Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diet Bet

So there I was, putting the finishing touches on my current training plan and having that nagging feeling in the back of my head, which I get when I know I have to do something but don't want to really deal with it.

Weight loss during this running journey has been slow and that is a good thing. There has been steady progress, some places where I've gotten stuck and some places(especially post-marathon) where I gained some weight back. I'm quite OK with that. I have worked really hard to not make this journey about the scale, which is a mindset that has failed me many a time. So, I have been quite content with what has happened so far.

Recently I talked about My Fitness Pal and how that has helped tremendously in keeping track on what I eat and control my calories. Just another small step for a fat runner. 

Now, I'm faced with the very tough challenge (For me. I know many people run this like it's nothing) of running a Half-Marathon in less then 3 hours. 20 minutes less than my current PR. Training will be a very important part of getting there but I know that for that training to be truly effective I have to lose some weight. There really is no other way about it. Just as I was starting to spell that dreaded word, (D-I-E-T) in comes Mindy from Road Runner Girl to save the day.

On her Facebook page, Mindy sent out an open invitation for a Diet Bet she was setting up. What's a Diet Bet you ask? Well, allow me to enlighten you.

Diet Bet is a web page where you set up or join a Diet Bet challenge. In my case for example, I joined Mindy's. $25 gets you in and goes into a pot. The object of the challenge is to lose 4% of your current weight in a month. If you accomplish the task, you along those who also did it split the pot! 

A chance to win some cash... hmmmm... I don't know, I gotta think about this.

So, I do something I have to do anyway, except that I could potentially get paid, therefore helping me accomplish it anyway?!! 

Now, this was awesome in and of itself and when I decided to jump, the pot was a respectable $350 bucks. But now, as of this writing, it's $2,450.00 so yeah, I wouldn't mind a piece of that. So I'm counting my calories, bringing up my mileage and following my training plan. 4% of my weight means I got to lose around 11 pounds to share the pot. Can I do it? We will see. 

Mindy, I should mention has already lost around 25 pounds on her own and is looking great! 
From her Facebook page

So Mindy you can stop losing weight now. No need to continue. Stop! You are too skinny! LOL

I'm actually thinking of setting up one of these myself. Anybody interested? Let me know.

Friday, July 18, 2014

OK... Lets Begin.

Time to put the pedal to metal. I have slacked long enough. The time has come. The time to start a new training plan/cycle that is.

Truth is, I am learning that training plans are an incredible aid to keep me focused. This is a very fancy way of saying that if I don't follow the structure of a plan I become lazy mass of cookies and soda that barely goes out to run. While I was concerned that starting a plan too early might cause burnout, it seems that following a plan of some sort is simply my natural running state so, with 20 weeks to go until the Philadelphia Half Marathon and a huge sub-3 hour PR goal to accomplish I am now in official training mode.

Basically, I have stitched together two training plans of ascending difficulty. I will start out around  three to four runs, 20-25 miles per week and build from there. Eventually that weekly mileage will go up to 40 with a peak week of 43 miles and 5 to 6 runs a week. This build-up is slow and gradual to avoid injury and get used to the work load. It will also have different types of workout runs to add variety and build strength and speed. Speed work, hills, tempo runs among others.

This plan is also a "pre-Goofy" primer of sorts. I'm gonna be adding a run on Saturday, the day before my long run. This is in preparation to running long on consecutive days which, of course is the secret to surviving the Goofy Challenge and while that is still a long ways away, it's never too early to start preparing for it.

By the way, assuming everything goes as planned, this will be the highest mileage/volume I have yet to do for a race so far. If you plan to accomplish something you have never done before, you have to be willing to work like you have never worked before. Sounds logical to me.

Right now, my running week looks like this:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Regular/Easy Run 
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Tempo Run/Speedwork (Alternating weeks)
Friday: Off
Saturday: Regular/Easy Run
Sunday: Long Run

Eventually, most of those days you see as "Off" will become running days but trust me, there is no hurry. It's risky (and stupid) to build things up too fast so for the next 4 or 5 weeks, this is where it's at. 

