Thinking about my own finish line

April 2, 2014

thinkingIf triathlons and distance sports has done anything for me it has reaffirmed my belief that there is a genetic limit in each of us.  With careful training and patience, we can challenge that limit and perhaps even extend it a little, but I really feel that we are all “pre wired” with a pretty hard limit on what we are physically capable of.  And while we may be able to mentally harden ourselves off to push farther, we will eventually find that limit.  It is greatly effected by diet, habits and training, but we all have a hard cap.  Going over this cap sends our genetics into play and we break down.  And I don’t mean “push it” injuries like strains or broken bones from effort.  I mean physical failures, “over use” injuries, chemical imbalances, etc.

There is also a mental limit.  That is what we “think” we are capable of.  This limit is easily extended by each successful event that takes us farther than we have ever gone before.

The problem is when the two meet.  The addiction and euphoria experienced when you conquer a new goal, can be intoxicating.  In the beginning, those goals are things like a 5K or a mile swim.  However, as you go along and continue to drink the distance KoolAid, the limits get pushed.  Distances and times get challenged.  Mentally, you get tougher.  You can fight the quitter in you more.  Until finally, at some point, you get dragged off a course because your mind says go, but your body has detonated and you are no longer able to perform.

It’s scary, when you can’t go anymore.  Mentally and emotionally, you are there.  But your body fails.  Some people call this their “limit” and blame the failure on training.  But I think if you don’t look seriously at each failure from the standpoint of “training” limits vs. “genetics” limits, your days in endurance sports are numbered.  And worse, if you go too far, you may end up not being able to do ANYTHING.

While I’ve always said I don’t want people to look in my coffin and say “he looks so good”, but rather “WOW!  He used that body up!”… While I’m IN this body, I would like to be able to abuse it for many years to come, which, I think, means I need to be reasonable.

Example:

In 2007, I trained for and ran a marathon.  However, the abuse I put my body through to achieve that goal was not worth the reward.  Of the many injuries I sustained during training, one of them is still with me to this day.  I suffered a repetitive stress injury.  A pelvic stress fracture (at the thin spot where the two halves join at the bottom).  It took me out for about 9 months of 2008.

This is not your normal injury.  In fact, the doctor said that it was rare, especially in men.  Granted, I was too heavy to run a marathon, which may have factored in to the injury, however I could see that more if my knees, hips or ankles had failed.  I really believe that this injury is simply because of the way I was built.  And the repetitive stress of pounding out 15-20 miles at a time on longer runs and putting 40-50 miles a week in was just more than my genetic make up could handle.  And it manifested itself through this break.

So why bring this up now?  When I am in the middle of such a successful recovery?  My times at PR levels.  My weight is bordering on the lowest I have been in my adult life.  Why bring it down?

Let’s just call it “cautionary”.  I’m very happy with the way things are going but I have learned to listen to my body a little bit more.  And the unique pain that I had when I was running long distances didn’t manifest itself until my mileages got up above 30 miles per week or more.  And last week, after the half marathon success I had in Sedalia?  The next day, it came back.  Not bad.  But just enough to remind me of genetics.  It has since subsided with the decreased mileage but still, every once in a while, when I get up and turn wrong, it is there.

Don’t get me wrong.  Everything is fine.  I don’t hurt all the time like I did before.  My strength is still there.  This is just a warning flag.  It went up and now it’s back down.  It just made me think.

Mentally, I WANT to do a marathon (or 50K trail run, actually).  And I have entertained thoughts of carefully training and leaning myself up to the point that I can compete in an Ironman for my 50th birthday year, coming up in 2 and a half years.  And granted, even though my goal is to be even lighter than I am now (by another 20 pounds or so) before I even THINK about competing in these distances, I just don’t know if that will ever be possible.  Even at 5% body fat, my body may just not be capable, genetically, of those distances.  I have to accept that as a possible outcome.

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try it out.  Push my mileages up (later, as I get lighter) and see what happens.  After all, except for those select few whose training, genetics and desire push them to the pointy end of the pack, the rest of us are just setting our own finish line tape up anyway, aren’t we?  In the goals that we set and limits we push?

