Vacation is Over…Again

Today’s Run

Time – 58:13
Distance – 5.51 miles
Pace – 10:34 min/mi
Elevation – 219 ft.

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Really, this was just a better version of yesterday’s run. 5 miles feels a lot easier than it used to feel. Now I just need it to go 20 times as far, and I’ll be good.

First the Running Vacation…Now the Work Vacation…

So sad that I have to go back to work tomorrow after an 11 day vacation. It was nice to have the time off and spend it with my wife and kids, but I’m excited to get back to the job. I enjoy what I do, and I feel good about getting to do it everyday.

Running continues to prove things to me that I didn’t know were true. I ran 5.5 miles today. This, after running 5 miles yesterday, and 6 miles the day before that, and 4.5 miles the day before that. 21 miles in four days seems crazy to me. It’s not compared to some, but the fact that I can do it, and that I ENJOY it astounds me.

I can remember having to run the mile in high school and being the second-to-last guy to finish, every…single…time. The guy who finished behind me hada medical reason he couldn’t run, so he had to walk the whole thing. I was just slow. Really, really slow. And now I run…a lot…

I’m pretty excited about that, too.

Outrunning Lions

Today’s (Yesterday’s) Run

Time – 55:15
Distance – 5.06 miles
Pace – 10:55 min/mi
Elevation – 140 ft.

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I wasn’t supposed to be running yesterday. Instead, I skipped the day before to pout about my vacation (I’ve got to be honest with myself), and then I went out late last night to get it in at sunset. It was COLD. Not like coat-and-hat-weather, but I was not soaked in sweat when I was done. The Fall is definitely here. And it felt good to run for a while. I definitely needed to get out, especially as our vacation has been cancelled due to the Hurricane Irma. Our prayers are with everyone in the path. Health and safety!

Looking for Someone to Devour

I have a problem. Some people know about it, some don’t, but it’s an issue many people deal with on a regular basis. It comes and goes with me. I get 3 or 4 months of distress from it, and then it will go and ease off for a year or two. Sometimes the bad times are longer. Sometimes the good times are longer. But I can guarantee that it will happen that at some time I will cycle back through the good and bad.

This is not to complain, or to preach my story, or to push my thoughts on others. But I will say this. Running helps. (Yes, I know that is a shocking concept…)

I think the more important point is that running, which helps, isn’t helping just because I get an endorphin rush and then it gets me normal. It doesn’t work like that. The chemical imbalances do not get righted that easily or quickly. They come back.

Running is the coping mechanism. It’s a tool in the toolbox to deal with the struggles. It provides a sense of accomplishment. It moves the body and the mind to a different place, because sometimes a scenery change helps more than anything. It gives me time to find perspective.

Not every run is a good run, which is the risk. Bad runs don’t always help. But there is no fix. Medication treats symptoms, not the underlying problem. I have an imbalance, and I always will. I’m okay with that. I’m not perfect (just ask my wife and kids). But I am a person that can understand my problem and can work to live with it. That is my goal. Sometimes, resolution to a problem is knowing how to live with it effectively.

I Tell Myself One Thing

Today’s Run

Time – 45:22
Distance – 4.45 miles
Pace – 10:11 min/mi
Elevation – 171 ft.

Follow up to yesterday’s off day is a hard run today. It didn’t feel very good, but I was able to go the whole time and push the pace till the end.

church-chapel-house-of-worship-religion-40783Running Hard

I don’t look like a runner when I go out. I shuffle a lot. I don’t pick up my feet very much, and my shoe soles will scrape the ground now and then. My face scruntches up and I get a weird grimace every once in a while. I don’t run fast, yet. I work hard to keep a moderate pace. I’m definitely a back of the packer. I know that I don’t have the mechanics for a 4:xx/minute mile.

My wife tells me she’s worried about me running the 100 miler when the time comes. I’ll admit that I’m a little worried, too. I’ve seen the long end of 8.5 miles so far. I know that I can do more, and I’m ready to keep working at it. It’s a long way to go to get there, though.

I’m seeing little changes along the way. The weight/body changes are unbelievable. Having always been a fat guy, it’s strange to see bumps/ridges/lines where there was always bulk. The backs of my hands have veins, tendons, and muscles. My neck has only a little bit of skin under my chin, and I can see my Adam’s Apple (no pun intended) for the first time…ever. My calves ripple when I walk.

These are all simple things to many people, and something that one could take for granted. But I had two separate heart scares in a year back in 2014. I ended up in a hospital 4 hours from home without my wife and family nearby for an atrial fibulation event, and then had another one on my birthday the same year. I was 35. I’m not supposed to get these kinds of things.

Every time I go running hard, I think about my daughter, and how I’ve promised myself I’ll walk her down the aisle of her wedding. When I see the bones of my knees, the curve of muscle in my arms, or the narrowness of my waist, I think about holding grandchildren one day. I’m working for those things.

100 milers are proof that I can be healthy enough to get there. They are not the reward, though. Life is. That’s why I keep telling myself one thing:

“I will run today.”

Why Am I Running?

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Today’s Run

Time – 38:20
Distance – 3.58 miles
Pace – 10:43 min/mi
Elevation – 157 ft.

Back outside in the fresh air. The evenings are slowly starting to cool, despite it being August. I’ll definitely need solid winter gear this year.

Something Else About Me

Now that you’ve been given more information about THE GOAL, I can tell just a little more about why I’m doing this, and maybe about The Idea (perhaps you are seeing a trend here with the big concepts…I’m learning Markdown, if you can’t tell).

