Monday, December 6, 2010

North Face Endurance Challenge (My 1st Marathon)

I completed my first marathon yesterday. It was incredibly tough, and incredibly awesome.

Some back story: The goal event of my running group, Reno Running and Fitness was the California International Marathon. It was on Sunday, 12/5/10. My (then) current employer wouldn't allow time off to be taken during Nov & Dec, so I couldn't run that race. Well, that situation became a non-issue (aka I  was let go), but by then CIM was full, and there were no bibs available via Craigslist, etc. I searched for Northern NV & CA events, and saw the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon. After much debate, soul searching, and previous training assessment, I decided to take the plunge and register.

(Warning, there may be F-Bombs ahead. Wait, no "may be" about it.)

The night before the race was actually quite placid. There were some jitters, of course, but I think the prerequisites were met:
Good Training Plan? Check.
Hill training? Check.
Trail running? Check.
Nearly already run that distance? Check.
Nutrition & Hydration? Check and Check.
Melatonin? Check. Zzzzzz.....

I was ready. Except... The front desk clerk was so insistent that I set a wake up call, that I didn't set any secondary alarms. I set the call for 5:45a(I even watched her write it on the register) so that I'd have plenty of time to be at the shuttle departure at 7a, with a scheduled departure time of 7:30. There was no call, and luckily I spontaneously awoke at 6:55a. I'd prepped all my gear the night before, and the shuttle departure spot was 3mi away, so getting there by 7:25a was no problem. Because I was leaving a 1/2 hour later than expected, the continental breakfast setup was in place, and I grabbed a banana and a scathingly hot cup of coffee. I got to  the shuttle lot without incident. What followed was a rather sedate bus ride to the Marin Headlands. We arrived at 8a, or a little before, so there wasn't much to do except huddle around the portable heaters (it was cold & rainy), and wait for 9a to arrive. I took advantage of the time and ate a super-cookie. About 8:50a I did some stretching and last minute gear checks. 90 seconds before the start, we assembled at the line, and I noticed my Garmin had not been able to get a satellite fix. Oh well, too late to worry about it know. If I couldn't set a pace by feel at this point in the game, I was doing it wrong.

9a - and we're off!



The first five miles or so was uphill, on a nice wide fire road. It was rolling terrain, so it wasn't unmanageable. I quickly got in step with another runner, named Stephen. He liked my pace, and said he'd run with me. That was great - I didn't know anybody, so it was great to find a running buddy so quickly.

Even with the overcast skies, and the rain, the beauty of the headlands were all around.





It was amongst vistas such as these that we ascended the first five miles. This was a really good pace, and since my garmin was only keeping time, we figured our pace to be around 11:20 or so. Which was felt good, even uphill.

We'd passed several runners going up the hills, and a few were catching up to us as we descended.


This guy here was an interesting character. He was all bundled up with a face mask and everything. We chatted for a minute and I found out he was running his first marathon too. He remarked "I figure Go Big or Go Home!" I agreed and wished him a good run.


We ran for quite a bit with a nice lady who was originally from South Africa. I regret neglecting to formally make introductions. She referred to "Go Big or Go Home Guy as a 'Ninja Turtle'. That was funny. She told us about Comrades, and wanting to run it some day, and I told her about Floyd's inspiring story about his running Comrades. I was really surprised when Stephen kept commenting on my pace, and how he appreciated us running together. It turns out he has several marathons under his belt, and likes to run ultras. He couldn't get into today's 50k, so he was running the marathon. Let me tell you, I am glad he did. his energy and enthusiasm, and just general kindness and support was awesome, and made for a great start to this race.

Another hill was on the way, so we left her to walk, and we made another ascent. Then we hit our first real stretch of single track. This was highly technical, and the mud made it quite difficult. Stephen quickly sauntered down the hill making it look easy. I took a more cautious approach.

Here Stephen makes his way onto the trail to Muir Beach:

This was an extremely difficult stretch, and parts of it reminded me of the stretch of the Western States trail we ran earlier in the year, only cold and muddy instead of hot and rocky. This was the first time doubt had set in. It was only fleeting - I still knew I'd finish, because there was no way in hell I wasn't.

