“Peak performers develop powerful images of the behavior that will lead to the desired results. They see in their mind’s eye the result they want and the activities leading to it.”
Charles A. Garfield, American Author

Children, this journal chronicles my journey to become a runner…to become fit…to lose weight…to be healthy enough to enjoy your children…to one day accomplish a lifelong dream to finish a marathon, even complete a triathlon. I’m using this avenue to log my journey for your benefit, but mostly for my own, to keep a record of what’s working for me along the way so I can look back and build upon what works and scratch what doesn’t. I’m sharing this part of my life with you in the hope that you will one day find within these words some encouragement and inspiration to pursue your own dreams. To show you that if I – an out-of-shape, overweight middle-aged man – can start from nothing…with the odds stacked against me…to complete this goal, then you too can reach for the stars in your own goals and dreams and push through the hardships that will surely stand to oppose you. There will be some personal admissions here. Some of what lies below may be a little more than others who read this care to know about me. Let’s just call this your fair warning. Proceed at your own discretion…

3/25
Today, I started the journey…I accepted a challenge from a friend who had recently signed up to run her first 5K and was looking for friends to run with her. She had not previously been a runner either, so we’d be starting out at the same level. Half jokingly, I accepted. If you know me, though, you know that when I’m in…I’m all in. No half-hearted attempt and no backing out. So, armed with a new training app on my phone called “Couch to 5K”, I set off on this journey. Week 1 Day 1 of Couch to 5K in the morning and Week 1 Day 2 in the evening. I’m behind schedule, so I figure I got some catching up to do. Both runs are 60 seconds of jogging alternated with 90 seconds of walking. 20 minutes of this with a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down. I’m on the treadmill at work, running at a 6.0 speed. Total distance per run was about 1.75 mile. Note: You’ll notice, the “Week x Day x” schedule does not follow calendar days…it’s designed to be a 3x a week routine, though I struggled with that at first.

3/26
Week 1 Day 3. A morning run on the treadmill. Same routine as yesterday, alternating 60 seconds running with 90 seconds walking. Same pace and overall time. About the same distance. My legs are sore. Had to stretch longer beforehand.

4/7
Week 2 Day 1. Long time since first three runs. That’s because my knee hurts from doing three runs in a day and a half. Gotta keep at it though. Why’d I sign up for this stupid 5K? Early morning run on the treadmill at work. This week, I’m taking it to a 90 second run alternating with 2 minute walks. Still 30 minutes at a speed of 6.0. Total distance about 1.45 miles.

4/12
Week 2 Day 2. I’m finding it easier to get my three weekly runs in while on duty rather than at home. Afternoon run on treadmill. Same speed and run schedule as previous run. Don’t remember distance. Knee really hurts.

4/13
Week 2 Day 3. Early morning on treadmill at work. T he person who talked me into running his stupid 5K calls it the “dreadmill”. I’m starting to agree. I hate running. Same speed and run schedule as previous run. Can’t remember distance. At this point I can’t remember why I’m doing this…

4/13
Week 3 Day 1. Early evening run on treadmill at work…second run today. I’m way behind schedule. If I’m gonna finish a 5K without being carried across the finish line on a stretcher, I’m gonna have to kick it into overdrive. Two cycles of 90 seconds running followed by 90 seconds walking; 3 minutes running followed by 3 minutes walking. Total time: 28 minutes, Distance: Who the heck cares! I just about passed out on the 3 minute runs!

4/19
Week 3 Day 2. Early morning run on treadmill at work. Six days since last run…my knee is on fire! Same speed and schedule as last run. Distance: ??

4/24
Week 3 Day 3. It’s Easter. I’m sure it’s sacrilegious to run on Easter, but I ain’t getting any younger. Hopefully He will understand. Early morning run on treadmill at work. Same routine and speed. Gotta burn off the calories I’ll be eating at Easter dinner later. We firemen can cook a holiday meal now.

4/25
Week 4 Day 1. Early morning on treadmill at work. Just under a month till the 5K. I’m not going to catch up on this stupid schedule. My body can’t take this schedule much longer. After a 5 minute warmup, I run 3:00, walk 1:30, run 5:00, walk 2:30, run 3:00, walk 1:30, run 5:00. Total time 31:30. Am I dead yet?

4/26
Week 4 Day 2. Same schedule as previous run.