The why is really simple. I like cookies. Not in a oh-cookies-are-fun-to-eat-kind-of-way. More like the blue, hairy guy from that Street on TV…instead of Sasquatch, we may see Cookie Monster roaming the trails of Western States. I have a bit of an addiction, you could say.

My grandmother loves to tell this story: Starting when I was young (3 or 4 years-old) and until I reached my middle youth, I would rush in the backdoor of their house, and charge up to my grandpa. He would lift me onto the counter and let me reach into the cookie jar on the top shelf to get two Fig Newtons…so…good…

Anyway, cookies are my weakness, like Superman and Kryptonite, or Donald Trump and 140 characters. Except my cookie addiction didn’t cause Amazon to lose $6 billion dollars in value. Way to go, Mr. President. Seriously, though, it’s more about the amount than the man. Economics are scary sometimes…

But I digress. I like to eat cookies. Since the diet, I cut out dairy (except Greek yogurt) and wheat, which puts a real hamper on my cookie addition. I’ve found a substitute from Meli’s Cookies which are amazing.

To feed the cookie beast lurking inside me, I run. I’ve lost all this weight, and changed my lifestyle and eating habits. I’m able to keep it off, even with cookies, but I want to do better than just maintenance. I want to move now that I can. So I run, and not triathlon, for reasons stated here. Running is how I feel good, it’s how I justify my one addiction, and it’s how I know that I didn’t go and dump a bunch of pounds just because I could. I want to achieve THE GOAL.

As for The Idea, I think I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Who Is This Guy, Anyway?

Today’s Run

Time – 50:00

Distance – 4.03 miles

Pace – 12:24 min/mi

Elevation – 0 ft. (1% Treadmill)

4 min warm-up walk, 5 min cool down, running 5.2 mph at 1% the whole way. Miles like this make up for the afternoon hours on the 4th Saturday in June.

Something About Me

Who am I, you ask? What do I have that makes me think I can do this? Where’s the pedigree? How about time and money to pull it off? Am I skilled enough? WHERE DO I GET OFF THINKING I CAN DO THIS?!

(Breathing heavily into a paper bag)

Okay, let’s start again…

My name is Adam. I’ve never run more than 15 miles in one workout (and, if I remember right, it was on a treadmill), and I have only three half marathons to my name. My dream has always been to do Ironman. I’ve done a few sprint triathlons, which I enjoyed immensely, and I know I have the ability to get it done in under 17 hours.

But I’ve adjusted the bucket list. The life plan is altered. THE GOAL has been changed. Why?

We’re pregnant. Wait, I think I need more gusto with that. WE’RE PREGNANT! Hooray! Seriously, though, we’re super excited. It’s a girl (we are referring to her here as “Baby Girl” for the time being), and our first. We have also two boys: my wife’s biological and my adopted 14 year-old, and our 4 year-old (I have soiled the gene pool…). Full disclosure, both of my boys are autistic, but that’s not relevant to our story. You may, however, hear more about that later.

Back to the task at hand. We’re pregnant, and my Master’s will be completed soon. I need something to keep me busy (as if three kids isn’t enough), but not too busy. Ironman training is awesome, and just what a distractable puppy like myself needs (Squrriel!), and it will NOT fit into our timeline or our budget. We just don’t have enough to make life work and for me to acquire the necessary gear to do Ironman.

I was coming up as a triathlete back in the early to middle 2000’s, during the time that Scott Jurek was in the process of showing Lance Armstrong the clean way to dominate one’s sport. Jurek pulled off an amazing run of seven consecutive wins at Western States. So, I’ve known about Western States for a long time now, and it was one of those things that I saw as something that crazy people do, like go on the Maury Povich Show or vote for the Green Party.

Running does, however, lend itself well to two things: 1) It doesn’t take a lot of time if you train smart, and 2) It doesn’t cost a ton if you buy shoes on sale. #1 can get solved by The Plan. #2 requires internet research and patience for sales (I can do patience, I have children…).

So here I am. I have the proper amount of time (as long as I need, I’m only 38). I’m motivated to reach THE GOAL because I’m a glutton for punishment (see said Master’s, three kids, and Ironman dreams as Exhibits A, B, and C). The last reason is the big one. I’m finally in a place where I CAN do it. I’ve lost, in the last 8 months, 118 pounds (Talk about burying the lead!).

FathersDayBeforeandAfter
Left: Father’s Day, 2017  Right: Star Wars Rogue One Release, December 2016

Yes, it’s true. Through a combination of diet and patience (again, children are key to this…I’m not kidding), I’ve dropped an entire Olympic Women’s 1500m medalist (more than one, actually, Dibaba is only 93 lbs.). No gym work, no running (until now), no weird pills or foods. I just ate what people are supposed to eat, and here I am. The diet was through my chiropractor, Frye Functional Medicine in Glen Carbon, IL (I am in no way compensated for telling you about them). They have a program Shape Reclaimed that is amazing. Completely changed my body, how I feel, and how I move through the world. Which, apparently, it will be at a moderate pace whilst running in Northern California for a period of time not to exceed 24 hours, if all goes as expected.

This isn’t an advertisement; it’s just a part of my story. Without the significant change in my weight and my diet, I wouldn’t be able to pursue THE GOAL. There’s no way I could have done it as a 331 lbs. guy. Knees (or most mountain trails, for that matter) wouldn’t be able to stand up to the pounding. Plus, I’m afraid that I would have looked so much like Sasquatch that I might have been shot…

Regardless, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been, and I’m going to use it. Onto the next step. Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials.