My Run Journal – June 2012

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“Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.”
Lee Haney

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Click here to see my May 2012 Run Journal

3.1 miles on the road in 43:20. I pushed the first mile about as fast I could at a steady pace and ran it in 10:24, my fastest mile ever. Unfortunately, that means I did the last 2.1 miles at well over a 15:00/mile pace. I’m really trying to pick up my pace because I’m tired of running a 15 minute mile for 2-3 hours to get the mileage I need every week. I want the distance of the half marathon at the pace I know I’m capable of running, about 02:15. The only way I know to do that is to keep pushing at the front end and gradually adding distance to it before I feel the need to back down to a slower pace. Setting “small goals that I can build upon slowly.”

One mile at the track in 10:28. Felt good. Was pretty winded and not sure that I could have done another lap at that pace.



I’m a Runner Now


As I sit here in the front yard on this beautiful spring evening, the sun is setting.  The birds are singing.  The neighbors are mowing their yards.  The children are playing in the cul-de-sac, giggling those carefree laughs of innocence.  Off in the distance, the faint sound of the ice cream truck playing its familiar summer tune rings softly in the background.  It’s a beautiful opportunity to sit and enjoy life.  To reflect on the day.  To relax and rest.  And yet, I find myself longing for something more.  Something is missing.

It’s been a little over a year since I started this run journey.  Run journey…it seems odd to even call it that really.  It’s not so much a “run” journey, per se, as it is a “fitness” or “health” journey.  I try to do other things to mix up my workouts…swimming, strength training, stretching and circuit training.  I’m open to any kind of workout really…anything to break up the monotony.  It’s just that running is what’s finally motivated me to keep going…the catapult that’s launched my passion and resolve to improve my overall fitness and level of health.  So a run journey is what I shall call it.

Which is still odd to me, really.  I mean I’ve always hated running.  And yet, here I am, only two months shy of turning 39, and I just recently “retired” my first pair of running shoes.  I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say I love running or that I even enjoy it.  I still really don’t like it much…which is, I suppose, an improvement over hating it.  It’s really more about how it makes me feel that I enjoy…that I know it’s helping me shed some pounds…how much better I feel about myself after I’ve logged some miles…and that I know the long term benefits far outweigh any negative I can ever conjure up.

As the sun drops behind the neighbor’s house, and the day draws near its end, a coolness fills the air.  The warmth of the sun now gone, I sit in the shadows of a day now also gone. I’m feeling a sense of loss.  I’ve missed an opportunity.  I have a longing deep within to take today back and start again.  To start it the way I know I should have.  To start it the way I really wanted to.  To start it with a run.  And that’s when it hits me.  That longing to run…that desire to be out there pounding the pavement…that internal passion to want to subject my body to pain…it all adds up to one thing that I’ve been fighting for a year now.  I’m not who I was a year ago at the start of this journey.  I’m a runner now.

And still, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a runner looking back at me…at least not in the sense of how I picture a runner.  So, I have to ask myself…when did this happen?  I mean, I don’t really believe I woke up this morning and said, “I’m a runner.”  I think this has been a slow onset, one I should have seen coming…but didn’t.  I guess it’s kinda like how you would cook a live frog without him ever knowing he’s dinner…not that I’ve ever boiled a frog.  But I can imagine that rather than tossing him right in the boiling water…where he would simply jump right out, you’d put him in a pot of cool water and then slowly bring it to a boil, so that by the time he knows he’s dinner, it’s too late…he never saw it coming.  That’s kinda how I feel…like someone tossed me in a pot of cool water about a year ago and has slowly been turning up the heat on me.  I adapted to my changing environment with each slow adjustment, and now I look back and realize I’m not who I was a year ago.  I’ve changed.  I’ve morphed into something new.  Without ever seeing it coming, I’ve become a runner.

A few weeks ago, I was driving around town doing some errands, and I had to have passed a dozen or more people who were taking advantage of the cool weather to get their run in.  Fellow runners out there logging their miles. It wasn’t until after about the fourth runner that I realized I was even doing it.  Until recently, when I saw a runner on the road, I would quietly think to myself, “don’t know why you’re out there doing that!  You won’t catch me running unless someone bigger than me is trying to kill me.”  But today, I caught myself doing it…what I would imagine other runners do when they see a fellow runner.  I was checking them out.  Several times, I was actually staring…intently focusing on their stance, their stride, and their attire…what cool accessories were they wearing that might make my runs easier?  What kind of outfit is he wearing?  That hat looks nice.  Those shoes look worn…I bet her stride would improve if she bought a new pair.  Nice sunglasses…I need to get a strap for the back of mine too.  I think that’s when this little thought hit me…Whoa!  I’m a runner now.

And what’s even better is that my NE and SI want to run with me.  NE and I ran together earlier this week for the first time…a little over 1/4 mile on two different occasions…and SI joined us for just under 1/4 mile.  Bubba, watching you run that lap all out as fast as you could was glorious and encouragingly exciting…to know you both wanted to run it to be with me makes me want to bring y’all out more often, to begin fostering in your young lives now a desire to be healthy and active.  To reinforce to you that I’m not who I was.  I’m a runner now.

So as I sit here in the shadows of having recently finished my second half, I’m looking to the future…to my summer and fall schedule to see where I can fit in two more by the end of the year…and how I can get 4-5 in next year…maybe even a triathlon.  I just typed out the word “half”.  That I’m now typing out the jargon of a runner, and not just saying it, has to scream I’m not who I was…I’m a runner now.

That feeling of getting out there and pushing past that initial pain threshold to reach a state of acceptance.  Acceptance that this is the new normal.  Acceptance that this is what it’s going to take.  Acceptance that I’m not who I was…that this is who I am now…I’m a runner now.



My Run Journal – May 2012

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Click here to see my April 2012 Run Journal

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. Today’s half marathon in Indy, the Mini 500, was grueling and painful, and a privilege. I started out the first mile at a 13:40 pace and felt really good. I slowed over the next 7 miles, barely holding a 15:00 pace through 8 miles. At 8.5 miles, I hit the wall, and had to slow and walk. Honestly, I was pretty much walking already…my mind just didn’t know it yet. For the last 4.5 miles, it was all I could do to jog .1 mile at a time, fast walking twice as far. I finished, though. And I’m happy with that…because God is happy with me for living outside of my comfort zone. I enjoyed crossing the field of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, along with the sights of downtown Indy.

My official time was 03:28:42, burning over 5100 calories. My heart rate was over 85% of my recommended max heart rate for over three hours. Aye carumba!


Time to rest up for the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon in two weeks.

My body is SO sore! I need a chiropractor and a masseuse on call after a race. Today, it’s 45 minutes of stretching and a 10 minute walk on the treadmill. Ouch!

Ran a 5K with dad today in Joplin…the inaugural Joplin Memorial Run. Enjoyed it. I’d signed up for the half marathon, but hurt my neck earlier in the week and didn’t want to risk making it worse. I enjoyed the run with dad. He says I pushed him to a little faster pace, which ended up being a personal record for him, and third place in his age bracket. Seeing the whole family at the finish line cheering is on was awesome! It was a good run and workout. Felt good to get moving again after the half in Indy two weeks ago.

Good workout at the track with a friend. Jogged 1/2 mile, did some ab work (crunches, planks and scissors), followed by 10 sprints up a 20 yard, 30 degree hill. Very winded after. Jogged another 1/2 mile and walked 1/2 mile to cool down.

Nice 45 minute workout at the track. Four 100 yard dashes, 4-40 yard sprints, averaging 8 seconds, and 1/2 mile jog. NE was with me for most of it, and SI came in at the end for a lap around the track. Nice to run with my boys. Earlier today, NE and I ran 1/3 mile around the block at his request. As long as they enjoy running with me, I’m in.

One hour total body workout at work with the fitness trainer. Abs and core muscles, cardio and legs. My legs were (and still are) jello, and I came as close to puking as I’ve ever come without actually blowing chunks…I’m sore already, only 6 hours later, and loving it.

1.5 miles on the treadmill in just over 18:00, alternating every .25 miles between a 6.0 and a 3.5 speed.

1.5 miles on the treadmill…intervals of .25 miles at a 6.0 speed (10min/mile) followed by .25 mile or less at a 3.5-4.0 speed, starting with .33 mile at the 6.0 speed. Check out my new goal in My June Run Journal



My Run Journal – Sept. 2011

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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”

This particular post is meant to be read from bottom to top if you want to follow it chronologically. If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey, start here.

Go here to see My Run Journal – August 2011


Week 15 Day 5. My first run in almost two weeks. I did 2.5 miles in 35:57 today. Cardiovascular-wise I could have kept going my intended 4+ miles. My knee started bothering me though, so I called it before hurting it worse. I really just wanted to do a light run anyway, to ease back into the schedule without injuring the knee. Mission accomplished. My phone is jacked up…won’t play my iPod through headphones now, so I had to do it solo…no inspiration in my ears. That’s harder than I thought it’d be. I used my new heart rate monitor for the first time, and I like it. It helped keep me in a moderate effort zone easier than I have to do myself. Nine hours after the run, my knee is not too bad.

Week 15 Day 1. I’m getting worried. I didn’t run at all last week, because I spent the week in Indiana at a swiftwater rescue technician class. I took my gear to run if I had time, and I did. I didn’t have the energy though. Spending 8-10 hours each day Monday through Thursday on the river, taking a beating and putting my body through torture was enough. I was so sore on Wednesday morning, getting out of bed was a task. After not running for a week, I’m looking forward to getting back on schedule and preparing for this race. Today is a 5 mile run. What I’m worried about, though, is this…I hurt my knee yesterday while filming an Upward promo video. I don’t know what I did or how I did it, but my left knee feels like it’s bruised…right on the knee cap. It hurts to walk, and my limp is evident there is something wrong. All my other knee pain in the past has been right above the knee cap, and I’ve not had any real problems with that pain in a week or so. This new pain has me worried for two reasons…it’s a new pain, unusual to anything I’ve ever felt and doesn’t go away with stretches like the past pain…and it hurts so bad to even walk that the thought of running is out of the question. The last thing I need is to keep running and blow it out completely. However, I’m already off schedule in my training that if I take much more time off, I won’t be ready for this race on October 23. I know God works all things out for His plan and His glory, so I’m trying not to get bummed about this. I know it’s only a temporary setback in my overall fitness plan of running for the rest of my life, and I’m praying it’s a temporary setback for this race goal…that I can get it healed and get back on the road.

Week 13 Day 7. Today is the Cardinals Care 6K Run Home for Kids. A chilly morning in the low 60’s with rain on the horizon. My last two races were in the rain…I’m getting used to this. At the start line, the rain backed off to a drizzle and held throughout most of the race. Not too often I get to participate in a race where Jackie Joyner-Kercie gives the start command. Pretty cool. I held a steady pace throughout the first two miles, and on the last 1.74 mile return trip to Busch Stadium, I picked it up, trying not to let anyone pass me. Two people did, although I passed over two dozen. I was winded and hurting, but knew I could make it, seeing Busch Stadium in the distance all the way back. In the last block leading up to the stadium, I picked it up even more, and as I ran through the tunnels under the stadium and onto the field, I was at near sprint. Pretty amazing experience to be able to run through the tunnels and onto the field, to hear my name called on the stadium PA as I crossed the finish line. The rain was really coming down in that last two minutes. I finished the 3.74 miles in 44:22, an average 11:45/mile pace! My fastest yet. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Phil 4:13 I can’t wait to start experiencing these races with y’all. I think you’d enjoy doing this. I know I’d love to do it with you at my side, instead of alone. Next race is the half marathon in 5 weeks.

Week 13 Day 3. I traded this weekend’s long run day for today…7 miles today. I started this run early, even though I’m not an early morning person. Most races are morning races, so I need to be able to adjust to running early…6:15 this morning…still dark…and raining, with temps in the 60’s. I was cold as soon as I got wet, within the first quarter mile. I jogged this entire route, stopping only long enough at the gas station 3 miles in to buy a gel pack for fuel. It rained the entire time, which actually served to keep me cool…but it also kept my leg muscles from warming up and loosening like I’m used to…they were tight the entire run. This run took me 01:49:29. When I look at that number…almost two hours of running non-stop, I’m in denial still. It’s just over half of the race I’m training for…I just ran a fourth of a marathon. I burned over 1600 calories before 8:30 a.m…more than most people burn in a day. The pace was slower than I’d hoped for, over 15:00/mile. Not the pace I want, but I ran 7 miles! I’ll take the pace…and get better.

Week 13 Day 1. At 10:45 p.m., I still hadn’t run today, and knowing I need to keep at it, I set off on a 4 mile run in the dark. Difficult run in the dark, but I took a flashlight to help light the road in front of me…no time for stepping in a crack and twisting an ankle. This was a great run…51:40, just under a 13:00/mile pace. I found my comfortable “push pace” and kept it throughout. I need more of these runs.

Week 12 Day 6. Normally a long run day…7 miles, but today is the Fight Like a Firefighter 5K in Wentzville. It rained all morning and all through the race, very chilly. Which is fine by me…I’d rather be cold and wet than hot, humid and sticky. Ran this race in 36:36 which is 2:58 faster than when I ran this course on June 25, and just under a minute faster than my last 5K on July 4 at 37:30. I’m ecstatic about that! I started out very strong, in the middle to the front of the pack for about the first half mile or so. Much faster than my normal pace, I pushed it through some chest pain and shortness of breath for an extra few minutes before slowing back. I would pick it up every time someone passed me, trying to keep their pace for as long as I could. I know I had a pretty slow pace in the back stretch as I worked past the chest pain. It never reached a critical point, just took 5 minutes or so at a slow jog to get past it before I could resume my normal race pace. Gotta push through the pain if I ever want to get past this plateau in my training. No one new passed me in the last mile…just a few that had been leap frogging me for awhile, and I stayed ahead of them in the end. Overall, I feel very positive about this run because of that…pushing past my comfort pace for longer than I ever have, and improving my time…small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. It’s a great day the Lord has made..great day for a run! He is my Sustainer.

As I came into the last .25 mile, with the finish line in sight, I picked it up to about a 10:00/min/mile pace and held that throughout the last .25 mile, sprinting the last few hundred yards or so. Your mom brought you all out to watch me, and I thought I heard SD yelling as I passed…turns out it was mom. While I didn’t see y’all, just knowing you were there to cheer me on was awesome! I love y’all so much, and it’s encouraging and uplifting to see you in my corner. Here’s the post-race picture with you. I hope I do you proud.

Week 12 Day 5. I haven’t run for a few days. My work schedule this week had me pulling some 12 hour shifts at dispatch, and it ain’t easy to find motivation to run after a 12 hour dispatch shift. It didn’t help that my knees are killing me. They’re getting worse after each run…taking longer to recover…it’s definitely time to get them checked out, because if things keeps going like this, I’m not gonna make the half marathon. Today, I did 3 miles on the treadmill…interval work. For the first mile, I ran two minutes at a 6.0 (10/min/mile), then jogged at a 4.5 or 5.0 speed 4 minutes for two intervals. From there forward, I did 1 minute at the 6.0 speed, and 2 minutes at either the jogging speed or a walk, depending on how I was feeling. I think I only walked two or three times, and still only did so for no more than a minute before picking back up to a 4.5 or 5.0 speed. Did the first mile in 11:07, which is smoking for me! Finished the 3 miles in 35:30 and was winded…felt really good.

On another note, I got the results of my department health/fitness test back today. I already knew a lot of what I’d be seeing, but I picked up some additional stats and information to help gauge my progression through this journey. I’m meeting with the owner of the company next week to redo my custom-tailored diet and fitness plan around my current training plan for the half in October. He’s also going to hook me up with a sports physical therapist to figure out what’s going on with my knees and find a plan to get that issue fixed. Woo hoo!

Tomorrow is another 5K race, same course as the Run for the Ridge I did back on June 25. I did that one in 39:34, which was 3:30 faster than my first one a month earlier. On July 4, I did a 5K in 37:30, so I’m really looking to beat both these times. Your mom is bringing the three of you out to cheer me on, so I know that’ll provide me an extra boost! She sent me a text tonight that reads:

I asked if they wanted to watch you run a race tomorrow. NE says, “That will be AWESOME!”

Wish I could’ve been there to hear that. 🙂

Week 12 Day 1. Yesterday was rest day. At work again today, and 4.5 miles await me. Circling the block around the fire station, I got 3.7 miles done before getting dispatched on a house fire. Pretty pathetic run at 01:01:57. Got no excuses for this one…it just sucked.


Week 11 Day 6. Long run day. Six miles. It’s a work day, and I’d planned to get up at 4:30 to run before work, because I really don’t like running long distance at work…and I don’t prefer to run on the treadmill. Running almost always leaves me wiped, and the long runs are energy zappers. Anyway, you know me…I’m not a morning person, so when the alarm went off at 4:30 this morning, after laying in bed trying to fall asleep until 12:30, I hit reset and fell back asleep. At work, we spent two hours in the heat testing fire hose, and when we got back I wanted to get it over with while I was still hot and sweaty. I told myself if I ran at least 3 miles, I’d be happy. At the 3 mile mark, I was right at 40:07 and feeling decent, a 13:35/mile pace. I wanted to finish the 5K distance, so I did and then walked for a minute. My left knee had been hurting since about the 1 mile mark, and I was mentally ready to call it done. As I walked that minute, though, I psyched myself up for one more mile, convincing myself to at least do 4 miles. I finished that 4th mile and as I was taking a walking break, I was vividly aware of the pain in both knees, my hamstrings and my back. But I reasoned that if I knocked out one more mile to hit 5 miles total, I could rest easy knowing I could take tomorrow off…with just one more mile.

To be honest, I should have stopped there…or at least at the 4.6 mile mark. At 4.6 miles, the treadmill timed out at the one hour per session maximum, so I had to reset it and start again to finish. The pain in my knee was at least not unbearable anymore…because I could barely hold myself upright. By the time I reset the treadmill, I reasoned I only had 1.4 miles to go. If I could just push through the pain for 1.4 more miles, I’d have the rest of the day and all day tomorrow to rest, knowing I’d pushed myself past my comfort zone. For that last 1.4 miles, I could only run for .10 miles, having to walk for .15 for every .10 mile. After each running segment, I had to hold onto the treadmill to keep myself upright…my back is still sore. That last mile was the hardest mile I’ve ever run…mentally and physically. I was short of breath the entire time and really struggled to get through it. I definitely went past my comfort zone in that last mile. It wasn’t a pretty mile, but I finished 6 total miles in 01:30:40, just over a 15:00/mile pace overall. As I write this, I’m sitting with an ice pack on both knees and wishing I was in an ice bath. My legs are screaming “I hate you!” On a side note, a coworker showed me some exercises to do on a foam roller with my quadriceps and knees. It’s excruciatingly painful, but it stretches the quad muscles and the adjoining ligaments and tendons, expanding and strengthening them so that the knee pain will eventually improve…maybe even go away.

Week 11 Day 4. Ran 4.5 miles tonight about a half hour after dinner. The temp was probably still close to 100*, and this run kicked my butt. I did the first half without stopping, then stopped to buy a power drink at the halfway point, and on the return trip, I had to stop and walk about a dozen times for 50-100′ at a time, always trying to run twice as far before and after each walking break. The first mile took me 11:47, which is awesome. My fastest mile yet. Total time for the 4.5 miles was 01:07:02, which averages out to a 15:00/mile pace overall. Part of my issue on the return trip was not only the heat, but an upset stomach. I was not adequately prepared for this run. I was slightly dehydrated, and I ate a heavy meal about 30 minutes beforehand. The power drink at the halfway point only served to exacerbate the problem. At least I didn’t puke, though I felt like I would at any time. Overall, I’d be happier with tonight’s run if I could have done more without walking. Stupid heat.

Total miles logged in September = 38.7. And that’s September 2011. To continue this journey with me, check out my October Run Journal.



