Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 50 (week 8, day 1) - unbelievable run with U2

Wow! What an amazing morning. Let me start by saying it was a good run.

Having seen the sports medicine practitioner on Friday, I have a much better understanding of the mechanics of my knee problem. Since my left patella is tracking to the outside of my leg, my stabilizer (when it arrives) will help keep it further right, to track in the center. Well, prior to this morning, I had been wrapping my leg under to the inside and then over to the outside. That wrapping put more outward pressure on my knee cap. While the wrap, as a whole, has helped to immobilize it over these past few weeks, today I tried something different. I changed the direction of my wrapping. I started under and to the outside, then came over to the inside, effectively pushing my patella toward the center. After finishing the wrap, I took two long pieces of masking tape and crossed them beside my knee cap so that each piece pulled it slightly inward, mimicking the way the straps work on the patellar stabilizer. Then, I decided to skip the pull-on brace, and I put on my running tights.

While looking through my dresser this weekend, I found a pair of polyester long johns that I haven't worn in a few years because they were too tight. This morning, I pulled them on over my running tights, and they fit well. I was excited, because this meant my legs would not be as cold this morning. I finished getting the rest of my gear on, and then drank a few ounces of apple juice for a little pre-run sugar. Realizing I had not downloaded the Week 8 podcast, I pulled open my laptop and quickly created a 28 minute play list. In reality, I think I ended up with something closer to 29 minutes, exlcluding the warm-up and cool-down segments. Here's what I decided to run with this morning:

Amon Hen (LOTR:FOTR Soundtrack)

Pride (U2)
New Years' Day (U2)
With or Without You (U2)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (U2)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday (U2)
Where the Streets Have No Name (U2)

Concerning Hobbits (LOTR:FOTR Soundtrack)

And so we began. We switched our starting point today, parking in a residential neighborhood near the park end of the trail. We walked our warm-up and got to the trailhead just as the first song was ending. I paused the player and took a few moments to stretch, since I had not done that before leaving home (I got caught up in making the play list). Then, the music was resumed and we began running.

The first few minutes were marked by pain at my left knee. It was a little different than the pain that usually comes later in the run--a bit more acute. I could feel my knee cap firm against my homemade patellar stabilizer, so I figured that my body was just reacting to the change. Sure enough, after the first few moments my knee stopped bothering me. Other than a little twinge here or there, it felt great for most of the run.

I don't know if it was because I had more confidence in my knee wrapping, the fact that I was warmer (two leg layers and warmer air temps), or the fact that I was listening to music I really enjoy, but my pace was much better from the start. Of course, that sense of my pace was based, in part, on Mrs. F's pace. She ran more than 5k yesterday--3.3 miles--so I figured she might be a little slower today. Meaning her no disrespect, that was fine by me. I really like running beside her rather than always ending up behind her (though there are benefits to that! ;).

I had to fight through the first song, about 4 minutes, because my body just wanted me to stop. I perked up a bit when "New Years' Day" began, because I knew I was making progress. When "With or Without You" began, one of my favorite songs by U2, I found myself ready to give a bit more. I found myself adjusting my pace to match the beat, and I could tell that Mrs. F was trying to keep up.

We reached the dam end of the trail right where I hoped we'd be--at about the end of that third song. We turned around and continued. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" came on. I had forgotten how much I love U2's music from the 1980s and early 1990s.

I noticed something today that I have not noticed on our other runs. The section of trail we were now on, having just turned around near the dam, is actually a very long, gradual uphill slope. Through all our other runs on this stretch (sans Mrs. F's extra run yesterday), we were always on this segment while we were fresh and on our way out. Wow! What a difference a little prior exertion can make! As "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" began, I announced that I had reached the point of fatigue.

