In my mind, the fact that I didn't get any clinical questions could come from two possibilities.  A.)  They didn't think I was worth the effort--which I think I can rule out based on the fact that I am (on paper at least) well qualified for admission.  B.)  They were satisfied with the clinical experience I bring to the table.  (I'm hoping it's this one).  Or, I suppose C.)  I dazzled them with my rugged good looks and charming personality and distracted them from asking the clinical questions.  The Magic 8-ball doesn't seem to agree with answer C. though.

My every interaction with TCU has been fabulous.  They are a wonderful CRNA program with the backing of a great institution.  Not to mention every single person I've met from the program is so nice!  Plus I came home with a TCU umbrella, two Horned Frog keychains, a TCU pencil for my daughter (who has a pencil collection), and two nurse anesthesia stickers.  How is it an interview where I'm supposed to be selling me to them has better swag than the last 5k that I paid to run in!?  If I get in, I'm so there.

Before my interview yesterday afternoon, I headed to the gym for an easy recovery run to clear my head.  I did about 2 miles at an easy pace.  The first two thirds of the run I treated as a progression run--starting slow and then progressively getting faster every few minutes.   The last third I forced myself to decrease the pace incrementally until I reached my original pace for the last couple of minutes.  An exercise in self-control, but a perfect low stress workout pre-interview.

I had set a weight-loss goal of 240 lbs even by my interview date.  The day before the interview I weighed in at 240.4.  So while I didn't make my number (ssssooooo close!!) I'm counting it as a win.  Because 37.4 lbs gone is a win no matter what.

Regardless, if I did well enough in the interview I should be receiving an acceptance letter via e-mail Monday or Tuesday. 

I may or may not be holding my breath until then...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Simplicity

Photo Source
Two days ago I crashed awake at 4:30, shaken to the core by a truly awful and vivid dream.  So much so, I found myself reconsidering my choice of profession here in real life.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to work a job that didn't come with quite so high stakes.  A job where a simple mistake could quite realistically result in someone losing their life can wear heavily at times.

This uncertainty 2 days before I have an interview (today!!) for a graduate school program that will cost a significant amount of money, will consume a significant amount of my life, and will require significant sacrifice from those in my life.  It takes me much further down the path I am currently on, and the responsibility for others' lives will only be greater.  However, the result of successfully completing the program could be life altering for my family and me.

Faced with the enormity of it all, I knew that I wouldn't fall back to sleep.

I also knew that I would likely sit there and wallow in the stark negativity of my dream.

So I got up, got dressed and headed to the gym for a run.

By all accounts it wasn't a particularly enjoyable run.  I had a stitch in my side the whole way, regardless of how much I focused on form and breathing.  I couldn't easily find my headphones without waking anyone up before I left, so I was music-less.  There was a loud talker/laugher chattering away a few rows behind me during my entire run, with just the perfect grating edge in her too loud voice.  It took my legs a while to loosen up, and my muscles were not fans of having no breakfast before being required to perform.

Still.

That terrible run, was so, so much better than the alternative.

I crave the simplicity and clarity that running brings.  Life is as simple as the next mile, the next interval, the next step.  I covet the perspective a workout grants.  It was 3 miles of chances to evaluate myself, 30 minutes of time to recenter myself.  It was a welcome pause before I had to deal with whatever life was thrusting upon me.

It was an escape.

My day didn't get much better--in fact it only got worse.  A truly bad day regardless of the timing or impending potentially life altering events.

Clearly running is not a cure all.

But in the moment, mid-stride, I am free.

And things are so very simple.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cleaning House

It's been no secret to those who read here that lately I've had a hard time plugging into the running blog community. It's something I hadn't experienced before when I had a blog about nursing. In fact, my experience has gotten worse and worse, until this morning when it all culminated in me blurting out in a comment that all this feels a lot like junior high all over again. And junior high was an awful time for me.

Within the space of making that comment it dawned on me that it doesn't have to be that way. It's a realization that could have been life-changing back in junior high.

So I came back to my own blog and edited my reading list. Several blogs that pretty much made me feel awful about running, myself, and the running blog community in general are now gone. Despite the fact they are immensely popular and apparently have a large, loyal following, in my opinion they just don't offer their readership much of anything of substance in the department of community.  And I usually left their sites feeling worse about myself than before I clicked in.

The best part of the whole thing is I'll quite likely never run into them around the blogger community because I haven't seen many of them take the time to interact with anyone outside of their own blogs.

It sounds so simple. And really it is.

Deceptively so.

But what I will tell you is that while trying to get noticed by the uber-popular queens of run-blogging, I've quietly run across some pretty amazing people.

For example, Katie from Jam Yesterday has been tremendously supportive. I really enjoy her blog because she is such a sweetly humble person that's genuinely wide-eyed with delight as she shatters goal after fitness goal that she's set for herself.

Or Megan at The Lyons' Share Wellness who keeps an insane schedule but still takes joy in--and makes time for--helping others reach their healthy potential while quietly and steadily practicing just what she preaches.

