Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspiration: It's All Around You

I think that one of the greatest things about my recent journey is when someone tells me that I'm an inspiration to them. When I started this journey in February I wanted to get healthy, but I also hoped that along the way I'd be able to encourage and inspire others as well. So when I hear those words come from another person "you inspire me" I am both thrilled beyond imagination and yet fearful at the same time. It is hard to explain that dual feeling. I think the excitement is easily understood, but I guess the fearful part may seem strange. I guess a lot of that goes back to who I used to be.

As a younger man, I was always quite impressed with myself and I wouldn't hesitate to tell you how wonderful I was. I was a legend in my own mind. Over the past 4-5 years, my life has changed so dramatically (changes for which I am eternally grateful) and I always try to approach life with a sense of humility. So now when someone tells me that I inspire them I think there is still that brief moment of fear inside of me that the egomaniac that once was there will rear his ugly head (or ego). I have found that if I approach every situation now with a sense of humility I am able to keep the egomaniac on lock down. I guess that may be counter to what culture teaches us today, but it is now just who I am and I like this person SO much better.

Recently, I've been thinking about what it is that inspires me. And I started to think about all of the people in my life who are a source of inspiration to me. I noticed that it's not people who are in the news, or who make a lot of money, or who are superstars, but rather, its people, everyday people, like me and you. People who believe in what they are doing and who achieve true success at their endeavors through hard work, but who are also very humble in their approach.

One person who comes to mind regularly is my friend, Anita Mills. Anita and I grew up together in the same hometown. We played Little League baseball together and graduated from the same high school together. We lost touch after high school but like many people we reconnected on Facebook. Anita, like me, was overweight for most of her life. A couple of years ago, she decided to do something about it. So she asked her Doctor for some advice and he gave her 4 simple rules to follow. Anita followed those steps and has since lost 240 pounds!!!!! Yes! I said 240 pounds. She did all of this with no pills, or shakes, or surgery. Just common sense eating habits and exercise.

Anita kept her journey private until she had lost most of her weight. Her Doctor recommended that she do that. But once she lost the weight, she told everyone. And I am so happy that she did because after I saw her amazing transformation on Facebook I reached out to her. I wanted to know how she did it. She shared her journey with me. I was SO inspired. I wanted to be healthy too. At the time I weighed 365 pounds and I felt like I was destined to a life of being overweight and, most likely, an early death as a result. But Anita's story gave me hope. So her inspiration, coupled with my desire to get healthy. pushed me to the make the decision to get healthy.

Anita is just a regular person. Although I think she's beyond amazing for what she has accomplished she didn't have a magic pill to make it happen. She just worked hard and stayed determined. That is what inspires me about her story.

So now when people tell me that I inspire them, I truly just feel like I'm paying it forward. I'm just passing on the inspiration that I got from my friend, Anita. You've heard of the "Butterfly Effect"? I call this the "Anita Effect". I can't help but smile to think about all of the lives that will be changed because of her story.

Another person who I've recently had the privilege to get to meet is a young lady by the name of Lisa Broome-Price. Lisa is a very quiet, unassuming person. She always has a kind word, or a smile for you, and she is the type of person who just always makes you feel comfortable around her.

Lisa is also a runner. Not a runner like I try to be, but a runner. Lisa ran her first half marathon in April of this year. That, in an of itself, is quite an accomplishment. She ran the 13.1 mile course in a time of 2 hours 49 minutes and 28 seconds. That is a pace of 12:56 minutes per mile. And while that is a great time for anybody running her first half marathon, Lisa wanted to improve. She wanted to be better at running. So Lisa spent the Spring and Summer training with a local running group, John's Striders. She lost weight and spend countless hours pounding the pavement logging her miles. Lisa ran her 2nd half marathon on October 23rd. She ran this half marathon in a time of 2 hours 1 minute and 19 seconds. That is an average pace of 9:15 per mile!

In only a matter of 6 months, Lisa was able to cut over 3 1/2 minutes off of her pace. In running terms that is beyond amazing! For her achievement, Lisa was named as the 2011 Most Improved Runner of the Year, an award that was well deserved.

I have actually had the pleasure of getting to run with Lisa. Well actually, it was more like I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and then watching her run into the distance as I struggled along at my 12 minute per mile pace. But Lisa inspires me! Seeing what she has done inspires me to keep running. I know that with hard work and determination that I can be faster too. I can be a better runner like Lisa. There was nothing special about Lisa as a runner when she started her journey. She was an ordinary person just like you and me. She didn't have magic, winged shoes that made her go faster. She simply focused on what she wanted to achieve, worked hard, and made it happen (and then some). That inspires me beyond words.

These are just a couple of examples of the people in my life who inspire me. There are so many people out there who inspire me on a daily basis. Take the time and look around sometime at all of the amazing people who are out there doing absolutely amazing things. You may be surprised at some of the heroes that are in your life every day. Look for that inspiration from others, seek it out, use it to achieve your dreams, and then pay it forward to the next person. You never know what amazing things might be accomplished by someone else who once told you "you inspire me".

Monday, October 3, 2011

RJ Corman Duathlon Race Report

I have to admit that I am not a runner. I really don't even like running. It may be because I'm still overweight, or maybe it's just because I'm older, but I really find it to be quite tedious. But I really want to be an Ironman. Not sure why I have that obsession but I do. It's like when I was 16 years old and I decided that I wanted to be an attorney. I didn't know any attorneys, but I decided that's what I wanted to do. And guess what? Yup. I'm an attorney.

So as part of my training to be an Ironman, I have my little "checklist" of running things that I need to accomplish. I started with the 5K, then the 10K and I am now training for my 1st half-marathon on Oct. 23rd. As part of the training program that I am using, it was recommended that I run a 10K on Oct. 1st. When I started the program I looked around for a 10K that was going to be on Oct. 1. There was one that was in Lexington, but then I saw the RJ Corman Duathlon. I thought "it's 2 5K's so that's a 10K". Of course there would be a 15 mile bike ride in between but I really didn't think that would be a problem. So I signed up at the beginning of August.

Pre Pre-Race

To be honest, I really didn't give the Duathlon much thought until the week before. I have been so focused on training for the half marathon over the past few weeks that I really just put it on the back burner in my mind. I had been running 5-6 miles at least 2x a week and had been running longer runs on the weekends, including my first double-digit run of 12 miles. And for cross-training I had been riding my bike 15-20 miles usually 2-3 times each week. In my mind that was enough.

But then I got to the week of the race and I started to panic a little. I hadn't practiced "brick" workouts, which is a combination of two sports done together. Most people will do their bricks like a triathlon. They will ride for whatever distance and then run immediately after. I had not practiced that. At all! I started to panic. Sure I could run a 10K, and I could ride 15 miles, but I started to wonder if I could do them together.

I also started thinking about the road course. I'd never ridden it before. Was it hilly? Was it flat? Was it like the Alpes d'Huez in the Tour de France? I had no idea. All of these terrible thoughts and self doubt started creeping into my head.

