Sunday, October 28, 2012

It Was a Good Week - Weekly Report #11

I ran in the rain this week. When you run in the rain, you are officially cool. You just left behind all the "wimps" who decided not to run that day because it was raining. You are now "hardcore". You are a real runner.

People who run in the rain are cool.

Yeah, I'm rambling on but it's because, as the title implies, I had a good week. The truth is the minute I got home after the run, I jumped in the shower to avoid getting sick.  Still, a lot of good things happened. The app I use to keep track of my runs, RunKeeper, sent me a bunch of emails letting me know I had done a bunch of stuff I hadn't done before. We'll get to that in a minute but first the bad news.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was invited by a running club (Coquí Runners) to go run with them. I was kind of on the fence because I didn't want to be the slow one who everyone had to wait up for but finally decided to do it and was set to go this past Saturday. Friday night I got a text message saying they were not running that day. So after getting my mind ready all week it didn't happen. I was kind of disappointed but hey, now I got more time to get better for their next run.

Tuesday, October 23 - 4 miles
I started the week out strong after accepting the invitation to run with the club. I was wondering if  my new found "speed" was going to hold after doing a PR running 4 miles the week before. Sure enough, I equaled my PR. Not only that, I didn't feel like I was running that hard so it seems 4 miles is my new "normal". 1:02:48

Thursday, October 25 - 3 miles
The Rain Run. Hurricane Sandy, the now infamous "Frankenstorm" was working its way up the east coast but it was so huge, we were still getting the tail end of it down here. It rained. Hard. All day that day. As night came down, the rain stopped. Again, motivated by the fact that I was running with other people on Saturday, I sure didn't want to skip a run. So I went out. Like in previous runs were rain was an issue, I decided to run 3 miles instead of 4 to keep it short. Also, since I've been doing so well lately, why not try for a PR in at 3 miles? The minute I started running it started to rain again but what the heck? I was committed! (or should be) OK so I was a little worried about my iPod and cell phone getting wet but I just went and ran hard. It was tough and by the end my legs were really feeling the burn but I finished. I had a little trouble stopping the clock at the end as touchscreens become unresponsive when wet (in case you didn't know) so I actually finished several seconds less than the posted time. I quickly got in the shower and when I came out, I had gotten a bunch of emails from RunKeeper telling me I had achieved:

-Best Average Speed
-Best Average Pace
-PR for that 3 mile course

I was wondering if that thing was working. For the longest time, all I kept getting was "Biggest Elevation Climb" which I didn't get since I was running the exact same 4 mile course every time I got that one. Was it telling me I was hopping higher when I ran? Whatever. 44:38

Saturday, October 27 - 5 miles
This was supposed to be the club run that didn't happen. It had been two months since I had run 5 miles which I was avoiding after getting injured, then again avoiding trying to improve my time running a 5K ("race fever" I call it) Well, enough. I got into this to run a marathon! I have to focus on distance not speed. That will hopefully come later. After that run, again I got a some emails from RunKeeper:

-Furthest Distance Ran in a Week
-Longest Duration in a Week
-Furthest Distance in a Month
-Longest Duration in a Month
-Most Runs in Month
-Biggest Elevation Climb (What the...)

That 5th mile by the way, was horrendous but I guess if I compare this run to the first few times I ran 5 miles, it doesn't look that bad. 1:19:27

On another note, I also went to this great event hosted by MASD which stands for "Mis Amigos de Síndrome de Down" or "My Friends with Down Syndrome". My cousin Carlos (Big shout out) has a daughter with Down Syndrome (that makes her my 2nd cousin/niece? Something like that?) and she is one of the most adorable, cutest kids I have ever seen. (my daughters notwithstanding) Anyway, this event is kind of a parade were all these kids are the stars of the show. Each kid brings his own "posse"  that cheers them along and walks with them around this park in San Juan. The kids love it, they get to play and run around the park and since the whole point is to invite everyone you know to walk with them, it turns into an impromptu family picnic. We had a great time. This is the second year I go with them. Since you do a bit of walking and it was HOT that day, I'm counting it as a little workout. Double Bonus. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekly Report #9... and 10.

Yeah, I was falling a bit behind on the reports there. It has been a bit busy but I prefer my writing to fall behind as opposed to my running. I'm happy to report that I have been running all this time despite my not reporting it. Sadly, what I have not been able to do is race. I have been looking forward to race again after my first race, the Popular 5K at the end of August. (Race recap here) I wanted to do Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure 5K in September and injury prevented that. Now the Bayamón Board of Realtors 5K went by yesterday and a work thing prevented me to run that one. Not exactly happy about it if you know what I mean. I wanted to run at least 2 5K's before my cruise, where I will race the Castaway Cay 5K but it has been impossible. I basically have one more chance to at least do one. I will keep you posted.

My running on the other hand has been pretty good. Despite missing some runs, I'm posting some great times. I'm not going to say fast times but better than what I was doing before which means improvement. As long as we keep moving forward, all is well.