I pushed to keep up my pace, but Mrs. F was getting a few steps ahead of me now. I sped up, determined to stay as close to her as I could. When it seemed I could do no more, I announced that I was going to slow for a little bit. I did, and as soon as I started to do so I could feel my body wanting to slow even further, to the type of lumbering pace with which I often ran during the middle segments. I fought the urge. I allowed myself to ease my pace, but I compelled myself to stay ahead of my slogging death jog. Then, the most amazing thing happened.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm very attuned to music. I love going to concerts and listening to the blended sounds, whether classical or rock, jazz or choral. I love straining to hear specific instruments. When a musical piece is done well, I become like a boat floating on its waves, rising and falling with each theme, pushed and pulled with each current, slowed in the flats, and exhilarated by the crashing of the waves over my bow. It's been a long time since I've simply sat and listened to U2, one of the groups that was a hiding place for my during my tumultuous late teen years, so as the next song began, "Where the Streets Have No Name", I felt a surge of warm emotion wash over me. With this surge, I found myself again stronger and faster, and ready to finish our course.

The opening guitar licks begin ever so faintly. In fact, they began so softly that it seemed as if the gap between the last song and this one was too long, and I feared that I did not add the final song. As I began to hear the notes ring out, the flood began. Then joined the bass and the drums, solidifying the steady beat. The gradual crescendo continued as the introduction gave way to the start of the song proper: "I want to run..." and I was running.

I kept up my increased pace to the end of the trail where we began our run. Honestly, I don't remember whether Mrs. F was next to me, in front of me, or behind me at that point. I was running, and all I could hear was the music. The song finished as we approached the end (yes, she may have been in front of me here), and I continued the final running paces to the road. We ran two miles in just over 28 minutes! That's just over 14 minutes per mile. That's no cross country pace, but for a fat man on the trail to a healthier life, it sure felt good!

Our cool-down walk had one of my favorite classical compositions playing, "Concerning Hobbits" from the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack. If you've seen the movie, it's the piece that plays at the beginning of the movie when Galdalf is riding into the Shire and he is joined by Frodo. It's absolutely beautiful! Mrs F and I chatted a bit as we walked back toward the car, and the distance just seemed to fly by. We both realized that we had completed two miles in just over 28 minutes, and we were both impressed. Sure, it doesn's match Mrs. F's 12-minute mile pace from her extra run (3.3 miles over 40 minutes is just over 12:07 per mile), but she did great considering she just did over 5k yesterday!

As for me, I'm giddy. I'm in a bit of shock. I just ran two miles without walking, and I did it at a sub-15 pace. I could not have imagined that! I just never thought it would be possible.

After getting home, I rested for a bit, then got up, showered, dressed, and ate breakfast. My clothes are fitting so much better. My size 44 pants are comfortably loose now, requiring a belt just to keep them on. My 42s are in the rotation, having been a size I have not worn since before Mrs. F and I wed 16 years ago. My XXXL shirts are now too large, and my XXLs are loose. I might not get down into an XL shirt for a while, because I need to trim down my top a bit more. I was reading about a "100 Push-ups Challenge" the other day--think of it as a Couch-to-5k program for push-ups. I wonder if I might be able to convince Mrs. F to try that one... After all, I did agree to try this crazy running program!

That's it! We're in Week 8! I remember when I was desperate to reach the half-way point and was disappointed when I called it a week earlier than it was. Wow! We have come so far. Today was the first time my run felt good in a week--not the "runner's high" type of good, but just an overall good feeling to the run. I was pleased with my pace, my stride, and my lack of pain. Today, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I finally feel like I may actually be able to complete that Turkey Trot in November. I needed a day like this one.

Good running, all!


  1. Great job! I'm glad that it went so well today. You ran for 2 miles! Your eldest son will be very surprised.

  2. Hmmm...our ability to run may shock him just enough for us to leave him in the dust. Well, at least for the first few minutes...until someone revives him...and he figures out which way we went...

  3. Hah! If he only knew that you could run for that far. I'm imagining a conversation you could have in a few weeks betting him that you could do more time than he thinks. I'm thinking you could get him to wager a fair amount of money thinking that you would not be able to go for 10 or 15 minutes.

  4. That comment(and this one) was Amy ( not Nathan).

  5. $20 for 15 minutes, double that if I can last 30! And if I manage to cover more than a mile in that time, he has to double it again. Hmmm...if he were a few years older, we could hustle people at bars..."How long do you think the fat man can run?"



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