How about Jill from Run With Jill? If there's anyone out there entitled to an elitist air, it would be this amazing athlete. She may actually be some sort of intergalactic alien judging by her exploits as an athlete, but I have yet to meet anyone more down to earth. She is an absolute inspiration as an athlete and as a person.

If you're looking for blogs of substance written by genuine people, you can't go wrong with these, and many others from my reading list there in the sidebar.

If you're looking for a more trendy, superficial experience, you won't find their links here any longer.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

5k Fail

Well crap.

The race started fine (aside from all the people who never intended to run who started at the front of the pack) and I settled into a steady pace pretty easily.  It was a little faster than I'd intended, at 11:10 rather than the 11:30 I'd planned.  But I felt ok, it was a cool morning 75* and there was a nice breeze that happened to be blowing just nicely.  The first part of the course was mostly downhill, with one small uphill in the middle.  By the time we hit the uphill portion, most of the people who'd gone out too fast stopped to walk, and were easy pickings.  It was here when we looped back towards the start that I saw the lead runners returning already--like 11 minutes in.  That should have been my first clue.

The second part of the course was relatively flat, and aside from being nearly taken out several times by a woman pushing a jogging stroller that kept leap frogging me after she had to stop to walk, I felt really good and I settled into a 10:30 pace.  The third portion of the course was a marked uphill/downhill, out and back dog leg that I was looking forward to.  I figured the hill would cause even more people to walk and I felt really strong and looking forward to attacking it, (thank you intervals!), and then the downhill was running directly into that blessed breeze.

Only, we never made it.

The volunteer course marshal turned us around at the point we should have headed out for the dogleg, and sent us back towards the start instead.  I argued with her for several seconds (having run the course several times) but she was not hearing it.

Realizing that it was going to be a very short course, I immediately attacked the pace, dropping below 10 minutes and pushing the less than a mile back to the start/finish.

Unofficial results put me running the entire course at a ridiculous 8:17 pace.  Too bad it was a lie.  In actuality it was 2.46 miles/10:32 pace.  Mile 1, 11:11; Mile 2, 10:31; Mile 3, 9:10.

I'm really kind of upset--when I got home and talked with my wife, my eyes welled up a bit.  It's a pretty big let down.  Grr!!  It was going so well!! And I felt so good.  And...and...

Waiting for my refund check from my prorated entry fee in the mail.

I won't hold my breath.

Edited to add:  Official results are in, and based on the numbers they've now corrected for the altered course distance.  Officially I ran a 10:34 pace.  Overall 192/514, 102/182 males, and 23/41 in my age group.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nerves

My bib is pinned, my chip is laced in place. My socks are tucked neatly in my shoes. My breakfast is beside the stove waiting to be prepared. Phone is charging, my earphones are with my keys and wallet. I read through the runner's program one last time. My wife is cleared to leave work at 0600, 90 minutes early. Now I'm laying in bed visualizing the course, and me successfully running it.

I don't think I can be more prepared, but I'm still nervous.

My loose plan is to force myself to run the first 10 minutes at an 11:30 pace, then allow myself to run the next 10 at 11:00. Then depending how I'm feeling I plan to advance to 10:30 for the next 5, and then push myself progressively faster to at least my fast interval pace of 9:40 by the finish. The last 75 feet or so of the course is a nice little downhill into the finish line, so I hope to have a little gas left to come in looking good.

I would love to be under 33 minutes, but I'll gladly take a simple "finish" as a big ole "W".

Going to try to sleep now.

Oh yeah.

Alarm set.

Check.

Registered

I registered for the Dallas Rock 'N' Roll Half next March. Hoping this gives me enough time to adequately prepare.

I've set a tentative goal of 2:20 which I think is realistic based on where I am now. I would love to finish under 2 hours, but that may be a tad ambitious for my first half. We'll see where the training leads me.

Speaking of training, would be glad for training plan recommendations. I know of a few out there, but would like to hear your first-hand experiences.

Here we go...


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Positive and Negative

I've been avoiding writing for the last few days because I didn't really have much to say that didn't have a negative cast to it.  Maybe a short post with both positive and negative will help push me past.

Negative:

(Skip down to positive if you'd like to avoid my negativity.)

It's been hard for me to read some running blogs and see how cavalier some people are about their running.  They laugh off missed workouts, mention just in passing their runs like they're no big deal, and describe their spur-of-the-moment runs with whoever happens to come calling that day.  All at paces that I can merely dream of at this point.  I know runners aren't supposed to compare themselves with other runners--that the only person we're in competition with is ourselves. I'm pretty sure I'm not upset about their distances or pace--those will come with time, effort, and patience. I'm not scared of the hard work. I guess what needles me is their attitude.

But I just work so hard.

I push, and push to the very edge of what I can do right now, to the brink of injury.  I plan my workouts out, put them into our combined calendar weeks in advance.  I run at 5 am to beat the heat.  I run at 8:30 at night after the kids are in bed instead of spending time with my wife.  I run after 12 hour shifts at work--I run on my days off.  I run instead of taking naps. I know there are many of you out there who do the same and I love and respect your efforts.

