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 26, 2009

Day 57 (week 9) - What were we thinking?

It's hard to believe that, just over eight weeks ago, I agreed to start this seemingly crazy program. So much has changed in the intervening weeks that I almost don't remember what it was like when I started. I do remember it being hard, very hard, and I do remember things like being dreadfully out of breath after about half of the intervals. Yet here I am after running a little more than the required 30 minutes this morning (my playlist was 31 minutes long). When I finished, I was tired, but not out of breath or ready for a nap. In fact, by the time I got back to our car, at the end of our cool-down walk, I just might have been able to go out for another little bit of running!

What can I say about today's run? It started like so many of the others, feeling some resistance from my body, and dealing with my mind which was thinking about how comfortable the old bucket seats in the Tracer were. My knee felt fine, I found my stride fairly early, and I stayed close enough to Mrs. F that I didn't feel like she was getting away from me. When we got to the far end of the trail, where I would normally turn around, my body protested momentarily as I continued past the road. It full well knew that we normally turned around there, but since it was feeling pretty good overall, it capitulated and came along.

It was a bit eerie running that next segment. Between the trees which still held leaves, the cloud cover, and the fact that it was still well before dawn, the path ahead was dark and neary indistinguishable from the remaining night. Mrs. F pulled a bit ahead of me here, as I tried to gauge when I should turn around. Listening for a cue on my playlit to help me estimate time, I picked a stand of trees that stood against the skyline where the trees thinned to brush on my right. As I reached it, I felt I still had some time, so I picked the next landmark on the skyline and kept running. Upon reaching it, I called out to Mrs. F, so she would know I was turning around. I was close enough that she heard me clearly, and I heard her acknowledge my statement.

With that, I began running back. It was the segment of trail we used during our first couple of weeks. Perhaps my body remembered, because when I got to the road again, there was that same sense of "Are we done yet?" that I've experienced before. Yet, in my mind, I was excited. I had already covered extra ground, though I could not be sure how much, but I was still running. It was about then that I really found my stride and experienced a sense of strength and relaxation. I was running, and it didn't bother me. In fact, I was enjoying it--my pace, seeing the city over the water, seeing the airport spotlight circling on the clouds. It was something I would never have imagined possible in any exercise, much less running.

So, on I ran. The good feeling did not last forever, however, and I felt the fatigue come on me, along with new murmurings of my body to slow down. Knowing that slowing seemed to make me want to slow all the more, I tried the opposite--I pushed a little harder. When I increased my pace, ever so slightly, I found that things were better. As the feelings came on again and again I slowed, I did it again. Soon, I was in my final song, one that I really enjoy, and I picked up my pace again. The end of the song neared and I pushed into a spring. The song ended, but I did not stop. I sprinted through the finish line I envisioned, before turning to walk back toward Mrs. F.

Today, she was not as far behind me, though she had again covered more trail than I (including some shorter double-backs to me on our way out). When I saw her, I called out to her, and I saw her pushing to finish strong. She did, and that meant she ran at least a minute more than did I.

I could never have imagined such a run. I find that my fears about the next day's workouts are largely gone now, since I already know I can run for the alltotted time. The next few weeks, after this program ends, will be a challenge, but I believe I'm ready for them, and I'm looking forward to completing my first 5k race in November.

During those early days, and even during some in the middle, I used to ask myself "What were we thinking?" when we agreed to start this program. Well, I'm just glad we endeavored to persevere, regardless of what we were thinking at the onset, or while on the trail.


  1. That is wonderful! I am also feeling much more confident in running larger amounts of time without feeling wiped out and still being able to breathe and talk normally during and after. I am so thankful to get regular exercise now after having three kids (going on 8,6,3). My friend and I are now onto some food goals... and thanks to your talking about from one of your earlier posts, we are getting some good ideas.

  2. Isn't that a great feeling? I know that's the thing (the endurance) that has most improved for me, but it is so easy for me to focus on my legs, sore muscles, or my stride and forget about how awesome it is to be able to exercise hard for a half-hour without feeling wiped out!

    I'm glad is proving helpful. It really opened my eyes.

    By the way, you'll want to be sure to check in when we do our big reveal (opening the secret of our identities). As a mom, I think you'll be impressed with Mrs. F, given all she has going on at home.

  3. I also want to thank both of you for blogging this experience. I had heard about the Couch to 5k from a friend, but I needed to read some firsthand experiences to believe I could do it, too.
    Before each workout I came to your site to read thee difficulties e how you both achieve the day goal. And when I am doing my workout I always think: - “Couple F made it, I can do it too”.
    I’m very happy because yesterday I’ve just finished Week 6. And I must say, your posts about Week5 Day3 (20 minutes running) and Week6 Day 3 (25 minutes running) were essentials to me. I did it because you both did it. Thanks so much!

    Keep running and keep telling us the experiences.

    (Oww: excuses for grammar mistakes, I am not a native English speaker. I am from Brazil. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. F inspires far from North America).

