January Temperatures Hit 80!

Well, no, the actual thermometer did not hit 80 degrees in January, at least not here in the Atlanta area, but there were two temperatures that did hit 80 here!

When I use the term temperature, I am using the definition " Any of various standardized numerical measures......" and talking about my weight loss and running distances.

This month, January 2008 marked two milestones of great significance to me. This month I passed my 80 lb mark in weight loss since I started my weightloss journey in January of 2007. I also for the first time hit an 80 mile month in my Quest to a Marathon.

This mornings run was the run that catapulted me beyond the 80 mile mark. I was reading Eric's blog Marathoner in Training yesterday and he had hit 80 miles for the month. (yes - these are his pics - he gave me permission - his post is pretty funny!) While I was reading I decided to check, and I was only about 3.5 miles from doing the same. With my ankle problems earlier this week I didn't know if I was going to be able to hit it, but I stretched a lot and paid really close attention to my ankle and was able to get my scheduled 10k run in with no problems at all to get me to 82.8 for the month. I am still behind the pace bunny (by .8 mile) for the 1,000 mile club at Running Ahead, but I am gaining ground, and will pass him up this Saturday if all goes as planned with my long run.

Here's to my first 80 lbs, and first 80 mile month!

The Morning After

Well, after yesterdays Disappointing Mile, I was a bit anxious and timid with this mornings run. My ankle was a little tight this morning, but was fine all afternoon and evening so I figured it was just tight from running on it yesterday when something wasn't right. I stretched and stretched, and then stretched one more time to see how everything was feeling. If it didn't feel great I was not going to run.

Everything was feeling great so I headed out the door and walked to the starting block (OK, the corner) Once the light turned from red to green (OK, I got my little flashing red light turned on) and official clock had been started (OK, just my cheap watch) I was off.

I paid really close attention as I ran and everything seemed good. I ran the first 3 miles pain free, and then for about 3 steps my right ankle was a little weak. I was very pleased to see it pass as quickly as it came. The rest of the run went really good. I got home and stretched, and stretched, and then stretched some more.

I am sure my ankle is a little weak because of running the mile on it yesterday when it was hurting, but this mornings run was very encouraging.

The Disappointing Mile

Yes, the disappointing mile. I went out for my scheduled 4 miles this morning and it didn't take but 1/4 mile before I knew something was wrong. My right ankle was hurting for some reason. It wasn't hurting at every stride, but something was wrong. It subsided, but then kept coming back. At the one mile mark I decided that I could go on, but I may end up hurting my ankle so I turned and decided I would run the mile back, and just call it a day. That lasted only another minute when I said to myself - What am I trying to prove? and walked the rest of the mile back home.

I don't know where this comes from, but I have had my ankle do this before, just not since I started running almost a year ago. It seems like I slept on it weird or something, because I have had this happen before a couple years ago, and by the next day all is fine. I am not overly concerned, but I am concerned a little bit. The only thing that hurts right now is my ego, and self confidence, but tomorrow is a new day and a new run.

Encounters with Animals

I am sure many of you have had some pretty funny or scary encounters with animals on your runs. I am still fairly new to running, as I have been running for less than a year, but I still have some funny, and scary encounters with animals along the way.

Since the majority of my running takes place in the weee hours of the morning I am sure I have had many more encounters with animals than if I was to run in the evening or sometime during the light hours.

A few of my stories.... and I will keep my favorite to last.

One morning I was running along a dark road, the road I run every morning I run because it is the one leading away from the neighborhood. While I was running I heard this rattling coming from the opposite side of the road. Since it was dark, I couldn't see a thing. Well, I am not that far in the south, but early morning runs without being able to see anything - all thoughts were going through my mind. Turns out it wasn't a rattle snake (yes big imagination) but rather a sprinkler system in a new neighborhood on that side of the road.

Another morning I was running along that same road when off in the distance I saw something coming towards me in the middle of the road. As it got closer I saw that it was a red fox, and it saw that I was an intruder in it's early morning stroll down the vacant road. Even though these are very small I have heard they can be mean. I guess he thought I was big and mean, so we both stopped dead in our tracks and slowly walked around each other. On the way back through that stretch on my return run I was very observant.

