Today was not a day for good decisions. It started with a late awakening, which was chased with Chick-fil-A for breakfast. Then I chased that with a 20-ounce Coke.
Not the best part of waking up.
Between the late start and then some packing I was doing at home, I missed my normal lunch hour. At this point, I realized I wanted pizza. Not like a slice or two. I wanted A pizza, not SOME pizza.
That’s also a bad idea. If you’re keeping score at home, I currently have diabetes. I don’t actually have diabetes, but at this rate, I’m not sure how I don’t have diabetes.
I made a deal with myself. Yoga for pizza.
I’ve been having trouble making it through full sessions since I returned from a trip a couple of weeks ago, so I was going for it as best I could. No pizza unless I was sweat-slicked.
Once I was covered it sweat, the deal was the rest of the workout was for me. Every little thing I could squeeze out of the workout, I was doing for me.
Of course, I was exhausted at this point. I’d eaten a decent breakfast, but that was about 4 hours prior, and I had a lot of caffeine in my system (for me) to spike my hunger. I’m dripping sweat, and I’m shaking as I did what I could.
And so it goes. I took a cold shower to help cool me down more quickly, and then I ordered my pizza (medium, thin crust, ham, spinach, and tomato).
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I devoured that sucker. And I’m honestly still a little hungry. But Chick-fil-A and pizza were plenty, so just the two meals for me today. Let’s talk about why.
A relatively conservative calorie estimate still has me over the 2,000 calorie threshold. And most of it was crap.
For the yoga, 350 calories would be a generous estimate of calories burned, and that’s probably more than what actually occurred.
So did the hour of yoga justify the pizza? Nope. Not even close. That’s not how this works. Even if I did the yoga, it doesn’t entitle me to anything. The pizza just negated the work I put in. A good decision doesn’t negate a bad one. This isn’t a balancing scale.
But that wasn’t really the point. I was going to make a bad decision. I could feel it. I didn’t really do yoga to earn the pizza. I did yoga because I was going to eat something awful anyway, so I might as well do some damage control.
So 29 vinyasas for more than a thousand calories on that pizza.
29 vinyasas to leave me exhausted. 29 vinyasas to leave me covered in sweat. 29 vinyasas to feel in my shoulders tomorrow.
It’s the repetition. The pizza was going to happen because I’m stressed and I was going to make a bad decision. Yoga at least grounded me a little so that I wouldn’t feel like an entire sack of crap, just half a sack of crap. Because I know what I’m going to do with ashtanga every time, I can soak it in. There’s no intellectual load. It’s just movement. And breathing. Lots of breathing.
20 for 31 is the final count for my month of fiber, and it was honestly worse than that. A lot of the days where I met my goal, I did so by overeating (though I wasn’t overeating to hit my fiber goal; that was incidental).
If nothing else, I know how to hit 25 grams pretty easily. Actually doing it? Turns out I’m not so good at that.
See what had happened was I would eat well in the morning (some days) by going with steel-cut oats with berries, a bowl of fruit, and two eggs. And then I would have a good dinner planned, like red beans and rice. Then I would let all hell break loose at lunch. One day because Panda Express was out of healthy options, I had fried rice (they had no brown or steamed rice), crab rangoons, veggie spring rolls, and orange chicken (there was no broccoli beef or string bean chicken).
And that’s not my worst story. That happened yesterday.
For breakfast, I had instant oatmeal and two eggs. For lunch, red beans and rice with shrimp. So far, so good. Then I had a pizza as a snack. Then I had a burger and funyuns. AND THEN I had a burger and Doritos. I hit my fiber goal, but I also made myself prediabetic in the process.
I was making a good decision (or planning to make a good decision), and then letting myself run off the rails the rest of the day. Not a good philosophy.
It was an interesting month, and solidified that my diet-based months were bad ideas. I think they caused more harm than good. I’m actually against dieting, so these months went against my preferred decision-making processes, and they promptly bit me in the ass. In the future, I’m going to stick with non-dietary goals (after this year, of course) and just try to make good decisions when I eat instead of limiting myself to one type of good decision for a month at a time.
