Fitness

North Olympic Discovery Marathon

This past April was my birthday and one of the few advantages of aging is that every 5 years you enter a new age qualification bracket for entry into the Boston Marathon. Suffice it to say, I have been wanting to qualify for Boston since forever. I missed qualifying by a mere 15 seconds 10 years ago in 2008 at the Eugene marathon with a time of 3:36:14. And, in fat, I actually qualified (again at Eugene) in 2013 with a time of 3:39:23. However, there was a huge upsurge of qualifiers that year (2013 was the year the bombing occurred, so many people were inspired to qualify for the 2014 event) and when I was ready to register in September, the Boston Marathon Association reduced the qualifying times for each age bracket by over a minute so I no longer qualified.

After a few more attempts to qualify and repeated bouts of IT band syndrome, I discovered trail running and the fact that my IT band was much happier when I was running my long runs on trails. Fast forward to the time of my birthday this year, and I decided to give the marathon another go and searched for a marathon to squeeze in between the Mendocino Coast 50K in April and the White River 50 Mile Endurance Run in July. The North Olympic Discovery Marathon (NODM) scheduled for June 3rd fit the bill.

So…I started training for the marathon a few days after Mendocino, following my coach David’s training plan to the “t”. And David’s suggested race plan was pretty simple: Go out in 8:45-50 first half. Quicken to <=8:40 pace for 2nd half (or perhaps post-mile 16).

The start in the town of Blyn

The race started at 7:30 AM and I quickly settled into a comfortable pace, letting my friend Laura go ahead. My first mile was 8:49.9; right on pace. The 4 hour pacer passed me before the first mile marker, which was a bit disconcerting (since my goal was to run a 3:50 race), but I told myself “run my race; not anyone else’s” and eventually, I caught and passed his pace group at mile 3. They must have been “banking” miles.

Just after passing the 4:00 pacing group

I also caught up to Laura briefly at the top of a hill, but then let her go again after a brief chat. The miles ticked off and I continued to feel good except for some right foot pain (oddly, not the foot that usually caused me trouble) that bothered me between miles 8 and 18 or so. Around mile 12, I came up to Suzanna, who had started at 6:00 AM and was walking the marathon. It was so nice to run into her (literally); we kissed, checked in with each other, and I was off, wishing each other a great race.

The course was about 80% asphalt and about 20% concrete, but with my foot bothering me, I took every chance to run on the grass or dirt to the right of the path. This seemed to help a bit. I wore a Nathan hydration vest, which obviated the need to stop at aid stations but I did make one quick stop to pee sometime after the half way point.

After the first half, there were around 7 or 8 stream crossings which meant a steep descent to the stream followed by a steep climb back up. These stream crossings were tough, especially one of the later ones where I had to walk up the hill because of its steepness.

Around mile 21, the course headed down a hill to the water front and remained flat the rest of the race. This was great, except for the fact that the wind had picked up, meaning that for the last 5 miles we were headed straight into a head wind. Around mile 22, I caught up to Laura, tapping her on the shoulder to say hi. I thought we would run the rest of the race together, but as soon as I caught up to her, she dropped right behind me. Funny thing, I never looked back, and assumed that she drifted back as I pressed hard during those last few windy miles.

 

Crossing the bridge right before the finish. You can see Laura in the blue shirt and white hat behind me.

Looking strong!

It took everything in me to push harder and harder to the finish and I finally crossed in a respectable 3:50:42, more than 4 minutes under my Boston qualifying time!

The finish

I soon discovered that Laura had not faded after all. In fact, Laura finished just 5 seconds behind me.

Laura and I after the finish

After some food and drink and a quick shower (our hotel was right across from the finish), I came out to cheer for Suzanna’s triumphant arrival at the finish. I was so proud of her.

The final stretch for Suzanna. Her time: an amazing 6:45:22, walking all 26.2 miles!

Suzanna, Laura, and I all achieved our goals! Plus, Laura finished 1st in her age/gender group and I finished 3rd in my age/gender group. What a day.

Suzanna and I post race.

