Complaining about the Cold

This post was supposed to be a rant about why diets and extreme fitness challenges don’t work long-term. They still don’t, but I’m not going to dwell. I can’t stop people from going on diets or trying weird fitness challenges.

Instead, I’m going to focus on doing a 5K every month this year…

I’m realizing how this looks, but hear me out: The 5Ks aren’t the real end-goal. They’re just to make sure I’m staying active. An incentive to not be a lazy sack of crap, even when it’s cold outside, which gets us to this post.

It’s cold outside. 4 degrees to be specific this morning. 4.

This throws a nondelightful wrench into the process (as opposed to a delightful wrench?). I don’t have the appropriate attire. Evidently the right answer is man tights. I could show you pictures of men in running tights, but I think we all know where this is really going:

I can wear pants over them, but there’s only so many pairs of pants you can wear before things start to get weird.

I also need to wear gloves and winter headgear. I have a beanie, but I’ve never actually run in it. I suppose it would do in a pinch.

All of this is to say I’m not adequately prepared for Oklahoma winters. I’ve never lived this far north (and the vast majority of the country begins laughing). Texas, Florida, and Mississippi. Those were my previous locales. I’m used to brutal summers. I’m not used to brutal winters.

The last time I played this little game, I was in north Mississippi. I bought pants and a jacket to run in, and I’ve got a little collection of long-sleeve shirts to work it out, but by and large, I was ok there. I don’t remember running below 30. In fact, two of the worst times I remember running were my first two 5Ks.

They were cold snaps. The first race gave me an ice warning (not to mention scraping ice of my windshield when I was running a little late getting to the race) and some icy spray as we ran over the bridge of a reservoir. The second had snow on the ground. Effing snow on the ground. Basically, these conditions were as bad as could be expected in that part of the world

And Oklahoma has the potential to be worse. So much so I’m not actually going to plan on a 5K. I’m going to keep an eye on the weather, and the first halfway decent weekend will include me signing up for a race last-minute.

This will easily be the weirdest year, because I might have to watch the weather through May. When the cold ends, the tornadoes start, and I don’t need that crap while I’m stressing over the race already.

If my knee holds up, I’m going to have to get a lot more flexible in my running patterns. Not to mention the fact that I need to cover at least 2 miles before the first 5K. I’m so freakin’ screwed. And I’m still cold.

But this what we do in the name of fitness. All I want for the new year is a six-pack. If I can’t have that, I’ll settle for a different kind of six-pack.


Running Reboot: Revenge of the Knee

In the next 12 months, I will either be almost done with the Super Awesome Year of the 5K 2.0 or I’ll have a gnarly scar on my knee.


Not that kind of scar.

This decision came about for a few reasons. 1) My weight is creeping up. Me not being able to run isn’t helping. That’s my best cardio option. 2) I’m back to doing almost everything I was before the knee blew up on me. 3) The ortho person I saw here was hesitant to cut off part of my knee cap given what the issue is. He actually listed big scar as one of the down sides like I gave two craps about that.

But if he’s hesitant to cut me open, then I might as well be too (even though I’ve basically been delaying surgery since March).

So we’re rebooting the Super Awesome Year of the 5K.

Some ground rules before we get rolling:

  1. Same as before, one a month. It’s not about doing 12 5Ks. It’s about staying consistent with running.
  2. Keep up the physical therapy-oriented activities of lifting and yoga. Part of the reason for the weight creep was the lifting and the ensuing spike in appetite, but I need to keep my legs strong.
  3. Cap my runs at 4 miles. 10Ks seem to be beyond the limit of my knee, and that’s ok, but if I can cover 3-4 miles on a regular basis, I can live with that.

That last one is a bit of a bummer considering this was supposed to be the Super Awesome Year of the 10K, but maybe my knee isn’t built for 10Ks. I was looking forward to seeing what I could do; my knee was not.

But this is all ok if I can regain my level of activity. So the journey started this week. I got my running shoes on for the first time in Oklahoma and got ready for a run/walk rotation to easy myself back into things.

