Monday, May 25, 2015

What To Say When You Have Nothing To Say?

     Well as the title states, I don't really know what to talk about at this point.  For the last couple of weeks, I just haven't felt like I have anything worth talking about and thought maybe I was a little burned out.  Lately I just haven't felt like myself and I feel like I am wondering aimlessly trying to figure out where I go from here.  It is weird not having a huge goal hanging over my head like I did with my weight loss and now with maintenance I just don't feel like I have a true goal to strive for and it is driving me nuts.  I feel like I have to have this huge epic goal, the game changing type goal, but I am unsure if I can't find one because I don't need one or because I just haven't figured it out yet. 

     While I struggle to find my bearings I also feel like work seems to be consuming more and more of my life in one way or another with us coming into our busiest time of the year.  Last week I was in Milwaukee for four days for work, and the experience was absolutely amazing.  I learned a lot in some of the areas of the business that my job doesn't have me work with on a regular basis.  Spending time at the world headquarters for Harley-Davidson was a dream come true for a guy who just 14 years ago was detailing bikes, mopping floors and cleaning toilets at a dealership just so I could say I work for Harley-Davidson.  While I was there I was also able to visit and get a private behind the scenes tour at the Harley Museum which was located just across the river from my hotel.  It was a truly once in a lifetime experience that reminded that not only do I work for an awesome company, but I do something I can say I truly enjoy.

     It wasn't all Harley-Davidson while I was there, I did manage to get some miles in and hang out with a truly inspiring human being.  The first day I ran around the Harley Museum and stayed in town running along the Hank Aaron Trail towards the Milwaukee Brewers stadium.  Day two I headed over to the park that runs along the shores of Lake Michigan.  I can't explain how nice it was with a stunning sunrise peaking out from behind the clouds.  That evening I met up with Rik Akey from the Fat to Finish Line documentary and the man that was the inspiration that fueled my belief that this weight loss journey was even possible.  He had a running club fun run going on that night, so I joined the group for a nice easy 4 mile run before we headed to a cool local restaurant called AJ Bombers, for a bite to eat.  It was great catching up and learning more about what fuels Rik's passion for helping and inspiring others.

     Since I still don't know what direction I am running in right now I'll just continue to put miles on my feet until things come into focus.     

Sunday, May 10, 2015

About Me Page Update

     So the other day I was thinking of what I was going to write about now that I have no races coming up and I am still trying to figure out my new goals for the rest of this year.  I was flipping through my page and I realized I haven't updated my "About Me" page since I started Running in the Fat Lane back in February of 2014.  So I read through it and made a few corrections to the first half and pretty much totally rewrote the second half of the story, so I figured I would go ahead and post the entire thing.

     Yep, that's me to the left, when I was that size I never felt like I was that big.  I enjoyed life like I was "thin" and never felt like it was a problem.  My wife loved me, I had a good job and no one ever made a big deal about it.  Well something finally clicked.  My story isn't a page turner or filled with personal tragedy that could be considered an acceptable reason for why my weight became such a problem. I AM LAZY pure and simple and this is my story...       
     Over my entire childhood I was always considered the chubby one, a little bigger than most but it never really got out of hand.  Pretty much like every other kid I played football, baseball, soccer and basketball, I was always doing something.  If I had to put my finger on the main reason for my size would say my diet had a lot to do with it.  I was "addicted" to sugar, candy, Pop, cookies, donuts, etc. along with burgers, fries, pizza, fast food and having no concept portion control you can see why this is where I ended up.  
     When I started in high school I was right around 200 pounds, I know this because I decided to go out for freshman wrestling and when I was a freshman weighing 200 and up was the heavyweight class.  After a month of getting my ass handed to me by 6 foot 300 plus pound kids I talked with my coaches about cutting weight.  A month later I was weighing in at 175 and was actually winning a few matches.  The summer prior to my sophomore year I turned 16, I traded my bicycle and skateboard in for car keys, gave up wrestling for what I look back now as stupid reasons, to which I now mark as the exact moment my current struggles with weight began.  All through high school and college I continued my eating habits that I am sure was coming in around 3-5000 calories a day combined with little to no exercise.

