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!"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 55 - a long, calorie-laden one

I've been stuck in my chair most of the day, trying to finish this week's required reading for my graduate program. I really hate sitting and reading when it's not something I picked out to read for fun.

Prior to starting the Couch-to-5k program, I would spend just as many hours in this chair, but it never bothered me that much. Now, I just don't like sitting still for hours and hours on end. And, speaking of ends, I must have lost some of the padding on my butt as I've dropped nearly 20 lbs. over these past eight weeks, because my but feels tough and sore after sitting all day.

Today was a caloric disaster. In an effort to stretch the family budget, I decided to make homemade biscuits and gravy today. It was a big hit, but boy, I took a bit hit on the food intake log. I need to remember to investigate nutritional content before I try a new recipie. I figured it would be a carb, fat, and calorie heavy meal, but I didn't expect a reasonable sized serving to something I could eat out of the depression in the middle of a saucer! Needless to say, I had a typical American serving this morning, so I tried to go lighter the rest of the day. I had some minor success, but dinner (a large portion of MultiGrain Cheerios) set me back even more.

Mrs. F and I did manage to steal away a short bike ride today. It helped limit the damage, but definately did not leave me at a caloric deficit today.

My knee feels fine today, and I have no muscle complaints in my legs or back. Two of our friends who follow this blog (Nathan and Amy) are thinking about starting the 100 Push-ups challenge soon. Mrs. F and I are thinking about joining them after we finish Week 9. We do plan to continue running. We may just add 5-10 minutes a week until our 5k, and from there we might try the One Hour Runner program. For now, we'll just keep at it. One of us will post something if we make up our minds.

I'm hoping to turn in soon. I found a good break point in my graduate work for the day, but I still need to crank out a paper tomorrow. I need to remember that I chose to do this now.

Day 55 - Mrs. F

Im feeling pretty good today! I ate under my calories yesterday and even had a snack lol! Today though we made biscuits and gravy and boy does that have high calories -- :)

Muscles overall feel good. Im sorta itching to get out and do something today. I almost want to run but I probably need to rest from that. So I likely will take a bike ride today and play some board games with the kids.

Im getting more and more excited for our race. Not only the surprise aspect of it(and I love surprises and surprising people) but to see how well I can do. I know I'm not likely to place but I want to see what my body can do. My main goal is to run the entire race and the secondary goal is to do it in under 45 minutes. Time is not a main factor for me, finishing is, but it gives me additional factors to focus on.

Mr. F and I are dicussing one hour runner. If we do that program, we will start at week 1. They say if you do C25K, you can start at week 4 but I think having those 3 weeks of 30 minute runs under your belt is important too.

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 54 (week 8) - A good run

First of all, I apologize for posting so late. After finishing the run and catching dinner, I sat down to get some of my assigned reading done. I yet have four chapters to go, and really need to finish it up tonight, so I guess I'm in for a late one.

Now, to the run.

Well, it took me a couple of attempts to get my home-made patellar stabilizer just right. Because of that, it took me almost 30 minutes to get dressed and ready. The weather outside was still brisk, in the 40s, and there was some wind, but I was ready and looking forward to the run.

We parked and walked to the trailhead. A little stretching, and we were off. Though I was looking forward to the run, I still had that initial internal conflict, as my legs started to take a pounding, that wanted me to give up.

I didn't think my pace was great. Although my stride felt good, I just didn't feel like I was moving fast. Mrs. F was able to pull ahead of me, and she circled back a couple of times. My breathing seemed more labored today, and I could not get into a regular pattern of breathing.

The first five minutes passed. My home-brew brace was doing its job. I could feel a little strain in the problem area, but nothing bad. The next five minutes were a little better, but I started to feel a strain in my neck, like a pulled muscle. Before the end of my third song, I was tired, but I was also at our turnaround point.

[I just checked my playlist--I completed the first mile in under 13:07! It just seems too good to be true!]

Since I knew Mrs. F was still running faster than me, I told her to go on ahead while I turned around toward our starting point. For the first time since we began, I was willingly running alone. Sure, I knew Mrs. F would catch up and overtake me eventually, but I made the choice to run without her immediate company.

Then it hit me--that, "Gosh darn it, I made it this far and I can do this" feeling. My stride was strong. My breathing regularized. I didn't bother looking at my feet, or even staring at the trail ahead. I was able to look to the left and the right, taking in the autumn views of our wonderful area. My neck strain was developing into a headache, but I didn't care. I was really running, and I was enjoying it.

