Friday, September 19, 2014

6 Miles From Las Vegas

Las Vegas 3    Fat Runner 1

And, as I got on a plane after my last day in Vegas, that was the final score. Maybe a little sad, but true. I had tons of fun. Don't think for a minute that I didn't (and I will share my adventures so don't worry) but as far as my exercise and eating goes... well... they kind of went out the window to be honest.
Vegas was tough on my exercise and nutrition.
 I did take some pretty nice pics, like this one.

Being up front that I'm the only one to blame for this, I will give you a couple of reasons for this happening. First and foremost, when I travel for work, I mostly do it alone. Since I started running, my priorities when I travel for work are pretty simple: a)Fulfill the work obligations of the trip (obviously) b) Try to visit, do or eat someplace new if I can and take pictures. (after all, if you get a shot to travel to a new place you should take advantage of that right?) c) Run as close to my regular schedule as I can (this also lets me fulfill my b priority as I have been able to run in some awesome places)

On this trip, those priorities got a bit altered. Mainly because I wasn't traveling alone. What started as a business trip quickly escalated in scope once people found out it was in Las Vegas. At first it was just me and my Mom, (me and her work together. I don't think I've mentioned that before) then Dad ("Vegas? I think I can take a few days off...") then an uncle and his wife and finally my brother, who you all heard of as he also accompanied me to the WDW Marathon.

Of course, none of them are there for work so they have other priorities. Since the one cardinal item of the priorities mentioned above that I cannot break is a) (fulfill all work obligations) I had to be more flexible with the other two to accommodate everyone. If this sounds like a drag, believe me, it wasn't. Like I said we had tons of fun and as you will see in upcoming posts, we visited some awesome places and the Grand Canyon... there are no words. Hopefully the pictures will do it a bit of justice.

I sure started strong though. The morning after arriving I laced up and ran the best 6 miles I have ever run. It was a tempo run run starting at the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard then going south through the Las Vegas strip. Temps were in the 70's and after the warm up mile, I sped up to tempo pace noticing I was barely breaking a sweat and not a hint of fatigue. I was feeling awesome. I was able to speed up through the intersections without any problems and maintain a tempo pace faster than my goal. I felt like I could sustain it forever. I ran all the way down to the Wynn Hotel then turned back. When it was time for the final cool down mile, I didn't want to slow down. Seriously, one of the best runs ever. Under these circumstances I was sure I could pull off a very strong and successful 10 mile long run later in the week but, alas, it was not to be. That first run turned put to also be the last of the trip.
Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop from the HIstory Channel Show Pawn Stars.
Horrible pic though...

Las Vegas 0       Fat Runner 1

Then there was the food. As you've probably heard, Vegas is like the capital of the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet and boy did we revel in it. That first full day in Vegas was a total disaster. First, breakfast at the hotel's buffet (We stayed at the Golden Nugget) where I'm sure I ate for three people. Then, in the afternoon we did lunch/dinner(because who the heck can eat like that for three meals?!) at the Bellagio buffet. Oh, Lord... There was so much stuff I wanted to try out. ...and I did! Once the conference began the next day, I was able to hide behind the continental breakfast they were serving there each morning. Eating the huge cheese danish they were serving there was like fasting compared to the disaster that was the day before. Not my proudest moment folks.

Las Vegas 1        Fat Runner 1

As if that wasn't enough, me and my brother decided that if we were gonna crash, we might as well go down in flames, screaming all the way down. Our last meal in Vegas was at the Heart Attack Grill. A place so unbelievable, I will save a post just to tell you about it.

Las Vegas 2        Fat Runner 1

Finally, there was that botched long run. As the events of the week unravelled, I kept trying to reschedule it to make it happen and it didn't. I was out most of the day for the conference so I would go out with my family during the afternoon/night (and you know, nothing happens in Vegas at night) and get to sleep very late so I wouldn't wake up early enough to run the next morning. I Wanted to run on Sunday but that's when we ended up going to the Grand Canyon and had to wake up very early for that. Then thought about Monday (last day) but we went to bed way too late and didn't make it. Did I mention I'm in the middle of another Diet Bet?