In reward for my hard work, I improve every time I run.

Something that I am tremendously grateful for.

But it's like they're laughing in the face of my hard work and dedication when I read about some runners doubling, even tripling my runs at paces 4, or even 5 minutes per mile faster, and giggling about it just being an easy/recovery run or saying, "I ran this so much faster than I meant to."

Oops.

I just wish people were more respectful(?), appreciative(?), reverent(?) of their ability...

I don't even really know what I wish people were like.

I just know it's frustrating me lately.

Positive:

So today I picked up my race packet for my 5k on Saturday.  The packet pickup happened to be at my gym.  As I passed by the table on my way to the treadmills, the girl manning the packet table asked me if I was there to pick up.  Maybe, just maybe, I resemble a runner?  It was fun to grab my stuff, and to hear her tell me to have a good workout.  Maybe, just maybe, I resemble someone who works out?

Anyway, I'm getting excited.  I'm worrying a bit about getting there on time as my wife works the night before (we're both nurses, but she works nights).  Although she's leaving work early for me just to get home to stay with the kids while I go run my race, I'm worried it won't be early enough.  I will likely get to the race site about 20-25 minutes before the 5k start time.  Maybe it will be better that way since I'll have that much less time to be overwhelmed and nervous like I usually am in new situations with lots of people and apparent disorganization and chaos.  I plan to be dressed, pottied, stretched, fed, hydrated, freaked out, by the time my wife gets home so that I can bolt out the door.

Am I maybe obsessing
if I've checked the forecast for Saturday morning every morning and night for the last week?

Today I ran an interval workout that I've been successful with previously (1/4 mile intervals at 11:20 pace and 9:40 pace for 3 miles) to end on a high note for my last workout before the race.  It was a good workout.  I felt like I was attacking the faster intervals and the last couple I started early, ended late, and pushed the pace.  (See, even now I keep thinking about my successful workout and realizing it's somebody else's warm up or cool down. Bad negative thoughts!  Bad!  Sit!  Stay!)

I'll take the day off tomorrow and hydrate.  I hope that leads to a successful race.  Kind of just trying to feel my way through prepping for for race day--I'm bound to make a mistake, but I guess I'll just chalk it up to a learning experience.

Oh, and I'm down 35 lbs now (well, 34.8) in almost exactly 2 months.  Hoping to hit 240 lbs on the nose by next Thursday in time for my CRNA school interview.  Going to require no hiccups in my diet for the next 7 days, and consistent workouts, but I think I'll nail it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

People Watching, Milestone & 5k Taper

This morning I extended my distance for my long run from 4 miles to 5 miles.  I ran for an hour (12:00 pace) on the treadmill at the gym. 

It was an exercise in self control because I kept having the urge to turn the pace up.  But since I was going further than ever, I resisted to ensure that I'd still be in it at the end.  Likely I would have been just fine with some mild increases in pace to keep things interesting, and probably would have shaved a few minutes off my overall time.

It's interesting to me to people watch while I'm on the treadmill--I like to keep tabs on those around me.  Don't get me wrong, I will definitely whip out the stinkeye if someone boards the treadmill directly next to me when there's many other open options (drives me nuts!), but I do find it interesting to observe other people. 

It's like a little micro-community that forms, then dissolves, then reforms as time passes by.  Being on the treadmill for much longer than 30 minutes grants a perfect view of this.  It can be rather interesting because when you pass by, it can be impressive to see the guy that's pounding along at hefty pace decked out in all his workout gear. 

I've been intimidated by that guy several times in the past. 

But when you start spending time on the treadmill you discover "superman" only does a mile and done.  I'm not faulting anyone for the distance they put in, but rather I find him a lot less intimidating knowing that long after he's stepped off I'll still be running.

In fact it gives me a pretty good boost (and a small sense of pride) when I'm running, and somebody shows up, puts in their workout and finishes, leaving me still running.

People are funny. 

Like this morning, there was a woman on a treadmill in front of me and to the left a bit.  She just really didn't want to be there.  She started her treadmill, then stopped about 30 seconds later to fiddle with her headphones.  Restarted, only to stop to meticulously arrange her towel to cover the display.  Restart, then stop to adjust her shoes.  Restart, towel falls off.  Restart, headphones again.  Restart, then bathroom/water break.  I wonder if she's under the impression that she's putting in a workout?

I wonder what people see when they look at me? 

I wonder if I look as fat and awkward as I feel sometimes.  I hope that I'm earning at least a little bit of "street cred" when they see someone my size putting in the work to get it done.  Likely I'm far less conspicuous than I feel. 

Either way, I'm not stopping.

So this taper week.  Is there such a thing as a taper for a "just want to finish" 5k?

My plan is to take tomorrow off (because I work).  Then some sort of average workout on Monday--maybe a moderately paced 2.5 miles?  Then I work again Tuesday and Wednesday so I'll take those days off too, though I would normally put in at least one late night run.  Thursday I have an intervals workout planned--likely I'll do a repeat of yesterday's run alternating 1/4 mile intervals.  Then a rest day on Friday (maybe a short, light, easy run??)  Then race day on Saturday!!