4/28
Week 4 Day 3. Same schedule as previous run.

4/30
Week 5 Day 1. Early morning on treadmill at work. Alternating 5 minute runs with 3 minute walks for 20 minutes. Three weeks till the first 5K. I’m not ready for this.

5/1
Week 5 Day 2. Early morning on treadmill at work. 8:00 run, 5:00 walk, 8:00 run. Two 8 minutes cycles of running! Put the ambulance on standby. Ugh!

5/10
Week 5 Day 3. NE’s birthday. This run’s for you. With less than 2 weeks to go, it’s time to take it outside. After a 5 minute warmup, it’s supposed to be a 20 minute jog nonstop. I made it 14:00…a record for me! I feel like I’ve overcome a huge mental block! I then alternated jogging for 2:00 with walking 1:30 till I got home…about 1.8 miles. Also used the new running shoes for the first time. Felt like I was running on a cushion of air…should’ve bought them six weeks ago! Lesson here…if you’re going to run regularly, invest in the equipment to do it right. I love my new shoes!
5/11
I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment after yesterday’s first road run so much that I just signed up for another official run…the Cardinals Care 6K run in September. I must be nuts.
5/13
Week 6 Day 1. Needed some time to recover from the first “road” run. My knee is still on fire! Early morning on treadmill at work. I can tell after that outside run the other day that my pace is much slower than on the treadmill. Makes sense really…hills, wind resistance, blah blah blah. So, I’ve taken it down to a 5.0 on the treadmill to create a more accurate picture of my ability. I ran the entire 5K on the treadmill in 43:20. Grandma can run faster, but it’s a starting point.
5/20
Week 6 Day 2. Less than 24 hours till my first 5K and I’m SO dehydrated after 24 hours with some kinda bug. Haven’t run in a week due to the bum knee. It’s definitely gonna have to be a God thing to find the mental strength, ’cause I’m not physically prepared. Time to man up or shut up! Took it “easy”…jogged a mile outside. Prayed and ran through the pain. I didn’t barf, so that’s a success. Suck it up buttercup! Iced the knee and carb-loaded it at dinner. Before going to bed, I’ve lined up a decent running schedule for the rest of the year:
May 21 – Sunrise Stampede 5K
June 25 – Run for the Ridge 5K
July 4 – O’Fallon Firecracker 5K
Sept 10 – Fight Like a Firefighter 5K
Sept 18 – Cardinals Care Run for Home 6K
Oct 8 – Lake St. Louis Get Your Rear in Gear 5K
5/21
Sunrise stampede 5K. Show time baby! Time to put up or shut up. Acts 20:24 is my race theme today: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Jogged the first 1/2 then alternated, walking when I needed to. I finished in 43:10…I’m happy with that. My prayer is one of thanks, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” – 2 Tim 4:7 Below is a picture of me afterward.

2011 Sunrise Stampede

5/30
Week 6 Day 3. Early morning on treadmill at work. My knee is gonna fall off! Supposed to be a 25 minute jog, but I’m feeling good, so I’m going for the 5K. Nine days ago, my 5K was 43:10. Today, I did it in 38:33. That’s gotta be a fluke…but I like it. 🙂

6/2
Week 7 Day 1. SI’s birthday. This run’s for you. I’ve changed training programs on my phone, so I’m not tracking the 5K training program anymore…just logging runs and trying to improve. Ran outside again…it’s harder but more fun than that “dreadmill”. Found a 5K circuit around the house, but unfortunately, it goes right through the “food corridor” of Hwy K. The smells are overwhelming, and now I’m hungry. I never knew it was physically possible for the wind to blow in all four directions…at the same exact time all along a 3.1 mile path! At the halfway point I hit Hwy K at Mexico headed south…up the 1/4 mile hill past Home Depot. We’ll call that little patch of land Death’s Peak…the new route name. At the top of the hill, is a small cemetery. When I got to the top, three guys were digging a hole for a new grave…I thought it was for me!

6/7
Holy heat index Batman! Found a new 5K route outside, I now call “Laura Hill’s Chance”. Its easier for me to remember what streets to take on the road routes when I use the street names in the route name. When I’m running with a distance goal in mind, I don’t want to have to think about where I’m going if I don’t have to. Took me 51:22….my slowest 5K to date, but I jogged the first 2.25 miles non-stop…a record for me. In this heat, I’ll take it. I think I’m starting to like this. Not the actual running, mind you…I hate running. The feeling of accomplishment afterward though…it’s very rewarding.

