‘Ran’bling On: Calorie Counting

I’m sure there have been times when I have railed upon the idea of counting my daily caloric intake, but, if nothing else, I too can be a hypocrite.

I started counting my calories a week and a half ago after I got one of those futuristically fancy smartphones. One of my first, and few, downloads was the ‘MyFitnessPal‘ app. Just typing these words makes my skin crawl.

The main reason I wanted to count my calories prior to downloading the app was so I could get a better idea of what I was consuming. Now, I haven’t necessarily accounted for every morsel I’ve consumed the last 1.5 weeks, but I’ve been pretty steady and don’t lie about portions either. The biggest shock to me so far was the pure amount of calories in rice and meat at the levels I was consuming them.

Another feature of the app is that I can enter in my running and biking and it automatically accounts for my height and weight and adjusts the amount of calories I ‘should’ consume on that particular day.

When I set-up the app, I chose the ‘lose 2 lbs. a week’ option, which is an aggressive amount of weight to lose, but I figured that would give me enough wiggle room on a day-to-day basis.

In conclusion, I’ve been impressed with ‘MyFitnessPal’ and the amount of pre-loaded foods and exercises that they have available to make being a complete hypocritical calorie-counting a-hole that much easier.

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I’ve started to add biking and swimming to my workout routine. I believe that fitness losers would call this ‘cross training’ when used in conjunction with running. I will call it ‘biking’ and ‘swimming’.

I still don’t have a particular goal in mind when it comes to biking or swimming. Doing a triathlon doesn’t really excite me that much, although an Ironman Triathlon would be something fun to possibly work towards.

As far as biking goes, I don’t think I’d ever like to do any 100% bike events. I have started to enjoy it leisurely, but I think I would need a different bike that can go faster. I’m definitely not ready to go to some wine and cheese party and start bragging about how many bones I threw down for a, pardon my tone, friggin’ bicycle.

And as for swimming? I’ve done a total of two swimming workouts, first time I’ve swam in a handful of years, and I started thinking that it would be kinda fun to enter into some adult swimming events during the winter. If such a thing exists. Not that I’m very good at it, but it does give me a good arm workout/full body workout that is a nice change of pace.

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I’m thinking that my short-term goal as far as running, biking, and swimming are concerned is to build up to 205 miles total in one week by the Twin Cities Marathon (TCM) this October. In thinking about that goal, I’d put my mileages at 50 miles of running, 150 miles of biking, and 5 miles of swimming.

I realize that this is a far out there goal, but I’m giving myself about 2 months to reach it, or about the time I should start tapering for TCM. So it should be possible as long as I keep my head up and on straight; or whatever that saying is. And body healthy. And get in better shape.

If I’m able to reach this goal, I should be sitting pretty good for the TCM. At this point to reach that mileage I would need to run for a little over 7 hours, bike for about 12 hours, and swim for 10 hours in one week. That would be 29 hours in one week devoted to ‘run/bike/swim’ -ing. Now that I’ve added it up and typed it out, I do not think this goal will happen by September.

But I am a hypocrite…

‘Ran’bling On: End of an Era

I didn’t really mean for my running streak/era to end, but it just kinda happened that way. I don’t mean to sound dramatic about it.

I’m currently on my fourth straight day of not running. I plan to maybe get out and run in the next few days, but a week-plus off wouldn’t scare me at all.

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I hopped on a bike for the first time in years and am highly considering purchasing one of my own. I just don’t know anything about bicycles. Except that I have a hard time scratching my face while riding one.

I’d like to get a bike so I can do this cross training thing that all these insufferable people have been raving about.

I had been wanting to try out the bike for awhile, but running everyday kinda held me back from that.

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I ended up running 3.1 miles-plus for 190 straight days. And I’d tell you that it was enjoyable for every single one of those days… and I’d be telling you the absolute truth.

Now, that previous statement is more of a half-truth, because some days were very ‘trying’, but there is always a sense of accomplishment for me after a run, so that would be the enjoyable part. Some days that enjoyment lasts a few seconds of ‘Thank whatever-you-believe-in that’s over!’; some days it can control my mood for hours.

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On that 191st day, I intended to run, but when it came down to going out for a run, I decided not to. This scenario had played itself out numerous times in the previous weeks/months/half-a-year, but I always was able to pull myself out there. This time I just decided not to; while also deciding that I probably wouldn’t run for at least a couple days.

My body had probably reached that proverbial tipping point… about a month ago. Every run began feeling like a chore, and that seems to zap my mental and emotional energy more so than my physical energy. For me, running with soreness (not an injury, mind you) is much easier to push through than running with a constant tug from the mental/emotional side of things.

