Month: October 2014

Something wicked this way comes


Yesterday I ran the Wicked 10k, a great race put on by J&A racing in Virginia Beach.  I’ve been wanting to do this race for the last couple of years, but I haven’t been able to fit it into my schedule.  With the Richmond Marathon coming up in three weeks, I needed a tuneup race.  I was hoping for a half marathon, but couldn’t make it happen, so this had to do.  I hadn’t done any racing, or even fast running in a few months.  All of my training has been easy high mileage.  So I really had no idea what kind of pace to even shoot for.  Plan was to go out hard and try to hang on, turned out to be a pretty good plan.

Weather was great when I got to the convention center, nice and cool, in the high 40s, but it would warm up quickly when the sun came up.  Overall, still pretty good weather, wind wasn’t bad, which can sometimes be a problem on the boardwalk.  Warmed up for about 2.5 miles, with some strides, and then I was ready to go.  Lined up in Corral 1, where the announcer noted the lack of costumes among the “serious runners”.  Next year I’m dressing up, but it will still be a run friendly costume, because I’ve already set some goals.  The horn blows, and we’re off!

Mile1: 5:59

I lined up pretty close to the front of the corral, so had no problems with crowding and was able to get right on pace.  I figured I’d shoot for around 6 flat and see how it felt, doing good so far.  Running near me was “Nearly Naked Mariachi Man”, apparently a yearly staple at Wicked, I made a mental note to not get beaten by a man wearing nothing but a speedo and Mariachi hat.  He was very talkative and holding a good pace, could be a challenge.

Mile 2: 6:00

Still feeling good, getting in the groove.  Nearly Naked Mariachi Man has fallen back a lil, but I can still hear him behind me, getting lots of cheers from the crowds.  I set my sights on a guy in front of me in a white shirt, seems to be running a similar pace, figure I’ll target him to stay on pace and then work on passing him if I can.  I wanted to try not to focus on my watch and focus more on racing the people around me. We hit the boardwalk heading north, which is usually when you get blasted with a nasty headwind, but there was no wind to be found, perfect!

Mile 3: 6:08

Starting to feel the effort, wondering if I might be going a little too fast, but then I remind myself of how well my training has been going and the huge mileage I’ve been putting in, I can do this.  I stay focused on white shirt guy and keep pushing.  We’re off the boardwalk now and cruising down Atlantic.  I can’t hear Mariachi Man behind me anymore, so I figure I’m not in any danger of needing to worry about getting passed.

Mile 4: 6:12

I set a new 5k PR with a 5k split of 18:54 (3 second PR, woohoo!).  I start to worry that I probably shouldn’t be setting 5k PRs in a 10k race, but then remind myself again that my training should support this effort.  As I’m crusiing down Atlantic, I start to get a little too comfortable and notice that white shirt guy is starting to pull away, he has passed a younger runner who is now about 50ft in front of me.  Then I see Mark from my LRS on the sideline cheering people on.  He tells me that I’m doing great, but that I need to go catch that young guy in front of me.  That was perfect timing, and just the motivation I needed to pick it back up.  I surged and passed the young guy and pulled back within a comfortable distance of white shirt guy.

Mile 5: 6:12

Pace has a slipped a lil the last two miles, but the effort is still solid.  Several times I’ve had the feeling that if I pushed harder I might puke, so I figured that was about right.  At the end of mile 5, we turn back onto the boardwalk, where we have just a touch of a tailwind, always nice.

Mile 6: 6:15

This was a tough section, not just because it was the last mile of the race, but because the finish line is in sight, but still far away, that’s always tough.  I try to start reeling in white shirt guy, but he’s running strong.  I start to lull a bit again, and just like before, suddenly Mark appeared again and told me to pump my arms and finish strong.  The bad thing about not racing often, and not doing any speedwork, is you tend to lose all form towards the end of a race.  Apparently I was focusing on my feet and my arms were just kind of flailing.  I felt my pace pick up instantly and my form improve when I started focusing on pumping my arms.  Got passed in this mile, the only time during the whole race, this guy was finishing really strong, I tried to surge to go with him, but just couldn’t hang.  I knew that I had run a good race when I didn’t have that much left in me.

.2: 5:58 pace

Kicked with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.  Thought I might puke again, but I wasn’t going to let up until I crossed the mat, and if it meant puking, then that was just fine by me.  I saw 38:xx on the clock, and knew that I had a solid PR.

Official time: 38:12 (6:09 average pace), 2:01 PR over my 40:13 at ERR 10k five months ago

Turned out to be good enough for 3rd place Masters!  Finished 13th overall out of 5384 runners, and 3rd in my group of 256.  Couldn’t be happier!  I think after I finish my marathon, and then my 50k in December, I’ll turn my focus to speed and see what I can really do at the shorter distances.

I think that with my training and this PR, I should have a shot at sub-3 in Richmond.  My plan is to go out at around a 2:58 pace, aim for a 1:29 first half, and then if I’m feeling good by mile 20, pick up the pace and finish strong.  If I’m not feeling it, then I’ll just try to hang on and squeak out a sub-3.  Overall my goal is to BQ again, so I can actually run Boston in ’16, and I think barring catastrophic failure, I should be a lock for that (my BQ is 3:15).  So my A goal will be sub-3, B goal sub-3:05 and C goal sub-3:10.  Now we just have to see if the weather cooperates.

The secret to my weight loss success

This is something that I get asked a lot by friends and people that I work with.  What’s your secret?  How did you lose all that weight?  Because there must be some secret or trick to it, right?  Then I usually get a weird look when I tell them, eat less and move more, it’s that simple.  Notice I said simple, and not easy.  The concept is about as simple as can be, the execution however, tends to be a bit more difficult, as most of us know.

