Running with my new bike

With everything that has happened to me over the past couple of months, I decided to try to mix things up.

No, I’m not going to stop running.  In fact I hope that by the middle of March I will have completed 2 half marathons and 1 full. That might be wishful thinking, but hey, a man can dream.

Going back to Black Friday, I wondered into Dicks Sporting Goods with 2 of my kids.  There, in the back of the store were the bikes.  By that evening all three of us had new bikes.  These are by no means expensive bikes or ones that you might take a 30 mile ride on, but I really felt the need to have another avenue for my exercise and have been contemplating cycling for a while.

Yesterday I went out for my hill run and got back with tired legs and then RS and I hopped on our bikes and road a couple miles.  I didn’t want to overdo it and didn’t want to make me too sore, but it was a lot of fun and just enough to finish off what strength I had left in my legs.

My plan is to run and then bike each day for a while.  If I get hurt and cannot run, then I’ll just bike instead.  Done are the days of walking for an hour when I can’t run.  Of course walking is still an option, but now I have 3 options rather then 2.

Thanks for all the well wishes from my post from yesterday. I’m hoping and praying that I am now done with carrying stones in my body and can concentrate on moving forward again.

Tom

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From 110 to 8 – why I’m thankful #WeAreThankful

I was thinking to myself during my hill run yesterday…

I’m thankful I can breath!

I’ve been running now for several years.  My Nike app says that I have run 2,993 miles.  7 more miles to a total of 3,000. Wow.

They say running can be bad for your heart.  They say that long runs can damage a heart.  I say that breathing is much more important then the alternative.  Running these 2,993 miles has change me, made my life happier, given me more freedom in life, made my family life better, reduced my heath care costs and prolonged my life by possibly 30 years.

I’m thankful I can breath!

My Grandfather died at my age.  He was my height.  He was overweight, as I was 3 years ago.  In the prime of his life, it was over.

My Mom was always concerned about my weight.  Others were also, but she had reason as I was the same stature as her dad.  Hmmm, would I live past my early 50s?

What does the title of this post mean?  I’ll tell you.

3 years ago, at the point I weighed 278 lbs, I had a sleep study done.  I knew something was wrong and the study agreed.  During that short night with a thousand wires all over me watching my every breath, I had an apnea incident (stop breathing for 10 seconds or more) on average 110 times each hour.  My oxygen level got down to 60 and within a few hours of starting the test, they stopped it, put a cpap mask on me and let me sleep the rest of the night.

I’m thankful for technology.  That sleep study saved my life, I’m sure.  Afterwards, a series of event happened (as I have recalled in this blog) where I lost 100 lbs, I started running, and everything changed.

2,997 running miles later, I had another sleep study.  This time, I wanted to see if I still needed my cpap, and if so, how bad was my apnea.

Less then 8!

That is right, I actually went from 110 apnea incidents to less then 8.  Considering less then 5 is normal, I still suffer from mild sleep apnea, but I’ll take that all day long.

I’m thankful I can breath!

Running literally saved my life, perhaps in a more dramatic fashion then others because of my genetic makeup.

I am thankful.  I am thankful to my family, friends, but most of all to God who put me on this miraculous path.

Finally, I was asked by the Outreach Coordinator of Oscar Insurance (they provide health insurance in New Jersey and New York) if I would write a post on thankfulness and participate in their #WeAreThankful campaign.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate when I have been given one of the best testimonies a guy can have!

I’m still alive!

I’m thankful I can breath!

New running shoes to the rescue!

So much going on here and the blog is screaming for me to write, so here I am, putting all else behind and writing finally.

Last week, my son got the flu, I got a small version of the flu – to be honest I was over it in just a day or two.  My son is back to normal now and we continue on with life.

I finally broke down and bought me a pair of Brooks PureFlow 3 on Saturday.  I was starting to have pains where I never have pains and my heel spur was getting angry, so I thought I should buy another pair, even though my shoes had less then 200 miles on them.  I’m glad I did.

As soon as I put on my new shoes, I could feel support in the exact areas I was hurting.  Looking at my old shoes, I didn’t really see much wear, but all my hill running had taken a toll on them.  What goes up, must come down, and running down steep hills at times means a lot of pressure on my shoes.

So I ran this weekend some.  Saturday was my off day, but I wanted to try these shoes out.  I put them on and ran a quick 2 miles.  They felt great.  My last mile was at 5K pace and it was over 90 outside.

Sunday I wanted to run a long run or my mountain run, but my body wasn’t over the pain inflicted by my shoes that were wearing out.  I chose to run 5 miles in my neighborhood.  The first three were lousy.  I felt weak, my legs felt heavy and it was very humid outside.  Then at mile 4 I began to come to life.  My legs finally decided to wake up and I had a great ending to my run.  I still kept it at 5 miles for the reasons stated above, but I was satisfied with my run.