Here it was starting to get really beautiful, and really tricky:



If you look at the far ridge, you can see runners on the trail (the little dots...). That sight gave me some doubts... It looked so far away:


Looking back after another ascent, with runners in the distance:


Another look back at where I'd been. Wow, did I really go all that way? I must have:


Stephen gives me a Hang Loose from higher up the trail while I take a breather:


The descent to Muir Beach and aid station 3 was pretty bad. It was like walking on greased pig shit, it was so muddy. As we descended, we saw 50 milers on their way back up, and they were so nice telling us all about how after we descended PigShitHill, how awesome it will be when we have to go back up it like they were doing. Thanks Guys! Actually it was cool and we told them all how great a job they were doing and such. There was also hay all over the trail, in what I imagine was an attempt to make the trail less slick, but it didn't work. See, the mud stuck to your shoes, and then the hay stuck to the mud, and then the mud stuck to the hay. Lather, rinse, repeat. And after a few hundred feet it looked like you were wearing fuzzy bear slippers or something...


Muir Beach. I want to go to there:


But, the trail veered off, and to the aid station, where we stopped for water and a Gel. We then went onto a dirt road, then a real road, then more single track. As we were running along the road, who did I see on her way back from the turnaround, but none other than Jenn Shelton! I didn't have time to get out my camera (DAMMIT) but I did shout out "Looking Strong Jenn!" Stephen asked who that was and I told him. He was duly impressed. The course then veered onto another single track ascent on the Redwood Creek trail. This involved more mud, and was made even more fun because of the runners coming the opposite way, back from the turnaround. Since they were facing me, I made an effort to read every name on every bib I could, and say something to each runner by name. That was a lot of fun, and I got many smiles in return. It also helped boost my spirits. Also boosting my spirits was hitting the turnaround, because that meant we were past the halfway point. back the other way to the aid station again we charged.

Another quick stop at the station for some salt and a GU drink refill and it was back up PigShithill. Only this time, it was like walking on flypaper. It took an amazing amount of effort to life each foot:


Looking back down from where PSH:


Yeah, I better not wear these back in the house:


Almost to the top:


Stephen had already gone on ahead, because I was definately getting slower. The steepness was incredible, as well as slogging through the mud. He'd already got me through 15 miles, and I was grateful for that. I'd told him I'd see him at the finish, and he was off. I got to the top of PigShitHill, and the trail veered from where we'd come from, and headed east. Inland a bit. I looked at what lay ahead, and dubbed this next hill "Oh, Fuck Me hill.":


See that little divot way up at the top? that's where we were headed. Oh, well, onward and upward. i could still run the descents and flats, and there were a few here and there.

I crested Oh Fuck Me hill, and came across this sight:


This was dubbed "You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me hill."

At least I was going to die in a pretty place:


So i get to the top of YGBFKM hill, and see hill "No Fucking Way.":


But I was used to this sadism by now, so it was more slogging to the top, and then look! A real descent:


The finish is back down there somewhere:


Just because it's down, does not mean it's easy. This was steep, irregular, and slick. But yes, it was pretty:


Did I mention it was pretty?


It was down to another aid station, and then another DAMN hill. But at least it was less than 6 miles to go:


I was passed on this hill by several impressive athletes, many of whom were 50 milers. All had encouraging words to say.

Because of the way most of us were slogging up this hill, I nicknamed it the "Bataan Death March". But, there were some flats and downhills, so I ran those to give myself a boost. It was also around this point I started getting all emotional, but in a good way, reflecting on where I'd come from, how I'd gotten here, and everyone who helped, supported, and encouraged my along the way. I got a bit choked up but that didn't last too long; time to focus back to the task at hand. At some point I also got Justin Bieber's "Baby" stuck in my head. WTH?


At the crest of the final hill, there was a trail that let about a hundred feet off the course to a bench. I wasn't going to sit (no matter how much I REALLY WANTED TO) but I had a feeling that there was an incredible view from there, so I ran out to it. (No one tried to stop me, telling me I was leaving the course... thanks you guys) but I was right:



From there, it was a short jaunt to the very last aid station. We had been told it was *water only* several times, but they had a full spread of food. I grabbed a handful of M&M's, chomped 'em down, and set out running. It turns out that i was on the very same fire road we started out on, except it was a descent this time. Awesome! I opened it up, and occasionally glanced down at my now working Garmin (It had finally started tracking at like mile 9 or something). Anyway, I was looking at my pace, and I was going from 9:45, to 9:40, 9:30, then 9:20. I held it there and came upon a lady running ahead of me. I could tell by her bib that she was doing the 50 miler. I didn't say anything, but she and I traded spots for probably a good mile or so, and then her pacer came up and joined us in stride. She asked the racer "How are you feeling?" to which she responded "how do you think I feel? I hurt!" They slowed a bit to confer, but before long she was alongside me again. She asked me "Why would she even ask me that?!?" I told her "You could have fooled me. you're looking strong!" We traded spots again for a few hundred feet but she quickly turned up the juice, and I couldn't keep up. By then, I'd hit like the last 3/4's of a mile, and there was one more slight hill. I walked it, only about 150 feet or so, and then hit the gas to pound it out to the finish.