6/12
Our 18th wedding anniversary. This run’s for you baby! Jogged non-stop in circles for 48:55 at station #3. Beats the treadmill in the basement. No idea on distance, because apparently my circles were too close for the gps to track correctly. It says it was only 1.24 miles…no way baby! After a 5 minute cool down, I feel like I can go another 45! Thank you god for carrying me over the hump to get me to this point in my fitness goals. I feel like I’m in the best cardiovascular condition of my life!

6/15
I must be crazy…worked a 12 hour shift at dispatch, and I got this crazy idea that with 18 weeks until the Rock & Roll Marathon in downtown St. Louis, I maybe could do a half marathon by then if I get intense about it. So…today is Week 1 Day 1 of that training schedule.

Time: 55:01, Distance: 3.38 miles. Jogged the whole thing nonstop. New route call “Laura Hill South Middle”. You figure it out. I don’t like Laura Hill road…it’s called that for a reason, by the way. It should be called “Laura Hills”…one big one, but several smaller ones equally capable of causing death by heart attack. Problem is…after running it non-stop, I’m feeling great. I must be crazy!

6/16
Week 1 Day 2 of half marathon training. Route “Laura Hill South Middle” again. Today, the gps tracked it at 3.35. Go figure. Jogged nonstop for 50:06…5 minutes faster than last night! On a full stomach too. Just got home from Bob Evans…ugh. I know the first 20 minutes is where it was faster. Today, I spent the first half crying in my head about how bad it hurt…kept telling myself that I’d walk when I got to the halfway point. Once there, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, praying and running through the leg and back pain. Did that all the way home. Proves to me that pain is about 90% mental. If you can overcome it in your head, the body will follow.

I also have a few other problems to work through before I can run much more. In addition to the knee pain, my left hamstring is sore. Not sure if I strained it or what, but it hurts to run on it for the first mile or so. I also apparently lean forward when I run, because my low back hurts. I notice it more now…in that I’m constantly looking down when I run. Can’t count how many times I’ve almost run into parked cars because I’m looking 5 feet in front of me. Honestly, the back pain was the most painful these past two runs. Muscle pain, not spinal, but pain nonetheless. I’ll need to strengthen my back and core muscles if I’m going to keep this up. Time to start incorporating strength training to the overall plan.

I’ve also got some nipple pain when I run. Now, I know that someone else who reads this might be offended to see me say that. Honestly, I don’t care. It’s the truth. If that offended you, then stop reading here, because the next two paragraphs aren’t any better. And, when all else fails, remember, these notes are for my kids anyway. I simply choose to share them with friends and family in the hope that they also might find some encouragement in them. This note in particular, as explained above is to help provide you, my kids, some inspiration and instruction in pursuing your own goals with passion. If I share only the easy stuff and not the real, daily struggles I’m enduring to reach this particular goal, then I’m doing you an injustice. And yes…I’m well aware that someone from work is going to inevitably read this and poke fun at me for admitting this personal thing. Again, I don’t care. People make fun of you to bring you down so they can, in their own mind’s eye, build themselves up. It doesn’t stop in high school, when you’d think it would. Even a 40 year old can act like he’s 8. Lest I digress…

Let’s be honest here…I’m fat. When I started this journey in March, I weighed in at a staggering 346. Most people guess me about 275…not approaching 350. It’s embarrassing really, but it is what it is. I’m working to reign it in, and as of two days ago, I’m down to 332. Not as much as I would have hoped, but I’ll take it. With my fatness, comes “man boobs”. Yes…I have them, so let’s leave it at that. I sweat so much that I soak my shirt in it, and the wet shirt rubbing for an hour hurts. I’m thinking maybe band aids will help with that. And it’s probably time to invest in clothes designed for runners…some that don’t absorb the sweat so much.