Our next bit of miscellany is the massage I got yesterday. I get one every month or two to help keep my back pain in check.
Yesterday was magic.
Normally, I get the massage, and it keeps the pain in check, but the aches, twinges, etc., never fully go away, even the day of the massage. I’m just dealing with constant aches.
Yesterday, I got my massage, and afterward the MT said the left side of my back was in interesting shape (I forget the exact phrasing), and that I was going to be sore, drink lots of water, etc.
That soreness has never really set in. What did happen was I went ache, twinge, etc. -free for 8-10 hours. That hasn’t happened in an obscene amount of time. I was walking around in this hazy bliss and in a stupidly good mood. It was like being on drugs. I’ve never had that happen post-massage.
And it was the best.
The sad part was when I started wondering if that’s what everyone else felt like all the time. I don’t know what it’s like to be without back pain. Ever since I was 17-18, I’ve dealt with aches and pains, and over the years, it just got more persistent. I’m taking steps to dial the pain back, but it’s still there.
Chronic pain is for real.
I knew it affected my mood. I could see in action. After yesterday, I’m starting to realize it affects my mood even more than I realized. I’m not sure I can convey what it feels like to go pain-free for even a few hours after daily aches and pains for so long.
Again, yesterday was magic.
Upcoming Running Plans
But this is technically a running blog, so I’ll update you on my running plans.
I’m currently trying to get back up to speed. The past couple of months have not been running-friendly. I’ve let my weight start creeping up (bad), and I wasn’t able to run much (badder) because some bodily revolutions (baddest).
Luckily, I got the all-clear last week, and I’m trying to get back on the wagon of running (or am I trying to pull the wagon if I’m running?).
I’ve gone back to my Zombies, Run! 5K app to get my mileage back safely. It’s been a slog, but I’m 4 workouts in (out of about 30).
More importantly, I’ve signed up for my next 5K. I’ll still be in the process of getting my mileage back up, but I needed to set a goal to keep me on track. The next goal after that will be a fall 10K in October or November. I’m not sure yet, but I’ll find something. Probably.
But that’s all for now, sports fans. Tomorrow starts the Super Awesome Month of Meditation, which will be interesting. Maybe I’ll learn to move things with mind. Or maybe I’ll learn to not care that I can’t move things with my mind.
Today, kiddos, I’ve got two stories to share. I’ll start with the side story because it’s cheerier (TL;DR for the second story: I haven’t been eating my vegetables very well).
I caught up with a friend over lunch today, and they did one of the nicest thing you can do for a masochist like me: They complimented me on my strategy.
To recap: For the last two years, I’ve gone after a big idea in small increments. Last year, it was to do a 5K every month. This year, it was a different daily goal each month. This could sound ambitious, and sometimes it is. But it’s broken down into manageable chunks.
Last year, I could have set time goals. I could have said I’ll run a whole race. I did neither of those things. Instead, I wanted to hit those marks, but my only goal, and therefore my only marker of success, was completing a 5K each month. Because I left the ambitious marks off the official goal list, I didn’t get discouraged when I didn’t hit those marks (and there were injuries and life along the way that would have been dangerous to push any more than I did). This year, I have a new goal each month, but success isn’t marked by month (and as you’ll see later, that’s a good thing sometimes). Instead, I’m marking my success every day. Falling off the wagon today doesn’t mean that the whole month is a loss, just that day. So tomorrow is another day, and therefore tomorrow’s a day I can win no matter what happens today.
And that’s what they were complimenting. They’d run into the trap of falling one day and then calling the endeavor a loss because they weren’t perfect. Instead, they’re trying to do a better job of not letting a little hiccup lead to a big hiccup.
That really meant something. Especially this month.
