Monday, January 30, 2012

Running goals

Since the unsuccessful attempts to qualify for Boston in last year's Mohawk Hudson Marathon in Albany NY, my running has just been meandering along without too much purpose or intent.  Mostly just keeping Kathleen company while she is preparing for Boston coming up in April.  Which is great and which is helping me as much as it is her: suddenly I'm doing 45+ miles per week!

I have entered for a few local races including a couple of 5K, a 10K (Rodeo Run) and a half marathon on February 19 (Rhythm and Blues).  Mixed results so far with the best effort being last Sunday's Run for Wellness 5K at 23:01. 

What I'd really like to do is get a bit more competitive in my age category in anticipation of moving into the next age group in May.  Right now by far the best thing I can do to improve speed is not more running, more (or less) speedwork, fartleks, strength training or anything else. It is losing weight.  The stepped-up weight training  and other strength exercises will help, but if I want to catch up with Allison and Dave in the next 5K at the end of February, my best shot will be to line up several pounds lighter. 

That means revisiting the Fitday pages every day and logging food intake; there is just no other way to tackle this. 

Weight this morning: 171
Body fat percentage: 21%

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Run for Wellness 5K

The dogs trying to 'help' me with a medicine ball workout
There were several good things about this morning's inaugural Run for Wellness 5K such as a fast, flat course, perfect weather, not many runners and correct distance measurement.  As opposed to last week's 2.8 mile Rockets Run, this one was 3.1 miles on the dot.  I almost forgot: it was free - complete with numbers, expert timing, awards and post-run breakfast tacos.  Can't beat that!
My time of 23.01 is well off a PR time but moving in the right direction:  average pace of 7:25, a lot better than last week's 7:45!  Keep up this rate of improvement and I'll be running a sub 20-minute 5K in no time, right?  Of course not, it will take a huge commitment on my behalf to even get close to that highly desired goal.  For now, I will concentrate on knocking off another few seconds or so between now and the last Sunday in February.

100 Days of Weight Loss Day 34:  Listen to your body; stop right at the point of feeling comfortable, not stuffed.  Learn how to monitor fullness by listening to the source:  the abdominal muscles that cover the stomach.

Today:  171 lbs
Body fat percentage:  22%
Mileage for the week:  48
Mileage for the month to date: 157

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chugging along nicely

For the first time in many weeks, I am feeling a bit fatigued this morning.  It probably should come as no surprise as I have been working out a lot.

Split session running yesterday:

4 miles easy along Buffalo Bayou in the morning before work with Kathleen, who is well into her Boston Marathon training cycle.  She will be doing her first 'long' long run this Sunday - 16 miles.

Three X 1-mile repeats at the middle school track after work, plus 1 mile warm-up and 1 mile warm-down, and 1 mile between intervals = total of 7 miles. So grand total of 11 miles for the day. Not too shabby.  Plantar fasciitis seemingly under control, the Superfeet inserts appear to be working.

Also a pretty intensive 50-minute workout with Frank at Fast Results Fitness; worked the shoulders, arms, back and core.  

Coming up:  5k on Sunday morning. 

100 Days of Weight Loss - Day 32:
How full are you really?  Try to gauge it on a 4-point scale:
0 = neither hungry nor full
1:  slightly full
2:  overly full, ate a little bit too much
3:  Totally stuffed like after a Thanksgiving Meal.

Aim to reach a '1' after any meal; discard the rest of the food.

Weight this morning: 171
Body fat percentage: 21%
Total miles week to date: 17
Total miles month to date:  126

Monday, January 23, 2012

More running with the Leopold and Lewis

Really easy 6-mile run today with  'the boys'; they took a break at the halfway mark to graze on some fresh grass.  I opted for water.

100 Days of Weight Loss Day 32:  eat every three to five hours to prevent getting too hungry which can lead to even more eating problems. Any time you go more than five hours between meals, you are likely to overeat.

Here are some photographs of me and the dogs:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

100+ miles for the year to date

A solid 44-mile week propelled me to well over 100 miles for the year to date, on target for about 140 for the month.  Not a bad start considering that I am still battling with plantar fasciitis in the left foot.  I am stretching more and have been using arch support inserts (Super Feet) for the last week or so.  Used to run with them regularly a few years ago, don't know why I ever stopped.

