Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The long run

OMG. I'm excited.  I think it's coming back...  The long run.

As I put in my last post, I just love the long run.  The clarity that my mind gets after 6, 8, and more miles.  It's a trippy experience getting there, mind you, but eventually, everything goes away.  It's one shoe in front of the other, and I can just go.  Seemingly forever.

So, last Sunday, I was scheduled for a long run.  I went for it.  My previous long run of the "modern" era (read: the last 8 months) was 6 miles.  A painful 6 miles.  Knee acting wonky, no cardio sustainability. Bleh.

I went for 7.  A 5 mile out and back, followed by a 2 mile out and back.  I said, if the knee acts up, I can pull it in to 5 miles and still have something decent to write down.  5 miles went strong, so I went up the hill (what asshat puts the hills at the end of the run?  Note to self, fire route planner.  Err.. Well, plan better at least)..

I got those 2 miles done.  They weren't the prettiest, as I was feeling generally worked pretty hard.  However, the knee stayed together, the cardio was working for me, and they got knocked down.

Fast forward to a week later...

Bam!  Same route done, but stronger.  Tacked on a little extra too.   No pain that night, and just general muscle tightness in my legs the next day.

Granted, 7 isn't an ultra marathon or anything, but I am stoked.  Stoked, stoked, stoked.

I'm cutting back the miles this week for a few reasons, but it coincides with a recovery week.  I am doing my damnedest this time around to train smarter.  Thus far, knock on wood, it seems to be working.

I knocked out P90X legs & back tonight.  Minus the pullup bar, but it was a good insane set of leg exercises.  The weather is unseasonably warm (50 degree weather at the end of January?!?  That's 20 degrees warmer than normal), so I really hope to get out there tomorrow to do some sort of run.

Keep on rockin'...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tagged by the number 11

I've been tagged.. Thanks joyRuN!  Like you said, at least it's content for the blog...

Here's the rules:
1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people!

(Ack! #6!)

OK, getting started.  11 random things.

1.  I love coffee.  We (Mrs. Raul and myself) used to have "big mug day" on the weekends.  (The mugs being 16-20 ounces).  Since Mini-Raul was born, every day has become big mug day, out of necessity.  I'll have a mug with breakfast, a 24 ounce "to go" mug to get to work, and a few cups at work.  When I get home, probably another brew then.

2. The other morning, I had 80 ounces of coffee.

3.  Mini-Raul drinks coffee.  I honestly can't remember when he didn't.  I think he probably started at around 6 months.  2 years later, and he's still doing it.   I guess this isn't about myself.  Ah, but I'm his parent, and condone the behavior, so now it's about me.

4. The last concert I saw was They Might Be Giants.  I think that was 3 months ago.. time to go to another concert..

5. The next set of books I'm reading are the Bourne series.

6. In high school, I could bench press more than I weighed.  I have no idea what I can bench press now.

7. I have currently given up on Facebook.  I don't know if I'll reactivate my account.  I do miss some social context about what's going on in my little circles, though.

8. I used to have shoulder length hair.  I'm down to whatever the smallest guard is on my trimmer now. lol

9. I hit my 25% this morning.

10.  I really like the P90X videos.  I haven't done many of the weight ones, as I really don't have any dumbbells/bands or a pullup bar, but the cardio/core/yoga ones, I really like.

11.   I'm glad I'm blogging again.

And, to the questions posed by nurse joyRuN:

  1. What are your go-to excuses?   I probably need a rest day.
  2. What’s your favorite WOD or running workout (distance/tempo/speedwork)?  I love a distance workout.  I'm only just getting back into the long distances, but I love it when my mind goes in all sorts of weird places when I'm alone on my long run.  What I like even more is when it stops, and my mind is just clear, and it's me and the road.
  3. Do you track your dietary intake?   Yes.  A necessary evil as part of Weight Watchers.  I'm trying the TrainingPeaks thing, but not sure if I can stick with it.  But calculating the WW points is within my daily tolerances.
  4. What’s your favorite healthy meal?  Anything involving me grilling.  Grilled chicken, grilled tofu, grilled veggies, etc.
  5. What’s your favorite cheat meal?  Bar food.  Loaded cheese fries and a burger, or something to that effect.  Plus some beer to wash it down, and some more beer just to have.
  6. Any nagging injuries that worry you?  My left knee. Something isn't quite right, but it's getting better.
  7. What book would you recommend?  I just finished 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'.  I recommend the first book in the series, but you can take or leave the next two.  They're good, but not as good as the first.
  8. Have you ever been hospitalized?  If so, how were your nurses?  Thankfully, no.  I think nurses are often overlooked and deserve more credit and praise than they get, though.  
  9. What look is more appealing to you? Designer well put together chic or a fit body dressed in workout clothes?  The latter.  I don't know chic, anyways.
  10. What’s your resting heart rate?  61 this morning.
  11. If you had no financial/physical limitations whatsoever, what would you do?  Quit my job.  Volunteer at the zoo to build things (railings, paths, etc).  I'm not the guy to take over the animal care, but I can do some reasonable damage with a saw and a drill. I'd also like to be an usher at the baseball stadium.

