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, July 17, 2010

I still can't believe this is possible

Well, it wasn't the best week as far as consistency goes--I missed one run and ate too much one day [Dang you office donuts! Dang you!]--but still got my long run in today.  That's what I can't believe--that I'm able to run these distances of five miles or more.

Today's run was pleasant overall, save for the final three-fourths of a mile, which was tough.  Mrs. F and I started with a half-mile warm-up walk, and then began our runs out toward the Luce Line Trail, headed west.  She pulled away from me early on, but that was fine.  She was working on seven miles, and I was just hoping to complete five.  The way I figured it, she'd catch up to me near the end of my run, since we both were doing an out-and-back route.

Mrs. F was carrying her Garmin, so I only had a watch with me.  From my earlier long run on this stretch, I knew approximately where the 2.5 mile point was (though it would only be 2.0 today, since we walked the first half-mile), and I hoped to go beyond that point through the next segment of the trail.  Also knowing that my last five mile time was 82 minutes, I planned to run just a little longer, shooting for a full 90 minutes.

At about the one mile mark, things started to feel pretty good.  Breathing was easy and my stride was slow but steady. Unfortunately, that's when the lens popped out of my prescription sunglasses.  I stopped and stepped back a few steps to pick up the lens, slipping it into my pocket before hanging the sunglasses from the sternum strap of my CamelBak. It took me a little time to find my stride again, but I settled in quite nicely.  It was early, just around 7 AM, but the air was already muggy and the sun demonstrated its power by baking against my back.  Along with my ball cap today, I wore a bandanna over my head and hanging over my neck and ears.  I wore it to help keep the bugs off me, but I was glad that it also was keeping the sun off the back of my neck.

The trail moved by quickly.  In the wooded areas, the angle of the sun left long shadows from the trees along the north side, providing some shade.  Of course, the shade was not without cost--clouds of gnats and mosquitoes waited in ambush.  As I passed through the clouds of bugs, I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth, to keep myself from getting an unwanted snack.  Mrs. F reports no problems with bugs on the trail, but I must be slow enough for them to lock on.  Still, my bandanna did its job, and kept me from swatting at bugs on my neck and in my ears.  There was one persistent deer fly, however, that kept buzzing my head--more of a nuisance than anything.

Timing was right.  I crossed the first crossroad and still had time before my arbitrary turnaround at the 45 minute mark.  I moved onward at a higher pace, wanting to reach some notable feature to aid my mapping when I returned home.  I reached the next cross street at the 45 minute mark, allowing for a good turnaround point.

The next mile and a half was just amazing.  It's as if my legs were telling me "we know what to do" and I let myself speed up.  I don't know how fast I was moving, but my pace and stride were more similar to those final stretches where I try to kick things up a notch.  My stride was longer, and smooth, and the trail was just flying by me.  The slight breeze was in my face since the turnaround, and it felt wonderful.  I don't know what pace I logged on that stretch, but I know I finished the return trip five minutes faster than the outgoing trip.

Now, as I approached the final mile, things got tough.  It was uphill, and it brought me back out onto a gravel road in full sun.  I felt myself slow to that familiar slog, and I looked ahead at the three inclines that remained ahead of me.  [I just realized that I made that five minute improvement going uphill on the return when I had been going downhill on the outbound trip.]

Mrs. F caught up to me when we had about three-fourths of a mile left.  She was still going faster than me, and I felt myself slowing, but as she ran alongside she said I was running a 14:30mm pace. How fast was I going just before?

The final quarter of a mile was tough.  Though I intended to do a full 90 minutes, I opted to end at 5.5 miles.  Mrs F told me that the road where I turned around was 2.75 miles from our starting point, so I knew how far I had gone.  I kept moving, and finished in 1:24:37.  I squeezed in that extra half mile in an extra two minutes, so I knew my pace was better: just under 15:23.  On the outbound half, my pace was 16:22mm, though, and only 14:24mm on the return.  And that was an uphill return!

It was a really good run! Now I just need to make sure I'm running three times a week.

My long run

My training plan called for 7 miles today. I set the alarm for 6 am and Mr. f snoozed it at least once. It was tough to drag myself from the vestiges of sleep this morning. I got up slowly, dressed and woke up my daughter who was holding down the fort this morning. My cc runner was going for a short run this morning as well.,

I think Mr. f and I got out this morning just before 7. We started running together, even though we did most of our run time seperate.

