Heading home

5 days sober.

The title to this post may have shocked you if you read the past several posts. The plan was for me to detox and then go directly into rehab for 4 weeks. That plan fell apart yesterday.

As a side point, I will write about the ups and downs of my 4 days of detox in another post. It was horrifying going in and by the time I left, I was so thankful that I did it.

Back to yesterday…

I’m not sure of the time I left the hospital as I didn’t have my watch on me, but it was probably around 11:00 am. I got in a van to head to the rehab center. On the way there the driver got a call and when he got off he said, “Your going to “Next Steps”. You are going to like that program. Wait, what does that mean I thought. I thought I was going to an inpatient program. I said okay and just went with the flow.

Speaking of “flow”, I have been envisioning this journey as me being on a rowboat on a river without any ores. I’m just going where the river goes and I’ll end up wherever it takes me.

I got to the facility, a nice building with people moving around all over the place. The people were kind. It must have been lunch as I was offered a Hot Pocket which I declined. I settled for some chips.

After the usual Breathalyzer and urine test (about my 5th in 5 days), I was finally taken back to meet with my councilor. He explained what I was going to get myself into. Once again, I’m going into this blind and just going with the flow of the river. He told me that I am in an outpatient program (wait, I thought I was going into an inpatient program). I would be living in a house with 5 other guys and each weekday, going to this building for 6 hours a day for my rehab sessions. I asked why is this different from what I was told. He told me my insurance wouldn’t approve inpatient, so this is a way for them to give me the teaching without me having to pay out of pocket. The company pays for the houses and the insurance pays for the program.

Okay?!? I figured, go with the flow of the river.

I then was given a $50 gift card for groceries for the week and taken to a van full of women. I was never told why I was going with the woman rather than the men, but I told myself, “flow, remember the flow”. Actually the women were a hoot. One was leaving and the others were telling her how much she meant to them. She was probably 50 and they were all 20 somethings. That part was enjoyable. I was then taken to a Kroger that was a mess with little food on the shelves and found enough food to get me through. I then was taken back to the house.

I got to the house I would live in for 30 days. It was a small house with a large backyard. Inside, it was dark and not clean, but not dirty. I asked where my room was and was taken to a back room with 3 beds (this room barely fit 2 beds, let alone three). I was told the guys in the room were leaving that day, but all their stuff was still there and there had been no attempt to pack. They were at work and might move out when they got back. Hmmm.

I took a walk to clear my head and to try and figure out what had happened to me. The rowboat seemed to run aground in the middle of the river. I had no bed and didn’t know when I’d get one. I’m in a house and not a facility. My head began to spin. I’d been 4 days sober and 5 hours out of detox and now I’m living in a house with 5 guys that I didn’t know and with no programs on the weekend and this was Friday afternoon.

I called my lovely wife in a panic. I thought I’d be in a structured program and I’m not. I’m 1 mile from a Kroger with as much alcohol as I wanted to drink. I’m stressed and hopeless.

Let me put it this way: Stress + Panic + hopelessness + no structure = I need a drink.

My lovely wife sprang into action. She tried to call the program and got no response. She called a good friend who called me and asked what he could do, I didn’t have an answer but asked him to try calling the program. Then, as if God had said, “I’ll never give you more than you can handle”, my phone rang from the local office of the program and a woman asking for my lovely wife’s name as they forgot to get it. I was able to tell her that I couldn’t live in this house and I needed inpatient and she said to hold on and she would see what she could do.

Then the unimaginable happened…

The woman called back and said, my insurance didn’t cover inpatient, and told me to just try and talk with my house mates for help. Okay, they aren’t councilors and they are in the middle of their recovery. Not that they can’t help, but seriously, this was their solution? I said no and that I needed out. I told her I am going to get an Uber and head to a hotel and a very good friend will pick me up in the morning and take me the me the 3.5 hours home. I’ll get into an inpatient program in my own state which I’m sure I can. If not, I’d rather do outpatient with my lovely wife than with 5 strangers. Her rely was shocking… She told an alcoholic, 5 days sober, 6 hours out of detox that if I left the program I would fail and end up going right back to my vodka. I was shocked. This program wasn’t there to help addicts, but to get the money from the addicts insurance. At that moment, I knew I made the correct choice. I found a hotel, called and Uber and was gone in 10 minutes.

