Wow, It’s Been A Month Since I Posted Anything

A week after my last post, my wife and I took off for Bavaria to meet a new grandchild (who is adorable, but has nothing to do with fitness). The weather was hovering at zero most of the week we were there (Celsius, since we were in Germany), but I did get in a couple of nice four mile runs, out and and back on an asphalt trail that followed the river as it left town. (This photo is from last year, when the photo doesn’t look like a black and white because there are no leaves yet)

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I saw the funniest thing, during my second run, but couldn’t get phone phone out to take a picture. I saw this guy, on a motorcycle, coming slowly toward me on the path, with a dog running next to him. As he got closer, I saw he had this huge bushy beard, like an old-time sailing captain in a movie. Then he got closer, and I realized he had a large blue parrot perched on his shoulder! Remember, I’m in Germany and it’s freezing, and he’s on a motorcycle with a parrot, just sitting there. It squawked at me as he went past. And I…couldn’t…get…the…picture. Oh well.

I wondered why my times were about one minute per mile slower than I had been running, and first thought it was the the fact I been running indoors a lot. But then I looked up the elevation and saw I was at 1,450 feet and I live at 300 feet elevation! So then I got happy with my speed.

Then we came back, and while I picked back up with my training routine, I found myself swamped at work – hence no posting. I have now gotten my training pace down to 9:45 minutes/mile, and can keep that pace for about 4 miles before slowing down. I have a 5k coming up the end of April, where I want to again try and break 30:00 minutes, and then an 8k in the middle of May.

I have scaled back my two weekday runs to 30 minutes, because I am beginning to spend those extra two thirty minutes doing strength training in the Wellness Center. Everything I read says “strengthen your core to run better and safer” so I am working on this. Also working on arm and shoulder fitness, to help in swimming.

Goals for 2013

Looking back (a very short distance) at my four and a half months of 2012 fitness totals, I get these numbers:
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(There are some extra treadmill and elliptical workouts added to the totals, for anyone who notices the math is not right)

Frankly, it’s staggering to me to think that in a third of a year I lost 39 pounds (I just missed my 12/31/2012 goal of 40 pounds) while walking/running/swimming 302 miles. Because before I started I had never run or done lap swims.

My initial goal when I started was simple – get out of bed at least three mornings a week and do some kind of exercise. And I have, so I’m now claiming a 100% success rate for 2012!

My 2013 goals need to be just a tad more precise, however.

  • To start, I want to lose that last pound and keep it off.
  • I also want to continue to lap swim three days a week, and run three days a week, for an hour every weekday and longer for my weekend run. My times will take care of themselves, if I spend that hour every morning.
  • I want to run three or four 5k and 10k races this spring, and get my 5k time to 33 minutes or better.
  • My longer goal is get ready for, and finish, a half marathon by the summer.

End of Year Wrap-Up

I spent the last week in California, trying not to eat too much and getting in some morning runs. No chance to get to a pool, so my first day back in the water will be an adventure.

We were in Anaheim Hills, and as the name says, flat ground was hard to come by. My topographic map and my iPhone both said I was at 250m elevation at the front door, and this is what it looked like at the end of the driveway.

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Those houses showed as 300m on the map! It wasn’t all that bad, a short climb of about 40 feet up about a 35 degree incline. Steep, but over quickly. Then between 5k and 6k of running, depending on how many side streets I went up and back, all pretty much uphill to get to that top street.

After two days of that, I decided to try and work my way out the back of that neighborhood, and look for something flatter. Silly me, I crested the hill and decided I needed to quickly find a side street and get off of this hill. You can see the grade by the difference in the two light pole’s height.

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This is looking north down in to the Santa Ana Canyon, with the San Bernadino mountains way off in the distance. I had to stop my run, take this picture, and just take in the view for a couple minutes. Those peaks are 8,000-10,000 feet high, and two days later had snow on them. Then I found that side street I needed, and got off this hill. Later I found out that there is a great running trail next to the Santa Ana river that you can follow from the Pacific Ocean up in to the mountains for 110 miles. But at Christmas, short runs were all I had time to do.

On Christmas Day, I was told I could go down the hill the other way, and get in a “flat run” of about 1.5 miles to the Walnut Canyon Reservoir, which has a great trail all the way around it for 1.6 miles. So off I went. The road rolled up and down about 45 feet, but better than what I had been running.
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As I was running around the reservoir, I again had to stop and take a photo. Same mountains off in the distance.

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Including a fast couple of walking circuits around the Phoenix airport during a long layover, I managed to get in 21 miles and lost one more pound. With three days to go, and 1.6 pounds left to lose to meet my goal of 40 pounds by the end of the year, I am really thankful I started this phase of my life – but my legs have been letting me know they are not used to those kinds of hills!

Nothing Much Has Been Happening

Yesterday I finally broke my goal weight loss barrier. I wanted to lose 36 pounds by Christmas, when I started, and I had no idea how achievable that was. Now I’d like to get down about 4 more pounds, and see if I can keep it there. Oh, and work on getting the stomach flat, to match the new look.

I this article yesterday, Burning energy may build up your brain and really liked the part that says “In the study of 876 adults (ages ranged from 69-95), those who burned the most calories had 5 percent more gray matter…If you want to maximize the effect on your brain, these physical activities are something people have to start engaging in earlier in life, in your 50s and 40s”. So I’m not just burning calories, and feeling better. I’m increasing my grey matter. Even better.

Since I finished my first 10k a couple weeks ago, I just been working on stamina in both swimming and running. I have finally gotten my 100 yard average time, for a one hour swim, to drop from a really bad 4:15 to a mostly bad 2:37. Which, if my math is correct, is a 38% improvement since the first of November. Before then, I did not even speak of times.

