Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon – Two Weeks Out

The Cellcom Green Bay Marathon is less than two weeks away (12 days as I write this). Last week was the hardest training week with the most volume and intensity of my training. The next two weeks will be tapering down to get my legs rested and ready for race day.

As I look back over the last 2 months of training, it is with mixed emotions. I have had a lot going on with both running as well as personally. Right around the start of training for the half marathon, my dad was diagnosed with emphysema. I have to say that as I was not surprised by this being a life long smoker, but it was still hard to hear. My uncle (his brother) has emphysema as well, and has been living with it for years. So while I know that the diagnosis is bad, it seems like something he can live with for a while.

Well, this past week, he was taken by ambulance and admitted to the hospital. He was inpatient for six days, and it seems like what caused the issue was the flu. This whole situation happens during the week that is my hardest training, as well as being busy with kids activities (dance recitals/rehearsals and baseball practices). Going to visit my dad in the hospital and take care of things for him at home, as well as work of course. It was a challenging week, emotionally, physically and mentally.

For the first time in my training I was questioning myself. Wondering why I am doing this? I came up with an answer. Thinking about my dad and his situation, and all the things he won’t be able to do, I realized that I am doing it because I can. I am lucky enough to be healthy. I was able to fight and lose 135 pounds, and be in the best shape of my life. I have fallen in love with running and pushing myself to do the best I can. That is why I am doing it. Because I can. Because I want to, and because I love it.

I am getting very excited for the race. I am looking forward to participating in my first Cellcom event and my first half marathon. It is even going to be a family affair! My kids are running in the WPS run, my wife, brother, his girlfriend, my mom and step dad are all participating in the 5K event. My wife’s aunt and cousin are running the half and  2 other cousins are running the full. I think it will be a very exciting weekend and I am looking forward to it!

Goal Setting

Today I got the First Timers newsletter email from the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. In the newsletter they talked about pre race anxiety and dealing with it. I for sure am one of those people that gets anxious before a race, and especially a race that is a new distance (like the half marathon for me). One of the things that helps me deal with the anxiety of an upcoming race is to set a goal.

By now I am sure that most people have a goal for their race. Most people sign up with at least some kind of goal in mind. For some people it is to complete the marathon in under 4:00:00. It could be to complete the half marathon in under 1:45:00. It could be to just finish the race or finish the race with no walking breaks. Whatever your goal, it is good to have one. If you don’t have one in mind (or even if you do) you may want to consider a different look on goal setting.

For me, I don’t set a goal. By that I mean I don’t set 1 goal. Every race or event I set at least 3 goals. I always have an A, B and C goal in mind at the start and during the training of each race. Let me explain.

My A goal is always a goal that is probably just out of reach. A goal that if I could achieve it, would be AMAZING, but if I don’t not a big deal. It was design to be just out of reach. For me, this is usually a goal time that is just faster than I think I could or have ever done a race. For the half marathon, my A goal is a time of 1:53:00 or under.

Now the B goal is the realistic time goal. A goal that is what I am 99% sure that I can get. The time that I am targeting in my training. For me in the half marathon, I am going for a time of 2:00:00 or under. Two hours is the time that I am training for with my training program (the Runners World Half Marathon Under 2 hours program). It is a time I should be able to get based on past 5K races as well as training times I have had.

The C goal is your if nothing else, at least I have this goal. My C goal is always to complete the race/event. If something happens during the race or it is just a really bad/off day, I can always rely on my C goal. I always want to just complete the event. So for the half marathon, my C goal is just to cross the finish line. Doesn’t matter the time, just get across that finish line.

By setting 3 goals for each event, it gives me something to really push for, something that I am sure I can achieve and as a last resort a default goal so that I don’t feel like I achieved nothing if the A and B just are not possible. In doing so, it makes me a little less nervous about not hitting a goal.

So, what are your goals for the upcoming event?

Why I Run

This post I wrote for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. I thought I would share it here as well.

