Thursday, October 31, 2013

When did "fat" become the new "n" word?! And when did honesty become "bullying"?!

I've had a couple of conversations lately where people have said I can't use the word "fat" to describe myself and I shouldn't use it in general because its derogatory. There's also been a lot of talk of "fat shaming" with the recent FB post of mother of three - Maria Kang's "what's your excuse" image. Somehow people are now treating the word "fat" as derogatory and "bodyracist" in the same way society treats the "n" word. Really?! Are you f'ing
kidding me?!

That body came from not caring and no work
So there's a couple of things to talk about here. First off...I can call MYSELF anything I want. I am describing ME and me alone. The "me I refer to is the one in the picture to the left. I was 5'9", 245 pounds with a 38 inch waist...creeping to 40 inches. There is no other adjective to describe what I was but "fat". That will always be the image in my head...of me. Yes, I know I'm hard on myself. Try being a skinny kid most of your life, then becoming fat and miserable (I won't even get into all the health problems I was suffering from...all of which were exacerbated by the weight) ...and you'd be hard on yourself to stay fit and trim too. I call myself "fluffy" now partly to make light of my personal fat composition struggles and to continue to drive myself to train everyday. But that's me talking about ME. Those people that say "well if he thinks he's fat, what must he think I am?!" are dealing with their OWN problems. I have NEVER called anyone fat nor detracted from others and their fitness journey. I took ownership of my size and health and made changes. I took responsibility for my weight, health and mood. I didn't blame anyone else for it. Sure life may not have been that great at the time and I might've been injured but no one held a gun to my head to keep me out of the gym or eat like it was the apocalypse. I get a hard time from people because they see current me and think I'm naturally this way. My current level of fitness comes from hard work and driving myself to be healthy and fit...and continually motivating myself to be so. And on the flip side of that I just LOVE how my coworkers tell me I'm "manorexic" and I should just "eat a hamburger" because "you're too skinny". What...the...hell?!

Secondly there's an accountability problem in this country. I guess the stats about being the second most obese  nation on the planet (Mexico has us beat) with a jump of 13% of the nation qualified as obese in 1962 to 33.8% of Americans being obese in 2012 isn't "our" fault?! Look, I'm not a fan of every freaking fat food holiday this country "celebrates" (i.e. national donut/candy/ice cream/cake/blond brownie day) but they and the fast food industry didn't make us fat. Our lack of self control of ourselves and our children has made us fat. 

That body came from HARD work and constant effort
Speaking of, I'm 41 (although I think a fit and young looking 41 at that) and I can only remember a handful of obese kids throughout my years of school. Have you looked around lately?! Obesity causing heart attacks is rapidly becoming the number one killer in the 18 and under age group! Are you serious?! Studies show that obesity causes 100k-400k deaths a year and cost our society an estimated $117 BILLION (preventive, diagnostic, treatment, lost work, premature deaths) and EXCEEDS monies spent of alcohol and smoking health care costs. And you have a problem with the word "fat"?! Get over yourself! Its fat. Quit bitching about it and take responsibility for yourself. I'm tired of being politically correct about fat and fat issues ESPECIALLY since I WAS a fat guy and battle everyday to NOT be. Maybe if you stop making excuses, take charge of you own life, quit trying to belittle those that have and actually get your weight under'd live a happier and longer life. One that I'm SURE you're loved ones would appreciate your being in and around for, rather than "lose you early" to crap eating habits and being overweight. And no, I'm not being mean or insulting or a bully...I'm telling the truth. I've lost too many family members to poor health and reasons they could control (almost including myself) to not want to change the "culture" and change myself. Maybe if more people took responsibility for themselves, if doctors and dieticians were honest and we saw each other as part of the solution as opposed to being part of the problem, we'd end up a healthier, fitter nation.  But, I'm sure a lot of people reading this will just think I'm another "fitness Nazi". Ugh.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Army 10 Miler...every race can't be a PR

Yes, I know that not every race can be a PR but that doesn't mean I don't want to PR each race. Going into the Army 10 Miler (ATM) I was trying to be realistic in my goals. Mostly, given the rehab running and lower mileage post-hip injury, I was trying to focus on a pain free race. While I LOVE the ATM (I should've been racing it every year for the last decade, because I'm always in DC at the time, but hadn't because I was a fat ass-ed,watch it from the sidelines guy) it comes at the end of triathlon season and I'm always banged up and trying to make the best of it. Two years ago it was an ankle, last year back and pelvis and this year it was the hip. Ugh. Well, I tried to have a plan going into the race focusing on proper form/body position/gait and listening to my body to run pain free. That sounded like a good plan at least...