Also, in reflecting back on every run since I started this journey, I find that I battle my mind games more than the actual pain. As I’m running, I keep hearing all the negative things I’ve ever been told…over and over again in my head. Discouraging thoughts…sometimes from people with no faces…other times from faces of people who’ve actually tried to keep me down in the past…made fun of me for being overweight…told me I won’t amount to much, etc. Even with positive, encouraging and uplifting music playing in my ear while I run I struggle to drown out the negativity in my own mind…to push through the pain and those thoughts. I find myself negotiating with myself…”If I stop to walk for a minute, it won’t be so bad.” “I’ll just walk for a minute and then make it up by running faster and longer when I start again.” “Taking a break now won’t hurt.” Blah blah blah. Problem is, it never works out that way. All they do is slow me down. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by them, I see and feel my pace slow. I’m working to overcome that mental battle. Gotta rework my running playlist for some more upbeat music. I think maybe it’d be cool to have my family and friends record some 10-15 second audio clips of them cheering me on…then shuffling them into my playlist at random locations. Today specifically, I keep this mantra going in my head, even over my music…”thank you Lord for two feet with which to run, two lungs with which to breathe, two eyes to see where I’m going, the sense of touch to feel the pain, the mind to pray through the pain, and the heart to push forward in spite of it.”

6/17
I’m at the firehouse today. I’d planned a short run on the track behind station 6 for this afternoon. Got back from morning training, and it’s raining, so I’ll move it to the basement treadmill. One problem. We had the back door to the engine bay open when it started raining, and my bag of clothes was sitting on a chair just inside the door. Everything, including my running shoes is soaked. Don’t want to toss the shoes in the clothes dryer, so I tried the hose drier at the station. Not so much…at 7:00 p.m. they’re still too wet to run in. My 12 hour shift at station 6 is over, so I’m headed back to station 4. I’ll use this as a rest day to let my knee, back and hamstring recover. I’ll run in the morning and start some light strength and stretch training in the afternoon/evening. Oh yeah, almost forgot…on our way back from morning training, I got to talking with a coworker. Mentioned the nipple pain when I run. Turns out he has a brother who runs marathons regularly. It’s apparently not an isolated issue. Turns out even in shape, fit and regular runners face the same problem Vaseline. He recommended Vaseline. So I bought my first ever tub today.

6/18
Week 1 Day 4. Treadmill at work today because it’s raining outside. 4 hours of sleep and no food in my system beforehand. At an incline of 2 for all but last 2:00, I did:
5 minute warmup
6.0 for 2:30
5.0 for 1:30
4.5 for 19:00
5.0 for 2:00

Total Time: 25:00, Distance: 2 miles. Today, I let the demons in my head win a small battle. While I accomplished a short run, which is better than nothing, I talked myself out of doing the 3.1 miles I really wanted to do going into it. I purposely started with a faster pace (6.0) to test my endurance at a faster clip. I need to start doing that every run to slowly build up my endurance at a faster speed if I’m going to do a half marathon in a respectable time. At 2:00, I was becoming short of breath, so I pushed through another 30 seconds before backing it down to the pace I’m usually at on the road. After about 5 minutes, I had my breath back, but by then my shins were hurting. I haven’t had shin pain since I first started running…on a treadmill. I don’t encounter shin pain when road running. I hate the treadmill now…would much rather run outside, even if it’s back and forth in the driveway.

I talked myself out of the full 3.1 miles by reasoning that I should stick to the training program if I want to prevent injury and do it right. After all, experts designed the training program, right? Who am I, a new runner, to question their years of experience and expertise and run more than they recommend? Today’s plan was to have been a 5:00 warmup, 15:00 jog, 5:00 cool down. I did the 5:00 warmup, jogged the above schedule for 25:00 and did a 5:00 cool down. Even that’s more than the recommended schedule, so I’m okay right? I feel I need to do a little more than the schedule anyway, because at the end of the 16 week plan, it only calls for a 90:00 run. I don’t think I’ll be doing 13+ miles in under 90:00 by then, so I need to be running a little longer than each day’s recommended schedule. See how I do that? Make excuses in my head…battle with my thoughts while I’m running.

I used the Vaseline for the first time today too. Seemed to help, but I usually notice the pain at the 25:00 minute point into my run…which is about when the sweat line on my shirt creeps from the collar down, reaching them. When I stopped jogging at 25:00, the sweat line had just made it that far. Will have to wait for a longer road run to confirm. I’m sitting in my bunk room on the other side of the building from the kitchen. I smell bacon. Breakfast time!