I don’t intend this to be a philosophy for anyone but me.  If you agree with it (or not) that is your choice.  We all have to decide how far we are capable of going.  Those of us with the endurance bug are always trying to do that distance/time… plus one step/second.  I just was reminded of my own reality and thought I would share


Riding badly in the woods

March 26, 2014

mtbAs much as I really love triathlons, I am continually called back to the woods.  I’m afraid to ever try an Xterra type race, because I know I would love it and immediately abandon road races.  The problems with this are two fold and actually remind me of my reasons (read: excuses) for not getting into triathlon in the first place.

First, I suck at mountain biking.  Yes, I have endurance.  But in the balance, coordination, technique and guts departments… not so much.  I had someone tell me once that when you mountain bike, going faster is actually better/easier and you just have to trust your gear and ride over stuff.  The first time I did this… I went over the bars and down a hill with my bike on top of me.  Not exactly the desired effect.  The person failed to mention that picking a good line is critical to making the other things work.

Details.

I’m finding the same holds true for trail running.  As tentative and cautious as I want to be because I’m worried about my crappy ankles, it’s actually easier if you speed up.  To say this is counter intuitive is an understatement.  But as my endurance and fitness improve, so does my speed.  And as my speed goes up, I feel more comfortable.  I still can’t bomb down hills but I’m moving faster.

Second, even with as many beautiful trails and great territory as Missouri provides, we don’t have one Xterra race or even that many offroad multisport races.  It doesn’t make any sense.  We have some EPIC trail runs.  Surely SOMEBODY can figure out how to run one past a lake someplace with multi use trails…  What this means is that for me to combine my terrible mountain biking skills with my sloth-like offroad running style and horrible swimming, I need to drive 6 hours to get to the closest race.  Somehow… that doesn’t add up.

So, bad mental math aside, what is the draw?  I can just as easily humiliate myself locally on public roads and in pools for all to see.  Why get dirty?

There is just a different feeling to offroad races.  It’s more laid back.  Less of the type “A” stress of a road race.  Mountain biking, for me anyway, is just more fun.  Trail running is just better.  The swim would suck no matter what unless I was going down river in a raft, so it’s always something I’ve just tolerated.  I don’t know… There is a certain peace to being in the woods.  Even if you are racing.  And before you start arguing about how much more dangerous it is, I’m putting the bullshit stop on that.  I firmly believe that is all perception.  Hitting a root and going over the bars is a hazard, yes.  But it will always pale in comparison to getting hit by a car.  Crashing is crashing.  I haven’t seen any more or less crashes or injuries offroad.  My two most recent scabs came from tripping on nothing in particular and falling on a bridge on a new section of an urban, concrete trail.

People I train with ask me sometimes why I still do a day or two a week of offroad training during triathlon season.  Shouldn’t I be doing all road stuff?  Perhaps.  But besides the benefits of breaking up my training and working different muscles, it forces me to relax.  To think different… To run/ride different… To breathe different.  And whether I’m dodging spider webs or trying to get over that one spot clean for the first time on my bike, sometimes I just need “different”.  That’s what I like most about trails.  Maybe I’ll be better at it someday.  But I don’t really care.  I might walk away from triathlons at some point, but I will always ride (badly) in the woods.


Race Report: Sedalia half marathon

March 24, 2014

finishYes, ANOTHER race report.  Hey, after last year?  I deserve to get to do a few race reports.

First, I have to admit something.  I should not have signed up for this race.  It was too soon on my comeback road, too early in the season and too long for where I thought I was at, health wise.

So… why did I sign up?  Honestly, I got swept up in my own euphoria.  I had a flurry there for a week or so where I almost signed up for everything I could find.  I had just successfully completed a 10K trail run and was feeling great!  So… A half marathon?  SURE!  I can do that!

In hindsight (and to spoil the story a bit, everything went fine) this wasn’t the best idea.  Thank the triathlon gods I didn’t look at any Ironman websites…

Regardless, I signed up.  I even “poked the bear” a little bit and challenged all my running buddies to sign up as well.  Secretly, this was out of regret for signing up and I really just wanted somebody there to positively ID the body… just in case.