I don’t mean to make myself out to be a complete drama queen, but there are times when life tends to rear its ugly head and control the thought process.

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Probably the biggest reason that I was ready for a break was my stretch of running three half-marathons and two full marathons in a six weekend stretch. Those five events were tremendously fun and challenging, but I don’t see myself doing that again anytime soon.

Each event was ‘worse’ than the one before it as far as my times go, but completing an event of 13.1 and 26.2 miles is still something that would’ve been out of my realm of possibilities just a few years ago.

I still remember finishing out the first 4.5 mile run of my life in the fall of 2009. I remember pushing it a little the last stretch, knowing that I could’ve ran even further that day. So getting to the point of being disappointed by finishing a long-distance event is still in the future/never going to happen.

 

‘Ran’bling On: No Sleep ’til Brookings

Way back in December I decided I wanted to run as many days as possible because of a few reasons:

  • I knew I was going to Hawaii for a week around New Years and I wanted to be able to run in paradise. (Note: This is atypical. I don’t especially like to travel. Kinda a poor homebody.)
  • Had a goal to get my weight to 230 by the end of 2011.
  • Knew I wanted to run another marathon at some point and I wanted to be prepared whenever the opportunity to run one arose.
  • The weather in Minnesota was still tolerable and I wanted to take advantage of it.

To do a quick audit of these reasons:

  • I was able to run everyday I was out in paradise. A handful of early morning runs along the ocean on Ali’i Dr. in Kailua/Kona. This road is more famous as being part of the 26.2 mile run portion of the Ironman World Championship.
  • I have no idea what my current weight is, but I can tell you it’s most likely not below 230.
  • Was ready to run St. Louis Marathon in April but it didn’t work out to finish. Ran Brookings Marathon two days ago and did finish.
  • There was about a week of winter this past ‘Winter’.

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To touch on my disaster of a marathon in St. Louis one more time, I finally figured out why the balls of my left foot were so sore for a month. What I thought was metatarsalgia, a bruise, turned out to be a splinter. A splinter that had grown a bit infected from being immersed in my calloused foot for a month. I’ve never claimed to be any sort of medical personnel but the reason I finally figured it out was I finally looked at the bottom of my foot. It was then that I saw the black speck and tender area around it.

I had messed with extra padding in my shoes and I think I even developed a different running style in the aftermath of this ordeal. (Not for the better.) But the foot feels fine now.

So during the St. Louis Marathon, when a muscle in my hip started to tighten up, it pretty much made me mentally give up.Oh well, I had some wood in my foot for a month; which is 11 years and 1 month shy of the ‘wood in body’ record held by Jenna Jameson.

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In the aftermath of St. Louis, I wanted to give the marathon another shot, but I was weary of my foot. I wanted to run the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon but too many marathon posers signed up for the event and I couldn’t register by the time I figured out my little foot problem. So that led me to sign up for the Brookings Marathon being held on the same day.

I got a nice warm-up run in at the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon eight days ago. That was my first half marathon. And let me tell you, those are much more enjoyable if you like feeling like a human being the rest of the day.

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I really don’t have much to say about Brookings Marathon. I jogged the entire way and felt fine when it was over. I didn’t have much soreness yesterday or today.

I probably could’ve done a tad bit better than my 4:09 finish but, to continue my running streak, I ran 3.1 miles after work the night before at 5:30. I then drove 4+ hours, got into my hotel room about 11, and started running Brookings Marathon at 7 am. This isn’t meant to be an excuse because I just wanted to finish.

The only thing that really stands out to me from the marathon is that with about a mile to go, I just about lost it. I have no idea what brought it on, but I had a big ol’ lump in my throat and was a kitten running across the road from out-n-out bawling. It probably just came down to the frustration of the past month knowing that I was ready to finish the marathon in St. Louis and it not working out.Who’s to say? (Well, me…)

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So, next on the docket looks like the Minneapolis Marathon on June 3rd. I haven’t signed up for it, but it’s only a matter of time before I do. Probably later this week if I do. I’d like to feel semi-normal again when I sign up for it, so I don’t feel like a complete running lunatic.

Video of me from the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon

‘Ran’bling On: Swing and a Miss

I like to think of running as a hobby being much like taking batting practice in a batting cage. Sometimes you hit the ball, sometimes you miss. As long as the machine keeps throwing ‘em, you keep swinging because you just know the next one will be the one you crush. The only time there is a feeling of disappointment is when you realize that your pitch count has been reached and you won’t be seeing anymore pitches.

This past weekend, just as I felt like I was really starting to get a hold of the ball, the GO! St. Louis Marathon threw me a fastball that I just couldn’t catch up with. Like everything, there are multiple reasons/excuses/what-have-you’s, but for me it just comes down to the simple Casey at the Bat ‘it just wasn’t my pitch’ cliche.