On Monday I rode with the Bluegrass Cycling Club with my friend, Jen, and it was great to get out and just stretch out my legs. We kept an easy pace so I didn't overdo it. On Tuesday I ran 6 miles with my running buddies in the neighborhood and had a great time. My legs felt great and my confidence was slowly being restored. On Wednesday I rode with the BCC in Midway, KY and had an incredible ride. I set a PR for my pace over a 20 mile ride and my confidence was through the roof, but my chain came off 3 different times and I was worried about whether that would happen on race day or not. I made some adjustments to the bike but I knew I wouldn't have the chance to get it to the shop before the race. On Thursday I ran 6 miles again with my running buddies, Mona and Karen, and my legs felt pretty tight. I panicked a little about my legs. And then I started thinking about my bike again. I was totally psyching myself out of this race.

On Friday, I sought the advice of some of my friends on DailyMile.com about prepping for the race. I have to give a big shout out to all my DailyMile friends for helping me out and specifically Douglas S., who is an amazing triathlete. He told me to plan my transition out in my head and how to pack everything up. I spent some time Friday afternoon planning everything out. I actually typed out everything that I needed to get ready for the race and also typed out a minute to minute schedule for Saturday morning and set times for everything that I was going to do that morning, from waking up and showering, to leaving for the event. Pretty much minute by minute up to race time. After making my "to-do" list and my calendar, I felt much better. I decided to rest on Friday and we went out to meet some friends for a fundraiser to get my mind off of the duathlon. I was exhausted because I had not slept well on Wednesday and Thursday nites and unfortunately all I could think about was getting myself prepped for the race. So we left the event at about 8 and went home. I took my bike out around the block 3 or 4 times to make sure the chain issue was okay and it was. That was a load off of my mind. I also packed up all my stuff and got my bike on my car. My awesome wife helped me with everything. I was now feeling ready. No more nerves after that. I was ready to race.

Pre Race

I knew that the bike transition opened at 6:30 and I knew that it was about a 30 minute drive out to Nicholasville, KY where the event was being held so I decided to get up at 4:30 so I would have plenty of time to eat and get ready and get to the race without being rushed.

I woke up when the alarm went off and realized that I had slept through the nite. That was the best news for me. I was sleepy but I could tell that I felt energized from a great nite's sleep. That was just what I needed. I got up and showered and got ready. I had all of my stuff already laying out so I wouldn't wake up my wife and so it would make life much easier.

After I got dressed I headed to the kitchen for my pre-race meal. I am a true believer in peanut butter toast and a banana. That seems to work well for me and it never causes any stomach issues for me.

After I ate, I actually took a few minutes and watched some TV just to relax. I was definitely excited but really wasn't nervous. I had my checklist and my schedule and I was checking everything off as I got it done. If you can't tell I'm definitely a results-oriented person. I love checking things off a list. Something empowering about marking through another item that is done.

After a few minutes of TV I hit the restroom since I didn't want to have any issues at the race and then I woke my wife up to tell her that I was leaving. I knew that she would be out there later but there was no need for her to go out that early. I debated about coffee and ended up stopping at Starbuck's for a doubleshot. I love espresso and I drink lattes every morning. I knew that I couldn't do the race with a latte setting in my stomach but I knew that a doubleshot would sit just fine. It definitely gave me a little boost that I needed.

I got to the race at about 6:20 and there were just a few other cars there. Oh well. I'd be able to get things set up and be ready before it got crowded. I took my bike up to the transition area and got everything set up. After I put my bike on the rack I laid out my beautiful transition mat (which was actually a multi-colored beach towel) and I laid all my stuff out that I would need for the race. I felt pretty good about my set-up especially since I'd never done a multi-sport race with a transition before.

After I got my bike and transition area set up I headed back to my car and on the walk there I realized that my leg warmers were falling down. I don't have running or cycling tights so I thought that I could wear shorts and the leg warmers. It was obvious that the warmers weren't going to stay up as I ran so I took them off an left them in the car. Did I mention that it was about 38 degrees? The coldest morning of the Fall so far. Yikes! I got out of the car and hit the registration tent for my chip and body marking. That was fun. I felt like a triathlete after they marked my number on my right arm and my age on my left calf. It was like a Badge of Honor.

After I was marked I went back to my car. It was still only about 7:00 am and I had a long way to go to race time. It was so cold outside so I cranked up the heat and the Sirius Octane channel and relaxed some more. I also popped two Ibuprofen to ward off any plantar fasciitis pain that might rear it's ugly head during the 5K.

After about 30 minutes in the car I mixed up my pre-race concoction of chia seeds and 4 ounces of water. I'm really becoming a believer in the power of chia seeds, both for hydration and energy. I drank down the chia seeds and decided to get out of the car to acclimate to the weather. It was still about 40 degrees and windy. Not ideal race conditions at all. I decided to wear my Kentucky pullover to stay warm.

Annita got to the race about 8:00 am so I went over to talk to her for a few minutes to get my pep talk. She told me to do great and told me how proud of me she was. I needed to hear that. And then she snapped my ceremonial pre-race 'thumbs-up" pic.
Look how cute I am. Don't I look like I'm ready to run a Duathlon?

The First Run

So I knew that the first 5k wouldn't be so bad. I knew that I would need to save my energy so I knew that my time would be slow compared to the other runners. And there were some pretty serious triathletes out there. They were decked out, head to toe, in the fancy racing gear. They looked like pro's. And here I was in the back of the small pack at the start line in my fancy Kentucky pullover looking like I was ready to go tailgating. It was a little surreal at that moment but I just kept telling myself that at least I was there and I was going to give it my best shot and that was all that I could do.

They had all of the male duathletes line up first and they sounded the train whistle. Yes. the train whistle. RJ Corman has made huge amount of money in the railroad industry and has a beautiful facility in Nicholasville. So it was only appropriate that we take off to the sound of a train whistle.

Almost immediately I could see the guys in the front blowing up the course. They were out of sight in no time. I picked out a couple of bigger boys and paced myself off of them. And true to my race philosophy I was running dead last. After three minutes I heard the whistle again and I knew that the women had just left. I laughed and wondered how long it would take them to catch me. Sure enough after less that three minutes the lead women caught up to me. In a 5K, or 10K, that might have bothered me, but for some reason I was fine with it. And then I heard a third whistle and I knew that the 5K runners were off. Again, I chuckled wondering how soon it would take the lead runners to catch me. Again after about 3 minutes I heard the guys coming up behind me and "ZOOM!" they were gone.

The course was absolutely beautiful. Mr. Corman built this for his employees to go out and exercise on and it is mostly flat with a few rolling hills, small bridges over little streams, and just mostly beautiful. I kept my slower runners in site and actually passed two of them. That was a little bit of a relief knowing that I might not finish dead last in this event.

I finished the first 5K in a little over 33 minutes which was a great time for me, especially since I was actually trying to take it slow. Then it was time to transition to the bike.