I was up in Indiana for Thanksgiving, and as everyone else was sleeping I went for a 5 mile run. This was an area I didn't know anything about, and should have driven it before I ran it - especially in the dark. The run went good, even with the multiple dogs (untethered) scaring me. The highlight of this run was having 4 deer see me and bound across the road right in front of me.

My favorite story includes a dog. As with any runners dogs can make you very nervous, especially when they come running up to you at 5:00 in the morning when nobody else is around, and you don't know if they are mean or friendly. I have had my share of dogs chasing me, even nipping at me, but this morning was different. This dog came running up to me, and as he got closer I could tell he was friendly and just happy to see me. That being the case I still watched him very closely, but wasn't concerned. This dog followed me, running with me (all over from side to side of the road - almost causing accidents - making drivers made at me not controlling my dog) He continued to run with me as I ran out onto a main road, and at one point was leading me a little bit when I turned into a different neighborhood. He stopped turned around and continued to follow me. He followed me for almost 4 miles before taking off into a third neighborhood. It was the most interesting run I had run in a long time, and the run went by really quick.

OK, how about you? Do you have any funny stories about running and animals? I would love to read them. Please post them in a comment, or if you have a blog, maybe you can post your funny story there and let us know in a comment that you did.

I am sure you all have much better stories than I have, especially if you have been running longer than I have.

I have also posted this over in the running forums at Running Ahead. Check out how that thread is coming along here.

**edit** I thought of one other - There was one morning (early as usual) that I was running through a neighborhood. I came up on an area I always do, but this time out of nowhere a bird of some sort like a small pheasant burst out and flew right past the back of my legs. I could feel the wind go by he was so close. I about fell down I jumped so high. I would have loved to have a heart rate monitor on right then.... I bet I would have spiked it :)

12 - 4 = 8 = Shorter Long Run

Well, I got up at 6:45 for my 12 miler this morning. My intention was to get out the door by 7:00 since I need to be somewhere by 10:00 and that would give me 2.5 hours to run, stretch and get cooled down, and then just enough time to get ready and get to the place I needed to be.

Well.... that is what I thought. Life threw me a curve ball. As I was getting ready to head out the door something happened at home that I needed to take care of right away.... all the while I was getting more aggravated that I was going to mess up my run. I would have loved to just put my long run off till Sunday, but that would mess up my whole schedule. What started off as just a slight delay ended up costing me an hour, so I didn't get out the door until 7:50.

I still wanted to do 12 miles, because I am just a few weeks away from my first Half Marathon so I asked my wife if she could do the 10:00 drop off and I would be there ASAP. So, I took off, the run was going good and I was keeping a good pace for where I wanted to be. (two weeks ago when I ran 14 I ran the first two miles hard and paid for it in the end) I was running at just under a 10 minute pace which is where I wanted to be.

As the run progressed so did my anxiousness of putting my wife in a rough place of having to get two kids at two different places within just a few minutes of each other, so I begrudgingly took the only opportunity I had to cut my route a little shorter. I have a 8 mile circle, and I add an out and back just over half way to make it a 12 mile route. At just past the 5 mile mark I made the decision to cut the extra 4 miles out and run the 8 mile circle so I could get home in time to take the extra weight off of my wife's shoulders.

The 8 mile run went really good, but I did start it off at a 12 mile pace so it really should have gone good. My legs felt good throughout and so did my overall body. When I got home I was not completely spent so I know I could have gone a bit faster and harder.

I am bummed that I didn't get to do the 12 miles, but I feel like I made the right choice in getting home earlier. I am in a sort of holding pattern till race day anyway. I am not trying to increase my long run at this time because I know that the 14 miler was plenty long enough of a training run leading up to a Half Marathon. I don't want to push myself to hard and end up injuring myself this close to the race.

I will start to push on the mileage again once the Half has been completed and I turn my focus to the 26.2.