I remember the last real half marathon I ran.  A miserable, muggy, hot, expensive race on the lovely downtown streets of Kansas City.  I “trained” for this race.  I was on a “plan”.  I was careful.  I tapered for 2 weeks.  I was ready.

I got my ASS handed to me by the weather. Two of the most miserable running hours of my life.  With lots of walking, quiet sobbing, gnashing of teeth… the whole bit.  Start time temp of 75 with 90% humidity and no wind.  Like running in a locker room.

Fast forward a couple of years and I’m standing on the line (such as it is) for the Sedalia Half Marathon.  ZERO training plan.  A whopping TWO DAY taper (OK… a day and a half).  ZERO runs of 13 miles or more and ONE run of 12 miles… in the last TWO YEARS.  NOTHING about this was a good idea.

So.  Here we go.

Sedalia Half Marathon

The race:

The Sedalia Half is a local race in Sedalia, Missouri.  Frequented and supported by friends, and friends of friends for over 30 years now.  One of the least expensive half marathons in the nation, you can get in for $20.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a fun race.  Laid back and enjoyable.  The biggest question is always the weather.  I’ve run it 3 times now.  Once in 80 degree heat, once in sleet and 30 mph winds and then this time.

The weather:

All you can do is pray here… This is a true “March in Missouri” race and it’s a massive crapshoot as to what the weather will do.  For example, last week varied between 38 and 75 for high temps and it’s supposed to snow today.  It’s all part of the fun and makes for great stories.  On this given Saturday though, we got lucky.  Starting temps in the mid 30’s, bright sunshine and 10mph winds.  You can’t ask for much better for a March in Missouri race.

The course:

The course starts out with about a half mile or so through a local neighborhood and then heads out on to rural roads.  There are no real hills to speak of, just gentle ups and downs.  There is also NO cover.  So any wind is a factor.  The course is a U-shaped out and back so unless the winds are dead calm, you WILL run into them at some point.  There are enough aid stations to do the trick and the volunteers are friendly and helpful.  But don’t plan on food and dancing girls every mile.  Oh… and it’s ALWAYS windy.  So don’t plan for calm winds either… :)

My race:

Of all the crazy things to do… Unless my season goes amazingly well and I decide to do something REALLY foolish in the fall… THIS RACE would be my longest of the year.  That’s right, my fourth race in 2 years, after a year off completely and 3 months of “training” that had nothing to do with a half marathon… I stood at the starting line.  ONE training run longer than 12 miles and 2 runs over 10 miles.  No taper.  Feeling a little off and unbalanced due to training hard and not eating much.

But yet I had it set in my mind that I was going to PR this race.

When the gun went off I told myself to go out under control.  Once I got around the pack I quickly dropped into a comfortable pace.  It felt like a trot.  I was sure I was running 9 minute miles.  And, of course, my GPS crapped out immediately so all I had was overall time.  Time to run “Nekkid”.

I hit the first mile marker and heard somebody behind me say “Whoa!  7:55?  That was too fast!  We need to back off!”  But, to me, it felt GOOD.  So I decided to just settle at that pace.  I would love to say that there was a lot to look at… and I guess there was if you like farm fields and the occasional cow.  Other than that, not much.  I settled in with a group of runners and, since I didn’t have a way to pace myself, I let them do it.  I noticed several things.  The hills were startlingly easy and didn’t seem near as steep or long as the last time I ran this race.  I climbed very well (for me) and that was where I moved up.  I wasn’t breathing hard.  And on the downhills I felt like I had to speed up because it didn’t feel like I was moving at all.  I ran with a girl through miles 3-5 who seemed determined to drop me.  But as we went up the biggest incline on the course, I could hear her breathing hard (never good at mile 5 of a half marathon).  She caught me briefly at the top and then dropped.  Never saw her again.  I’m still not sure why people insist on “racing” the early to middle miles of a long race.  Leave that for the last mile…

Anyway, my thoughts during the race kept going to my pace.  I kept waiting for my leg turnover to slow down but it never did.  I never got into my lungs at all.  Breathing felt easy.  People moved up and back all around me but mile by mile most started to drop.  I panicked and thought I had sped up but a quick check of my watch told me (within a few seconds or so) that all my miles were very consistent at around the 8:10 mark.  So when would the shoe drop?  When would I blow up?