 

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Mendocino Coast 50K

After a good night’s sleep, I awoke feeling okay. I ate my bagel with peanut butter, took a hot bath, and got dressed. We then headed off to the start which was less than 5 minutes by car. The weather was a little cool but it was expected to warm up a bit so I ran in shorts and a long-sleeve tech t-shirt. The race started at 7:30 and we were off.

Photo of start/finishMendocino Coast 50K Course Map

The fact that I started pain-free was a small miracle of itself. Three days before the race, I awoke to a nasty ache in the lower left side of my back. Great, I thought: we have to drive about 830 miles over the next two days and I have a bad back. Suffice it to say, Wednesday was quite painful in the car, even though I only drove for an hour or two. (Thank you, Suzanna, for doing the bulk of the driving.) Nothing made the pain go away and quite almost everything I did made it feel worse.

We got to the hotel in Ashland in the late afternoon and I finally found something that took the pain away: a hot bath. Unfortunately, the bath had to end and the bed was a bit too soft. I tossed and turned most of the night. In the morning, after another hot bath, and a quick breakfast and coffee, we took off again. The back was a better for sure but still pretty painful. Again, Suzanna did the bulk of driving, but I was able to contribute more since my back was feeling better.

Once we got to our destination and checked into our B&B, I again took a hot bath and experienced relief while I worried what was in store for me on Saturday. Thursday night’s sleep was definitely better and I awoke with a more positive outlook on Friday.

That morning, I emailed my coach, David Roche, and David suggested that I not race if I was in pain. I agreed and told him I would check in again after a 3-mile shakeout run. Packet pickup was only about a mile away from our B&B at the Stanford Inn, so I suited up and headed out the door uncertain how it would feel. While not quite perfect, I held up pretty well. (Great swag, by the way.) The run back along the beach was fun and I was starting to think that I might make it to the starting line after all.

Photo of the race swag

Race swag, including a tech shirt, mug, hat, racing cup, string bag, and a headlamp. Oh, and a very cool race number too!

Friday night we had a fabulous pre-race dinner at the Stanford Inn’s Ravens restaurant and I did my usual pre-race ritual (lots of gathering way too much gear and food and assembling it before ditching half of it) and then I took another hot bath.

Big River Trail

Sometimes things just work their way out. And man was I pleased Saturday morning to make it to the starting line with only the slightest niggle of back pain. For the first 10 miles we headed due east on the very flat and soft Big River Trail, which winded alongside the, you guessed it, Big River. The plan was to go out nice and easy and I executed that pretty well. After about a mile, I met another runner, Nicolette, who seemed to be running at the same pace and we struck up a conversation for a number of miles. Anytime you can run with someone else, even if it’s for a few miles, is a bonus in an ultra because, for me anyway, unless I am struggling to keep up with the other runner, it helps you to relax and take your mind off the long trail ahead. And that’s exactly what happened, the miles ticked by effortlessly as we chatted about our jobs, loved ones, and recent races.

A little after mile 10, and a brief hug from Suzanna at aid station 2 (who I was pleasantly surprised to see), we turned away from the river onto the Big Tree Trail, and climbed we did for the next two miles. About half way up this climb, I looked back and Nicolette had dropped back behind another group and I never saw her again. I continued up the climb, walking the steeper parts, and made it to the top at about mile 12. The wooded trail leveled off for about a half mile before it dropped most of the elevation we had just climbed. I ran the downhill moderately fast, passing a number of other runners who were more timid on their approach.

The Stream

At mile 14 we bottomed out and came upon a stream. Not thinking much about it — I guess I assumed we would soon come to a bridge upon which we would cross the stream — I suddenly saw a pair of runners ahead wading across. So after a quick survey of my options (there was only one), I waded on in. And after a few strides I reached the other side with some very wet shoes and socks.

The stream at mile 14

The stream at mile 14

At this point, I realized that my shoes were too loose on my feet, which exacerbated the sloshy feeling, but I decided I would wait until the next aid station at the top of the next hill before adjusting things. At the top the hill, I reached the aid station just shy of mile 17. I sat down in a chair, took off my shoes, removed the debris from them, secured the laces, and I put them back on. As I looked up from the chair, I realized that my drop bag was right in front of me. Nice coincidence. I grabbed the bottle of premixed Tailwinds, and emptied it into my hydration bladder, neglecting to bleed the air out (which I regretted for the remaining miles as I kept thinking the noise from the bladder was someone right behind me). I grabbed a few food items from my drop bag (most which I never ate), adjusted my pack, drank some aid station water and ate some aid station chips, and headed back out.