Does that sound like an appropriate taper?  Please someone more experienced leave me a comment...

Getting a bit nervous.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Today was a good day to run...

Turns out today was a good day to run.

I was worried.

Last night I went to bed with a tweaked knee.

That's what will happen when you have to move a 396.7 lb patient that refuses to even attempt to assist, all by your lonesome.  How does something like that happen?  Well, aside from the lack of impulse control and personal responsibility that allows somebody to become 400 lbs in the first place (and subsequently experience all the health conditions that come along with being morbidly obese), when your unit is 2 complete nurses below proper staffing levels, there just isn't anyone to help.  Add one part unfair impatience and over demanding ignorance on the part of the patient and family, and yours truly is set up for an injury.

So yes, I did single handedly move 400 lbs of dead weight.  (I don't have superhero strength, I'm just a nurse.)  And I sure did limp out of the room with a tweaked knee.

Two months ago I would have chalked it up to a normal day at work and gone on without complaint.  But yesterday, I ended up limping directly to the break room to compose myself.

You see, there was this despair that welled up inside me.  What if it was a permanent injury?  What would happen to all the progress that I've made?  Would my new found love for running simply go to the wayside? 

And then came the anger.  Anger at administration that continually puts patient safety, my safety, my license and livelihood on the line, day after day.  I mean, if something untoward happened, I'd be hung out dry; left holding the bag while the hospital churned on, business as usual.  How unfair.

Then, most concerning, came the contempt.  Contempt for the patient in the bed that allowed himself to get in that condition.  For demanding so much of others when he's obviously unwilling to hold himself to the same standard.

But as a nurse, I am not afforded the luxury of being judgmental.  I am good at what I do because I remain impartial--a champion for the needs of the patient.  I am to be the patient's biggest (and often only) advocate in navigating the frightful healthcare system we have in this country.

So yeah.  Not a red letter day for me.

(Wow, sorry.  Didn't expect for all that to come boiling over.)

This morning I woke up gratefully and thankfully pain and tweak free.

I had planned an interval workout for today, and since by 9 am it was already 90* out, I opted for the treadmill.  Actually intervals on the treadmill make a lot of sense for me since it offers complete control over pace, distance, and time.

I ended up running 1/4 mile @11:30 pace, then 1/4 mile @9:40 pace, alternating back and forth (as intervals are apt to do) for 3 miles.  Then, as I was ending on a fast interval, I just continued on to complete the 5k since that's the distance on my mind these days.  So I ended up 3.11 miles in 32:41--a perfectly snappy time for me.

At the end I felt spent, but not obliterated.  And, of course, basking in that immediate post-run glow.  All the despair, anger, and contempt from yesterday was left splattered in sweaty drops on the treadmill, and wiped away with a handi-wipe.

Today was a good day to run.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

UPS Brought My Wings Today

Maybe it's cliche.  Maybe it's overused.  Maybe its metaphoric imagery has long since faded.

But these shoes are my wings.

They've set me free from who I was.

Creating in me who I will become.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13
My only regret is that I'm headed back to work and getting a run in them will be a scheduling coup.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mama said there'd be days like this.

I set my alarm for 5 am this morning to run. It went off to the tune of thunder and flashes of lightning, so I reset it for 6. When it went off again I just turned it off. At 8:30 I finally dragged myself out of bed, but it was time to head out to grandma's house to retrieve our children. On a whim I stuck my shoes and a pair of shorts in the car, just in case.

By the time we arrived at grandma's house, the sun still hadn't come out from behind the morning rain clouds, so I laced up and headed out.

I was running along a Farm to Market road out in the country.  While there was relatively little traffic, what traffic there was was barreling along at 60 mph on a narrow road with no shoulders.

I was a tad anxious I'd soon become a Texas hood ornament.

I couldn't get settled into a pace, and every time I looked down I was running 9 minute miles--way faster than I could sustain for very long.

The morning rains had served to create stifling humidity, and the temp had risen into the 80s.

My trip outbound went fairly well, although it had a few more hills than I was used to. When I turned around and started back though, I realized the breath of a breeze I'd been enjoying would now be at my back, and no longer discernable.

At about 2 miles, I ended up walking for a bit, and tried a few times to restart before it finally stuck.

I managed to finish 5k, and stay under a 12 min pace, barely...

I know not every workout can be amazing, so I'm hoping today was the day for a bad workout for me.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Neon Peacocks

Friday night wasn't a good night sleepwise. For some inexplicable reason my diaphragm decided it had been far too long since my last bout with hiccups.

Clearly the best time for a fit of hiccups is at 0230 am...for the next 3 hours.

My neck and stomach muscles are still sore. Hiccups are a heck of a core workout in case you were wondering. One set of 3 hours of hiccups is plenty.

Needless to say, my planned long run for Saturday morning was questionable at best based on the perceived effort of just assembling breakfast for the kids and myself. (In fact I forgot about my oatmeal until I went to make lunch!)