     By the time I married my wife in 2004 I was probably hovering around 250-260, and that is when the proverbial shit hit the fan, and before I new it I was tipping the scales at 317 pounds.  2007-2012 was a weight roller coaster for me, I tried every fad diet in the book from protein shakes for breakfast & lunch to Atkins to the HCG plan. The lowest I ever got down to was 247lbs while on HCG, but the minute I stopped and had one cheat day then another and then another which snowballed back into my old ways of candy, fast and fried food, late night nachos and donuts I ballooned back to 293 by the end of 2012.

     What was my aha moment? well I claim there really wasn't one. Not even after I went to see my doctor for a routine check up and blood work. Those test came back with some red flags and he ordered more tests. By the time all the tests were done my pocket was $1200 lighter and I was standing with one foot off the edge of the diabetes cliff and the need for medication.  

     My Doc gave me two months to try and change my diet and start exercising to reverse the damage or he would recommend medication. So for the first month while feeling depressed, I did what most anyone in my position would do, NOT A DAMN THING.  I blocked it out and acted like there was nothing wrong with me.  In the second month I finally got around to getting a gym membership and going a couple of days a week.  Just going to the gym was a huge accomplishment for me, but I wasn't really putting in a ton of effort while using the weight and elliptical machines. 

     Now if you believe that there is that one moment in everyone's life when God intervenes in your life and points you in the direction that will forever change your life, then this was it.  The gym has an indoor track and one day while on the elliptical, I was watching the runners and walkers through the glass, I thought screw this, I'm gonna give jogging a try. Even though I couldn't even make it anywhere close to a mile I enjoyed it and for the first time felt like I had a quality workout, so 2 days later I did it again and continued every other day.

     The indoor track takes 9 laps to make a mile, and as I was making progress towards achieving that first mile, I started to get really interested in the topic of running, and when I get interested in something I research it to death. While in the Itunes store I came across an awesome podcast called Runner Academy, and found the host Matt Johnson to be very informative and helpful. The episode I have listened to the most and I think really kicked me into high gear is #8 which was all about two of the Fat to Finish line documentary teammates. That episode gave me the inspiration and the confidence that I could lose the weight, and do it with running. My plan was simple, to run for exercise and reduce my caloric intake to around 2000 calories.

     I tracked everything I put in my mouth with the My Net Diary App on my phone.  I started out by setting a large goal that I would break down into smaller chunks.  I set my first goal to break 247lbs, which was my lowest weight I had been able to reach.  I then broke my goal down into 10 pound increments.  Once I hit that goal I set my next to hit 225lbs.  As I reach goal then I move on to the next and so on. It sounds easy enough, but I won't lie to you, it was a long struggling journey filled with highs and lows. My original goal was to stop when I reached 193lbs, but that seemed to still be a little to heavy so I decided that my finish line is my freshman year wrestling weight of 173lbs. Two years, three months and 8 days after I began this journey I had finally reached my goal.  A number that I had not seen since sometime in 1994.  I have since re-evaluated how I look and feel and I decided that I don't need to drop anymore weight at this time even if my BMI is technically still considered overweight.

Here is where the update begins

     As my weight began to fall simultaneously my running journey began to grow.  Like I said earlier, that gym track was nine laps to a mile, I was lucky if I could run three before I felt like I was gonna die.  I continued to slowly add laps till I hit a mile, then two before I set my sights on trying a 5K.  Once I completed my 5K goal I continued to push myself towards my next goal of a 10K.  I spent every evening looking for races to run.  As time went on my weight went down and my mileage continued to grow.  Several 5Ks, a 10K and a few half marathons later I set the biggest challenge in my life to date, a full marathon.  I spent all summer of 2014 training for the Columbus Marathon, it consumed my existence.  On October 19th, 2014 not only did I complete my first marathon, I did it in under four hours.  Recently I celebrated my 3rd run-aversary  running the same 5K race that started it all for me.  My outlook on running hasn't changed much, I still am looking for ways to challenge and push myself despite a minor injury that sidelined me for a couple of months.  