After another relatively flat mile, I came to a “rogue” aid station run by Healdsburg Running Company where the guy manning it, told me to take a hard left (which was good because the aid station was blocking the straight-ahead option), and head down for 5 miles. The next five miles was indeed all down, and during that stretch I never saw another soul. During one long portion of the down that went for miles, there were drainage dips in the trail every 50 feet or so, sometimes filled with rocks, which made the running difficult since there would be a steep down followed quickly by a steep up, which unfortunately aggravated an old abdominal strain I had on my left side.

Course elevation/gain profile

Course elevation/gain profile

I bottomed out at mile 23, had to jump across a few small streams and then head up the steepest of the three climbs, ascending about 600 feet over about a mile. While I did encounter a volunteer at the bottom, making sure I was headed the right way, still no other runners. At the top, just before aid station 4, I was happy to encounter a volunteer who was yelling “runner coming; number 100.” Even better, Suzanna was at the aid station asking me what I needed. I just grabbed some water, and we started walking while I finished my cup. I said goodbye with a kiss and headed off down the gravel path a couple of hundred feet before I turned right onto the trail and started down a two-mile descent.

Russian Gulch Waterfall

Russian Gulch Waterfall

The next stretch of trail was part of the Pacific Coast Trail. As I descended, I finally encountered and passed a few runners as the trail became the Waterfall Trail, which passed by the Russian Gulch waterfall.

As I got lower, I also encountered numerous hikers. The miles continued to tick off: mile 26, 27, 28. This race was coming together and I was in the moment. The dirt trail morphed into an asphalt and dirt trail and soon I was at the beginning of a parking lot, where I again encountered my sweet wife who informed me that the aid station was just ahead at the end of the parking lot. There was no stopping now, as I continued to cruise along at a good clip.

4.4 Miles to Go?!

Mile 29 ticked off on my watch as I arrived at the last aid station. Only 2 miles to go! Woo-hoo!

But wait, the sign hanging from the aid station table boldly stated 4.4 miles to the finish. Incredulous, I asked the aid station volunteer if that was correct – my watch said I only had 2 miles to go. He confirmed the bad news and intimated that others had complained too and that he suspected that the course was a couple of miles long.

I have to admit that the realization that I had an additional 4+ miles, was like a gut punch and really broke my spirit. Still, I gathered myself up and forged ahead. After the aid station, I had to scramble up a brief but steep and muddy incline before heading under the road onto the coastal trail. Pretty soon, some spectacular views of the coast started to open up.Spectacular views of the Mendocino coast

The miles started to crawl along and I finally came to the infamous rope-assisted descent. Volunteers were there to guide me, as I repelled down some slick rocks for about 40 feet. Around a turn and then I repelled down another section of rope. That was kind of fun but at the bottom, I had to scamper up another steep incline and head up alongside Highway 1. Amazingly, Suzanna was there yet again, having just pulled over to see if she could spot me one more time before the finish. For the second time, Suzanna offered to grab my hydration pack so I wouldn’t have to haul if for the last couple of miles. This time I said yes, and suddenly I was a little lighter and, incidentally, now without a phone.

In a little bit, I turned off Highway 1 onto Lansing Street as we headed into Mendocino and up a slight incline. I walked a stretch on Lansing Street. After another half mile, or perhaps a bit more, I turned into Mendocino Headlands State Park as a runner caught up to me. The path was narrow, no more than 1.5 to 2 feet wide in many places, and the wind picked up. After a couple of minutes, I let the runner pass me and then promptly started to walk as I silently whined to myself about the never-ending race and the wind whined by my ears.

We had walked in this same park on Friday, so I more or less knew what to expect here and for the remainder of the race, but even with that information, the trail through the park seemed to go on forever. At this point I did a lot of walking, intermixed with a little running. Another couple of runners passed me, and I tried to console myself with the fabulous views but they were mostly wasted on me. After what seemed a short eternity, we turned and came to a set of stairs that led down to the beach.

