Tuesday, November 01, 2011
I was reviewing my activity log and noticed that after my 50 mile bike ride last Saturday (my longest yet), I have now crossed over 1000 miles of tracked walking, running or biking (I use the GPS on my phone to track outdoor mileage). I started focussing on improving my fitness back at the end of July 2010. At first, I started off walking around the block every other night or so. Then I started adding some distance, and increasing the frequency of my walks until I was regularly walking 3-4 miles. At one point, I remember listening to an MP3 on my phone and being inspired to actually break out into a run. It was only for maybe a quarter of a mile, but my legs didn't have any of the knee problems that I'd experienced with running in the past. I decided to get back into running after more than a 10 year break. I quickly discovered the C25k (Couch to 5k) training program, which helped me ramp up my running while keeping my over-enthusiasm from overwhelming me and pushing me into injury. My first 5k in more than a decade was just a little more than a year ago. Since then, I've done several other races including 3 half marathons (and have another one scheduled in about 3 weeks). I've also become hooked on triathlons, and thus I've become reacquainted with my childhood joy of riding a bike... although I never hit 30+ mph on a bike as kid. I've also become a swimmer (as opposed to someone who previously just soaked&splashed in a swimming pool). I don't really track my yardage for my swim practices, so I don't know the distance I've accumulated in the water. However, I do know that I've gone from being barely able to swim a 25yard pool length, to swimming 1km (.6 miles) open water in my season ending triathlon. Additionally, this Saturday (Nov 5, 2011) I'll be competing in my first ever swim meet.
Anyway... just over a 1000 miles of activity that otherwise would have likely been spent on the couch was a nice milestone, so I figured I'd blog about it. :-)
Monday, July 18, 2011
So I recently crossed the one year anniversary of deciding that I needed to focus on getting fit and joining SparkPeople. Man, in some respects, it doesn't seem as if it should be that long ago, and in other respects, it seems like a lifetime ago. In some respects, I guess both are right.
Last year around this time I had a high school reunion where I found myself really worn out after a day of walking around the D.C. area. It wasn't a particularly intense walk, with lots of stopping and looking, but by the end of the day, I was worn out. I also realized that although I had gotten good at hiding my gut with loose clothes and using my height as an excuse to always end up in the back row for pictures, it wasn't shaking the fact that I was on weight gain trajectory that led me straight to where my dad is now... obese, winded with even mild exertion, near diabetic, and with an assortment of other weight related medical issues. It was not a path I wanted to take, so I resolved to make some changes.
In this past year, I've really followed the SparkPeople suggested methodology for weight loss (and life change). I've set many small achievable goals, most of which I accomplished. After hitting one goal, I'd build upon that success and set a slightly more ambitious goal. This has led to pretty remarkable (to me at least) transformation. The most apparent change is probably that I've lost more than 35 pounds. And although I didn't do body fat measurements before I started, I imagine most of that weight was in body fat. I went from having size 38 pants being snug (I had just started to buy size 40 clothing) to being back to a size 32. And, for the first time in my life, I have well defined abs (not exactly a chiseled 6 pack, but they are certainly there). More importantly though, I went from being winded by doing a 20 minute brisk walk to running my first half marathon (my second one is scheduled for September). I went from being a couch potato to becoming a triathlete (just did my 3rd triathlon yesterday, and have several more planned before the year's end). I went from watching TV till 2am to waking up at 5:30am to do an hour and half of swim practice. I actually go on at length about some of the sheer improvements in fitness across a wide range of activities (pushups, pullups, running, aerobic capability, etc) but in short... I've discovered my inner athlete.
Anyway, the great thing is that I don't consider myself to have been on a diet program or even a fitness program at all. It's not like now that I've hit my goals, I will revert to my old ways. Over the course of the past year, I've mostly changed my lifestyle to be much more active and to be more aware of what I eat. As a result of the lifestyle change, my body has changed. I see no reason to go back to my old lifestyle and my old poor food habits, so I don't see this as being a yo-yo kind of weight loss that you so often read about from folks that decide to "do atkins" or "do southbeach diet". Of course, no one ever thinks they will be part of that majority of people who regain their lost weight, but for now at least, I am having too much fun with my running and triathlons to see me going back to my old ways. We'll see what the next year has in store for me...
P.S. Oh, and I know some of you are probably thinking (because I would be too if I didn't already know the difference) that I just finished saying I wasn't "on a program" yet also remember me crediting SparkPeople for some of my success. The difference I see is that SparkPeople is in a lot of respects simply a set of tools (and information, and community) that you can use if you like but that isn't necessarily prescriptive in what you can/can't eat or even on how much.
