Sacrificing The Gift

“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.”

-Steve Prefontaine

I have certainly been sacrificing my gift. I have given nowhere near my best. I have so much potential yet I continue to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. I need to lose this weight. I need to turn things around. I’ve been talking about this for what seems like forever yet I never seem to turn that next page and actually start putting forth a solid effort. I will try for a day, do well, then for whatever reason just give it up and go back to my normal routine.

I can’t blame it on my job. I’m happy in my career. I can’t blame it on my family. I have the best family ever. I can’t blame it on my finances. I’m doing just fine in that area. See, all I can do is blame on myself. No other reasons have prevented me from finally breaking through and dropping this weight.

I’m going to wake up in the morning and wipe the slate clean. Wipe away all the past failures. Start fresh and keep an open mind towards the future. All I can do is conquer this thing one day at a time. I just need to forget about all the negative stuff in the past and focus on the task in hand right here and right now. The goal is simple: lose 100 lbs. I just need to actually start making my way towards that goal.

Gadget Review – Fitbit Zip

The Fitbit Zip is my new favorite gadget. It’s a pedometer. Yes that’s right, my current favorite gadget is a pedometer. I bought this recently to gauge my level of everyday activity. I work from home so outside of my running I wanted to know exactly how much movement I was getting in each day.

The result was not good. On days that I don’t run I get a very pathetic amount of steps in each day. They say to aim for at least 10,000 each day as the baseline standard.

I now find myself running around like a mad man just to get my step totals up. I park as far away as I can at stores in order to pack on some steps on my way in. I walk around the house with my 8 month old daughter just to get in some extra steps. It’s fun! Anything that gets you up and moving is a good idea.

What I like about the Fitbit Zip is that it is very accurate. It needs to do one thing; count steps. It does it very accurately. The nice thing about the zip is that it runs off of a regular watch battery so there is no need to constantly charge it every few days. I believe this battery lasts upwards of 4 to 5 months so you never need to worry about it. Just clip it onto your belt. Throw it in your pocket. Women can clip them on their bra. Just have it on you and it will count your steps as you go.

Outside of steps, it tracks a rough estimate of distance traveled, calories burned throughout the day, the time of day, and a little character guy that will smile and make faces at you depending on how your activity level is going. It syncs up with where you can store all of your stats and earn badges for various feats.fitbit-zip

I highly recommend one of these to everyone. Go ahead and get one. Get one for your spouse as well! Have fun and compete on a daily basis. They come in a variety of fun colors and run around $50. Try to get active. Your heart will thank you.

Fitbit has a couple of other versions if you’d like to look into those as well. The Fitbit One is $99 and will do everything the Zip does but adds on sleep tracking, vibrating alarm, stair tracking, and activity timer. There is a new product, the Fitbit Flex that is a wristband that does everything the Zip does but adds the sleep tracking as well as the vibrating alarm.  The Flex is the one I’m very excited about. I won’t ever have to worry about forgetting it again. It’s waterproof so you can wear it all day, even in the shower. Wear it at night and it tracks your sleep patterns. Set a vibrating alarm for the morning and you no longer need an alarm clock. Good stuff! I preordered it on Amazon and it is due to arrive sometime in May. I will be doing a review on that model as well.

Race Report – Baystate Half Marathon

Distance: Half Marathon

Official Time: 2:58:07

Location: Lowell, MA

A year ago after my first half marathon I said to myself “I’m going to lose a ton of weight and come back next year and crush my half marathon PR”. Well, things didn’t exactly go according to plan, but I did at least beat my PR (but only by 3 min 27 sec).

Training for this race was going reasonably well up until my daughter was born. Once she arrived I sort of took a running vacation for a while and didn’t focus on weight loss like I should have. Oh well, life gets in the way, happens to the best of us.

I decided to run the Baystate Half Marathon because well, it’s in Lowell, and well, that’s where I live, haha. Didn’t feel like driving all the way out to Albany again. Another reason I decided on this race is because I plan on one day joining the Greater Lowell Road Runners club (GLRR) and they actually put this race together.

The weather was FANTASTIC. The route was not quite as flat as they made it seem, but I’d say 90% of it was pretty darn flat. But that hill going up over Rourke Bridge got the best of me a couple times. The volunteers were FANTASTIC. Overall I had a really fun time and plan on doing this race again in the future.
Since my training was a mess I had a hard time figuring out my game plan for this race. I spent the majority of the year doing various run/walk versions and didn’t know if I should stick to a strict run/walk interval throughout, or if I should just wing it and run to certain spots I picked out and give myself some walk breaks. At 256 lbs I knew I’d be walking chunks of it, just wasn’t sure if it would be planned or not. I started off doing 2 minute runs, 1 minute walks and figured if I could just maintain that then I would be able to last the 13.1 miles. Well the intervals last a few miles then it pretty much became just winging it, running when I could, walking when I had to.

I was doing the math in my head the whole time and after the first half of the race figured I had a good shot at beating my previous best half time of 3:01:32. In fact at the halfway point I was WELL ahead of that pace. Unfortunately the familiar calf muscle cramps started happening and got the best of me the last few miles once again just like last year.