A friend caught up to me and ran with me from about the turn (7 miles) until about the 10 mile mark.  We were talking the whole way.  Like a training run… I couldn’t get over how easy it felt.  How good I felt.  He started to pull away when we hit the 10 mile mark.  I let him go, as he is usually a bit faster than me.  But then I thought “you know… you feel like you have a little left… catch him.”  So I pulled to within about 15 feet of him and tracked him until mile 12.  He slowed noticeably just after the mile marker and as I went by I could hear him breathing hard.  He said his chest was tightening up (allergies/asthma) and he was out of gas so I went on in.

My PR for any half marathon is 1:50:33.  I checked my watch (several times because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing) and realized that with about an 8 minute last mile, I might sneak under 1:46:00.  I told myself that it was time to leave it all on the course and I stepped on it (such as I can).  I crossed the line at 1:45:46.  While I realize this still doesn’t qualify as fast, it does do several things.  First, I PR’d in a race distance that has always been difficult for me… without training specifically for it.  Second, it felt easy.  Third, it gives me a confidence again that I haven’t had in years.  Fourth, it proves my diet and exercise plan is working.  And finally, it thrills me to think that this was the longest run I will have until after Chicago!  Yay!

Afterthoughts:

One thing I wanted to share… because it’s weird.  Like you would expect any different from me.  When I was at about mile 5 I got the strangest sensation I have ever had while running.  It felt like my tights were super loose.  Like they were sliding down, or inflating and flapping.  I’m sure everyone thought I was losing my mind because I kept grabbing my shorts and legs and crotch and looking down as I was running.  Everything was fine, when I looked at or touched my legs.  But as soon as I looked up again or ran normally, it happened again.  Then it went away.  It happened again round mile 11.  Only this time it felt like I had holes in my tights and shorts.  Again, everything was fine, but it felt creepy and like my shorts were falling off.

Yup… lost my mind.  And it’s all running’s fault.

Usually the two days after a race longer than 10K are hell for me.  I don’t sleep, my legs hurt like they’ve been hit with a board, etc.  But when I did the Half Ironman distance race in OKC I did something crazy.  The next day, I did the sprint distance race.  And as much as the first mile or so hurt, by the time I was done, I felt MUCH better.  Thus learning that exercising the day after a big race really does help.

So taking that into consideration, I decided to run with a local group at Rock Bridge State Park.  The trails (rugged, single track) are beautiful and I thought it might help.  I went out with a couple of friends and after the first big hill, started to feel pretty good.  One friend pushed the pace and so I went with him.  We moved through the first part of the run until we got to a split where we could either go back or go long.  Inexplicably, when he asked “which way?” I said “go long”.  EIGHT MILES long.  EIGHT TRAIL MILES long.

NOW it feels like someone beat my legs with a board…

Up next?  First multisport event of the year.  The MaxTrax Duathlon.  First time on the long course (1.5/15/3).  Time to get to know my bike again!


Are we THERE yet?

March 19, 2014

Little_GirlsWith two and a half weeks left to go in the biggest loser competition with the local triathlon club, it’s time to take stock of what has happened and what to do about it.  For me, this has been very successful.  I have, thus far, lost about 35 pounds.  Moreover, I feel like if I keep the same routine, I can continue to lose weight until I hit my target weight of 165.  I hope to do this by the Chicago Triathlon in August.  Currently, I have about 15 pounds to lose.  Funny… at that point, for the first time in my life, I will have a BMI of what the government considers “normal”.  All this work just to be “normal”.  Currently, for the first time in several years, my BMI is what the government considers “overweight”.  Which is down from “obese”, where I have been living for the last 2 years.

I don’t give much credence to BMI as I think it is just one (and a blind one at that) measure of fitness.  It does not take into account things like muscle mass, bone density, etc.  I have a friend who played pro football as a running back and is now a powerlifter.  Dude is a ROCK.  You can see every muscle and vein.  According to the government, he is obese and has actually been turned down for life insurance.  Ludicrous.