This 8 mile run put me at 22 miles for the week, not as good as I was hoping, but in the top three of my best weeks.

Until the next time.....

Early morning priorities

I was going through my e-mails and feeds this morning when I came across this post from Dawn at Life on the Run. While reading it, what do you think was going on? Yup, I was doing just what she was talking about. I have seen this creeping up on me over the past week or two, but was just in denial.

Getting up in the morning and getting side tracked is such a problem I have. I used to check my personal e-mail and some blogs periodically throughout the day, but as one of my "New Tim Resolutions" I have decided it was too much of a distraction from work, so I have given it up to only one time a day during lunch. To help make this possible I started getting up earlier at 4:15 in the morning. I decided that if I got up at 4:15, this would give me 30 minutes before I needed to get ready to hit the road running, or to hit the road to the gym, both of which I start at 5:00. This worked great for me, but gave me one little problem. I would get going reading and responding to e-mail, and checking out blogs and next thing you know it was 5:00 and I was running 10 - 15 minutes behind.

So, here is my "New Tim Resolution" modification - I am going to include staying on task in the morning and getting out the door when I need to, and not getting side tracked.

I have gone and got my workout done (non-running day today) and am back to eat and finish getting ready for work..... now if I can just stay on task. :)

Spirit of the Marathon - Movie Review

OK, this is not really a movie review, just a quick note. I thought the movie was awesome. Sure it is not a movie like some would like to see movies, but it was exactly what it was said to be, the story of those on a journey to the Chicago Marathon. It, in my opinion is much better for those actually training for a marathon, or thinking about it, but may not be all that great for someone not interested in running at all.

You can watch the trailer at one of my previous posts.

This was a one time showing, but they did put up a note at the end that said that due to demand it would be showing again on February 21st. You can find out more here: www.marathonmovie.com I may write more tomorrow, but got to get to bed. My running is done early in the morning, so my schedule sends me to bed now.

Did anyone else go see it? What did you think?

*edit* Blaine Moore from Run to Win did a really good actual Movie Review on his blog: link

6 Miler - Not as easy

It was not as easy to get out the door for my run this morning. I have been very busy at work and have been bringing a lot of work home lately. I didn't have any trouble getting up, but am just mentally exhausted so it was more of a mental battle to get out the door.

But.... I did it, I got out the door and it is never as bad as it seems it is going to be. It wasn't the easiest run, but was still good. Now, I have got my run out of the way this morning, and I can get back to work and back to the grindstone. But, all the while today I can look forward to going to see The Spirit of the Marathon tonight. I am really looking forward to it.

This morning was also tough because as many of you know I have been on a weight loss journey for over a year now, and have done better than I could ever hope to do, but this past week hasn't been looking like I will lose anything. This is kinda discouraging, because all I hope for is 1 lb a week now that I am closer to my goal. The discouraging part is that I have been working out hard, running more, and eating good, but not seeing the results. I know I am just discouraged because of all that is going on right now is just putting a lot on my shoulders, but this is one of the places that gets me down easily I guess.

Oh, well, I am running behind, need to get to work!

Till next time!

Two days in a row

This week I am changing up my running schedule as I head into the home stretch to my First Half Marathon on February 16th. I have only been running 3 days a week up until now, but have been told many times that I need to be running more.

I have changed my schedule per this post. Today was my second day in a row, which is the first time I have done this since the time I was injured by doing so. I am feeling fine other than a little nagging pain behind my right knee. The pain is not bad, and gets better by the end of the day. I have been feeling this over the last couple days.

This mornings run went good, and the weather was better than the last three runs. It was 35 degrees and windy this morning, but not as bad as the rain, sleet, slow, and 20 degree weather I have been running in the last three runs.

Tomorrow is a weight training day - no running.

When you think you can't run

Here is a story of Ben Comen who has cerebral palsy. When you want to give up or think you just can't go any further, here is a good story to watch. I think of him when I am feeling sorry for myself, or when I just feel like I can't do it.