My final time was 05:57:44. My overall pace was 13:40, and my position in my category, men 40-49 was 21st out of 24, i was 92 out of 107 for men overall, and 141 out of 180 for everyone, overall.

I managed to find Stephen at the finish:



It was nice to get some pictures of him from the front. :-) He was a big part of my accomplishment today.

26.2 miles of mud, sweat, and tears:



Feels pretty good.

I have many people to thank - Michael always says "You do all the work, we just provide the structure and support", but if it wasn't for Him and Lynn, and Reno Running and Fitness, my wife, my kids, and everyone in the group who helped and supported me on this journey, I don't know that I'd have been here on this incredible day.

I can't wait for the other runs I have to look forward to. Am I doing this one next year? Oh, Hell Yeah.

The full set of pics, with many more is here.

The Garmin Data of the last 13 or so miles is here.

A video of some of the trails on the 50 mile course is here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

McCarran loop (+ a lil' extra) 25.35 mi 10/2/10

For a little bit of background, for those who may not be familiar with Northern Nevada and the Reno - Sparks area, McCarran Avenue is a street that encircles the cities or Reno and Sparks. In a car, I'd guess that it would take 30-45 minutes to drive the whole loop, in regular traffic. On Saturday October 2, 2010, I ran the whole thing with a group of friends.

Running the McCarran loop was something I heard about shortly after joining up with Reno Running and Fitness last February. McCarran Boulevard circles the cities of Reno and Sparks, and is about 23.5 miles long. When i heard that people actually run the loop I thought to myself "Why that's crazy!... I must do that someday."

Well 10/2/10 was that day. At the end of session party the week before, I heard one of the group leaders, Michael, talking about the "McLoop" as it came to be known, and that he was taking a group of runners out the following Saturday. I'd been training with the marathon group for the past 16 weeks, I'd just done 2 twenty mile runs in the last month, one of them quite challenging, and it was on  Saturday - a day I can actually participate and not have to take a vacation day. I was sold. My wife tried to convince me with rationality - noting that on the previous Saturday I'd run the Tahoe 20 miler, and my knee was still sore, and the very nect day after the McLoop I was supposed to run a 5k. "Bah," I scoffed. "I'll recover this week, do the loop, get a good night's sleep, and be fine to walk the 5k, if I needed to. It was for charity, and I'll just go for fun."

During the week prior to the McLoop, I'd pretty much avoided running, and just focused on recovery and icing my knee. I got a decent night's sleep on Thurs, but of course, on Friday I didn't get to sleep until 10p - and I had to be up at 3am; the run start time was 4:30am! The maxim held true again - "The night *before* the night before an event is when you'll get your best night's sleep."

So there we were at Michael's house. At 4:30am. I was still slogging the sleep from my brain, and trying not to contemplate what I was about to embark upon. One foot in front of the other - that's all it really was. For whatever distance. I didn't *have* to run the entire thing if issues cropped up, and there was no penalty for taking it slow. Equipment checked, backpack loaded; we were off, starting on our warm-up to the park near Baring & McCarran.

Baring to Las Brisas - 8 miles. This first stretch starts flat, but then starts to climb. Over the next 7 miles it gains about 1000', but it's not too bad, and everybody was in great spirits and the miles went quickly. Amongst the discussions were my camelbak backpack, and my fondness for finding places to stuff things like band-aids, shot blox, energy cookies, etc. I even came up with another idea for my camelbak, but that surprise will have to wait for Bay to Breakers...
Onwards to Walmart, our first pit stop, just shy of mile 8. After a quick break, it was off to Caughlin, near mile 10, where I knew there was a support station near the Starbucks there.