The Bike Course

When I got to the race early, I introduced myself to Sam Dick, one of the race organizers. He and his wife own a shop here in Lexington called "Swim Bike Run of Kentucky". Sam is also a local news anchor for one of the Lexington TV stations and is also a cancer survivor. I had never had the chance to meet him before so this was a great time since I was one of the first one's there. As we talked he asked me if I had ridden the bike course yet. I told him that I had not. He told me to take my time and that it was "hilly". I thought, "man please don't tell me that just an hour before the race". But boy was he right. The course was hilly. That was an understatement. Now I love to ride my bike. And I've ridden some nice hills here in Central Kentucky but some of these hills were more than I expected.
The transition area was about .3 miles from the 5K finish line. So I had to run though a tunnel, under a railroad trestle, and back uphill to the bike area to head out. The wind was whipping and it was cold. I knew though that the riding was more "my thing" so I could catch a few people.
We started out the tarmac (yes the tarmac) and rode beside Mr. Corman's personal airstrip. That was actually pretty cool. Then we hit the public roads but there were so many Sheriff's Deputies and local police out there directing traffic that I never felt uncomfortable with the traffic. As I rode along in the first couple of miles I was able to pass a few people. Of course I knew that any of the women I passed actually were still 3 minutes ahead because of the staggered start times. But that was ok. I felt my competitive spirit awaken for the first time in years on this ride. I could see people ahead of me and I would tell myself "go get 'em" and I did.

After the first little loop we headed back past the airport strip and I was just talking to all of the volunteers and officers saying "good morning". "thank for volunteering", "stay warm", etc. One of the deputies looked at me as I was topping the little hill that he was working and I had my tongue hanging out acting as though I was already winded. He said "oh that was the easy part. The hard part's coming." I laughed and said "thanks a lot! I'll see you in 40-50 minutes I hope". So it was nice to have people to chat with, even if only for a few moments, to lighten my mood.

As I continued on the course I felt really good. I was riding at a moderate pace but saving my energy for the last 5K run. The course was very pretty as it rolled along the country roads and through the small town of Wilmore. At pone point though we were directed through a residential neighborhood and after about a mile I thought that I had been misdirected. But then I saw more signs and volunteers and I knew I was going the right way.

Then I hit "the Hill'. This was the longest and steepest hill I'd ever climbed. I got about halfway up and for a split moment thought to myself "I'm gonna have to walk this" but at about that time a local, neighborhood dog came bounding down the hill and started barking at me like he was going to devour me. That got me peddling faster and then as I was losing steam a 2nd dog came down for a visit. I thought "how am I gonna run a 5K with a dog bite on my ankle?" but fortunately they only barked, but they gave me the motivation to top the hill.

All week I'd thought "that's gonna be awesome!" Well I was wrong. The runway wasn't flat. It was concave. So it was an uphill battle in the crosswind up one side and then back up the other. I was starting to feel a little flustered with my riding. I was only averaging about 14 mph which was about 2.5 to 3 mph slower than I anticipated. You can't really tell from the picture here as I got back to transition that I was exhausted. Thank goodness I had another energy gel waiting for me in transition before I had to run again.

The Final 5K

After I made it to the dismount area for the 2nd transition I really felt a little "off". Like I said earlier, I had not practiced running after riding so I knew I might have an issue with the whole transition thing. And I did. As soon as I jumped off the bike my legs didn't want to go. I knew that I needed to gt my bike back on the rack and get on to the next 5K but as I was walking my bike back to the rack I felt like I was all over the place. I couldn't figure out what was going on with me.
As you can see from the picture here I look a little but "out of it". As I was putting my bike back up on the rack though I realized that my rear wheel was bent. I'm not sure what happened but somehow during the ride I bent the rear wheel. I realized, in my slightly less than coherent state, that the bent rim might have had something to do with my slower time and it definitely had something to do with how weird I felt when I was trying to walk my bike back into transition. The rear wheel kept catching on the brake pads and bike frame so it would drag. When I realized that I was a little upset that my bike was messed up but I was just so happy to realize that I wasn't as bad off as what I thought I was. I mean when I was trying to walk with the bike back into transition I really thought something was wrong with me. Ha! What a relief. So with that I shot my lot energy gel of the morning and chased it down with a little bit of water. I was off for my final 5K. Well, not quite. I had to make a pit stop at the port a toilet, but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

So after the potty break I was back off for the .3 mile transition to the 5K course. It was much easier this time since it was all downhill. I could feel my left hamstrings tightening up with each stride and my calves were hurting. I knew though that if I could just get out to the course then I'd be ok after a mile. As I ran back to the course I ran by the finish line and there were people who had already finished hanging out and having a good time. Mr. Corman had a HUGE cookout and for everybody and I could smell the burgers and grilled chicken and that motivated me to get going so I could come back and eat!

This run was a lonely one. There were only a few people out on the course. I struggled through the first mile but I kept telling myself that if I could just push through that first mile then my legs would adjust and I would finish. And I knew that I wouldn't finish last. So I pushed and pushed and kept going. And I was right. The more I pushed the better my legs felt. I don't know. Perhaps they were numb at this point, but it seemed easier.

When I hit mile 2 I got to the final water table and there were still volunteers there cheering me on. There was a woman who had been running about 200 feet in front of me the whole race. Once of the volunteers yelled at me "run here down! Go catch her!" And then after I passed I heard him yell "Don't let him catch you!" I cracked up. That was so funny for some reason. I heard her yell back "I won't!" So I yelled up at her and said "You got nothing to worry about!" And after that I realized that I was only a mile out. I was actually going to finish this race without one stop to walk. And that thought lifted my spirits and I kept going. All the tightness and tiredness melted away and I was a new man. I took my pullover off because I wanted to cross the finish line and look good. I felt like a champ!

As I neared the last curve of the race I looked to my left and I could see my 2 cheerleaders waving at me: my wife and my great friend, Jen, who rides with me on Monday nites. Jen had worked at the hospital til 4:00 am, went home and got about 2 hours of sleep, and had to be back at work at 1:00 pm Saturday, but she still came out to support me. Now that is awesome! Look at these two beautiful women. I may have been one of the slowest people out there but I can guarantee that I had the best cheerleaders out there hands down. And they were there for the entire race, in the cold, taking pictures and cheering me on. They really kept me going without a doubt.

As I rounded that last curve my wife came over and took my pullover so it wouldn't be wrapped around my waist. Hey everybody wants to look good when they finish a race and you can't do that with a big old sweaty pullover tied around your waist. So Annita took my pullover and Jen snapped my picture as I crossed the finish. I really thought this was the coolest picture because my official time actually did end being 2:32:48. She captured the exact moment that I finished.

Post Race

I was actually surprised at how good I felt post race. Well at least for the first few minutes. After I crossed the finish line I grabbed a banana and a Gatorade. Within just a few minutes my stomach started cramping and I was freezing. It was still only about 42 and very windy. And I was covered with sweat. My cheerleaders grabbed some food and then we sat down and watched the presentation of the awards. As they were announcing the awards everybody started cheering and I realized that the last duathlete was coming in. It was the guy that I had paced with in the first 5K. I walked down to the finish line and gave him a high 5 and talked to him for a few minutes. He complimented me on my bike riding. He told me that he was trying to keep up with me but after about 3 miles he said I was gone. That made me feel pretty good. I told him thanks for pacing me on the first 5K. So we introduced out wives to each other and the was nice. He actually worked at RJ Corman and had also recently lost a lot of weight as well. It's so cool to meet people like that.