The Rest of the Story
On to the recap of weeks 2 and 3 of June. As you sports fans know, I’m trying to eat 3 servings of veggies. Sounds simple. A couple of salads a day, and one meal with veggies. Over 22 days, I’ve missed on 13, including an impressive 8 in a row. But let’s get rolling without further ado:
Day 8 wasn’t a big fail, but it was an omen for things to come. I had a salad at lunch and a salad with dinner. At this point, I’m not so good at remembering to take pictures of my food, like a good little hipster. I also wasn’t feeling fantastic, which kept up for the next few days.
This is where we’re starting to run into problems. While this might look like a victory, it includes the stir fry dish I wasn’t wanting to eat (and I believe I threw out two meals worth of food). But this day was still a good day. Two sets of stir fry, accompanied by salad and sushi. Not a bad day.
Day 10 was simple because I had delicious stir fry for lunch, and then my issues from Wednesday came back and ruined any urge I had to eat vegetables. I have a lot of quit in me, and I had a lot of reasons to quit this day.
And the lack of success continues into Saturday, with a vegetable medley accompanying my garlic chicken pasta.
At this point, we’re transitioning to my week in Memphis for work. Day 12 has no log, but I remember eating oatmeal (no veggies) and a burger with fries (there was lettuce on the burger?), so we’re on to lucky 13.
This one is misleading. It looks like I ate some coleslaw. I actually ate two bites before giving up. I still wasn’t feeling well. Earlier in the day, I had a meatball sub and some oatmeal (not in that order). Not the worst day, but not the best.
At least by now I’m no longer feeling like complete crap. My breakfast consisted of some meager fruit and a croissant. At lunch, I had some crawfish étouffée (with no visible veggies), while dinner included a shrimp and scallops pasta that at least had some visible veggies. I may or may not have chased this with chocolate ice cream.
Days 15 and 16 has no record, though I remember eating another meager breakfast, a burger and onion rings for lunch, and a sandwich for dinner on the 15th (I swear, there was lettuce on the burger and the sandwich), as well as eating a weird quiche thing for breakfast and sonic for lunch on the 16th.
And now we’ve got the return to salads because I’m back home. My salads have an obnoxious consistency I don’t like to deviate from: lettuce (plus spinach at work), croutons, tomatoes, black olives, and usually ranch dressing (though I think that’s 1000 island on the bottom salad). I’m slowly turning into a rabbit.
And we have a temporary return to success. This was accompanied by more salads (which did at least swap the carb supplement on) and the shrimp pasta. In case you’re wondering why I keep eating the same shrimp pasta, it’s Birds Eye Voila Garlic Shrimp. It’s one of those toss-on-a-skillet meals that’s ready in 10-15 minutes. I’m lazy, and it has vegetables. That’s how we roll in this home.
More salad. More pasta. Nothing to see here.
This is not my picture. I forgot to snag a pic of my meal, but this was basically it: broccoli beef over fried rice (that has veggies in it!). For supper, I honestly can’t tell you what I had. I met some friends at a dim sum restaurant, and I forgot what I ordered before it even arrived. All I know is that it didn’t have vegetables and a lot of it was steamed.
Day 21 wasn’t big on veggies. Breakfast was toast and a waffle. Lunch was a catered meal that led to catfish, fries, hushpuppies, fried pickles, and cole slaw. Supper, though? Supper was work. I used an obscene amount of dishes to make one batch of sesame chicken over brown rice, plus another plate for the salad. The sesame chicken included broccoli and green beans to make the grade. All that work, and I didn’t hit my goal? Ugh. Unless you count the cole slaw, and I feel like cole slaw might meet the letter of the law while violently disobeying the spirit of the law.