Regardless, it’s just one measure.  And I don’t have the money to pay for displacement testing, etc.  So it is the free ones I go with.  It used to upset me.  Now I think it’s funny.  It really all depends on how I feel.  Currently, I feel good.  I’ll take that.

In an odd twist, I am actually concerned about appearing to lose TOO MUCH weight.  At least, according to the competition.

What I mean is, due to the day we weigh in on, I may have a problem getting an accurate weight.  See, I’m trying to get an accurate weight.  Hydration plays a big part of this.  It’s easy to lose a couple of pounds by just going out and running for an hour before you weigh in.  And it also depends on what you had to eat.  Lots of salt and you retain water/weight.  These aren’t biggest loser strategies, just reality.  However, what I don’t want to do, for the purposes of the competition, is lose too much weight in one week, because that is not sustainable.  I’m more concerned about NEXT weeks weigh in than this one.  And this is all because I’m running a half marathon on Saturday.

I’ve been really good so far this week with eating and exercise.  My goal is to lose 2 pounds this week.  That will officially put me at 179.  My fear is, with the half marathon on Saturday and a long trail run on Sunday, I could actually lose, or “appear” to lose 5 pounds or more.  Which would look great this week, but as I rehydrate normally, next week, even if I lose 2 more REAL pounds, could appear to be a GAIN of a pound or two, just because of hydration.

So I’m trying to lose weight properly, and not be affected by two long runs.  So, eat and drink “enough” but not too much, or especially too little…

Oh good grief… who gives a crap?  I mean… really?

Why am I worried about this?  If I’m off 10 pounds Sunday I will know 3 things.  First, I’m dehydrated.  Second, I will probably owe the biggest loser some money for pounds gained the next week.  Third, 10 POUNDS, that would put me close to 170!  I’ll take it as long as I can get it!!  Regardless, this kind of fluctuation is normal (within reason).

I have come too far to by just relaxing, eating right and exercising to get obsessed about all of this now.  Whether I win or lose the competition means little.  The bottom line is I will be 35 pounds (plus) lighter than when I started!  My knees don’t hurt.  I don’t huff and puff going up stairs.  I’m not drinking anymore.  I sleep better.  I’m faster.  I have more energy.

That, my friends, is the win I was looking for.


Training Menu Change

March 14, 2014

Sure signs of spring:

  • Spring Peepers
  • Thunder (without snow)
  • 5Ks everywhere
  • INTERVAL NIGHTS!!

Never have I been so excited to punish myself on a bicycle…  But after 3 months of diligently attending spin classes and going NOWHERE… fast… it was so refreshing to generate my own wind instead of relying on the ceiling fans.  Yes, it was breezy.  Yes, it was cool.  Yes, it was AWESOME.

I was sadly disappointed that of the 250+ members in our triathlon club, only 5 showed up (plus a Big Tree guy, a Walt’s guy and a guy that shows up for everything ride related but I can never remember his name…).

For my part, I went out a little too hard, blew up a couple of times and kind of limped home, but for the first hard ride of the year… I’ll take it.  Things I noticed on my ride:

  • The spin classes helped.  My cadence was good.  Really good.
  • The hills (not that there are any REAL hills on this route) seemed much flatter.  Probably because I’m not towing a beer keg around anymore…
  • I still think my seat is a bit too low and I have a pronounced hitch in my pedal stroke.  Definitely something to work on.
  • I’m running out of gears on the downhills.  May need to bump up to a 52 or 53 tooth chainring in the front.  It will keep me from spinning at 120-130 on the downhills so much.

One of the hardest things for me to do in triathlons is find a balance for my training.  I always seem to be neglecting one sport for another.  For instance, I think I have been swimming pretty consistently but as soon as it warms up I immediately abandon the pool for the bike.  I know part of this is the normal cure for gym fever we all get when spring finally arrives, but I don’t want to make it a habit and lose what little I have gained in the pool.

I also know that now is the time to start working on speed.  I have a half marathon coming up in 2 weeks but after that I’m not going to do anything over a 10K (except in training) until after club nationals.  While I will be sad to not go on all those long runs and rides with my friends, 4 hour rides and 18 mile runs don’t do me much good.  So my focus will change to intervals, hills, speed work and intensity.