After that I started feeling much better. We took a few more pictures and I had some homemade Vanilla ice cream and then had a grilled chicken sandwich. We stayed for a few more minutes and watched some more awards and then decided to head out. I wanted to get out and watch UK v. LSU.

What I Learned

Like every other race I seem to always remember that all I can do is the best that I can do. I'm out there giving it my all and it doesn't matter where I finish. All that matters is that I did it. That sense of accomplishment is amazing. I can't wait to go back next year and crush my time from this year. I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there but next year my time will be 1:50:00 or better. What else did I learn? Relax. Also review the course before the race if you can to get familiar with it. I knew that but just didn't do it. I know that my bike time could have been much better and I know that next year it will be much better. I also learned about transitions. How to set up and just how to do that in general. Now I know for my next multi-sport race what to do and I won't be so nervous about that. I also know that I can cut a lot of time off by making the transitions faster.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my Race Summary. Remember: Dream big, but take small steps. You'll get there. Trust me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Overcoming Self Sabotage

I think that many people understand the concept of what self-sabotage is but very few people ever talk about it. Some of you may have no experience with it and probably won't relate to this blog post. Some of you live with it every day and understand it all too well. Well I'm here to bring this dirty little secret out into the open and address it head on.

I am a self-sabotager. The first step in recovery is to admit it, right? So there, I've admitted it. I'm cured. Okay, maybe not. Or as Lee Corso might say, "Not so fast my friend!"

I haven't always been a self-sabotager. It seems to be a characteristic that I've managed to fine-tune over the past 15 years. When I was in high school, college and even MBA an law school, I seemed to be the type of person who set a goal and then worked to achieve it. And most of the time I was successful in reaching those goals. But once I got out of school and into the real world something changed. I'm not exactly sure what it was that changed me and I'm not sure that it was one identifiable event, but I changed. And now I struggle with self-sabotage on a regular basis.

I guess one of the first things that happened was my divorce. After the divorce I think I felt, for the first time in my life, that I had failed at something. As I said, up to that point I was usually able to set a goal and achieve it. No one ever gets married saying "My goal is to be divorced in 7 years." (Well I think some people go into a marriage with that philosophy but that's an entirely different blog.) With that feeling of failure I think I began to feel that I wasn't worthy of happiness. And that began a downward spiral of self-sabotage. I began to eat and drink to cope with my feelings. I managed to gain so much weight that I was tipping the scales at an impressive 365 pounds. That was up from 205 pounds in 1994.

So now that I am working out diligently and eating healthier and am on the verge of losing 100 pounds, everything is better now right? Not so fast, my friend! I still struggle with self sabotage. Here's a perfect example.

I am very close to being down 100 pounds now. I knew at the beginning of last week that if I ate right and kept a good exercise routine this week then I would reach that goal on Sunday. But on Saturday my wife and I went to the UK football game. Knowing that I had to run 7 miles on Sunday morning I decided not to drink at the game. That was a good call on my part. But for some reason I found myself eating, a lot, and almost uncontrollably, at times. I have no excuse for it. I told my wife this morning that I felt like there was some type of short circuit Saturday in my thinking pattern. While tailgating I had a beef burrito, a chicken quesadilla, a bratwurst, and some cookies. THEN at the game I had a hot dog, peanuts, popcorn, a pretzel and a Sprite!!! I was out of control. And when I woke up Sunday I felt terrible.

So what went wrong? To be honest I don't really know. But all I can think of is that my old habit of self-sabotage kicked in on Saturday to prevent me from reaching my 100 pounds milestone on Sunday. For many people that may sound crazy. To many of you, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The key difference now though is that instead of bemoaning my bad behavior all day Sunday and perpetuating the insanity, I recognized that Saturday had been a problem day for me and I decided that Sunday was going to be a better day. And it was. I went out Sunday evening and set a personal record for distance by running 7 miles. That is the farthest that I've ever run in my life. I am back on track this morning with the eating and working out and I feel great.

I guess the key is realizing that I have the propensity, somewhere deep inside, to commit self-sabotage. I don't know that there are any "warning signs" but I know that as I get closer to bigger and better milestones the tendency for self-sabotage seems to rear its ugly head. All I can do is acknowledge that I have that character trait and continue to believe that I am worthy of success and happiness. I really think that is the key. I'm sure that I will make mistakes and have moments of self-sabotage in the future. But at least now I know that I can work through those moments, pick myself back up, and move forward.

Life will always give us obstacles and we can choose to be afraid of them, turn around and go back to where we came from or we can take them on and move forward. Sure we may trip and fall, but at least we gave it the best shot that we could, and more importantly, we kept moving forward. I realize now that I deserve to be happy and successful. At everything I do I deserve that. And so do you. You just have to believe.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Buffalo Trace Balloon Race 10K-Race Summary

Even though I ran this race on July 30th I thought that it would be appropriate to do a summary of my experience.

Pre Pre-Race

I really wasn't so sure about this race from the beginning. I started my 10K training (Bridge 2 10K) the week after I got back from vacation in June. I was 2 weeks into the training when I ran my 5K as part of my completion of the Couch 2 5K program. I looked around for races that would coincide with my completion of the Bridge 2 10K program and this was the only one that I could find that fit my schedule.

The race is sponsored by the Maysville (KY) Recreation Commission and takes place as part of a large festival in the City of Maysville. The 10K is just one of three events they offer. There was also a 5K and a 20 mile bike ride.

Maysville is only a little over an hour away from Lexington and to be honest I didn't know if I wanted to get up that early to drive to the race. I also knew that I was going to have my kids that weekend and I really didn't want to take time away from being with them. Finally, the race was billed as 5K on road and 5K on a "grass cross-country course". Well I definitely am not a CC runner so I was a little concerned about the race. My wife finally convinced me that I needed to "just do it" but I didn't make that decision until the week of the race. It was too late to pre-register at that time so I called the organizer to make sure that I could still run. I spoke with a lady who assured me that I could register at the race. And then I made the mistake. I asked her if the course was hilly. She just laughed and said "yeah". Then I asked her about this "grass cross-country course" hoping she would respond with "oh it's a beautiful, flat course". Of course she only laughed, again, and said "oh yeah it's hilly. You go up and down, back and forth, sideways and maybe even a little upside down." That conversation got me really worried. And I have to admit that I was psyched out by the thoughts of it. Running on hills on the road is one thing but running on hills in the grass struck fear into my heart. Could I make it? Should I do it? I decided to give it a try.


I decided to make the weekend more fun for everyone so I thought it would be nice to go spend the weekend with my parents. They live in Eastern Kentucky about an hour from Maysville. I thought it would be nice because my wife could go with me to the race and the kids could visit with my parents. I love it when a plan comes together.

So we packed everything up on Friday evening and went to my parents' cabin. I love it out there. They live out in the woods close to a lake and it is so peaceful. I always sleep like a baby when I'm there so I thought this would be good race strategy for me too. We got there a little later than I had hoped but still had time to visit. I had packed all of my race fuel, water bottles and belt, and anything else that I could think of that I might need. I was set for a great race.

