Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Training Update

So where were we...

Right, I was training for a Half-Marathon but sadly, there is a 90% chance it's not gonna happen. While there is still a bit of chance I could pull it off, I'm not gonna push for it too much. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm still trying to figure out the whole cost and logistics of traveling to what I hope will be my first marathon in January so it's kind of important I don't do anything stupid in the upcoming months, so unless I can guarantee myself that signing up for the Half will not set me back financially, its not happening.

Not gonna lie. I really wanted to run it. As you will see, I have been training hard and I think I have progressed a lot. However, just because I will not run it doesn't mean it was time wasted. Far from it. I am one step closer to being able to fulfill my goal of running a marathon. I have also improved my running a bit. While I can't say the training has all been "peaches n' cream" I think there has been some definite progress. Let's take a look.

Hidden Goals

Like many others, I had set some goals for 2013 and most of them I shared with you guys. For example I'm working on running a total of 600 miles this year. Double what I ran last year and I seem to be well on my way but I also had some minor goals I wanted to work on. Nothing major; just stuff I thought I should naturally see occurring as I ran more. What I wasn't expecting was to hit those goals so early. Here they are:

1. Run a mile somewhere in the 12 minute range - 12:59 would've been just fine by me but I ended up totally shattering this one. On 3/5/13 I ran 2 miles. The first one in 12:52. Then on 3/9/13 I did another 2 mile run where I averaged 12:01, running the first mile in 11:33. Guess I got to aim a bit higher on this one.

2. Run 4 miles in less than an hour - Done! 3/27/13 59:37 I think I could have done a bit better here as well.

3. Run a 5K in less than 40 minutes - It was ugly as a mule but I pulled it off on 4/7/13. 39:53 You can read all about that fiasco here.

Long Runs

In January, my longest run was 5 miles. Last Sunday I encountered some trouble trying to reach 10 miles, and ended up barely doing 9. Up until that point I had not encountered any major problems increasing my distance. It hasn't been easy but I had hit all my targets up until that point. Thankfully I'm well aware of where I went wrong and it was totally my fault. I did two things way wrong: 1) I always run in the evenings but this one was in the early morning and I did not eat anything before the run. Bad idea. 2) I ran in an unfamiliar place. I placed a water bottle at a certain point in the course where I thought I was gonna need a gel I had with me. Well, I completely underestimated when and how much water/gels I was gonna need and burned out way before I reached the bottle. By mile 7 I could barely walk.

Despite the setback, I'm not feeling too frustrated though. I know I can run that far. The week before I ran 9 miles without any trouble at all. It was just lack of experience. This week, this setback will be avenged. lol

Tempo Runs

By far, this has been the hardest part of training and not just because I'm running at a faster pace than usual. Maintaining a certain pace - any pace - is hard. For some reason I was under the impression I was running at a pretty even pace but it seem that is not the case. Because I'm such a slow runner, my goal here has been to maintain the minimum race pace required for the Half-Marathon which is 16 minutes per mile. My goal then has been to keep the pace indicator in the high 15's but it's all over the place! I see 14's, 15's, 16's and even 17's when I know I'm not running that slow. Lately I have changed my strategy to focus more on my splits instead. It's a bit harder because I can't make adjustments in real time but it has helped me achieve more consistent results.

Also, it is here where the classic rookie mistake of starting too fast really haunts you. As explained in the training plan, during these runs, you run the first and last mile slow and run the middle miles at the goal pace you are aiming for. Well, hard as I try to run very slow,  I end up just running at the goal pace, effectively adding an extra pace mile to the run. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but I have run into problems here and there. On two runs, I simply could not finish the final slow mile because I was too tired. Also, running the first mile at goal pace makes me speed up too much during the proceeding miles which tires me out too fast.

Having said all that, it has been quite motivating seeing that I'm able to run and sustain a faster pace for several miles. Light at the end of the tunnel.


I remember I wrote a post not long ago about reaching 13 miles/week on my training. How time flies. The past two weeks I have fighting to reach 20 miles/week. Work stuff has not allowed me to do a couple of short runs and that has denied me the big 20 two weeks in a row so the count currently stands at 19. Last Sunday, I was sure I was going to pull it off but not being able to finish the last mile of my long run left me short by one mile, totaling once again, 19. However, by the end of the month I will have shattered my previous monthly peak of 47 miles by a lot.