I did a .4 mile warm up as well as .4 cool down as well. It seems to make the interior muscles of my legs behave better. If I run later in the day, after Ive been up and down the stairs doing laundry and whatnot, I dont really need it. Though for the runs just out of bed, it seems to be important.

The first 3.5 miles felt great! The last time, it was the first half of my 7 miler that dragged, this time it felt like I could run forever. It did get tougher though for the 2nd half of the run. My plan called for a pace of 12:24 or something like that, so I generally allowed myself to run as fast as I felt like, as long as I stayed close to that 12:30 mark. I did most of the run between 11:30 pace and 12:30 pace. If I noticed my pace hitting 12:45 or higher, I forced myself to speed up. Mostly though,I just simply ran, allowing my body to dictate the pace.

The bugs left me alone for the most part except for the lone bug that decided to lodge himself in my throat. That forced a stop and almost getting sick, but after that was cleared up, I ran on. I took note of mile maker points as I crossed roads on the trail, so I could tell Mr. f later. He was going for 5 or more today, while I was doing 7.

I caught back up with Mr. F at just over 6 miles for me. I ran with him for a bit, as we chatted and then I took off for the last 6/10 of a mile. I really wanted to sprint hard for the last 2/10. I took off too fast though, I was able to keep an 8 minute sprint pace for about a tenth. The last tenth was harder and I was able to only keep about a 9:20 sprint pace. All in all, though I was pleased with the run. I ended up doing 7 miles in 1:23:18, which is 23 seconds faster than my last 7 miler. Seconds count folks! I did an 11:54 pace.

I am far more sore today though. Im not sure if its just the adding up of more miles in a week with the training plan or what. I plan to take it relatively easy today for sure! I have run over 36 miles this month and July isnt over yet!

Keep on running folks
Mrs. F

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weight Check 7/16/10


Last Friday:   274.8 lbs.
Today:         272.0 lbs.
Gain/Loss:      -2.8 lbs.
Goal:          210.0 lbs.
Cumulative:     28.4 lbs.
Pounds to lose: 62.0
Comment: At this point, Ill take anything I can get. I'm now about at the weight I was when Mrs. F and I first met.

Mrs. F

Last Friday:   154.3 lbs.
Today:         152.7 lbs.
Gain/Loss:      -1.6 lbs.
Goal:          150.0 lbs.
Cumulative:     30.1 lbs.
Pounds to lose:  2.7
Comment: I wasnt sure where Id be this week, since I had some water weight and whatnot. Im extremely happy with 1.6 down! I also ate up a lot of my exercise burn in calories, so I wasnt sure how that would impact the bottom line. Wow, it seems really amazing to be only 2.7 from my first goal point. And seeing the culmulative number hit 30 was a really proud moment!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cross Training time

Mr. F took the day off and most of the family went to the childrens museum today with some good friends. Then we enjoyed lunch at a park in our old neighborhood and the kids really enjoyed that.

By the time I got home, I was pretty exhausted. The kids watched some movies, Mr. F napped and I surfed facebook for awhile. Soon enough it was time for supper. We took a variation on our stuffed peppers and chopped them up and rolled them in a tortilla with some mozzerella cheese -- pretty yummy!

After getting some food ... I decided to go for a bike ride. Ive been slowly upping my miles as Im getting back into biking. I set out with the goal of going 10 miles. Generally I just enjoy biking and Im not pressed on trying to beat my previous time or speed. Although my competative nature still rears its head and I keep upping the ante on how far I ride! Thus the 10 miler today.

Since speedwork was yesterday, and I have two rest days before my long run, I decided today was the day. The weather was beautiful, not too hot and a nice breeze. I set off to go around the lake, adding in a half mile jaunt with a long hill for some extra heart rate pumping. After making my way around the lake and down the trail, I headed out of town just a little ways, making my way by our towns festival grounds and airport. I came back in on Cable Ave and made my way thru Grass Lake road. On the edge of town again, I followed grass lake instead and made my way to the other end of town and came back in. I needed to make a 1 block jaunt though to make it to 10 miles even. I think it actualy was something like 10.03 or something like that. I did it in 53:19, a 5:19 pace.

It felt really good to hit that 10 mile mark. Ive done it once before, last summer, when Mr. F and I biked 11 mile to a nearby town, ate lunch and biked 11 back home. That was hard! Im a little more in shape to do a jaunt like that now, I think.

Im not sure on weigh in tommorrow. The numbers have been all over the place this week, and a little water weight to boot. So time shall tell on that front.