Luckily since I'm familiar with the race and area (and was staying at a hotel about a mile from the start) I walked to my corral with about 25 minutes before start time. It's great to be in the 1st wave but it's daunting to stand around waiting for the start in a herd of Kenyan-looking, long distance runner-looking folks! Even though I was dealing with the hip injury, I decided to wear my Saucony Virratas because I'd hoped the zero drop and lightweight would help me with quicker turnover and get me through the race faster. I just kept going over the course in my head and kept telling myself to focus in body position/gait. The cannon goes off (I mean it is an Army event, we're not gonna use some puny starter pistol) and we get moving. 

Miles 1-6:54, 2-6:46, 3-6:49
I know everyone always says "run your race"...which for me is start way too fast and pay the price. I mean, the race I really want to run is fast out of the gate, getting faster every mile with a podium finish and there's that. But...the better way to go is start slower, gauge effort and focus on negative splits after the first third of the race. I thought I was starting slow until I hit the 1st mile mark on a sub 7. Ok, I'm not hurting and feel good so let's see how this goes. The course is flat and miles 2 and 3 went the same way. Ok, relax, focus on gait and form and let's see where this takes me. 

Miles 4-6:56, 5-6:46, 6-7:01
As I hit the 4 mile mark I was surprised that I was feeling good and still running well. Yes, I had a plan but I was feeling really good. Then, I realized that if I can keep this up I'll not only have a good race but I might blow the top of my 10 Miler PR...hence the uptick for mile 5. Coming up on mile 6, I got the tell tale sign of an eroding body position because my right foot nicked my left ankle. That means I was collapsing my left side...again...ugh. Ok, ok, deep breaths and keep going. As I hit mile 6 and the 10k mark I could feel myself slowing down and I felt the speed bleed right out of me. I mean it was like my bubble burst. In one fell swoop my hip started hurting and my speed trailed off.

Miles 7-7:10, 8-7:03, 9-7:10, 10-7:05
The course turns on itself for miles 6-7 and offers a chance to catch your breath and gear up for the last 3 miles. Those miles are on a highway leading back to the Pentagon. It's weird. Racers are out on a highway overpass, there's no crowds and no noise. All you can hear is the sound of feet hitting the ground. Pretty cool indeed. The 9 mile mark is at the exit  ramp for the Pentagon, with a slight downhill and is a great way to build steam into the finish. I just gave all I had toward the finish. I was surprised to see the finishing clock as I closed on the finish. I crossed the line in 70mins. Really? Did I just run that in a 70?1 I DID get a PR! My hip didn't feel great, I didn't have a pain free race...but I took 2 minutes off my 10 Miler PR and was satisfied with the day. Not to mention, I got another one of the coveted Finisher's coins. Those things mean a lot to me and I was happy to not only pick one up but have a PR to boot. Next year is the 30th anniversary of the race...and I"m already started to plan out my race schedule for next year so I can be healthy for somewhere around a 65...and then maybe do the Marine Corps Marathon the following weekend. No rest for the fluffy!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Army 10 Miler plan...and an amazing surprise

Well, that Army 10 Miler is tomorrow and I've been going over and over it in my head to try to figure out what's the "plan of attack" and what I can actually expect.

I've been dealing with this hip issue, which I have to admit has been feeling a ton better but I also haven't been pushing a race pace on my runs lately. I've focused more on body position and foot placement more than mileage. I actually haven't done anything longer than an 8 mile run (3 weeks ago that lead into my rehab running cycle I've been on) so I don't really know what to expect form a 10 miler under race conditions.

I've been thinking that the best thing to do is take the race in chunks to start by breaking it down into 3 5ks. The first 3 miles should be "body check" to see how the hip feels and to make sure my body position in on track. Since my runs lately have been that, I should be okay. The only "hill" in that 5k will be running up the off ramp of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. The next 4 miles will be relatively flat where keeping a good pace should be easy. The 10k mark should be where I will get the low down on how I feel. If I'm hurting those next 3 miles are gonna suck but if I feel good I should be able to run negatives out to mile 9 and then its a dash to the finish (or if in pain, gallop of the dead) that last mile. So...plan in hand it was time to head to the expo.