     Whether I am going for a goal time, contemplating a new distance or just continuing to maintain my weight I now live with the mantra “Only the Committed Will Survive”, and for me to succeed I must stay committed to the desire to be the man I have now become. Throughout this journey I have heard several time the phrase "you never know where running will take you" and I can't say enough how freaking true that statement really is.  For example, without running I would not be writing this blog in the hopes to pay it forward as the Fat to Finish Line crew did for me or met some of the nicest most inspiring people along the way.  And I cannot forget the 11 strangers that formed a Ragnar Relay team and became more than friends, we became Sole Mates.

Currently I am hovering around at 171 pounds and have gone from a comfortable 48 waist to a snug 32 waist and now wear a medium to large size shirt down from a 3X.  Below is my latest comparison photo when I reached my goal weight of 173 pounds that I created for my friend and Ragnar Relay teammate Katie Foster, who writes the very inspiring blog Runs for Cookies.  She asked to share my story and progress for one of her Motivational Monday posts on her blog.  I now use it to remind myself of how far I have come and that I will always be a "Fat Guy" fighting everyday to be the best healthy fat guy I can be

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Where Do I Go From Here?

     Which sure is a great question, I just didn't know how to answer that until today.  Well answer part of it today.  Since some time in January I have been working with Alisha from ELITE Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy to get me back running again after suffering a pretty bad case of runner's knee that developed after my marathon.  With her guidance and expertise not only was I able to get back to running, I feel stronger and faster than ever.  After my needed therapy ended she created a personalized training plan for the GCM Owens Corning Half Marathon that consisted of running, cross training, stretching and strength training exercises.  The plan was completely flexible to accommodate my ever changing work schedule and worked great based on my 12 plus minute PR at the race.  Since I wasn't doing the Indy Half Marathon (click here for that story) the next scheduled race on my calendar is the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October, which forced me to ask the question; where do I go from here?

     I had decided, for now, that I would continue to run and strength train, but after I sat down a couple times to put a plan together I just felt lost.  Nothing seemed to click in my head and I got the feeling that I was way in over my head.  I contacted Alisha and set up an appointment for my day off so she could help me with my problem.  The first thing we discussed was goals, which turned out to be pretty tough for me.  I just can't seem to zero in on what my goal is for this year anymore.  I set some goals in january, but because of my injury most of them were DOA.  First it was all about mileage, then trail running,  which lately turned into wanting to qualify for Boston and now I've been thinking about a life goal of running a marathon in all 50 states.  For now my goal it to just keep trying to get healthy and stronger so my knee doesn't become an issue for whatever my goals become.  Alisha worked out a plan for me that is on a four week cycle that keeps me running while I build up my leg and core strength.  She pretty much made it idiot proof for me and flexible enough to work with in my work schedule.  In a couple of months we'll meet again to set up the transition to my marathon training plan for Detroit.

     After my appointment I headed out to Oak Openings Metro Park to give trail running a try.  To my knowledge, Oak Openings is the only local park with a true single track natural trail vs. most other parks that have a paved or crushed stone path.  Once I got there it took a little time to get my bearings and figure out where I could jump on the path, but once I finally did, it was a very different experience than running on the road.  Within the first quarter mile a deer jumped out about twenty yards in front of me before stopping to keep an eye on me.  I quick snapped a photo and continued on. To be honest I thought it would change my whole outlook on the sport, but to be honest it didn't.  It actually felt all wrong and that is probably because for two years now running on pavement has conditioned me that anything but a good steady pace is not right and the words steady pace and trail running didn't seem to go hand in hand.  The constant changes in pace and my stride just felt all wrong to me, which is why I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I thought or was hoping to.  Now don't get me wrong, the change in scenery was really nice while running into a few critters too while I was out there.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Surprise!

     Well this weekend played host to a lot of races around the country, but one in particular I was wishing I was at, but instead I was at work.  The Indy Mini Marathon, the largest half marathon in the US with something like 35,000 registered participants and home to my Ragnar Sole Mates reunion was going on.  Around nine months or so ago Katie came up with a great idea to have a reunion for our Strangers to Sole Mates Ragnar team and thought that Indy would make a great spot for it.  Unfortunately five of the twelve were not able to make it, but for the seven of us that could planning moved forward.

