Thursday, February 27, 2014

That Guy

My doc appointment went well yesterday.  I won’t get the cholesterol test results until tomorrow, but I had Bp 132/74, pulse  58 and weight 208lbs.  The weight number is inflated because I was wearing my winter coat and boots; we have a predicted high of 0° today.  I thought the 132 number was a bit high, but both the doc and nurse said it was a good.

After the initial health questions, the nurse asked me what brought me in for a physical.   I thought and remember saying, “There are cholesterol problems in my family and I signed up for a couple races this summer.”  However, when the doc came in (after the obligatory, annoying 10 minute wait between nurse and doc) the first thing he said was, “So, you’re going to run a triathlon.”  Maybe I’m already that guy who can’t help but mention the word triathlon when I speak about myself.  Probably not; hope not. So far, the only people that know that I registered for a couple races are my wife, the nurse, the doc and this blog.  Since this isn’t posted under my full name, I’m probably not that pompous ass just yet.

Also, my first reaction when the doc asked me about my race was to correct him and say that I was doing a sprint triathlon.  When I hear the work triathlon; I think of those crazy Ironman races.  They do 2.4mile swim, 112mile bike and a full marathon.  I can’t imagine such a thing, and I would feel stupid if anyone thought I was getting anywhere close to that.  Although, after thinking about it at home last night, I might see if I can change to the Olympic distance for my triathlon registration.  It’s probably a silly idea to do an Olympic length before a sprint, but I might be able to do it.  The real reason, of course, is that Olympic sounds much cooler than sprint.  The sprint I am going to run is 1/4mile swim, 17mile bike and a 5k.  Olympic is 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run.  It would only be a slightly longer bike, but I’d double the run and almost quad the swim.  I’ll see how the 10k run in May goes. If that’s not a total disaster, then maybe I’ll see if I can change my registration.  No need to jump in the deep end just yet.

I did core strength training last night, and I’m running some longer fast intervals tonight.  I feel pretty good so far.  The lunges, squats and things of the like are killing my thighs, but I suppose that’s the point.

78 days to the 10k, 170 days to the sprint triathlon 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Check with Your Doctor

Today, I have my almost annual check-up with a doctor.  I’d say “my doctor” but I always just see whoever is available.  I think I went in once last year; it may actually have been a year and a half since my last visit.  This time around, I’m getting cholesterol tested so I have to fast until my 2:30pm appointment.  Hungry.  There are some cholesterol problems in my family, so I’m a little anxious to see what happens with my tests.  I haven’t had my cholesterol checked in quite a while.  The last time I had it checked the doc told me not to bother with the test again for five years.  We’ll see what happens.

You always see that warning that you are supposed to see your doc before starting a new exercise regimen, but if it wasn’t for the cholesterol I don’t know if I would go today.  I haven’t found docs very useful in the past. 

Both of my shoulders give me troubles, but the left is the more problematic of the two.  About two to four times a year, one of my shoulders will give out and I won’t be able to lift my arm above my head for a couple weeks.   I mentioned this at a doc appointment a while back, and he checked me for rheumatoid arthritis (negative) and told me to take ibuprofen.  I had a similar check-up in high school where I was told to take ibuprofen for tendonitis in my shoulders.

Both of my hips give me problems, but the right is definitely the worst of the two.  About once a month, my hip will lock up after I’ve been sitting or standing too long.  Usually, this puts me on the ground either because of pain or loss of balance.  I had it checked out a couple years back (x-rays and such), and the doc said he couldn’t see anything wrong.  He did refer me to an orthopedist, but I never followed up.  I suppose that one is on me. 

Once in a while I have spells where I get dizzy.  Usually, this will happen on and off for a couple weeks or a month.  After that it goes away, and I’m fine until the next time.  I mentioned this at my last doc appointment.  He said it was nothing to worry about unless it gets more constant or more severe.

I’ll mention that I’m going to do some more exercising at the doc appointment today, and I’m sure he’ll not care at all.  We’ll see if my slightly busted body can stand up to the tests ahead.

Anyhoo, I ran 2.5 miles on the treadmill last night (with incline).  I did some sprint intervals (8.5mph) with some slower recovery runs in between.  I’m going to kinda follow a training schedule that I found online.  It’s from a British site, which is kinda fun.  It has a lot of reference to heart rate, and I happened to receive a free (used) heart rate monitor from a family member a few months back.  The training plan calls for five runs a week, but I will probably only do four (at least at the start).  Everything says you shouldn’t increase your distance by more than 10% per week.  I’m going to try to stick to that, but I’ll use that more as a suggestion than a rule. 

79 days to the 10k, 171 days to the sprint triathlon 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hiding Excitement

I did a strength training workout last night which has exercises to improve my core strength.   Mostly abs and back stuff, but I threw in some weight training for my arms and shoulders.   I have bad shoulders; more on that some other time.

If I was talking to a buddy or my family I’d say, “I did some stupid workout that I found on the internet.”  I’d down play the situation and pretend that I’m not excited about this at all. I’d pretend that this is all a big hassle, and that I really don’t want to do any of this working out, running and training.  I’m not good with optimistic or positive. 

