Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Finishing is Winning

I keep thinking about doing my best, being fast, and winning races. There is a distant image of perfection of who I could have been in my mind's eye (Which, probably needs to be poked out.) Ah - if I had only chosen this path to fitness long ago.

There are so many things I could have been. Well, maybe not a Kenyan, but a lot of things.

When we were a kids, we dreamed of being astronauts, doctors, fireman and cowboys. Later on it was rock musicians and sports greats. In first grade I wanted to be married to the girl next door, but she fell in love with Tomas up the street. 

My regular readers are probably well aware, I didn't become any of those things. Well. I did get married, but not to the girl next door. Actually by 4th grade I think she had cooties which made her yucky!

If I had to do it all over again, I would have started running way back then. My friend Tom says that you can achieve the same results in about 2 to 3 years as you would have with a lifetime of running. I don't know.

Sunday I did the pastor a favor and skipped church to run a 10K race. He hates when I stand on the pews any way.

It was in the region known as the Worcester Hills, about an hour from Boston. Guess what? They have HILLS there; lots of them. From 30,000 feet it looks like a topless beach in the French Riviera.

As I look back over the last 2 years, I have come a long way in my running performance. My first 5K, the graduation of C25K took me 31:42. My best 5K time was 7 months later and was 25:08. That's 2 minutes per mile faster. About 10 minutes per mile, down to a pace of 8. You can convert to miles or kilometers HERE. 

Runners use pace as a standard comparison - well, that and brightly colored shoes.

My 10K times have fallen from 1:05:37 last fall to 59:08 on Sunday. I have only done one half marathon and the next one is going to be under 2 hours! I have another one planned in August, and 2 more in September. 

Maybe my friend Tom is right, in another year I will reach my running destiny and achieve my top speed and performance.

Honestly, I don't really care. I love to run, not for the competition, but for the heart and for the head. In the fall I am shooting for my first marathon. I just want to finish - to say I did it. And then we'll see what I do next.

I have already applied for a spot in the Boston Marathon and I am waiting to hear back. Why? Because finishing, for me, is winning.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I appreciate the comments!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why the Gym and I Are Breaking Up

From Crossfit Files
I have been a member of the local YMCA for over 2 years. I have worked out a few times a week since we joined. I did skip it while I was in ICU, after 2 surgeries I had, and while I was away on vacation. I like vacation better than surgery.

I learned a lot from being part of a gym and taking some classes.

The real reason I am leaving is not because of anything they did. It's not even because of the people there, many of whom are on the People Of Walmart site; it's just that after being unemployed for 9 months, I need to cut some expenses.

I can run outside, and I have perfected a home workout routine for strength training that I can do on the carpet - right after I shampoo the spots where the dog puked.

I will miss the ability to go run on the treadmill if the weather sucks. And circuit/strength training was really easy with their machines. I admit, I haven't taken a class in awhile, but I loved them because we had fun and encouraged each other. The staff was helpful in showing me proper form, and opened my eyes to the possibilities of various types of workouts.

One of the funniest moments happened in my In It To Lose It class. We had a fellow named Dick in our class, and he would often show up late. One day one of the other students came to class late. The trainer asked the late comer sarcastically: "What are you, pulling a Dick?" I just about dropped my Bosu ball.

Here are a few of my observations about the gym:
- Classes: If there is a class where people do sit ups while facing each other in a circle, one in which they give each other high-5s, I guarantee someone will fart, and you will know who it is.

- Planks:  A 1 minute plank is no different then being backed over by an SUV.

- Treadmill Use: If you use a treadmill, be sure to get one in the back row. That way if you step off it at 8 MPH, not as many people will see you. The down side is that it also might take someone longer to come to your aid.

- Cell Phones: If you are using you cell phone and taking up space on a machine, you deserve a freakin' slap. If you are yakking it up on the treadmill, someone needs to trip you.

- Skin: Modesty is well, not the motto of everyone there.

- Plastic Surgery:  You will see at least one bad Botox job. There was one woman I was going to put back in the fish tank.

- Mirrors: The more muscles you have, the slower you walk by the mirror.

- Couples: Most men don't really want to work out with their spouses.

