When I was a kid growing up in Texas, one thing we always did was listen to the Texas Rangers. The games were not on TV, and cable had not come our way, and the games were not on cable anyway. During the nights, in the car or at home, we listened to the game on the radio. Listening to a baseball game on the radio is a sublime and largely forgotten pleasure. Listening on the radio, you have to imagine the play at the plate or Nolan Ryan's fastball. Now, every game of almost any team is on TV, online, on SportsCenter and on TV -- no imagination required.
Anyways, at the end of each game, they would play this thunderous, rolling music and it was time for (cue music) .... the "Ranger Wrap-up" post game show. It was a replay of the calls of the key plays of the game, with an interview of the player of the game. (The player of the game received, I kid you not, a free pair of Haggar slacks for his trouble).
So, this is my Ranger Wrap Up for my completed training cycle. I really began this phase on St. Patricks Day and I knew the end point would be the day we were to leave on our summer vacation, July 2. I started by running the NYRR 8000 meter race (essentially 5 miles) on March 15. I ran that race to win $100 bet with a friend as to whether I would break 45 minutes. I won.
But on St. Patricks Day, three days later, a Tuesday, I got an email from the folks that take pictures at NYRR races that my race pictures were available. Now, I know I never look good in race pictures, and did not imagine that I would be a gazelle chewing up the course. But I was truly unprepared for my pictures. I looked terrible -- overweight, bloated, out of shape, you name it. At the time, my BMI was approximately 29.5, and I knew I needed to drop some weight, but my gosh those pictures! A picture says more than a thousand words, and in this case it was so true.
Thus, I got serious about a diet and to further that diet and fitness goals, my running. This blog really hasn't been about my diet because I find talking about a diet uninteresting, really; diets are also very individual. In contrast, one of the joys of running is the community it inspires in its participants. And the amount I learn from others and can give back. So, even thought I haven't discussed the diet much, it has been in the background. And on one level it has certainly affected my workouts and running -- nothing sucks worse than running when you are hungry or forgoing the post workout recovery drink or snack in the name of calorie counting.
As a way of keeping myself motivated and honest, I had sort of made a deal with myself to post on the blog the results of this three and a half month cycle, for better or for worse.
And I apologize in advance if this note seems self congratulatory, but I think I can say that, without a doubt, the last three months have been among the healthiest and most athletic of my life. In sum, I have lost 44 pounds, and about 6 inches off my waist; my BMI is now 23 or so. In the last three weeks, I have set PRs in 3 different distances (5 mile, 10K and half marathon), and all by a wide margin. And I didn't get hurt (aside from a few nasty blisters, one of which I have now on my second toe).
As I close this cycle of diet and training, these are my thoughts, reflections and ultimately, my successes and failures. I ran a half marathon under 1:40, which was very unexpected for me. My last two races predict a marathon time of 3:25 (but my goal for NY Marathon will be closer to 3:30, I think). My resting heart rate is as low as it has ever been -- around 50. My blood pressure has decreased and is now 100/70), and my cholesterol dropped to 163 (100/63). As for my heart rate on runs, it is hard to compare. Today I ran on the treadmill at about an 8:00 pace at 78% Max HR for 6 miles. When I started, I would run 4 miles at 9:30 pace at 85% max HR.
I think much of the progress over the short time period has to do with the fact that I have not been so out of shape for very long. Indeed, it was just 16 months ago that I started the blog and weighed only 10-15 pounds more than I do now and was running 1-2 per week. And I have run marathons before, so deep down my body had some running efficiency and training built in.
From the blogosphere, I have learned a great deal about training, motivation, nutrition and gear. I attribute the success of these months to dedication, commitment and a desire to be better for my family and myself. My gear, my shoes, my Garmin 405 and SportTracks have certainly helped in this cycle, not only to understand my body and training, but also to demonstrate the real progress I was making.
Ultimately, though it comes down to the Nike motto: Just Do it. No one cares about the excuse, and everyone can think of one, but in the end, just do it. And I am glad I did.
And now for vacation...