Sep 28, 2007

Post#300 - Running Goals

find the pork

It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted to this blog. There are a couple of reasons - one, I've just been very busy with work. But also, this is my 300th post to this blog, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Part of me wants to treat it like any other of the 299 posts there. Another part of me wants to make it special with some overwhelmingly awesome content. Seeing as I have nothing overwhelmingly awesome to write, I can easily rule that out.

Then, tonight, I realized that, in the limited about of time I have these days, I could just write down, for the first time, some of the more ambitious running and especially ultrarunning goals that I've been kicking around. It's not normal content, but it's not overwhelmingly awesome either. In a word, it's perfect.

And for my purposes, I'm categorizing them.

1.) Running Goals that I will definitely attempt to achieve in 2008
- Reduce bodyweight to 225 lbs
- 2000 miles of running over the entire year
- A spring marathon
- A trail marathon
- The Vermont 50 miler
- NYC Marathon (If I get the lottery, otherwise, guaranteed 2009)
- a 60-minute 10K
- A sub-5 hour marathon
- And maybe, just maybe, a 100K.

2.) Goals that I would like to attempt in 2009
- A 24-hour race.
- Mt. Washington Road Race
- Escarpment Trail Run
- Vermont 100
- A sub-4 hour marathon
- Maybe a 20 minute 5K?

3.) Goals for 2010 and beyond
- A BQ.
- Pikes Peak Ascent
- Western states 100
- Tour du Mont Blanc

4.) "Steve smoked crack for breakfast" dreams (Not goals, just dreams. I'd be as surprised as anybody if I did these.)
- Spartathlon
- Hardrock
- Badwater

Sep 27, 2007

Race Report - The Pfalz Point Challenge

gapin' across the finish line

This was my first trail race. It was a learning experience, and the finish was MUCH better than the start, where at mile 0.6, while thinking about the possibility of coming across a tripped-up runner in front of me, I myself tripped on a rock and promptly ate dirt! Unhurt, I quickly got up, brushed myself off, responded to people asking if I was ok, and resumed running. A great way to start my first trail race.

The first mile went by quickly enough. The experience of being on trails was fascinating - most road races are on rather broad strips of asphalt. On the other hand, the carriage roads at this race, wide enough for a jeep and not much else, were pretty crowded with 300 runners. Made it difficult to pass people, which isn't really what I wanted to do anyway. So we basically just ran in a tight group for a while, and by the time the first stretch of single-track came along, wide enough for a bicycle and not much else, the group had loosened up enough so that it could become a tight column of runners. This, too was fine. I was lucky in that the column I was in was running the exact pace that I felt comfortable, and even though I had SWORN to walk up all the hills in this ten-mile race, at the beginning I was so fresh that I didn't mind jogging up with the back of the pack.

Downhills were a different situation, where the back-of-the-packers became very cautious, meticulously choosing each footstep and slowing down significantly. At 285lbs, I hate the impact-related implications of braking yourself with each step going downhill, so I've gotten pretty good at "gliding" down hills with very fast light footstrikes - the problem was that I had to break the column, only one person wide. And that meant running off the side of the trail. At high speed. It got pretty scary.

Still, only about 20% of the run was singletrack, and by mile 2, people had dispersed enough that it became possible to walk the hills without causing too much disruption to the column of runners, and that was a good thing, for leading up to mile 3 was a steep 500-foot single track ascent that I definitely intended to walk. And I did. It was great. My heart rate dropped to 145 power-walking up the hill and I really recovered enough to resume running at a very good pace when it flattened out.

The rest of the race can be characterized by:
1.) Leisurely smiley-faced fast-paced power-walking up the hills
2.) Intense concentration speeding down the hills
3.) Miles going by much faster then normal

I told my wife to expect me to cross the finish line somewhere between 2:00 and 2:30. With a half-marathon PR of about 2:45, I didn't expect to be much faster than that. Yes, it was 3.1 miles shorter than a half-marathon, but it also added 2000 feet of elevation gain. So at mile 7, when I looked at my watch, and realized I was on pace for a sub-2 hour finish, I kind of shook it off as unlikely. Mile 8, I realized that it may be possible, but I was kind of tiring out. It was a hard part in the race to really push the pace. At mile 9, I really started to wonder if I was actually going to pull it off. And pull it off I did - with an unofficial finish time 1:58:17. (Official finish photo, with wifey goodness in the foreground)

I knew I liked trail running, but I had no idea that the races were so much fun. It's not that it's a much different vibe than road races (although there are differences), it's that I just had a lot more fun running through the forest rather than through suburbia. The miles seemed to go by very quickly, and I have nothing but fond memories of the entire experience. My legs certainly weren't used to this kind of workout, the longest trail run I've ever done was about 5 miles and even less vertical. I still feel kind of sore, days later. But I've gotta tell you, this won't be my last trail race - and I will look for many more of these in the future.