I decided that Saturday was a perfect rest day. And I was perfectly content to go runless.

I even valiantly resisted testing my new shoes.

Until 2000 or so (8pm for you non hospital/military folks).

Everyone knows the best time for a shakedown run in new shoes requires completely upsetting bedtime routines. And laundry.

Armed with pure inconvenience, I ran 2.25 miles of one minute intervals alternating 12:00 pace with 9:50 min pace. My idea was to teach my body to regroup while continuing on running. No walking allowed.

At least that was the idea.

Either way, my new shoes were light and comfy, and as an added bonus they caused me to run like I was drunk on the treadmill.

Plus they are a super bright shade of red/pink that I catch out of the corner of my eye causing me to think I'm being chased by a neon peacock.

My feet/ankles/knees are a little tired as a result of transitioning to minimalist shoes, but no pain. Tomorrow morning I'm running the 5k course again

In my very jealous older shoes.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Squeeee!

As in preteen-girl kind of squee.

Exciting things from today:

1.)  I dropped into the 240s today.  30 lbs lost now.  Short term goal is 240 lbs even for my CRNA school interview on Sept 19.  Long term goal?  Who knows?!  Who cares!  I'm enjoying watching the numbers on the scale go down, but I don't have a goal weight in mind.  I want to be as efficient as possible when I run, so whatever weight that turns out to be, well, I'll take it! Judging from the inches I can still pinch, my guess is that will be quite a few pounds yet.  Bring it on.

2.) I officially signed up for a 5k on Sept 14th.  Waaaaaay before I thought I'd be ready.  Previously (in 2010) I started running so that I could join family and friends in running the local Turkey Trot.  It took me months and months, and when it came time for the race I ended up walking part of it.  It went that well.  This time I think I'm ready.  I've already run the course twice by myself, so I know I can finish it without walking.  This is a very official feeling step though...

3.) A pair of my new shoes got here!  The Brooks PureCadence 2's showed up today!  Excited!!

So there.  There's your "squee" update.  And pictures:

Box lid.
Inside the lid.
 
Pure corporate drivel, but pretty cool drivel.
Inside the box.
If you had any misconceptions about how ridiculous a size 14 shoe looks...

Morning Postmeal

Morning post...morning oatmeal...morning postmeal--see what I did there?

This is a ridiculous post for sure, but I just have to share my morning "aha" moment.

I eat this Quaker Fruit & Cream oatmeal nearly every morning.  I know there's probably much better breakfast options, even much better oatmeal options, but these are 130 calories a packet and super portable for when I'm at work.  In fact I have a box sitting in my work locker, and I make it with hot water from the coffee machines.  (Sometimes I even get to eat it before lunch time...)

But that's not the point.

The package comes with strawberries & cream, blueberries & cream, bananas & cream, and peaches & cream.  Of the 4 flavors, my least favorite is the peaches & cream.  Not that I have anything against peaches, but of all of them in the box, peaches are the least sexy, most ordinary flavor.

I like to play a little game with myself in the morning, and reach into the box blindly, to see what flavor I get.  It's fun to me, because like the mystical iPod Shuffle always picking a pertinent song, it seems that I end up with a flavor that suits my day.  You know, like a gastronomical horoscope.  A breakfast fortune cookie.

I equate bananas & cream to having a crazy day--as is apt to happen on an ICU from time to time.  I associate strawberries & cream with the strawberry patches from when I was child, so these days tend to be nostalgic.  Blueberries & cream tend to point to an all around excellent day.  Peaches & cream, well, just an ordinary day. 

See what I mean?  Being told you're going to have a peaches & cream day is a little bit of a disappointment.

And it seems like I pull peaches & cream so much more often than the other flavors.  Disproportionately so.

As I thought about this, I ruminated on what implications that concept bears on my life, my goals, my aspirations.  Why did I feel like, more often than not, I was living a peaches & cream life?  I pondered the thought of how to create more blueberries & cream days; how to enjoy the strawberries & cream days, and just roll with the bananas & cream days.

And then I noticed something on the box.  Turns out in every box there's 2 bananas & cream packets, 2 strawberries & cream packets, 2 blueberries & cream packets, and 4 peaches & cream packets.

Maybe my life isn't as ordinary as I was lamenting.

And...sometimes I make my own head hurt.

Regardless, eat your oatmeal!
 
As Wilford Brimley says, "It's the right thing to do."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Nutrition Plan

After some reading and drawing information from several sources (thanks Jackie!)  I've settled on a plan that I hope works.  And if it doesn't then I'll try something else.

I'm pretty sure that the treadmill and MFP are overestimating the calories I'm burning while running. And further, I want my workouts to help create that calorie deficit that's going to cause me to lose weight.  I'm pretty sure that replacing my calories burned during a run, calorie for calorie isn't an effective way to lose weight--especially if my workout calories are overestimated!

Currently on non-gym days I'm consuming between 1500 and 1600 calories/day.  This is what's helped me drop the 28lbs you see over there in the sidebar.  Since it's working, I'm going to continue that.  On run days however, I'm going to cap my calorie intake between 1700 and 1800.  This way I'll be getting extra calories to help fuel my runs, but won't be over eating either.