At 278 pounds, I am weighing 22 pounds less than when I started running. 40 pounds less than my worst recorded weight of 318 pounds. Not bad.

So there you have it.  Progress, progress, progress. Slow and steady progress.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston 2013

I cannot really post anything else without mentioning the events that unfolded last Monday during the Boston Marathon. Even now, words fail me so I certainly appreciate the words many others more eloquent than myself have expressed through the press, their blogs, social media and even with small gestures like wearing race shirts in support of those affected.

If we can agree on the fact that this was a senseless and tragic act, then we have to also agree on our ability as human beings to pull together in times like these to support and help each other. The days following this tragedy, even with a heavy heart, have filled me with much pride and joy to be a part of the global running community. The incredible pouring of support and empathy that has  emerged from this is almost -and let me emphasize almost- unbelievable. I add the almost because those of us who have participated, even a little, of this community can attest to the fact that runners from all walks of life take care about each other. We see  it during training, at the track, even in middle of a race when we are supposed to be competing with each other. Little details that let us know we are there for person next to us. So it should come as a surprise, during such a tragic event like this, to see runners from all over the World with arms wide open embracing those affected in Boston.

This might sound overly corny I guess, as we are talking about running after all but even a casual glance at Facebook or Twitter these days will prove me right.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Oh My...

I've been freaking out a little this week. Allow this corny little Facebook image explain why:

Yup. I'm in. Registration opened on April 9th and after a bit of hesitation, I jumped and did it. Now there's no turning back. I'm either running this marathon or this is gonna be the most spectacular way I blow $170.00. Ever.

I mention that because as of right now, I don't know exactly how I'm gonna pull this off. Airfare, hotel, transportation... This is gonna get expensive so I hope I can go. Hey, I can always sell a kidney on the black market or something. I'm glad I did sign up though. The 10K sold out the same day registration opened and the 5K shortly after. By the time you read this, the Dopey Challenge will probably be sold out as well and the Half was 50% full. If I waited to see if I could get all the logistics together I could have missed the window altogether.

So I spent the rest of the day freaking out. For some reason I kept remembering the movie Rookie of the Year. You know that scene where they make him bat in a major league game? His mom, Gary Busey (before he went nuts apparently), and the kid are all going "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God!" That's how I was feeling. Here we have a saying that roughly translates to "It's one thing to talk about the Devil, and another to thing to see him coming." I have been talking about this race for a while but now it's real. There is no turning back.

Despite my mixed feelings, this is all been good news. I'm excited of course but good excited. However, with the good comes the bad.  I hadn't really thought about it, but I think that by signing to the Marathon I may blown my chance to sign up the upcoming Half-Marathon I have been training for all these weeks. Both are expensive and I can't spring for both at the same time. I'm not discarding it completely though. I still have a couple of weeks so maybe I can still pull it off maybe. I sure have put in the training, which has been going pretty good. I will update on that on my next post.

The Walt Disney World Marathon is the reason I started running. It's THE goal so it obviously has priority. And as of April 9th, I am well on my way.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

5K for Values Race Recap


A 5K? When did this happen? I sure didn't blog about it. Wasn't I training for a Half-Marathon?

Well... yes.

I am training for a Half. In fact I had already passed on a previous race (St. Patrick's Family 5K) because I couldn't figure out how to run the race and maintain my training schedule. However, there were some pressing reasons to go for this one. First, it was free. It's a government-sponsored race so they didn't charge anything. Free is free. I'll wait in line for some free. The second reason, I want to run a sub-40 minute 5K and wanted to see if I could do it.

This is a bit of a long post folks. Bare with me here.

The problem was my schedule. According to the plan I'm following, I was supposed to run 3 miles on Saturday followed by an 8 mile long run on Sunday. This was the first time I was to run 8 miles and I sure didn't want to miss that. I figured, I could run long on Saturday, then do the 5K on Sunday. I would still do all the scheduled runs just in a different order. Right?

Anyway, what's the big deal with running this race and breaking 40 minutes? Well, it's a personal thing. "Normal" runners do 5K's in the thirties. Even casual runners. 40 minutes? That's walking right? (Never mind the fact that I have been passed by walkers during other 5k's) Actually, it's just an arbitrary number I guess and I shouldn't let it bug me...