6/19
Fathers Day. No workout today for two reasons:
1. It’s Fathers Day.
2. I want my Sundays to be my weekly rest days. Workouts the other 6 days with one day off. What can I say? I like my Sundays off.

I’m feeling more confident about myself now. I see it in how I talk with others, the way I carry myself, and my attitude throughout the day is more positive. I’m starting to develop a sense of accomplishment that is reinforcing the mentality that I can do just about anything I want. This could become dangerous, because it could easily become an addiction. I believe now that there’s some truth to the “runner’s high” theory. The theory is that runner’s experience a release of endorphins and hormones when they run that creates an euphoric “high”. It’s reportedly like any drug, in that the body adapts to it and needs a bit more to replicate the “high” as time goes on. Runners report that they have to run longer distances and faster paces to achieve their “high”…like drug addicts need more and more of the drug to achieve their “fix”. I need to remain alert and cognizant of this, so that running does not become more important than God and family.

I think part of the confidence is coming from sharing about my journey with coworkers and friends. There’s a sense of accountability that I’m finding in opening up about this experience. In the past, I tried to keep my dreams and goals to myself…my little secret…for fear of being ridiculed and made fun of by people trying to tell me “you’ll never do that”. In sharing this journey openly with others, I’m finding that I *want* to keep improving…not just for my sake, but to show them I *can* achieve this goal. Not to rub it in their faces or be prideful in it, but because I don’t want to fail and prove them right. People that would normally try to knock me down are now asking, with what appears to be real sincerity, how it’s coming along for me, how I’m doing, and what I’m doing each workout to achieve my intended result.

I’m starting to make healthier eating choices now too. There are plenty of snacks here at the firehouse that aren’t healthy…snacks I used to crave all the time. I’m craving healthier choices more and more now as I see the weight starting to come off. I even ate a smaller portion of the firehouse “weekend breakfast” yesterday. It’s starting to come together in my mind…I don’t want to work this hard at running and exercising just to slow the weight loss by eating unhealthily. I’m actually craving fruit, fiber, oats, protein…all the foods that will help fuel my body most efficiently. I’m down about one pant size by the slack in he waistline, my shirts are fitting much looser, and I’m starting to see my gut is a bit smaller, particularly noticeable when looking in the mirror from the side.

6/20

Week 1 Day 1 of my half marathon training. I’m starting over today to get my “off” day to Sunday. This training plan is 6 days a week, and I want my day of rest to be Sunday. The plan calls for 15:00 jogging sandwiched between a 5:00 warmup and 5:00 cool down. Not today. The van needs serviced, and the garage is 3.3 miles from home. Plan is to drop it off and hit the pavement. As I’m leaving NE is sad that I’m leaving…wants to come with me. I catch you outside in the street, wearing rain boots, dress shirt and tie, with a snow suit and KC Chiefs ear warmers on. You’re stopped at the end of the driveway and take off from what I presume is your starting line toward the cul-de-sac. You want to run with me. One day son. That will be the highlight of this journey, when you join me. Today, though, in honor of Fathers Day yesterday, this one’s for you dad! I figure back in your day, a 3 mile run was standard issue…probably in combat boots, so this run’s for you.

I think I’ve found a way to keep my head up, not looking down all the time, when I run. When you’re jogging along the service road with a two-foot “shoulder”, and there are trees hanging over onto the road at 5′ high, and you’re 6’5″ tall, you ought to know ahead of time. That and the occasional 5′ drop off the ledge straight down into a culvert now and again, coupled with cars racing past within 6 inches of giving me a love tap with a side mirror. The few sidewalks I did have to run on ended occasionally…for no apparent reason. Just grass, rocks and a sprained ankle waiting to happen. Lest we forget running against traffic on Hwy K, occasionally needing to be in the right turn lane. Yeah. I think I’ve cured my “head down when I run” issue.