At about 4:30 am I was awakened by a loud rumble of thunder. I went to pick up my phone to check my Radarscope app and realized that the outlet that I had plugged my phone into didn't work because the wall switch was turned off. My phone was dead. I guess it was a good thing that I heard the thunder because otherwise I would have overslept. I guess that's the trouble with using your phone as your alarm. You're only one dead battery away from a Seinfeld "Jean Paul" episode.

I struggled to get back to sleep but had no luck. So I laid in bed until about 5:30 and then decided to go ahead and get up to get ready. I knew that I needed to eat but I didn't want to eat a big breakfast like I did for my 1st 5K. So I had a piece of toast with natural peanut butter and a banana. I also decided to skip the latte. Especially since my Saturday morning run the week before had been so tough and my heart rate had elevated into the 160's. I did not want a repeat of that situation.

I then got my running stuff on and my wife and I took off to Maysville. We left at about 6:30 and got to Maysville around 7:30. We stopped at the local Hardee's so I could use the restroom and then we headed to the race site. I didn't know what type of facilities would be available at the course and the last thing that I wanted to have happen was a "Code Brown" about 3 1/2 miles into the race.

When we arrived I looked at the grass course and instantly felt nervous about the race. I had no worries about the road portion but the grass cross country course still struck fear into my heart. But I was here and I was ready.

The Race

The first thing that I noticed was that there was not a lot of people. I estimate that there was only about 40-50 people there. It looked like half of them were little kids. I knew that I'd have to trip a lot of those little buggers to keep them from beating me. It was an interesting mix of people. Young, old, men, women, children, fit and not-so-fit. I knew that I would just need to run my race at my pace and I would be ok. It was a beautiful morning as the sun was just coming up. It was pretty humid but wasn't too hot yet. That would change later.

The starter sounded the horn and like a laser beam I was off. Ok. Not a laser beam. More like a slow moving water buffalo, but I was off, nonetheless. I was a little tight in my legs but I was so happy to see that the first portion was downhill. The faster runners (all the little kids) took off and were out of sight pretty quickly. I was hanging out in the back of the small pack and was with the fast walkers. I was ok with that. And then I heard my Cyclemeter app tell me that my pace was in the 11 minute range. I knew that was too fast for me, but I couldn't stand the thought of being outpaced by walkers. So I kept going.

After the initial downhill, we started a long, slow uphill. I slowed my pace and managed to lose the walkers up the hill. I actually passed a runner. Now he was about 80 years old, but I still passed him. I felt great even though my pace was faster than normal. But that is what a race is all about, right?

I topped the hill and leveled out at about the 0.75 mile mark I could see a turn around in the distance. I thought to myself that it looked to be about 1/2 a mile away. And then it happened. I looked to my left and saw this little girl, probably about 7 years old, just bouncing and smiling. her little feet and legs just kicking away with little to no effort, running TOWARD me. She had already reached the turnaround and was already coming back at me. I couldn't believe it. That truly was disheartening. But I kept on and reached the turnaround. I didn't grab any water because I had the enormo-bottle strapped to me in my stylish hip pack.

After the turnaround I was pretty much running by myself. I had my favorite playlist blasting in my ears and I was running my own race. At about 30 minutes I grabbed a couple of my GU Pomegranate Blueberry Chomps for a quick energy boost and some water. I also had a small fuel bottle filled with concentrated Gatorade to keep me going.

As I approached the 3 mile mark I noticed the people directing me to the grass. For a brief moment I thought "oh no, you gave me the wrong colored number. I'm actually only doing the 5K". But I grabbed a water and hit the cross country portion. "This is easy" I thought. Yeah. It was downhill. The course was just the side of a hill that had a 5-6 foot wide path mowed in it. It's like someone went to Farmer Brown and said "Hey we'd like to run in your field. Do you mind?" After I made it to the bottom of the hill I noticed that there were members of the high school cross country team out directing me where to go. Then I realized that I would have to climb the hill. But not a straight climb. Oh no. But a long back and forth as I gradually worked my way up the hill. I felt like I was in the Tour de France on the Alpes d'Huez only I had no bicycle. I remember thinking to myself "will this ever end?" The sun was really coming up at this point and it was getting hotter and I was starting to feel the effects of the heat and humidity. My pace had slowed to about 15 minutes per mile. My brand new Brooks Beasts were soaked from the morning dew on the grass and were covered in fresh cut field grass, which was really more like straw.

After I topped the hill I thought that it had to get easier. And it did. I ended up being directed into the woods. It was shady and downhill. That felt great. I was a little nervous about running on the muddy surface. I figured with my luck I'd fall, roll over the hillside, and into the pond, and never be heard from again. But I made it out of the woods and began the last 1.5 miles of the course.

I ran past a tranquil looking pond that smelled like dead fish and immediately began my ascent up another hill. And then I could see two other runners in front of me. I thought for sure that I could catch them. Then I realized that this filed also contained numerous back and forths and they were too far ahead of me. Then it hit me. I was DEAD LAST. I tried to stay focused on getting through the race though but that terrible thought kept coming back to me. I hit 5 miles and truly wanted to stop. I had never run more than 60 minutes straight and at 5 miles and about 1:07 hours in I was spent. I drank some water, had a few more Chomps, and began to wonder how long it would take someone to find me if I just sat down. And then I wondered if I twisted my ankle how would the little cross country girls carry me out. I figured they'd have to chopper me out. It's funny all of the crazy stuff your mind starts thinking of when you're hot and exhausted.

I made it back across the pond and saw two of the adult volunteers standing on the other side. One of the guys told me that I had about 1/2 a mile to go. As I passed him he started running with me. He was the cross country coach at Mason County High School. I told him that he didn't have to run with me but he said he'd like to. So we ran. And I will tell you that I'm glad that he did because I would not have made it otherwise. That was an awesome Random Act of Kindness that he did for me.

As we neared the finish line I was shocked. There was still about 30 people waiting there all cheering for me. Yes I was last, but I had done it. I wanted to go really fast but I was absolutely spent. I dragged myself across the finish line and saw my wife waiting for me. I was so happy to see her and know that it was all over.

Post Race

After the race I went straight to the car. I was so exhausted and hot. I dumped a bottle of water on my head and a I sat on the trunk of the car. I was so tired that I had to put my arms on my knees but when I did I couldn't breathe deep enough and I started getting dizzy. I really thought that I was gonna go down. I ended up sitting down by the rear tire of the car in the shade and leaned back up against the tire. I poured more water on my head and could breathe much easier in that position. I started to cool down and started to feel better. I grabbed my post race banana and my chocolate milk that I had in the cooler (my perfect recovery snack) and changed clothes in the car. I then walked back over to the awards and cheered for all of those who won their divisions. I asked them if there was a last place finishers award and that got a big laugh from everyone. (I later realized that the reason everyone was still there cheering me on was because they couldn't do the awards until I finished-ha!)