Tuesday, October 2 - 4 miles:
This run sucked but only because RunKeeper shot down somewhere along a mile and half and didn't notice so I don't know what my time was. This is the second time this happens and I was pretty upset for some reason (it shouldn't be that big of a deal should it?) But still, a run is a run.

Thursday, October 4 - 4 miles:
OK, this time RunKeeper worked so everything was fine. LOL Actually, I was pretty happy because my time was almost 3 minutes less than what I normally do when I run 4 miles. I usually hang around an hour and six minutes and have been pretty consistent in the time so this was a welcome surprise. 1:03:24

Sunday, October 7 - 4 miles:
Kind of hit a snag here. I was planning to do 5 miles here but ran out of gas. A little self-analysis post race made it obvious as to why. I ran way earlier than usual and the sun was still shining bright. It was on me pretty much the whole way and by mile 3 I had the distinct feeling I was overheating (kind of like an engine). Plus, following a usual theme in my running, I started to fast. I had to stop twice and walk the last hill and by mile 4 I decided to stop. Despite that, I finished only a minute behind my previous run which was a PR. See? It proves I was running too hard. Long runs are about taking it slow and easy. Even walking for a bit, I managed 1:04:18.

Thursday, October 11 - 3 miles:
The weather was crappy all week and this day was no exception but there was a break in the rain and decided to try a run. Since I was going to try a shorter run just in case and was pressed for time, I figured why not try for a 3 mile PR? I have been running some good times right? Well, WRONG! Even though I felt like I ran pretty hard (harder than usual) I ended up with the same time I usually do. Don't get it. My guess is I slowed down somewhere and wasn't paying attention. 46:48

Friday, October 12 - 4 miles:
The good thing about "bad" runs is that they help you appreciate the good ones even more. The next day after running those baffling 3 miles, I run a great 4 miles, well below my average again. I guess my body is getting used to running longer distances. Also, I'm having a lot less trouble running on consecutive days so that is also great news. 1:03:41

Tuesday, October 16 - 4 miles:
OK, this was - how do I say this - THE BEST RUN EVER! Wow. I felt great the while way, had a pretty strong pace, the hills were no problem and did my best time ever.Hey, I even sped up on the downhill sections. ( I usually use those to rest after going uphill) Man, if I could take this run and bottle it... wait. I did have one of those Monster energy drinks a couple of hours before the run. Could that be it? I don't know but I can tell you I felt like a million bucks the entire way. Could I be running 4 miles in less than an hour not too long from now? 1:02:42

In other news, I have been invited by an up and coming running club to go run with them. So far I have ran by myself, mainly to avoid embarrassment as I'm so slow. The prospect of running with others sounds fun but I don't know... Should I wait a bit and improve my times first? I know everyone will be very supportive and tell me I'm doing good but I don't want anyone to fall behind because of me. Any feedback?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why is running gear so... Loud?!

Fashion is such a subjective thing. When I first thought about writing this post all I was thinking about was: "Why is running gear so ugly?" But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't true. It really is a matter of taste. Some people like bright, loud colors and some people don't. Guess which side I'm on.

When it comes to clothes for me, the darker, the better. I love black. I remember seeing Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi thinking: "I want to look like THAT." Then, in my early teens I discovered Rock and Heavy Metal and well, those guys are not exactly known for their bright colors or outlook in life. So black it is for me. Today, I have changed but not that much. I can't use black all the time but I'm still squarely in the darker palette of things. When I do use lighter colors, I make sure they are not too bright.

The problem is I'm fat of course. Big and fat.  I don't like to draw attention to myself and when I wear bright colors I feel like I stick out. I have been told I stand out as it is. (I have heard the word "intimidating" used more than once to describe me) If I dress in yellow (like the shirt from my first race) it's like, attack of the 300lbs, 6 feet tall banana! At least that's how I feel inside. So I avoid bright as much as I can.

Then I got into running.

Oh boy! This is like the antithesis of me on so many levels. The colors, the styles... everything about running gear, I don't like. Case in point:

The Shoes

When it comes to shoes, I'm a conservative guy. I don't like anything flashy.However, it seems that there is some sort of law that states that running shoes HAVE to be exactly that. Case in point:

GEL-Extreme33™                         GEL-Blur33™ 2.0                   Minimus 1010 Trail, Red with Black Mizuno Men's Wave Musha 4 Running Shoes
Now, I see people using these shoes all the time and they look good doing it. I feel like I look ridiculous. But most running shoes look like this so what is a guy to do?

And then there is Motion Control shoes. For some reason, shoe manufacturers do not generally make these kind of shoes in loud colors (compared to other types) but seem to try to compensate by trying to make them as ugly as they can.

                New Balance 587, Navy New Balance 1540, White with NavyNew Balance 1300, Grey

Actually, I said fashion is subjective and there is no such thing as ugly but this is close. They just look... weird. Like they are stuck in the seventies or eighties ( I can't quite place the era). The replacement to my beloved 1123's, the 1540's, is the one in the middle. They actually make a version of those that is all black. Like they made them just for me. They also happen to be the most expensive Motion Control shoes I have seen so far. Just my luck...