I covered ground. I ran. I slowed. I sped. I covered ground. I ran. I slowed. It was definately harder now. I could feel the fatigue in my legs. The second to last song was coming to an end, and the final song was beginning. Something, however, did not seem right. As the final song began, I crossed a driveway. By the time the lyrics began... I could see the park-end of the trail!

Just moments before, I was concerned that I would run out of music (and time) before I ran out of trail. Now, a new reality was before me--I was going to run out of trail before I ran out of music!

Just then, that lazy part of me, the part that wanted to use my tiredness and fatigue as leverage, tried to convince me to simply end at the end of the trail. After all, it plied, you'll have covered your two miles--no one would know. But the voice was wrong--I would know.

I considered running past the end, and heading back toward the car, but then I remembered that Mrs. F had not caught up to me, and I purposed to turn around. The end of the trail came, and my music played on, so I did something I could not imagine myself doing, even on this past Monday--I turned around, and ran back the way I came!

I strained for any sign of Mrs. F, but I saw nothing. I kept moving. Then, there she was. Even at a distance, she looked tired. What a switcheroo--here I was, doubling back, to run with her. I covered at least a tenth of a mile, perhaps a little more, before the music ended. Mrs. F was close now, perhaps 20 meters. I announced the end of the song--the end of our run--and I turned around.

Yet, instead of slowing to a walk, I continued to run. I ran back to the end of the trail and across the street, and then I slowed to a walk. Mrs. F was still coming, reaching the end of the trail. She had not heard me when I called time, and since I was still running, she ran, too.

So, in the end, I ran at least 2.1 miles in 28 minutes, with the second half a bit slower than the first. Mrs. F must have covered at least 2.5 miles without including her two double-backs. No wonder why she was beat--she must have been flying to cover that distance in under 30 minutes!

I have no complaints (other than having at least two hours of reading ahead of me!)--it was a good run!

Day 54 (Week 8, Day 5) - Mrs. F

It seemed a bit harder today. Im not sure if it was doing at the evening or if I didnt eat enough to have more energy. I felt sorta sluggish. Overall though it was a good run.

I doubled back twice for Mr. F and he turned back around at the 1 mile marker while I went on ahead to try and add in that extra half mile. It took me a long time to catch back up to him. I really felt slow. I was sure that I would meet him running toward me on the trail since I was so slow. And sure enough that did happen! I was near the end of the trail when I finally encountered him.

I didnt wear a watch again so I had no idea on time and Mr. F was out of sight for almost all of the return segment. So I had no idea on time. When I finally saw Mr. F -- I pushed it up a notch and really upped my speed. I still didnt catch him but I did finish strong!!!

It wasnt until we were walking back to the car on our cool down walk that we talked bout distance and time. Mr. F thought since I didnt come back as quickly that I went further than I did last time. I did about the same distance total(2.5 - 2.75 miles estimated) but I did it two minutes faster. Woohoo! On Wednesday, it took me 32 and a half minutes to cover that distance. Today I did it in 30 minutes, so while I thought I was slower, I actually beat my time.

I have some pain along the side of my left leg again but not bad. It didnt bother me while running, so I was thankful for that.

Im starting to notice little changes in my muscles. My thighs are more streamlined. They are still flabby but I can see subtle changes. Im even noticing soe changes in the midsection. Oh most of the fat is still there but I can see some muscle definition in the diaphragm.

I still sit back in awe that I can do this. I never thought ever that I could be a runner, let alone run for 30 minutes straight without stopping. Couch to 5k rocks!!!!!

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Friday weight check (week 8)


Last Friday: 283.3

Today: 280.7

Gain/Loss: -2.6

Goal: 210.0 lbs.

Cumulative loss: 19.7 lbs.

Pounds to lose: 70.7

Comment: Given the trouble I had on Wednesday, and too many calories on Monday and Tuesday, I was pleasantly surprised by the scale. I started logging my food intake this week, and for the first time ever it has actually been a bit freeing. For example, yesteday I was almost 1,000 calories under for the day, and doing well on my carbs after I added in dinner, so I was able to enjoy two servings (total of 1 cup) of Breyer's Natural Vanilla ice cream without feeling bad about it. I'm looking forward to breaking the 280 barrier next week. When I hit 270, that will be the lightest I've been in more than 16 years.