Some notes:

  • They use Woodway treadmills where I’m at, and I’ve missed these bad boys. Treadmills are evil. Woodway treadmills are slightly less evil. I can’t remember which university I was at (I think UF) that had them, but I knew they were magical then. Just not as jarring to use.
  • Less jarring means less pain, but there was still some pain. It was within my regaining form threshold, so it’s nothing to note. Certainly better than I was when I was doing PT, so either things are better or the treadmill really is making a difference.
  • My cardio is crap. I knew this, but it’s a different thing to feel it.

But that was day 1. And now I live in Oklahoma where winters are winter. I’m going to miss Mississippi when I’m freezing my ass off in January. At least I’ll be running (or my knee will have fallen off and I’ll get that stupid surgery)


Final Prep for 1st 10K of the Year

I ran 5 miles today. Ok, I ran the majority of 5 miles and walked a good amount of it. I was on a pretty even run/walk cycle, which means I probably ran about 3 miles and walked 2.

But I covered 5 miles. Last time I covered at least 5 miles? The 10K I did in May. The time before that? The week before said 10K. And the time before that? Never.

This will not end well.

Oh, sure. In high school, I would almost certainly have covered that distance in a track workout, but there’s a big difference between being 145-pound hurdler doing intermittent springs and being a 180-pound academic trying to delay diabetes and other weight-related woes.

Side note, looking back at the run-up to the last 10K, I’m making the exact same points. I almost made the same stupid joke for the title. The more things change…

Much like last time, I hit 4 miles two weeks before the 10K and 5 miles the week before. So let’s compare.

First a caveat. Last year, I was in better shape. Even with an injury causing some issues, I had better mileage leading up to the 10K in part because I was coming off the Super Awesome Year of the 5K. I also had a 5K at Disney to act as my warm-up a few weeks out. I had the mythical base they always talk about. Even if 6.2 miles really was too much to go after, I could at least cover 3.1 without problems. I can’t say that right now.

Let’s look at the 4-miler two weeks out. In 2016, I covered 4.02 in 47:12 (11:45 pace). Heart rate was 150 average, with 172 max. Last week, I covered 4.00 in 57:42 (14:25 pace). Heart rate was 135 average, with 168 max.

For the 5-miler one week out, 2016 was 5.04 in 1:05:12 (12:56 pace). Heart rate was 151 average, with 177 max. Also, 666 calories burned. Not ominous at all. Today, I covered 5.00 in 1:07:40 (13:32 pace). Heart rate was 144 average, with 176 max.

This is an odd thing to look at. The 4-mile run was much worse this round. The 5-mile run, despite having shorter run intervals, was pretty close on pace. This means I was probably running too fast today, but evidently I have a need for speed.

So what can we expect for the 10K?


Really, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m just going to go out there and do my best. And then I’m going to pretend I’m not in pain as I limp to my car.

The remainder of my week will be spent trying not to do something stupid, but considering I bit my tongue in my sleep yesterday, I’m not terribly optimistic.

See you on the other side.



Q Trots Over a Turkey

Wait, that sounds weird.

Officially clocked a 32: 17. I’ll take it.

So here’s the breakdown of this post: prep for the race, the day-of shenanigans, race organization, and then the race itself.

Race Prep

I’d love to tell you this was some nuanced thing. That I was upping my miles, doing speedwork, running hills, etc. Instead, I was running, which is better than me not running in July and August. I am upping my miles (slowly) to get ready for the Super Awesome Year of the 10K, but I wasn’t doing anything to prep for the 5K in particular.

The big thing was icing aches and pains. I bought some of the freezable gel packs, so that was my big race prep. My back’s always a liability, and I whacked the crap out of my shin on my dishwasher door and then ran on it twice before deciding I might need to actually treat it.

Day-of Shenanigans

Folks, it’s been a long week. It really has. I’m tired. I need a nap. I need a good night’s rest. I’m still recuperating from loss of sleep from Tuesday night. I even bought a new pillow to help out.

As such, I woke up around 4:30 this morning because who doesn’t wake up early when they’re sleep-deprived? My alarm was set for 5:30, but an hour lost is an hour lost.