I had a student evaluation a couple years ago where I was called a “bitter old man before my time.”  That’s probably not far off for work.  That’s not to say that I’m no fun in my personal life.  I like to joke around and keep things light, but I do my best not to show my interest in or passion for anything.  I suppose I’m a stereotype.  I’m ¼ German, a little more than ½ Norwegian and a little less than ¼ Swedish.   My stereotype of my ancestry would be stubborn, incapable of asking for help and emotionless. 

Anyhoo, that interpersonal part of my life probably won’t change anytime soon.  However, for the purposes of this blog, I am going to try to write my thoughts as they form in my head.  I’m not going to hide any of my excitement, optimism or disappointment (I’m sure there will be many occasions for each).  Maybe someday I’ll show this to my wife or my extended family (my wife knows the race plans, not so much for the family), but that seems highly unlikely.  For now, my thoughts will be my little blog secret.  If it’s not obvious, here is secret number one:  I’m very excited to run and complete these races.  I hope that my efforts are enough so that I don’t feel embarrassed by my results. 

My goals right now are to run my 10k in less than an hour and finish the sprint triathlon in about an hour and fifty minutes (12min swim, 1 hr bike, 30 min run, 8min for transitions).  I’d like to set my goals higher and hopefully I can do better than this, but like I said, I’m not good with optimism.

80 days to the 10k, 172 days to the sprint triathlon. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

This is What's Happening

I have two young boys. After the second was born last summer, I decided that I needed to get into some sort of reasonable shape if I wanted to someday see my grandchildren. I wouldn't say that I was grossly unhealthy, but I certainly wasn't overly healthy either. More importantly, I didn't like how I felt and how I looked.

I am 35, 6'5" and last August I was about 225lbs. Before last August, I hadn't ran, biked, swam or seriously worked out for about 7 years. Even then, the workouts 7 years previous only lasted for about three months, and then I lost the weight and stopped working out. At that point, I had hit my lifetime max of 235lbs, and that brief stint of working out and running got me down to 205lbs.  The runs were never more than a mile.

Back to August. My wife and I had bought a treadmill the previous winter so that she could get in some walking while being pregnant during the winter months. I teach, and my one goal for my four week summer break was to get in at least one run. Even though it was summer, I had no intention of running outside and opening myself up to the possibility of public failure and ridicule. Again, a bit melodramatic, I know. I'm sure no one in the city or neighborhood would have cared or noticed if I had ran outside, but in my mind running outside was a terrifying prospect that was never going to happen. Of course, it got to be the last Sunday of my break and I still hadn't been for a run on the treadmill.

I decided to suck it up and give it a try. I put a photo of my boys in front of the tread mill, put on my one and only pair of athletic shorts (which I wore the day I left home and moved to college) and started off on my treadmill run. I HATED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. I ran with no incline and tried for a mile at 5mph. After about 45 seconds I had to hold on the side rails, but after 12 minutes of huffing and puffing like a water buffalo I did finally made it to the 1 mile mark.

I dream about running. I have for years. I dream about running with no end in sight. I dream of running with unlimited stamina and unequaled grace.  In my dreams I run on grass, beaches and hardtops, and I’m jumping over curbs, puddles, and out of the way of the occasional dog.  I dream of running with friends and alone.  I dream of being happy while I run.  Running with a smile, that’s how my dreams go.  I don’t know where these dreams come from, but my running dreams are my favorite.

Anyhoo, this time I didn't give up on the running right away. That side rail aided mile gradually turned into a non-aided mile, then 2 miles and then a 5k. I always thought 5k sounded so much cooler than 3 miles and change.  I still think it’s a kick to say it.  After I got up to 3.1 miles, I started over at 6mph, and again gradually worked my way up to a 5k. Finally, I started over one more time and made my way up to a 5k at 6mph with a 2% incline (one of only two setting on our treadmill). That sequence took about six months. After about 2 months I was back down to 205lbs. My running was almost always at night. Sometimes it was after we got the kids into bed (around 8:30pm), and other times it was after my night class in the fall which usually got me home around 9:00pm. At the start, I was shooting for (and getting in) three runs per week, and after a few months that average started to dip to about two runs a week. For most of October and November I average about six miles of running per week.

By the time that January of this year came around, I was usually running once, maybe twice a week (two to three miles, 6mph, 2% incline). I knew where this was going, I still hadn't ran outside (lots of snow this winter) and it looked like I was going to stop out before spring came. I felt and looked better, I didn't tire out while playing with the kids and I was more confident in my health. But, I was running on a dead end street.

I'm not a believer in signs and things of the like, but a couple fun coincidences popped up and I went with it. On February 17th, I happened upon the website for a sprint triathlon that would take place on August 17, 2014. I had originally started running on August 19, 2013. The event was going to take place just about ten miles from my home. After some more kicking around, I also found a 10k fun run that was similarly taking place just a few miles from my house, and that event was going to take place on May 17th. So, I signed up for both. I had exactly three months until the 10k and exactly 6 months until the sprint triathlon which is going to be a 0.25mile swim, 17.3mile bike and a 5k run.

There is a folder somewhere in my basement storage room that has a bucket list that I wrote in college.  I don't remember everything that is on it, but I know number one says “Finish a Race”. Hopefully I’ll get to check that off this year.

Today is February 24; I'm one week in to training. Last week I did 7.2 miles in three runs and I started a workout to improve my core strength.