It's interesting the choices I find myself making while I'm restricting calories.  I try to eat nutritionally dense foods, and I keep an eye on the nutrients that MFP tracks.  When I only have a certain number of calories to eat per day, I make choices based on how much of my calorie budget it's going to cost me.  Almost always if a food is too "expensive" and not a good value of calories vs. nutrients, the choice to avoid it is also a nutritionally sound choice.  For example, there's no way I'm going waste 240 of my allotted calories on a soda.  I mean that's nearly a 1/6th of my daily calories! For the same 240 calories I can eat 6 oz. of greek yogurt, a plum (yum!) and a slice of my favorite cheese.

I think the key to long term weight loss and management lies in listening to your body and learning what's truly hunger, what's thirst, and what's boredom.  I thought I was doing a good job at this, but I simply wasn't hungry during the days, and calories started to dwindle more into the 1300-1400 cal/day range.  I stopped losing weight until I forced myself to eat at least 1500 cal/day. 

Overall, I hope this plan continues my weight loss and allows me to push my runs as well.  I can hardly wait to lose more weight, because I know that every pound I shed is one less pound to carry with me on my runs.  And I can hardly wait to run, because it helps me shed those pounds!

That's the new plan.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Yay for Pay Day

Pretty excited because I bought not one, but two new pairs of running shoes tonight.  I really try to support my local shops pretty much on anything I purchase, but my local running shop (LRS) has a really poor selection in my size--size 14.  When I walk in and let them know I need a stability shoe in a size 14, they bring out their single option, in the single color they carry.  Which is better, I have to say, than any other local stores--franchise, chain, or otherwise--who don't even stock 14s.  They're happy to direct me to their websites though.

So web shopping I went indeed.

My go to running shoe has been the Brooks Adrenaline, and this year's GTS 13 seems to carry on the Adrenaline name quite well if the reviews I've read are true.  So of course I ordered up a pair--in lovely gray and yellow.  I had no idea that Brooks had so many cool colors--I've always been stuck with the standard blue and white or red and white because that's all my LRS stocked.

I've been reading that rotating shoes is a good thing, and not only just different pairs, but different types and styles.  From what I understand this can help prevent over-use injuries by varying food/joint position.  This totally makes sense to me from a physiologic point of view, so I bought into the strategy.  I've read a few articles about the Brooks PureCadence 2.  It's an interesting shoe because it has minimalist aspirations, but it's also a stability shoe.  Since the high school student/shoe guru at my LRS gravely diagnosed me as a pronator, a stability shoe is in order.

I'm excited about my new shoes, I can't wait to get them!

And PS, Dick's Sporting Goods has just average pricing, but also has free shipping on footwear, and free returns.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It Was a Dark & Stormy Night...

The blizzard winds kicked up the 3-4 feet of snow when I set out on the course that was uphill both ways.  Did I mention I was barefoot?

Ok, ok.  Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.

Regardless of the hyperbole, today was my first run outside in nearly 3 years.  The last time I ran outside (Turkey Trot 2010)  I don't really recall it being a particularly pleasant experience.

I got up at 5am to make sure I had plenty of time to run and make it back home in time for 1st day of school festivities.  I went to try out the certified 5k course that the hospital put together for the upcoming race.

Initially when I started running, I had a bad feeling about how things were going to go.  I felt all gangly and out of sync, and the ground felt really hard.  I was having to keep an eagle eye on Runkeeper because I kept surging up to a pace that there's no way I was going to be able to sustain.  About 5 minutes in though, I settled in--I started feeling relaxed and no longer had to constantly check my phone for pace info.

I'll admit that a 12 min pace feels a lot slower in person than it does on the treadmill.  I foresee running outside seriously propelling me forward in pace and distance.

Well, somehow I managed to make a wrong turn on a closed loop course and only ended up running 2.77 miles(??) at an 11:38 pace (with each mile split getting faster), but no matter.  I felt really good.  And next week, or maybe even later this week I'll head back out there and run the full course.

I was surprised how quickly my run went.  Compared to the treadmill this run seemed to fly by.  And it was nice being able to see landmarks, and my progress towards them.

I'm going to refrain from running outside for the next couple of days to make sure that my feet and legs are going to transition without pain.  And I may hit the treadmill this afternoon to finish off a few treadmill miles.

Overall it was very nice experience.

Even if the blowing snow made it hard to see my bare feet as I ran uphill both ways...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Each in front of the other...

Today when I started my workout, I felt terrible.  My knees hurt, I couldn't get into a smooth rhythm, even my belly bouncing hurt--something that I haven't even noticed before (yes I still have a belly, unfortunately, even after 28 lbs gone).  I thought back to my moment of clarity a few weeks ago, and forced myself onward with the promise to myself that if I truly didn't feel good, I would stop before I hurt myself.  About 5 minutes in, I felt right as rain.

So I kept going.