But it does bug me. It bugs me to no end.

During the packet pick up on Friday, they gave us a T-shirt as part of it.

When I went to get it, the woman giving them out asks for my size. "Double X please." I say. She looks at me and asks: "Are you sure? Let me show you." Then proceeds to unfold the shirt and show it to me." Yeah, Double Extra Large. As usual." She looks at me again, then looks at the woman beside her then says: "He is not Double X." I smile, take the shirt and walk away.

One little victory.

I woke up early on Saturday to do the long run. I usually run in the evenings but I figured if I ran in the early morning then I would have all of Saturday and Sunday to recover. (The race was at 5 P.M.) If it went too bad I could always not run the race. Well, the first 6 miles were as perfect as a long run can be. Then the Sun came up. Not used to that. I felt like I was roasting. The last two miles were a real struggle but I made it. I felt like I was gonna die but by the time I got home I knew I was gonna run the 5K. The real question was, was I gonna race the 5K?

Continuing with my breaking 40 obsession, I spent the weekend trying to figuring out a strategy. As much of a strategy as you can come up with for a 5K. Contrary to what I thought before I started running, 5K's are not easier because they are shorter. Quite the opposite. They are more like painful devices of torture and as such, they are best endured as fast as you can. Now, during my Half training, I have to run 2 miles every Tuesday so I have taken that opportunity to try my hand at speed training. I have done that run as low as 24:05. I figured if I can come close to that and then run a somewhat mediocre third mile, I'd be in the ballpark. I could also try to start slow and then pick it up the last two miles. Or just try to run at a constant, "record" pace for the whole thing. I would figure it out when I saw how I felt at the start.

During all of Sunday, I made sure to check how I was feeling. By the time I had to go to the race, I was still a feeling a little sore but I could definitively run so I left with every intention to try to break 40 minutes. I forgot to take my wallet though and that would come back to haunt me later. At the race, they had a Zumba warm-up in which I didn't participate. Not much of a dancer.

Then, it was time for the race. The course is almost identical to the Give a 5K for Diabetes I ran back in November. They had three "corrals" (walkers, joggers, runners) and I stood in the joggers section and without too much fanfare, a horn sounded and we were off. 

The "corrals"? Well, they seemed more like suggestions apparently to most people and the first 200 meters was total chaos of people just trying to figure out where they were. I was trying to avoid "zig-zagging" too much as I was gonna need every bit of energy to just go forward. And folks, I was going all out. I knew there was no way I could keep that up the whole race but thankfully, there was that killer hill half a mile in to slow me down and keep me humble.

You want me to go up THAT hill?

It's a lot more challenging than it looks. I took it head on and just ran, but by the time I got to the top everything has hurting. By that time, there was no strategy, no plan... Nothing. I skipped all the water stops. I just ran and hoped for the best. Following the big hill, follows an undulating part that goes up and down. The uphill parts are not too bad but after that big hill, any hint of a hill would hurt. Legs, lungs, everything. My bib (which had the timing chip) almost blew off but I caught it and ran with it in my hand. After you pass the Capitol and a square, it's time to go back and you switch streets and go downhill for a little bit, then it's mostly flat all the way to the finish. Flat is good but I was just going too fast. (I hate saying that at my level) Shortly after finishing mile two, I had to stop and walk.

Big Fail.

Man, was I angry with myself. Thankfully, I wasn't thinking about the how's or why's. I was just pissed that I had to stop and was not gonna brake 40 minutes. Because let's face it, there was no way I was gonna make that walking. Well, anger can act as fuel sometimes I guess, and I started to run again but I was too burned out so again, after a while I walked. I repeated this maybe three times. This was not the Galloway Run/Walk method people dear readers. That method specifies that you have to use the walk intervals before you get tired. I was exhausted. I would walk until I felt somewhat able and would then start running until I couldn't run anymore. I could see the finish line far away and I was still somewhere in the mid 30's in terms of time. 

Then came the final  0.2 miles. I just took off and ran as fast as my legs would allow. My legs and lungs were killing me but I was not gonna stop. Not until the finish. I passed a bunch of people. Scared some of them I think. I thought I was gonna pass out. I almost did. 

