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Day Twenty-four: Another Late Start

January 24, 2012

Miles: 6.8

Total mileage: 150.6 (240.7 kilometers)

So one thing is clear, I am not as sick as my wife. I wouldn’t normally be so smug but someone told me this before I started “even if your muscles can take it, your immune system cant handle that much.” Here I am healthier than when I started, heavier than when I started, and happier. Stronger is an understatement, it’s stunning what you can do in a month after training moderately for at least a year. The Biggest Loser is a show that covers less than one year of time and the transformations that can occur are phenomenal. What I am doing is only a small part of that since I am only practicing one type of exercise rather than 8 hour workouts and also because I only recently got more serious about it.

If the changes you want to make are not drastic, or you are willing to wait for them, it doesn’t take 8 hour work outs to get there. You can find a way to get active for an hour a day, and if you make it really … really active, a lot can happen. There is no medication on earth that can do what The Biggest Loser can do for peoples health. Most of the people that go on that show can stop taking blood pressure medications before long. Those who maintain the workout regimen after they go home often find they have “normal” blood pressure.

I wonder what the Dr. Robert Huizenga (from the Biggest Loser) would say if he’d seen what I’ve done in the last 24 days. He would surely be able to tell me how much my calves have changed and how things like my VO2 max have changed. Normally he comes onto the show and tells the contestants that they are closer to death than they ought to be, and gives them a “real age” based on their health. I find it to be the most validating aspect of the show. Not just that people can change their shape, but their health and quality of life. Dr. “Death” (as he is known on the blogosphere) gets to come back and tell people that they don’t have diabetes or that they wont drop dead of a heart attack at any minute.

Today I had to focus on these kinds of things since the running was not easy. I ran to downtown Burbank, using bigger streets to give myself plenty of gas stations should I need a pit stop. It was rewarding, quiet and mostly a determined run. I know I am behind and I need to hold some ground if I am comfortable doing so. On the other hand, a full recovery is needed if I am going to get the mileage I need. So perhaps tomorrow is another day to take it easy. I have the slightest hint of cramping on the outside of my left calf. It is probably because I am behind on my hydration and electrolytes. Running might also have something to do with it.

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Day Twenty-three: Nipple Chafing

January 23, 2012

Miles: 2

Total mileage: 143.8

My wife is home sick today, I’m not feeling too much better. Not just because I ran a lot this weekend but also because I seem to be catching her cold. Normally we can fight these things off unless our immune system is very depleted or we are thoroughly exposed to the disease. While running I did wear strange jackets and soak myself in either sweat or rain, the result being slightly chafed nipples. It is a tiny scab on each one, now I understand why band aids are necessary for longer races. In my case, chest hair prevents friction by holding the shirt away from the nipple except for three cases: if it gets too wet, if the clothing is too tight, or if I am wearing a heavy item like a jacket.

Late in the evening I had to do some very long and very light stretching to prepare my legs. It is mostly the lower calf and my ankle stabilizers that hurt, but also my quads and hamstrings. The weekend has left me fairly exhausted so I took walk breaks and made sure my mile splits were over 10 minutes. This pace should help me to recover and not make me more sore than I already am if I don’t do excessive mileage. Though that theory is of little comfort while I run. I find that I buy too much food when the run is especially painful. As if I can just feed my tired muscles and they will magically feel better. Sadly this only works when you have failed to eat enough in the first place.

While driving around you tend not to notice the slight gradients of %1-%10. Here is a good trick, if you can see mountains from your house, try running in that direction for a few miles. Chances are good you are going slightly uphill. Obviously this doesn’t work in some areas but it certainly does in a lot of Los Angeles. I did a run just like that and its a nice warm up to go slow and slightly uphill for a mile. Running downhill means you are going slightly faster, which also comes with more stress on the joints and a wider range of motion. It may be counter-intuitive, but a slight uphill can be an ideal warm up run.