As each mile ticked by I picked up the pace.  The loose workout I had in mind was a moderately paced 5k, but as I planned each increase in speed, I wondered if I might just push past that goal.  It was an effective strategy, because I ran 4 miles today.  Yet another half mile past my previous best last week.  The workout broke down like this:
Mile 1:  12:00 pace (5.0 mph)
Mile 2:  11:06 pace (5.4 mph)
Mile 3:  10:43 pace (5.6 mph)
Mile 4:  10:00 pace (6.0 mph)
Total time:  43:43
Avg pace:  10:56 pace
I think.

I figured that out based on what speeds I set the treadmill for...and then did the math.  Let me know if it looks wrong.

It was tough.  Not going to lie, especially pushing myself at 10 min pace for the last mile.  But my wife finished up her workout and came to check on me at just the right time, about 4 minutes left, so that was a boost for me at just the right time.

Anyway, forced day off tomorrow because of work.  Then a late evening run on Sunday after work.  Tough work schedule this week getting in the way of my workouts.  Work 2, off 1, work 2, off 1, work 2.  But then a few days off.

My work is putting on a 5k and a half marathon on Saturday, September 14th.  I'm contemplating running the 5k...

Without Fear, right?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lonely

It seems that running can be a very solitary and lonely activity.

Sometimes that's a good thing.

Sometimes it gets a little, well...lonely.

Sometimes writing about running gets lonely too.

As I was finishing nursing school and beginning my nursing career I blogged about my progress. And apparently a male's voice was just what the nurse bloggers world needed. Maybe it was because I didn't dignify the murse stereotypes. Maybe some of my experiences were actually as significant as they felt. Maybe my writing style appealed to that particular audience. Regardless of the reason, all I did was comment on a few other nursing blogs and the silly thing exploded. When I finally took the blog offline under pressure from hospital administration, it was getting about 10k views a month--all without advertising. I was getting requests from industry magazines for articles, and asked if I'd review items.  Now that isn't huge as far as website traffic goes, but it was a cozy little corner of the internet.

I'm finding the running blogger community a little more difficult to break into. I don't necessarily want this blog to blow up--it took a lot of time and energy to keep up with. And really, it's not the reason I started writing this blog. It was mostly to document my journey, for myself. But I'd be lying if I said that I didn't hope to make a few friends, become part of a community, maybe write something that a few people enjoyed reading.

Lest I sound ungrateful, there are a few people reading, and commenting. And I appreciate it so much. Thank you! The encouragement and support has been invaluable as I try to push forward in this unfamiliar territory.

You see, the most structured I'd ever gotten with running was following a basic Couch to 5k program that didn't even work that well for me. So all of this is very new to me, and I'm a little afraid I'm going to do something stupid and hurt myself or get in my own way. I was hoping to assimilate into the running blogging community and learn the (or "a") right way to do things.

But so far I've asked one seemingly knowledgeable and popular run blogger, who specializes in supplements and similar products, for advice regarding a protein supplement. I was ignored.

Twice.

My current nutrition dilemma regarding my calories, I've tried asking a pair of popular podcasters, a sports dietician, and a sports medicine medical doctor who all blog or have groups on Facebook.

No response.

I wasn't asking for a full blown nutritional consult. I was just looking for someone with more experience and success than me to reassure me that I wasn't going to blow my weight loss by eating enough calories to run. Is it an inappropriate question? Am I crossing some unknown boundary?

It's not the end of the world. And I'm definitely not quitting running over it, or giving up on losing weight. Because ultimately those are things I'm doing for myself, and those I love.  And I'll likely not stop blogging either.

I guess it makes me kind of sad. Sad to be fumbling around like a dunce trying to figure this out on my own when there seemed to be a thriving blog community out there. I guess I would never dream of ignoring somebody that asked me for help--even if I couldn't help them.

But maybe that's the nurse in me.

What motivates you to blog? Who do you look to to help you figure new things out?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Measurable Returns

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.” ― Herophilus 
I went in to my primary care physician's office for a check up a few days ago.  I knew that my weight loss could only be a good thing, but I didn't expect to see changes in other measurable ways as well.

For example the last time I was in, my blood pressure was 132/84--which isn't a horrible number, but not exactly great either.  This time it was 114/70--a number I'm actually a bit proud of considering the stress of my job, parenting, and upcoming life changes.

Last time (although I don't remember specific break down numbers) my total cholesterol was in the 190ish range.  Again, not scary, but not fabulous either.  This time my total cholesterol was 139, the Mayo Clinic says that less than 200 is desirable.  My HDL is 49 which is in the "better" category (>60 is desirable).  My LDL is 79, <100 is ideal for someone at risk for heart disease, <70 is ideal for someone at high risk for heart disease.  My triglycerides were 57, <150 is desirable.

It's nice to see numerical data to back up what I feel.  Because overall I feel much healthier than I did just 5 weeks ago when I started counting/restricting calories and running again.

So if you're just getting started, or looking for a reason to get started, the above data shows that even 35 days of healthy eating and exercise can seriously and measurably impact your health.