Caughlin & McCarran - Mile 11. Pretzels! And then it was onward, to the next section, which promised to be a grind. The next 2 miles were steep, and we power walked it. It was amazing to see the other runners in our group just keep on going, like energizer bunnies, up & up that hill. It's 500' over 2 miles, and I felt every foot. But soon, it was time to descend again, and I knew after that, the rest of the trip was all flat. With 1 minor hill when I had to cross I80 again. Piece of cake. Some interesting conversations took place as well. I run with a number of teachers, and two were discussing rewarding students with prizes and such, and how it can be a mark of pride for even a high schooler to get a sticker for doing something well. I observed that I too was doing this for a sticker. Ever since I saw the "23.5" stickers that were created for those that had completed the McLoop, I knew I'd be getting one.

Lakeside & McCarran - approaching mile 16. Starbucks II! Wait... We were DFL, so that means everybody was waiting for us. That means, well,no break for us - let's keep on going. I knew that there was another aid station at Mira Loma, and that was another 3 miles. Easy peasy.

Mira Loma & McCarran - 19 miles. Potatoes! Boiled red potatoes & salt are like crack. That is all I can say. After a slightly longer respite here, it was onward - 7 more miles to go. Then, I lost my running parter. We'd been doing a run/walk for the last couple of miles, and that wasn't working out for her. She caught a ride at Mira Loma, and I started on again.

McCarran & Rock - Mile 20. Pain, and self doubt set in. The tops of my feet were killing me. My calf was a bit troublesome, and my knee was getting irritated. I started walking again, and met up with a couple of RRF runners that were hitching a ride back at Mill st. Their goal today was 7 miles, and they met it! I bid them farewell, and started running again. 1/4 mile later, I was back to walking. Then i got a phone call. It was  Michael, and he was waiting to run me in about a mile ahead. I told him I was run/walking, and that I'd see him in a little while. He assured me that was ok, and he'd hang out and wait. After about another 1/4 mile I started running again, and then before I approached the Glendale intersection, I could see him up on the overpass. Buoyed with a boost of energy, I ran (slowly) up the last little hill and got a little pep talk, before we started our descent, and the final approach. Michael had said on the phone that run/walking was ok, but we ended up running the whole way in. He took me from over 13 min/mile to under 10 in the last 2 and a half miles. That's what eliminating self doubt can do. Michael humming the Rocky theme after we passed Prater helped as well.

Back to Baring - Mile 22 and onward. I knew after we passed Prater, that I had this. D'oh! I forgot about Greenbrae. I was one stoplight off. No matter, I could see the intersection at Baring and knew the finish line was near. But we got to Baring, and we were still running... and I asked during the last few hundred yards "When do I stop?" and Michael said "keep going. You're almost there." I finished at the Park, where fellow "loopies" cheered me in. We congratulated each other, then someone suggested Slurpees. There was a 7-11 right across the street. Best.Idea.Ever. I opened the door to the 7-11, and in my ravenous state wanted to eat everything in sight. I settled on a Crystal Light slurpee, and a banana. I had an EAS AdvantEdge somewhere as well.

Back at Michael's house we enjoyed our slurpees, received our stickers, and then set about on the rest of our day. It wasn't even yet noon. Wow!

We are the few, the proud, the Loopies.

Facebook album here.
Flickr (originals) here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tahoe 20 miler 9/26/10

Michael was right. "The night before the night before a race is when you get your best sleep." Today I was running the Tahoe 20. A Twenty mile race along highway 28, from Homewood CA to Pope Beach, up at lake Tahoe. It was 4am when I got up, and I hadn't settled in to sleep until a short time after 11p, even though I'd been trying to get ready to sleep since 8. I had checked my bag and camelbak multiple times; my shoes, socks, shorts, shirt and bib were all in order; breakfast was prepped, and coffee was ready to be brewed. Why did I need to go through it all again?

I have this bad habit of procrastinating sleep if I don't want to deal with the next day. It's as if my thinking is, If I don't go to sleep, then I won't have to wake up, and then I won't have to deal with whatever it is I don't want to deal with. What's crazy is that I shouldn't be nervous. I've trained for this. I've run 20 miles. It's not even a race - It's a "power jog/walk"; I had 7 hours to complete it. I didn't even have to run, if I didn't want to. So why was I nervous?... Because I knew that even though it wasn't an official timed event, I'd be looking at my pace. Even though I'd run 20 miles 2 Saturdays prior, it was still a long way to run. Because I knew that many people were supporting me, and I'd feel like I'd let them down (even though they wouldn't be) if I couldn't do well.