Day Twenty-two: Rose Bowl Half Marathon

January 22, 2012
I soaked this whole thing in sweatI got the flag bearer to take my picture with his flag

 

Miles: 13.1

Total mileage: 141.8 (228 kilometers)

Jessica got sick after yesterday’s event, and needed to stay home and recover. Despite jumping in a warm shower after the event and sitting by a fire, we were both thoroughly chilled so it is no surprise she has cold symptoms. I felt pretty blah but I got up and suited up for my race. 70% trails and about 600 feet of elevation gain would make this my most challenging half-marathon, not to mention the 2000 feet of elevation I did only yesterday.

I carried the camera for the entire race, figuring that I would be running slow due to my Loudmouth suit. I failed to charge the battery so it only recorded the beginning of the race. However, I did get some cool footage so all was not lost. There were some other races, a 5k and a 10k that overlapped our course a little. It was fun to pass people who were struggling during some event and hear them laugh as they saw my ridiculous outfit. People need a boost, and when you are suffering you will take whatever boost you can get.

Among other things that I didn’t have was my GPS, so I didn’t know until mile 10 that I was running the fastest half-marathon of my life. I was feeling a little tired but I knew at that time I could maintain a pace of less than 10 minute miles, which was all I needed to finish in under 2 hours. I stopped the clock in the Rose Bowl Stadium to a cheering crowd at 1:57:17. I took dozens of pictures with people who had seen my suit out on the course. I felt like a total rock star, and I also realized today that I am well over 200 kilometers for January. Woo!

Day Twenty-one: King of the Hill – Mount Woodson

January 21, 2012

Miles: 7.2

Total mileage: 130.7 (210.3 kilometers)

It was drizzling rain as we got up, coffee and complex carbohydrates were our best defenses. Having not brought a suitable running jacket I opted to run the event wearing an ill-fit jean jacket. I find that I don’t often mind my clothing, as long as I am warm. I was happy with that choice, and especially happy to have gloves on. Though before I would finish, my hands and feet would all go numb.

The rain made the whole prospect of running on dirt just a little too real for my wife who very nearly asked me to stay with her. Running something like this “alone” is intimidating. Even in larger road races, many people want a close friend who is a stronger runner to go with them their first time. Jess and I had talked about how this race was supposed to be scary and unknown, since they don’t fully disclose the route or workout challenges to you in advance. She asked me to stay with her when she saw the course in person but I assured her she could do it, and that we would both have our phones anyway so I could always return to her. Also, that I would personally come back for her soon after I finished to ensure she was alright.

We started at Lake Poway, ran down wide path to the lakeside and turned uphill at the Mount Woodson trail. I walked most of the uphill climb, you gain 2000 feet in about 2.5 miles. As soon as we make it very far up the hill we do 20 lung walks at the first workout station. Then as the gradient steepens, do 10 push ups and 10 tuck jumps. A few feet ahead of that was another sign (an ominous sign if I do say so myself) 9 tuck jumps and 9 push ups. Yes we had to then do 8 more descending sets of each and down to 1. That is a total of 55 push ups and 55 tuck jumps. Soon the trail was narrow and rocks made moving fast a slightly technical process. It was then that I left my wife behind and started to feel more “in the zone.” There was a 20 “shooting star” station wherein you touch your hands to the ground and then jump and clap with arms over your head. It’s like a jumping jack that is harder work.

Towards the top, the switchbacks changed into rolling hills where I started to run more.  Wind was fierce and it started to rain more heavily. There were sections of the trail where the wind whipped white fog and sleet sideways like something out of a movie (I didn’t realize it was actually “sleeting” until someone told me later.) The higher I got, the lower the visibility. At this point my Vibram’s were soaked as were my Injinji socks, my feet were totally numb from cold water but I was moving well. My calves were positively dying but I started to see runners who had turned around and I knew I was near the top.

A big paved road appeared suddenly and took me to the top where we did 100 mountain climbers (push up position and bring one knee up to chest, alternate.) Definitely the hardest station, though I shudder to think about what the Badass division did. This division carried 50 pound packs (30 pounds for women) and did more difficult workout options along the way. Going down was great fun, I moved very fast and passed a few people. I really enjoyed scampering over rocks and doing crazy switchbacks about as fast as I could without falling. There were a few moments of somewhat dubious footing. Near the bottom I skated in mud for about a foot while passing someone.  It was exhilarating and I managed to keep my foot under me without breaking stride much. I was going about as fast as I could so I was fairly close to out of control, glad I didn’t push it much harder.