Final Thoughts

I'm happy that I successfully completed the race. It was my first 10K ever. Would I do it again? Not this particular race, but yes I will do another 10K at some point. But for now, the half marathon training is underway and I can't wait to conquer the Iron Horse on Oct. 23rd.

Thanks for reading and remember: Dream Big but take small steps!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Great Buffalo Chase 5K-Race Recap

Today I ran my first 5K since 1994. For some people that is really no big deal. For me, I can't even begin to express what it means. I'm not going to re-tell my story for this post but the past 5 months have been an incredible journey for me and today was just something of a culmination of that journey.

Pre Pre-Race

I began my Pre Pre-Race strategy almost 3 months ago when I downloaded the Couch 2 5K app. I had already lost some weight from my healthier eating and I had been walking for almost a month. I decided that I wanted to run again like I used to do when I was in law school. I did some research and felt that the C25K was my best choice. I used the app over a 9 week period and was able to go from running only 60 second intervals to running a complete 5K in a little over 42 minutes. I have since moved on to Bridge to 10K program and have completed the first 2 weeks, but even though I had been able to run 5K on my own I had not actually run a race. When I downloaded the C25K app I immediately searched for a race that would fit into my schedule for finishing the program and not interfere with my family vacation. The Great Buffalo Chase 5K at the Buffalo Trace Distillery was my answer. And I figured if everything fell apart I'd be in the perfect location to drown my sorrows. I also decided that I wanted to run a 12:00 minute mile as my pace. I'm not sure where I came up with that number but it sounded good to me.


I decided that Friday was going to be my last running day and that I was just going to do nothing for Saturday and Sunday. I thought that it might make the run today a little easier. You know I believe that I have a limited amount of awesomesauce so I didn't want to waste it over the weekend. I also spent some time stretching, especially my left foot. I have Plantar Fasciitis and when that tendon tightens up it can be very difficult to even walk. So I spent quite a bit of time stretching and icing my foot hoping to keep the tightness and pain to a minimum. I was also pretty good about my diet. I didn't want to eat anything that might create any issues for me so I stuck to what I would normally eat. I did have a very tough time going to sleep last nite. I went to bed about 10:00 thinking that I would need to get up around 6 to have time to eat, stretch and drive the 35 minutes to Frankfort. I wasn't able to get to sleep until after midnight. I knew that I would be tired but I was really feeling nervous and excited about the race. It was kinda like the Disney World commercial where the little boy tells his mom "I'm too excited to sleep". As weird as it may sound I felt the same way last nite.

Race Morning

I planned on getting up at at about 6:00 so I would have time to eat a little, make my latte (I'm hooked), stretch, and then drive to Frankfort. My wife decided to do the race with me (walking) so I knew that I'd have her to drive so I could chill out on the ride over. I ended up waking up at 4:45 and couldn't go back to sleep. Again, I think it was just a combination of nerves and excitement. Okay, maybe it also had something to do with the fact that someone was snoring just a little bit. I'm not going to say who it was but it was only me and my wife in the bedroom and it wasn't me.

So I ended up getting up at 5:45. I had read several things about not drinking coffee before you run to prevent the dreaded 'Code Brown" mid-race. I decided to go ahead and make a latte because I have one every morning. It is part of my morning ritual so I didn't want to deviate too much from my normal routine. I had also done some research about what to eat pre-race but after I got up I decided to go ahead and eat an omelette like I do every morning, with a banana and some Orange Juice. I also decided to have two pieces of whole wheat toast with all natural peanut butter. Doesn't that look so good? And I did arrange the banana under the 2 pieces of toast just so it looked like it was smiling at me, telling me to go out and run the best race that I could run. I was a little concerned that it might be too big of a breakfast but the race wasn't until 8:00 and I was eating at 6:00 so I figured that I would need the extra energy to get me through. Healthy eating, after all, does lead to the creation of much more awesomesauce. After my breakfast I decided to go ahead and take a shower just to follow my normal routine. It really felt good to get in and get warmed up. Again, I was beginning to slowly realize that the more of my "normal" routine I followed, the more relaxed I was feeling.

We headed out for Frankfort, Kentucky at about 6:50 which was about 10-15 minutes later than what I had hoped but I decided that I wasn't going to let it bother me. I knew we'd make it there in time and we did. As we pulled in I could see all the people getting out of there cars, some stretching, some running to warm up, and others just relaxing and having a good time. When we got out of the car we immediately ran into one of my wife's best friends, Scott Hamilton, and his wife Carlita and her daughter, Erin. That really made me feel so much more relaxed and I really started to just take it all and in and enjoy it.

We made our way over to the Guest Shop and there was no line for those who were pre-registered. We immediately got our numbers and t-shirts and headed back out to the car to put the t-shirts in the car. No. We did not wear the race t-shirt at the actual race. I may not have run a race in 17 years but I know better than that. So I got my number pinned on and I felt like I was ready to go. The Beast was feeling a little antsy and was ready to run. As you can see, I made sure to wear my best cheesy smile for my pre-race picture. And yes I realize that I am dressed all in black. It's kinda my thing. I'm comfortable being known as the "Johnny Cash" of runners.

After we got our numbers on we made it back over to the porta-potties and then they announced for the runners to line up. It was still 15 minutes until race time but I was ready to go. It was then that I saw someone looking at me and he said "Hey Beast". It was Corey Q., one of my friends from the website that I use to track my training called DailyMile.com. It was so cool to actually get to meet someone that I've talked to online but never had the chance to meet. After meeting Corey, my wife and I made our way back to her friend Scott and we stood there and chit-chatted a little and waited with nervous anticipation for the start of the race. I went ahead and got my Cyclemeter app set up to track my race and my Nike + app running to track my run as well. Finally, I popped my Bose earbuds in and hit the "Heavy" playlist on my iPod and waited for the gun to sound.

Race Time

So with the announcement from the bull horn (I was bummed there was no gun) I was off for my first 5K in 17 years. I had forgotten the feeling of running around other people. I was about halfway deep in the pack but knew that I'd quickly drop back once I reached my pace. It was such an exhilarating experience. I felt the instant desire to run faster than I normally did. I didn't want to be left behind. And I noticed that when I would see a guy, or woman, who looked bigger than me, pass me, I would try to speed up thinking "I can't let him (or her) pass me". And when the little kids would lap me I would really feel that urge to go faster. Fortunately, I quickly settled into what I felt was a comfortable pace. It was such a peaceful run. The weather was overcast and humid, but it wasn't hot. I was really worried that the sun would be out and that it would get too hot on top of the humidity. I also was concerned about the general course. I had looked at the map and had actually driven over earlier in the week to try to see the route just to see if there were many hills. Fortunately it was just very small inclines (although they seemed to go on forever at times) but no hills like what I run on my normal route here at home.

The small crowd quickly spread out and by one mile I was in my own space. I had the occasional walker who would run, pass me, walk, let me pass them, and then run and pass me. There was one lady in particular who did this for about the first 2 miles. I have to admit that it got a little old but after about 2 1/4 miles she couldn't keep up with me so I lost her.

The course itself was beautiful. It was along tree lined roads, past water, over bridges, and along creeks, all on the grounds of one of the best Bourbon Distillers in Kentucky, Buffalo Trace.