My Run Journal – July 2011


“Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Albert Einstein

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Week 2 Day 5. Today is a 30 minute cross-training day. I worked on installing the pool for 3 hours, digging and moving dirt with a heat index of 105*. Tonight, momma and I walked for 20 minutes in the park while the kids played with CMM. Not much of an actual “cross-training” day, but I burned the calories off in sweat alone, so I’m content. I weighed today…down 4 pounds since last Monday, 21 pounds since March.

Week 2 Day 6. Supposed to be a 4 mile run. I intended to wake up at 6:00 and get it done early because the temps are gonna be in the high 90’s with heat index near 105*. Not so much. I took two Nyquil at bed last night because I was so sore from my Thursday workout and digging all day Friday…I wanted some great sleep. I got it. Started running at 9:50.

At the 3 mile mark, my mind and body were done. It felt like I was running, but when I looked down, it was a slow walk. I tried to keep going, but couldn’t. I finished the last mile at a walk, and I still haven’t gotten my breathing under control…10 minutes after stopping at the house. Before I made it back, I gave myself a level of alertness test, and only scored 2 out of 3. Does the fact that I was alert enough to give myself the test make up for it? I hope so. I’m so thirsty. My body feels like it’s burning from the inside out. My head hurts. I can tell I’m way dehydrated. I need to start taking water with me or stopping to buy one along the way. Honestly, I don’t think I can do this half marathon.

Week 3 Day 1. Today is a 3 mile run day, so I ran the O’Fallon Firecracker 5K race. It rained for most of the run, at least a drizzle for all of it. It was actually refreshing to run in the rain…cooling. So much so that my legs are still cold three hours later. No complaints though…the cooler temps are a welcome relief from last week’s triple digit heat index. Ran my fastest time, officially clocking in at 37:30 and averaging a 12:15/mile pace. I feel good. As people passed me, I tried to keep up with their pace each time, sometimes staying with them for awhile, and other times not so much. When the older lady power walking caught up to me, I told myself, “no way am I getting passed by an old lady walking again”, and I kicked it up and kept it up.

I know that about the last .1 mile or so was a good pace…your mom was there cheering for me as I came into the parking lot, and it was very encouraging to see her there for me. I pushed the last leg about as hard as I could because she was there, and it probably knocked about 20 seconds off my time. It really makes the whole run worthwhile to see family at the end cheering for me. Below is a picture of me finishing this race.

2011 O'Fallon Firecracker 5K

Week 3 Day 2. Today is a 2 mile run or cross-training day. I’m at work today, so I did 2 miles on the treadmill. Ran the first .5 miles at a 6.0 pace in 5 minutes, and was winded and started having discomfort in the sides of my chest and lungs. Slowed down to a 4.8 pace for 2:30 then back to a 6.0 for another 2:30 and finished the last mile at a 4.8 pace. Feeling pretty good, with some chest discomfort still as I write this 30 minutes after completing the run. That’s the farthest or longest I’ve run at that pace to start with, so I’m happy. Did the run in the evening, though, and I’m wishing I had time to get it done earlier in the day. We had several calls throughout the day that prevented an earlier run, so I’m happy to just get the run in at all. I’m happy that even though I did not pre-run stretch (only a 5 minute walk), my shins do not hurt like they always have in the past during and following a run on the treadmill. Maybe I’m making some progress in that area?

What I’m not making progress in is my late night craving for sweets. A thankful citizen brought a pan of sweets to the station yesterday…brownies, cake and gooey butter cake. I don’t usually fair well with that kind of temptation. As I write this, I just finished a small piece of gooey butter cake and a brownie. What is it about firefighters that makes people think, “let’s bake them some fat-filled, sugar-loaded sweets to fatten them up as a way of saying thank you for what you do.” I need to find a marketing strategy that has them thinking instead, “let’s pick them up some fresh fruit and vegetables or whole-grain breads to say thank you for staying fit enough to do your job effectively.”

Week 3 Day 3. Today is 3 mile day. Ran the first .1 mile at a 6.0 pace on the treadmill then backed down to a 5.0 pace for the remainder. I wanted to knock out a full 5K, though, and I did it in 36:57, which is 37 seconds faster than my race time on Monday. This is a treadmill, though, so it’s easier to keep the pace consistent, there are no hills and no wind resistance. I’m feeling pretty good afterward. For curiosity sake, I added up all of my running to date to see how many miles I’ve logged. 87.1 miles logged to date since March 25th. That’s the equivalent of running from our house to Columbia, Missouri!!

Week 3 Day 4. Rest day. I like rest day. 🙂

Week 3 Day 5. I really need to get used to the training schedule. Its basically the same thing every week, but today I thought it was a 4 mile run. So I ran 4 miles on the treadmill, and then an hour later saw the schedule actually called for 30 minutes of cross-training today and the 4 mile run tomorrow. Now I gotta run another 4 miles in the morning. Oh well…what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger right? My run this morning was really good. I did a 5.2 pace on the treadmill, a 11:45/mile pace. The first mile was 11:45 and 2 miles was 23:30. At the 2 mile mark, I slowed to a walk for 30 seconds, long enough to take a quick drink. Did the same at the 3 mile mark. Did the 4 miles in 36:31, which still came out to a 12:10/mile pace. Having the short 30 second walk to look forward to at every mile was encouraging, because I had shorter goals to look forward to, rather than seeing 4 miles and psyching myself out with how far that is. I think I may have found a way to get over the “hump” of the longer runs, and I’m encouraged. Even when I finished the 4 miles, within 30 seconds of walking I felt like I could push through another mile. I’m encouraged by that and looking forward to repeating it as I add miles to my longer runs.