And that gets us to today and the story of my friend. We went to a burrito place, and I was intent on making bad decisions. As I sat in line, though, I realized I was going to order a salad. You have no idea how depressing that is for me. I didn’t even start eating salad until my 20s. And to be honest, after April’s no refined grains and this never-ending montage of salads, I was looking forward to a bad decision. My friend and I were both kind of disappointed in my decision. As I said, “Salad,” I was asked if I wanted a bowl or a shell. That caught me off guard. I had to think about what that meant. I could have the shell again? I was having the shell. Now, did I want to make it a combo to include chips, salsa, and a drink? Hells yeah, I did. This is when we had the conversation about persevering despite small mistakes.
It’s been a long couple of weeks. I’m not that proud of myself, but I didn’t gain weight, and I didn’t give up. Yet.
Getting to the halfway point of the Super Awesome Year, and I’m realizing something: Maintaining this level of awesome is exhausting.
And so it goes.
This month, we’re on to 3 servings of vegetables a day. I should clarify some. I’m shooting for green vegetables in a form that still allows them to resemble vegetables, so no sauces, juices, etc. I’m sorry, government, but we’re not counting pizza as a vegetable today. If we did, I’d be batting 1.000. As it stands, I’m 6 of 7, with lots of salads and stir-fry. Let’s get to it.
The start of this little journey saw me with what was probably my best mix of food. Kicked it off with Panda Express and broccoli. This was followed by garlic shrimp pasta with more broccoli and carrots. We closed off the day with a salad. Salad’s going to be a theme. This one had green leaf lettuce, tomatoes (more on those SOBs later), croutons, and ranch dressing.
Day 2 had me eating something for lunch that was bad for me (probably a burger and pizza), but I chased it with a salad (romaine, spinach, tomatoes, black olives, ranch, and croutons). Dinner was a Thai basil stir-fry that included a medley of broccoli, okra, green beans, and corn on top of quinoa. God, I sound like a hipster. And then chased with another salad (same as Day 1).
Now we’re hitting groundhog day mode: same salad at lunch (subbing in bacon bits for the black olives), followed by the stir-fry and salad at home for supper.
I really need to widen my options. Same stir-fry. Same salad (twice). Salad still tastes like salad.
This is where things get interesting. You’ll notice those salads aren’t quite alike. Tomatoes in one and not in the other. I couldn’t find cherry tomatoes at the grocery store, except for this odd mix of different types of smaller tomatoes. I bought a couple of packages that got me through the first 4 days. They turned out pretty well. Then I bought more. Ate my first salad. No story. Started making my second salad of the day and noticed something on one of the tomatoes: a massive amount of mold. Those tomatoes I ate earlier? Yep, they were in the same package. I’m happy I was still able to make myself eat the second salad. So now the remaining lettuce in this batch will be without tomatoes. Those tomatoes are the highlight of my salads. That’s like saying my favorite part of the dentist is the massage chair (my old dentist actually had that), but you have to look forward to what you can.
Womp, womp. Yesterday I fell of the wagon and into a pizza. I started ok, but by the time I got home I wanted to make a bad decision. I did at least prep my stir-fry for the remainder of the week, but I demolished a pizza. But this was not before I managed to burn my fingers on an stove burner. I paid my penance and got my pizza.
I didn’t really need to show you the chicken sandwich and tater tots (called potato tots where I got them, oddly enough), but I wanted everyone to know that these vegetables weren’t getting in the way of me making bad decisions. Today was light on salads. I went with stir-fry twice (broccoli, onions, and carrots in meal 1, and broccoli, green beans, okra, and corn in meal 2), along with another salad (just because I’m light on salads doesn’t mean there still won’t be salad): romaine, spinach, tomatoes, black olives, croutons, and ranch dressing.
And that’s a wrap on week 1. I just want to make bad choices, but at least the veggies month leaves wiggle room. April and no refined grains almost killed me, so the fact that I can eat a burger without derailing the day means wonders for me. But next week things get tricky. I won’t have time to cook, so I’m going to have to be careful. See you on other side, trekkies.
Have I got the perfect weight loss plan for you: Exercise and eat like you would at your goal.
See ya next week folks!