Mrs. F

Last Friday: 179.2

Today: 174.7

Gain/Loss: -4.5

Goal: 150.00

Cumulative loss: 8.1 lbs.

Pounds to lose: 24.7

Comment: I was pretty pleased with today's weight loss. I lost 1.5 lbs. on top of my water weight from last week. I found that counting calories and staying under my limit isn't as hard as I expected. Like Mr. F, I even got to eat some ice cream last night. Counting the calories and logging all my food makes me think twice before reaching for a treat!

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!

Day 54 (week 8, day 3) - Delayed run til this evening - Mrs. F

The plan is to run tonight after Mr. F gets off work. Its not a pleasant weather day today either -- cold, cold and some sleet and rain thrown in. Run, we will though!

We ended up delaying our run this morning mostly due to exhaustion. We did not get to bed early and our toddler was up in the night as well as our baby. So when the alarm went off at 5 am, Mr. F moved and I did not. So he elected that we would go in the afternoon! We had discussed this the previous night anyway because of how tired he was feeling then.

The only problem with afternoon is we are more likely to run into people we know. At 545 am, there is only one other runner on the trail.

Will check in later with a weight check, Im really looking forward to seeing how I did this week!

Keep on running,
Mrs. F

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 53 - Mrs. F

An early morning appointment had me out of the house and moving rather early. Not my favorite thing to do but it keeps me out of the kitchen where the snacks reside!

With the cross country meet this evening, I have more prep work to do to be ready for this evening. I have supper cooking in the oven, at least the meat part anyway. I will start the rice cooker here shortly and that will be ready when we get home. It will just be tossing it all together, seasoning it and we will be good to go.

I love the excitement of race days. Its even more fun for me knowing my little secret that our son has no clue about. He can run over twice as fast as my homemade 5k race time of 40 minutes but I love having one up on him!

This is also the course where our son won conference his first year running cross country on the junior high team. That was a race to remember, so I have fond memories of the course. He has already run conference this year, so this will just be an extra meet for him.

Im feeling okay muscle wise, a little sore, nothing out of the ordinary. The bigger news of the day is I put on a pair of pants today and they were too big!!! They are baggy and loose on me and I can slip them down without unbuttoning them. I have been waiting for this to occur. Mr.F had already enjoyed seeing his pants size reduce for several weeks. Im happy to report its my turn! Im really looking forward to weigh in tommorrow. I hope Im down at least 4 (1 lb plus my water weight of last week).

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Day 52 - who brings donuts to the office, anyway?

It's been a good morning. I was up and moving early, and got a good start on my day. I have a running joke at the office regarding my coffee: it's a good day when I get my morning coffee during the morning.

By that measure, today has been, thus far, a good day. I grabbed my first cup at around 10 AM. As I entered the break room, there it was, sitting there and just begging me to open it: a box of donuts. There are few dirty food pleasures in life that compare, in my opinion, to a white-frosted long-john with sprinkles. Okay, the custard bismark comes close.

Just who brings donuts into the office these days, anyway?

Most of the people I know here, while not uber-health nuts, seem pretty careful with what they eat. Yet, I can't fault them. If they don't have problems with their blood sugar, they will they probably don't see a problem with a sugary confection from time to time. Hey, when my sugar is under control, I can even enjoy a little sugary goodness once in a while. It just seems that, this time of year, the break room fills up with more and more sugary death-snacks as the weeks progress.

It was different at the end of August. Some days, you'd see a loaf of zucchini nut bread, on others, excess fresh produce from someone's garden. Then, of course, as the tomatoes and peppers began ripening en masse, we enjoyed many varieties of fresh salsas. You quickly learned which were the sugary sweet types and which were the bright, fresh varieties. I particularly loved to find bowls made by one of the guys here, spiced with Scoth Bonnets and other hot peppers. Mmmm... my mouth is watering at the thought.

Yet as we moved into autumn, the fresh veggies started to disapper. Soon we saw the arrival of muffins, cakes, and cookies. This week has been a quad-fecta of sugar: banana nut bread, two days of a variety of fudges, and today's box of donuts. I had a half-slice of bana bread on Monday, when my sugar dropped a little low. I had three pieces of fudge on Tuesday. I stayed clear of the breakroom yesterday, since the dreaded fudge was still present, and so far I've stayed clear of Pandora's Calorie Box. Yet I do so enjoy a good donut...but is there really such a thing as a 'good' donut?