When I got to my hotel, my lovely wife told me she was working with some coworkers to find me a place to go. As I waited for a call back I finally went into a bag of things my coworkers sent to me for my journey. I couldn’t go through it before now because I reasons I’ll explain in another post. On top of pistachios, games, coloring books was a “box of encouragement”. I opened the box and part of the box was about 1 inch of envelopes sealed with cards inside. A few were cards from individuals, including 2 from chief officers giving me encouragement and saying they were proud of me for taking this step. The others were cards with Bible verses on them or encouraging works and more. Actually there were so many I didn’t get to open them all.

Just a note here, my work is awesome. I’ve been there for 14 years and genuinely have loved my time there. I like everyone there and have had a good relationship with them. But now, I have found out that they are more than coworkers. They are real friends. They could have stopped at the $100 gift card I got before I left, but the emails, texts and card and 2 bags of thing like a blanket, games, food, and so much more, means they are true friends. I am blessed more than I can say. I had thought that I have a couple of friends outside my family, but now I know I have over 100. How much more blessed can one man be.

My lovely wife found a place near our house that is trying to get me into inpatient. We will find out today. If not, we will keep checking. Finally I got in bed at the hotel. It was an emotionally exhausting day. I ended it talking with my lovely wife on speaker phone while lying in my bed. I noticed I was dozing off and told her, but she was fine with just talking. I found out later that I had fallen asleep and she knew it, so she just prayed for me while I slept and still on speaker phone. I’m overwhelmed. She just prayed for me. She wasn’t upset, she didn’t just hang up, but she prayed. We have been married over 35 years and I love her more than I ever have. We have had ups and downs. She dealt with 8 years of my alcoholism with patience and mercy. I wasn’t always nice to her when I was drunk, but she waited. She prayed and waited and now I’m sober for 6 days and she has what she has wanted for years, a sober husband who loves her and would never leave her.

I write this in my hotel and my ride is almost here. I continue in my little rowboat going wherever it leads. By the way, the river is God the Father, the boat is Jesus and the flow of the river is the Holy Spirit. Tell me how I can fail. I can’t fail.

Let’s do another equation: Lovely wife + supportive friends + a God who loves me = total success.

I know life will be hard, but I will not go die easily.

God NEVER keeps you in prison forever (read the story of Joseph in Genesis in the Bibile).

Tomorrow will be the biggest day in my life

Tomorrow I head to rehab. I leave at 6:00 in the morning and I get to the hospital for my 5 day detox around 10:00 am. I am scared but excited. By the grace of God, He waited for me to get to the point when I really wanted this. I wasn’t pushed into it and no one forced me. I realize I’ve used alcohol at night as a crutch. But perhaps I needed a crutch. Some would say, “why didn’t you just trust God”, but evidently I couldn’t at the time. My life, at times has been hell, but everyone has their own hell to walk through and not everyone becomes an alcoholic.

I miss my sister

Tomorrow is also my late sister’s birthday. She was a good sister and always looked out for me. She passed away almost exactly 18 years ago in a scuba diving accident. My parents had just moved into a nice retirement community and that night had friends over. In their discussions, the topic came up of losing a child. My parents said they could never imagine having to go through that. That night I got a call around 11:30 pm. The voice on the other end told me that they found me on the internet and asked if I were her brother. Then he informed me she had died. My life crashed around me. My two brothers lived up north and so I called my oldest and then my second oldest. The second oldest lived in the city that my parents lived in. He went over and told them. All of our lived changed that night.

I got my sister’s computer and read her emails to try and figure out why this happened. Perhaps I should have buried her computer with her and not read about her life, but she lived many miles away and to some extent, we lost touch, though we talked a couple of weeks before she died, which I’m glad about. In one email written 3 days before she died, she wrote her boyfriend and all it said was “10 Days” in big bold letters. She wrote that because her birthday was in 10 days… She died 3 days later.

Second Chance

I don’t have 10 days, I have 1 day. I may not even have that. No one is guaranteed the next breath. My sister had so many plans, but they were over in 30 minutes. She probably didn’t know what hit her as her blood boiled from the bends. I am thankful that I have a second chance for my life. I am thankful for my lovely wife who wants me to go get help. I am thankful that I have a great family and great friends who are praying for me and my lovely wife.