100 Days of weight loss day 31:  try to figure out if you are not hungry, a little bit hungry, very hungry or famished, before you eat something.  Most of the time it is best to have something to eat within about 20 to 30 minutes of feeling the first real signs of hunger such as a growling stomach.

I have been trying out my new Nikon 'toy' camera, an AW-100 which is supposed to be waterproof up to 10 meters (33 feet).  Mostly I just want to use it on my daily runs to document some things along the way and - when training with the Striders - get a few candid shots for a slide presentation at the end of the year.

Here are a few which I took today:
A new house in our neighborhood; somehow I think the rock look is a bit overdone

The county authorities have spent several million dollars upgrading this area along Buffalo Bayou where it intersects with Rummel Creek.  So far it has not alleviated flooding, in fact it made it worse

Some pretty flowers in our townhouse complex garden

Saturday, January 21, 2012

One race at a time

Last week it was 13.1 miles, this week a rather shorter but also more intense 5K race, the Rockets 5K downtown, from and back to the Toyota Center.  This race attracts a lot of beginners or occasional runners. Look around you just before the start and you'll see dozens of race shirts.  Veteran runners know that it is a bit of a faux pas to wear the race shirt on race day. I'm fine with it, though - many of these first-time runners will be back for their second or third run soon, how could they not - it is so much fun!

Kath and I both placed second in our age groups, which was nice.  Nothing to get too excited about though: very few of the real fast age group runners show up for this race because it is just one week after the Houston Marathon.  Hey, you take your opportunities when they present themselves, right?

I clocked a 21 minute something for the 5K but unfortunately that was not a true reflection of my pace which was 7.45 minutes/mile. The course was short by a lot:  2.8 miles instead of 3.1.  Must have had a real amateur race director.  When you put up a race, job # 1 is to get the distance right. 

I took a short time-out from 100 Days of Weight Loss; not that I really wanted to but pressure of work was just too overwhelming this last week.   Will pick it up again from tomorrow.

Weight:  172
Body fat percentage:  22%
Jan 20:  Rest day
Jan 21:  5 miles total including 5K race

Total miles for the month to date:  99

Here are some pics from the Houston Rockets Run:

Kathleen and me - 2nd place in our age categories!  Hardware baby.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A running weekend

It started on Saturday with the US Olympic Marathon Trials - both men and women for the first time on the same course, same day.  Looked like a huge success from where I stood (cold but thrilled to see so many super fast runners zooming by) at the corner of Waugh and Allen Parkway.  Tough on 4th place finishers Dathan Ritzenhein and Amy Hastings; hopefully better luck in 4 years time. Of course that is what makes the Olympics trials such a huge thing.  They only come around every 4 years.  You simply can't afford to run a bad race on the day.  And as we all know, it happens sometimes due to circumstances totally beyond one's control.

On Sunday I ran the Aramco half marathon; part of the Chevron Houston Marathon.  Despite growing numbers of participants, the marathon committee did a great job of improving the start corral layout and access.  I breezed in from the west part of town, parked near the baseball stadium and jogged to the start; could have left the house 40 minutes before the start of the race.  Even so it was fun standing in the half marathon corral and chit-chatting with a couple of other participants whom I had never met. Amazing how easy it is for runners to relate.  Duh.  Organization along the course, at the water stops and the finish line was nearly flawless. A bit of confusion just after the viaduct at about mile 1, when some half marathoners thought they had to switch over to the left side.  Caused some near collisions and a few people actually ran back.  No need for that, the two roads join up again just around the corner.

The run was a breeze: I took it really easy for the first ten miles (about 8:53 pace) and then cranked it up a couple of notches over the last 3 miles, passing dozens of people and brought the average down to about 8:35, for a finishing time of 1:53 and change. Way off my best half time but I was not really expecting much with this foot injury still hampering training.

The difference between the full and half marathon:  minimal soreness today, in fact I will be taking out the dogs for a 4 or 5 mile jog later this afternoon!