I have to admit that it was a bit disheartening when I reached around the 1 mile marker and I looked up and saw guys already running back at me. As I continued along I saw my wife's friend, Scott. We exchanged "air" fist bumps and went on our way. I also saw Corey on his return route. He was looking strong. I caught up with Scott's wife, Carlita, and we waved. Then I left her in my dust. (sorry Carlita, I just wanted to say that). Then on my return trip I saw my wife. She took the picture above. Yes it does look like I was walking, but I swear I was running. It's my Forrest Gump cross-country shuffle. You know in the movie where he decides to run back and forth across the country and he's just out there slowly moving along. That's my stride. I'm comfortable with that at this point. And it works for me.

After I reached the 2 mile marker the crowd had really cleared out. It was like running by myself here at home which I really enjoy. I kept hearing my pace from the Nike and Cyclemeter apps at around 12:20. I quickly started doing the math n my head as to how fast I'd have to run my 3rd mile to average 12:00 minutes per mile, but I quickly realized that I wasn't going to be able to maintain that fast a pace in my last mile. I was just very happy that I was averaging a 12:20. That was the fastest consistent pace that I had ever run.

As I got to the 3 mile marker I was beginning to wonder if the race was ever going to end. Honestly, it seemed pretty long. But when I could see the finish line and hear the small crowd cheering, I knew that I had done it. I had a brief desire to run faster but then I realized that there was no need to do that and risk injuring myself. I just continued to run my race. And yes several people passed me in the final 50 feet trying to get their "fast" run on and I was fine with that. I finished and I was thrilled. I was tired, and soaked in sweat, but I finished.

Post Race

After I finished, I went to the Gatorade coolers and also got a banana. I also grabbed a water so I could go back and meet my wife. I ran into Corey Q. again and met his wife and daughters and I also talked to Scott, Carlita and Erin for a minute. Then I headed back out on the course to find Annita. I hadn't made it that far and I looked up and saw her jogging around the bend. I was so excited to see her. She is not a runner but she was giving it her best. I gave her the water I brought out for her and she walked the rest of the way in. It was so much fun to have her there with me. I was proud of her for knocking it out.

After we talked to Scott and Carlita a little more, I grabbed an oatmeal bar and another Gatorade, and we headed back for Lexington.


Today I ran a 5K. Again, for many people that's no big deal. For me, I can't express how I feel. I hope my blog has given you some insight as to what it means to me. I haven't done this in 17 years. I was in my 20's. This race is the culmination of 5 months of hard work on my part but it is also just the beginning of a much longer journey. My hope is to run a 10K at the end of July and I've signed up for a half marathon on Oct. 23rd. I hope to run the Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville next April. Last, I am going to do everything that I can to prepare myself to compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Louisville next August. Those are very big dreams. But this small taste of success that I have had inspires me to accomplish more. And I know that I can accomplish anything that I set my mind to. And so can you.

Dream big and start small. Bestir the Beast!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Things That Drive The Beast

Last nite as I was running my Week 1 Day 2 session of the Bridge 2 10K program I began to forget about all of the things going on around me and got lost in thought about why I do what I do. I was soaked in sweat to the point that it looked like someone had placed a small fountain atop my head and turned it on, I could feel the slight twinges in my right heel from the Plantar Fasciitis with every stride I took, and my left hip reminded me with each step that I'm not 26 years old anymore. But all of the issues faded into the background of my mind as I began to wonder "why am I doing all of this?" Throughout my 40 minute running adventure, I realized that I had several different things driving me and I felt that it would be appropriate to share with you The Things That Drive The Beast.

First and foremost, I want to be healthy. After I graduated from law school some 17 years I quickly allowed myself to fall out of the exercise routine that I had worked so hard to establish. While in school I used to run and bicycle daily. I was in the best shape of my life at 6'2" and 205 pounds. Over the next 17 years I managed to balloon to 365 pounds. It wasn't something that happened suddenly, but rather was a gradual process of yearly increase. In February of this year, after attending a Super Bowl Party, where I drank a little too much beer and ate a little too much food, I ended up getting sick. I was sick both after the party and the next day. I knew that I could not continue to live my life like this. I had already been diagnosed with sleep apnea and high blood pressure, and I have my suspicions that I was borderline diabetic as well. I was also beginning to feel pains in the upper right side of my stomach. To be honest, I believe that it was my liver that was enlarged as a result of my unhealthy eating and occasional drinking. Combine that with the fact that I've had three maternal uncles pass away prematurely (2 in their early 50's and one in his early 60's--all suffered from adult onset diabetes) and I knew that my life was going to be prematurely cut shore unless I made some major changes. So I did. And I feel great. I feel healthier than I have felt in years, both physically and mentally. I can't imagine at this point ever returning to where I was before. I know that this will be a lifelong battle for me but it's one I'm willing to take on. And besides, I promised my wife 90 years together when we married in 2000. I'm not sure that I'll be able to make it 122 years old, but I know that with every step I take and every healthy bite I take, I'm increasing my chances.

Second, I want to be a role model for my children. I want my children to be able to see their father as a healthy, fit, active person, rather than someone who sits on the couch and watches life pass by. I don't want my children to suffer the issues that I've faced and the embarrassment of being too big to fasten a seat belt on an airplane (which I have had happen in the past). I want my legacy to be more than being a good father, or being a kind person. I want my children to want to live a healthy, active lifestyle and I want them to say that it's because of their father. I want their healthy, active lifestyles to be a continuation of what they have seen from me, so that that their children will do the same.

Third, I want to be an example to others. I want to inspire and motivate others who may feel that life has passed them by that they too can make the positive changes that lead to a happier, healthier life. A friend of mine from high school, Anita Holbrook Mills, is someone who has inspired me along my journey. Anita allowed her weight to balloon to almost 400 pounds when she decided it was time to do something about it almost 2 years ago. On her doctor's advice she started eating smaller meals more often and started walking. In 2 years she has lost over 230 pounds. She has been featured on the Rachel Ray show, on CNN.com, and most recently in Women's World Magazine. She truly is an inspiration to me and when I think that my journey to health and fitness is impossible, I simply think of Anita's battle and her victory and it inspires me to keep on going. I want to be that type of inspiration to others. I truly feel like my purpose in this life is to help others and if I can help one person change his or her life through sharing my journey, the ups and the downs, then I have fulfilled my purpose.

Fourth, I believe that it honors God. I'm sure that I may lose some of you here, but I strongly believe that living a healthy, active lifestyle is simply another measure of showing my love for a God that has blessed me with so much. I read Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" in 2006. I've actually read it several times since then. In the book, Rick challenges the reader to develop a life statement. Something that summarizes what your purpose is in this life. After much thought I came up with "Love.Live.Lead". Love God, Love Others, Live like Christ, and Lead Others to a Relationship With God. And while I've tried to hold true that that mantra for the past 5 years I realized that by being unhealthy I was not doing the best that I could do. By making decisions that affected my health and shortened my life, I truly believe that I was telling God that although I appreciated my life and the many blessings that I have, I didn't appreciate it enough to want to live as long as I could. Like I said before, I believe that my purpose here on this Earth is to help as many people as I can in any and every way possible. How arrogant and irresponsible of me to make decisions that could cut my life short and therefore leave my mission unfulfilled. I believe that by making my lifestyle changes that I am doing all I can to honor God and to complete the mission that He has charged me with. My only hope in this world is that once I die I will hear "well done my good and faithful servant".