So there it was, 4am on Saturday, and I was able to uncharacteristicaly able to get right out of bed and turn off the alarm, rather than just hit snooze. Coffee was made, gear & breakfast was loaded into the truck, and then a frantic search for my headband ensued. There I go, procrastinating again. After not being able to find it, I jumped into the truck and saw that according to the GPS I would still make my planned arrival time to the bus pickup spot in Tahoe City, @ 6:30a. I'd still have a buffer of 20 minutes or so, since the bus wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:55a. Time to fire up the ipod, and get into driving mode; it's a bit of a haul from Fernley to Tahoe City.

"I can't seem to face up to the facts. I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax.
I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire; Don't touch me I'm a real live wire."

I was a couple of blocks away when I got a phone call from my lovely wife, who'd found my headband. Even though I'm not supersticious in the least, I judged that there was still enough time to turn around and get it; it was worth my while to make up 2 minutes on the highway. I turned around, got my precious headband, and with a kiss from my wife, was sent off to have a great run.

"Whack for the daddy-o, Whack for the daddy-o, There's whiskey in the jar."

The rest of the drive was uneventful, and I got to the "Y" on Tahoe City with plenty of time to spare. It was extremely chilly at that time of the morning, so I donned my sweats, and looked around at the sparsely populated parking lot. There were a few cars with people sitting in them, so I assumed I was in the right place. I closed my eyes and tried to settle my mind, while comtenmplating my sanity. Soon a guy with a clipboard came by, rapped on my window, and asked "20 miler?" I nodded enthusiasticly and he gave me a thumbs up. 10 min to go before the bus was scheduled to arrive. I stepped out into the brisk morning air. Dang that air was biting. Back into the truck I went. A few minutes later, an Amador Stage Lines bus pulled into the parking lot, slowed a bit, turned around, then drove out. Wait, what? I heard the guy who rapped on everybody's window earlier call someone, have an animated conversation about what just happened, and then he came over and told us another bus was on its way; that wasn't our bus. Time to duck back into the warmth of the truck for a few more minutes.

"But i believe the world is burning to the ground; Oh well i guess we're gonna find out - Let's see how far we've come..."

The bus arrives. I turn off the music, grab my gear, and step on board. Yay! Familiar faces! I settle into a seat near the front, bid good morning to a lady who will soon pass me a few miles up the race course, and turn and say hello to my fellow Reno Running and Fitness comrades. The bus ride to the start was punctuated with conversation, and staring out the window as the sun started to rise over the rim of the lake. At times it was almost tortuous, though, because we were ascending and descending the same hills we'd be running on later, and the bus seemed to be driving laboriously slow. Eventually we got to Homewood, the designated starting line. There were a number of runners, but nowhere near the chaos I'd had been anticipating. I think RRF made up a large part of the field. I removed my sweats, stuffed them into my drop-back, put on my camelbak, adjusted my headband, had a pre-race Gu, and was ready to start.

Go! We enthusuiastically started our run. It was still cool, and the road was shaded. A perfect start. The first few miles were great. My running partner Meaghan and I had agreed that this would be a "training run", and we'd try to keep a good, consistent, non-race pace. We would pass, and then be passed by the same runners, and we chatted with them and amongst ourselves. There was a shirtless guy that always seemed to be ahead of us; he had strong, tree trunk legs, short red running shorts, and a bit of a belly; he was a strong runner, and consinstently ahead of us. Meaghan remarked "I know this is a training run, but that guy with the red shorts is in my sights." I agreed, and stated that we'd take him on the hills, even if we're power walking them. What we'd be saving in energy now, we'd expend at the latter stage of the run. Sure enough, we passed him on the first big hill we encountered.

A couple of miles further in, our path veered off of the road and into the trees. someone in our little group remarked something about "watch out for bears!" The rest of the group started to power up the incline, leaving Meaghan and I alone amongst the trees. We chatted a little. Then we became aware of a sound behind us.


It was "red shorts" catching up on us. A quick glance behind me confirmed my suspicion. I turned up our pace a bit, remarked that "we need to outrun the bear!" and we put some distance between us.


As the miles went on, I absorbed myself with the surroundings, and had one of those "Yeah, this is just what I'm supposed to be doing right now..." moments. Not quite Zen, not quite Runner's high, but a good feeling about running, and this run in particular - knowing that it's going to be hard, there's some rough stuff ahead, but I felt good and I knew I'd finish. Conversation was brief - the altitude was making a noticeable difference. I had imagined my pace somewhere around 11 min/mile; at least that's what it felt like, but Meaghan's Garmin showed us at a steady 12:30, give or take. I wasn't overly concerned though; I wasn't too fixated on time for this run anyway. I told Meaghan we had 7 hours to finish. But we both knew that was only partially true - we did want to meet a goal of around 4 hours. That meant 12 min/mile.