36 degrees, rain/sleet/snow - 8 miles

Well, I knew what the forecast was, but I still wanted to get my long run in.

The run started with 36 degrees and it was raining. I was taking off on a new course which was a 8 mile circle. (as a side note, you can see if you look at linked map of my running route, I passed by the Ronald Reagan Parkway - this is where my First Half Marathon will be run in less than a month) After mile two I started seeing and feeling sleet mixed in with the rain. By the time I got to mile 3 snow was starting to make it's appearance. I stopped at a gas station to get some gatoraide just about mile 4 and then continued on in the snow. As the run progressed, so did the snow. By the time I got to mile 7 it was starting to stick.

The picture to the left was as I was walking back up to the house following my run. You can see I actually even have some snow on the front of my shirt just like cars have from driving into the snow. Wow! I must run fast! :) OK, maybe not.

The forcast changed a couple times, but they are still saying we will get between 1 and 2 inches, which is a lot for here in Atlanta. I think I was turning a lot of heads this morning as people passed me by on the roads. I didn't see any other runners and only a couple people walking their dogs.

Who's going to see The Spirit of the Marathon?

So, who is going to see The Spirit of the Marathon movie this next Thursday? I bought my ticket a couple months ago and I am really looking forward to it. I am going by myself because I don't know a whole lot of runners around my area that are this into it and are training for a marathon themselves.

I almost gave in

If you live in the north, then you will probably laugh at me, but here in Atlanta we don't get this very often. Last night we got some snow, which shortly later turned to a sleet/rain mix. The kids were all excited, both for the snow and the possibility of no school today.

This morning being a running morning I had every intention of getting up and running, regardless of the weather, but when I got up this morning and it was still going with a sleet/rain mix I started coming up with excuses. I figured I could go to the gym and run the dreadmill, but easily convinced myself that if it was too bad outside to run, it was also too bad to drive to the gym.

Here is where the "almost" comes in. At 4:50, I put all rationalization aside and started getting dressed to run in this weather. By 5:05 I was out the door and it was nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be. The 33 degrees kept the road from freezing so I had nothing to worry about as far as ice went. My run went really good with only occasional rain enough for me to even notice. It did start raining more during mile 6, but all in all it was a very pleasant 10k.

Next time I need to not be so quick with the excuses.

More than every other day?

Well, I think it is time that I start adding a little more mileage. I have tried to add mileage here and there by adding miles to my two 5:00 AM weekday runs, and then adding to my long run when possible, but I am up to 5 and 6 miles on the two morning runs and really don't have much more time. The other issue is that if I take them any longer, they will turn into long runs themselves.

I have read many conflicting things about running every day. Many people tell you that you should not run more than every other day. Because of this I have always had a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (long run) type schedule. Whenever I would try to add more days, I didn't have many options so I would try to run a short run on Wednesday. When I did that I was always hurting by the time I was done on Thursday because I would end up going 3 days in a row, instead of just 2. I am a creature of habit so I didn't want to change up my schedule. On the other hand, there are many people out there that run every day, or nearly every day. When we go to the local races, sometimes the people that are running run every one of these races, even if they are back to back.

I was asking on a forum about getting more mileage, and what they suggested was a schedule closer to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, with my long run being on Saturday. I felt kinda stupid that I never thought of that, but starting next week that is what I am going to be doing. I am going to start with something like this and move up from there:

Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: Weight training
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: Weight training
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: Rest

I am going to leave it that way for the one week, and then the next week will probably only change up the long run and go 14 miles again. I will probably flop back to this exactly the next week or maybe do 8 miles on the long run Saturday. That will get me very close to my Half Marathon Race Day.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. As always, thanks for stopping by and reading.

"The Slow Approach Is Better Than The No Approach"

The Long Run - 14 miles

Well, I went out this morning for my first ever 14 mile long run. I was looking forward to this run because it has been a few weeks since I was able to go for a long run because of being sick over the holidays. All week it has been in the 50's in the morning so I was looking forward to the same this morning... well, 36 degrees is all that was offered me so I had to dress a little bit warmer, not something I wanted to do with the distance I was going, but that is the way it goes.