So, 11 new questions:

1.  Favorite obscure movie? (And why..)
2.  Favorite kitchen appliance?  (And why..)
3.  Favorite Olympic sport?
4.  What method(s) do you use to make time for yourself?
5.  Favorite alcoholic beverage (if beer, be specific. :) )
6.  Why do you blog?
7.  What is one place you've always wanted to travel to, but haven't made it there yet?
8.  What's your take on reality TV?
9.  Favorite band?
10. Mac or PC?
11. Favorite season to work out in?

11 Tagees chosen at random from my reader:

1. AKA Alice
2. Lauren
3. MCM Mama
4. Lily On The Road
5. Carly
6. Sassy Molassy
7. Amanda
8. Aron
9. Mrs. Busy Girl
10. Sun Runner
11. Nancy

Phew.. That was a lot of work.  Alright all, keep on rockin!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week 3 report

A long week at work.  Wow.

Workout wise, I did OK for the week:

Saturday - Run
Sunday - Yoga X.
Monday - 6 week 6 pack
Tuesday - Icy hill run
Wednesday - Cardio X, indoor walk
Thursday - Run, indoor walk
Friday - Rest

That Yoga X DVD from P90X.  Holy shit. Never tried it before, thought I'd give it a whirl.  It's an hour and a half.. The first half is all Vinyasa movements, Warrior I, II, Reverse Warrior, etc.  The second half is various balance poses and stretches.  The balance poses come as a welcome relief.  It's a heck of a workout, and I was sore the next day.

Thursday I busted out the foam roller, and I think I went a little too crazy.  I took Friday off. lol

No weight loss for the week (weigh-ins on Saturday mornings), but I think that's partly due to me nearing the bottom, as well as hitting the pizza and beer on Friday night with the guys.

I'm working on doing some leg strengthening exercises, hoping that fixes my knee issue.  I think it's either a bad pair of shoes, or a muscle imbalance (or both).   I'm fairly certain it's not ITBS.  It may be patella-femoral pain, but I don't know. Side story about that:

6-7 years ago, I would be sitting at work, go to stand up, and as I straightened my leg, it would hurt bad.  Serious bad.  Close to throw up bad.  Occasionally, I'd straighten my leg in my sleep, and the pain would shoot me awake.   I went to the doctor, and he quickly pulled out a sheet of exercises, and said my quads were too weak.  I scoffed in my mind, but went and followed his advice.   Lo and behold, after strengthening my quads, that went away.  I've learned not to knock the imbalance.

Fast forward to today, I don't do a lot of quad work.  My knees always crack after bending them, so I'm hoping that's all this is.  I don't have the shooting pain, though.  Sigh.  It's always something. :)

Keep on rockin'...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Calf issue? I think not.

So, earlier I thought I had some muscle imbalance.  I thought some calf problem was leading to my knee acting up.

Wrongo-dongo!  Good news, bad news.  I found out the source of my calf problem, and of another problem spot.  Bad news, knee isn't quite right yet.

Know what it was?

Check the pics:

Yep, my right knee was pushing into my left calf, and along the inside of my leg.  A couple of weeks after this discovery, the calf is 100% better.    And yes, that ugly foot does belong to me.. lol.  Keep on rockin'..

Monday, January 16, 2012


I debated writing about this.  I really don't go around talking about this.  If someone asks me directly, I'll cough up the info, but that's it.  I do want a little feedback though, and I'll get to that at the end.  Plus, this is a fitness blog, so it's not unrelated.

Well.. Here it is:

Max - 50 = Now

I've lost 50 pounds.  Holy shit.  I honestly had no idea I had put on 50 pounds of fat.  Another 1.75 pounds, and it will be 25% of my weight lost.  (Feel free to run the math there if you want, I'm putting it out there.)

I'm armed with a bathroom scale of the spinning dial variety.  No body fat analysis, no digital, just an old-school scale.  I weigh in every Saturday morning when I get up, and dutifully write it down.

The whole general "eat less, drink less" was working, but I switched it up to doing Weight Watchers and have been rockin' it since.

Now though, I'm starting to get shit.  "Geez, you aren't going to lose more, are you?"  Blah blah.  This isn't a vanity thing.  I'm not going shirtless at the beach here.  I truthfully haven't felt this good in, well, ever?  I haven't weighed this weight in.. 15 years?