The beach sand was soft and my shoes quickly filled with sand as I proceeded to walk (again). We crossed under Highway 1 and another 2 or 3 runners passed me. Soon we came to an asphalt parking lot and I could now see the finish line. I started to run again, quickly picking up my pace as I passed Suzanna and headed hard into the finish.

Last few feet of the race

Last few feet of the race

The race director shook my hand as I crossed the finish line. Another 50K was completed. My time: 6:49:37. A 50K, as you know, is supposed to be 31 miles long, but my watch said I had run 33.3 miles (and incidentally, never went off course). Now I understand that GPS watches can be wrong, and perhaps mine was wrong, but man, that race seemed long and my finish time, even with a mile or so of walking in that last few miles, seems high for a 31 mile race.

But it was a good race. In fact, most of the race went flawlessly. Yes, I shall declare it was a good race.

Lessons Learned

Hopefully, every race is a learning experience as much as a racing experience. And Mendocino taught me a few things:

  1. The Mendocino Coast 50K is a beautiful and moderately easy course as far as 50Ks go (except for the fact that it might be a couple of miles long).
  2. Going out slow is the key for me to having a good race and not bonking. If we ignore, for now, the last 4 miles, I nailed this race!
  3. I became too caught up in the miles left as told to me by my Garmin Fenix 5x watch. This was a critical end-of-race mistake and when reality came crashing through at the last aid station, I let it get to me and let myself get “psyched out”.
  4. Stop looking at your watch! and stay conservative on all “miles to go” estimates!
  5. Don’t get ahead of yourself and don’t get cocky! Mile 28 (or was it mile 26?) was way too fast. My Garmin says it was 7:32. Even if the split is off by a minute, that mile was way too fast with 4 miles to go. I got ahead of myself and the race, and this combined with the aid station reckoning led to a somewhat less-than-satisfying finish.
  6. My wife, Suzanna, is awesome.

 

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Kicking Off Obliteride 2015 Training and Fundraising

2015-05-16 13.56.27A couple of days ago I decided to join Obilteride 2015. I also participated in this fundraiser for the amazing place where I work back in 2013. This year, I am riding the 50 mile ride with my wife, Suzanna. Unlike many charity events, 100% of the money raised for Obliteride goes to fund the awesome work being done at the cancer research center that I work for, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. That’s right, since a number of sponsors are picking up the overhead to run the event, 100% of the money donated will go to directly to cutting-edge cancer research done at Fred Hutch; research aimed at curing cancer and reducing suffering from this horrible family of diseases.

I have to admit that I am very lucky to work at the world-renowned Fred Hutch alongside some of the brightest scientists in the world. Fred Hutch has done a lot of wonderful research in order to understand, prevent, treat, and yes, even cure cancer. The funds raised by Obliteride when combined with grant funds from the National Institutes for Health and other funding agencies will help Fred Hutch continue its pioneering research to help obliterate cancer.

So while I continue to train for the ride on August 9, I am hoping you will consider making a donation to my Obliteride campaign. Thank you!

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My Dinner with Mike

Share-The-Road-Sign-K-6751A couple of weeks ago we were supposed to meet out contractor, Mike the Plumber, as he likes to call himself, at a restaurant and pub for a drink to discuss the finishing our basement.

At one point, the conversation shifted to cyclists and Mike became quite adamant about how cyclists were unsafe and didn’t pay for the roads and thus they should have no say in how roads were used. Only when cyclists were licensed and paid a fee for that license should they have a say.

Though his presentation was a bit over the top, thanks to a few beers, Mike does have a point about safety and the fact that many cyclists flagrantly and repeatedly break traffic laws. In my eyes, you’re either to be treated like a car or a pedestrian. And if you want to be treated as a car, you need to follow the rules of the road, including but not limited to, stopping at stop signs and red lights. I do!