I felt like passing out a few times, haha, but kept plugging away. I took a GU at a very critical point and it really provided the boost to help get me to the end. I never plan on being this unprepared for a long distance race like this ever again. I never plan on being slow as molasses like I am right now ever again either. When I run a half next October I want to get at least 2:45 or better. That is still slow but would be a significant improvement for me. If I drop 50 more lbs I should be able to do much better with my running.

When I came down the homestretch I heard some yell “I love big guys!”. I couldn’t tell if I should be offended or not. I think he just meant that he loves when big guys get out there and do something so challenging despite the disadvantages. Well that’s how I’ve decided to take it anyways. After that random comment, I really got a surge from the crowd. Then I caught a glimpse of the clock and it said like 2:59:40. Once I saw that I took off like a bat out of hell. I knew I easily had sub 3 with net time, but I want any pictures to reflect sub 3 on the clock as well, haha.

I really had a fun time at this race. I LOVED the fact that my two kids and wife were there to greet me at the end. Next time, I plan on being much faster, but hey, I accomplished my goal, speed doesn’t matter.

Official time was 2:58:07. A new PR.

Race Report – Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon

Distance: Half Marathon

Official Time: 3:01:32

Location: Albany, New York

Well here it is, my first half marathon! First of many, definitely. I didn’t let the fact that I’ve gained my weight back and have been lazy with running get in the way of enjoying my first half marathon. In fact, I only missed my goal time by a minute (granted it was a very easy goal that I set).

I actually got a decent sleep. Not a good sleep, but a decent one. We were in a timeshare for the week and surprisingly I went to bed early and at least got like 6 hours of sleep. Everything went smoothly when I woke up. I had some stomach issues probably from the nerves, but all was good by the time the race began.

My wife dropped me off at the starting line 30 minutes early and I was amazed at how nice of a day it was. The race started right at 8:30 and we were off. For the first 3 or 4 miles I deviated from my plan of running a minute / walking a minute. I’d say I probably ran the first 6 minutes, then went to intervals of 2 min run / 1 min walk. That lasted around 4 miles or so then I settled into my plan of 1 minute intervals. I set such an easy interval plan because I wanted to make sure that I finished, and my previous long run was only 8 miles. So I had to take the easy approach this first time out.

Miles 4-9 were pretty much the same. Running and walking in set intervals of around a minute. Mile 9 is when things started falling apart a little bit. I found myself skipping some of my run intervals, but still probably had a decent split for the mile.

I’d say at mile 10 1/2 I kind of packed it in and started walking. I tried running, but my legs just kept locking up. My calf muscles would get so tight that I just couldn’t jog. It was weird. I’ve never experienced that before. Both legs would lock up unbelievably tight. I definitely kept a very fast walking pace though. Probably the fastest I’ve ever walked before. I’d randomly try running every so often but the leg issue would always show up.

Yes I’m disappointed that I walked a lot of this race, but I’m also proud of myself. This was my first one so I have plenty of time to improve and get better each time. Not many people that are overweight try and go out and do a half marathon so I’d say I’m pretty proud. I set a goal and I achieved it. No giving up, no quitting.

Once I hit mile 13 it was the homestretch. People lined the finish and I managed to jog it in, fighting through the leg pain. Just missed my goal of sub 3. Oh well. Next time I’ll be way more prepared and crush that time.

I got my finisher’s medal and headed over to the food tent and got a Panera bagel, Nature Valley Bars, Sun Chips and chocolate milk. The chocolate milk was unbelievably delicious.

Oh, almost forgot, I tried my very first Gu. They handed me one around mile 9 or so and I decided it was worth it to try. The first mouthful was disgusting, but then I kind of liked it after that, haha. I realized it was  a much needed energy boost.

Overall I LOVED this distance. What a challenge! Not unbelievably difficult like a marathon, but nowhere near as easy as a 10k. It really is the perfect challenge! I plan on doing at least 2 half marathons in 2012, and hopefully one full one by the end of the year, maybe in November.

Race Report – L.L. Bean’s 10k Road Race

Distance: 10k

Official Time: 1:20:37

Location: Freeport, Maine

This was my first 10k race!

It was also the furthest that I’ve ever run at a single time before. My previous furthest distance was only 4.2 miles. So I’m proud of myself for even finishing the darn thing, haha. As a bonus, I didn’t get last place. My final time was 1:20:37.

It’s a shame that they only had one mat for the chip timing because by the time I actually hit the starting line at least 30-45 seconds had passed. The reason that sucks is because my goal was under 1:20. I probably made it but because there was no starting mat for chip time I’ll never know!

Oh well. The important thing is that I finished the race and had a fun time. At one point in the middle of the race my let leg almost decided to just stop moving, haha. I had a really hard time picking up my left foot. It was like dragging against the ground. It was really weird. It actually was harder to walk than to jog.

As for the course, it was really hilly. Well at least for me. I never run hills in training so I was pretty unprepared for this course. A nice flat course would have been good for my first 10k but I have no regrets choosing this race.

The weather held up nicely. It was supposed to be rainy but it was just really foggy and humid. The temperature stayed cool so that was a nice bonus. After the race my wife and I stuck around and watched the 4th of July parade through downtown Freeport. My son really enjoyed it.

I’m not as sore as I thought I’d be, but I do have a little tightness in my calves, blood blisters on both big toes, and some weird injury in my right foot (some sort of muscle pull or something) but other than that I survived. This race just showed me that I have a lot of work to do before my half marathon in October!