Season of Change

My blog, 278toBoston.com is named for a reason that most of you understand.  To be honest, it has really helped keep me in line and give me motivation over the past year or two.

I struggle in two main areas.

  1. Weight
  2. Goals

When I weighted 278 lbs, I never thought I could lose that weight.  I honestly thought I’d die of some heart related disease and everyone who got on to me about my weight would say, “See I told you so.”   I had a hard time with long term goals.  Losing 100 lbs wasn’t possible.  Running a marathon as my dad had, wasn’t possible.  Living a normal healthy life after 50 wasn’t possible.  After all, not only was I obese, but I had hip and leg problems.  In fact my legs and ankles were beginning to swell and just walking up the steps was a difficult task.

One day, on an 11 hour drive home from visiting Chicago (the “fat” pic on the side of this blog was taken that weekend), I had to drive the whole way home and couldn’t stay awake.  I almost couldn’t make it home.  I had to stop twice to sleep.  Ends up I had severe apnea.  At my sleep study I was told that I stopped breathing 110 times in an hour.

Things were not going well.

Seasons of change come and go.  I’ve learned over the years that when a season of change (a good change) comes, I need to take it and run with it or it will pass me by.  In a season of change, I went to a Dr. appointment with my Lovely Wife and that doctor helped me.  I lost weight, I began running, I lost more weight, I began racing, and finally ran a marathon last September.

To be honest, I still struggle with weight and goals.  My weight is consistent, but is about 10 – 15 lbs over where I should be.  My goal (in my blog name) of making it to Boston one day seems but a dream.  It can get so overwhelming.

Sometimes you need a sign.

As I was running a few weeks ago, I was in a new neighborhood and ran past a house with a teen boy kicking a soccer ball.  As I ran past, he waved and said hi and I returned the greeting.  I thought, “How nice! Most kids look down and ignore me as I run, but he said hi and smiled”.

A few days later I was running by the same house.  That boy has not been out since, but as I ran by I noticed his mailbox.

A sign?  I hope.  Maybe I can do this.  I just need to go with the season of change and believe:

Do I believe?

Do I believe?

Mile 25 of my 5 mile run

I had a mile to go to finish my run.

I was beat.  Totally beat.  I told myself that I would quit a half mile early.

  • It was hot – not as hot as in the middle of summer, but a hotter day then we have had lately.
  • I forgot to take my Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) before my run.  My legs were so tired and heavy.  Was this the reason?
  • I increased my mileage from 4 to 5 miles a day just this week.  Was that why I was beat?
  • I am running a hillier area and one hill is huge.  Am I just worn out?

These are the thoughts of a runner perplexed at 4 miles as to why his run is going badly.  Pace?  What pace?  I threw pace out of the window a couple miles ago.  Actually all summer I have kept my love for speed away and just tried to be consistent on the run.

I tripped.  Sort of tripped.  I literally stubbed the top of the front of my new running shoes.  I’ve never done that before, I thought to myself.  Maybe I should walk home.  I don’t want to hurt myself on a basic run.  I don’t want to be stupid.  I don’t… I can’t… I won’t…

Then the thought occurred to me.  Just a year ago I ran a marathon.  I felt worse at mile 25 of that marathon then I did now at mile 4 of my 5 mile run.  My body needs to learn.  I need to master my body.  It must submit to me if I ever want to run a marathon again, let alone qualify for Boston.  This feeling… The feeling of being spent, exhausted, tired, hot and having nothing left inside… Maybe this feeling is a gift.  Maybe this is training for mile 25.  Only a little over a mile to go and I’ll be done.  My body will learn that it has to comply with what I am doing.  Not to the point of getting hurt, but I need to teach my body, my mind and my spirit that I can run through this feeling.  I can complete the race.  I can run up that last hill and finish what I set out to do.

5.01 miles after I started, I finished.  I literally had nothing left.  It was hard to walk the rest of the way home (about 100 yards).

I finished. What a great feeling.  I had the worst run of the summer and I felt like I just completed a marathon.  I didn’t give up.  I didn’t give in.  I didn’t walk until I met my goal.

Today… who knows, maybe I’ll run 6 miles just for fun!

Have a great weekend.

Tom

It’s been a great run

This is hard to write.

I have honestly lost my inspiration for this blog.  I don’t know why exactly.  Perhaps it is some added pressure at work, or maybe the fact I’ve written for almost a year and a half about running – I mean really, how much can one person write about running?!?