If I see that pitch again, I’ll be ready for it. For now I’m just going to sit back and wait the next pitch to barrel towards me because I know I’ll crush it.

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The forethought of dropping out of a marathon turned out to be much, much worse for me than the reality of throwing in the flag. I viewed quitting as making the whole event/training/kit ‘n caboodle being a waste of time (I mean the mental/thinking about and paying for running the event part more than the physical, running miles part; because I’d never view that as a waste.), and that I’d have to be maimed by an extra-terrestrial’s errant tee shot to not finish an event I signed up for.

Turns out, I fold quicker than a frugal poker player does.

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Here’s what happened as best as I can recall:

  • I foolishly held onto the notion that I’d be able to run paces that work for me in 50 degree weather despite the forecast being 70’s and humid.
  • Just like Twin Cities Marathon last fall, I didn’t do a good enough job hydrating beforehand. The higher temps in St. Louis caught me earlier. Mile 10 in St. Louis/Mile 19 in Twin Cities.
  • There were hills early and often that I didn’t expect by looking at the elevation profile.
  • A muscle in my hip tightened up around mile 8. I stopped to loosen it up after mile 10. I knew at that point that I wouldn’t be finishing the event. I was close to dropping out, but decided to go a few more miles.
  • I walked and sometimes jogged another 5-6 miles over the course of the next hour. I shut my Garmin off at 15 miles over 2.5 hours. Eventually getting to the St. Louis Metrolink train; which I hopped on and was taken back to the finish line festivities.

All told, I’m not sure how I come across on a blog but I was never mad/sad/bitter/upset that I didn’t finish (Except it makes me cry how ugly and stupid the finisher’s medal and shirts were anyways.). If this had been my first marathon, I may feel differently about the circumstances. I probably would’ve viewed not finishing as a waste of money before, but, not to sound too cliché, I’d rather sign up for another 100 marathons and not finish one of them than to never give it another crack.

I view the entrance fee as paying for the experience and I got all the experience I could handle on Sunday. It makes me wonder how long I would’ve lasted at the scorching hot Boston Marathon. I probably would’ve sent it into the upper deck.

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Moving forward to the future marathons that I participate in, I will have to run them how I treat my training. That is, if I continue to train by just listening to my body everyday, I will have to run the marathon that way; instead of trying to have a predetermined pace in mind. That doesn’t mean I can’t set goal times, I just can’t set out to necessarily reach them.

On the flip side, if I start to adjust my training regimen and start adding tempo runs/speed work/strength building/blah-blah-blah, then I will allow myself in the future to run marathons with a rigid plan in mind. (Spoiler alert: I don’t see myself adding any of this fancy, hoity toity, runner snob, what-have-you workouts to my schedule anytime soon.) But… maybe I can find some other distance events to run that will allow me to push some paces, get some PRs, no big deals.

If I Had It My Way

The most inexplicable event in my life is currently happening: It is 4 in the morning and I’m listening to Pitbull; sober. I’ll probably throw on a little Paul Wall in a bit. Moving along, I’m hydrated and ready to sweep the streets of St. Louis in Nelly-like fashion; sans the Air Force Ones.

Here is how I’d like to run the marathon that takes place in a couple hours:

  • Make it to the 5k mark in 27 minutes; about an 8:30/mile pace to get my glock warmed up.
  • Make it to the 10-mile mark in less than 1:25; less than an 8:30/mile pace.
  • Reach the half-marathon, 13.1 miles, point  by1:50; hopefully closer to 1:45.
  • Reach the 20-mile mark between 2:40 and 2:50; as close to the former as possible so I’ll be in a good position to…
  • Finish in 3:30, or thereabouts.

These are all possible times based on my training runs, but the factors involved (i.e weather, body, crowded roads, elevation) have to cooperate with me to make these even remotely possible. I would be satisfied to just finish this marathon with my body still intact. We’ll see in a little bit. I’m excited to find out how it’s going to go.

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The one good rap song by a fair-skinned (not sure what is racially PC these days) performer. (Side note: Eminem never had a good rap song.)

Looks Like Wind

Running is weird. Running everyday has made running for me a tad bit more complex.

When I was working towards Grandma’s and Twin Cities marathons last year, I viewed taking days off more as a necessity than anything. I remember despising the days off because those would inevitably be the days I was most eager to want to run. Taking days off would also lead me to be anxious to get out and run the next day; thinking that my day off from running had somehow fractured/hampered/what-have-you my ‘ability’ to run.