  4. Bom dia, Ana!

    Wow! It's just so exciting to us when we hear about people like you who were inspired or encouraged by our journey. And all the way in Brazil?! Even more amazing!

    Do stop by from time to time and let us know how things progress for you!

    Do you have plans to continue your journey after Couch-to-5k? Or does that still seem too far away. It felt that way for me, to some degree until near the end of Week 7.

    Keep on running!

  5. Ana -- Wow! I really appreciate you stopping by to comment and Im very humbled. Im so glad that our journey was able to help you on your own! I love that our efforts have webbed out to others and helped them along the way. Keep up the good work and do let us know how you are coming along!

  6. Thank you for you reply!
    You are motivators. Moreover, the purpose of your secret plan (running with your children) is admirable. It's good to see families that still have this sense of togetherness. And run together as a couple, accepting the difference (speed, pace) between you both, it is great.

    I feel like a distant family friend because I daily read your blog. Yes, I visit very frequently despite having written only now. So, I would like to tell a little a bit of my story.

    Last year (2008) I’ve participated of 6 races of 5km (3.1mi). I mean, all my friends went, my boyfriend was there, I did not want to stay out.
    On this time, I was training run (and walk) with some frequency.

    Although I have completed all 6 races in 2008 but none of them I really ran from the start to the finish line, I’ve always walked one or two times. But even in this way, I was very happy to complete them, get my medal of participation and celebrate with my friends.

    But then I got hurt. I had what they call Shin splints, that is, the muscle is lean on the bone and in practice is a strong pain. Every time I was starting to run, voilĂ : 0.5 kilometers and I already felt so much pain. Each trampled on the floor looked like they were taking a hammering in the shin.

    I did what I had to do: I went to the doctor, took ultrasound of the region, resonance and did not accuse anything extreme, but the inflammation was there.
    The doctor recommended physiotherapy and there I was all happy again thinking that after 15 days of treatment I could come back without pain to follow my friends.
    However were 2 months of physiotherapy: hot water, cold water, light, stretching, thera band, laser. Everything.

    After 2 months nothing has changed. Only 0.5 kilometers running slowly and the pain was there again.
    It was a big frustration. I saw all my friends involved in racing, I went to the finish line but in the end I felt excluded by not being able to accompany them. My body excluded me.

    I thought for a long time, I actually convinced myself that my body was not built to run. Yes! I believed that I had a natural limitation to run.

    So this time I decided to go swimming (I was a swimmer, but I’ve stopped with 13 years).
    In swimming I followed all my friend and things went very well for me (despite fish fear at open water ). I felt again in the group when everybody decided to compete in open water events. That's it, "race" in the sea.
    I felt good, I was always with my friends on trips, and even won my medals on age category .

    But, about the damned race anything yet. Three months ago, I had a aquatic marathon that the route would be in 2 laps. That is, starting off the sand, swim 1.5 kilometers, then, leave the sea bypassing organization marks on the sand, and swim back another 1.5 km.

    Remember that I’ve convinced myself that my body was not built to run?
    Yeah, I felt bad on this small jog in the sand of only 200mts.
    In the end, It was ok, I completed the marathon but this little run on sand was not very good with my legs.

    I decided this was enough: I'm outta work. I had to go back to at least the form of before: running and walking alternately. Looking for spreadsheets on the Internet, on sites such as, I found C25k. I visited also Foruns, but only when I read your reports I felt excited to start too.
    In the near future when I’ll be graduated on C25K program, I want continue to run. Who knows, maybe, increasing to next step, a 10k race.
    I have already an good example of dedication to trains and support at home, my fiance is applying for his first Ironman in 2010. But he is an athlete: a swimmer, cyclist and marathon runner.
    We still get there!
    (Apologies for spelling mistakes:)

  7. Wow, Ana, what a compelling story! I'm sorry to hear about your problems running. When I was in high school (secondary school), I hated running. I always got shin splints when I tried to run. This time, 20 years later, the shin splints are not bothering me. I've been told that there are two general things that can affect whether one gets shin splints: 1) having bad shoes or shoes that don't match the way you run, and 2) trying to do to much, too fast, too soon. I'm not a doctor though, so I cannot speak authoratatively.

    As you train, find a pace that is comfortable for you. If you do develop pain during a workout, do those things you've been taught--ice, stretching, or even rest. You'll need to find what works for your body.

    It sounds like you are already very fit, based on the swimming you can do, so I'm assuming you don't need to build your endurance for a 5k. I still think the C25K program is a good choice to help you get into running.

    We both wish you the best! Take your time, and I hope you'll be able to progress injury free. Don't hesitate to check in with us either here or at

  8. Congrats to you both, Mr. and Mrs. F! I knew you could do it!

    My husband and I are repeating Week 1 for the third time. Scar tissue from a long-ago surgery is proving difficult to work through/with! We'll make it, but it will take a while.

    We hope you'll continue blogging your exercise/running after C25k!


  9. Meredith,

    As someone who has some old injuries, I can relate. Take your time. There may be specific exercises or stretches that may help you with that old scar tissue--well worth a conversation with your doctor if you haven't done that already.


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