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!"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saturday run in review

The alarm went off at 5 AM, but we didn't rise immediately.  We fell subject to the tyranny of the snooze alarm, but we broke free of our shackles before the early morning slipped away.  This was the day of Mrs. F's long run.  Her plan was to cover six miles.  I had missed my other runs this week, so I only had a two-miler under my belt since Monday.  Part of me wanted to throw myself back down into bed with my favorite flannel blanket, but I knew I needed to run.

Mrs. F and I dallied a bit after rising, but we both made it out the door by 6 AM. After all the heat we've had, it was refreshingly cool.  Since I knew I would neither be able to keep up with Mrs. F, nor cover the same distance as she, I opted to take another route.  From the same starting point we went separate ways--Mrs. F off to the Luce Line Trail, and I headed north and uphill, the start of the route that marked my reboot two weeks ago.

With my earbuds in place and one of my favorite artists set to "play all", I made my way.

The first uphill segment caused me no trouble or discomfort.  Rather than trying to keep my pace down, I let my body call the shots, running as fast or as slow as felt comfortable.  Mrs. F was using her Garmin GPS today, so only had a watch to record my time.  Yet, from running this way before, I had an idea of where the one-mile mark was located.  When I hit it, I was just over 13 minutes.

The turn came that marked the route I took two weeks ago, but I set my eyes further east.  Since I now knew I could run five miles, and the route around the lake nearly matched that distance, I decided to give it a go.

When our eldest son first started cross country, I thought he was crazy for running three miles at a time.  Runners always seemed crazy to .  Why, after all, would anyone want to punish their bodies in such a fashion? When he started running around the lake for his own enjoyment, which driving showed to be about five miles, I thought he was nuts, and that he must have gotten most of his genes from my wife's side of the family. Still, there I was, opting to make the same run.

The run out of town seemed mostly uphill, though a modest grade.  Mentally, I had braced for a long jog out to the road that would take me south, yet it came into view far earlier than I expected. [It turns out that it was only 1.5 miles from my starting point, but in my mind's eye I thought it was more than two miles away.]  About that time I also realized that the first mile of my run was in no way unpleasant--a marked difference from most of my running experiences--so now I was excited about the rest of the run.

I crossed and turned south onto the road that would take me along the western shore. [I always run facing traffic--a habit I picked up when learning rules for safe hikes with the Boy Scouts.]  I never thought I'd tolerate running on pavement, but it's not been as bad as I imagined.  Soon, however, I reached the end of the paved stretch, and I welcomed the scrunching sound of my feet on gravel.  I ran past my dentist's house, and it was clear that he had been up already.  The gravel along his property line was wet where he had sprayed it down not long before, to keep clouds of dust from rising when the cars whizzed by.

Soon after passing his house, there was a straight flat segment perhaps two-tenths of a mile in length.  On the right, grasses, brush, and trees decorated the hillside that descended toward the lake.  On the left, a large, open wetland field filled numerous acres.  Hundreds, if not thousands of birds darted to and from across my path and around me. The electric line on my left that paralleled the road was wing to wing birds for much of the span, and the trees on my rights seemed alive from the throng of birds.  The scene reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds", but my avian companions seemed to have no interest in pecking at my eyes.

Soon after passing the field, the road began its gradual descent, and curved to follow the contour of the shoreline.  Fewer homes lined the road here, each on larger lots with many mature trees.  Again, I was surprised when I approached a recognizable way point sooner than expected.  The point where the Luce Line Trail crosses the road, the place where Mrs. F and I began our Couch-to-5k training program, was just ahead of me.

I made the turn onto the trail.  I knew this segment well, but had not run on it since late last fall.  My stride was still steady and I felt no fatigue, so it was a different experience on the tail this time.  I quickly had run past the point where we would end our warm-up walks, and was surprised by how quickly the trail seemed to pass.  There was the large curve where I'd often lose sight of Mrs. F, especially when coming from the other direction.  Then there was the bench that marked the spot where I once gave up due to discomfort in my left knee and hip, before getting up and starting again.  Many memories came to me that highlighted how far I had come.

Now, on the long, gradual climb the trail presented, my body started to feel the distance. Yet I kept moving on, striding past spots on the trail where I once agonized to finish.  I rehearsed in my mind the fact that I soon would come to the end of the trail, but that it would not mark the end of my run the way it once had.  Soon even that point was behind me as I turned briefly north before turning westward again.  Now I knew the distance was short (given the length of my run).  A small cough began to bother me from time to time, so I paid close attention to my breathing.  I tried a bit of water, but it didn't help.  Eventually, I took a deep breath and let myself cough hard before spitting away whatever it was that had been bothering me.  Things were again better after that.

Reaching Second Street, I opted to turn north to take advantage of the shade cast by the trees along the road, something that would not have been available to me had I stayed to my original route.  Since the roads were parallel, I knew my distance would be the same, so I had no worries of cutting myself short.  As I drew closer to home, fatigue began to set in.  It would have been so easy to stop and walk the rest of way, especially on familiar streets near home, but I resisted.

I turned west again, heading past some if the downtown stores and then past the grocery. At the main road that led home, there was no traffic, so I crossed and continued my run.  Now, with home in view, my mind joined my body in wanting to be done.  It's not that I physically needed to stop, but that my body wanted to stop.  I did not feel that I could manage a sprint, but I pushed up my pace. Then I pushed up my pace again.  Knowing that Mrs. F was running a longer distance and that she is also faster than me, I expected to see her returning as I approached home.  I wondered if she was there already.  I crossed my starting point at 1:13:17,  covering a distance of 4.9 miles, giving me a pace just under a 15mm.  Certainly not a fantastic pace, but a good improvement over my last long run.

Mrs. F didn't return until after I showered, while I was dressing so I could ride out looking for her.  She ran six miles, and had added a half-mile walk both before and after.

The rest of the day was spent with family in Avery, Wisconsin, which made the 2.5 hour drive time (each way) bearable.  My food consumption for the day was on target for a 1.9 lb./week loss, even before logging my run, so it was a good day indeed.

On a related note, my blood sugar levels are much better again, and my medicines are even causing me to get too low from time to time.  I may yet be rid of them.


  1. FMR:

    Thanks for the note and for checking in. It's *fantastic* to hear of your return. I'm really glad for you and I hope it continues. Yes - my recovery still continue to be painstakingly slow. I'm extremely hopeful. The change in running form feels *fantastic*. My feet continue to get stronger. I just (hopefully) need to give them more time and keep asking more of them.

    Keep it up.


  2. Hello, Mr. and Mrs. F!

    I came across your blog this evening and you have inspired me to try the C25K running plan (again)! I am a 21 year old University student from Canada and I have had a general loathing for running. However, I tried the C25K program once a couple of years ago and fell in love- it was a horrible case of shin splints that made me stop for 3 weeks... and, of course, not start again. :) I've tried it again a couple times since then but haven't gotten much past week 2, if that. A fear of shin splints and a mental block stopped me. However, reading your account of your journey with this program means that I am going to lace up and start again! :) I have your blog bookmarked and plan to read it on those days when it's hardest (and the other days too.)

    Thank you!


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