Some people run for pure enjoyment. Some people run as a mood enhancer. Some people run to be able to eat cookies. And some of us run to lose weight and get in shape. I fall under the last category, or at least I used to.

Just over 1 year ago, I weighed 320 (or more, I stopped getting on a scale) pounds. The picture below is me on March 8, 2014. To say I was overweight, was to put it mildly. I grew up always being on the heavy side. I always wore husky pants and was always heavier than most all of my friends. It bothered me at times, and at times I was more alright with it (probably more than I should have been).

Me at about 320 pounds
Me at about 320 pounds

It was after the picture above was taken and I looked at it, I realized how disgusted I was with myself and decided I needed to make a change and get really serious about losing weight.

In the past I had tried all kinds of weight loss programs. I did Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach and tried just going to the gym random times and not really doing any kind of program. As you can guess, they all failed miserably! Weight Watchers worked a couple times for a bit, but as soons as I stopped I would gain back twice what I lost. I ended up giving up after a month or two each time because it was just not working for me. I vowed to myself, that this time would need to be different.

I looked around at my options and most were too expensive or not structured enough. I really needed something that told me what to eat, how much of it and when. I found a book by Ian K. Smith called Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds, Lose It Faster! I used the book for two cycles of 4 weeks each to kick start my weight loss and to help me figure out how to eat a bit better and when and what to eat. The book also had a bit of a workout schedule such as do 40 minutes of cardio today. That is the part that may have changed my life.

At first, being as big as I was, I really took to the elliptical machine. It was good low impact cardio workout that would burn a lot of calories and I didn’t mind doing it. As I started to lose weight and started feeling like my cardio was getting better, I found that I needed something else to really take my workouts to the next level and give me a little variety.

Now my wife and I started this process at the same time and she had been doing some treadmill running and kept telling me I should try it. I have never been a runner. I played soccer from age 5 up through high school, but was not interested or good at any kind of distance running. I resisted her attempts to get me to run, but finally gave in one day. It was TOUGH!

I literally could not run for much more than 30 seconds at a time. I struggled, but kept with it. As my weight kept going down and my cardio improved, the running got easier. It wasn’t long before I was running, doing the elliptical and the stair climber plus some weight lifting every workout. The weight started coming off even faster, and I became more and more interested in the running part of my workouts.

I was so excited one day when I actually ran the whole distance of a 5K with no walking breaks. It took me just under 44 minutes to complete it, but I think from that moment on, I was hooked. Was the time great? No. A little slower and I would be walking, but that didn’t matter. I had done something I never thought possible. I kept running and doing my other workouts and my times started to improve.

It was also around this time that my wife finally talked me into running outside. Being heavy, I was very self conscious about running where people might see me in public. Now that my weight was down and I could run more consistently, I was alright with running outside…early in the morning…when less people were around. We ran outside a few times and I told her that if I could get my 5K time down under 33 minutes, I would consider doing a 5K event.

A few weeks later, I was running near my house, and my 5K time was 32:58. My first thought was, “Crap, I am going to have to actually do a 5K event.” I decided to look at it as an opportunity to prove to myself that all my hard work was paying off and I was bettering myself. I completed my first 5K (The Scheels Paperfest 5K in July 2014) in 32:12. I was hooked! I had just run a PR (personal record) and on a tough hilly course. I was no where near the top of the results but it didn’t matter. I had run faster than I ever did before. It was at this point that my running turned from just a way to eat more calories, to a competition with myself. I knew I would never be an elite runner. I doubt I will ever even be a great runner, but I can try and be better than the runner I was yesterday. And for me that is enough. I thrive on competition and running is one of those things where you can compete with yourself to be the best you can be.

I kept running and using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to track my calorie intake. One year to the day, on March 8, 2015, I weighed in at 185 pounds. I had lost 135 pounds over the course of one year through a lot of exercise (mostly running) and counting calories. Below is a picture my wife took on that morning.