For my pre-race fuel, steel-cut oats and lemonade. That seems like a totally normal thing to do. I may need to start actually testing my pre-race meals before going to 5Ks and such.

As for getting mentally in the game, I listened to the Nerdist episode with Anna Kendrick. Also not a tested strategy, but it was a nice distraction. If it wouldn’t get me a restraining order, I’d propose to her. Or I’d at least offer to buy her a beer. Actually, I’d probably just quietly sit around hoping she noticed me and thought “he looks so interesting, but I should probably leave him alone while he’s awkwardly reading a book alone in a bar.” That’s right, my best-case scenario is that my celebrity crush considers talking to me and makes the active decision not to. I have issues.

The real problem for prepping for this race was figuring out what to wear. Forecasts were ranging from 45 to 55 with wind out of the north.

This is a very awkward temperature for me. I’m ok in the cold if I’m not running. But cold air on my lungs is hell. Saliva starts to thicken and then clogs my throat, and I can’t breathe. I’ve had issues where I literally started choking during runs because of this. But I also don’t want to overdress and then pass out at mile 2. Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t want to overdress because I don’t want to look like a goober.

So here’s what I did: I grabbed every piece of cold-weather gear I had and set it out the night before so I’d have all my options available in the morning so I wouldn’t feel rushed. This included my jacket and pants, two long-sleeve cold-weather compression shirts, one long-sleeve non-compression cold-weather shirt, and one long-sleeve warm-weather shirt. I also had my race shirt prepped (Punisher, FTW), shorts, and underroos.

When the morning rolled around, it was clear that the pants and jacket weren’t going to be necessary for the run, but if the race started on time, I might need two cold-weather shirts under the race shirt (one compression and the cold-weather non-compression). I also realized my legs would probably appreciate compression shorts instead of the underroos I originally picked out.

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Racing is serious business.

When I got to the race, that’s when the real fun began. I walked in to get my packet in my three shirts and jacket. Got back to the car and ditched the jacket. And then I realized I didn’t need both long-sleeve shirts, so I ditched the non-compression cold-weather shirt. Then after waiting around a while longer, I realized it was going to be too warm for the compression shirt, so I listened to The Donnas as they told me to Take It Off in the parking lot.

I then was in my non-compression cold-weather shirt and Punisher over the top.


The packet caused its own issues. They put the safety pins in the bag loose, so I had to empty the bag just to find my pins. And then right before the 10K was going to start, which is 10 before the 5K started, I learned when they said chip-timed, they did not mean on the race bibs. I wasn’t paying attention and missed the fact that there was a timing chip that was supposed to go around my shoelaces. Whoops.

After a quick trot to the car, I retrieved my chip and was good to go.

Race Organization

Before talking about the race, I always like to talk about organization and such. A good route can be ruined by poor organization, though a crappy route can’t really be saved by organization.

In terms of pre-race info, they were a little light on specifics. Nothing too bad, but they don’t give the route (though they act like they do by saying the route might change), and they also don’t give specific times when the different races will start. At least not until the night before.

As for in-race organization, they had blue and yellow tape to differentiate the two races going at once. This works if the tape is visible. In some cases, you wouldn’t see both sets of tape. At one spot, the tape was placed in an awkward spot that didn’t make it clear where you were supposed to go (and was not helped by the person hold a sign and directing traffic whose waving was not at all helpful). Luckily, I never strayed from a crowd, so I was just following the same people.

The Race

This is what you came for, right? You just wanted to hear my in-race witticisms.

The gun (well, cowbell) went off at promptly 8-something o’clock to get everyone going. And I did something I’ve only recently figured out: I didn’t take off like a jackrabbit being chased by a coyote. I trudged. I hate trudging.

The start went surprisingly well. Usually there’s someone who creates a log-jam from the start, but this time there was none of that I could see. There were a couple of people with dogs that were not intent on running calmly. I know it might just have been the excitement of the crowd, but one of those dogs acted like it’s never been running before as it yanked its owner everywhere. I may have found this a little too amusing.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about the race itself. No one said anything to me who shouldn’t have (there were some exuberant volunteers who might have failed a drug test had one been provided) and no one grabbed me to keep me running. It was relatively event-free. I think the big thing was that I was pretty good at making myself keep a reasonable pace.