So during my run yesterday, I decided to take a break from my blog.  It wasn’t a hard decision.  The past few weeks I would start to write and have to rewrite the same opening sentence 3 times before I finally either just close my browser or push through to something semi interesting to me.

The hard part isn’t taking a break.  The hard part is that I have met so many interesting and caring bloggers on this site.  When I started this blog, I wasn’t on social media.  I didn’t want to be.  I don’t do Facebook and only started a Twitter account after I started this blog.  I only told people I personally knew that I was doing this project.  But then, somehow, people started finding me.  I went from a handful of people following and viewing my posts, to hundreds.  On top of that, there are about 10 bloggers that I honestly could feel like I (somewhat) know through out interactions on their blogs and mine.  It has been a great run.

All good things must come to an end.  I will probably pick this back up.  Maybe in a week or so when pressures at work calm down, and maybe not.  I honestly don’t know. I want to enjoy writing and I also don’t want to just disappear without notice and allow my blog to languish and me feel guilty about not keeping it up.

So one last thank you!  I would name some of my favorite bloggers here, but then I would feel badly if I missed someone.

Maybe MarthonerRunning To Her DreamsPandora Viltis, Running on Healthy, Get Going – Get Running

Okay, I just can’t keep going.  You all really do know who you are.  There are more people, but I don’t have time to write everyone’s names! You know who you are.  Some of you helped me through my marathon, some just found me recently.  Some have shown great concern for me in all my injuries and some really make me laugh and smile.

Please know I appreciate every like and comment I’ve gotten since January 2012 when I started this blog.  Also know I fully intend on coming back and continuing to write my journey.  I have doubts about ever qualifying for Boston as I get hurt after almost every race, but that is still my goal and every run I complete will put me closer.

Okay, enough already (I hear you say).

Have a great life.  Keep running.  Keep making me smile.

Tom

Runner’s World book and tapering!

So I have a few subjects to write about…

I have never gone this long without writing on this blog.  Mainly I have been a bit worn out lately and it has been all I could do to run and watch the Boston Marathon (not disappointing).  I consider this a “blog taper”.  Sometimes I guess everyone needs to slow down and let the muscles recharge, whether the muscle is a leg or a brain.

Saturday is the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.  TJ, RS and I will all run the half and – for the most part – I am looking forward to it.  I have never run in a race with more then about 5,000 people, so going to one that is 5x that, should be… well… interesting.

We leave tomorrow at lunch, go to the expo, go to the hotel, get up at 4:00AM, get to the race at 5:30AM, and hope to be ready for the 7:00AM start.  Of course there are 40 corals, so we may not get going until 8:00, but it will give us time to prepare mentally.

On to my book article.  I mentioned last Saturday in my last post that I am in a Runner’s World book.  Actually they put me in two books, the other is called, “Runner’s World Training Journal for Beginners”.

I am putting up a scan of my section of the book.  I hope Runner’s World doesn’t mind, but if they read my blog and ask me to take it down, I will.  The chances of either are slim, but if I can be published in a Runner’s World book, then I guess anything can happen.  The book looks really great and is a great resource.  Here is the Amazon link if you are interested: http://www.amazon.com/Runners-World-Book-Running-Beginners/dp/1609615379

So here is my section.  Thanks for reading and for following my blog!

Tom

Cover

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One day…

It was 1:00 in the morning and I got out of bed to go to the bathroom.

Ouch.

I could barely walk.

There was that soreness I didn’t notice yesterday!  It felt like the day after my marathon.

Yesterday I felt pretty good.  I was a little sore, but nothing major.  I even did my five mile run and at a pretty good pace of 8:38.  I finished strong and felt good afterwards.  I was a little weak on the hills, but I chalked that up to my mountain run on Sunday.

Then last night and this morning…  I can’t walk.  I hurt from my hips down to my feet.  Talk about delayed onset.  Wow.

It is a good hurt.  It is a hurt that I know means my legs and quads got pushed and will be stronger in the end.

TJ just told me he wants to run with me during the half marathon.  So basically he will be pacing me.  That should be interesting.  He paced me on a 5K once and it really helped.

I’ll be honest.  I want to destroy my PR in my half marathon.  Another reason it will be good to have TJ with me.  He will keep me at a reasonable pace, especially in the beginning.  From what I understand the first half or so is mostly up hill and the last quarter is mostly down hill.  Not sure about the rest.