Regarding Mike’s point about cyclists having no say because they are not paying for the roads, that’s just absurd and here’s why…

  1. Who said that the sole purpose of all roads in a city was to host motor traffic? I don’t buy that: there are other users in our society who need to be accommodated.
  2. The vast majority of adult cyclists also have motor vehicle licenses and thus we ARE already paying license fees… and federal income taxes, and sales taxes, and property taxes.
  3. Cyclist should be thanked and compensated for (a.) reducing traffic and thus commute times of drivers, (b.) reducing carbon emissions and global warming, (c.) freeing up parking spaces. This is true for bus riders and pedestrians too. Perhaps, we should be getting annual carbon-reduction rewards and single car drivers should be paying carbon surcharges?

shareIn fact, the more people who commute using alternate forms of transportation, the better the experience for automobile drivers. So instead of cursing us, Mike, you should be thanking us.

Enough said.

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Cancer Gets Personal

Cancer definitionIt seems like not too long ago when I didn’t know anyone with cancer and then it seemed to hit, like summer here in Seattle…One day it’s 50 degrees and raining, and the next, boom, it’s hot and sticky summer weather. All of a sudden all around us, just like, for me, cancer.

In 2011 though it was my turn. First, some background: After a birth defect necessitated a kidney transplant; my father donated a life-saving kidney to me in 1995, I have been blessed with pretty-darned good health. So much so that I was training for the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party) bike ride with Paul (we did STP (Seattle to Portland) the previous year) when, after a 100 mile training ride I didn’t feel well.

Of course, you might think that after 100 miles on a bike, most people would feel crummy; but it wasn’t just being tired and sore. That night I couldn’t get warm and watched as my temperature started to climb, up to 101, then 102, an finally 103. Now, as a transplant recipient you can think of two causes of a high fever; infection or rejection. So a trip to the ER was an absolute necessity. Here we were back from a trip to Europe, where Paul had just proposed to me, and now it’s off to the emergency room with my new fiancé.

After an initial evaluation, I was told I most likely had a kidney infection and they ordered an ultrasound. I was hospitalized and, when the results of the ultrasound came back, the doctors started saying they saw something, but they couldn’t really determine what it was and wanted my infection to die down a bit before confirming a diagnosis. I don’t remember when the “c” word was uttered for the first time, but I do remember getting the phone call in the evening at home, from the surgeon telling me that I had cancer. It hit me like a brick.

Of all the places for me to get cancer, did it have to be my precious kidney? My one and ONLY kidney? Talk about shock and awe…

Kidney cancer really only responds to one thing, surgery– to remove the tumor. As someone who carefully guarded her only kidney, the last thing I wanted was for it to be cut into. However, I certainly didn’t want to walk around with cancer–does anyone–so the surgery was scheduled.

My surgery was successful and I recovered just fine. Now when you have cancer surgery you think, well, that’s that; they cut it out! No more cancer for me, let’s celebrate! It’s such a downer when you go for your one year check up and the doctor says, let’s do a chest x-ray because that’s where this kind of cancer goes next. Well, so far so good, no cancer in the kidney or the lungs and my follow-up will only be the chest x-ray and my prognosis is good. Bullet dodged.

Of course another cancer scare has come & gone since then… Just recently an innocent enough looking line on my fingernail was biopsied and luckily did not turn out to be melanoma. It did require the removal of my thumb nail and a few days of quite a bit of pain, but the melanoma-free diagnosis was worth it.

But both Paul and I know plenty of people going through similar, even more challenging cancer scares and long-drawn out battles. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than cancer because it never seems to go away, you feel like it’s always lurking.

obliterideIt’s easy to not think about cancer and donating for the cause when you aren’t affected personally by it. But when you or a close friend or relative gets cancer, you can no longer ignore the fact that it’s a real and horrible disease. It also makes you want to rid the planet of cancer. And that’s what the researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where Paul works are trying to do. This is why I believe so much in Obliteride. And why Paul is riding in Obliteride, why I am volunteering, and why we are donating to the cause as well.

Please consider donating to Paul’s Obliteride campaign.

tripledAnd because I believe so much in the cause, Paul and I will match all donations between now through Sunday, July 7th, up to $500 dollars total. And because I work for Microsoft who matches donations at 100%, any money you donate will therefore be tripled! How’s that for some incentive to donate today?