Back to work today and then my hill run this afternoon if my body feels up to it.  Looking at the weather, we will be in the 90’s until a week from wednesday when the temps finally plunge into the 70’s.  Of course that is 10 days out and there are no guarantees.

I’m still debating on the marathon in December.  I have a lot going on right now and I remember the huge amount of time and effort goes into training.  So, decisions, decisions.  I have to make my mind up soon though.  Really soon.  It was exactly a year ago I ran my first marathon with TJ.  I must say it was a rewarding experience.

Tom

Loving the hills!

“You should run Sterling since you haven’t run the mountain lately.”

That text from TJ changed my running.

It happened a week ago.  I had been in a bad rut as I was running the same 4 mile route in my neighborhood since summer started.  I am not a fan of the heat and the only time I have to run is at 3:00 in the afternoon.  So I would run my route and usually have to take breaks to walk a bit because of the heat.  Running just wasn’t fun or interesting anymore, but I had to keep going no matter how I felt as I have a huge investment of time and lost weight in all those miles I’ve accumulated over the past 2.5 years.

Back to TJ’s text.

I thought to myself, “I don’t want to run Sterling”.  It is hot and the hills there are insane.  But TJ was right.  I hadn’t run my mountain in a while.  I was just not interested in the investment during the heat of the summer.

So I headed out to run and made my way to Sterling.

Sterling is a neighborhood about a mile from my home.  I used to run the hills there a year or so ago.  The main hill on the main road is about .25 miles long and ascends 100 feet.  So I looked up at that hill last Monday and thought, here I go.  I ran up the hill and at the top, I took a right turn and went on a more level area to recover and then headed back down.  It was tough!  I did this three time and headed home.  It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I accomplished something.

So Tuesday I headed back to Sterling.  I ran the big hill and then came back down and ran another smaller uphill road that is in the same neighborhood.  After that I headed home.

As the week went on, my times started getting faster.  My sluggish, boring summer runs were starting to be fun again.  I ran this run all week.

I have found from my mountain runs that I have really begun excelling on hills.  Many times after my mountain runs I will actually run faster up hills then on level ground.  While I have been away from the mountain for a while, this has been much less the case, but my legs “remembered” the love of the hills when I went to Sterling last Monday and throughout the week.

Finally on Sunday I actually ran a “long” run in my neighborhood.   It was only 7.5 miles, but it is the longest run since my half marathon in April.  The run itself was uneventful and hot, but just the fact that I was motivated enough to run it, is a good thing.

So things are looking up.  I am just trying to get to October where temps will start dipping into the 50’s and average that throughout the winter.

Even then, I’ll be running hills.

Tom

PS – Sort of ironic as I have now hit 278 followers on 278toBoston.com.  I guess I need to get back to writing! 🙂

Retro Run 5K – Finishing the race!

I was so close.

I was only a step behind the couple that was running in front of me the whole race.

There was only 1/2 mile left in my 5K.  I know my time wasn’t going to be a PR, but I felt like I was running solid.  Actually I was quite happy as I hadn’t done any workouts or mountain runs in a while.  Just my 4 mile daily runs.

I had a thought.  I could push past them (that couple), but then I thought, “what if I run out of steam and they pass me – that wouldn’t be fun”.  We were running at a good pace and so I decided to hold back until later, right before the finish.

It was hot.  The race started at 7:00 PM in the South on a sunny July day.  My app read 94 degrees at the start.

As I pondered my finish to the first 5K I had run in 7 months, I thought back to the beginning of the race.  I was only about a half mile into the race and I had doubts.  I thought to myself that I couldn’t do this racing anymore.  I should just stick to my daily runs and be done.  What am I doing running a 5K when I hadn’t even run my mountain in over a month.  Nope.  Racing is not for me.  This will be my last.

As I got closer to the couple (back to the end of the race) – literally almost beside them – I thought to myself, “I’m enjoying this race.  It’s been hard and all, but I miss racing.”

The couple ahead of me were a woman and a man.  Both about half my age.  The woman was obviously in great shape and the guy was not.  He wasn’t overweight, but he was hurting.  This was probably his first 5K.  As we got closer to the finish, suddenly he stopped.  The woman looked around and begged him to keep going.  We were about 1/4 mile from the finish.  He had nothing left.  I moved on, but felt badly for the guy.  He had run a good race, but didn’t have enough in him with the heat.

As I rounded the last block, I passed another guy who was half my age.  He looked at me and told me to go for it.  That was so nice.  I said the same to him and he thanked me.

I pushed to the finish.  The line was directly in front of me.  My mountain legs had kicked in.  The last mile of this 5K was uphill most of the way.  Running a mountain once a week has allowed my legs to have strength to go uphill.  In fact, many times my pace goes up while going uphill.