Ok, maybe you need more than this. I guess I’ll explain: I’m not a fan of extreme changes. They’re inherently unsustainable, which is why the term extreme is used. People who are severely obese going after Biggest Loser-type changes terrify me. Up until recently, I didn’t like it because it didn’t seem sustainable (and it wasn’t). More recently, there’s evidence that it really screws with the metabolism of these individuals’ bodies.
And that’s terrifying. Not only did these people typically gain much of the weight back, but now their metabolism wasn’t even where it was at when they started, so they had to eat even less to maintain the same amount of weight. It’s a small sample, but it’s an important sample because it’s visible. It’s what people see when they are looking for an example. There aren’t any TV shows about moderately paced efforts to improve health, at least none that end up on broadcast networks during primetime. No, we want extreme as a country.
A cool little response article popped up not longer after The Biggest Loser article was posted. The gist of it is that people get disheartened when they don’t meet their weight-loss goals, but their goals are often unrealistic. He made a good comparison to running: If everyone’s goal was the qualify for Boston, most people would fail, get discouraged, and eventually stop running altogether. The same thing happens when people are shooting for six-pack abs. I joke fairly often that if I ever get a six pack, I’m finding every excuse to never wear a shirt. But at the same time, I know that’s not really a good goal for me. I was the same height I am now (5’9″) but almost 60 pounds lighter (125) 15 years ago, and I still didn’t have a six-pack. I was just skinny. It’s not realistic for me to expect a six-pack. I would however like to remain a functioning human being. When I was past 200, that wasn’t working out so well. At 180ish, things are better. I don’t feel discouraged when I step on the scale. Even when I was stalled at 190 forever, I felt ok because I was trending the right way and my behavior was sustainable, even if it was not perfect.
The Super Awesome Year of Me was actually built around the idea of sustainability. None of my goals were extreme. They were things I knew I should be doing anyway. While it’s difficult to do them every single day, I can accomplish my goals most days and see the benefits. I’ve dropped 10 pounds the past year and 5 the past six months. Not extreme changes but sustainable. I chose attainable but challenging goals. There was never a quick fix in either of the Super Awesome Years.
Not gonna lie, I’d forgotten about the Credible Hulk until I went looking for a regular Hulk quote meme. But I digress.
The fact is that we generally know what we’re supposed to be doing. And it’s almost never the easy choice.
So think about the goal life you want to live. If you want that six-pack, are you willing to live that life 24/7, including watching your intake like a hawk? If you want to be a marathoner, can you live that lifestyle of seemingly endless runs? If you want to be 50 pounds lighter, what does that version of you need to eat and drink to stay that way? If you know what you want, then go after that, but don’t go crazy along the way. If you make an extreme change to get there that you can’t sustain, odds are you’re going to rebound back to where you were (and since a lot of studies show dieting actually leads to long-term weight gain after the rebound, I would avoid what we consider dieting altogether; just eat healthy sustainably).
If your goals involve some extreme shift, I’d rethink your goals. I ran a 10K this weekend. That was a real accomplishment for me. The Barkley Marathons will not be my next goal. That’s such a seismic difference that I would 1) fail miserably, 2) get discouraged, and 3) risk quitting the whole enterprise of running out of shame. And don’t underestimate my ability to feel shame. Instead, my tentative goal is to chase a 25-minute 5K. It’s ambitious, but it’s doable (8-minute mile, 3 times). And I’ve got incremental steps to get there. Basically, my goal is to train like I’m living 8-minute miles until I can put together 3 of them (this will be mixed with lighter runs to keep my mileage up). I won’t get there as quickly as I could on a more ambitious plan, but I also won’t run as high of a risk of hurting myself. I’d rather get there in a year or two than to break my foot and set myself back no telling how far.
But I’ve life-coached enough today. I’m tired, and I’ve got another day of moderately good decisions ahead of me (and maybe a couple of cookies).
I officially clocked 1:08:29 chip-timed (1:09:02 gun-timed) on my first (and maybe last; you never know) 10K.