As usual, I had to start my run/walk process eventually. I made it through my first mile at 9:30ish before the walking began. I’d actually fallen into a decent pace with a trio of runners before the walking started. Of course, I still yo-yoed with them a bit during this. We’ll call them A, B, and C, and then a fourth, D, came into the shuffle. A and B were running together. They were the last people I passed before I started walking. They soon passed me and slowly worked away from me. C had been behind A and B, but didn’t keep up with them, slowing down as the race went. C became a sort-of barometer for me to start walking if I started catching up. D I think was ahead of me the whole time before I caught up. After the halfway point, D and I were basically keeping pace with each other pretty well before I started picking up speed toward the end.

Side note, let’s appreciate the awkwardness of the accidental running buddies during a race. It always happens. You find someone you’re keeping pace with and you just have to hope it’s not too weird. I just want a sign that says “I’m sorry that I’m running with you. I promise I will neither crowd you nor try to talk to you unnecessarily.”

When I ran the whole 5K in April, I was slow the whole time, but when I let myself walk, I tend to pick up the pace on my running intervals.


It was those last two spikes that put me past D for good and then got me close to C before making the obnoxious pass in the last couple of hundred yards. Turns out I’m still that guy.

I was gassed. I got a side-stitch to close out the race and was desperate to pee. About 15 minutes before I was set to start, I realized I needed to pee, but I thought I could hold it. Turns out I could, but let’s imagine had that guess been wrong.

After relieve, I was in search of fuel. I ran this race last year, and it was one of my favorite post-race binges. Last year, I ate two slices of pizza, a sandwich, and a cookie, topped off with a Coke. This time was one of my least favorite. Water, apples, oranges, and bananas. That’s all they had. The first time’s how they hook you before pulling the rug out from underneath you. I grabbed a banana and bottle of water and called it a day as I headed in search of bad things (Chick-fil-A, for those keeping score at home).

Oh well. The race could have gone better, but it could have gone a lot worse. It should be the last 5K before the Super Awesome Year of the 10K kicks off, so I’ve got a long way to go before I’m ready to not die on the path.

See you in the future.


Planning Out the Super Awesome Year of the 10K

Last year, I did the Super Awesome Year of the 5K. Even with an injury at the tail end, I’d still call it a success. I did all 12 races, even if I stopped making progress in April. If nothing else, I stayed active.

This year, I set different types of monthly goals for the year, but I also set a running goal: complete a 10K. And I did. I also ran an entire 5K for the first time preparing for the 10K.

All good, right?


After the 10K, things slowly ebbed before going to hell altogether. In July, my body betrayed me, and I wasn’t able to get back in the swing of things for more than a month. After running a 10K in May, I was back to square one in August.

And it nagged at me.

I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I think I might have finally figured it out after I worked a solution (without knowing the cause first).

You’ll recall (or probably not) that I set the goal of 5Ks last year to ensure I stayed active. I didn’t set time goals, just completion goals. I knew I just needed a penalty in place to ensure I kept putting feet to pavement. For the same reason, running a 10K this year wasn’t my goal because it could be completed at any time, so I opted for the Super Awesome Year of Me to ensure I was doing something all year. I try to stay on brand with my nomenclature.

For the coming year, I decided that 6 10Ks would be ample motivation. I decided against 12 because finding enough 5Ks without traveling all over was hard enough as it was (hint: turns out there aren’t many races in the South in the middle of the summer). And 10Ks require more recovery time, so the notion of back-to-back weekends of 10Ks seemed unnecessary. Every other month would give plenty of space and would still be looming enough that I (hopefully) can’t slack off after any individual race.

And that’s what was missing this year. Consistent goals.

If you want results, you need consistency. Fad and extreme diets don’t exhibit long-term results for a reason: You’re not going to continue the lifestyle, so you’re going to regress. I don’t diet. There have been a couple of diet-oriented months this year (vegetables, no refined grains) where I was just trying to start good habits, and they were miserable failures. They weren’t sustainable. I know this now. It’s why I never did Atkins, paleo, etc.