With each mountain run I am getting stronger, more confident, faster, less fragile.  I am so thankful I found this mountain and can run it each week.  It has actually given me hope that one day I will qualify for Boston….

One day.

Running strength. Building a base for the future.

Well I ended up with almost 105 miles for the month after my evening run yesterday.  I can’t complain.  I felt great.

I started out my run too fast at an 8:12 pace for the first mile.  What was I thinking!  Fortunately I got 3 calls from work during my workout which gave me an excuse to rest for a few minutes each time.

All in all things are coming along well with my running.  I feel much stronger after all my mountain runs.  It is like I am a whole different runner.  I can push myself up hills in my neighborhood like never before.  I run at paces that I have never run at before except to do a speed workouts.  I just really feel good out there.

I think back to my marathon and specifically remember mile 4.  I was coming down a small but steep hill and I felt my leg give way a bit.  It was very unnerving and made me realize that even after all the training, my legs weren’t really strong enough for the 26.2 miles.  I finished with a 4:15 time, but I had to walk off and on the last 10 miles or so.

Now I feel like I am on the right track.  I am gaining leg strength.  My lungs can handle longer and faster runs.  I run mainly to feel, and have been in the 7:30 – 8:00 pace off and on lately.  Overall my pace averages around 8:30, but I honestly think I am building a base so that I can run a sub 8:00 pace for a marathon and qualify for Boston one day.

So now we start a new month.  All our apps set back to the big zero as we head out today to run.

The future is looking bright.

I love running.

Tom

My guest post on a great blog!

I have been blogging for over a year now.

I have had a few posts that people have really liked and have a lot of great followers who I really appreciate.

About 6 weeks ago I wrote a post about the freedom that running gives me and, for me, went viral.  I got about 10 times the number of views on that one post compared to my average.

One person whom I follow and who follows me, wrote and asked if he could post that post on his blog.  His name is Bruce Matson and he recently published an awesome book about health, running and his journey to Christianity.  The way I found out about Bruce was my running buddy @BigBigGeek bought me an audio copy of his book to listen to as TJ and I drove up to Pennsylvania to run our first (and so far, only) marathon.

Bruce asked that I add a few references on the spiritual side for the post which I was glad to do.  I honestly don’t post much about spiritual things on my blog, not because I am afraid to post about them (see my Faith tab above), but I set out to write a running blog and though I give God all the credit for all that I have accomplished, I’m sure He understands this is a running blog and is not offended. 🙂

Okay… First I want to say thank you to Bruce for posting my edited post on his blog…

Go here: http://bhmatson.com/2014/03/14/faith-running-freedom/

Second I encourage you to read his blog and look into purchasing his book.  It is very well written and is close to paralleling my journey from 278 to … soon Boston… maybe.  It is almost uncanny how closely our journeys have paralleled each other.

Lastly, thank you @BigBigGeek for introducing me to Bruce.

You know, it is really cool that I started this blog with just a few people following me and now I have hundreds and I have a post on Bruce’ blog – an author.

I am grateful to Bruce for the post and all of you who read my blog… even when I have to only write about walking. 🙂

Tom

My dream, my hope, my life – Thoughts from yesterday’s run

As I ran yesterday, I thought about dreams.

Not dreams as in sleep, but dreams as in aspirations, desires, goals that seem beyond reach, but something you want to attain with a desire that is beyond normal desire or hope.

Dreams are an important part of life.  Some dreams never come to pass.  They sit in front of us an become a frustration, depression or just make us angry.

I realized yesterday that I have had many dreams I wanted to attain in life and many of them I have actually achieved.  Most were within my ability to achieve if I persevered beyond normal effort.  As I ran, realized that each major phase of my life has had a dream just outside my reach that I had to really work for in order to see it come to fruition.  Many times those dreams took perseverance beyond my own ability to achieve.

I am being purposefully vague here as I don’t need to go into all those dreams.  But my thoughts went on to the fact that so many people deal with anger and depression because they don’t get to fulfill their dreams, at least in the timing that they have chosen to see them fulfilled.  Without a dream, or as the Bible says, a vision, we will perish.  Hope is essential in life.  The American Dream has kept people pursuing their lives vocation for generations.  A hope for a good life and an even better life for their children.  I think a lot of Americans have given up on achieving their Dream.