I read an article today about how to improve my running stride and took some good pointers from it. Things I need to focus on:

With knees bent, landing with gentle contact on the heel, moving immediately to mid-foot, so that the shock of landing is absorbed into the muscle rather than my skeletal system and joints.

  • Keeping head looking forward, not up or down.
  • Relaxing my shoulders nice and low.
  • Pushing my chest slightly forward so that gravity works to pull me forward when I run.
  • Keeping my elbows bent to a 80-90* angle and bringing my hands up to the lower breastbone.
  • Making sure not to lift my arms backward, so not to overwork the posterior deltoids and triceps muscles.
  • Pelvis should be tucked gently under my hips, so my butt is not sticking back or my stomach arching forward, like I’m sitting on a stool.
  • Proper body alignment should put my chest, knees and feet on the same plane when my foot makes contact with the ground, with the foot landing aligned with the chest.

Basically, I need to picture how a child runs when I run, and envision that running posture…relaxed and fluid and easy. If I take a few of these tips at a time and work to incorporate them into my running posture and stride, I should start to see improvement not only in my run performance, but in my post-run recovery and pain level. One suggestion in the article recommended running barefoot on grass or at the track. Doing so should lead to a natural tendency to land more on the center of the foot than the heel and help to train for better running stride and stance. Maybe I’ll try that someday. Maybe.

Looking back through my journal, two things stand out. First, I need to find a way to stay hydrated and fueled on the long runs. As I start adding miles to the long runs, I really need to make sure I have water or a sports drink available. It should be easy since I’m going to start incorporating a 30 second walk into every mile after the second mile. As the schedule starts to intensify closer to race day, my shortest run every week is going to be 4 miles, which takes me 45 minutes. Running for an hour or more with no hydration is too long…beyond safe. So today, I bought a water bottle that’s designed for runners. It has a handle that fits around my hand so I don’t have to actually hold onto it the whole time, and it has a small pouch I can store a Pre-Workout Gel in to use in the longer runs for fuel. Second, I remember being discouraged last week. Six days ago, I tried my first 4 mile run…outside in the 105* heat. I remember that feeling, and I’m glad that I’m experiencing more positives than negatives. Today, while surfing online, I came across the following two quotes:

  • “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” – Vince Lombardi
  • “Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.” – Author Unknown

Both offer me the encouragement to keep going through the hard runs. I’m sharing my goals more and more with people at work, and for the most part, I’m receiving encouragement from them. There have been a select few who have tried to discourage me. Whether their comments are intentionally meant to discourage, or they just don’t know how to respond, I don’t know. Either way, I’ve finally reached the point in this journey where I’m not reliant upon anyone else for motivation. I could honestly give or take encouragement from others. Don’t get me wrong, I do find satisfaction in receiving encouraging words of affirmation, but I don’t need them as much now as I did when I first started. I’ve finally found the motivation internally, and that gives me a pride that no external source can provide. Having found the internal “drive” has me in a mental place where I can finally take any discouraging words from coworkers and push them aside, block them out, ignore them altogether. I know I’ll have ups and downs in this journey…times where I struggle to find the drive to press on…times when I get knocked down. What I’m finding great joy in is that I can internally apply Vince Lombardi’s words of advice above and get back up…get back up to run another day…to press on. The joy and drive that comes from within is from God…I know it. I can feel Him running with me, strengthening my body…and my mind and spirit. I find reassurance from Him in the Word:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:12-14

Week 3 Day 6. “Long run” day…4 miles today. I went to the track at the high school, because I wanted to work on my pace…keeping it steady across a long run without the treadmill. The track was locked up tight, though, so I ran a 4 mile circle around the school and surrounding area. I did the first mile in 12:20 and 2 miles in 25:30. At the second mile, I walked for 30 seconds. At the end of 3 miles, I walked another 30 seconds and then had to interval run the last mile, running for 2:00, walking for 30-45 seconds. I finished the 4 miles in about 55:00, although I don’t know the exact time. I inadvertently pressed the “discard” button on the program. 😦

Week 3 Day 7. Rest Day.

Week 4 Day 1. Hard to believe I’ve been training for the half marathon for three weeks already. Time’s moving. Ran 3 miles on the treadmill today at an incline of 1. First mile in 11:40, and second mile in 23:07. At 2.1 miles I stopped to walk .1 mile. Then ran .4 miles, walked .1 and finished the last .4 running. My treadmill pace for each run segment was 5.2, and the whole three miles took 36:07. Did this run about 30 minutes after dinner…should’ve waited longer…or done it earlier in the day.