Me at 185 pounds. March 8, 2015.
Me at 185 pounds. March 8, 2015.

So why do I run? Well, these days it isn’t about just getting in shape. It is about competing with myself and trying to be the best I can be. Will I win the half marathon? No way! Does it matter? No way! I am running for me. I am running for my wife (who I really owe for getting me to do it in the first place). I am running to be able to live long enough to see my kids get married and have kids of their own. Whatever reason you are running, and whatever speed you run at, good for you! Good for you for putting it out there and challenging yourself to complete something. Whether it is the 5K, half marathon, full marathon, or relay event, good for you! Good for all of us!

 

Rebirth Day

Today is my (re)birthday! It was one year ago today that I looked like this:

Me at about 320 pounds
Me at about 320 pounds

After a year of working on changes to my lifestyle including a lot of exercise and much better eating habits, I look like this:

Me at 185 pounds. March 8, 2015.
Me at 185 pounds. March 8, 2015.

My weigh-in this morning showed that I was 185 pounds. That is a weight loss of 135 pounds in the last year!

It has been an interesting journey. I have learned a lot about myself and about nutrition and exercise. It has been such an eye opening experience. It has been sad a times thinking about all the time I wasted and could have been not getting fat. At the same time though, I believe that things happen for a reason and that it was just my path to where I am now. I don’t yet know the reason, but I am happy with where I am right now.

Perhaps, I just needed to be where I was so that I could know how much it sucks, and use that to instill in my kids a desire to be in shape and eat healthy. They have taken to eating healthy and exercise quite well. They love running on the treadmill (but prefer outside like me), and Caleb always asks if the food is healthy that we are eating. Addison was packing a lunch last night for her dance workshop today and made a point to make sure she had good healthy food to fuel her through her day of dance. It makes me proud and happy to see how much they are learning and adopting with me. It has truly been a whole family journey to help me get to where I am.

I am not done yet! I still have more weight I would like to lose, but I feel better than I have in my whole life and I am really excited to see where my running takes me!

Cleaning Out My Closet – Literally!

Tonight, I decided to go through my closet. I wanted to get rid of every last bit of “fat guy” clothing that I could. I have gone through my closet several times now since March, and I have always had a lot to stuff to give to Good Will. I have given old suits, tons of polos and button up shirts. T-shirts, pants, shorts. You name it, I have probably donated it (except underwear and socks, cuz that would be weird).I went through all that remained in my closet. I had saved some larger clothes not knowing how much weight I would loose and what size I may end up in.

Tonight, it all went. All the older clothes that I have had for years. Clothes that I bought, got too fat for and never removed the tags. I thought, I would wear them after I lost enough weight, but I actually lost faster than I thought and missed them. They are now too big for me. Which is awesome! Of course! But at the same time, it sucks. I see a lot of money that I spent on clothes that I now need to replace. I have about 5 polo shirts I can wear to work. A couple of sweater that I recently purchased and that is about it. I have no button up shirts left. Kind of funny when I think about it. Take a look at what is left in my closet. All the empty hangers are shirts that are going to Good Will.

Empty Closet
Empty Closet

I tell this story not to complain about having to buy new clothes. Frankly, it was time anyway! A lot of what I had was very old, but it was what fit. I had to kind of make due with what I had. It is kind of nice to have a fresh start and to be able to go get some new clothes. I am only going to buy a few things as I am hoping to still loose more weight, but I do need a few staple items to be able to wear to work and such. I tell this story as a cautionary tale. I let my weight get out of control and I see how much it has cost me. In real monetary dollars, I can see the expense that my weight gain has cost. All the clothes that I should never have had to buy. It is crazy when you think about it. And even crazier when I think about a year and a half ago when I went through all my clothes to get rid of everything too small to make room for more fat guy clothes. If just the sense of feeling better, and looking better, and being alive longer doesn’t appeal to you to control your weight, think of the money! Think of all the things you could do with the money you didn’t have to waste on new clothes over and over again.