Back soon with some photographs from the Olympics Trails.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Going through a very hectic time at work which is fine but it leaves very little time for anything except 'serious' writing.  A lot of other things tend to fall by the wayside including blog writing, food journaling and so on.  At least I've kept the running going; pretty steady 4 to 5 miles per day every day except on Friday.  Also took yesterday (Wednesday) off due to some tightness in my calves.  One thing I do remember from an over-training episode years ago is that waking up with chronically sore legs is not normal.  If your calves are sore all the time, take some time off running.

The Olympic Marathon Trials are coming up this Saturday and I will probably stake out a spot along Allen Parkway and Waugh Drive to take some photographs.  Looks like the temperatures are going to be in the 30's so I will have to dress super warm, not something I am really geared for!  Can't miss the opportunity to get some nice pics though.   

Day of the 100 Days of Weight Loss is about postponing a decision to start eating snack foods, appetizers, cookies and desserts.  Good advice as it is easier not to start, than to stop, with so many of these tempting treats! 

Weight this morning: 172
Bodyfat percentage: 23%

January 11 :  Rest

Friday, January 6, 2012

Can you see me now?

A visit to the ophthalmologist earlier this week was fortunately uneventful:  the good doctor tested both eyes and gave them the passing mark: peripheral vision fine, retinas and corneas and all the important stuff in shipshape condition, eyeball pressure normal, no sign of cataracts.  So why am I getting a slight 'double-vision' effect in my left eye?  Who knows, but it can be fixed by adjusting my prescription which we will get around to next week. 

It was a week for doctor's appointments:  yesterday it was the turn of my podiatrist, Ken Dennis.  Kath and I have been going to Ken for at least 20 years and we like his conservative approach.  His solution to a (running related) foot, ankle or calf problem is not to immediately prescribe a $500+ pair of orthotics.  No.  Ken might cut out a piece of thick moleskin and place it strategically under the left side of the foot to arrest a developing neuroma issue.  Or - as he did with me yesterday - suggest more stretching, foam rolling and trying a night splint boot instead of  a cortisone shot.  I'm all for it.  The cortisone can wait.

Day 26 of the 100 Days of Weight Loss.  What to do if you are eating something and it doesn't taste good or doesn't live up to the expectations you had for it?  Stop.  Don't keep hoping it will get better because it won't.  Too true; I have often found myself eating a piece of cake or a cookie when it really wasn't that great; out of habit or because of some silly old rule.  Bottom line: if you don't love it, don't eat it!

Weight this morning:  170
Body fat percentage:  22%

Jan 5
Ran 6 miles at 10+ mile pace with the dogs, lots of mouth-breathing by them, plenty of sweating by me.  Very muggy.
Good 50-minute workout with Amy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Olympic Trials coming soon!

The US Olympics Trails will be rolling into Houston on Saturday Jan 14 and I am planning to stake out a good spot somewhere along the route to take some photographs of all the speedy men and women athletes who will be zooming by at a pace of around 5 minutes per mile for the guys, slightly slower for the young women.  I am trying to decide on the best spot to get some good close-ups, might try the u-turn on Waugh. Very odd course layout.

Here is a link to an interesting animation which shows how the men's and women's race should progress if all goes according to plan:  US Olympics Marathon Trial race progression

Making some progress on the 100 Days of Weight Loss program.  Dropped a couple of quick pounds due to more diligent food recording, watching portion sizes and being more mindful about treating food as fuel, not filler.  Today’s ‘lesson’ is about eating smaller amounts of one’s favorite foods, less often.  So for example if you just can’t stand the thought of giving up ice-cream (not an issue for yours truly), then go ahead and have some, but try to limit it to just once a week or so,  not a whole half gallon of the stuff in one sitting! 

Thursday rant of the week:

First somebody drops off an item which none of us have used in like 10 years and then they call a couple of days later to make sure that we got it? What a waste of time, effort, money and paper. The item? Greater Houston Yellow Pages. I have about as much use for it as a typewriter or telex machine.

Weight this morning:  170
Body fat percentage:  23%

Jan 4:  6 miles along the bayou with Kathy and the dogs.  Fairly muggy but ok.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More of what you want

If bread is what you like, then go ahead and have more this year. A lot more!  In his latest newsletter Dr. John McDougall (I am a big fan!) digs up a study from way back in the 1970's. 

