Lowering the bar

Yesterday, for breakfast, I had a 1/2 bowl of oatmeal (as I often do, here at work).  With brown sugar, of course.  But for lunch, I went out with friends and had a huge, massive, big, oversized cheeseburger.

For a couple of weeks, I’ve been really struggling to break the 184 morning weigh-in.  Really, the only thing I’ve done is quit Dr. Pepper + exercise.  I haven’t really dieted or changed my eating too much…except for the last week.  I put the screws down and started halving some of my portions and just snacking less.

For dinner, last night, I had a slice of pizza and called it good.

This morning, my weight was 183.5 after my run.  I’m thrilled.  Now, on to victory (180 lbs).  Then, on to further victory (170 lbs).

100 days of living without soda

Me and the man who inspired my running (coincidentally, he is also the same man who gave me my first Dr Pepper.)
-Dad and me after we’d run down to Utah Lake.

Just over 100 days ago, I made the decision to quit drinking Dr Pepper.

A few days before that, my family had spent time in St George and were eating lunch, apparently right after the St George 1/2 Ironman had completed. Athletes with rock-hard calves and chiseled jaws were milling about, refueling their bodies with well-earned food.

I sat in my chair and watched, marveling at the specter of it all. I felt a little down about it. I had let my own body go. Sure, I could still run marathons and do triathlons, but only to finish. There was not a competitive bone in me. I was simply participating in races, without proper training or nutrition. I was passively gathering bibs and t-shirts from these respective races, but wasn’t too proud of what I’d accomplished. What I’d accomplished wasn’t something I’d work hard for.

My 5′ 11″ frame was over 200 pounds and the trend wasn’t altering its course. According to the blood pressure station at my work, I was in “prehypertension” mode, with a blood pressure of 137 (if memory serves). When I went on runs, I was exhausted, not able to much after the run was complete. Forget going for a walk with my family afterward, or much anything else.

Something in me sparked while we sat at that table. I made a decision to get my body back into shape. This would not be one of my half-assed (I cannot think of a better word), lazy commitments to health. I was going to really do something, here.

So 100 days ago, I sat on the couch in my living room, drinking the last five (not a misprint) Dr Peppers that I had in my downstairs office refrigerators. Actually, I used to drink (on a moderate date), about 12 cans of Dr Pepper. On Saturday night, I would take stock of what was left in the fridge. Because I don’t shop on Sunday (I’m LDS), I knew that I needed to have enough to get me through a full 24 hours. A 24 pack of Dp usually (usually) sufficed.

I was hooked to Dr Pepper, and I don’t say this lightly. I needed Dr Pepper, nearby, during my waking hours of life. I would drink them right up to when I went to bed (sometimes 10 minutes before) and I’d already had two the next morning, before 9 am. Sometimes I could hear my heart pounding in my ears as I tried to get to sleep at night. This was a huge problem, that I was just beginning to cop to.

So it was, that I sat on that same couch where I’d consumed hundreds (this is a conservative number) and poured my last Dr Pepper. It was delicious. And then it was gone.

I survived two weeks of horrible headaches and cravings. I snapped at family members and cut off work conversations with friends, only because I felt that I was going crazy without The Stuff. I would never try to compare quitting something like Dr Pepper with someone who is trying to quit smoking, drugs, etc. But after this experience, I would never trivialize it, either. It was a little bit of a personal hell for me.

However, things have improved. I run or swim, almost every day. When I’m at work, I walk twice a day, each walk for a mile. Most days I average around 7-8 miles. My weight is down to 184.5 and it’s still going down at an acceptable rate. If things continue, I’ll be at a target weight of 170, by the time I run the Escalante Marathon in October, here in Utah. My blood pressure has ground-rocketed (the opposite of skyrocketed) to a staggering 110/71, which is great. I can actually feel the difference. My heart no longer pounds in my ears as I try to sleep.

So let’s take a look at the post that I put up after I decided to quit my bad, bad ways:

1. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to lift my knee to my chest (or at least be able to tie my shoes by lifting my leg, rather than crouching down to it.

100 days later: This is now not a problem. I balance better, can tie my shoes any which way I please.