It's not just fellow employees. Beginning this time of year and escalating through the Christmas season, we'll see a constant flow of food gifts from customers and vendors alike. Last week brought bags of fresh cheese curds (how squeaky!). Soon will come the chocolates, cakes, other confections. All these things coinciding with many employees' own holiday baking, and, of course, they feel compelled to share. Last year, even our vending machine company got into the spirit, leaving a whole case (each) of a new variety of chips and a new variety of candy bar. It's the season of giving, right? Yikes! What are we giving?

So, I believe these next few months will be challenging on the diet and nutrition front. I'm meeting a friend for lunch today, and I asked that we go to a place where I can get a salad. That, at least, will keep me from logging a burger and fries from the bar & grill down the street. I'm going to do my best to void the donuts, and will simply try to remember that all of the treats I pass by will help me find a treat when I have my Friday weigh-in.

Oh, if you are one of those who likes to bring donuts to the office (or even bagels--those giant monsters with flavored cream cheeses can be just as bad), please reconsider. How about a bag of apples or a bunch of bananas every once in a while? Would that be too much to ask?

Day 53 (week 8) - an early morning

Well, our school district is hosting a cross country meet this afternoon. It's the last set of races of the regular season. Next Thursday is the sectional meet for our eldest son. I'm up early to get an early start on the work day, so I can take off early to be there for today's races.

I feel pretty good this morning. I woke up about 10 minutes before the 5:30 AM alarm, I was dressed and had breakfast made and eaten by about 6:15. I've spent the last half-hour catching up on some posts, and I plan to sneak in a little online Scrabble before heading off to work. I'll be biking again today.

I started recording my daily food intake using the Daily Plate feature at Keeping track of everything you eat can be an eye opening experience. Since I'm trying to loose eight pounds per month, I set my weekly goal to 1.9 lbs per week. That should put me just over my monthly goal, if all goes well.

The site calculates your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and lets you select your normal daily activity level. Given the nature of my job, I selected "Light Activity". It then provides you with the target number of calories you may eat in a day if you want to meet your goal. You enter information on foods you eat (something that might be tricky, at first, if you are making more of your foods from scratch), and the site tracks the nutritional information and tells you how many calories are yet available in a given day. Then, when you work out (if you didn't include your workouts into your daily activity level), you create an entry for your workout, and it adjusts your caloric information to reflect the calories burned in your workout, so you'll still know what calories you need to maintain for your goal.

From what I've seen, the site has many more features. I'll definately be exploring it more later. I'm not prepared to share all of my eating habits here, but I may incorporate some summary information into my Friday weight check.

Well, I need to get moving. I'm looking forward to running with my wrap again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 52 (week 8) - DEFEATED (almost)

Well, our little gamble with the weather really paid off. In addition to being about four degrees warmer than it was when we woke, we actually got out during a short break in the rain--the first such break of the day!

I was so excited to try on my patellar stabilizer, but my excitement soon turned to a bit of discouragement. Although they sent out an XXL brace, it was still a bit snug on my leg. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, figuring that it may have been designed that way for extra support. I tried placing a call in to our clinic, to see if I could talk to someone on the sports medecine team, but I ended up on hold for an extended period of time and we really needed to just get out of the door.

Because I had the brace on, I didn't wear that extra set of polyester long johns I used on Monday. I didn't want to risk tearing them with the extra bulk and the edges on the hook-look straps.

We parked another block further away today, to ensure we had our full warm-up in before we began. If we went a little long on the warm-up, we figured that would be fine, too. As I walked the distance, my brace-equipped leg didn't feel right. Despite its snug-fitting construction, the top part seemed to be working down a bit, and bunching up behind my knee. It felt very tight, so I made a few adjustments along the way, and again when we stretched between our walk and the run.

As we finished our stretching and prepared to start our run, however, our cover was almost blown and our secret was almost revealed. Running down the trail, coming right at us, was one of our son's close friends. We quickly made an admonition not to reveal our secret. Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have extracted a vow on pain of death...