In the spirit of getting faster and gunning for the sub-3 PR, it stands to reason that losing some weight will help get me there. I already told you guys about My Fitness Pal and how wonderful a tool it can be to help you keep track of your nutrition. Well, on the next post I will talk about a little challenge I have entered to aid me in the battle of the bulge. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

World Cup Fever

Puerto Rico is not a big soccer town. Being a U.S. territory, we tend to follow America's lead. The U.S. is not big on soccer so we are not. Also, like most of the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, etc.) we follow baseball with way more passion. Finally, I'm  a huge American Football fan, and a bigger New York Jets fan.

So, I find myself very pleasantly surprised about being totally caught up in this World Cup "thing".

Come to think of it, it is not an overnight, sudden thing. Ever since, the World Cup was held in the United States in 1994, it has slowly been gaining traction with the American public and therefore, Puerto Rico. But what really busted the doors wide open for soccer here in the island was the acquisition of Puerto Rico's local TV channels by the big Latin-American media outlets several years back. Once Telemundo and Univision, who cater to most if not all of Central and South America plus the huge Latin audience in the U.S., reached our shores, the World Cup came with them and we haven't looked back since.

Pretty much since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the interest here has been growing and growing. Now, it finally caught up to me.

It's a beautiful game
Have you ever sat down to watch a soccer game? The skill involved is incredible. People seem to focus on the athletic part of it and how much soccer players run in the course of a game but it is a lot more than that. The way they control the ball with their feet... wow. And the game is so exciting. Every goal is a big moment.

It has truly Worldwide ramifications
I'm used to the usual sports suspects: NBA, MLB, NFL et. al. When the Jets finally win the Super Bowl (oh yes they will! Hey! Stop laughing!) they will be called World Champions but that's technically not true. In the best of cases, you have the pro teams in the U.S., there might be some Canadian teams but that's the extent of it. In the World Cup, it's literally the entire World playing, and therefore also watching. Nations send the very best players to represent them and there's none of the restrictions that come from Olympic type events. Pro, amateur or unknown. If you can play at that level, you are in. So when you hear someone say: "Germany is playing Brazil." It's like, Germany is really playing Brazil. Nation against Nation.

Latin America Stands Proud
This Cup has been a very strong showing for Latin American countries. By the time the group stage was over, half of the field in the round of 16 were from Central or South America plus the U.S. so almost every game had my attention. As of this writing, Brazil and Argentina are still in the running. Which reminds me...

Costa Rica Rules!!!
OK, a lot of this has to do with the fact that I have an uncle who is from Costa Rica but this team has inspired everyone in this World Cup. Analysts and commentators all agreed that Costa Rica was a pushover. That they would not survive the group stage. That they were in one of the "groups of death" and an easy target.

Here's what really happened.

They won their group. A group in which they were joined by three former World Cup champions: Italy, England and Uruguay(they have won it twice). Then they beat Greece in the Round on 16, then gave Holland a run for their money, where they finally lost in a penalty kick-off. They were never beaten on the field.(They beat Uruguay and Italy. Tied with England. Penalty kick-offs with Greece and Holland)  Isn't it fun to root for the underdog? They will likely return home as heroes. Well played Ticos. Well played.

Now, in the semi-finals the team I picked to win (Germany) is still in the running. I am in no way an expert here but I consulted with an Oracle and the Oracle said Germany so I'm sticking to Germany. Don't worry. This Oracle is not an octopus or elephant or any of the animals that seem to make the news daily during these weeks. It's a person and that person picked the winners of the last Cup without fail so I'm sticking with it. I even want to get a jersey but I'm afraid if I buy it and Germany wins it all that it will be obsolete. The current jersey has three stars above their seal as three time winners. If they win, it would have to have four.

World Cup fever is so high in the house, my daughters asked me if they could join a team! Something I will definitely comply with. Maybe it will get them active and into sports early. Not like their old man who waited until he was old.