I am thankful, hopeful and happy that I get a second chance, I only wish my sister had one…

T minus 2 days

I head out Monday for detox in a hospital. I am NOT looking forward to it. I do not like the unknown, but have no choice as I am going to do this. I’m tired and know things would not go well with my health if I keep this alcohol thing going.

What am I looking forward to on the other side?

I’d like to start running again. Probably not a marathon, but maybe a half marathon.

I’d like to get back to that 178 lbs, the weight I was at when I started this blog. I’ve been on a diet and have gone from 227 to 210, so I’m getting there. I assume I’ll lose 10 lbs after I stop drinking, so when I return home, I may be down to below 200 lbs.

I really like the outdoors, but my lovely wife can’t do much outside due to migraines. I hope that we both can enjoy time outside when I return home.

I’m really going to be interested in what my work looks like when I return. I am totally cut off from work now. No emails, no alerts, nothing. That was of my own choice and it has already helped. I spent the past two days with my lovely wife and didn’t have to worry I’d get a call, email or text that something was down and I needed to step in.

This I do know, life will be different when I get out. I hope it will be a major change!

God is with me!

Detoxing

#1 – Detoxing from my work

I start my detox from alcohol on Monday. Totally not looking forward to it, but at least it is medically supervised. However nothing is going to be supervised in my mind and half of my addiction is mental. I drink because I’m bored, I drink because I need to go to sleep and I drink because I need to turn my brain off from the stress of the day.

That said, I have already started a type of detox. I took Thursday and Friday off from work to get my affairs in order before I leave. As part of this process I had my coworker remove me from all company group emails. I also deleted all my work apps on my phone, including Zendesk and Teams. I then removed myself from all miscellaneous emails I get from our work databases. Finally, I have begun unsubscribing from various email lists that I don’t really care about anymore. It is amazing how many emails I get and just delete and never went to the bottom of the email and found that tiny “unsubscribe” link.

So this is my first detox and honestly it has be freeing and hard at the same time. I am always connected to work and even more connected than I thought. Yesterday I was unconnected. I sat in my living room and tried to think of things to do and move beyond my work. No emails, no texts, no messages, no phone calls. The silence is deafening. I woke up this morning to 3 emails in my inbox. You did read that correctly, THREE emails.

#2 – Detoxing from alcohol

Obviously this is going to happen. From what I know, I head to the hospital 3.5 hours away on Monday morning and checkin. There is no specific time to checkin, it is like an emergency room, you just walk in and get started. From there I’m in the dark. I know I’ll be there for 5 days and I will be in a room, but that is all I know. It is like starting a journey looking down a very long, dark tunnel where you can’t see the light at the other end. I know nothing of what I’m getting myself into. I do know there is light at the end of the tunnel and I know I’ll be so much happier, healthier and will enjoy life so much more when I get out the other side.

#3 – Detoxing from the internet

My goal when I finally get to rehab will be to detox from the world wide web (such a 90’s term). I wasn’t even going to open my laptop (which I found out I can bring with me). But, since I decided to write this blog daily as a journal, I will have to do that. Other than that, I plan on removing myself from all technology. I won’t look at email, I won’t google, I won’t look at the news. Total technological blackout. This is the first, and probably the only time, I will get to do this. Free my mind from the world of the internet. With things changing daily in the world these days, what will I see when I get back?

I want to change. I need to change. I am beyond done with my current life. My lovely wife’s current “mantra” is, “I will not go die easily”. This has really changed her life. She doesn’t give in to the depression or the struggles of her life. She has become stronger and can handle life much better than ever before. She is the reason I can move down this new direction in my life. My “mantra” has been, “God will not leave you in prison forever”. There are many “prisons” I have been freed from lately. A prisons to me is something from which I have no hope of ever getting free. Alcohol is a prison that I had no hope of getting out. I tried many times, but to no avail. Even a few weeks ago, I had no hope of getting out of this prison. Now I do and I never want to go back. This is my chance to live a victorious life and hopefully help others in the process.

God will help me!