My wife did end up calling me to say that she was having a great time and not to worry. Also, she wanted me to get the camera after I finished and film her crossing the line. It is very thrilling to tackle things you are scared of, I’m very proud of us both.

Day Twenty: Easy Miles

January 20, 2012
by

Miles: 3.5

Total mileage: 123.5 (198.7 kilometers)

Today I took it easy. Knowing there will be difficult running tomorrow up Mount Woodson around Lake Poway and a half-marathon the next day. I did a new favorite loop of mine, 8 streets down and one block up makes a nice loop. According to Computer (my Garmin) it is 2 kilometers and I ran it about 2 and a half times. At the end of the run I grabbed a Monster and a Naked Juice, some of my favorite running food, and walked home. Since the incident about a week ago I haven’t had any digestive issues.

Not much to say about today, tomorrow should be interesting. I am stretching everything not knowing what they will make me do. I am almost certain that I can complete the event but Jessica still has some anxiety about that. I think it’s great, she is tackling many things that she didn’t know she could tackle. We should all be so lucky, that is what I am getting out of this whole month also. The sensation of being almost in over your head and yet having the power to pull through. It’s getting closer and closer to the 31st, I’m still behind on mileage but that is ok. If everything goes according to plan, the last week I should be able to run more than any other week.

Many people told me I would trash my body and legs by doing this. People think you need to rest in order to get stronger and they are right. They are wrong if they think that running everyday means no rest. There is lots of rest, I sleep, sit on my butt sometimes, and eat a lot. I have gained 8 pounds since mid December and I assure you it isn’t fat. My body is getting stronger, my times are getting faster, and (on a psychological level) I feel great!

 

Day Nineteen: 5k in the Morning, 10k in the Evening

January 19, 2012

Miles: 9.3

Total Mileage: 128 (207.2 kilometers)

Today my wife and I planned to run after she got off work, but this morning I did a short run just to be extra warm for later. Every mile counts and I often find that two runs in a day is easier than one long run (but not always.) Two laps around “Joe’s Loop” (a favorite route of mine that takes me past our local Trader Joe’s) was perfect. I even dove straight into cleaning house when I got back.

After being a super-kitchen-cleaning-machine I paced my wife for a 10k. She wanted to see if she could do one in an hour, and that was almost exactly as fast as she could have gone. Our official Garmin GPS time was 1:00:25. An average speed of roughly 6.2 miles an hour, a very good benchmark workout for her. I can run it faster on a good day, but was especially happy to be able to do it after running 5k this morning. We didn’t plan a route ahead of time, just ran around near our place till Computer said we were done with our 10k.

Day Eighteen: One Mile Tempo Run

January 18, 2012

Miles: 1

Total Mileage: 120.8 (194.4 kilometers)

After the running like a need crutches that I did yesterday, I wanted to focus on getting my legs back. I was significantly sore still when I got up. I saw two obvious choices, run as slow as yesterday but further, or run my “normal” pace for as long as I could (which promised to be not very far.) I decided it was better to get the legs moving fast and feel the road moving at my “normal” pace and put on more miles another day.

I’m trusting my body more and more. I have felt it recovering so many times lately that I no longer experience soreness with the same dread. A few months ago I had just completed my first half-marathon in 2:45 and now I can comfortably run it in under 2:10 even if I’m pretty sore. Soreness is not as debilitating as it once was. Perhaps it goes deeper than my own confidence, perhaps the experience is better because of some physiological change in my muscles, tendons or vascular system. Who knows but this month has turned up the dial on life for me and I like it.

I told Computer (the name I gave to my Garmin GPS) to take me for a simple, one mile tempo run. You do this by telling Computer how fast Data (the name I gave to Computer’s “virtual partner” function) will be running. Then Computer tells me how far ahead or behind I am of the virtual runner. As I choose a speed, Computer will show me how long my distance will take at that speed. This makes it very easy for me to train for my 2 hour half-marathon or 4 hour marathon pace. The run was painful but I ran at around an 8:30 pace. Let’s hope the miles come to me soon, I’m getting behind!