For some reason, I wasn’t appreciating this with my workouts. Setting the complete a 10K goal wasn’t forcing a sustained lifestyle change. The Year of the 5K did it, and the Year of the 10K will continue the progress.

And I do mean progress. A few years ago, 3 miles was terrifying. I had a comfortable 2.5-mile loop that I would have been happy to run all of and couldn’t. Not until after I did my first 5K anyway.

And then I thought 3.1 was my max. 10Ks were terrifying. I was still happy to complete 2-mile runs. And then the Super Awesome Year of the 5K came about, and all of a sudden 3-mile runs were the new normal. Occasionally, I would even cross 4 miles.

And then I went after a 10K. I crossed 5 miles for the first time a week before the race, and then I crossed 6 miles for the only time during the race.

As I was slogging my way through my run this morning, I kept thinking of the 6.2 miles that are coming up in January and how hard that is going to be. This was as I covered 4.1 miles. This time two years ago, I could barely cover a mile without my body revolting.


But let’s get to that Super Awesome Year of the 10K. I’m hoping to run a race every other month to keep steady activity and no over-work myself. Because I’m a hyper-paranoid person, I’m not going to tell you what races or when (’cause you might steal my copy of The Hobbit while I’m gone), but I will say I’ve got three races tentatively selected already. I’m hoping to find a cool destination race or two, but I’ll keep you posted (after the fact, obviously).

But that’s all I have to say about that.

And now an update on foam rolling: I’ve rolled all 6 days so far. Not a bad goal to set.

But for real, that’s the point of this and a couple of other months. These are self-care months, which is all the rage these days. I’m hell on my body during workouts, especially when I’m running. My quads and calves get eaten alive, and foam rolling helps keep me functioning. It’ll be interesting to see how daily rolling affects me.


Recapping the Super Awesome Month of Meditation

I’d say the month of meditation flew by, but all the month’s fly by at this point.

I’d also say I learned lessons along the way, but I almost think the point of meditation is to not learn lessons. I think it might simply be that the point is to be there, no more, no less.

Today in yoga, which at its core is meditation, I went into a different matra than usual.

When I’m engaging in mindfulness meditation, first choice is to focus on my breath. Simply notice it.

My second choice is to narrate. In. Out. Helps keep me focused.

My third choice is gentle reminders that I’m right here and to let things mentally pass, and I’ll attend to them later.

That’s all well and good, but in yoga, the people in the room cause me problems. I don’t do well in crowds, generally, and this was one of those days.

I had to escape without being able to actually escape. I found a new mantra.

Warning, this is a little bit weird/depressing/scary/nihilistic.

I was repeating variations of this isn’t real. Mostly this isn’t real. But I had some they’re not real, I’m not real, I’m not here thrown in.

Of course, I know this is real (to the extent that anyone can actually know they’re real and here; there’s some computer simulation believers out there, so you can always wrap your head around that if you’d like). But it helped. People lead to me thinking about interactions with people, which isn’t helpful when you’re trying to jump back to chaturanga. Pretending they weren’t real if I had to be around them helped. They were no longer people to me, which kind of helped.

And so it goes.

Turning to the future, I’m trying to get my mileage up. I’ve just recently acquired a shin issue that I’m hoping doesn’t turn into shin splints, but I’m not optimistic. I’m trying to up my calcium intake to help if the bone’s taking damage, and I’m going to avoid running until the ache is gone. Not a good sign, but not a real problem yet.

If it’s just a few days of delay, then I’m still on track for getting in another 5K before the year closes out and (possibly) chasing a new goal for the upcoming year: run six 10Ks.


I’m tired thinking about that already.

The plan to prep for the 10Ks immediately follows the end of my Zombies, Run! 5K app cycle. The full app has a 10K prep process, so I’ll just hop back into that (and get caught up on those shenanigans in Abel). Much like the year of the 5K and my foray into a 10K this year, the goal is to finish without completely embarrassing myself, so I don’t expect to run a full 10K. I do expect to try.