There is a lot to talk about, so hopefully I can do it all justice. Without, further ado, let’s get this prose party started:
The Days Before
The first thing to note is that I really haven’t been feeling great the past week or so. This isn’t entirely new for me, especially leading up to a race. There’s been a lot going on, and my digestive system’s usually the first to throw a tantrum. This manifested itself in me just feeling drained the day before and the morning of (and being acutely aware of where the portapotties were). I’ve never had any issues during a race, and I try to remember this every time, but there are some races where my body’s being more obstinate than others. Luckily, no issues, but it’s not a fun thing to have on my mind going into a distance I’ve never run before.
The other main pre-race day thing was my night-before meal. I have a habit of eating PF Chang’s if it’s in the town I’m running in. Unfortunately, I’m wondering if I need to rethink my choices. They bread the things I tend to buy, and I’m not used to eating my breaded and fried food. The rice is fine, but the rest maybe not so much. The real problem yesterday, though, was the timing. I knew I was getting an even earlier start than normal race days (except for April’s god-awful 3 a.m. alarm).
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I don’t like to eat too soon before I go to bed, and I ended up eating later than I normally do on a night I was going to sleep earlier than I normally do. It was partly because I had access to a bookstore, which I don’t have in my town. I can spend more than an hour in a bookstore if I’m not watching myself closely.
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Pre-race: The Day of
For the most part, and I’ll say this later also, this was a well-organized event. They had a website with fairly clear directions for packet pick-up and such, including directing everyone to two specific areas to park in. Next to no one parked where they were supposed to. It was fine, but my inner rule follower wanted to yell at the people parking in the wrong place. Of course, not everyone reads the entire race website, so that’s probably why they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Or they were anarchists. Maybe they were the same anarchists I’ll talk about during the race description.
I mentioned my portapotty fixation, so I might as well mention them now. For a race as big as it was (more than a 1,000 people ran), there was a surprisingly small number of units. The Disney race had an obscene amount of portapotties, so it was reality check to be back to the one small group of portapotties. Luckily, the lines weren’t terrible, but it was less than ideal. And one of the johns ran out of toilet paper evidently, so my condolences for whoever learned that lesson the hard way.
The other less than ideal aspect was the music announcements. It was loud. No one can say they didn’t hear the announcements. Or the music. Not even the people who were staying in the hotel right next to the event. When I got there just before 6, the music was already blaring. I don’t envy anyone at that hotel who wasn’t expecting the early start to their Saturday. The choice of music wasn’t bad, though.
Now for the weather: The weather was basically perfect. It was high 50s at the start, with clear, dry(ish; it’s Mississippi after all) air. I can’t ask for better weather for me to be able to breathe comfortably.
And last for the race setup, we have the staggering of the races. There were three races happening at once: half marathon, 10K, and 5K. There was also a kid’s fun run after the bulk of 5K and 10K finishers were done. To accomplish, they staggered the starts, which is typical. What was less typical for me was that they had them split by 15 minutes. I’m used to 5-10 minute splits. It was fine and probably worked out best for the 10K and 5K speedsters who were going to be hitting the tail end of the first group no matter what. At least this way, they had 15 minutes to begin spreading out. But we’re going to come back to this staggered start at the end. For the beginning, it was great.
After the halfers were on their way, we milled around a bit before our 6:45 start time (have I mentioned I hate these early start times?). When we got the two-minute warning, everyone started to crowd to the front. Well, I didn’t. I knew I wasn’t running the whole thing, and I sure as hell wasn’t finishing at the front of the pack. I actually started pretty much near the back because I was going to stick to my 3-minute run/1-minute walk splits even at the beginning, and I didn’t want to be the jerk who started walking early in the race with people packed right behind me.
Others did not have that same thought.
I complain about this at every biggish race. Inevitably, there are the walkers who crowd their way to the front so they can speed walk. This of course creates unnecessary log jams, bogging down a start that is inherently going to be boggy to begin with.