My current dream or hope or goal is to qualify and maybe one day run in the Boston Marathon.  Back before last year’s race (and tragedy) TJ would talk to me about us qualifying together.  Then, last March I made that my goal.  I hadn’t even run my first marathon yet, but my new goal would be to qualify for Boston… Then I ran my first marathon in September and that dream seemed to be pushed beyond achievement.  I ended up hurting myself after the marathon and it took months to get back to a semi normal running routine.

I still have that as my goal, my dream.  It keeps me going home each day and heading out to run in good or bad weather.  It helps me get past heel spurs and hip pain.  It makes me run up mountains in order to build my endurance and run down mountains to build my strength.  

It is my dream.  

I could give up on my dream.  It is going on 2 years since I began running and a year since I made that decision to qualify for Boston.  That is a long time.  I am getting close to 2,500 miles run, mostly in my neighborhood.  It seems like a dream that is out of reach.  But that is exactly what makes it a dream.  That is what gives me hope.  The thought of the day I achieve another dream and overcome almost impossible odds to do just that…  That is what makes life fun.

So my run ended yesterday much quicker than most.  Not because I ended it early, but because I had so distracted myself from running by dreaming about dreaming.

Keep dreaming.  If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a dream.

Tom

Running as a habit… The good and the bad

Well… taking a break yesterday didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

I got home and decided to just run/walk slowly.  You need to understand that my success in running is based on habit.  I have developed a habit of running 5 – 6 days a week over the past two years.  The good thing about habits is that they become automatic as long as you do the same thing at the same time each day (not time  like a clock, but time as at the same point in your day – i.e.: after work).   Everyday I get home from work and immediately get on my running clothes and head out to run… EVERYDAY during the week.  From the time I get home to the time I am out running it is usually about 10 minutes.  I have trained myself to do this.  It is an ingrained habit that has worked well for me…

Except…

When I need rest, it is almost impossible to stop.  I do rest by taking a day off a day a week, but usually walk on those days.  A true rest day only occurs if I am sick or the day is so busy that I cannot get my run in (usually a Saturday).

So yesterday I planned on resting, but I ran.  To be fair, I ran at a pace 1 to 2 minutes slower than normal and I walked from time to time (about a half mile of the five mile run).  So it was a resting run. 🙂

I didn’t sleep well again last night.  I’m not sure what is happening.  No stress, no pressure, no caffeine or sugar.  I fell asleep late (late for me anyway) and then kept waking up.  I woke up at 3:00AM and just waited for the alarm to go off at 4:00 (and then didn’t want to get up).  Although I feel fine, I wonder if I am not fighting some sickness or something.  It has been a strange couple of days, but at least it hasn’t been more than that.

Finally, I had a hit on my blog yesterday where someone typed into Google, “278 to Boston Boston marathon 2014”.  Ha.  That was pretty neat to see.  I assume someone wondering if I qualified yet or not.  Well this runner will have to wait until at least 2015 and I probably won’t have a real chance a qualifying till 2016.

Goals.  Habits.  Life. All is good (now if I can just get some sleep).

Boring run, but interesting sky

Running can be boring, especially for someone who refuses to listen to music and who runs alone.  One good thing is that I am always listening (for cars) and looking around and observing.

Yesterday I came across this sight.  I had to stop and take a picture.  I didn’t know if the picture would come out or not, but it did.

Take a look:

Black line in the sky

Black line in the sky

Look in the sky of this image.  There is a dark line running across it.  It is perfectly straight, goes across the whole sky and seems to even intersect the contrail from a jet.  I took two pictures and then started my run again.  As I got to the stop sign ahead, the line was gone. I looked up and it wasn’t there anymore.

There is probably some reasonable answer as to what this is, but I was fascinated by it.  I’ve seen lots of interesting things in the sky, but never a long black straight line.

Anyway, back to my boring run.

I hope to one day qualify for Boston… that is no secret.  So whether I want to or nor; whether it is cold or hot; if I am tired or sore… I run.  I have to make my goal.  Now, once I do, that will be interesting.  What next…  I think I have a few years to make to make that decision.

Today I am taking off as I have been running for 6 days straight and my hip is beginning to rebel.  Saturday morning TJ and I are going to run the Donut Dash.  @BigBigGeek is unfortunately hurt and can’t do it this year.  I guess I’ll get his share of the donuts!

Have a great weekend and when you run… look at the sky.

To