This 1979 Michigan State University study found that 16 college-age men who added a whopping 12 (twelve!) regular slices of either white or high-fiber bread to their daily diets, lost between 14 to 19 pounds  over the next eight weeks. There was no change in their physical activity or exercise. Their health also improved with rapid and significant drops in cholesterol levels. 

What to make of this?  Starch is your friend, not your enemy.  Eat more of it and it will crowd out other unhealthy, fatty and cholesterol-laden animal products.  Don’t like bread?  The go ahead and add several cups of steamed rice, boiled corned, mashed potatoes (no butter!), baked sweet potatoes, cooked beans, peas or lentils or boiled spaghetti noodles. 

I won't be adding that much bread to my diet, but will definitely shift some more calories into either  whole wheat or rye or pumpernickel bread.  We will just have to see how that works out, I guess!

Day 24 on the 100 Days of Weight Loss is about eating for satisfaction.  I often catch myself eating something and then immediately starting to look around for something else.  The trick is to eat slowly, pay attention to the bites and to appreciate your food.  Chewing properly - a lot more than usual - will also help with this.  To appreciate the flavors and to be satisfied, you don't necessarily have to eat a big amount of anything.  Just be mindful and actively enjoy the experience, rather than just plowing through it unthinkingly.
Weight this morning:  172
Body fat percentage:  24%

Jan 3:
4 miles easy with the dogs in the am and 3 X 1-mile repeats (around 7:40 pace) at Rice University Track.  It was nice being back on the track again.  Tyson Gay was there too!!  I really miss my weekly mile repeats and will definitely try to make it a regular part of my week this year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Facing up to reality

To be honest, I have been spinning my wheels with the 100 Days of Weight Loss program since about Dec 24; so it is time to get serious.  On the plus side:  I've kept up with logging food intake on Fitday and have managed to avoid - much - weight gain, keeping it steady at around 172.  On the negative: way too many 'fun' calories in the form of alcohol, desserts, snacks and the like.  So to get back on track I will eat reasonable amounts, be sure to treat food as fuel and not filler, and re-commit myself to long-term goals.  This morning I am setting up a visual tracking device to plot progress.  Perhaps it will help to take a photograph of this board once a week!

My running partners Leopold and Lewis

Weight this morning:  173
Body fat percentage:  24%
Running:  4 miles easy with Leopold and Lewis along Buffalo Bayou.

Bert's Fitday Journal

Monday, January 2, 2012

6 down 14 to go

2012 started with a bit of a whimper as I opted out of running the resolution run with the Striders on Monday morning; unfortunately my left foot (plantar fasciitis) was acting up pretty badly after running a pretty fast 9 miles (8:40 average) on Sunday morning. Will try a few slow miles with the puppies later this afternoon.

In the mean time I have found something else to keep me busy:  working my way through a list of the 20 greatest cocktails of all time.  Just at the right time of the year  too!  Of the ones not familiar to Kath and I, we've tried (over the last week or so) Sazerac, Manhattan, Gimlet, Cosmopolitan, The Bronx and Negroni.  Actually I am quite familiar with the Negroni already...  So no surprise there.  Sazerac was very exotic (absinthe!!); Cosmopolitan is definitely a ladies' drink but nice to know how to make it; the Manhattan is a bit more 'masculine'; likely an acquired taste, the Gimlet was disappointing (too much Rose's Lime Juice) and The Bronx was our surprise favorite of the bunch.  Next week?  Sidecar, Old Fashioned or maybe a Whiskey Sour.

The Bronx Cocktail - mint leaves optional

All this hooch is of course no good for the 100 days of Weight Loss. No loss yet this year.  Day 22 of the program deals with eating with awareness; slowing down and savoring your food, as opposed to wolfing it down.  Guilty as charged!

Weight this morning:  172
Body fat percentage:  22%
Thursday 12-29:  6 miles with the dogs
Friday 12-30:  Day off
Saturday 12-31:  9 miles tempo run with Striders
Sunday 1-1-12:  No run
Monday 1-2-12:  4 miles easy with the puppies along Buffalo Bayou