Sep 18, 2007


cancer sucks.

It was an interesting weekend.

I hesitate to say it was a "rough" or "difficult" weekend, but it certainly was interesting - and I use that word only because I can't think of another word to describe it. I kept myself busy, listened to a lot of unrelated podcasts, and tried not to think about Nils. Nevertheless, I did think a lot about nils, and I ended up with a mind-numbing spaghetti-mess of random thoughts, none of them organized. A lot of thinking could be characterized as reflection and analysis. Reflection on my last year with Nils, and my regrets there. Analysis of why I had some of the opinions I have regarding how this whole thing was and still is being handled.

The last time I ran was Friday - I found out about his death at around noon, and so I took the afternoon off and went for a 5-mile training run through Ramapo Reservation - and made sure to include lots of hills and some moderately technical singletrack, the point being to sufficiently challenged myself to 1.) train for a 10-mile trailrace in mohonk next weekend, and 2.) see if i could take my mind of nils for an hour.

On Sunday, I was invited to play tennis with some guys from my church. Not having ever played tennis - pretty much ever - I really enjoyed the experience and got a good workout too. Thanks to all the running I've been doing, I was able to play for three hours straight, without stopping. Yesterday (Monday) I was slightly sore in some odd places, but that was to be expected.

And Monday, I did my best to get stuff done at work but it wasn't a particularly productive day. Now, Thursday night, I'm just getting caught up.

By Tuesday, I was starting to get past it.. as much as you can, anyway.

There is a lot more I could say in this post about the stuff I'm going through regarding Nils.. but I thought better of it.

Like I said, I haven't run all week. I think I'll try to do a run tomorrow - because, the way my schedule is, I probably won't run Saturday. Sunday is a 10-mile trail race that I'm really looking forward to. It'll be my first organized race on something other than roads. The whole idea thrills me.. and while 10 miles is a pretty long race and I'm not exactly in tip-top shape, it's not exactly a marathon, either. The Elevation profile looks challenging but not extreme. Lots of rolling hills. There are a few sustained climbs, but not too many, only one looks super-steep and none of them are particularly long. Bottom line is I know I can do it, and it should be a lot of fun.

Nutrition-wise, I was having a really hard time staying disciplined as described two posts ago. As a result, I must resort to doing what I hate doing, but experience has shown that it works: logging everything I eat in It's tedious, it's annoying, it sucks, but it works. And not only does it work, it also gives you guys an opportunity to check up on me to 1.) make sure I'm updating it, and 2.) make sure I'm eating properly. The link is: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to check that link, and check it often, and give me a kick in the ass if I'm overeating. The goal is to get to 250lbs by ski season. I'm 39 lbs away.

Sorry about the infrequency of posts lately, but things have been crazy at work and at home. As all things do, this too shall pass, and I will be sure to keep throwing my rambling diatribes at you via this blog.

So until next time,


Sep 14, 2007

Nils Nissen 1975-2007

I'll miss you Nils

nils and i
have had beers
we've had sushi
we've had bacon

but we never skied together.

when i got the phone call late this morning, once i got over the initial shock, i tried to get back to work, but i just could not focus. so i took the afternoon off and went for a run.. a run always manages to clear my head. and so i cleared my head and i thought about nils..

...and how we never skied together.

i thought for sure i would ski with him last year..
and the year came and went and we never skied.
he still seemed in good shape in may.. so i figured we'd ski in 2007-08.
i even held out hope that we'd ski when the cancer invaded his spine and he lost the ability to walk.. he'd ski mark-andre style.. it'd be great.

but we never skied together.

he was one of the few people in the world who loved skiing more than me.. and yet i've skied with a lot of people who don't really care about skiing. i should have made more of an effort to ski with him..

but i never did.


"life is short, but it should be long enough.."
yet in this case it wasn't - and that's my fault.

i should have skied with you, nils.

for some reason that's really bothering me.


Sep 13, 2007

eating goals

Found some old pictures. The two on the right are my father's parents. On the left is my father's uncle.

I had my second run since the marathon the other day - and it was only 2 miles at about a 10 minute pace. It's strange - even though that is a pretty good performance, I am quick to tire lately, especially when running quickly. All of my runs seem to take a lot more effort than they used to. And my heart rate seems to be just a little higher than normal. I don't know why.

Did an an interesting on myself. I wore my heart rate monitor overnight - while I was sleeping - to get a true indication of what my resting heart rate was. Since I've been unable to get a reading below 60 while I was awake in some time, I had a gadget monitor and record my heart rate overnight and see what the lowest reading was: 55. Good, but I really wish I had done this a month ago before when I could induce a sub-60 just by sitting quietly for a few minutes - I wonder if I ever went below 50 while I was asleep - and if the 55 was really good.