Las Vegas 3        Fat Runner 1

Right now I'm thinking of that scene in Friends when Joey eats his date's dessert after making a big scene about not sharing food. He just casually looks at her with cake all over his face and tells her: 

I feel bad, but honestly I had had too much fun to dwell on it. It happened. Move on. Keep running. Sometimes stuff happens. And hey, it was Vegas!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guess Where I'm Going

Click picture for source

"Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
Got a whole lot of money that's ready to burn,
So get those stakes up higher
There's a thousand pretty women waitin' out there
And they're all livin' devil may care
And I'm just the devil with love to spare
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas"

-"The King"

Yup, I'm going to Las Vegas.

I'm leaving on Wednesday, for a work thing. Yes, for a work thing! I promise. I have to question the motives of whoever thought this was a good place to do work-related anything but a) I didn't make that decision b) This is actually the third time I go to Vegas for work stuff.

More importantly, this is the first time I go there as a runner so you know I will be reporting back to you guys about all the trouble I get myself into (which will be running related of course). Also, as it has become customary on this blog, if I manage to take any decent pictures I will share them with you as well. I will be staying at the Golden Nugget so I'm thinking long run to the Vegas sign and back? Stay tuned...

Also a little further ahead, my friend and fellow Team runDisney member Donald, who I met during the Disney Marathon is working on something special for the blog so don't go anywhere. It will be a real treat.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life with kids: Sometimes, it happens

I'm the dad of three wonderfully adorable girls. A fact I like to remind people of quite regularly, especially on Instagram, much to the chagrin of my followers there. There simply are no words to describe how happy I am to be their dad. They are truly, the best thing in my life.

That's not to say that it isn't tough and sometimes it sends you right to the edge of insanity. But just like you enjoy the great runs even more after bad runs, you have to endure the tough, scary moments to truly appreciate just how lucky you really are. Checks and balances.

Like yesterday for example...

I had just gotten home from work and after saying hi and kissing and hugging everyone I sat down on the couch to catch my breath. The two oldest ones were playing in the yard out front when I heard Veronica, the middle one crying. Now, at first I didn't really pay attention. Parents who are reading this know only too well: crying is a part of it. Especially when playing is involved. You know. They go out. They play. They run. Someone gets hit somehow. (The nature, origin and blame regarding the hit or fall is a hotly debated subject among the siblings involved) They cry. They argue. They calm down. They start playing again. Lather, rinse, repeat. So, although I clearly heard her, I did nothing. 

Then, about 30 seconds later, the oldest (María) starts crying too. Now, this wasn't her "I really don't have a reasonable defense regarding Veronica's crying so I'm hoping my crying will get me off the hook." cry. Oh no. This was the "I'm seeing something that is really scaring me and I'm freaking out!" cry. That got my attention. So I jump off the couch and run outside. The first thing I see is María looking positively terrified and as I make it to the yard, sure enough, there was Veronica on her knees crying. Bleeding from the forehead.

The cut wasn't too long thank goodness but it looked deep and she bled all over her shirt so it looked pretty bad. I can only imagine what was going through María's mind at the moment. She is only six and it's her sister. So not only do I have to calmly tend to the wound but I also have to reassure both Maria and my wife that everything is alright and I'm in total control of the situation. (yeah, right.)

So I cleaned the wound, patched her up and took her to get medical attention. If it were only that simple. Again, parents will back me up on this: It's very hard to handle these medical situations without having an "adventure" of some type. On this occasion adventure means that although the "incident" (as I will now refer to it from now on) happened at about 5:30pm and I was on my way to the doctor at about 5:45pm, I somehow managed to return home at 1am.

That's right. 1am. It ended up being just three stitches and the entire procedure took all of 10 minutes but the place I went to was so overrun and understaffed, that I ended up waiting 7 hours to get the care she needed. Isn't that just peachy?

Isn't she happy about the stitches?

So yeah, I'm dead tired and a little rattled. You can't help but think of the what if's when stuff like this happens but here is an interesting tidbit: After coming back home and putting Veronica in bed, I swapped stories of what happened with my wife. She told about how María was really concerned about Veronica and how scared she was. She told her she loved her very much and didn't want anything to happen to her. As I'm piecing the events of the night together, I realize that right around the same time María was telling that to her mom, I was having this conversation with Veronica in the waiting room.