The upcoming change in my life

I have not written on this blog in a long, long time. The reason is because one day I was at home right after a run,, trying to get my dog to come inside. My backyard had a fairly long, and one foot deep ravine going through it. I didn’t pay attention and hit the ravine and as my lower body fell forward, my upper body fell backwards. The end result was that my quad was totally separated from my knee.

Thus the end of my short lived running career and I have come up for a new use for this blog (at least until I might start running again). I’m about to begin a journey that will change my life forever and so I’d like to use this space to document it.

This 30 day journey isn’t something I’m proud of. It isn’t anyone else’s fault but my own. I hate that I’m in this place, but there is nothing I can do about that.

The hidden truth

I’ll being by explaining what I didn’t write in the first paragraph of this post. One reason that I fell that day and had to go through months of pain, surgery and therapy was because I was drunk. Somehow (and I don’t remember why) I had begun to drink after my afternoon runs. Years before I used to have a drinking problem up until my sophomore year in college. That summer I had a major change in my life as described under the “Faith” tab above. Now I had gotten myself back into drinking and the end result wouldn’t be pretty.

Fast forward to today. I am a alcoholic. It is hard to admit this . I have been drinking every evening for 8 – 10 years. I never drank during the day, but that doesn’t change the fact I can’t stop drinking on my own. My lovely wife has known I’ve had an issue for years and was always worried about me. I did hide it from her and everyone for a while, but that didn’t last long.

The journey

No one knew I had a drinking problem other than my lovely wife. No one knew I drank vodka every night for the past 8 years. No one knew this was a problem that I begged God to remove from me. No one knew…

About 2 weeks ago was the first time I told an someone that I had a drinking problem (not using the alcoholic word yet) and he said he would pray for me. Last week I decided to go to my family doctor whom we have gone to for 25 years and let him know that I have this problem. He gave me some meds that would prevent me from feeling the effects of the alcohol. The next morning I took the meds and went through my day. That evening (by the way, my evenings went from 6:00 to 5:00 to 4:00) I drank 8 ounces of vodka and felt totally sober. PANIC ATTACK! For someone who has needed alcohol to get past the stress of the day, this was actually a bad idea.

I knew then that I had a real problem.

The red pill

I had been lying to myself for years. I even told my family doctor that I drank about 8 ounces of vodka a night. Suddenly my eyes were open to my own lies. I realized that I was drinking from 16 – 20 ounces or more of vodka a night, 3/4 of it straight. It was like I took the red pill from Morpheus in the Matrix. Everything became clear.

My lovely wife decided to look up tapering off alcohol and came across a site for substance abuse and rehab. She called them and talked for an hour to a very nice woman about my problem. They said they could help…

The confession

Over a period of time last weekend I went from denial to getting admitted into rehab. I knew I had to come clean with my work as I was going to be gone for a month. I could have just said it was a long vacation or come up with some excuse, but I knew that I had to finally bring my problem into the light. Fortunately I have a secure position at work and am well respected and liked. That is also the worst part… No one knew. No one had a clue. How would they reacI began by telling my staff. I actually cried when I started telling them. Their eyes were wide open in shock when I began to explain, “I’m going to rehab”. We have been so close and they had no idea I had a problem.

An hour later was the big reveal to the chief officers of my company. I told them about going to rehab and they were very gracious. I told my whole story about my hidden addition. They said they respected me for making this major step and that they would support me in any way they could.

Next was telling my colleagues… I called each one ( about 6 people) and said the same thing to each, starting with, “I am just going to tear off the bandaid, I’m going to rehab for alcohol addition”. All were shocked but all were very supportive. Some had stories about themselves I never knew and about people in their family with the same issue.

Finally, I wrote an email to the entire staff. I explained my problem and said I’d be gone a month. It is a big deal to tell people I’ll be gone for a month and will have no contact with anyone or email.

The future

I have no idea of what my future holds. Since I began this matrix moment, I have had so many thoughts going though my head.

What will it be like trying to sleep without alcohol after 8 years?

Will I be able to sleep?

What will detox be like? I’ll be in a hospital for 5 days detoxing and then off to rehab.

What are the health implications to drinking 20 ounces of straight vodka for 8 – 10 years? What about my stomach or esophagus?