I do realize that I'm fortunate.. In 8 months, I dropped 50 pounds.  It was work, but nothing terrible.  I've certainly worked harder on worse things.  I know people struggle to lose just a little.  Food is not really my demon.  (I prefer to drink mine).  My wife is doing WW, and she's doing great.  But it's hard for her.  I see the battle, though, and realize what I've done.

So, now... I'm kind of just winging it.  I can run 3 days a week, and do some DVD workouts the other days and still bring an 'A' run/workout (as much as I can bring an 'A' in a workout).  I'm not dragging, I'm not obsessing about food.   It's this that makes me think my body is fine with the weight loss.  I've still got visible fat I can lose.

That brings me to my desired feedback...
I don't know where I'm going.  I have no idea what my ideal body weight is.  (That's partly why I'm reading 'Racing Weight').  All I can do is listen to my body.   When it says "enough", I'll try to level out.  Thoughts?  Opinions?

Keep on rockin...

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012, Week 2

Week 2 was a reasonable success.  Ate well, worked out a bit:
- Saturday was a long run, about 6 miles.
- Sunday was Kenpo X and Ab Ripper X
- Monday was an easy run
- Tuesday was DVD time with Jillian
- Wednesday was a hill run
- Thursday was Yoga Meltdown with Jillian
- Friday was an indoor walk.

The long run went well.  My knee felt good until the 4th mile, and then it started feeling like it had gristle in it.   Nothing too serious, but I did some walk breaks and stretching periodically.    It started feeling funny around mile 3 on Monday too.  It's not the pain I had with ITBS, but it does feel a little odd.  I have a theory, and I'm working on it.   The hill run went great though.

The yoga was fun.  I really see how it can help strength and flexibility.  I suck at it, but I've only done it a few times, so that's expected.  I do wonder if just learning via DVDs will lead me to bad habits, but poor yoga is still better than no yoga, I suppose.

Mrs. Raul did me a solid.. In her travels out and about, she picked up some more running clothes for me:

It's a little washed out, but 2 black jackets, a pair of black pants, and a blue shirt (dark blue, but you wouldn't know it from this shot).  Target, C9 stuff.  Awesome.

Meal wise, nothing too crazy this week. Had a pot roast that I rocked out in the crock pot.  Oh, and a broccoli-cheddar quiche.  It turned out good, even using fat free milk.. I was worried it would be runny, not having the heaviness of the cream, etc.  Regardless, I think next time, I'm going to go with a crust-less one.

My UPS guy came tonight and brought me something from Amazon.  Always a fun day!   Tonight it was the book 'Racing Weight' by Matt Fitzgerald.  My man Carolina John recommended it, so I'm going to give it a read.  I'll let you know what I think.  So far, my beef is this:  What, no Kindle version??

We had the first snowfall of the year.. Only a couple of inches, but it's enough to make winter running a real pain in the ass, what with the ice and darkness and all.  Going to brave it tomorrow, I think.  One small upside to global warming is that it's mid January and it's only now becoming winter.

That's all for now. Keep on rockin'

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012, Week 1

Well, I'm going to try to be better about blogging.  Not only in the frequency of blogging, but putting a little more visual interest (e.g. pictures) in the post.

This past week was pretty good fitness-wise:
- Saturday was my resolution run 5K
- Sunday was Cardio-X and Ab Ripper-X DVDs
- Monday was a run, about 4 miles.
- Tuesday it got balls cold outside.  30 day shred DVD.  Indoor 3 mile walk
- Wednesday, still cold as hell.  Ripped in 30 DVD. Indoor 3 mile walk.
- Thursday - Appointments and the like, so I booked it as a rest day
- Friday - Jillian's 6 pack abs DVD.  A 45 minute walk outside, it finally warmed up.

I wanted another run in there, but it just wasn't happening. The single digits don't do much for me.

I also tried out my Christmas present from this year: Weight Watchers cook books.. The first guest up was this:

Vegetable spring rolls.. Those are some carrots, scallions, and green peppers wrapped up in rice paper wrappers.  The dipping sauce is carrot juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger.    Overall, tasty, but probably should be used as a side dish or appetizer.  My presentation needs a little work, too, looking at this picture.

It also gave me a chance to try a kitchen implement I haven't used yet.. The food processor.  A few years back, I received a blender/food processor combo.  I've used the blender (pretty much solely for margaritas and the like), but never did anything with the processor.    It's not a full size, but it shredded those carrots like nothing else.  Loud as hell, but it got the job done.

That's it for the week.. Keep on rockin.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


So, 2011 was a success.  What is on tap for 2012?

1)  Continue with weight loss.  I'm not sure how far I'm going.  All I know is that I'm going to listen to my body. Right now, the weight is still coming off, without a lot of sacrifice on my part.  I know a lot of people wish they could say the same in their weight loss struggles.  I am eating less, and I still feel fine- I can still function normally, and work out on top of it.  Once it really slows down, I'll probably call that the bottom.