And so we began. Almost immediately, however, I could tell that something was wrong with my gait. The brace felt tight, my knee was sore, and I had pain behind my knee. We stopped. I spent a few minutes adjusting the brace, then I reset my playlist to the start of the run and we began again.

My adjustment did little to alleviate my discomfort. I pushed on, but noticed that the way the brace was bunching behind my knee was causing it to constrict me there. Each heel kick felt like someone was driving a thumb into the soft tissue behind my knee. I kept going, however. My pace was clearly and significantly slower than it had been on Monday, in fact, it reminded me of my worst day last week, but this was only the start--the second start--of this run. I was worried.

Within a few moments, I was fighting hard to maintain a good stride. I could already feel the running limp begin. As we approached one driveway along the trail, perhaps five minutes in, I yelled out to Mrs. F to continue on without me. The discomfort caused by the brace was now so strong that I could not fathom going on for another 20 or more minutes. I slowed to a walk and then stopped--somthing I said I'd never do.

The next few minutes were extremely difficult for me. I quickly adjusted the brace and tried running again, but now the original injury was also causing me pain. I slowed again and walked on. I did something I told myself I would never, ever do: I gave up.

Part of my mind tried to comfort me by pointing out the circumstances. "Well, I'll just wrap it myself and try again tomorrow," I told myself, but the other part of me was already conceding defeat. I walked a few meters more and noticed one of the benches I had been so desperate to stop at during one of the early weeks, and I sat down.

I put my hands on my knees and took a deep breath, the music of my playlist reminding me that I was not moving ahead. This, I thought, was the end of my Couch to 5k running program.

The funny thing is that I just spent a considerable amount of energy last night in a discussion thread on, encouraging another runner who had gotten away from the program for a couple of weeks. I made it clear that she could not give up, because I, for one, wasn't going to let her get away with it. Yet, there I was, sitting on a bench and lamenting the fact that it was all over.

I loosened the brace. As soon as I did, I felt a rush through my leg as blood started moving unrestricted. I pulled the brace down and fingered the area of my knee that led me to wearing it in the first place. Another song had started--the third--so I knew Mrs. F would soon be at the end of the trail, where we would normally turn around.

I don't know exactly how much time went by there on the bench. All I know is that I was mad at myself for having stopped, and my mind was focused on getting the brace on well enough to allow me to walk back to the car when Mrs. F came into sight. I strained every muscle in my arms and shoulders to get that brace, particularly the back half of it, further up onto my upper leg. Once I got it positioned as best I could, I tightened up the straps (though not as much as before), and I got up. My mind wanted me to turn left and head back toward the car, as I figured that Mrs. F would eventually catch up to me, but I just could turn that way or even look that way. My eyes were focused on the trail ahead of me--that segment of the trail where I should have been running before I sat down and gave in. I kept my eyes there, and my feet began to move.

One, two, three steps walking and then I tentatively began my run. The brace was still uncomfortable, and the knee seemed a little off, but it was better than it was before I stopped. Another song change hit my ears, and I found myself matching my pace closely to the beat. Little by little, I extended my stride. I still hated that blasted brace, but I was moving again.

The sheer elation of realizing that, in the face of defeat, I had gotten back up and started running again washed over me. For a few moments, it was as if I didn't feel anything. I was just a body running down a trail, as if I were in some surreal movie scene presented where the character moves through the frame gracefully while the soundtrack is silent. Then, almost as quickly as that sensation began, it ended. The full force of the cold wind swept across the surface of the lake and cut into me like a knife. I reached into my pockets and pulled out my gloves. That's when I realized where I was on the trail--I was not far from the dam end, yet Mrs. F had not yet passed me on her return. For a moment, I worried that something may have happened to her, but then I figured that she likely just ran a bit further ahead, across the road and further down the trail.

Sure enough, just as my turnaound point came into sight, I saw her crossing the road and heading my direction. When she reached me, she turned again to run with me, back to the end of that section of trail. A song had just ended, and I told her I was going to restart it, since I lost time to the bench. I reached the end, and turned around.

For some reason, that turn made me feel as if we were starting all over again. For the next five to eight minutes, I struggled again to maintain my pace, but I seemingly did so, staying within 10 feet of Mrs. F throught the repeated song, and into the next one. Yet I could not maintain that pace, so she eventually pulled ahead. The pinching pain and constricting discomfort were still there now, but they seemed less prominent in my mind. The run began to feel good, and I enjoyed watching the whitecaps marching across the water. Another song, another burst of energy, and then a slow pace again. I played games with my pacing to keep myself going--faster, slower, a little faster, faster still--and it worked.