No one knows what the future holds, but God alone. He is going to be by my side. He brought me to this moment and will take me through it with the faithfulness He has always shown me. I haven’t been trusting Him and that needs to change.

I hope to write daily of my experience in rehab on this site. My hope is that somehow I can help someone else who is in a similar situation. I am scared of the what the next month holds as it will be a life change that I wasn’t planning on going through. Going from denial to rehab in two weeks is overwhelming.

I know I have to do this, and hopefully I will be able to help at least one other person by being transparent about my decision to move on with my life. Struggling in silence isn’t a solution. Bringing your bad choices and decisions to the light and moving to a better place and future is a solution.

God help me!

6 Mental Leaps to Running a Half Marathon

Sunday, TJ and I ran the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham.  Looking back, it was an awesome experience in so many ways.  I’m going to try and write several short posts about it over several days rather then a really long post.

My prep for this race was non existent.  Life got in the way and unlike any other half marathon or my 1 marathon, I did no training or workouts.  So for me this race was all mental.  I knew my physical conditioning wouldn’t bring me though.  Here are the “Mental Leaps” I had to take to actually run this race.

  1. Getting to the starting line.  The race registration was a Christmas gift from TJ (thanks TJ), but my race prep was non existent.  I have a lot of excuses, but non that matter.  Basically, I have been working crazy hours since last Spring and helping my Lovely Wife a lot as she hasn’t been feeling well. Many days I’ve been working /  erranding for 12 hours before I get a chance to run.  With it getting dark early and my hectic schedule, I end up only running 3-4 miles a day. So the race itself was a huge fear for the last couple of months. I even told my Lovely Wife that perhaps I’d show up and after TJ started the race, I’d go somewhere to sit and wait for him to finish (just not tell him that was my plan).  She didn’t think that was a good idea. But after the expo and talking with TJ, I decided to run the race and if need be, have a van take me back to the finish.  At least I’d try, fears and all!
  2. The 7 mile stretch.  I haven’t run over 7 miles for about a year.  Most days at 7 miles my joints and hips just shut down.  The pain gets pretty severe.  So on race day I knew at 7 miles I’d be half way through the race… A major mental leap for me.  The problem was that at 7 miles of running that morning, I was only at mile marker 5!  TJ and I ran 2 miles before the race just looking for a porta potty.  The only bathrooms were inside a nearby building and the line was a mile long.  We ran one direction and then the next.  Finally I asked a police officer and he said, “They are at 18th and 8th”.  I then got turned around and we ran the wrong way for 3 blocks.  When we found the potty, we used them, ran back to the line and… I realized I was too hot.  I had 2 jackets on as it was cold, but all that running made me realize I was over dressed.  So we ran 2 blocks back to the car, then back to the potty and back to the starting line.  2 miles of running and the race hadn’t even started.  Ugh.
  3. The Gu strategy.  My last half marathon nearly 2 years ago, TJ was pacing me.  He was an awesome pacer and he would give me a Gu every 3 miles to help me get the PR that I made that day.  So I tried to follow that same strategy during this race.  At mile 3 I got 2 Gu’s.  I put one in my pocket and eat one.  My “mental leap” was to keep looking forward to the next third mile.  At mile 5 when they gave out more Gu, I passed them up as I had one in my pocket.  Finally at mile 6 (mile 8 to me) I reached in to get my Gu and it was gone.  It must have fallen out of my pocket.  This was not good.  Just as I started to panic, there was someone giving out Gummy Bears. 🙂   I got a couple and at mile 7 an awesome little girl gave me more Gu.  I survived another mile.
  4. The half way point.   I made it half way.  It was not as bad as I thought.  I was trying to keep a 9:00 pace and was close to keeping that goal.  I ran the tangents like a pro.  Every inch that I could save I knew I would need.  At 6.5 miles I was still nervous and not sure I’d might need to walk some, but the goal I created at this point was to keep running and not walk during the race.  Miles 6-9 were pretty much up hill so I was beat, but this was the first point I thought I might finish the race.  I knew I was in new territory as I had now run 8.5 miles (with our potty runs) and my body hadn’t done that for a year.
  5. Mile 9 and mental gymnastics  I knew now I’d make the goal of completing the race and not walking.  But I’d have to do some brain tricks to keep going and I felt like I was fading.  I eat my Gu, I drank gatorade and kept going.  I would think to myself, “Only 4 miles to go”.  I’d think, “You made it past mile 8” – thus the mental gymnastics.  Each mile I’d be surprised that I was at that mile as I kept my brain a mile in the past.  I know this sounds crazy, but it helped being surprised that I was at mile 9 when I was thinking I was at mile 8.
  6. A new goal at mile 11  So far I made it to the starting line, I kept close to my 9:00 pace, but the hills set me back a bit.  I didn’t walk and I knew I’d finish.  My new goal at mile 11 was my biggest of the day.  According to the race clock, I was going to be just over 2 hours at my finish.  I knew I’d have to get below my 9 minute pace to beat 2 hours.  I was tired and my legs were killing me, but I sped up my pace.  I figured in my head that I had to be close to an 8:30 pace for the next 2.1 miles and I decided to go for it.  At the start of mile 12 my pace was down to 8:50.  I had to run faster if I was going to do this.  My 13th mile (15th with my potty run) I felt like walking.  I was really hurting.  I heard the finish announcers finally.  It was a LONG mile.  My app told me at mile 13 that I was at an 8:37 pace for that mile.  I entered the finish shoot.  I gave it all I had…