I also seem to have fallen back into a trap of non-discipline regarding what I eat. I don't need this right now: routinely giving into my cravings. Looking back to this spring where I lost all that weight, there was a period for about two weeks at the beginning where I had seriously intense cravings for starch - that I managed to resist. I posted about it in this blog. The cravings went away after that - so it was good, until I took a 3-week trip to California where I disregarded any idea of dieting for a while. Even after the trip, I was pretty disciplined - but looking back at the last three months I can see myself slowly returning to my old habits- culminating in these past couple of weeks where my parents were visiting from California. I again disregarded any idea of a diet and was literally on the same habits that caused me to stay at 350 lbs for all those years. Now that they have returned, I have said that I would return to the non-starch diet - but haven't been doing a good job at it. As of this morning, the scale read 294.8 - almost 10 lbs above where I was a month ago.

It's not all bad news though - I am writing this immediately after lunch, and am thinking about what I ate. A medium-sized sandwich from Quiznos. I finished it, along with half-a-dozen pickled jalapeƱos, and some iced tea. A year ago, this would have been a small meal for me, and I would have been able to easily chomp down half a pizza after this. But right now, sans pizza, my body is telling me that I just ate a tremendous amount of food - I feel like I overate. Truthfully, I did - I should have eaten less since my immediate goal is to lose 44.8 lbs. But frankly, this is a normal or even small amount of food for most people. Bottom line: apparently, my body is accustomed to portion control.

The problem I've had in the last month especially is food choices and snacking. High-calorie foods are ubiquitous in my kitchen at the moment and I really need to clean house. Also, unplanned meals between meals - which could contain good foods but usually doesn't - is a huge problem.

So, starting tomorrow (since it's too late for today - I already had a sandwich!) - I am announcing right here and now about how I'll eat until October 15:

No wheat, rice or white potatoes
No dairy products
No red meat
No sweets
No salty or otherwise "snack"-style foods
Exactly 3 meals per day

"Authorized" foods include:
sweet potatoes
protein supplements

that's how it shall be. i am counting on all of you loyal readers of my blog (two if i'm lucky) to hold me accountable to this.. if all goes as planned, I'll be well on my way too 250 lbs by then.. any maybe already actually 'overweight' rather than 'obese.'

Sep 10, 2007

Two-week hiatus

Perched on a parking meter.

A friend sent me this quote yesterday:
Life is truly sweeter for those who truly live it. The world belongs, and will always belong, to the people who participate. Those who stand on the outside, who never risk, who never fail, cannot now, or will they ever, understand the beauty of each breath of life. So don't feel sorry for those who fail, feel sorry for the majority that never participate. They'll just never understand, let alone feel, all that life can and should be.
How appropriate. It's been an interesting two weeks for me. My parents were here visiting from California and I am astounded at how different I am from my Mother. To sum it up, our lifestyles are not compatible. She is right now as overweight as she ever was, and worse I was when I weighed 400 lbs. and at 62 years old, she just seems unwilling to change her lifestyle for the better. I have tried to be an example for her - and have encouraged her, both gently and forcefully, to adopt a healthier lifestyle by exercising and avoiding certain foods that she seems to be addicted to, but her response is usually downright hostile, and followed by behind-my-back justifications of herself by bringing up my own faults (usually from more than ten years ago, when I weighed 400 lbs.)

I wouldn't even bring it up if I didn't care. Last night I told my wife that I should have my head examined for not giving up hope - like my father seems to have done - and draining myself emotionally whenever she disappoints. To make matters worse, she criticizes me for some of the stuff I do, and has told my wife that she hopes my son, her grandson, doesn't adopt a few of the things I'm into - Rock climbing, for example.


Anyway, I ran yesterday. Taking the advice of an MD who advised me to rest until I completely recovered, it was my first run since my marathon two weeks ago. It was rough. My heart rate has seemed unusually high lately, even at rest - and I'm not sure why. It has been high ever since I ran that marathon with the headcold. The cold has finally succumbed to the power of my awesome immune system, yet my heart rate is still high - by about 15 beats/minute. Not sure what's going on there, but if it's still like that in a week, I may go see a doctor.

Anyway, I went out at a decent pace (for me) - 10:20 miles, and ran just over 2½ miles. I wanted to run as long as an hour, but I cut it to 30 minutes because of the high heart rate and (ahem) gastrointestinal difficulties. I felt very good immediately after the run, but the run itself was unusually uncomfortable. Since it was my first run in two weeks, I was at least hoping to feel rested, but alas, the immediate 170 heart rate made sure that didn't happen. By the end of the run, it was pushing 190 according to the monitor, and while I was definitely working hard, I didn't feel like I was working *that* hard.

It definitely didn't help that my nutrition has been utter crap for two weeks. Between that and the lack of exercise, I've gained at least 5 lbs. I'm not concerned - I'll lose it quickly - and hopefully get back on the fast track. I'd love to be 250 by the start of ski season.

I will probably take today off, just because of my schedule, but tomorrow I intend to run, maybe in the gunks on the way home from work.