Week 3 Day 2. Today is 2 miles or cross-training so I did 2 miles on the treadmill at an incline of 2 in my turnout gear. I could only keep a 5.2 pace for a minute or two at most, then had to go back to a 4.5, which was about my pace when I first started in March. The extra gear on me is about equivalent to the weight I’ve lost to date, so it’s like running at my starting weight…very difficult. My legs feel like lead weights, and my head is playing mind games on me…very difficult to stay mentally focused. Total time for the 2 miles was 28:32.

Week 4 Day 3. Took a rest day today instead of tomorrow.

Week 4 Day 4. Ran 3 miles around the neighborhood this morning. It’s a beautiful morning! Did 3 miles in 42:30. It was a very slow pace…probably because I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. I never had breathing issues, but my legs were hurting a mile in.

Week 4 Day 5. Today is supposed to be 30 minutes of cross-training. It’s also our annual family float day, and we’ll be spending the whole day on the river. I’m counting that as my cross-training. Between rowing the raft and a 10 minute swim about 200 yards downriver and back up, I’m happy. At the end of the day, I’m sore and tired. Eight hours on the river…great day!

Week 4 Day 6. Today is supposed to be a 4 mile run. After the day on the river yesterday, I’m exhausted. Today, is the family picnic, and it’s hot. With the humidity, it’s over 100 degrees. Even after the picnic, it’s just too hot, and I’m too exhausted and sore from yesterday to do anything. I succumb to my weakness and take the day off. My body is so sore, that I reckon it won’t kill me to take an extra day to recover.

Week 4 Day 7. Today is supposed to be a stretch and strengthen day. I’m at work, and again I’m still exhausted. The weekend’s activities have really taken it out of me. I had a blast, and I’m going to count it as a reward for 4 weeks of solid training for the half marathon…on top of 2 months of running in general.

Week 5 Day 1. Today is 3.5 miles. I’m at the firehouse, and I want to run outside instead of on the treadmill. The temperature is over 100* again. We’ve been under an excessive heat warning for two days, and will be for 2-3 more days. In the evening I ran for 51 minutes around the parking lot at the station. The GPS on my phone doesn’t track well when I run in such close circles, so I’m guessing by my pace and my time that it was between 3.5 and 3.8 miles. It felt like a good run, and though I could have pushed the pace a little harder, it’s hard to make that decision when I’m on duty. That’s the drawback for running on duty…I have to have something in reserve when I’m done running, so that I can actually do my job when I’m called to fight a fire in this heat after running. I’m glad I took the extra days off over the weekend, because it seems to have refreshed me.

Week 5 Day 2. Today is supposed to be a short 2 mile run. Not so much…had a lazy, sleepy day all day. My body is beat.

Week 5 Day 3. Pain Day. Punishment Day. I hate Wednesdays in this training program. It’s a 3.5 mile run AND strength training. To make up for yesterday, my plan is to run the 2.9 miles to the firehouse, do an upper body workout and then run home. This triple-digit heat is a plan killer. I ran all but about a quarter mile (combined over several walking breaks) on the way there and did it in 46:13. Running in this heat is like starting all over back in March…slows me down. I did a 20 minute upper body workout and then left for home. I jogged the first mile, walked for a minute and then alternated walking and jogging the next mile with my runs being .1 mile at most. When the last mile hit, I was done. My hamstrings and quads started locking up, so I ended up walking the last mile. Tried cold water immersion therapy (ice bath) when I got home. It helped with the soreness, and two hours later my legs are still cold.

Week 5 Day 4. Rest day. I should probably run 2 miles to make up for taking Tuesday as a rest day. However, with the over 5 miles I logged yesterday, I think I’ll write Tuesday’s lazy day off and move forward with the training plan as scheduled. The last thing I want to do is push it too hard and risk injury. Rest it is. I weighed in today. Down another 4 pounds since last week. Probably all sweat from yesterday.

Week 5 Day 5. It’s hot again today…over 100*, and it’s a 2 mile jog day. To the track for some interval training. I’m reading that doing interval training once or twice a week is good for building up stamina and endurance at faster speeds. My intervals today are 100 meters each (1/4 lap)…at a comfortable speed that is below a full sprint, but above my normal race pace. My intervals were:

  • Lap 1 – 32.1
  • Lap 2 – 33.6
  • Lap 3 – 35.4
  • Lap 4 – 37.9
  • Lap 5 – 41.2
  • Lap 6 – 42.2
  • Lap 7 – 38.3
  • Lap 8 – 36.1

The entire two miles took me about 29:30, which is a weak performance. Each 100 meter interval for the first mile (4 laps) was followed by 300 meters at a jog just slower than my normal race pace. Starting the second mile in lap 5, I followed the interval with a 100 meter jog, 100 meter walk, 100 meter jog. Following interval 6, I walked 200 meters then jogged 100 meters. After interval 7, I walked 250 meters and jogged 50 meters. Following interval 8, I walked 100 meters, jogged 50 and walked 150. I would have liked to have been able to jog each of the “cool down” periods following each interval, but just couldn’t. I was getting sick to my stomach, and when I finished, my arms, legs and face were tingling…a sign that blood flow to my extremities was being shunted to my core…an early warning sign of dehydration and heat stroke. Time to get home and get cool.

