Thursday, January 29, 2009

How I got into this Running mess

It started a number of years ago when I needed to go in for surgery on my ear. I needed to have a tumor removed from my ear drum, subsequently various blood tests were performed relative to the procedure. At the time, they discovered I had high blood pressure & high cholesterol. I had the ear procedure done, called a mastoidectomy, where they removed the tumor by drilling through my mastoid bone in my ear to remove the sucker. Unfortunately my ear drum was pierced during the operation, which I now live with reduced hearing in one ear. Shit happens!

Since my blood pressure and cholesterol were noticed, I needed to follow up with my primary doctor for further testing. They stuck my arm for more blood a few times to verify that I have shitty genetics, lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

When I was younger, I was always active and participated in sports and weight lifting, even running on occasion. However, it never lasted long and I soon reverted to my normal unhealthy routines of too much booze, fast food etc. My College years (8 years, crazy I know) were spent perfecting these habits.

Shortly after I had become a father, I said to myself, I want to be a part of my son’s life and not just watch it happen in front of me. I also wanted to be there for my wife and for us to enjoy us seeing our son reach the milestones in his life together. I decided enough is enough and started running.

My running had been on and off for a number of years until I became determined and consistent two years ago. I have managed to loose 25-30 pounds (currently 160) and still successfully maintain that loss. With the help of medicine (because of my crappy genetics) and running, I have lowered my outrageous cholesterol number from 800+ to a normal range of 100 and have my blood pressure under check as well. I watch what I eat, exercise regularly and try to live a healthy lifestyle. As a result, I have more energy, look and feel better about myself and have a confidence that I was lacking before. I feel like a new person and am in better shape at the age of 39 than I was 20 years ago.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bump Up in Starting Coral

I recently signed up for the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle, an 8K being held in March, running through downtown Chicago. I am excited, as it runs past the building I work at in the south Loop and has a cut off of 30,000 people. I have never run with so many people in a race before.

I ran a handful of races last year and had times good enough to qualify for an upgrade to a seeded start, as opposed to the open corral. I was pretty stoked when I received the e-mail after I registered, as this means my hard work from last year is proving to me I really am a runner. I know this is probably no big deal for most, but this is encouraging to me and has given me a boost to continue training hard. I often find myself needing motivation, especially in the dark, long and cold winter months, every little bit helps.

I am on the corporate running team at work and the Shamrock Shuffle will be the season’s first event to count in the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) corporate circuit this year. These races consist mostly of 5K and occasional 10K runs. Our team took first place in this circuit for the past two years. However I did not place in any races last year to provide points for the team, other than help to make the minimum number of runners required from each corporation. However I do find it encouraging running with a group and have appreciated the camaraderie it offers. I live 50 miles from where I work, so getting together on a regular basis with others from the team is not easily accomplished. I also take the train into the city so I am tethered to the train schedule.

Nonetheless, I am excited about the bump in my starting group and plan to push my training along to my goal time of 2:10 for the Madison half.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ski Trip Weekend

The family (Wife Terri and Son Dante) and I went away to Galena, IL for a three day weekend. We went with another friend of mine, Jeff and his son Sam as well as met up with another family that Jeff knows. We had a total of five adults and four nine year old boys.

If you haven’t been there, Galena is a quaint little town located near the Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois border at the Mississippi River. The rolling terrain and picturesque views were something to behold. This area is generally a golfer’s paradise in the summer but it was quite desolate this time of year. There are various places for cross country skiing, sledding and a down hill ski hill called Chestnut Mountain.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and went to the three bedroom house we were staying at in a resort called Eagle Ridge. After we dropped our stuff off, we headed into town to grab lunch and walked around a bit. We headed back to the house so the kids could look around outside and explore the wooded setting. Later that evening the other couple that was joining us arrived and we sat around and chatted and got to know each other a bit. They were very nice and we discovered the wife (Linda) was a runner. As we sat up into the wee hours of the morning, we decided to head over to the workout facility and try to run in the morning. The other Dad’s took their kids and Dante sledding while Terri, Linda & I ventured to the gym in search of treadmills. I would have run outside but it was -5 degrees outside (no thanks). We got there and there were exactly three treadmills and were all were able to run side by side. We all did about the same distance, five miles for me. I also did some other machines and we headed back to the house.

After the boys got back we had lunch and then headed to go skiing. I hadn’t been skiing for twenty years or more, but was exited to go. This was Terri and Dante’s first experience, so I was exited for them also. I purchased the lifts tickets and got the ski rentals and we were off. After a quick trip down the bunny hill we realized that it was to remedial and needed to try the next one up. We headed to what they call Rookie Run, where my wife and son spent most of the time at. This run actually had chair lifts to take back up, which was much better than the tow rope on the bunny hill. After a few tries they were doing well and getting the hang of it and I ventured to the larger hills.

It is amazing how quickly remembering how to ski came back. I guess it is like riding a bike, once you learn, you never forget. I think I was a better skier now than I was in my teens. I was anticipating that I would fall several times, but to my surprise, not once.

After four hours of skiing in zero degree weather, the cold was starting to get to everyone and we packed it in and went to dinner. We went to a little bar & grill in the downtown area and had a few beers and food. After that, I stopped to get some more beer to bring back to the house and we played cards and talked, while the kids all crashed watching a movie.