     I registered, paid my $85 and booked my hotel while counting the days till I got to introduce Mandy to them and got to run one of my bucket list races.  For those that don't know, part of this race is run on the track of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and whether you are a race car fan or not, getting to do that is pretty darn cool.  Whether it was fate or karma, three months before the race the marketing staff at my work moved the dates of a very important three day event to the same weekend as the race.  Needless to say as a manager this required me to be in attendance for the event and cancel my vacation.  First I was pissed that I wasn’t going to be able to hang out with my friend then the idea of wasting money on the registration fee and missing out on the race quickly added to my frustrations.  I let my Sole Mates know that I was now the sixth member not able to attend.

     As the race drew closer I held out hope that I was going to somehow be able to go, I even waited to cancel my hotel reservation until two weeks ago.  It was around this time I thought I can’t run the race, but Indy isn’t that far for me and maybe I can figure out how to still at least see everyone for just a little bit.  From my work, Indy is about a two and a half hour trip, so looking at my schedule I thought I could shoot out of work Saturday, drive to Indy, visit with everyone and get back by eleven the next morning to work the third day.  I wanted it to be a surprise, but I also didn’t want to drive all the way there and have to figure out where they were all at, so I emailed Katie to let her know of my plans.  It was at that time she let me know that our teammate Hilary was now able to make the race and was flying in to surprise everyone as well!

     Saturday came and at first I was so bummed because I was seeing all the great pictures of all the fun they were all having on Facebook while I was working, but none the less I would be seeing them in a few short hours.  My boss was nice enough to allow me to slide out an hour early, so I texted Katie, hopped on my motorcycle and I was on my way.

     Once I arrived at the hotel, I texted Katie and she met me in the lobby to hatch our master plan.  She went back to the room like nothing happened, while I hung out in the bar with a friend of hers, her sister and sister-in-law who also came to run the race.  When the four of us went to the room the girls walked in first saying they just met this cool guy at the bar that also has run a Ragnar and thought he should come hang out with everyone.  I walked in the room and everyone freaked out!  Hugs, tears, and happy faces were all that you could see.  I was so happy to see everyone and carry on a conversation that didn’t involve typing.

     We hung out in the hotel room for maybe a half hour or so before we all headed down to the hotel bar to get some drinks and play a freaking hilarious game called Cards Against Humanity.  If you have never played or even heard of it and you are not easily offended, then you should really pick up this game.  Sometime around midnight we all started getting pretty tired and loopy and decided to call it a night.  With everyone having different flight times in the morning, we knew this would be the last chance all of us were together, so we took a group shot before heading to bed.

     I was up and showered by seven to hit up breakfast before I headed back to work, but breakfast didn't start till 7:30 so I hung out in the lobby with Nancy, a fellow Ragnarian and Bonnie.  The three of us had a very in depth conversation about our weight loss and our inspirations that got us there.  I am not gonna lie, there were some tears shed, but it just shows the passion for the hurdles we've had to overcome.  Once breakfast started, Bonnie, Nancy, Paige, Katie, Rik and myself sat down to eat and continue our pre-breakfast conversations.  You may remember Rik from this previous post (click here).  Rik is one of the Ragnar Relay - From Fat to Finish Line team co captains that inspired the documentary of the same name.  Rik, unknowingly, was a huge inspiration in my weight loss / running journey and thanks to Katie I was finally able to meet him a few months ago.  We have since become friends and have talked about running a marathon together, but our schedules just didn't mesh.  Until now!  We decided to run the Glass City Marathon, my hometown race, next spring!

     Well as they say I hate to eat and run, but I really had to hop on the bike and head back so I could make it to work on time.  So after this long winded post, I can sum it up with what I posted on Facebook:

Worked 8 long hours followed by a 187 mile ride to spend a few short hours with my Ragnar Sole Mates before getting up at 6:45am to ride 187 miles back so I could work another 6 hours. #totallyWorthIt