As the final song began, I saw the landmarks that told me that the end of the run was near. I could not muster the same strength I discovered on Monday to finish the day, but I maintained a strong run. Mrs. F, again, lovingly circled back to me so that we could finish together. The final bars came with some meters yet to go. "Your're done," I told her, knowing she had run four or five extra minutes. I continued on to the end of the trail before slowing to a walk.

Today's run left me with mixed emotions--I had given up, but yet I was able to restart again (not just once, but twice!). I was able to run when the easier option would have been to walk toward the car. I was able to run when I could have claimed a legitimate reason for stopping and staying stopped. Yet I ran. Oh, does that ever feel good!

So, when Friday comes, I know one thing for certain: I'm leaving the patellar stabilizer at home. I'll wrap it again in the manner I did on Monday, and I'll use masking tape again to fashion my own stabilizer. Oh, yes, I'll call the sports medicine practitioner to see if they have one in a bigger size. If not, I may go a little MacGyver on the brace and cut a big hole in the back, to prevent it from bunching up before giving it another try.

All in all, a difficult run, but I'm glad I got back up and finished it. I may not have finished today's 28 minutes without walking, but I did win a significant victory today. I was defeated--almost--but I got back up again.

Day 52(Week 8, Day 3) - Actual Run - Mrs. F

Overall it was a good run. The end was a bit tough for me but still good!

Thankfully there was a lull in the rain and while it was cold, it wasnt unbearably so. For the first leg of the journey, Mr. F was adjusting his brace, so he indicated I should go on ahead. I really have no idea on my pace since I wasnt wearing a watch today.

I ran the mile segment of trail and that felt pretty good. I wanted to try and get 2.5 miles in today, so I went on to the next segment and tried to estimate where .25 miles would be. Then I turned around and ran back. I did double back a couple of different times for Mr. F so that probably added in another two-tenths possibly.

Somewhere along the way, I missed Mr. F's announcement that he was redoing a song(since he lost that time when he was adjusting his brace) so I ended up running an extra 4 and a half minutes. No wonder the last segment felt long! By the last 5-8 minutes it was getting hard. My leg muscles were sore, my ankle/leg area on the left leg was hurting and I was just plain tired. And I wasnt really sure how far Mr. F was behind me. I wondered if I would even hear him call time. The thought of going back to the trailhead and having to run back to him seemed very daunting and long. At one point I turned around to look and he wasnt as far back as I thought, so that encouraged me to plod on. At times I felt like I was a little ole granny lady running tiny little steps.

I made some extra efforts to pick up the pace. The first was trying to run more on the balls of my feet, trying to lift up my foot more and that encourages my pace when I do that. The other was to swing the arms faster and longer and you cant help but speed up as you do that. I wasnt trying for speed records but I know my body enough that if i slow down too much -- it starts yelling out at me to walk. So I need to keep moving for that reason.

I made it to the end of the trail which means I at least went 2 and a half miles and started running back towards Mr. F. With the amount of doubling back I did, I think I may have covered 2.75 miles in 32 and a half minutes. Though its hard to really tell for sure. So all in all a good run!

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Day 52 -- Rain Delay post - Mrs. F

At 5 am, I was exhausted and did not want to run. With my little one up in the night, it just drained me. I found though once I was up and adam for the day, I was ready to run.

Its been raining all day and IM not looking forward to running in the rain. I do not like being wet and really dislike going out in the rain. Its a good thing that Im determined not to miss a workout or Id gladly skip todays!!! Im just hoping it is raining not as hard when we go out this afternoon. We will head out for our workout after we pick up our boys from cross country practice.

I started tracking what I'm eating on my daily plate. Its a free calorie tracking site and so far its been useful. I really dont see myself tracking this long term. It takes too much time and effort but I would like to do it for 2 weeks. I figure that would give me a fairly accurate picture of where Im at calorie wise. My goal is to lose a pound a week and you can enter that in this site, and it calculates what calories you should eat for that goal.

I have to admit, I thought twice before grabbing a mint cookie. I still likely will eat one or two this afternoon. Whereas before I would have eaten two for breakfast, another before lunch and some for dessert after supper. Im also making a much more conscious effort to drink water. That is my favorite beverage so its a bit more challenging.