Anarchists. Every last one. And not in a good way, like a punk band. They’re just being obnoxious so they can finish slightly earlier. Except it’s a chip-timed race, so they’re going to have the same time they would have, but now they got in everyone’s way. I’m still dealing with some anger on this issue.
Again, this isn’t atypical. All the bigger races I’ve done have the bogged-down start. Where this one threw a curveball was not long after the start, we went from being on a road to being on a walking path, severely narrowing the width available. I actually almost fell on my face once dodging people in the early going because the first part of the walking path wasn’t in great shape. The rest was pretty fantastic, but the beginning wasn’t. And then I had to be super mindful of looking around before I started each of my walk breaks in the early going. Luckily, there were no hecklers or dirty looks. Or at least I didn’t notice. I had headphones on and was jamming to my 5K mofo playlist.
Speaking of the route, like the weather, it was pretty close to ideal. I’d like to someday run a race on a packed-dirt path, but I’ll take an all-asphalt race. There was zero time spent on cement, which my feet and legs greatly appreciated. And being on the walking path a good part of the way, it’s usually a softer type of asphalt (or maybe just less packed in due to its intended use), which was better than the roadways, which were fine as they were.
It wasn’t a flat course, but there weren’t too many steep climbs (one near the beginning, though). What wasn’t nice, though, was the climb that happens right in the middle of the race. It was a net 70-foot gain over the span of 1.4 miles. This stretch did wonders for spreading out the pack.
As I mentioned, there were three races going at once. Of course, there was a split eventually. It was a funny little split. Halfers went left. 10Kers went straight. 5Kers went right back toward the start. While the split was funny, it’s consequences were less so. Of course, the half needs to get priority over the other routes because the half runners are putting in more effort, so water and such are more important for them. At miles 1 and 2, there were water stations. I might not be as awesome as I pretend to be, but I know better than to get water that soon for the level of effort I was putting in. I was waiting for that mile-3 station as my halfway point. Mile 3 came and went. No water. Ugh. Luckily, mile 4 offered a reprieve. They were also handing out Gu at that point, which was weird. It was clearly more intended for the halfers than the 10K group, but the 10K group was going hit that station first. Even with a 15-minute head-start, they had to cover almost an extra 7 miles.
These water stations bring up my second true race gripe: The people serving were actively in the way. Water stations are always tricky. People are slowing down to get water, and you’ve got to dodge them if you aren’t stopping. But I get that. I don’t get mad. The volunteers (and bless them for volunteering) at two of the stations got in the way. At one station, they go on both sides of the half of the road available to the runners. You couldn’t go around them, and they squeezed together enough that it forced runners to funnel through single file. At the next station, there was a volunteer coming out of the portapotty (as a racer was waiting to get in, sadly). As he walked back to the station, he just randomly stopped in the middle of the path instead of going all the way to the water station, and I had to run around him.
But all these complaints included, it really was a good race overall, especially once the walkers and the logjam were left behind. We crossed a lot of roadways, and there were cops at each crossing. Traffic was backing up an obscene amount because I was in the middle of the whole group, so there weren’t breaks in runners often. I kind of wanted to make a one-finger wave to the long lines of cars at each intersection to make their morning a little worse, but I’m an adult. Also, the cops probably wouldn’t have been amused. And those guys were great. Especially near the end, they did great working with the cars and the runners to allow the cars to move if they could, moving them slowly point to point to avoid inhibiting any runners.
And the other runners were pretty great. There weren’t too many obnoxious ones out and about. There were a couple of duos who ran side by side, which was a bit hazardous on the narrower paths when they would stay dead center, so getting around was tricky at times. But they were the minority. The majority were great about staying off to one side.
As for the actual running, I stuck to the 3:1 ratio as much as I could, and it worked out alright. My heart rate averaged high but not as high as the 5K. I averaged 170.