My workout week will look like this:

Monday: Pool

Tuesday: Morning Run, Afternoon Bike or spin

Wednesday: Morning track workout, afternoon bike hills

Thursday: Morning run, Afternoon bike intervals

Friday: Lake Swim

Saturday: Long run, short ride (or brick)

Sunday: Trail run or MTB, Lake swim

menuThis is the basic schedule.  It looks like a lot and I realize there are no break days in there, but with my work schedule, I’m realistically only trying to get 2 workouts of each type in per week.  If I get them all in, great.  But that rarely happens.  And I will probably rotate one week a month where I don’t do one of the sports for a week, just to give those muscles a break.  The other thing about this schedule is that except for the long run day, everything else is short.  My longest ride this year will be 50 miles and I will only do a few of those.  No more than 2500 in the water.  No more than 10 on the run.

See, my problem in the past is that I “trained” for “triathlon”.  Which meant I basically did any and all workouts I could.  My first 2 seasons I would routinely go out on 60+ mile rides… but I was only doing sprint distance races.  Yet I did NO speed work.  So at the end of my 15 mile bike ride in a race, I would be frustrated because I didn’t go any faster… but I felt great!  Same thing on the run… and the swim…

So this year, I’m switching to short, intense, hard workouts (for the most part).  Hills, speed, fartleks, and other fun stuff are on the menu this year!


Goldfish files

March 12, 2014

You notice things when you are on a 45 minute continuous swim in a 25 yard pool…  Things like… I have a very slow stroke compared to everybody else in the pool.  When I passed or was passed by someone today, they usually had a furiously fast and high stroke count.  And I wondered.  Who was doing it right?  Me or them…?  Do I need to increase my stroke count?

goldfishI also noticed little things like there is a tile missing from the far end wall.  I seemed to find it just about every lap with my little toe.  And that the clock on the wall is 3 minutes off of the lap clock.  And I wondered where the lifeguard had been walking in bare feet because the bottoms of them were dirty.  And that I seem to have developed the habit of getting to the end of a lap and dragging my fingernails up the wall to the pool deck for no other reason than it makes a neat noise.

And I noticed and wondered all of this simply to keep me from going BAT SHIT CRAZY WHILE SWIMMING 45 MINUTES CONTINUOUSLY IN A 25 YARD POOL!!!!   GAHH!!!!

That was painful.  Mentally and emotionally.

Physically it felt great.

Had it not been for the fact that the lake still had ice in it yesterday as the temperature hit 80…

…I’ll let that sink in…

…I would have put on my wetsuit and jumped in.  I’m really tired of smelling like chlorine.  And did I mention the pool is only 25 FRICKIN YARDS?  …like a goldfish doing laps in his bowl.

Ran into my first real “fat guy losing weight” problem today.  I had to stop halfway through my first lap and cinch up my shorts because they were really loose and headed to the bottom quickly!  Might be time to look into a smaller size…  Last I checked, the city frowned on “clothing optional” lap swims at their facilities… and besides, I’m not that pretty on a good day…

Not that this losing thing (losing weight, not losing shorts) is bad.  I’m pretty excited about it.  I know the hard part starts after the Biggest Loser competition is over because I lose that accountability, but it feels different this time.  Like I finally might get how the whole thing works.  I would really like to hit Chicago at 170 or less.  And as the season starts and the days get longer and warmer, hopefully those bigger workouts will help.  I have a lot of friends doing an Ironman race this summer and if I can tag along with them for some long stuff that will help.  But the big thing is maintaining my regimen of pushaways and putitdowns.  Being honest about portions and staying away from beer.  That has help as much or more than any workouts I have done so far.  And at some point, my training plan will diverge from their long workouts and have to focus on faster, more intense workouts since my races are short.  But for a while I can follow along until they drop me and then go do hill repeats someplace as punishment.  I’m so excited!


Race report and weight loss update

March 9, 2014

Between work and workouts,  I haven’t posted much lately.  I knew that would happen from time to time.  But, here’s a race report!  …and some other stuff.