There is still room for improvement.  I'd like to lose at least another 30 lbs, and possibly more.  I'd like to see my HDL >60.  I'd like to see my LDL <70 because being adopted I know very little about my familial risk factors.  There is a chance that I'm at a high genetic risk for heart disease.

Regardless, the sum of those improving numbers I hope equals added years of healthy living with my wife and kids.  It also helps ensure that I don't become one of the statistics at work with an MI and bypass surgery in my 40s.  Because take it from me--I see it every day at work--heart surgery sucks. 

What health benefits have you realized from running and getting fit?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Forward

“Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Yesterday was supposed to be a rest day, but I ended up going to the gym and spending some time on the elliptical machine next to my wife to give her some moral support.  (Her lower back has been making it difficult for her to exercise the way she wants.  I ended up spending about 30 minutes there, and at a higher pace than I intended, so much for recovery.

Today I scheduled myself for a long(er) run, and I was feeling ambitious.  I set the treadmill for 3.5 miles, but I was feeling so good that about 20 minutes in I changed the time to an hour, for 5 miles.  I firmly believed that I'd finish all 5 miles--right up to the 3 mile mark.  For the first time I think I kind of hit a wall.  I was feeling good, and then, I wasn't.  Sheepishly I turned the time back to the 3.5 mile mark and held on to the end.

Usually post run, I'm able to recover fairly quickly.  By the time I get my treadmill wiped clean I'm back to normal breathing (although still sweating like crazy!) and my heart rate has dropped into the low 100s.  This time though, I had to be careful walking down the stairs to the main floor of the gym--legs were just a tad bit rubbery still. And I was just wiped out, sitting down in a chair in a daze.

At first I was disappointed in myself, but then I realized that a) a month ago I was running a mere 15 minutes at a time, b) a week ago my long run was 2.5 miles.

I just want so much more, and I want it now!

But I need to just pick up my little sword and let my heart pitter patter a bit.  And maybe, just maybe, enjoy the ride run.
“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else. We can enjoy every moment of movement, as long as where we are is as good as where we'd like to be. That's not to say that you need to be satisfied forever with where you are today. But you need to honor what you've accomplished, rather than thinking of what's left to be done.” ― John Bingham, No Need for Speed:  A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Calorie Intake Question

I've been a little confused lately with my diet--specifically calories. Maybe some of you nutritionally-minded people out there can give me an answer, if you'd be so gracious as to help.

As mentioned before, I'm trying to lose weight. So far the pounds have melted off relatively easy. Serious calorie tracking and a little bit of exercise has been just the thing apparently.

However, as I extend my runs and increase my pace, each workout is expending more and more calories. A little exercise is turning into a little more exercise.

And that's where the confusion is coming in.

When I input my exercise into MyFitnessPal, it gives me a "net calories" number, subtracting my workout calories expended from my calorie intake.  Before, when it was a just a few hundred calories, I kind of just split the difference.  But these days my workouts are burning 600+ calories (and rising).  When added into the equation, if I meet my net calorie goal, then I'm eating a much larger number of calories than my raw goal.

For example--MFP wants me to eat 1840 cal/day.  But when I add in my workouts I have to eat 2440 cal/day to reach my net goal, (2440-600=1840).  That's a great deal of calories comparatively!

And it leaves me with a conundrum.  I don't want to eat so many calories I stop losing weight.  But I really don't want to eat so few calories that I stop losing weight.

Help?

Friday, August 16, 2013

GingerRunner's Squamish 50 Video

This video is too epic not to share.

Ethan (THE GingerRunner) put together this video documenting his Squamish 50 miler race.  I highly doubt this guy even realizes I exist, much less know how much inspiration he brings me.



Who's your source of inspiration?

Twisted

One of my very favorite pieces of gear is my headphones.  They're Yamaha brand, and I think I paid about $30 for them at Fry's on closeout sale, so they're not cheapos by any stretch.  I love the sound quality, and they fit my gaping ear holes perfectly, staying put right where I stick them.  They seal great; not letting sweat in and cutting off nearly all background noise--perfect for the treadmill, (but I'm going to have to figure something out when I start running outside).  The cord is long enough to reach my ears from the book ledge on the treadmill, but not so long they get tangled in my legs.  They're pretty much perfect.

Pretty much.

The only downside?  I have never owned a pair of headphones that can tie themselves in knots like these!  Every time I'm done using them, I coil them neatly (I've even tried folding them!) and the next time I go to use them, they are all knotted up.  And I'm not just talking about simple square knots either.  These babies will put your Eagle Scout to shame with some of the complex knots I've discovered.

My wife laughs at me while I struggle to detangle them at the beginning of every run.  She thinks it's something that I'm doing, because her headphones for her iPod coil into a tight circle that she then clips into the iPod itself. And they stay that way until she gets them out to use again.

But I swear it's not me.

As an experiment one time I held them untangled, hanging free and watched in astonishment as they coiled back on themselves right before my very eyes.

But no matter.

I truly like my imperfect, difficult, pain-in-the-ass headphones.

They kind of remind me, well, of me.

What's your favorite piece of gear?