There is a trick to it though, a secret if you will, and that is motivation.  This is the key to unlocking your success, really in anything in life, not just weight loss and fitness.  The problem is, that motivation has to come from within.  Sure, there can be something external that gives you the initial kick in the butt, some life changing event, someone else’s success, etc.  But that will only get you going, in order to keep going, and be successful long term, you have to learn how to motivate yourself from within.  Now you’re probably waiting for the part where I tell you how to do that, unfortunately, I don’t have that answer.  If I did, I would write a book, get rich and retire on the beach.

I can’t put my finger on why this time around was different for me.  Like most people, I had tried many times to lose weight and get healthy, joined gyms, bought workout videos, tried different diets, but all of those efforts eventually failed.  I can tell you that celebrating your small successes definitely helps, you have to give yourself some credit as you go along.  Also, you have to get rid of your goals, at least in the way that most people set them.  Your goal should be to lose weight, get healthy and get fit.  Your goal should not be to lose X amount of weight, or to lose it in X amount of time.  That is an instant recipe for disaster, because what happens when you hit that goal, or worse, if you don’t?  If you reach that goal, you’ll most like go right back to the old habits that helped you get overweight in the first place.  If you don’t reach that goal, then you feel like a failure and will give up.  Sometimes the cliches are true, it really does have to be a lifestyle change.  You have to change the way you look at food and fitness, for the rest of your life.

I won’t lie, it was tough in the beginning, I tracked every bite of food that went in my mouth, and was operating on a pretty serious caloric deficit, dropping about 10lbs a month.  But now I don’t really have to think about it, it’s just how I live and eat, I don’t track everything anymore, I’ve learned how much I need to eat to support my training and maintain my weight.  I try to make good food choices the majority of the time, which allows me to enjoy “bad” food every once in a while.  I put bad in quotes, because my wife taught me something about food, it has no morality, it is neither good nor bad, it’s just food, fuel for your body.  It is either more nutritious, or less nutritious, more calorie dense, or less calorie dense.  It’s true though, in a cruel twist of fate, there seems to be a direct correlation between how good something tastes and how many calories it contains, sometimes nature is just mean like that.  That just means that you have to balance those foods as a part of your overall diet.  I still eat pizza, cheeseburgers, ice cream, candy, and all of the other things that people deprive themselves of when they diet.  I just don’t eat them in the quantities or frequency that I used to.

When I first started out (and every time I tried before that), I couldn’t see my success, I couldn’t see what I was capable of.  But now looking back, all I can think is, what took me so long?  I guess that’s usually how it goes, the mountain doesn’t seem quite as daunting after you’ve climbed it.  When I was starting out at 270lbs, I tried to not put a number on my goal, but I think that’s hard to avoid sometimes, we humans are metric driven and love numbers.  So in my head, I was thinking that I could probably get back down to 215-220, around what I weighed when I was in the Navy, maybe a little less.  I would have said you were crazy if you told me I could get under 200lbs.  The last time I was under 200lbs was when I left bootcamp at 176lbs, and that was after someone else had controlled my eating and exercise every minute of every day for two and a half months, oh and I was 18.  But here I sit, 175lbs, the lowest weight of my adult life, and in better shape than I was at 18 when I left boot camp, and I’m not nearly done yet.

This of course isn’t the whole story, just a few thoughts I wanted to get out.  Always remember, anything is possible with enough time and determination!

First real fall run, and it was fantastic!

To explain the sheer joy of today’s run, I have to back up about a week.  I was recently sentenced to 25 days of cruel and unusual punishment, also known as treadmill running.  Over the course of that trip, I covered 332 miles, 123 of those in one seven day period, including a 3 hour 22 miler.  I’m not exactly sure how I managed to make it back with my sanity intact.  All of my runs since returning home have been great, simply for the fact that they’ve been outdoors, but today’s was the first run that really felt like fall.

Running around a beautiful lake, the leaves crunching under my feet, cool air and a bright blue sky with puffy clouds.  That’s about as good as it gets in my book!  My mileage this week has been pretty light, due to work and the fact that I’m playing the role of single father while my wife is out of town.  So the combination of rested legs and cool air is making for some decent speed at a relatively easy effort, hopefully it’s a good sign for my upcoming tuneup race, the Wicked 10k in Virginia Beach.  I had wanted to use the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon as my tuneup, but the work responsibilities that relegated me to three weeks of treadmill hell, also made me miss that race.  So the 10k will have to do, not ideal, but should be ok.

And away we go!

Just what the internet needs, another blog.

I’ve been putting it off for a long time, but it’s time I let the world inside my head (careful, it can be scary in there!).

I’m currently nearing the end of my training cycle for the Richmond Marathon, and things could not be going better!  This has been the highest and most consistent mileage I’ve ever run, and I feel amazing!  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle triple digit weeks, but lots of doubles have kept the mileage up and the injuries at bay.  I started off on a Pfitzinger plan, but then quickly got tired of being tied to a schedule.  I just want to run, at whatever pace and distance I feel like doing that day.  I’m not getting paid to do this, so I want to make sure I enjoy it.  Being tied to a plan was sucking the fun out of my running.  So after four weeks, I dropped the plan and decided to try an experiment.  I call it the “Run as much as you can without breaking yourself” training plan.  I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but it seems to be working really well for me.  We’ll find out in four weeks if it’s going to pay off or not.

Speaking of running, it’s time to hit the pavement!