Week 5 Day 6. Long run day. At the firehouse, I did 5 miles on the treadmill. Had 3/4 of a breakfast sandwich and an orange juice for breakfast at 6:45 and a Gatorade Pre-Workout Gel at 10:45, 5 minutes before starting. Ran the first 3.1 miles in 39:40 then walked .1 mile. Jogged another mile, then walked .1 mile, jogged .15, walked .5 and jogged the last half mile. Total time was 1:05:05, and calories expended was 1106. I don’t usually pay attention to the calories burned, but seeing over 1100 burned was a surprise, so it stuck in my head. What really floors me is that I ran for all but .25 miles…about 5 minutes out of the full hour. That’s a milestone in itself for me…if someone would have told me 2-3 months ago that I could run for an hour, I’d have laughed at them. And yet here I am…just ran for an hour, and I feel great about 15-20 minutes afterward! And while it’s something I’m proud of, it’s not even half of what I’ve set out to do. At a pace that’s comfortable for me, my half marathon will take me just under 3 hours. Oww!

Week 5 Day 7. Should be a stretch day. It’s a rest day.

Week 6 Day 1. A birthday jog of 3.5 miles. Very hard to find the internal motivation and drive today. Getting out the door was a struggle. I jogged the first 2 miles, then hit a mental wall and lost the mental battle. Ended up walking 4 short segments in the last mile and a half…not because I was struggling to breathe, but my legs and back were sore. It was a mid-morning run, about 10:00-11:00 and took me 55:54 pretty pathetic.

Week 6 Day 2. Intervals at the track. Alternating 100 meters at my fastest pace with 100 meters walking for 2 miles:

Lap 1: 33.9 & 30.8
Lap 2: 27.6 & 30.3
Lap 3: 29.6 & 29.7
Lap 4: 28.9 & 28.9
Lap 5: 27.9 & 29.9
Lap 6: 27.1 & 28.1
Lap 7: 27.6 & 31.6
Lap 8: 33.1 & 28.6

Again in the heat of the day, this run felt pathetic. It’s getting extremely difficult this past few days. I’m constantly tired and groggy, and I don’t know why…very frustrating! My energy level should be improving, but instead it feels like I have less energy than ever!

I’m not a morning person…never have been. Waking up at the butt crack of dawn has never been my thing, let alone to run. I know the early bird gets the worm, but I just can’t pull the energy out for some reason. I need to find a way, though, because my current training schedule (and lack of energy) is robbing my kids and wife of my time and passion. I feel like my commitment to this half marathon has become a burden on them, and I hate it. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. I’m right in the middle of a huge wall, and I’m becoming discouraged. Up until about a week ago, I was looking forward to each day’s run. Now I loathe them. I need to find a way to break through this, because it sucks! Not sure how much longer I can keep it up.

Week 6 Day 3. I tweaked my left hamstring/butt muscle doing the sprints yesterday. It’s still sore today, and hard to walk up and down stairs. Living in a split-level house isn’t conducive to this. Instead of running 3.5 miles, I’m calling a rest day to let this thing heal.

Week 6 Day 4. My butt and leg still hurt. I slept for about an hour on the concrete sidewalk outside of the school for Upward gym rental signups. Long night, and I’m exhausted. Another rest day.

Week 6 Day 5. Seriously. I apparently either need to stretch better before doing sprint and interval training or not do it. This hurts! Today, a co-worker and I did a circuit workout at work. Using mostly my own body weight for 15 various exercises, it was a good 30 minute workout. It hurt and got my heart pumping at the same time. I like it, so I copied his notes so I can repeat this workout. Finished with 15 minutes on the elliptical machine.

Week 6 Day 6. After two restless nights at the firehouse, I’m tired. An early morning call at 6:00, has me up…it’s long run day. 5 miles. To the track behind station 6 I go. This run stunk. It took me 01:15:20 to do 5 miles. My first mile was about a 13 minute pace, and the second mile was about 13:30. After that, I dropped to about a 18:00/mile pace. Pathetic. I gotta find a stretching routine that works for me, because my legs are killing me. My problem isn’t my breathing or heart rate…it’s the pain in my legs and back. I also need to start eating better. I’ve not really been cracking down on the food I take in, and I think it’s showing in my performance…and lack thereof. I’m sure if I fueled my body with better choices, it would perform better. Twelve weeks to go…time to do it.

Week 6 Day 7. Rest day.

Total miles logged in July = 55.5 And that’s it…my July of running. Hope it wasn’t too boring. You can continue following my running journey with my August Run Journal



My Run Journal – Mar-June 2011


“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…

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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!

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: ??

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.

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?

Week 4 Day 2. Same schedule as previous run.

Week 4 Day 3. Same schedule as previous run.

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.

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!

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!
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.
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.
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
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

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. 🙂

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!

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.

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!

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!

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.”

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.

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!

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Week 1 Day 6(7). Rest day.

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.

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.

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.

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.