Suzanna Litwin

Post Script: Suzanna’s challenge raised $550 so we matched it with the limit of $500 which Microsoft will match again.  Thus, her challenge raised at least $1,500 (not counting the fact that some of the donors also worked for Microsoft and will be submitting their donations for matching as well).

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Why Obliteride and Fred Hutch?

PaulOnBikeSammRiverTrain3_thumbIt’s been over nine years since I started working at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, or as we like to call it “Fred Hutch” or just “The Hutch”.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was established in 1975 by Dr. William Hutchinson in honor of his brother, Fred, who died of lung cancer in 1964.

So What’s So Great About Fred Hutch?

So what’s so great about The Hutch? Fred Hutch is truly a world-class research center dedicated to curing and reducing human suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other diseases.

One measure of the strength of a research institute is the awards it receives and many people will agree that the Nobel Prize is one of the highest honors in science. Well, three Nobel laureates (that means they each won a Nobel prize) have walked the halls of The Hutch. They are…

  • Donnal Thomas, who won his Nobel prize in 1990 for his ground-breaking work in bone marrow transplant. Donnall died in 2012.
  • Lee Hartwell, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2001 for his work in understanding cell division. Lee was the center’s president for many years and many days could be seen riding his bike to work.
  • Linda Buck, who received her prize in 2004 for her pioneering work in the human olfactory system. I remember drinking champagne in her honor the day she was awarded the prize.

Of course, that’s just three of the fine scientists of our institute. Much amazing work happens here every day, including work in basic science, clinical trials, bioinformatics, and cancer prevention. In future posts, I’ll share some of the projects I have had the honor to work on while here.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (1)In the mean time, you can read more about Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at fhcrc.org or wikipedia.

What’s Different About Obliteride?

obliterideOkay, let me be frank, the bike ride is just a front to raise money for this amazing institution. (Mind you, that’s not meant to disparage the amazing feats of athleticism that are part of an endurance event like Obliteride. Most participants will train for months to get ready and will endure somewhere between moderate discomfort and extreme pain in riding the event.) I mean that’s true for any event that raises money for a cause. For the most part, however, the event itself is not the important thing: it’s what happens with the money.  And, unfortunately, many events have a fairly high overhead, which means that for every dollar you donate, only a portion goes to the organization benefiting from the event. For example, I rode in the Ride to Conquer Cancer four years ago and was saddened to learn afterward that less than 50% of the money I raised made it to the organization. To me, that was a huge disappointment and a reason I have not ridden again for that event.

What is awesome about this event, however, is that a number of sponsors (as well as the participant registration fees) completely cover the expenses of the event. This means that 100% of every donation goes to the benefiting organization: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Let me repeat that: 100% of every dollar you donate goes to the ground-breaking and life-saving research of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Now, that’s something to get excited about.

How Can You Help?

it’s simple, just click this button to donate to Obliteride and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

donate now

Thank you.

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Ending My Sounds of Silence

LaurelAndHardyHushLike many bloggers out there, I started with a bunch of ideas that I wanted to get out into the blogspace last year, and then got distracted and this blog has suffered.

Let’s see if I can restart this thing and put out something that others may be able to benefit from.

Catching Up

Wedding-87Since I last blogged seriously, a lot has happened. I got married in a wonderfully romantic wedding in Monteriggioni, in Tuscany, Italy to my soul mate, Suzanna, last October. I started to run seriously again and ran a 5K back on New Year’s Day of this year. I also joined a running group at the beginning of the year and set my sights a little higher: first signing up for the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon and then the Eugene Marathon, which was held April 28th.

Running for Boston

I am happy to report here, that running has gone spectacularly well for me this year. Not only did Eugene go well, but I managed to qualify for the first time in my life for the Boston Marathon, which has been a life dream, and which I finally accomplished in my 8th marathon finish with a time of 3:39:22. Not bad for an old dude.

TrackWorkoutApril2013Cropped-2013-2Unfortunately, the qualifying time margin for me is only 38 seconds, which isn’t a lot with the renewed interest in Boston after the horrific bombing this year. Thus, I have decided to run another marathon on September 15, the Tunnel Lite Marathon. It’s a very fast course so I am hoping to clock a finish time of more around 3:30 which would give me extra cushion in registering for Boston 2013.