AdventureMax 10K Race

Description:

10K of hills and fire roads.  The weather was cold but dry.  Temp was about 30.  Very little wind.  Cloudy.  This is always a well run event.  It’s always a bit small, mostly due to the fact that it’s an early season event.  And a long one at that.  Most people aren’t in 10K shape, much less for the half marathon at this time of year.

Course:

The 10K and half marathon start out at the same time.  The course is set in the confines of Innsbrook resort.  A little gem of a property resort about 50 miles west of St Louis.  Nestled in the hills and trees of east central Missouri, it is full of lakes, hills, fire roads, hills, trees… and hills.

This is the toughest course I have ever run.  After the first 3/4 mile, there is never more than 1/4 mile of flat ground.  You are either going REALLY up or REALLY down.  We probably crossed 5 dams and EACH was bracketed by a hill.  I LOVE this course.  Pansies need not enter.

My race:

I got to the site on race day and was one of the first 5 in the parking lot.  I got my packet and trotted back to my car.  Too cold to mingle and they didn’t have the fire pit up and going yet.  So I sat in my car and debated what to wear.  I brought everything in my closet.  I finally settled on medium weight everything and this was about as good a choice as I could make.  I did put on a wind layer and a long sleeved shirt (only) and that was the right combo to keep the wind out but keep me warm.

I got out of my car and warmed up for a mile or so past the stables and corrals.  Pretty place!  I thought I had timed it better to get back to the start as the gun went off but I was a few minutes early, which was just enough time to get cold.  I was really glad the announcer kept the witty banter to a minimum and just let us go.

The first 3/4 mile s flat on a dirt trail and all the runners are on it at the same time.  Made me glad we didn’t have more runners because it got a little tight in spots.  Since it has been AGES since I ran a 10K I just tried to push the pace the whole way and back off just before I blew up.  This worked on all but one hill and I had to really back it down to get my heart rate under 500, but I recovered quickly.  I knew I was running pretty well as I kept the leaders in sight most of the way through the first 2 miles.  The fun was over at the 3/4 mile mark when we went up the first of 6 significant climbs (more than 1/4 mile each).  Again, I just pushed the pace as much as I could.  WE split from the 1/2 marathoners around mile 2-3 and then I was alone.  I got passed once in mile 3, passed 3 people, and that was it.  I could see the leaders until about this point and then the course started to wind up, down and around the fire roads.  I had one man and one woman in front of me and I just kept an eye on them.  The man faded around mile 4 and I passed him.  The woman faded about this time and I passed her on an up.  She then jumped in behind me and followed me for a while, then re-passed me.  I stuck with her the rest of the race.  As we came down to the finish, I could have kicked hard and passed her, but why?  We weren’t battling for age group or position.  If I had sprinted I might have taken 30 seconds off, but who cares?  I was having FUN.  I just caught her and asked if we could run it in together.  She was happy to come along and we finished at the same time.

My knees barked at me on the downhills more than the ups. But the pain was tolerable.  I really wish it would go away, but as long as Advil dulls the pain, I’m fine.  I ended up 10th overall in the race but funny enough, only got 4th in my age group.  Figures.  Still, I was very pleased to run 8:20 miles for that race.  Pretty strong for that course, this early.  I didn’t stick around to get my fourth place medal… :)  I just packed it in and went home.

In other news, I’m down to 183 pounds!  That’s 33 pounds during biggest loser and 39 pounds since December 19.  I’m trying to keep this positive and not be mad at myself for GAINING that weight in the first place… so I will just say I feel pretty good right now!  We have 3 weeks (ish) to go in the biggest loser competition and I REALLY want to get below 180.  If I can be in the 175-180 range by the first of April, that will be a HUGE win for me.  Personally, I could really care less who “wins” the BL competition.  Anybody that loses weight wins.  My goal was to try to lose 36 pounds.  I’m 3 pounds away from that and I have until April 6th.  I’m not going to change anything about the way I’m working out, eating or anything else.  The “Make good choices 1 second at a time” philosophy is working.

…but, MAN… would it be cool to finish up biggest loser in the 170s…


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