This was the first finish of a 5K where I had strength to really push it at the end.  I gave all I had.  My Lovely Wife and daughter rooting me onward, I passed the finish in 22:32; 45 seconds slower then a PR, but very satisfying.  Before the race, TJ asked me how confident I felt.  I told him I had no confidence.  I was just going to go out and do the best I could.

I came in 2nd in my age group (the old guy age group).  I was thrilled as I had never placed in this race before and this was the 3rd time we ran it.  There were over 400 people and I came in 41st overall.

I don’t know what happened with that couple.  I never saw them after the guy stopped.  I was so hot and tired at the end, I really couldn’t think much.  I hope he pulled it together and finished the race.

Life is like a 5K.  So many times we either don’t want to be in the race or we want to stop right before the finish.  Ultimately the joy of the finish erases all the pain of the race.  My hope is that everyone could run as to finish the race.  Life is too short to give up in the middle.

I’m not sure why I wrote that last paragraph, but I hope it helps someone.

Have an awesome week and keep your eyes on the finish!

Running/mountains/life – the good, bad and the…

One thing I’ve learned since I began running in March of 2011… some days you feel like superman and some you don’t.

Yesterday TJ, RS and I went to the mountain to do our weekly run.  If you have read this blog at all over the past several months, you will know that I found this crazy road going up a mountain in our local state park.  I’ve run it many times now.  A few weeks ago, TJ coaxed me into going further past the top of the mountain.  There is a long hill that goes down and then a very steep climb up to the end of the road.  By the time we leave the car and make it back, we run about 7.5 miles on the mountain.

Back to my starting sentence.  Yesterday I didn’t feel like superman.  We started our run (RS likes to run alone, so he left after us) and my legs had no strength.  They honestly felt like rubber.  I kept racking my brain as to why this would be.  I hydrated well this weekend and last week.  I eat well.  I slept better then normal.  Also I walked Friday and took Saturday of.  I should have been smokin!

Not!

I figured by the time we got going my legs would wake up.  They didn’t.  I got to the top of the mountain and felt like I was on mile 20 of a marathon.  I was shot.  What kept me going?  Other then being almost 4 miles away from the car and running with TJ, I kept thinking to myself, “This will help my legs get used to running tired – like at mile 20 of a marathon”.

So I finished.  It wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t walk.  I pushed through.  To be honest, coming down the mountain was the worse!  I had to concentrate to keep my legs from giving way as we pounded down the steep inclines.

Running really does mirror life sometimes.  There are days when you wake up and you feel like you are at mile 20.  It is not only hard to get going, but it can be hard to keep going.  But we have to keep our eyes on the prize and push through.  Every up also has a down and every down has an up.  Life is never going to stay as good as you feel right now or as bad.  Life means change.  When you are tired, just keep going.  When you are happy, be thankful.  When you are sad, know that one day you will be happy again, whether you feel like you will be or not.

Before I sign off I want to congratulate RS who made it to the top of the mountain for the first time.  As we were coming back, we passed him.  I told him he made it and he said, “Really?”.  He didn’t know he had made it to the top!  Hmmm.  Seems like life also.  Sometimes we have everything we ever wanted, we make it to the top of the mountain and don’t even know that we have arrived.

Running/mountains/life.  Gotta love it!

Tom

The “Key” to Running Better

Over the past 20 years or so of my life, I have found out that in almost every difficult situation there is a “key” to making change happen.

What I am alluding to is that, for example, circumstances that are difficult in life can be like being in a pitch back room and continually running into walls with no way out.  The thing is that there is a door and a key to open that door near you .  All you need to know is how to get the key to turn and the door will open and things will suddenly work out.

This sounds philosophical, but honestly it is amazing how this works in everyday life, including running.

An example from my running life is the mountain I run.  I ran several times to the base of the mountain and at the left turn that went up the mountain, I turned around and went the other direction.  I got so close, but I didn’t know that the key to the door of running fast, more efficient and with less injury, was literally a left turn away from me.  It was like I was in a dark room with a door and a key, but I never unlocked that door and walked through until… one day with TJ.  We decided to see where that road went.  That left turn was the key that changed my running life in a way that nothing else has ever done!

Another example is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).  I wrote about this on this blog a month or two ago several times.  Not only has it helped my running in the afternoons by giving me something I had to have been missing, but over the past two months, my weight, which had plateaued at 192, has gone down 7 lbs to 185.  Even pizza night doesn’t seem to affect me much anymore.

I could go on and on.  In just about every area of my life this principle has helped.  I constantly pray for wisdom so that I can find the keys to shut doors in my life.

I guess I hope that there may be keys in your life to open doors to which you just haven’t paid attention.  It is an amazing feeling to find a key and suddenly realize there is a simple solution to a complex problem and it has been right in front of you!