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!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 54 - the decision to run later today, Thursday recap

During the first few weeks of this program, had I even allowed myself to consider running later in a given day, I likely would not have run at all. Now, as we are nearly finished with Week 8, I find myself surprisingly different.

Yes, it was a long night. Heavy reading for my new graduate class had me reading straight through from the moment I finished eating dinner. I allowed myself to interrupt my reading with Internet activities for about 10 minutes after every chapter completed, just to help keep my sanity and to preserve my eyesight. Who, in their right mind, pubishes a massive academic text printed in eight point type? I guess I can gell which publisher was trying to save on paper.

Before it even reached 10 PM, I had fallen asleep at two points during my reading. It's not that the material was that dry, but rather that I was so tired. I've grown accustomed to getting to bed around 9 PM (or trying to, at least), so 10:15 PM suddenly felt like an all-nighter. I didn't get as far in my reading as I hoped, but it was progress nonetheless.

During the night, our youngest boy made his way into our bed. He's at that age where he absolutely must crawl in between us. He didn't realize that we were already well over to one side of the bed. I spent the next hour and a half occupying about a foot of mattress space, sometimes on my side, and sometimes half-on, half-off the bed. Oi! What a night.

When the alarm went off at five o'clock, I sat up right away. I was feeling surprisingly fresh and ready. "Time to get up and run," I told Mrs. F, but I did not hear a reply. I said something once more. Again hearing no reply, I glanced out the window. No snow, but the forecast was for temps below freezing, moderate winds, and the start of frozen or semi-frozen precipitation. I made an executive decision, and reset the alarm for 6 AM. I lay back down, and actually resumed a dream I was having earlier in the night--I was running in a multi-day distance race. I had just completed seven miles on our third day when the alarm went off again.

This time, instead of being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was foggy-eyed and muddy-headed. Rather than sitting up, I found the alarm clock with my right foot (I had moved it off the night stand because it was too easy to reach), and I hit the snooze button with my heel. This required a tremendous amount of effort and balance that, on retrospect, likely took more energy than simply getting up and running a marathon. That said, I repeated said act nine minutes later. Yet nine minute later, I did it again, but this time it was almost effortless. It's time to find a new place for the alarm clock.

I wonder if there's an electrical outlet in the closet, so I can put it on the top shelf? That would require me to get out of bed to shut it off.

I really hate the snooze alarm feature, but that's a story for another day.

If you haven't noticed by now, I tend to follow rabbit trails as I tell stories. Let me see if I can bring this one back to the main trail...

So, I allowed myself to slack off a bit this morning, and I didn't push to wake Mrs. F. Whereas before that would have been a death-blow to my efforts, it now seems okay. It's not as if I'm not sure if I'll fit the run in. I know when I'll be running: right after work this evening. The funny thing about it? Here I am, sitting and typing, and feeling this sense of disappointment that I didn't run this morning. It's as if my body is saying, "Hey, what's going on, man? Why aren't we out there?" and "When are we going to do this?" That's something I never expected. My body wants to run!

Since our school was hosting the meet yesterday, I got to help out a bit. I helped to direct some of the people traffic on the course ("Runners on the course! Clear the lane!"), and later was assigned to stand at the head of the chute that funnels the runners to the finish line, to direct each group of runners to the correct side in the mixed races ("Boys to the right, girls to the left. Boys to the right. To the right! TO THE RIGHT!").

Some of the runners saw my hand gestures and/or heard my calls early, and found their way to the appropriate side, but some, and I don't know if it was adrenaline, the din of the crowd, or just their sheer determination to finish, did not seem to see or hear me until the final seconds. I had more than one runner--actually, all of the runners who had to make last minute corrections were guys--who stayed left until nearly at the finish and then had to cut across hard to get into their side of the chute. I believe, for most of them, it was unintentional, since they were caught up in mini-races at the end, jockeying for position, but there was one guy who was approaching the finish line apart from any group and at a full sprint, and he was running right at me (with a fiendish grin on his face, no less) and veered to my left (his right) at the last second, missing me by inches, literally. Even with the wind at my back, I felt the wind he created as he passed me by. I think he was having some fun.

I'm going to try to remember his face. If I ever see him driving in an approaching car, I'll want to give him plenty of space. :o

Overall, it was a fun experience. The runner the other boys call "The Beast" was at this meet. He's been running many races at a sub-16 pace all season. With the cold and the hills, he finished in about 16:18--very impressive. He was just wearing his uniform shorts and tank top--no warm wear at all. Some of the parents, after congratulating him, were asking him about college plans. He wasn't sure where he was going, but he pointed out that, once he expressed an interest in a specific school, other schools seemed to come at him from all sides, wanting to recruit him for their programs. As I understand it, that can be common for boys who run sub-16s, and I think it has motivated our eldest son to want to improve his time.

This was The Beast's last year--he's a graduating senior. I think there are a lot of other runners in our area who will be glad to see him go. It can be a little disheartening for some of the other good, solid runners who see that this guy was beating them by 30 seconds to a minute or more. Actually, in all the races where I saw him, I saw one other guy finish about 15 seconds behind him, before there was a long gap to the next group of runners. That's one of the things that is great about cross country, though--not only do the teams compete, but each of the runners is out there trying to beat his own personal best. Quite often, they set their eyes on some faster runner on their team or even from another school, and they work hard all year to try to beat that other runner. They compete on three levels--I can't think of any other sport where the distinction between those three competitions (personal, inter-personal, and team) are so distinct yet also so blended. Cross country may be one of those sports that gets little attention at the high school level--both in the local press and in the eyes of the rest of the school community--but I've found it to be the one sport that seems to foster the most camaraderie, not just on one's own team, but also with players and families at the other schools. It is an amazing sport and an amazing group of people.

So, when I finish today's run, I will have run six miles this week. I'm not on par with my boys (and never may be), but it is about 1.9 miles further than I could run at the start of the season. Little by little, I'm making progress.

I'll be posting again later this evening, after our run and our Friday weight check. I sure hope that goes well today. I just need to remember to change out of my heavy flannel-lined jeans before I hit the scale! I used to have a pretty good tolerance for colder temperatures, but since losing these 17+ lbs., most of which appear to be from my abdominal fat, I find that I get cold much easier. I had to wear a hat walking through the dairy section at the store last week! I guess that's a price I'm willing to pay as I lose the weight!

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