Keep on running -- will check in later tonight after our run!

MRs. F

Day 51 (week 8) - the brace is here

When I got home for lunch today, I noticed a package sitting on a stool near the door. Sure enough, it was my patellar stabilizer. Now I'm really looking forward to getting out there and giving it a try--even in the cold and the rain! We'll see how the run goes after work this evening.

Day 52 (week 8) - Rain delay

We've decided to postpone our run until later in the day today. It rained most of the night and is expected to rain most of the day, with highs in the 40°s, but that's not the only factor. Our youngest one was up often last night, and that caused Mrs. F to get far less sleep than did I. We both agreed that our best shot will be this evening, when the rain chance reduces.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 51 (week 8) - ho hum

After having had clear skies on Monday morning, with Orion clearly visible in the pre-dawn sky, we're back to overcast skies and are expected to see rain this evening through tomorrow morning. Sometimes I don't mind the grey days, but today just has me tired and wanting a rest. I was alert and full of energy this morning, but have been tired and a bit down since lunch. The meal itself was just fine--1/2 cup of brown rice, a matching amount of a homemade chicken stir-fry dish, and a tablespoon of honey. Oh, I'd forgotten just how sweet honey is!

This afternoon has brought on fatigue and a bit of a headache. Not things with which I'm unfamiliar, but rather things I've grown accustomed to feeling less and less over these past seven-plus weeks. Before, a day like today was common. Now, I can't believe I was able to function like this on a regular basis. There are stress factors in my life, of course, and I know they come into play with such down moods and physical symptoms.

My knee has felt great since Monday's run, other than an occasional twinge if I move it a certain way. I don't know if my brace has arrived yet, so I'll just plan on wrapping tomorrow as I had on Monday.

It's funny that Mrs. F was thinking about what might be next for us after we finish the Couch-to-5k program. While I don't yet like running as much as does she, I do plan to stick with it. I also plan on increasing our run times, probably in five minute incriments. Beyond that, I'm thinking about the 100 Push-ups Challenge to help address my upper body.

As to this blog, I'm committed to keeping it going. I've kept another blog before that had a different focus, so I'm not sure if this one will stay focused solely on our fitness efforts or whether it will start to incorporate more of our family life. As some of my earlier posts demonstrate, it's often very hard to keep the two separate. As to the name, I'm pretty sure we'll keep the address as, if only to serve as a reminder of how all of this began. Our goals and activities may change, but I've found that creating this blog has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever undertaken. And while Mrs. F was quick to point out that I forgot to post this past Sunday (as I may have done one other time during the program), I'm happy that I've been able to post updates here on a regular basis. For me, doing anything every day is a significant achievement!

So, or now, I'm committed to finishing this program, so that means that we'll be out running again tomorrow morning for another 28 minute run. I'm hoping it will be a good one.

Day 51 - Mrs. F

Muscles are feeling fine today, thankfully and still a little bit of trouble above the left ankle. I iced it some last night, as I will tonight as well. Im hoping that the icing and rest will be enough to ease the discomfort. The right ankle/leg area felt fine this morning.

I still cannot believe that I am in week 8 of a running program. Me, the one who thought all people who run were crazy is running. I cannot wait until our eldest son finds out -- he will be happy! Of course Im betting I will hear something to the effect of "I told you that you could run". The other kids will be impressed but its our eldest boy that it will mean the most to. Hes the runner, the one who leads the pack and the one that the little ones look up to and emulate.

Im even looking forward to the day when I can run with our dog. Right Im concentrating on completeing the program so I havent brought him along. I think I will enjoy taking him with in the future months!

I have been contemplating whats beyond the race. The plan for now is to complete C25K which is this week and next. Then there will be 2 weeks to increase our distance and running times to improve for a race. Im leaning toward week 10 being either 33 or 35 minutes of running. The last week of C25k has us running 30 minutes. Then for week 11 either 35 or 38 minutes. Our race is November 14th. After that Im unsure of where to go next. I do know I want to keep running. Mr. F has talked of redoing the couch to 5k program using the distance method, so thats a possiblity. Another friend has mentioned one hour runner. I have seen mention of gateway to 8k but cannot find that plan anywhere. So Im just not sure where to go from here.