Cycling for Cancer Research

PaulOnBikeNewOrleansOh, and a couple of days ago, I registered to ride in a cancer fund-raiser bike ride, the Obliteride, to raise much-needed research money the world-class cancer research institute where I work: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Expect more blog entries on my Obliteride journey. Meanwhile, if you are so inclined, please consider supporting my effort and the efforts of the scientists at “Fred Hutch” by donating to my Obilteride.

Thanks for reading!

Paul.

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My New Goal: Eugene Marathon in April!

New goal: training for Eugene Marathon on April 28th and using it to qualify for Boston next April.

bostonqualifyingtimes

 

Post Script

I did it! I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:39:22.

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2013 is Coming into Focus

magnifying_glass_by_hillllallll-d59skm5Boy, I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry about that. Bet you’ve heard that one before. It’s funny how you can be so gung ho for a time period, posting like mad. Sometimes, even having to wait to space out your blog posts. While other times, you just get busy—like me for the past month or two—and don’t either have anything to say, or are too busy to say it in your blog. I guess the latter was true in my case. But here I am, with my laptop in bed late, deciding to hack together a post sometime after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2012.

Catching Up

Today is the beginning of the last day of 2012. So the good news is that I have been fairly consistently running and spinning and less consistently lifting weights. Additionally, while I am not currently logging my food intake into My Fitness Pal, I have maintained my weight at more or less where I want to be. I am currently 165 pounds, which is at the top of the range of where I want to be. Considering this is the pinnacle of bad eating season, I am pretty okay with that. In comparison, at this time last year, I weighed 185. Yes, 20 pounds more than I weigh today.

But weight is not everything. I am also pretty happy with my fitness level, although with the craziness of the holidays and my kids being in town, I managed to run only twice last week. However, during each of the weeks in December prior to last week, I ran at least 3 times. And I have started running on Saturdays with the Seattle Greenlake Running Group that I found on meetup.com.

In fact, I ran long runs of 9-10 miles with the group the past 3 out of 4 Saturdays.

Plans for Next Year

I have big plans for 2013 and have already signed up and paid my entry fee for three—count ‘em, three—races. They are:

1. Resolution Run

This run is tomorrow, January 1st at 10:30 AM. it’s a 5K followed by a jump-in-the-lake. (And in case you are wondering, it’s likely to be raining and very cold!) The trick, of course, is not to stay up too late New Year’s Eve and get too drunk. Otherwise, the race will be very painful. (It will be cold and wet, regardless, however.)

2. Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

This is the one I actually have to train for. 13.1 miles around Lake Sammamish in Redmond, Washington. The race is Saturday, March 9th which gives me about ten weeks to get ready. And while I can run 10 miles without too much trouble, I’d like to ramp up over the next ten weeks and use this race to really improve my fitness.

3. Pacific NW Spartan Sprint

Okay, now we are getting a little crazy. I have to say I have been intrigued with these so-called extreme obstacle course races since I first started hearing about them this past year. They include Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and the one I just signed up for a couple of days ago: the Spartan Race. The deal on Living Social was just to good to ignore so I nabbed it. The race is Sunday, August 4th in some town I have never heard of in Southern Washington state. Oh, and yes, as a matter of fact, I am crazy. ‘Nuf said (for now).

By the way, I am loving my new iPhone app for tracking runs: RunKeeper. The also have a version for Android phones. It’s free, addictive, and highly recommended. And for the most part, it makes GPS watches obsolete. Expect a post on this fabulous app sometime soon.

Oh, and we got a dog a couple of weeks ago…

PorterKidsXMas2012-1

So that’s my story. What about you? What do you have planned for 2013?

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Maintenance Plan Meets Honeymoon

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So it’s been four weeks since we left for Italy to get married and honeymoon with a brief stop in New York on the way home.

The Plan

When we left, I had dropped 15 pounds and Zanna had lost 10.

Our plan for our trip was a noble one: ease up a bit but continue he to eat less and exercise more. You can read more about the planned maintenance plan in an earlier blog post.