I crossed the finish line at 1:59:56!

All the mental leaps.  All the fear.  All the running.  The cold.  The Gu.  The awesome runners and volunteers.  This was the most fun I’ve had in a half marathon ever.  No PR – In fact I was about 18 minutes slower then my PR.  But I finished the race, I didn’t walk, I made it under 2 hours.  And in front of me was a battered TJ, all bandaged up from a fall at the finish line.

This is why I love running.  That 4 seconds under my goal.  Had I made one stop, had I walked, had I not pushed as much as I could that last mile – It all came down to 4 seconds.

It… was… awesome!

I just figured out there is more to fitness then running…

Life keeps moving at such a fast pace, it gets harder and harder to find time to write.

Summer running stinks!

I hate hot, 100 degree runs.  In fact, most days it is just 90 – 95, but with the humidity it can be as much as 15 degrees hotter outside.  Add black asphalt and a 3:00PM run, and – well you get the point.

So I’ve made some changes.

I’ve started playing tennis with TJ a couple times a week for the past few weeks.  It has been a lot of fun and it is much easier to play tennis for an hour or two in 100 degrees then to run 5 miles.

Also, RS has made incredible progress at the Y lifting weights and working out.  In 3 months he went from a fairly normal, slightly overweight teenager to six pack abs and thin and trim.  I must say that although I never wanted to cross train or do anything but run, now I see the value.  So I’ve joined the Y with him and yesterday was our first workout.  Needless to say, I can’t lift my arms above my head today, LOL.  Actually as he was showing me what he does, an Iraq war vet came over to help.  He basically told me that I needed to start slow, get a balance and be patient for about 3 weeks.  Once I was able to lift a bar without weights for 3 reps of 20, then I could move on.  I could tell he knew what he was talking about.  We didn’t stay to long as I needed to meet TJ at the tennis courts, but it was a good beginning.  After being at the gym for 45 minutes, I proceeded to play 90 minutes of tennis.

So my quest for the long run and another marathon is on a bit of a hold while I adjust to my new routine.  I’m not stopping running all together though.  I’ll run 2 -3 times a week and do other exercise the rest of the week.  My goal is to get through the summer without giving up on my 3+ years of fitness and weight loss.  I honestly think if I tried to go through a 4th summer of just running in the afternoon heat, I would have just given up.

Life keeps moving at the speed of light.  I’m just trying to keep up!!!

Tom

My first treadmill run…

It has been a while since I’ve written.

Life has been hectic.  I was in Louisiana for a week doing a work project.  Let me say, I only ran once while there and that was my first run ever on a treadmill.  Just sayin… I’m not a fan.  That was the Sunday I arrived.  After that, I worked 14 – 15 hours each day and just couldn’t bring myself to get up to run on that machine again.