So when it comes to shoes I have to pick between bright and modern or dull and ancient. Isn't there anything dark and modern?

The Pants

Again, choices for me are slim. Lets forget for a moment about the color thing. Why do they have to be so short??!! I mean, hot-pants short? I read that making them so short prevents chafing. Well, guess what? That is exactly what causes chafing in my case! Because my fat legs are always rubbing together, unless I wear shorts that are long enough, I would probably rub my legs raw by mile two. And by the way, can you actually sit in those shorts and keep your dignity? I mean they are really short, they are baggy and if you lift you leg enough or sit then your... stuff, is exposed.  Of course, the option to these is the compression stuff. I don't know what the benefits of compression are yet. I'm sure there are many reasons for wearing these but from where I'm sitting they seem to exist to just make sexy women look even more sexy. They have the uncanny ability to reveal the the shape of the wearer in all their glory. Not exactly what I wanted to achieve while running. Because I know that wearing the tight stuff has actual benefits I'm not going to say I will not wear it but I will wear it under something else so people around me can keep their lunch.

The Shirts

OK, so its either a tiny tank top or the form- fitting (emphasis on form-fitting) tech shirt. Where is the baggy, loose-fitting stuff?

It just occurred to me that if there was more stuff like that, maybe more overweight people would run. After all, part of the problem overweight people have is being intimidated by the "fit people" when they go to the gym or a race. We see them dressed in stuff that, if we were wearing it ourselves, we would get laughed at. So many opt to just not do it at all. Now, I know that in most cases form follows function in running attire. The colors do have a safety purpose and the clothes fit like they do for efficiency among other things but there should be more alternatives. More accessible ones at least. I recently got some running shorts in black (they have reflective stripes for safety) that are long enough (10 inch inseam) to avoid chafing and keep my dignity but short enough to allow me to run freely. So the stuff does exist but I had to look very hard to find it though.

Maybe I'm just venting here. Other people look good in running gear. Maybe I'm just complaining that I don't look good in it. Maybe I'm just complaining that I have nothing to wear when I go running. It's not that I care that others might think I don't look good. I've never cared about that. It's that I feel I don't look good in it. You wear all this bright stuff and suddenly you are very self-aware that you are outside your comfort zone. But, if overweight people didn't have self-image issues they would have one less reason to lose weight right?

*All images are sourced from their respective manufacturers: Mizuno, Asics and New Balance

Monday, October 1, 2012

Consistency (...or trying to attain some)

To Gilbert and Frankie,
-Brothers in The Force

Before I begin, I want to mention something.

Yesterday was Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure 5K; a race I wanted to run but, because of dealing with my leg most of the month and not training consistently, decided against it. Instead, I was invited by a couple of guys who shall remain nameless (hint: read the dedication) to go watch the Jets game at a pub. Any football fan will tell you how well that turned out for me but I left the pub happy nonetheless because as it turns out, people are reading my blog.

I expected my friends to read at least the first couple of posts, you know, being polite and all, but people have not only read it, but seem to be looking forward to find out what's going to happen next. Blogger tells me I have over 300 hits on The Fat Runner (not counting those who read it on The Loop in the Runner's World website) and I sure haven't told 300 people to go read it so the few people that have read it are coming back to read more. So thanks everyone. I will try to keep it interesting.

Anyway, this week was a futile attempt at consistency. For the first time since my last race (also my first race) I was feeling like I could return to a regular, 3 times per week run schedule. Nature however, had other plans. I couldn't run on Tuesday so I switched to Wednesday and then was not able to run until Saturday. Sure, two out of three is not bad, but I'm tired of missing runs. Plus, I'm aiming to run the Bayamón Board of Realtors 5k on October 21. One last race before the Castaway Cay 5K. With such a "busy" schedule, I can't just run "when I can". I have to find some consistency.

Wednesday, September 26 - 4 miles:
Even though it was late afternoon (I finished the run at night) the humidity was horrible. In Puerto Rico you don't so much roast (like you would in, say Las Vegas) as much as you boil in your own juices and this particular day was really bad so this run was a bit of a struggle and I felt like I wasn't going to run the entire thing but I hung in there and finished. I was running at a super slow pace, which paid off when it was time to go up the hills. 16:30 min/mile is not what I would refer to as an Olympic pace but I finished. 1:06:17

Saturday, September 29 - 4 miles:
What a difference! With a previous run under my belt this week, I ran the same course as Wednesday and it was a completely different story. I had a stronger pace (15 seconds faster then the previous run) and I tackled the hills with a lot more strength. I also cut a whole minute from the previous run. When I finished, I felt like I could have run more. Not bad at all. 1:05:14.

As you know, I'm looking to replace my cherished 1123's as they are pretty worn. Looking for a replacement, and actually since I started running I have noticed a trend in running gear I don't like very much but we will talk about that next time.