How We Did

On the airplane ride to Italy, we continued to log our calories using the offline version of the wonderful MyFitnessPal.com program. We quickly realized once we landed in Europe, however, that without 3G on our phones and reliable and consistent access to wireless that we wouldn’t be able to use MyFitnessPal. So we ditched it.

Now, did I mention where we were spending our wedding and honeymoon? In Italy

IMG_1376You know…The land of food and wine. The land of amazing pasta, pizza, cheese, cannoli, gelato, and wine. Also, did I mention that we were getting married there and that some wedding cake and celebrating might be involved?

And the wedding cake we had was nothing short of spectacular, by the way. For those interested, it is called millefogile, and it’s to die for even though there was no chocolate involved!

Well, I won’t say we ate like pigs. But I have to say that we quickly dropped all pretense of being on strict diets and logging our calories. That said, we did generally try and eat smart. But let me confess it here: there was a lot of pizza, pasta, wine, and cheese involved in our diets in Italy. Furthermore, I am guessing that we ate gelato at least every other day. And we had cannoli and cake a few times too. Okay, so we were slightly refined pigs.

And once we got to NY, I’d like to say with 3G access on our phones and wireless access at my parents house, that we immediately jumped back on the diet bandwagon and MyFitnessPal. Well, I’d like to say that but it would be a lie to say that. We continued to eat pizza and even had some more cannoli at a small family reception Friday night.

The Results

_1010260After 2 1/2 weeks it Italy and 1/2 week at my parents house in Long Island, we arrived home late last Saturday night. The next morning we weighed in and were shocked to discover that Zanna lost an additional pound and I had gained one pound. Wow! IOW, for all practical purposes, we maintained our amazing weight losses.

We were astounded!

How Was This Possible?

In reality, I don’t know how this was possible and why we were so lucky. But I can speculate why. So here goes it.

  1. _1000936 - Version 3We were active. We were tourists for much of the three weeks. Lots of walking and climbing stairs. Lots of time on our feet. I think this is a big one!
  2. We ate mostly unprocessed and minimally-processed food.I think this was also key. Food in Italy is basic and, for the most part with a few exceptions, we didn’t have access to processed foods.FonziesOkay, one notable exception: Zanna fainted one day after a 4-hour hike in the hills of the Cinque Terre. So over the next few days, she drank some Powerade and one day bought a bag of Fonzies. Why Fonzies? The goal was to buy some potato chips to temporarily increase her salt intake but all the regular potato chip bags were huge and the bag of Fonzies was relatively small. Anyway, it was a minor infraction in the interest of health (oddly enough) and a great source for jokes thereafter. (Fonzies, by the way, we learned are a European version of the highly-processed Cheeto.)
  3. We didn’t snack. Other than the aforementioned Fonzie incident and the occasional dessert (also ignoring the every other day gelato habit), we didn’t snack. That is, one benefit of being on vacation was that we didn’t have access to snacks unless we went out to purchase them which was uncommon.
  4. We exercised. Besides constantly moving (see #1) as part of our tourist routine, we also managed to go on power walks and runs. While not every day, we probably did 30-45 minutes of exercise at least every third day.
  5. We were in love. Okay, this probably is unrelated to the excellent record in regards to weight maintenance, but it’s cute to say that.

Listen, I was expecting a weight gain on the order of 5-7 pounds for me. So again, I was quite shocked. Of course, at the same time, I did notice that my newly purchased 32 inch waist blue jeans continued to fit me throughout the trip so perhaps it wasn’t that bad. But one pound? Remarkable.

Post Script

So what has happened in the intervening week since we have made it home from our wonderful trip? Well to be totally honest, my weigh in today was 163.0. Up 1.5 pounds since we got home.

Not exactly where I want to be but within a reasonable margin of error. And this is after surviving Halloween week and the adjustment back home and back at work.

IMG_1311And I did manage to run twice and go to a spinning class once this week. Though with the constant rain and cold in Seattle, I have not ridden my bike to work since we have gotten home.

And we are both back on MyFitnessPal and I am reducing my caloric intake allowance a bit until I get back to 160 or 161 where I will move back into maintenance mode. Especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner.

Categories: Fitness, Weight Loss | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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