2) Break 25 minutes in a 5K. I think regular running will get me there.  Adding a little more speedwork during the year, and more miles in general should do it.

3)  End of March - a 15K.

4)  Big news.  Beginning of May....I'll spill it now.. a half marathon.  I'm actually registered and all!

I debated running one at the end of 2011, but I figured playing it safe and not doing too much too fast was the way to go.  My knee still gets a little off around 5-6 miles.  I believe it's not a knee issue, but more of a muscle imbalance in the leg and calf.  More leg exercises and cross training for me.  That's the only thing that worries me.. Right now, I'm maxed at 5-6 miles.  Hopefully that clears up soon so I can get up to the right mileage.

5) Early July. Hopefully something new.  Not a marathon.. that's all you'll get for now. :)

6) More cross training.  I tried out a couple of the P90X discs, and they're solid.  I'm not doing the program, but they are good workouts on off running days.  When the weather warms up, I'll do some biking.  I think mixing it up and doing more than just running has helped my running and overall health.

After that, I don't know.  In mid-June there's a 20K.  July is the Boilermaker. In November another half marathon.  I'm going to gauge me running those based on how I do with #s 3 and 4.  The 15K is going to be my trial run for the half marathon. Figure I can try out my race pace and see how I do, do a recovery week, and then do a 10-12 mile run to ensure I'm up for the distance.  If all goes well there, I'll do some other race of about that distance this year.

Those are my plans.  What are yours?

Keep on rockin'!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolution Run, 2011 review

Yeah, so I haven't been blogging much. I'll see about changing that. That's a post for another day.

2011, December 31st. Last run of the year. Turns out, there's a local resolution fun run. Clock timed, which is new from the past (they really try to keep it a 'fun' run). This is the same track I did my last (and only) race this year, early on in my comeback (that time was 30:01).

The weather was a comfortable 44 degrees, and it must have encouraged a lot of people to come out, because the park was packed. I paid my cash, looked around to see who I knew, and I got ready.

 I came into this race with the following goals:
1) Finish. Healthy.
If I did that, it was a success.

2) Next goal was to beat my previous time.

3) Next goal was to go sub-27 minutes.

4) Final stretch goal was to go sub-25.

I haven't done any timings or anything like that this year. I've solely been running based on how I feel. I did dig up the Garmin for this race though, just for the sole purpose of dialing it back in the initial push, making sure I didn't go faster than 8:00/mile. The course is generally flat, but has a slight slope down in the first 3/4 mile. (And, since it's an out-and-back, a corresponding slope up in the final stretch).

I lined up, the gun went off, and away I was. The course was absolutely packed.. The path was pretty narrow until a mile into it, and I couldn't get into a solid groove until then.. Just a lot of people around. After a mile, the path got a little wider, and everyone had slid into the appropriate slots relative to one another (and most importantly, relative to me! :) ).

At 1.2 miles, I saw the leaders coming back at me. Damn, I was never that fast.. Looked like a trio of high schoolers. lol

Most of my running has been run-walk, Galloway-style. Today I felt really good, and just kept with it. At 1.5 miles, my breathing was consistent and, more importantly, sustainable. I thought about taking a walk break at the turn around, but just kept pushing. My pace had locked in around 8:30, and I was keeping it up.

Not much to report until the 2 mile marker, where I passed a guy I used to work with.. Fun, and I got a chance to catch up with him after the race. Looking at my watch at this point, I thought my stretch goal of 25 minutes *may* be attainable. I worked on keeping the same pace I was going for the uphill segments, and tried to speed up on the flatter parts. So I ran, and ran, and...
25:29. An outstanding performance. Most importantly, I ran the race I wanted to. I kept my pacing consistent, listened to my body, and arrived at the finish line and the end of 2011 healthy.

So, 2011. Over the past couple of years, I hadn't done much running at all. I did plenty of eating and drinking, and suffered the consequences of such a lifestyle. I did it to myself, I own that. It was one of those things I knew, but wasn't quite ready to face.

Looking at pictures from Mother's day pushed me over the edge. I started eating better, and started running in mid-May. Late in the summer, my wife started Weight Watchers, and after a couple of months of her doing that, I decided to join in too.

I now run about 3 days a week. Sometimes 4, sometimes 2. I try to cross train (typically via a workout DVD) to round it out to 6 workouts a week. The DVDs aren't perfect, but it is something.

At the end of the year, I'm down 46 pounds. I feel terrific. Food actually tastes better. My clothes now don't fit, and that's a good thing for once. I'm looking forward to buying new jeans and shorts.

I knocked 4:32 off of my 5K time, and can say I am running again.

I hope all of you had excellent 2011's, and I wish you all even better 2012's.

The stated point of the resolution run was to get people thinking about fitness and making new year's resolutions. I have made some, but...t hat is for the next post. Until then, keep on rockin'..