I spent the time yo-yoing with same group of runners most of the way, but I was generally faster. Most of who I ran with I would end up ahead of at the end. The screwy part was how consistent my splits were.
I don’t mind the consistency abstractly. That’s a good goal. The problem stems from what was going on in those later splits. I started dragging later on (the 1.4-mile climb in the middle didn’t help). Walking had to happen longer than a minute a lot of the last half, but my splits didn’t show much of a difference. The outliers on the front end are when I was running too fast. Of course, this means I was running faster than I should have been near the end. That said, I didn’t hit the wall or get tackled by the Blerch at the end. I felt better this time than I did after last month’s 5K.
And as I got to the end, I was still feeling OKish. As I’m coming up on the last .2 miles, something strange was happening. As I was trying to finish strong, I was running into walkers. And they were dense (as in many people, not dense people). I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on until I realized it was the 5K runners crossing the line at close to an hour. I’ve never stuck around to see the final finishers, so I wasn’t used to people walking across the finish line. Now we come back around to those staggered starts. The 5K and the 10K stayed mostly separate from the split until the very end. So I wasn’t seeing them until now. And because of that staggered start, I only saw two people I knew were running the half (they finished 2nd and 3rd; 1st must have passed me when I didn’t even realize it somehow). Up until the end, I only had to deal with 10K traffic. But now we’re at the end, and there’s a lot of people finished and finishing.
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The After Party
After trudging for 6.2 miles (not to mention the speedsters finishing a half marathon), you get through the finish line and deal with people who’ve decided to stop right in front of the medals and the water. If I wasn’t exhausted, I might have yelled. Of course, if I wasn’t exhausted, I wouldn’t be wanting my medal and water.
After getting my medal and dunking my hand into a bucket of ice (this is the one time volunteers were not actively handing out drinks) for a bottle of water, I worked my way toward the food. Fatty likes his food. And I enjoy bragging about overeating just a bit too much. Today’s binge: bottle of water, 2 bottles of gatorade, 2 orange wedges, 3 slices of pizza, and two cookies for the road (I can’t leave free cookies on the table).
They also had a band going at the finish. They were pretty good, especially considering they were a bunch of white guys playing classic R&B, like The Temptations and Otis Redding. Takes balls to play Otis Redding.
As for swag, the only thing I got was a shirt. There were some stations set up where I might have been able to grab something (including post-race massages, but I’m not comfortable with randos touching me when I’m clean, much less in a post-10K stink of sweat), but I just wanted to get showered. Of course, I wore my shirt home. And then I realized it had a hole. I was either given a shirt with a hole or I did it almost immediately after getting it. Either way, bad. It’s a really comfy shirt, perfect for yoga. But because it was only for being comfy, I decided to do my DIY thing:
It’s not pretty, but hopefully it will hold
But that’s all there is to say about that. I’m exhausted, and I just want to sleep for a week.
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I failed. I failed so many times. SO many times.
And here’s the trick: Turns out I failed more often than I’d thought. Gatorade and Powerade have modified food starch in them. I’m not sure what that hell that fully means, but if corn starch is forboden, then I’m thinking modified food starch is against the rules too. That means some check marks should include X’s (luckily I didn’t really drink that much Gatorade this month).
Oh, did I fail. I failed in so many different ways. I failed intentionally when I was just mentally done. I failed when I was traveling and it just wasn’t practical. I failed accidentally when corn starch snuck into my Sunny D. And I failed when I was (probably) malnourished. Seriously, two of my binge days left me still lighter than I was the day before.
I failed, but I kept trying. With all those failing days, I still dropped weight the first week and maintained it the rest of the month.
I failed, but I also learned some lessons for future food-based months. I have to be more careful than I realize. Turns out I might need more calories than I realized at first. Those malnourished days weren’t intentional. I wasn’t trying to tread a line. I was just trying to eat and then I realized I needed more than I was getting.
So yeah, I failed. But I didn’t fail every time. And now I can have pizza again.