I was a bit concerned going for a long run because I have been having a little pain in my left foot and left leg when I run slower, so I was very cautious and paid close attention to what my body was telling me. I don't want to hurt myself this close to my first Half Marathon.

All in all my run went really good, until near the end. I ran the first 2 miles a little fast which I think caused me some issues at the end, not to mention the steep hills I had at the very end. I didn't hydrate till after the first 7 miles. I felt fine before then, but looking back should have probably drank some water and and a GU pack a bit earlier. At the 7 mile mark I stopped in and bought a gatoraide and water and drank the gatoraide with a gu pack (yea, probably not wise either - will not do that again) I kept the water and used it with another GU pack at about the 11 mile mark. I will have to work on the spacing of these a little better in the future.

I was hurting pretty bad at the 13 mile mark, and had to walk about a tenth of a mile up the steepest hill of my entire run, and about 13.5 my calf was tightening up and causing a lot of pain. I was able to persevier and finish the 14 miles in 2:22:54.

Following the run I drank a quick protein shake and had a banana. I stretched and was hurting pretty bad. I didn't sit around, but rather took care of some errands which kept me out and about much of the next 5 hours. I think this was a good thing because all I wanted to do was just crash.

Well, that is it for now, if you are a runner reading this blog, I really appreciate it and would love any feedback that you can offer.

Running - My New Lifestyle

If you would have asked me a year ago if I would be running at all a year later, I would have laughed at you. No telling what I would have said if you told me I would be training for and one month away from my first Half Marathon.

One year ago, I was 80 lbs heavier, and getting ready to see one of the most drastic changes in lifestyle that I had ever seen. You can read about and follow my continuing journey at my other blog: blog.2big.org.

While still in high school over 20 years ago, I was an avid runner. I ran and lettered in Cross Country, was a long distance runner in Track, and my neighbor and I would run 6 miles a day for fun over the summer. While still in high school I ran my first 10k, the Rose Run, in Jackson Michigan.

Over the next 20+ years I let life happen and only ran once or twice every few years, only to find that I wasn't physically fit enough, and it was too hard. I could only run about 100 yards before almost collapsing. It usually only took a few days of torturing myself before I would give up again for another few years.

As you can see in my other blog: blog.2big.org I started walking at the beginning of 2007. I decided that if I was going to make this lifestyle change last I needed to start out slow and do what I could actually maintain. I didn't even think about running at all, and really had no hope to. It wasn't till a couple of months into my journey that I even thought about trying to run at all.

My first 5k was the Saratoga 5k Fun Run in May of 2007, where I finished dead last in 36:37, but it was a new race and only about 25 runners with no walkers. From there I kept training and increasing my endurance and was able to finish my first 10k in over 20 years when I ran the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th in 1:03:59.

Shortly after the 10k I hurt my leg so ended up spending the next few months running very little and trying to heal. In October I was able to start turning up the heat a bit and started adding mileage as I continued to lose weight, gain endurance, and speed up.

In the last quarter of 2007 I have made progress that I could only dream of. I have run multiple 5k races which you can see on my running log at www.runningahead.com. I brought that PR of 36:37 in May down to 25:02 by the end of the year in a New Years Eve 5k race. I also set a new PR in an 8k of 40:09 in a December run.

I am currently training for my first Half Marathon, which is just over 1 month away. I will be running the Run The Reagan Half Marathon in Snellville GA, which is just a couple miles from my house. I am confident that I will be able to finish as I have already run a long run of 13.1 miles in training. I am hoping for a time under 2 hours, but am not too concerned about the time right now, but rather just the accomplishment.

As the blog name explains, I am on a Quest to a Marathon. I would have never in a million years guessed I would have been saying that, but I know now, after what I have been through over this past year that I will be able to accomplish that goal.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my story. Please come back often as I continue to blog about my journey and Quest for a Marathon.

The Slow Approach is better than the No Approach!