Veronica: Dad, I want to see María.

Me: As soon as we get out of here dear. Don't worry. Everything is going to be fine.

Veronica: Yeah, but I want to see María.

Me: Why?

Veronica: Because she is calling me.

Me: What? What do you mean?

Veronica: She is calling me because she loves me.

See what I mean? Checks and balances.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Popular Bank's 5K 2014

A couple of days ago I was talking to my brother about this race. He said that once you do a race three consecutive  times, then you can say: " Oh, that race? Yeah, I run it every year." And so it is, that I continue what is now my yearly tradition of running Popular Bank's 5K, which was my first race ever back in 2012. How time flies...

What doing something repeatedly also affords you, is the ability to rate it with some degree of accuracy so, after running this race three times, I think I can honestly say this: I kind of hate this race.
Life in the last corral.

It's really more of a love/hate relationship. Being my first race ever, there is no way to not look back at this race with fondness and memories of how, despite my horrible finish time, it made me look ahead at what I could do in the future. On the other hand, for several reasons -some of them beyond me- I can't seem to perform the way I would like in it despite the fact that it is a relatively flat course. 

There were many factors that I couldn't control. It's a popular race so it's crowded. Runners and walkers alike (many racing for the first time, so they might not be aware) don't seem to respect the "rules" regarding lanes and walking 10-wide. Even though they added corrals this year, they really didn't mean much. I'm sure it will be better next year. This year we had non-stop rain all week so I didn't train as I would have liked. All that was a factor I'm sure, but...

It really comes down to me just being plain slow.

One of the reasons I love to hate 5K's in general and this 5K in particular, is that it requires a gear I seem to not posses. As my marathon finish time will tell you, I have no problem running for hours on end, but sustaining speed for prolonged periods seems to be eluding me. My best mile for example, is in the 9's but there is no way I can hold that for more than that.

My goal right now would be to run (and hold) at about 11(ish) minutes per mile for a whole 5K but right now I can't do it. I have to stop, walk a bit then run again. In this race my splits say it all. I ran the first mile in 11:38, then the other two in the 13's as I was forced to stop a couple of times. It's the domino effect: if I can't hold 11's for three miles then how can I expect to hold 13's for a Half-marathon? (Which is what I would need for a sub-three.) 
With an official finish time of 39:25, the race predictor in the Runner's World web site says I should run a Half-Marathon in 3:01 which is short of my goal by two minutes. Clearly a lot of work to do in the coming weeks.

But it wasn't all gloom and doom of course. This is the tenth year this race was done and the bling reflected that. Despite the corral issue, the race was well organized overall and I got to meet with what is quickly becoming my running posse, which you have all met in other recaps I have done. Gilbert, which was forced to walk it due to injury and the fact that he is a wimp (he, he). His dad, running a race for the first time, actually did a lot better than I did in this race the first time around and he is 63 years old! He also ran with his daughter, Cristie, who ran last year with us as well. Frankie, who I think I will start calling "The Jet" from now on, sped down the course in 27 minutes and some change. He will be running the Star Wars Half-Marathon and watching the NY Jets play in the coming months so I'm of course, green with envy. His wife Nadya ran a PR and will run the Star Wars 10K with Frankie. Some people have all the luck. LOL
The Fat Runner's Running Posse: Frankie "The Jet", his wife Nadya, Cristie, Gilberto, myself and Gilbert "The Walker"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guess who won the DietBet?

Remember the DietBet? I talked about it a while ago.(Actually a month ago to be exact) You sign up on the DietBet website and join a challenge. In my case it was Mindy Bobe from Road Runner Girl who set up the whole thing. $25 got you in, lose 4% of your weight in a month and those who did would split the resulting pot. For me to partake in said pot, I would have to lose 11 pounds.

Well, I ended up losing 12.

I submitted my results on Tuesday and on Wednesday I got confirmation as one of the winners. There were 108 players and 59 of them actually made the 4% goal. The pot was $2,750. That means I got my $25 investment back plus 10 bucks. So I got paid 10 dollars to lose 12 pounds! Pretty cool if you ask me.