This last week was my first full week of running since I last wrote.  The week before my trip I was able to average 7 miles a day for 6 days.  Not bad for me.  In fact the only week I ran that much in the past was during marathon training.  On top of everything it was very warm out, but I wanted to push it (time wise, not speed wise).  Last week, I felt like I had lost everything.  I was tired and it was tough outside with humidity.  TJ and I did a hill run on Monday that was harder then any other run I’ve had in a long time. The week of running was simple 2 – 5 mile runs, but it was difficult.

So the week off really messed with my running.  No exercise, not much water, and not much walking either.  Just spending all week in from of my laptop programming.

This week is a new week.  I had a relatively good run yesterday morning.  It was hot, but I did get in 5+ miles.  I’m doing my best to break the 4 mile summer barrier I hit last year during the heat.  Today is another hill run with TJ and then just normal runs.  I have another business trip though that might mess things up a bit.  Normally I wouldn’t be worried as it is only a few days, but after having a full week off of running and now a few more days off, I’m going to have to be really careful, especially with my weight.

Have an awesome week. Hopefully things slow down after this week and I’ll get back to writing.  I’ve missed blogging and keeping up with my blog running friends.  Right now it is all I can do to write.

Thanks for reading and have fun running!

Tom

Breaking my body memory by longer runs

30 miles in 4 days.

Honestly, I guess I’ve overdone it a little, but I had good reasoning.

Sunday I went out for a long run at our state park.  I ran 8.8 miles. I didn’t look at my watch, but I ran until I couldn’t run anymore.  It was hilly and the temperature was okay when I started, but had gone up 10 degrees by the time I finished.  I also had negative splits, so that made me feel better.  I really wanted to run long and not stop at 4 miles.

Monday was my hill run day with TJ.  We usually run between 7 – 8 miles and 6 of those miles are large hills.  It was probably the toughest run of the Spring so far.  It was hot (near 90) and I had just run nearly 9 miles the day before with a lot of mountain hills.  I came home from our run and just sat for an hour throwing the stick with the dog and drinking my Gatorade.

Tuesday was an impromptu longer run.  I ended up at 7.3 miles.  I didn’t really go in my normal route of running in the park.  I just ran in different directions, got lost in my thoughts and finished when I thought I should.

Wednesday I tried to see if I could get in another 8 mile run.  I did make 6.2 miles, so it was a good 10K, but my legs were so tired and I was so hot, that I just didn’t think I should push it.

I wrote a few days ago that last year I got into a 4 mile Summer rut (I called it survival mode).  I really want to break free of that this year.  I hate running in the heat, but I also know I can get used to it and I can make it though without crashing and burning like I did at the end of last Summer.

You’re body gets a memory and it will get used to what you give it.  If you eat junk, it wants junk.  If you always run 4 miles, it won’t want to go 5.  It really is amazing.  For instance, I have gotten into the habit of drinking 32 oz of water every morning after I wake up.  Now my body craves it.  I even drank it before my last 5K because I have to have my morning water.  That is one reason I’m running more.  I want my body to get used to running in the heat and deal with it better.  Also I want to get past a weight plateau I’ve had since my last business trip to New Orleans.  This week of longer running has really helped.

Finally, be careful running in the heat.  People die in the Summer by running and not being hydrated.  I usually drink 96 oz of water during the day before my run and another 32 after my run.  I also have slowed down my pace to deal with the increased mileage and the heat.

As my wife says everyday before I head out for my run, “BE WISE” (and yes, she says it with that emphasis).

Tom

Have you ever tried to retrain your brain?

Have you ever tried to retrain your brain?

It fascinates me as a runner how much the brain is used in running and how much “memory” occurs during a run.

For instance, last summer I got into a rut of running 4 mile runs.  It was hot and I run at 2:00 in the afternoon.  I was in survival mode and just wanted to hang on for cooler weather.  So for 3 months I’d run 4 miles each day.  However, when cooler weather prevailed, I had the hardest time getting past 4 miles.  I was in good shape, but almost exactly at the 4 mile mark, my body would shut down and I’d have to stop.  Finally I ran with TJ on a traditional 7 mile run on Christmas day and was able to begin to break free of the 4 mile blockage – but it was hard.