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 50 (week 8, day 1) - Mrs. F

I am sore. Shh -- remember I told you not to remind me that it was my idea to do an extra workout yesterday.

My muscles definitely are feeling the fact that I ran 5.3 miles between yesterday and today. My main area of pain is above my ankle to the inside of my leg.
Im not sure if its muscle or what. It almost feels like shin splints as it went further up my leg as I ran today but its in the wrong spot for shin splints. So definitely need to rest my legs tommorrow!

I was slow today as I knew I would be. My muscles were sore before i even started out as well as the bone/ankle pain started almost immmediately when running today. It was nice though to run at pace with Mr. F. He really increased his pace today and I slowed down. At times he was ahead of me, which encouraged me to pick up the pace and catch up. After all, I cant let him win, you know! His pace today was fabulous! Even still, I was encourage to have run 14 minute miles today even though I was going slow. No where near my 12 minute pace from yesterday but pretty darn good for as tired as my body was.

Ive never run with music, and it doesnt drive me as it does Mr. F. So im curious about trying a run with some music but Im not sure I will like it. Ive done all the runs with no music or anything. Mr. F always carried the podcasts, so I just ran. I will likely borrow his mp3 player and try it out first though before I purchase something I might just not use.

Keep on running,

Mrs. F

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!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day 49 - "Extra workout" - Mrs. F

It was really nice out, upper 40's to 50's. So I decided I was going to go for it. Orginally I had on a teeshirt layer which I ditched before I even hit the car. I could tell it was plenty warm. So I wore my warmwear(and i might have been able to ditch that too) and my yoga capri pants on bottom and my moisture wicking shirt with my windbreaker on top.

I parked the car a couple of blocks away from the trail, so I could do my warm up walk before i hit the trail. I really wanted an accurate idea of my mileage. I ran the first mile in 11 minutes. Probably a bit too fast as I got a sideache after the first 7/10th. That plagued off and on for the next mile or so. The next segment of trail was .66, so I set my goal for 7 and a half minutes. I was pleased that I did make that!!! It took everything I had though, so at the end of that segment, I allowed myself 30 seconds to walk. Then I began running again slowly. My body doesnt listen very well though. I set a goal of 10 minutes for the repeat .66 mile segment and completed it in 8 1/2 minutes. So I ran about 2.33 or so in 27 minutes.

Maybe cause Im stubborn or maybe cause I really wanted to see what my body could do. I kept running. I felt okay, so I allowed myself to go for it. After the 8 1/2 minute segment, I walked for 10 seconds(thinking I was going to do another 30 second walk) but I found myself ready to run at the start of our regular trail. I found the next half mile the easiest of all my running today. Im not sure if its that Im most familar with this segment of trail or that my body found its groove. The last half mile was hard though! This is where my stubborness comes into play. I was going to finish this or die trying lol. I slowed down some but I was determined to complete the whole 3.3 miles I had mapped out. The last mile I completed in 12 minutes!!!!

So all in all, with my 40 seconds(rounded up to a minute lol), I did 3.3 miles in 40 minutes. Not bad at all! Im excited now for the race. Although I suspect the race will have hills, so it will be harder.

Afterwords, I wasnt really in much pain. I noticed the bone on the side of my leg, right above the ankle, on both feet, being sore like shin splints. But that has eased up. Now since Ive been back home, my hips and quads are sore. But nothing too terrible. Don't remind me tommorrow, when tommorrows workout is hard, that this was my brilliant idea.

Keep on running,
Mrs. F

Day 49 - Mrs. F

We are mostly well here but just enough lingering fevers and illness that we will stay home from church for one more week. Its kinda of a frustrating place to be, not well enough to all go out but not sick enough to be out for the count. So everyone is just restless.

I really have this desire to sneak an extra workout in on my own. I want to see how far I can get on my own. Then i have a better idea of how far I need to increase to do my race. I thought briefly bout going this morning but when i checked the temp, it was 36. Too cold for an "extra" workout when its supposed to be near 60 later today. So I may sneak out later and get a run in.

I debate back and forth about whether this is wise to add an "extra" one in. AFter all, I have to run 28 minutes tommorrow. Then again, one more workout gives me one more time to practice building up endurance. Decisions, Decisions.

Right now the laundry is speaking to me and trust me folks, that is not good!

Keep on running,
Mrs. F