2. I can’t sprint (or at least run an 8 MPM) for one mile, anymore.

100 days later: I can now run an 8:01 pace for five miles (I just did, today.)

3. I drink at LEAST 6 12 oz cans of DP a day (some days, many more.)

100 days later: I haven’t had Dr Pepper in 100 days, plus I’m drinking an unholy amount of water, now. And it actually tastes good to me. Especially the 0% Propel. 🙂

4. My teeth are going to fall out.

100 days later: The verdict is still out on this. Hopefully this crisis has been averted.

5. I weigh 30 pounds too much.

100 days later: Now I only weigh 15 pounds too much. More to come on this in another post.

6. Races are much more enjoyable when you can actually compete with yourself. When you are just completing them, it’s not nearly as satisfying as shattering a PR. (Note to Brett C: A PR is a “personal record”.

100 days later: I haven’t been able to race in my new condition, but I’m really looking forward to it.

7. When I sing, I need to breathe more (gasping, maybe?)

100 days later: I have plenty of oxygen, now. I can sing and breathe like I used to, when I was in high school (or at least, I can breath that way, now.)

8. I can’t talk while I run, anymore.

100 days later: This morning, I ended up running a mile or so with a friend, who I talked with. She ran a 7:45 minute per mile pace, so it was difficult to keep up the conversation. But still, I know that this has improved, as well.

9. At this rate diabetes is probably making its way into my future.

100 days later: *gulp* I hope not.

10. I don’t look like a runner. I miss looking like a runner.

100 days later: I sort of look like the old runner-me, again. It’s refreshing.

11. Nowadays, I subconsciously walk around with my stomach partially pulled in. That means I think I’m fat.

100 days later: I’ve stopped doing this. I still have a little gut, but it’s not as alarmingly embarrassing to me. In 15 less pounds, this will be gone.

So this is my report on 100 days of having quit Dr Pepper. I still love this drink. But I’m afraid that if I have one, I’ll have many, many more and end up right where I was. So, for now, I’ll be abstaining from soda.

Maybe in another 100 days…

Sub 8's, for the first time in a long time

This morning, I knew what I had to do.  My calves still hurt from Tuesday’s fast run, but after a conversation with my sister, Alana, I knew I had to pour it on.  Alana is a fast runner and has always been a good example of how a runner should be.  She generally watches her food intake (more so than me, at least) and is very dedicated to faster running.

But I told Alana that I needed to run faster.  She said something, jokingly, about worrying about me training.  But it gave me an idea:  Why can’t I run with my fast siblings?  Don’t I have the same genes, here?

So I’m giving it a go.

When I woke up, I knew this run was going to hurt.  I needed to run faster than Tuesday’s 8:08 pace, the culprit of my sore calves.

I started off faster than I had on Tuesday.  I didn’t allow for too much warm up.  I ran for about 30 seconds, at a 9 minute pace, then ramped up.  Eventually I got to a 7:45 pace (wow!) and kept going.  I concentrated on not saving energy for later.  I’m guilty of holding back, so that I have energy for a return trip.  This time I challenged my energy and let it flow.

When I was almost down to the halfway point, I saw my neighbor, who had just merged into my path from a road that runs along the Provo River Trail.  I’m not sure she saw me and I didn’t want to spook her, so I stay back just a little, waiting for my watch to hit 2.5 miles.

As soon as it did, I turned around and prepared for pain.  I was already pretty tired.  But I kept pushing, forcing my watch to read a 7:45 pace again and kept going.  There was a couple of minutes time where I found new energy and didn’t feel too tired.  But that soon passed and I had to really work to keep my pace from going over 8’s.

A mile before I was to end this misery, my watch read something like 32:00.  It was going to be close.  But I felt that if I kept an 8 minute per mile pace, I’d be able to beat 40 minutes.

This did not happen.  I pushed hard, and kept my pace down, but somewhere my calculations were off.  I finished at 40:17.  I have such a hard time of estimating what I need to do, when I’m tired.  When I run that hard, my brain functions at about 20%, it seems.  Or 25%.  I don’t know.  I’m still tired, so it would be hard to get some good numbers on that.