- Free Weights: Grunting is tolerable in the free-weight section, but screaming like you just had an orgasm is not.

- Attire: I suggest posting a picture of your gym attire on Facebook before actually going to the gym. You might get some constructive feedback.

- Spandex: If you have chub rub and run wearing Spandex, people will think you are lying when your pants catch fire.

Thanks for the comments and shares!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday, Bloody Monday

Today I woke up. It's my short run day - an easy 5 or 6 miles. I should have been excited about the perfect spring weather, the sunshine, 2 cups of my favorite coffee, nature making its move before the run, and thinking about my next race.

Instead, as I got dressed, I watched the news, the horror, the images of the sidewalk I have been on dozens of times, and the Boston Marathon finish line strewn with bomb blast debris.

Yesterday started out perfectly. My wife and our 9-year-old got up and walked the mile down to the race route. We are at the 10K checkpoint (Mile 6.1 of 26.2). There we cheered and clapped for thousands of runners as we waited to high-five our friends (whose names will be changed).

My little one sat on my shoulders and my wife by my side. "What color is John wearing?" She asked.

"He's wearing a red shirt with white lettering and dark blue shorts; I saw them in the picture he posted on Facebook. And the ladies are wearing purple. And the Mark is wearing a dark blue Running Club tank-top."

My cell phone buzzed with a text message. Mandy was killing it. 44 minutes to the 10K checkpoint. She pulled over to the ropes for a quick high-5.

10 minutes later the next buzz and John showed up with a huge grin. "55 minutes," I shouted and high-fived him. It was his first Boston Marathon. Then Mark came through. "1 hour buddy, you are on pace for a personal best!" Another high-5 and off he ran. We waited another 5 or so minutes and Kendra shouted from the middle of the road, "Hey David!"

"Good luck!" I yelled as I waved.

We started our trek back home through the throngs of cheering Bostonians amidst the balloons and clanging cowbells. Then we stopped for lunch with a view of the race route.

All the way home we talked about the crazy costumes, funny t-shirts, and how fun it was to see our friends among 23,000 others - plus the hundreds of bandits running without numbers. If I didn't have to get back to work, I would have been one of them.

I sat at my home desk posting the checkpoint times of my friends to Facebook as they made the 1/2 marathon and 30K check points. I got my last one at 1:47. John had made the 30K checkpoint at 3:04:04. The others had past it a few minutes earlier.

I was expecting to get more updates around 2:47. Mandy had already finished in 3:30. The others were all on pace for a finish in about 4 hours.


I was checking the BAA website and no finish times were recorded. They must be overloaded, I thought. Then I noticed some one posted something on MFP about bombs going off at the Boston Marathon finish line. I Googled it and got the first news stories and 1 photo. I scanned it looking for signs of my friends. I saw the Mandy had LIKED a Facebook post and I messaged her to see if John was alright.

No answer.

I texted the guys on my phone and left posts on their Facebook pages: "Just let me know you are OK."

No answer.

At 3:42 I heard John was OK. Later I heard those from the purple team were all accounted for. Thank God. It took until early evening until Mark returned my text. He was safe in his Boston hotel.

For those of you who run, you know what the camaraderie between them is like. These are my friends. We run together when we can, we encourage each other, and we support each others fund raising efforts. And we see each other at other functions too.

How do I process all this? Today I am angry, tearful, thankful, and as I write this, determined. I dedicated my morning run to thinking and praying for those 3 race fans that died as a result of the evil that a very small group of humans seem relentless about perpetrating on others.

As an American, I have a response. As a Christian, I have a response. As a husband, parent and the protector of my family, I have a response.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones, those who have lost limbs, to those who are scared, and to those who just freakin' care about their fellow man and are saddened by this act of violence.

As a runner, I also have a response. I am going to run. The first chance I get, I am going to run in downtown Boston. I am going to remember, and I am going to pray. I am going to be sad for those who worked so hard, only to be robbed of the victory of finishing the greatest race on earth: The Boston Marathon.

Go run or pray, or hug your kid, or call a friend, or do something nice for someone. Please.
From the original blog post on MyFitnessPal.com.