Sunday morning came early and it was time to pack up and go. After we packed we headed out and ventured home. After we got home I did laundry and we all lounged around watching television and later Kung fu Panda. A nice relaxing evening to end a great weekend with family and friends, new and old and the chance to meet a new runner who is planning on running the Chicago marathon this year (Good luck Linda).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Luckily, I was able to fix the treadmill last night (crisis adverted). Through my internet research I discovered that the deck slipping is often caused from the belt slipping on the motor, whereas, I thought the belt that you run on was the problem. The solution: take the cover off and expose the insides, then loosen the bolts on the motor mount to move the motor unit forward (it had an adjustment for this), thus tightening the belt. I reassembled everything and was back in business after 30 minutes or so. I am going to order a new belt to keep on hand, because I know it is a matter of time until it stretches out further and I am at the maximum adjustment for the motor. I am happy I decided to try to fix it myself. I figured if I was going to buy a new one, I couldn’t screw it up any worse than it was at that point.

After the fix, I jumped on and ran 2 miles to test it out. It was late at this point and I needed to get ready for bed. I also did the stairs at work again, 21 floors up & 16 down.

I learned a valuable lesson (don’t panic). I now feel better prepared to handle a treadmill crisis in the future. Hopefully it will warm up soon and melt the snow, so I can start running outside again. I am ready for a change of scenery and pace.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Treadmill Dilemma

I broke a new distance record on Saturday. I achieved my goal of 13.1. I am preparing to run my first ½ Marathon (Madison, WI) in May, but for some reason felt compelled to run this distance prior to see if I could make it. I think I need to start demanding a little more from myself and maybe I am getting a little complaisant in my running routine. I find myself running on the treadmill at the same pace and just varying my time. When I am outside I feel I can shake things up a bit by running different routes and elevations, however with the weather as cold and snowy as it is, I am on stuck on the treadmill for now. I took Sunday off and ran 4 miles on Monday morning.

Back to Work on Tuesday (fun!). I got home from work Tuesday night, motivated to run after perusing the new issue of Runner’s World on the train ride home, only to have my wife tell me that the treadmill is acting funny. It turns out the belt is slipping, causing it unsafe to run on. I tried to make adjustments to the roller moving it back farther to tighten, but no luck. I bought this treadmill (Pro-Form 775 EKG) about seven or eight years ago so I think I have gotten my money out of it.

In a panic mode, I rushed out looking for a replacement. I headed out to a store called Second Wind and found the treadmills to be a little expensive for my taste. The one I liked was going to cost $1,700, but I did not want to spend that much on the treadmill, I also didn’t want to buy something of cheap quality either. I then headed to Costco, where I found a decent looking machine for $800. This actually had a larger motor and deck than the more expensive treadmill. I am now in a conundrum of what to do. Can the current treadmill be repaired? Do I suck it up and get a new one? Is the more expensive one worth double the cost? How do I run in the meantime?

I have some research to do today. Hopefully I find a positive solution to my dilemma, without breaking the bank.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Day @ Home

Due to frigid temps, school was canceled again. I stayed home with my son while wife went to work. I didn't mind to much since Thursday evening is poker night. It is hard to play cards on Thursday and get up for work on Friday because we don't play until 9:00 pm. Unfortunately this seems to be the only day/time that works for the group. My 4:45 alarm clock buzzes pretty early Friday morning but I suck it up because I enjoy playing and the company of the group. We usually play in my heated garage but there is no way the heater would have warmed the space to a comfortable temperature so we moved the game indoors to the basement last night.

I feel like I'm on vacation with taking Thursday and Friday off and having Monday off for MLK Day. I am going to work on Tuesday and taking Friday off for a long weekend to Galena. I kinda like those three day work weeks.

On the running front, I have not run yet as of today. I am still feeling good from my long run yesterday and have hopes of a short run later in the evening.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Personal Distance Record

Since I am home from work since school was called off for my son, I decided to get on the treadmill. I started off slow, but kept going and ended up with a new personal distance best of 10.25 miles. Funny thing, the treadmill shut off on me after 100 minutes and it started to keep the distance a little goofy, hence the 10.2 reading on the distance in the picture. I was watching the laps, so I knew where I was at. The balls of my feet started to hurt pretty bad so I decided that I was happy with my achievement and hit STOP! Prior to this my longest run was 8 miles, which I accomplished a few weeks ago.

Since my son was home, I figured my nephew would be home also since he lives a few Miles away. I went and picked him up, in 12 below zero weather, so they could hang out together and play the Wi and PS2. It is nice to have them both here so they entertain each other. I guess I can catch up on Facebook and some other surfing


Schools Closed

I just checked the temperature outside and it is -16. Due to the extreme temps, school is closed so I am staying home with my 9 year old son. I did manage get 3 miles in on the treadmill last night and 80 push ups. Looks like today will be another treadmill run.

I prefer running in the morning rather than waiting until I get home from work, but usually I don't have a choice because I get up so early for my morning commute anyway. Hopefully today I can motivate myself to get it over with this morning.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bitter Cold Evening

With temps in the negative range today, I will be on the treadmill tonight. My goal is to eek out 3 miles or more. I am still sore from running the stairs at work. I did 20 floors up and 16 down yesterday and my legs are feeling it. I hope it will be a good way to add strength training without having to join a gym. I am training for a 1/2 marathon at the end of May. To date, my longest run was 8miles. I have completed numerous 5K's and one 10K.
Well here it is, my first post. This is a way for me to relate issue of my running woes and other ramblings.