Finally, I want to be an Ironman. I know that sounds crazy coming from a guy who is 43 years old and still weighs as much as an NFL Defensive Lineman. But I have been fascinated with the Ironman competitions for years. I'm not sure what it is about them that I am so fascinated with. I have a competitive spirit, but I'm not a competitive person. I know that sounds strange, but let me explain. I always want to do my best. Not because I want to be the best, but because I want to be "just as good". When I was younger, my older brother was 3 years ahead of me in school. So when I was a Freshman in high school he was a Senior. I had all of the same teachers that he had year after year and all of the same advanced classes. I was never able to match his grades although I tried very hard to do so. He was, and is, just a naturally more intelligent person than I am. I never wanted to beat his grades, I just wanted to do "just as good". I think this attitude has carried over into my life in almost every aspect. I'm not concerned with beating people, which is strange for an attorney, but I want to be considered just as good. So the competitive spirit that I embrace is really just a competition with myself. To prove to myself that I am just as good as anybody else at anything. When I was reading Rick Warren's book in 2006, I was also finishing reading the entire Bible. I had accepted a challenge to read the Bible in 90 days and decided to spend the last 40 also reading Warren's book (which has 40 chapters--one for each day). I also decided that I was going to do a juice fast for those 40 days. I would eat no solid food for the 40 day period, but rather only drink vegetable and fruit juice and water for that period. I had never done a fast before but had read quite a bit about them. And although the decision to do the fast was religious based, it truly became a competition with myself to see if I could make it through 40 days. I was successful and it was an amazing experience. So much so that I did it all again in 2007. So maybe that is why the Ironman Triathlon appeals to me so much. It is an opportunity to challenge myself to the limits of my physical and mental abilities. I know that I'm not going to win the race, or even my age division, but simply doing it would be a huge victory for me. I've already had a small taste of this success when I completed the Couch 2 5K program this past Sunday nite. I had challenged myself to complete the program in 9 weeks and I did it. I never walked when I was supposed to run during the entire 9 weeks and on the last day I pushed myself to run for 42 minutes straight just to be able to say that I ran 3.1 miles, even though my longest run to that point had only been 30 minutes. I can't even begin to describe how empowering it is to have completed that program. I challenged myself, I pushed myself harder than I have in years, and I accomplished a task that only 4 months ago would have been absolutely impossible for me to accomplish.

Those are The Things That Drive The Beast. And now you know why I do what I do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Welcome to "Bestir the Beast"

I've had several people recently tell me that I should start a blog. To be honest I used to blog but did so infrequently. I often times felt that the things that I wanted to say were merely modified statements about how good of a person I thought I was. I don't know that many people even read the blog and I eventually lost interest in writing new posts. Again, there seems to be a certain level of narcissism involved in blogging.

But in February of this year I undertook a radical new outlook on my life. I have spent the majority of my adult life overweight and had really resigned myself to the belief that I would always be that way. That at the age of 42 it would be too difficult for me to make the necessary changes to improve my life. I was starting to see the physical deterioration of my body as a result of my weight and I knew that if I continued on the path that I was on that I probably wouldn't make it beyond my 50's, if I was lucky enough to make it that far.

So on the day after the Super Bowl (yes I waited long enough to get one more good party under my belt) I made the decision to start eating healthier. Initially I cut out all refined sugar, all breads, pastas, and rice, as well as all fried foods and soft drinks. I started eating fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins. I also switched to drinking diet soft drinks and increased my water intake. After about 3 weeks, I cut out soft drinks altogether. In my fourth week, I stopped eating salad dressings and replaced them with extra virgin olive oil. I also switched from eating almonds that were roasted and salted to eating "raw" almonds. In week 6 I also gave up alcohol. Now I'm not going to lie and say that I don't drink, but I very seldom drink beer or liquor anymore. If I choose to have a drink I generally will have red wine.

It was around this time that I finally stepped on the scales to see what my "lifestyle change" had done for me. I knew that my clothes were fitting better but I didn't know how I was doing weight-wise. I was down almost 35 pounds. I was amazed. And I felt great. At that point I decided that it was time to begin exercising.

I started out with very moderate exercise. I would walk around my neighborhood in the evening, sometimes with my wife, or at work on my lunch break. I started looking at applications for my iPhone to help me with the new exercise routine. I discovered Cyclemeter from Bluefin Software and I was hooked. I think a later blog dedicated to the software that I use will be a good idea so I'll explain more about that app at a later date. I also found a website called "DailyMile" which is like Facebook for people who work out. It allows you to track your exercise and post comments, pics, and videos. You can "friend" people and support them as they work out too. It is a great website and has provided me with a lot of motivation and encouragement.

After about a month of walking I decided that I wanted to get back into running. Now I say "back into running" because when I was in law school I started running and lost a lot of weight. I was very active for the last two years of law school but then after graduation real life set in and I lost my motivation to stay fit. I found an app called "Couch 2 5K" designed to help a couch potato like me go from no running to being able to complete a 5K in 9 weeks. I started the program and followed the workouts to the tee. I finished Couch 2 5K last nite by running a 5K in 41:59. Yes that one second makes all the difference in the world to me. Ok. Not really but I was amazed that I was able to run for 42 minutes and also run that far.

Along the way I have had many people tell me that I inspire them. I find that to be very humbling because I'm just an out of shape guy trying to change his life for the better. But today it struck me that if by blogging about my journey I can influence or encourage one person to change their lifestyle then why not. And I may still get the chance to say all the great things about myself that there are to say as well. Ok. Maybe not.

With that in mind, I decided to start "Bestir the Beast". During the process of learning more about running I began looking for shoes that would provide better support and stability for a big guy like me. I found a shoe from Brooks called the "Beast". So I bought the shoes and adopted the nickname. And I have discovered that there is a Beast inside of me that is longing to get out. One that wants to be an Ironman. Is it possible? I think so and until my body tells me otherwise that is my goal. My healthy lifestyle has "besitrred the Beast" within and I enjoy unleashing him daily.

So far I am down 65 pounds and I have a long way to go. This journey is far from over. But I want to share this with others in the hopes that I can continue to inspire others and likewise, so that I can be inspired. I am going to start a new program tonite called Bridge to 10K which is a 6 week program designed to get me ready to run a 10K. I have already signed up for "The Great Buffalo Chase" on July 4th in Frankfort (a 5K run) and I have also signed up to the run the "Iron Horse Half Marathon" (yes 13.1 miles) on Oct. 23rd. Yes, that is a HUGE goal to accomplish especially for a guy who was just able to run a 5K last nite for the first time in 17 years. But that's okay. I'll make it. And I hope to share my journey with you.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you feel inspired to leave me a comment.

And remember: Dream big and start small.