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Speedwork Wednesday

My training plan called for a 1 mile warm up run, then a mile at 10:15 pace, 1/2 mile recovery jog, another mile at 10:15 pace, 1/2 mile recovery jog, then a mile cool down run, totaling 5 miles.

I got up around 6:40, a little later than I hoped to get up, and headed out the door around 7 am. I walked a half mile for warm up and then starting running. As I began just walking, it seemed like everything hurt. My knees were complaining, my ankle hurt, my back even hurt. Thankfully the warm up walk helped get my body into groove. None of those things plagued me throughout the run. It was fairly humid out , so I was very thankful for a strong breeze. I did the warm up mile in 12 even.

Soon enough it was time for the speedwork. I find it hard to keep a steady rhythm but i just concentrated on keeping myself below 10:20 pace. I found myself quite often running in the 9 minute mile range, then the next thing I know im doing 11 again. The first fast mile was tough! I kept concetrating on that if I got to the end of the mile, I had a half mile recovery! I did that mile at 10:13 pace~! I allowed myself to walk up to a tenth of a mile during the recovery jog. I only needed .05 hundredth and then I started jogging again.

My 2nd fast mile came far sooner than I would have liked. It helped knowing though, that once that was over, I just had slow 1.5 miles to run home. I really wanted to do the 2nd mile of speedwork faster. My son was really happy that I was going to have to suffer the pain of repeat miles like he often has to during cross country season. They have to do each subsquent mile faster, so I was really hoping to do that as well. I came in at 10:07 -- woot -- faster than the first! I was extremely pleased with my pace mile times. I hit the mark and then some! Dont get me wrong, it was hard. I was breathing heavy and working really really hard. I was very surprised to find my average heart rate coming in at 154. I know during those speed segments, it was regularly over 160+.

This time, I took my full tenth of a mile walking during my recovery job. I wanted to get my breathing back under control and my heart rate down and I was tired! I found the last cool down mile the most challenging. Im not sure if it was that I was just ready to be done or what but I found it harder. It was a bit of the Dory mantra, just keep running, just keep running. My pace was all over the place but I ended up doing that mile in 12:10.

All in all, the 5 miles averaged out at a 11:31 pace. Ive run 29.1 miles this month so far. If I can keep up with my training plan, Im on pace for a record month of miles! Time will tell on that front!

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sure it wasn't Monday?

Today was one of those days that just felt like a Monday.  I had a bit of a headache in the morning, and didn't feel well most of the day.  The alarm went off at six o'clock this morning, but I didn't get up to run.  I was up late last night, so I figured I could run in the evening, after work. When I did get home, I got busy around the house, and it was still bright and fairly hot--conditions I don't really like.  Soon, dinner was on the table, and I hate the concept of running on a full tummy. I was ready to give it up for the day, but Mrs. F told me she was going for a bike ride.  I told her I'd go for a run at the same time, if she'd wait a bit while the food settled. We waited around about an hour, and then we headed out.

I took a 2.8 mile route, one to which Mrs. F introduced me a week or so ago, with what she calls "a wicked hill." It wasn't a great run this evening--all effort, all the time.  The air was so thick and humid as I began.  About two blocks in, I noticed a small stone in my shoe.  It wasn't sharp, so I continued on to the top of the first hill where I stopped and took it out.  I continued on, the evening sun beating down on me, and I was simply hot, sore, and uncomfortable.  I was so glad I was wearing my sunglasses.

When I took a turn southward, I caught a face full of wind, and that felt wonderful.  The run, itself, was still tedium, but at least I felt cooler now.  I didn't spend much time looking around today.  I just ran on, keeping my feet in tune to a mental cadence that sounded some form of the Magnum P.I. theme.

Mrs. F soon caught up to me with the bike, while I was going up the steepest incline on the route.  I talked her through adjusting her gears so that she could up-shift as she climbed, and I think I ended up taking the hill too fast.  When I got to the top, I was well-winded and had to walk for a bit.  I soon resumed  and ran past the two mile point while Mrs. F rode on.  Soon she circled around to me and stayed alongside for the balance of the route.  I decided to end the run early, when I came to a specific intersection about a half mile from the house. That kept my run to about 2.3 miles, and I walked the rest of the way home. 

My lower back and outer abs are a bit sore, as are my glutes and my quads at my hips, but other than that, I feel fine. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Mrs. F is slated to run again tomorrow morning.  I'm thinking about going with her, just to get back on the same schedule.  Otherwise, my next one will be Thursday.

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.