So now, thanks to this bit of motivation, not only I'm at the lightest weight I've been in years but 20 pounds below what I weighed when I got married 9 years ago. (Back then, I was... um, challenged to lose 25 pounds for the wedding, which I did.) 

Why thank you Mr. President. Thank you so much.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Training Update

Let's begin with something totally unrelated to training. runDisney released pictures of the medals for the Avengers half Marathon weekend. Here they are:

I've been following what people have said regarding the medals when Matt Marcela posted the picture to the Team Run Disney group on Facebook and apparently there are some mixed feelings. Personally, I love the Half medal. It is simple, elegant and to the point. Makes me even sadder that I'm gonna miss this one.

Anyway... training! Now that I'm deep into training for the Philly Half, it's time for an update. So far, it has been positive despite few snags. My mileage is up and I feel like I'm making good gains overall. Here are some of the good things and bad things that have happened so far. First the bad:

1. I have not been feeling well. I was sick a while back and for some reason I still have a cough and a head congestion that is giving me some pretty bad headaches. A few days ago, I was forced to cut a 5 mile run at 3 miles simply because the headache wouldn't let me go on. Sadly this is not new. Whenever I get the flu or whatever, the cough always lingers for the longest time. Totally sucks.

2. Apparently, I took it a bit too easy these past few months so it has been hard to get myself in "proper" running form. Long runs in particular have been challenging.

3. For the most part, I've been tracking my calories and behaving myself but there have definitely been some bad days...

4. It's been hard to keep a consistent schedule. Been forced to run on rest days and cut running days to make up for it however...

The Good:

1. My mileage is definitely up. I don't like the unpredictable schedule but I'm running so that's good.

2. I'm back to doing speedwork and tempo runs. Hurts so good...

3. Back to long runs on the weekends. Hurts... not so good, but I'm out there.

4. Soda consumption has been reigned in to an absolute minimum. Almost to zero. Almost.

I am having a bit of an issue in the nutrition department that I can't seem to figure out though. I usually run after I get home from work (5:30pm - 6:00pm-ish). On the days I run, I eat dinner afterwards. Since I'm watching my calories, my lunch is on the lighter side and apparently not enough to fuel my run properly. I have felt awful and tired during the run. Solution? Skip dinner and have a more robust lunch, then have a snack at night.

Skipping meals is a bit of a no-no when you are trying to lose weight but what other way is there around this? Has anyone had (or has) this problem?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Last week? Could've been better.

I was supposed to post a report on how my training and nutrition has been going this last week. I didn't. Sorry about that. Before I do go into how things are going, allow me to vent for a second about how wonderful last week was.

Puerto Rico, to all my friends from the States and other countries who might not be aware of this, has been going through a pretty dry period recently. So dry in fact, that last week, the dreaded words "water rationing schedule" started to be uttered by government officials. If things didn't change soon they were to start rationing water sometime next week. Dear old Nature had other ideas.

So, what is Nature's way to deal with a water shortage in a place of extremes? Send in a Tropical Storm. Bertha made land on Saturday and all the trouble that comes with it, including power outages and not being able to leave home (too dangerous). I missed my long run. The end result? It rained and the lakes had some relief but we are not out of the "worry zone" yet. There wasn't any major damage so at least good for that.

Then I murdered my phone.

You know those Galaxy S5 Actives that are water resistant and stuff? Yeah, mine is not one of those. Something that became painfully apparent when I joined my daughters for a dip in my brother's pool with the phone in my pocket. I played, splashed and did the backstroke a few times and then, I realized what I had done. At least it didn't die alone. The keys to our mini-van were in there with it so the remote (which turns the security system and the locks plus the locks) died too. It was a massacre. Hopefully my wallet didn't suffer the same fate. A good thing since I sure needed it to pay the deductible to get the phone replaced. Worst part. The replacement will arrive by mail so for now, no phone.

I'm gonna miss that phone. I ran the Disney Marathon with it. I reviewed the Armpocket i35  with it. It was a good phone. Rest in Peace phone.

OK, next post I will give you a training update. I promise.