That effort will probably result in alternating months, starting in February, to give me time to get up to speed and then time to recover between races. Getting a 5K every month was rough enough, so 10Ks in the southern heat doesn’t bode well.

But we try.

Whenever I think of these goals I set, I can’t help but think how arbitrary they must sound to other people. But at the same time, life is people arbitrarily attaching meaning to things. People getting emotionally attached to inanimate objects, so I can set weird goals every year (plus, I’m completely over dietary goals; I think I might have caused more problems than I solved this year).

Race Recap: Slower than Ever

After a few months of race hiatus, I put feet to pavement (and then gravel) this morning to complete my slowest 5K ever: 34:48.

It was a brutal race and it was also one of the more poorly organized (if not THE most poorly organized).

The Situation

After my 10K in May, I was basking in a good after glow. I let my running slide a little in June, but I was still keeping a regular habit. And then July hit. With some health issues, I was only able to put in 2 runs. After getting the all-clear from my doctor, I set my sights on a 5K to help me get back on the horse.

In the process, I also seemed to have forgotten that I was supposed to eat all of the food.


With the help of the Zombies, Run! 5K app, I was able to get my mileage up high enough to survive the day (and not much else) and put in my best mileage month since May (if I’m brave, I could match it this week, but I doubt I’ll risk it).

All in all, I’ve gone into races in worse shape, but I’ve definitely gone with better conditioning too.

Race Setup

As disappointing as it was to put in my slowest time by more than a minute, I was more annoyed with the race setup. This was a first-time event by college students, so it’s understandable, but the missed the most important detail when they put together their info page: They never listed the start time.

Yep. No start time. There’s an event time, which I thought was the race time until I saw some context clues that tipped me off. I emailed the organizers and then got a vague answer. People showed up the day of thinking the race was starting an hour earlier than it actually did.

So that was the big thing.

The other aspect was that the race route was never posted. Not the most important detail, but it helps. They also started about an hour after the morning stopped being pleasant. 7:30 in the Mississippi September? Good time to run. 8:30? Not so much.

Basically, you could tell it was put together by people who weren’t used to 5K events. It actually ran relatively smoothly as an event, but it had issues.

The Race

Now for the good part.

I was there with a group of friends, all of whom were going to be able to run the whole thing, so I knew I’d be bringing up the rear. Sure enough, we split up pretty quickly. I ran with one of them for the first mile before I had to start integrating walking.

This is where it gets dangerous: When I hit the big hill on the course (and not at the top mind you) and had to start walking, I was at 193 for my heart rate. As much as I walked, my heart rate stayed pretty high.

Race heart rate

My Garmin gives me heart rate zones, and I was in zone 5 for all but about 3 minutes. I don’t recommend that to others in the future. The heat and my increased weight were not to my benefit in this situation.

I honestly didn’t know the route I was taking. It turned out they handed us a sheet when we signed in, but I didn’t read it (’cause who reads things?), so when we started, I just had to follow the crowd.

The course was mostly a nice level run. We started off on a slow, downhill grade, made an awkward loop around some tennis courts, and then hit the gravel road that was the bulk of the route. I was actually kind of hoping we’d get to that way, though I may regret that now.

I’ve never run on a gravel road (not as an adult, at least). The rocks would slip under foot and because it’s not a paved road, they don’t care as much about keeping it level, so there were long stretches of running on a sideways slant.

But that’s not the fun part.

The fun part was the hill. Before I started walking, my friend made a comment along the lines of “Good Lord” when she saw the hill and the people who looked like ants running up it.

Despite walking most of it, I really don’t think it was that brutal. I’m used to a good stretch of slow climb on my regular routes. But again, I was walking.

As I tried to get back into running the route, I wasn’t having much luck. My heart rate never really slowed down, no matter how much I was walking. I was feeling relatively nauseous from 2 miles on. Not a good day at all.

I was mostly just trying to do the best that I could do. The best I could do was slow.

But I finished, and after the run, they had Jimmy John’s, and I think that’s all that really matters anyway.

I’m super, thanks for asking