I ran the 3.3 miles in 48 minutes. It’s about 85* and humid, but here’s a nice breeze. I’m soaked. More than usual anyway. The Vasoline worked pretty good. I never really was out of breath, even after jogging up Death’s Peak. Which looks ominous, lurking over the horizon from a half mile away. Within 3 minutes of stopping, I think my heart rate and breathing are both back to normal, which tells me I need to push it a little harder. The only pain I felt was top of my hamstring, near my butt muscle. I need to start strengthening my legs and butt. My knee hurts a little, but no real pain. And my back feels okay. Yep, I’m gonna have to take it up a notch with the pace. I think I’ve started to set limits on myself, in my head, as to what I can do…how fast I can go. I read an article yesterday on a site called active.com. An excerpt from it with emphasis added by me:

Who’s imposing your limits? Sometimes it’s you, says Elizabeth Waterstraat, coach and founder of Multisport Mastery (multisportmastery.com) in Chicago. ‘Especially when athletes train heavily with technology, they can become wrapped up and limited by where the numbers should be, rather than where they could be.’ Unplug the technology now and then, she says, ‘and tune into how running fast feels in your legs, what it sounds like in your breathing, and what it speaks in your head. If you look down at your device and see you’re approaching 5K pace, you might begin to fear that you will blow up or not be able to hold it. But you just might be breaking through in that workout. Save the evaluation for later. Don’t let your fears and worries limit how much you are willing to give.’ Learn how to define what’s truly hard for yourself. ‘Many athletes look to coaches or formulas to tell them what hard is by heart rate, pace, or percentage of VO2max. Hard is hard. You run hard. Until you connect to that, you will not run as fast as you want to; you’ll run as fast as someone tells you to go.’

Then, listen to what you’re saying. ‘You may be focusing on the negative (I am so slow) rather than the positive (I am getting stronger; this is a solid starting point). Running fast is so much about managing the physical pain; there is no hiding behind equipment (bicycle) or conditions (waves); it’s usually just you and the pavement. Your legs must be strong, but your head must be stronger,’ Waterstraat says.

‘To know your limits, you have to be willing to test them,’ she says. ‘The best athletes take logical risks in training so they know how far they can go in racing.’ Don’t be surprised if it’s farther than you thought.”

Yep. Time to pick up the pace.

6/21
Didn’t run today. A series of unfortunate events conspired against me today. I need to start waking up early and running first thing so I don’t have any excuses.

6/22
Week 1 Day 2. Jogged 25 minutes today…when I first woke up. Forgot the Vasoline. I gotta stop forgetting that. Started out at a faster pace…gotta start pushing my speed to better prepare for 13 miles. Not sure what my initial pace was, but it felt about like a 6.0. Did that pace for about the first mile, then pushed through the chest pain at my usual pace. Within 5 minutes of stopping, heart rate and breathing back to normal…feel good. Distance: 1.98 miles…equals an average 13/min mile. I think that’s a decent pace. If I can keep it for the full 13 miles, my half marathon time would be about 2:50:00. I guess that’s respectable. I think my first mile was closer to 11:00. If I can keep that pace, then my half marathon would be more like 2:35:00. I should research what the average finish time is. Sunny, beautiful and breezy day in the 70’s. Time to get it on.

6/23
Week 1 Day 3. Jogged 2.34 miles on the track behind station #6 in 30:54 for an average pace 13:13/mile. Was going for the full 5K, but interrupted by a medical call. On return from the call, I did 10 runs up the short hill to the edge of the school playground. A friend says the downhill leg will help with my knee pain. I’m doing some exercises the doc showed me earlier this week for the knee too. between the two, hopefully the pain will go away.

6/24
Week 1 Day 4. Jogged 1/4 mile on the track at station 6 before getting a medical call. On return from that, I jogged a mile. One of the guys I worked with today wanted to run with me, and we talked the third guy into joining us. Slower pace, and not worried so much about distance today. Just wanted to get a quick jog in to stay loose for the 5K in the morning. Hoping we have a quiet night, so I’m rested in the morning.

6/25
Week 1 Day 5. Ran in the “Run for the Ridge 5K” today…after only 6 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours at work. Tired. Took a nap when I got home, but I’m still exhausted. Looking forward to tomorrow’s day of rest. Did the race in 39:34. That’s about 3:30 faster than my first 5K a month ago. I’m happy with that time, but in retrospect, I feel I could have pushed harder, especially the last mile. I finished the last 200 yards pretty strong, almost a sprint. Tonight, I put together a rough draft of my training schedule for the Half Marathon. With 17 weeks to go, it’s time to stop winging it and stick to a regimented, specific training plan.

6/26
Week 1 Day 6(7). Rest day.