Monday, May 02, 2011
So now that I've done my first half marathon, I'm officially hooked. I'm sore today, but I loved the sense of accomplishment and the final payoff of an extended training program. Last night, I sat down with my flyers and pamphlets I collected from the Flying Pig expo (as well as a few other information sources) and plotted out what my racing schedule will structured around for the rest of 2011. Here are the primary races I planning on competing in:
Tri For Joe (Sprint Tri) May 28, 2011
Little Miami Triathlon June 5, 2011
Fit to Fight Triathlon July 17, 2011
Cincinnati Triathlon (Sprint) July 24, 2011
Cincinnati Mudathlon Aug 13, 2011
Air Force Half Marathon Sept 17, 2011
Columbus Half(Full?) Marathon Oct 16, 2011
Trax for Packs 10k Oct 24, 2011
Mason Half Marathon Nov 6, 2011
Jingle Bell Run 5k Dec ??, 2011
I may try to fit some other events in there as well. I know I will probably eventually make it to a Masters Swim meet. And getting a bike race added into that schedule would probably be a good idea as well. However, these races really represent the core of what I'd like to accomplish this year.
Some of the events are closer to each other than I'd actually prefer. In particular, the Little Miami Triathlon is the week after the Tri for Joe. In that case, I'm ok with a slower than ideal performance on the Little Miami in order to really push myself on the Tri for Joe. Also the Columbus Marathon is the week before the Trax for Packs race. Again, I'm ok with a less than stellar performance on the 10k to do well in Columbus. The Fit to Fight tri is the week before the Cincinnati Sprint Triathlon. In this case, I'm considering the Fit to Fight as a tuneup/training event. It is a local event with shorter distances than the Cinci Tri (an actual USAT sanctioned event). I'm hoping the Fit to Fight will give me some good practice that I can put into use for the Cinci Tri.
Monday, May 02, 2011
So, I'm pretty happy with how my first half marathon turned out. My official (although preliminary) stats are:
6.8 mile split: 1:09:12 (pace: 10:07min/mile)
13.1 final time: 2:05:59 (pace: 9:38min/mile)
Overall Place: 2829 out of 10862
Division place: 274 out of 579 (yay top half!)
One thing that I find very cool about this is that my "last-half" race pace ended up being 9:03min/mile. This is faster than my 5k race pace I had 7 months ago that signified my return to running!
The Flying Pig is known for its hilly course. For me, the hills weren't nearly as bad as the start of the race. With all the people (over 10,000 participants) and the congestion in places along the course, it was hard for me to get a good pace established early on. By the time the big hills came up, the field had spread out enough that I could run my own race, as opposed to having to dodge other runners or try to thread myself through narrow gaps between runners. Plus, with the rain we had early on in the race, avoiding puddles was an issue as well. At least on the hills you didn't have to worry about stepping into a standing pool of water. :-)
Monday, April 25, 2011
So, as of last week, I registered for my first "real" triathlon. I say "real" in quotes there because you may recall that I did a "Try a Tri" event through my community center back in January. That was an all indoor event with each leg of the tri determined by time, not distance and the final rankings was based on total distance accomplished. That meant that my super sucky swim portion was mostly balanced out by my faster than normal run.
The "Tri for Joe" ( www.hfpracing.com/events/2011/tri-fo
r-joe ) on the other hand is an full on Sprint Triathlon sanctioned by USA Triathlon. It'll be 700 meter swim (longer than I've ever done at a single time so far), a 20k bike, and a 5k run. I've gotten a LOT better at swimming since January (hard not to, when I sucked so badly to begin with), but 700 meters is still pretty intimidating when 300 yards is "long distance" for me right now. Still, I'm thinking I should have time to lengthen my distance over the next month. Plus, there is always the backstroke if I need a breather. This will be my first actual Triathlon and is actually one of the first ones of the seasons around here. I'm super excited to see my training actually pay off.
However, as if that weren't enough, I'm also registered to do a *second* triathlon just a week (and one day) afterward. In this case, I'm doing Morgan's Little Miami Triathlon ( www.littlemiamitriathlon.com/html/tr
iathlon.html ). This is an unusual sort of event. Rather than swim/bike/run, it's composed of a 6 mile canoe or kayak leg (I'll be doing it solo in a kayak), a 5.5 mile run, and then finishes off with an 18 mile bike race. The idea of biking *after* a run seems a bit crazy to me. This will also be my first race ever where I'm not running across the finish line, but hey, that's the event. I'm excited about both events and didn't want to miss either one. I just wish I had a few more weeks between the two events so that I wouldn't have to train for 4 distinct sports through May....
Later on in the year, I've got the Cincinnati Triathlon ( www.cincytriathlon.com/Quick%20Facts
.htm ) on my radar for July. I'm not yet registered for that one, but it will be my first open water swim (down the Ohio River). Should be an experience...
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