All in all, I’m very proud of this run.  My average pace was 7:55, 13 seconds per mile faster than Tuesday.  I had to stop at one point to tie my shoe, which probably cost me a bit.  But I also could have pushed harder when I had that little energy spurt, which would have probably put me under 40.

Live and learn.

Swimming faster in open water

I’m one of the slowest open water swimmers that I know.  I want to get faster.  For many reasons.  I want to maximize my travel distance in open water, be home faster for my wife, and to just be able to compete a bit in open water swims, as well as triathlons.

This article, called “Developing World Class Open Water Swim Mechanics”, gave me the following to work on:

1.  Faster stroke count.

2.  Balance:  Balance is an issues if I can’t swim 50 yards, pretty easily, without using my legs.

3.  Missed catch:  Make sure that you actually have a catch.

4.  Follow through on wrist backend.  Wrist needs to “crack” to push as much water away, as possible.

5. Fingertips enter the water first, then pull down and to the side (no ‘S’ shape pull)

6.  Only one goggle eyepiece exits the water.  Minimal rotation.

7.  Tipped wrist and high elbow for entering the water.  “Spear into the water”  !!!
– Elbow higher than the wrist at all times.
– Fingertips pointing straight down after catch initiation
– Bent elbow on pull (don’t dig deep into the water)
– No ‘S’ shape on pull (just go straight back, with a bent elbow)

The fish are jumping, but I am walking

Facing East, down the Provo River trail, near the trailhead.



Well, the 6 am wake up is working out, pretty well.  It’s forced me out of bed and into a run.

I have three sets of clothes laid out, each night before I go to sleep (which is around 11 pm, these days.)  I have the clothes I’m going to wear the next day, my running clothes and a set of swimming gear.  That way, I have no excuses.  I wake up and can be running in 10 minutes or less.

But this morning, my legs hurt a bit from the last two days of faster running.  But I got out of bed anyway and walked out into the driveway.  I decided it was going to be a slow day, so I started by walking.  I traded walking for running and then back again, as I added a few miles, for a total of 3.

As I ran along the path, the fish were absolutely active and jumping.  It was fun to see little circles emerging and disappearing in the water, all very close to each other.  One man was fly-fishing, which was cool.

Post run notes:
Left knee is a bit strained. My right calf is pretty sore.
Legs are still tired from yesterday.
Stomach a bit irritated.
Stiff /sore neck (this has been going on for a couple of days, but feels better today.)
Resting blood pressure at 8:30 am:  116/78
Resting pulse:  62

Fast run!

Today, I ran five miles.  I started with the intent of just running the distance, not stressing about speed.

But I couldn’t help it.  I like to push myself.  So I slowly pulled my 9 minute mile down to a 7:45 and held it…apparently long enough to average 8:22’s for five miles.  It felt good.  It was difficult, but I wasn’t out of breath and still had energy when it was over.

Post run notes:
Right calf:  a little soreness, part of which existed before I left, this morning.
Left quad:  A bit sore.
Blood pressure at 9:50 am:  112/79
Pulse:  75

I just read that as an athlete, my pulse rate should be lower.  So I’ll need to look into that.

I am not sick


Yesterday, I started feeling not too well. I went home early from church and rested. By the end of the day, I felt much better.

Today I went for a run down the Provo River Trail (my yoosh). I ran faster than I’ve run in a long time. I kept my pace fast and pushed myself. Mondays are good for this, because I’ve had a day off from exercise, usually.

I started off slower (as I always do), because I wanted to make sure that my body had time to stretch and ease into the run

By the time I hit my turnaround, I had to walk for about 20 seconds to slow my heart down and regroup. Then I started off and within about 30 seconds I was back down to a 7:30 mile. This was fast for me. Like, 10 years ago fast.

When I got back to the trailhead, I knew there was one mile left, so I kept my pace strong and pushed up a little hill. Less than a mile left, so I kept my stride long and tried not to ease off.

Ended up with an 8:04 average and time of 32:44 for four miles. I’m getting there.

Oh, and my weight this morning was 187, which is 14 pounds lighter than before I quit Dr Pepper. Gotta keep this up.