6/27
Week 2 Day 1. Starting a new program today that is actually a 12 week plan. With last week being 18 weeks until the race, I’m considering it week 1 and adding 6 weeks to the plan to give myself a regimented 18 week training plan. Today, in the early afternoon, I jogged 3 miles on the track at the high school near the house. Did it with BG from work. He’s training for the full marathon in October. Jogged it in 41 minutes with an average pace of 9:56. That seems fast, but when I’m running with someone, I think I push a little harder, especially when he can run a much faster pace. He humored me and kept my pace for my 3 miles and then continued on for another 3 when I stopped. It seems to take me a mile to reign in my breathing and get control of it. Then when I settle into a rhythm with it, my hamstrings start killing me. I really need to find a way to get through the pain. I’m struggling mentally to finish 3 miles, leaving 10 more miles on the table. I’m starting to doubt I can do this in 17 weeks.

Today was particularly hard to get into it mentally because as I was leaving, NE was sad that I was leaving without him. That makes it hard, because I already feel guilty for not spending more time with the kids than I do. I don’t fault him for it…he’s 4. He just wants to be with his daddy. I keep trying to convince myself that what I’m doing now will allow me to be around for him much longer than if I don’t get fit and stay healthy. I need to start getting momma and the kids out here with me, even if it’s just walking as a family. He needs to see what I’m doing so he wants to be a part of it in the future rather than despising it…for taking me from him all the time.

6/28
Week 2 Day 2. Today is either a 2 mile run or cross-training, so I jogged 1.5 miles at Quail Ridge Park after a 1 mile walk with BG from work. Took me 20 minutes to jog it and about a 2 mile walk afterward. Not quite the full 2 mile run, but being as I had the option to cross-train instead of run anyway, I figure the 3 miles of walking compensates for the last half mile of running. I did actually read an article that says walking is an acceptable form of cross-training. It works the muscles differently, and it prevents burnout, or mental fatigue. BG finished his last 1.5 miles alone, and we met up in the middle for the cool down walk. Nice of him to humor me and keep my pace for my run, especially today…really sore after yesterday’s run, and this trail is pretty hilly, slowing my pace. I really need to get momma and the kids out here in the evenings. It’s gorgeous! And I really need to stop forgetting the Vasoline.

6/29
Week 2 Day 3. On the treadmill at work, I jogged/walked 3 miles in 42:10. Did it in my fire gear, and I’m loving it! It was expectedly harder than I was fully prepared to do, but I feel alive immediately afterward. I jogged the first mile in 12:28, a 4.8 pace. I then had to alternate walking and jogging, jogging twice or three times as far as the walk. The last half mile, I could tell I was on the edge of overheating, because I could feel the heat radiating from the inside of my arms and core outward. The last .1 mile, I stepped up to a 5.5 for .05 and a 6.0 for the last .05, then did a 1.5 mile cool down walk, with the coat off, just the bunker pants.

Why did I do something so crazy, you ask? Several reasons:

1. I wanted to see if I could do it. I’m a firefighter for crying out loud! Let’s be honest. If I can’t handle 30-45 minutes of sustained cardiovascular stress in my turnout gear, then I need to turn in my gear and find a new career! To be honest, if I’d have tried this back in March when I first started training, I’m confident I wouldn’t have made it, which is sad…and one of my motivators for starting this journey. Of the 4 guys on my crew, two have young children, and two have children that are older. When I started this, I had come to the realization that if I had been called upon to save them from certain death, I don’t know that I could have done it. And I’m not ready to live with the guilt of letting a friend get hurt (or dead) simply because I was fat and unfit.

2. To train for high heat index running. The extra gear, that keeps body heat trapped, should help better prepare me for running in extreme heat.

3. I have another dream, that I will keep to myself for now. To achieve that goal, this is absolutely necessary.

6/30
6/30
Week 2 Day 4. No run today. It’s supposed to be a day of rest, but yesterday at work I only had time to get my run done, even though the plan called for a 3 mile run plus strength training. So today I lifted my biceps, triceps, shoulders, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, abs and low back…then did 30 minutes of stretching. My arms are sore an hour later, but I feel good. I’m kinda bummed I’m not running today, and I’m making a conscious effort to NOT run, even though I want to. Gotta follow the training plan and let the rest days work to my advantage.

Total miles logged from March 25th through June 30th = 74.9. To continue running this journey with me, check out my July Run Journal.

Love,

Dad

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