But I didn't. I barely made it, but I crossed the finish line. 

Well, after all that, there was no way I broke 40 right? I look at my Garmin: 39:53. Ugly. Very ugly. But I'll take it.
The look of an exhausted man... with no bib (check out the pins on my shirt)

And there you have it. I did it. Barely. There are many factors at play for what happened (ahem! *long run* ahem!) but I'm not gonna think about it too much now. Right now, I'm happy I made it and frankly, glad I got it over with.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Are you Dopey?

As if I needed more motivation...

On April 9th, Run Disney will open registration for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. The event itself starts January 9th and there will be a 5k, 10K, Half-Marathon, Marathon and kids races plus a Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN/Disney's Wide World of Sports. 

You can sign up for any of the races you wish of course, but there are also some extra perks and challenges that Disney adds to make the deal even sweeter. If you finish the race you signed up for, you get a medal. From what I've seen and heard, they are very special. Not your regular race bling. But there are several chances to increase the amount of bling if you are up to the challenge.

For several years now Run Disney has recognized the Goofy Challenge. If you sign up for this, you run the Half-Marathon on Saturday then the Full Marathon on Sunday. A total of 39.3 miles over two days. The prize? Three medals: One for each race plus the coveted Goofy medal.

This year, Run Disney went beyond Goofy... how much beyond? Well, they went Dopey! Last week they announced the brand new Dopey Challenge. With the introduction of the 10K  in 2014, Disney  is challenging those brave enough to run the 5K, 10K, Half and Full in consecutive days. That means running 48.6 miles from Thursday to Sunday! Assuming you finish, you get six medals. That's right, six. One for each race plus the Goofy medal AND the new Dopey medal.  

Here is the video they released announcing the Dopey Challenge.

Not enough bling you say? Well there is more! An even rarer medal exists. Those who have won the Coast to Coast medal are among elite company. Disney gives this medal to those who have run a Disney race in both Florida and California within the same calendar year.

And all this, plus the fact that you get to run in the actual Disney parks - all four of them in the case of the full Marathon - and enjoy all sorts of Disney magic along the courses. 

I wouldn't even dream of running any of those challenges. I'm still trying to figure out if I can run 10 miles, let alone 48.6. But that's one of the main things I love about Run Disney events: They are organized in a way that makes you plan ahead. You set a goal (the 2014 Marathon in my case) and gradually work your way up. This of course helps Disney to get people to come back but it's a win-win scenario because you are always looking for the next challenge, which keeps you setting new goals, which keeps you running, which is a very good thing.

I have my mind set on the Marathon right now but you can bet the Goofy and Coast to Coast medals are in the back of my mind. It's always good to look ahead. It sure worked for Walt Disney.

If you are interested in learning more about Run Disney events, you can check out their website here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

An Amazing Development

They say it's important to grow. To move forward. To progress. Let me tell you,  "They" sure say a lot of stuff.

Sometimes, you do things not knowing exactly why you do them but you do them anyway and you end up surprising yourself. Running has certainly been that way for me. A total surprise. A lot of regular runners will find it weird for me to say this but it has been a total surprise that I find myself so committed (or maybe I just should be committed) to running. How many things in life have I started and not finished? How many things have I consistently kept doing after a year? Not many, but here I am.

Another thing in that surprises category is this blog. While I not a year old yet, it's very surprising (and pleasant) that I'm still writing this blog. Not only that, people are still reading it for some reason. While in a thousand years I could ever say I have millions of adoring fans, it amazes me to no end every time I post in the blog and then see the little graph showing me how many people visit the blog spikes with interest. It almost makes me think people want to read what I write. I thought people read magazines and books to read about running, even though there seems to be a lack of articles about fat runners. Still both those outlets are my main source of information. 

So it is with a lot of excitement that I let my few readers know that I have signed a two year agreement with Runner's World magazine. Yes. This fellow right here.

It is a pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Here's how it gonna work: I pay $28.00. Then Runner's World is gonna send me 26 issues (one per month) for the next two years, plus two more extra for free! Plus I get two free gifts. 

Oh wait, did you get the impression that I was gonna write for Runner's World? Well... April Fools! Like Runner's World is gonna ask me to write for them. They can't afford me. he he he