By and large, the off days last year worked out just fine and allowed me to build ‘strength’/’speed’/’endurance’/’I just plain ran last year and didn’t keep track of much’. Last year felt like a gradual, steady wave heading towards the shore of the marathon finish line. There were no white caps. There was the up and down movement characterized by a wave, but nothing that really stuck out to me as progression or digression.

This year has been completely different. Since I started running everyday on December 10th (Hunnerd ‘n twenny some odd days, mind you.), I have had extended periods where I feel like I’ve made great progress, and also periods where I’m left to wonder if I know what I’m doing (Spoiler alert: I don’t.).

The hardest part of running everyday remains the mental aspect of it. There will be days where my trusty-sidekick, the Garmin, will show me the love of personal best times; only to snap me wickedly back to reality the next 3-5 days in the form of slower and mentally exhausting runs.

I’m currently in the latter part of this cycle. Last week, I had four days in a row of incredible-for-me runs. I am now in the midst of seven straight ‘please let this end’ runs. It hasn’t helped that there has been 20+ mph winds at least five of those days. But enough sniffling.

I looked up the weather report for this weekend’s GO! St. Louis Marathon and it appears that there will be 15-20 mph southernly wind, increasing to 20-25 south-southwesternly(?) by mid-morning. This is less than favorable.

But, on the flip-side, I am more than ready. My wind strategy is to try to take my mind off the wind as soon as possible and just run. This seems like a simple strategy, but it really isn’t for me.

Every time I go running and know there is some wind from whatever direction, I always choose to run directly into it so the way back will be with the wind. Here is how the running into the wind goes for me, every time: Spend the first half angry and mad, nearly coming to tears about the plight I’m in of having to run into the wind; slowly come to grips that the wind ain’t going away; forget about the wind while thinking about other things; turn around and run with the wind.

So, naturally, the first three miles of the marathon will be running into the wind. The next two will be with the wind. Followed by 10 with a cross-wind and possibly the last bit running with the wind.

What does all this mean? I no longer have any expectations as far as time goes. I would’ve liked to have gotten as close to 3:30 as possible, but I’m going to cut my baby-self some slack and just go out and see how reasonably low I can get. I still expect to easily shatter my personal best from last year, but I won’t be pushing the issue.

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There is also a slight chance of rain.

And I run in the rain ’til I’m breathless; when I’m breathless, I run ’til I drop.

Running Goals Audit

Since the Twin Cities Marathon last October, I’ve actually been able to accomplish three of my running goals. I don’t tend to have too many, but here are the three that I’ve been able to cross off:

  • Run a mile under 7 minutes. I reached this old goal last November the 8th. 6:59.76 is what my Garmin said. It’s safe to say I barely made it. I didn’t set out to reach this goal on that run. My fastest recorded mile happened on the 6th mile of a 6 mile run. I just happened to be booking it towards the end of the run. Maybe their was wind too. I don’t remember… Wait. Yeah, there was wind. A fierce headwind during that last mile. If there is some genius mathematician from Brazil reading this, please compute what a 6:59.76 into a 45 mph wind with 60 mph gusts every 15 seconds would translate to if there was no wind. It doesn’t matter how much I weigh; mind your own business.
  • Run 60 miles in one week. Last year while training for both marathons, I had wanted to get up to a high mileage of 60 in one week. This year, I was able to get to 60 in 4 out of 5 weeks. Excuse me as I dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back.
  • Have a double-digit mileage run under 8 minute pace. I really don’t know a better way to phrase this one. But a couple weeks ago I had a run of 13.13 miles in which I had an average pace of 7:52. By far the best run of my life. Stop feeding my ego, Garmin.

All that being bragged/said/what-have-you, I still have a few goals left in the ol’ bag-o-running-tricks:

  • Sub-20 minute 5k. I’ve had this goal for a couple years. I’m still not close to thinking this goal is doable. I’ve run one 5k and it was in 22:55. Probably could’ve been as low as 22 if I hadn’t shot out of a cannon at the start.
  • 3:30 marathon. Ish. Don’t want to talk about this one. I kinda wish I had set more tiered goals when I signed up for my first marathon. I’m hoping to get this time at the St. Louis Marathon in a week and I definitely think I have the ability to do so; I’ll just have to hope for a headwind because that’s when I run my best.
  • Run 70 miles in one week. I added this one after completing the 60 in a week. You probably could’ve guessed that had I presented this in multiple choice form. I’ve found it’s much easier to reach weekly mileage goals by running every day of said week, so hopefully I can average 10 miles-a-day for a week at some point.

I tried to think of other goals, I really did, but I couldn’t think of anything besides, “Enjoy every run.” And no one wants to read about that.