While out a ways from the race and in an armory, the expo is decent sized to get your number and pick up some deals on whatever you might need last minute. Walking around the expo I ran into a guy I hadn't seen since we served together in the Rangers 13 years ago! The "whiz" was this unbelievable runner who was known for staying out for longer training runs after normal organized physical training or would leave work and go home for a 10+ miler or more run. The guy was a running demon and in '97 came in 99th overall at the heralded Boston Marathon. While the guys we served with didn't realized that a big deal that was, I was a marathoner and knew that was some rarefied air. He has always been the person I've thought of when upping my mileage and marathon training. Imagine my surprise when we walked by each other a the expo and he recognized me. Imagine my even greater surprise at his saying that I looked 100 times better and more fit than I ever did in the Army and if maybe he could retire from the Army he could train more and look like me! Me? Really? This guy has been my running hero, still looks like a long distance runner and wants to look like me? I was speechless. We spent the next 20 minutes catching up, talking about training and our expectations of the race, exchanged contact info and went about our way. And by that I mean we ran into each other like 4 more times. Here I haven't seen this guy in 13 years and then kept bumping into him. Crazy!

I know I'm hard on myself. I know I say I don't look the way I want or have the times I should have...but it really meant a lot to have a guy I haven't seen in over a decade, who I consider a "real" runner not only tell me I look better than I did but compliment me on my training and racing. Maybe I am doing something right...

Well, time to settle down and get ready for tomorrow's race.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I think "rehabbing" is most definitely one of Dante's 7 circles of Hell...

Okay, so I haven't been wanting to admit it....but I'm hurt. Not in pain, I'm always in pain (not a surprise considering how battered this old, fluffy body is) and not that pain is a bad thing...but I'm in injured.

It seems that the crash at Timbermen 70.3 and the impact my left hip absorbed as I hit the pavement left me with some lasting injuries. The fact that I put another 47 miles on the hip (13 of which were running in a modified gait, favoring my left side because of the injury)  just threw my entire body off biomechanically. And...because I didn't address it earlier and continued to log mileage training and racing after Timberman (in all honesty I thought I just had to be careful because of the cracked rib and impact on the rib cage from running) I just injured myself more. After gritting my teeth and fighting through a great finish at the Hero Olympic a few weeks later, I spent the following day home from work because I couldn't physically stand up because the pain was so bad. What was so difficult to understand for me was that I hit the asphalt with my left hip but it was the right one that hurt so badly after a run.

Enter new friend and licensed massage therapist "pain" Lisa (I know too many Lisa's so they each get their own identifier and after her digging in my hip almost brought a tear to my eye..."pain" was apropos). She explained that I "collapsed" my left side due to the injury and therefore hyper-extended my right to compensate. I did that for 13.1 miles of the race, (you can see it in the pic above) then continued to train and race on it for the next two months. Lisa explained that I had developed a compensation pattern (due to landing on the left hip) that had created over-/miss-/dis- use of the right hip flexors and later4al rotators. Essentially, one hell of a muscle sprain. So...that meant shorter runs to "rehab" (focusing on body position, foot position and gait) lots of time warming up and cooling down/stretching after runs (something I don't often or well enough) and my new favorite...LOTS of time sitting on a tennis ball to get deep in my glutes and attachment areas of my quad. I like to call it...time spent quietly whimpering to myself while watching TV or playing video games to take my mind off the pain (All that time on the roller and ball was torture...only made worse by the fact I never use them. I will be the first to admit that I don't "recover" well. I just want to keep going and never think about the fact that this body has seen a lot of miles and a lot of abuse and NEEDS to be taken care of). started to work and the hip area felt better. I was still able to still lift weights in the gym and ride with no pain but running was only slowly getting better. Then I had an epiphany! Why not get to the track and run it counter clockwise?! That way I could focus on proper foot placement (straddling the lane lines), an upright body position AND since I would be leaning right throughout, I would effectively be stretching my left hip the whole run...GENIUS!!! Three track rehab 5ks and my hip feels fantastic! Granted I'm still off my normal pace but its coming down. Tonight I'll shoot for a 5 or 6 miler on the road and then its the Army 10 Miler this weekend. I was hoping for a PR but considering the last few weeks...I'll gladly take a pain free ten miles instead.