My running time is now below 10 minutes per mile, but I prefer to call it 7 minutes per kilometer, because it sounds faster. Still plenty of room for improvement!

I don’t really have any plans set for 2013, but already have a couple 5k/10k runs in my area that I I’d like to do. If I think I have progressed to being able to finish a half marathon still standing up, I’ll need to find one that happens before June, because by July it gets bloody hot in Alabama. June would be month ten of my new fitness life, so that’s also good timing.

So here’s to hoping I can keep exercising over the holidays, and keep the weight off as well, and head in to January with no backsliding. Merry Christmas to anyone who happens to see this post!

I Can’t Believe I’m Eating Yogurt

After putting on several pounds over Thanksgiving, setting my weight loss back a couple weeks, I decided I should man-up and try some of this Chobani Greek Yogurt I keep hearing about.

I bought a Plain and an Apple Cinnamon, and I have to tell you, the Plain was like eating Elmer’s glue. But I had already bought the Apple Cinnamon, so I tried it the next day. Maybe because the first attempt had set the bar so low, this one was edible – but not enough to buy it again.

But then I saw on the Chobani website that every flavor had a “likability index”. Non-fat Plain got a 291, and Apple Cinnamon got a 350. But Black Cherry got a 412, and I used to love Black Cherry Jello, so I bought one…and it is awesome! Stir all the fruit from the bottom and it is a smoothie right out of the cup. And it’s 0% fat.

So then I tried the 2% fat Pineapple (it got a 413) and to pump it up I added a Dole Pineapple Tidbits cup, and it’s great also.

Here’s the cool part – the nutrition benefits. The Black Cherry has 140 calories in a 170g cup, with no cholesterol, no fat, 70mg of sodium, 22g of carbs, 21g of sugar, 14g of protein, and 15% RDV of calcium.

To compare, a 6″ Subway turkey sandwich on Italian wheat bread (the lowest in sodium) with no cheese or condiments, has 280 calories in 221 grams, with 20g cholesterol, 810mg of sodium, 46g of carbs, 7g of sugar, 18g of protein, and 30% RDV of calcium.

Half the calories of a Subway turkey sandwich, a tenth the sodium, and a third the cost. Yup, I’m hooked.

My First 10k Race

I finished my first 10k race today! This might get people jealous in other parts of the world, but here, on December 8th, it was 61 degrees Fahrenheit and 88% humidity at 8:00am. An absolutely great day to be out running.

I really wanted to get this done before the Christmas holidays arrived (I’ve lost 34 pounds as of today, with 6 more to go, and will be fighting weight over Christmas), and I found a great race. The Jingle for Tots run, in Alexander City, is a combined 5k and 10k where we lucky 10k runners got to do a second lap.

It’s put on by the First United Methodist Church as a fund raiser for Toys for Tots. The proceeds go to it, and every runner had to bring a new toy as well. How could I go wrong? I got a new 10k PR, I got to run with bells on my shoes without people thinking I was odd, I got a long sleeve t-shirt with this logo on it, and I got a pancake breakfast.

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I had gone to Runner’s World and used their Pace Times Predictor and got a 10k time based on my 5k from about two months ago, and beat that time by 8:43. So I am happy about that. But I was 1:10 over my personal goal, so just a little disappointed in that.

I’m still doing run/walk negative split intervals, and had the headset on with the little voice in my ears telling me slower or faster. That really helped me pace myself the entire way, and the negative splits force me harder at the end, to help me build endurance. But the last 1.5 mile of both laps was uphill all the way. My GPS says about 85 feet in elevation change (but probably not all that accurate). Main thing was my knee started letting me know it was mad at me by about mile 5, and uphill is what gets it mad. So all things considered, it’s already been an excellent weekend.

Thanksgiving Running

After my last couple of weekend runs ending with a sore knee part way through, I’ve focused on my pace and running a mostly flatter course. I’ve decided part of my problem has been starting out at a pace that was too high, and then pushing it on hills early in the run. The outdoor track I’ve been running has a pretty sharp uphill segment, followed by a long slower climb.

I’ve got a Christmas 10k coming up in two weeks, my first 10k, and I’ve been questioning myself over whether I could make it without walking the last part if my knee got sore.

I tested myself running on an indoor track, for 10k, on Monday, and had no problems (except being bored going in short circles). Next, I studied up on how to set up some interval training on my iSmoothRun app and put together a 5k and 10k set of negative intervals at a good training speed for me. I knew that with the four day Thanksgiving weekend I would be food challenged and would need to burn some calories to break even on weight.

On Thanksgiving day the weather was great – about 70 degrees with a nice breeze. I ran 10k around my neighborhood, doing three loops around a course with a long uphill, but not too steep, on the back side. Hearing the iSmoothRun voice telling me “slower” during the first couple of kilometers really helped me get a better feel for my pace. I finished tired but not worn out, or too sore, so I was very happy.

The next morning I was up three pounds, so I obviously enjoyed my Thanksgiving dinner (cornbread dressing – I had to have seconds). Back outside that afternoon, I ran 5k at a faster pace with a sprint the last 100 meters. I was pretty worn down about the 4k point, but pushed through and had enough gas to do the sprint, so I was happy. I ran three minutes faster than my only 5k chip time, which also made me happy.

Now I’ll just be focusing on my upcoming 10k, and at least know I’ve got a good plan to work over the next two weeks. And focusing on keeping the weight going down, and not up. This morning I was down one pound, so I still have work to do to get over my holiday weight gain.