We approached a particularly steep incline nicknamed "Hell Hill". It was a gain of about 500' vertical feet over 2 miles. Every 100 VF or so there was another sign announcing our progress - I remember 6600' was "Purgatory". The top of the ascent was referred to as "Heaven". Needless to say, we power walked up most of this hill in what I'd deemed "Ultra mode"; referring to the UltraRunner strategy of walking the hills and running the descents. After "Hell Hill", we approached Emerald Bay, which was a welcome site. It was a welcome site, because in my head I'd deemed vikingsholm as my "halfway" point, even though it was further than that, course-wise. But to me, it made sense, because near the top of that last big ascent, there were striking views, and the start of the 10k, which meant only 6.2 miles to go; most of that downhill.

Going around Emerald Bay was spectacular, as expected. What was unexpected was how hard of a descent it was - 6800' to 6300' in about 3 miles, with several switchbacks. My quads were hurting near the end. At around mile 16 or 17, the aid stations were getting really cool - lots of kids, costumes, and humor - at one station these kids in costume were offering us "Water of the Gods", which I gratefully accepted and drank. The enthusiasm at all the aid stations was great - but these last few were particularly welcome. We were getting tired, my right knee was killing me, and Meaghan was having difficulties as well. We walked a lot, but ran every time we saw another course photographer. We sped back up at the last 3/4 mile or so, but stopped for a few moments to say hello to friends & their new baby, and Meaghan's husband too. As we approached the finish, the cheers of the crowd, and the shouts from several other Reno Running and Fitness members kept us going, and we ran in for a strong finish. The run was over, we'd finished smiling, and we were just slightly over our goal of 4 hours - finishing at 4:10:48. We finished 18 & 19 out of a field of 56. I am quite pleased with that.

Post run, our friend & coach Michael bought us each a beer - Coors Ultra to be exact. It was cold & delicious. We talked with a few other runners, and cheered some more in, and then i wandered off to find my drop bag, which had my post race gear.

I also found "the bear", whose real name was Marty. He was actually only 3 minutes behind us at the end - he was finisher #20! We chatted for a few minutes, and I found out he'd come all the way from Alabama along with his wife to run the Tahoe 20, and it had been the furthest distance he'd run since the 80's. They were great people.

I helped myself to a banana, and some hot dogs, found a nice spot on the beach, and proceeded to go jump in the lake, to cool of my legs. It was the best swim I'd had in a long time. Not too much longer after that, I met up with my Wife & daughter who'd travelled from another earlier event in Reno. They gave me hugs, and told me how proud they were of me... I thanked them for their patience at my running indulgence. We ate, I swam some more, we watched some award presentations, and then headed home.

I couldn't have asked for a better day.

Pics from the run can be found here(facebook); the originals here(flickr).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Numbers Update

I had another blood test done last week. Let's compare the results from Feb, to June, to Sept:

Feb 20, 2010:
Weight: 221 lb
 ldl (good) cholesterol: 10
hdl (bad)Cholesterol: 48
Total: 211
Ratio: 4.39:1
Triglicerides: 311
 Blood Pressure: 120/80

Jun 9, 2010: Weight: 189 lb
 ldl (good) cholesterol: 41
hdl (bad) cholesterol: 60
Total: 132
Ratio: 2.2:1
Triglicerides: 157
 Blood Pressure: 118/80

Sep 10, 2010: Weight: 179 lb
ldl (good) cholesterol: 39
hdl (bad) cholesterol: 61
Total: 122
Ratio: 1.564
Triglicerides: 107
 Blood Pressure: 118/80

I lost 42 lbs in that time span, 10 more since June.
Total Cholesterol lowered by another 10 points.
Triglycerides reduced by nearly 2/3, 42 points below boundary for normal.

Yay! I just have to keep my eye on the hdl; recommended upper level is 59.

Even more encouraging, was that yesterday i did 3 miles around the marina @ 9:17 avg, and it felt great!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sometimes, it *is* all about the numbers.

I've got some numbers to share.

In Feb of 2010, I had a a physical, which included blood work. The numbers were disconcerting enough to warrant an in-office review by my Dr.