I blame this rut on my brain.  Of course I could have gone 5 miles or more at any point, but my whole body would just stop when it was trained to stop at 4 miles.

Let me give another example.  Over 3 years and 3,500 miles of running, I kept my cell phone in my right hand to track my runs.  I take it on every run; every 5K and even on my full and half marathons.  I’m used to having it in my hand.  This winter I decided to try and teach myself to switch hands during my run.  This was partly due to a light wrist sprain and partly to see if I could reteach myself to hold my phone in my left hand.  So while running I would suddenly remember to put my phone in my left hand.  After a while, without noticing, it was back in my right hand.  I’d then put it back in my left and then it would reappear in my right.  This went on and on for a month or so.  I would never remember putting my phone in back in my right hand.  Eventually I retrained my brain to notice when I would move it from my left hand to my right hand.  I’d then purposely move it back.  Finally I was successful in moving my phone to my left hand and leaving it there until I decided to move it back.  I know this is a minor example, but it demonstrates how I retained my brain.

Simply put, do the thing your want to do and do it over and over again.  When you fail at it, do it again.  Eventually you will retrain your brain to notice and then you can finally break the habit.

I’m relating this to running, but it works in almost any area of life.  Bad habits can be broken and good habits installed by just doing and failing and doing and failing until you just do it!

Retraining my brain has helped me become a runner, eat better, lose 100 lbs, change my work habits and live a better life.

Just don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the beginning of success.  Failure means you have tried.  If you never try, you will never fail, but you will also never succeed.

If you try again every time you fail,  get up every time you fall, keep moving forward with your goal, you will see the success you want to obtain.

Never give up.

Tom

Running tired? See how fast you recover!

After 4 months, I have finally finished a major project at work and on Saturday, I ran my first 5K since January.

What is interesting isn’t the 5K, but the short training I did leading up to the 5K.

I have been doing hill runs for about 3 or 4 months with my son.  We go out each week and run 6 – 7 miles of hills in a neighborhood next to ours.  These hills are big and exhausting.  Sometimes (like yesterday) I don’t know how I’m going to make it home.  All in all the runs are about 8 miles.

Rewind to last week.  With our 5K on Saturday I started to really get concerned.  I had increased my mileage a lot over the winter, but had also slowed my pace.  In fact in April of 2014 I averaged just over an 8:30 pace.  This April I was closer to 9:45.  This slow down was intentional.  I really wanted to gain mileage, build my base and stop getting hurt.  I accomplished all three!

However…

With the 5K less then a week away I was concerned that my slow pace would really mess my race up.  Monday last week I ran hills run with TJ.  Tuesday I just ran 4 miles.  I was tired to say the least.  I finished my run and noticed that I ran near a 10:00 pace.  I was so disappointed.  I wondered if my 22 minute 5K were over for good.

Then it dawned on me.  I had just finished my run.  I was breathing heavily and tired.  But in less then a minute my breathing returned to normal and my heart rate slowed right down.  Hmmm, I thought.  If I can recover in less than a minute, maybe I’m in better shape then I thought. So Wednesday I went out for another run.  I started slowly the first mile as I always do, but I ran faster then my normal first mile.  I got into the second mile and picked up my pace.  The last two miles I ran much faster with my last mile under 8:00.  I was tired and breathing heavily, but once again, as soon as I finished I recovered.  By the time I got to my car to go home, I was breathing normally.  Thursday was the same.  I ran, I recovered and I felt fine.

So the hill runs and the distance runs did what I wanted.  They build my base and gave me the ability to run hard and not get hurt and recover quickly.  I simply lacked the confidence and speed work to get me going faster for my 5K.

How’d the 5K go?  I ran it slower then my usual pace a year, but I also ran it 1:13 faster then my 5K in January.  I came in at 23:20, 2nd in my age group and 33rd overall out of 500 runners.  I’m pretty happy about that considering I had only 2 speed workouts and had gained some weight during my 4 month project.

I am going to keep doing what I am doing.  I’m going to add some speed workouts in the mix to train my body (and brain) to run faster.  I’m going to lose the 5 lbs I gained and try to bring my time down below 22:00 this year.

Hopefully this will help someone else in a similar situation.  Listen to your body and your recovery.  It may be telling you something that your brain is not!

Tom