Here's the rundown:

Feb 20, 2010:
Weight: 221 lb
 ldl (good) cholesterol: 10
hdl (bad)Cholesterol: 48
Total: 211
Ratio: 4.39:1
Triglicerides: 311
 Blood Pressure: 120/80

As of June 9th, my numbers looked like:

Weight: 189 lb
 ldl (good) cholesterol: 41
hdl (bad) cholesterol: 60
Total: 132
Ratio: 2.2:1
Triglicerides: 157
 Blood Pressure: 118/80

I lost 32 lbs in that time span, 39 since the first of the year.
Total Cholesterol lowered; Ratio lowered almost by half.
Triglycerides reduced by nearly 50%, 7 points above boundary for normal.

A large part of of my success I owe to the founders & members of Reno Running and Fitness, and their continued support and encouragement.  I honestly don't know where I'd be at this point in time, had I not stumbled across the link on Active.Com... :-)

A bit of history.

I don't always remember being heavy. In fact, when I think of myself as a very small child, I remember myself as being skinny. That all changed, however, when I started spending summers across the country in Massachusetts. My grandmother was the best cook in the world. Who's wasn't? She showed her love with her food, and she lavished her affection on me. So much so that I was unrecognizable  by my father when I returned home and got off the plane. I didn't know any better; I was only six or seven at the time. But since that early age, weight has been an issue throughout the rest of my life.

I came to running as a means to and end. At first, it was to supplement my body building program, then as that got old, it became my primary form of workout. I needed to lose weight, and every year for the past several I'd start the "Couch to 5k" program, and make it up to about week 8, then lose interest. Not because of the program, or the most excellent podcasts created by Robert Ullhrey. Quite the opposite - they helped me run, and lose lots of weight. All of this was done primarily with running on the treadmill, which may be why I was having such trouble staying motivated. The weight would drop off during those weeks of running, then slowly creep back on until by the end of the year, it would be time to start again...

This year I knew I had to do something different. not just start a program again, but set a goal that would be within reach, but difficult enough to effect real change, and important enough that if I didn't accomplish it, it wouldn't just be me that would feel it. I decided on training for a half-marathon. The Disneyland Half-Marathon fit the bill just perfectly. It far enough in the future that it was a realistic training goal. I enjoy Disneyland, so doing the run itself would be enjoyable (at least the surroundings...) It was expensive, so I was invested financially. I told the kids that we would be going to Disneyland in early Sept, so I couldn't let them down. So I registered, and was committed. But now what?

I figured I'd train for a 5k, then 10k, then 1/2 marathon. But after looking at various training plans, I decided to skip the 5k and do 10k training, and then slide into a 1/2 marathon schedule. I don't know how I stumbled upon Reno Running & Fitness; it was probably linked from Regardless, I am so glad I did. After looking over their training plans, it seemed that the 10k would be ideal to start with, and because they'd help adjust the half-marathon training so I could target Disney, that would work as well. I again made the financial obligation, and because I was now committed to running with a group of people, there was a personal obligation as well.

The first meeting we had was good - and two things said by the folks running the group stuck with me.
1. Michael said that by making the decision to get out and run, we're already doing more than most people. Distance didn't matter; speed didn't matter. Just doing it is doing more than most. That got me motivated.
2. Lynn said it was going to suck. It was going to hurt. I was going to be sore. But if I could stick it out, by the 6th week my body would start to adjust, and it would get better. Week 6 became my benchmark. I would stick it out for 6 weeks. 18 sessions. If I did, I knew that it would get better.

Well, that was about 16 weeks ago. And I stuck with it, and then some. Not that it was easy; far from it. Those first few runs were pretty brutal. I was sore for 3 days after the first 1.75mi run at the Sparks Marina. The runs I did solo on Thurs were often punctuated by stopping and walking. The Sat trail runs while fun, were especially difficult. But after meeting some of the other runners, sharing their pains, their advice, and their support, the running got easier. The 4 mile long run I'd dreaded was fun. The next few longer runs were something I anticipated, instead of just dreading.

Running had become the end. The means became irrelevant. Now, not only am I looking forward to my tri-weekly fitness runs, but I am planning my calendar (and finances) around races. I'm setting new challenges. I'm finding new places to explore while running.

And this is just the beginning.


Another blog about running? Sure, why not.

What will differentiate this one from my DailyMile, GarminConnect, or Runkeeper pages? I haven't decided yet.