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2 Years in the Making - With Pics

Well, February 24th was the second anniversary of my final weight-loss journey. It is my last time around the barn. I started out not having done much of anything but sit in an office chair for 7 or 8 years, and then I made a decision.

Lose weight!

I started with a YMCA class, In It To Lose It. It was tough getting started (More HERE). I didn't really know much about eating well or exercising; it was all about losing weight, not really about getting healthy or fit.

My first year (2011) was a tough one. I had a heart attack (More HERE) and after lots of agony, I finally I decided to have knee surgery in December '11. Vicodin was fun! (More HERE)

I worked with the doctor, the cardiologist, the nutrionist, the surgeon, the physical therapist and God to get my health issues resolved.

A year after I was in ICU, March 25, 2012, I ran my first ever 5K (3.1 miles)! (Details)

On September 1, 2012 I ran my first ever 10k (6.2 miles) in 1 hour and 5 minutes. I ran my first 1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles) on the 24th.  I also ran over 1000 miles in 2012 and hope to do the same in 2013.

I am a born again runner!

I have had a number of NSVs (More HERE) lost inches in the waist - down to 34 from 40. I eat much better food than I ever did. I have logged on to MFP and kept my food diary for nearly 2 years. It's actually become a way of life for me. I have a lot of MFP friends, and few have crossed over to being real friends I have met at races. :)

Oh yeah, and I lost a few pounds too! Here are the pics:

That's me at 276 pounds. Summer 2010

That's me at 214 pounds. Summer 2011

That's me on the 24th after my first 1/2 Marathon!

I am not at my goal weight, but I will get there. What I want is to be at a weight where I don't have to take the BP meds (187) - one where I can continue to run 100+ miles a month, play a couple of hockey games a week, skate, rollerblade, and ride bikes with my family on the weekends.

AND stop spending time thinking about being overweight!

Thanks for the votes and comments, but most of all your suport and friendship!

The Day the Music Died - 13.1

Daylight arrived along with the soft patter of rain on the motel deck. "Oh God help me, this is it," I thought, as I gave up the idea of falling back to sleep. My mind ran through a few desperate prayers, and I felt a sense of peace.

Today is the Hyannis Half Marathon. PICS

When I registered less than a month ago, I had visions of a cold, but sunny day. I pictured myself running along the beach and across the bridge in the marsh - it was glorious in the center of my imagination.

Well, that didn't happen. In fact, almost 2000 wimps did not even show up for the race.

The Start: My wife and 9-year-old dropped me off and I made my way to the Conference Center to get a coffee and use the men's room. I fiddled with my equipment (this probably should have been a new paragraph.), put on my headphones, figured out how to wear my electronics under my new running raincoat, and restarted my phone (Endomondo and Music!). I left the dry warmth of the hotel and walked to the 10-Minute Pace corral, crossing a torrent of runoff on the way.

I tapped Endomondo, and pressed play on the music. Nothing, just nothing! There was no music and no time for messing with it; the Star Spangled Banner ended and the crowd of over 3000 began to move towards the Start Line.

It took a full 3 minutes to cross the timer grid at the start line.

Mile 1: It was more of a walk than a run with lots of brightly colored runners clogging Sea Street. I didn't really get warmed up, so the slow start was actually good. My feet were still dry and the rain was light.

Mile 2: Things began to loosen up and Endomondo reported Mile 1?? It is working, but still no music!

Mile 3: I reminded myself of what my friend Tom said to me on Facebook: "let the race come to you." We turned the corner and headed past the harbor for the beach. A steady headwind blew rain in my face and I trudged on down the road, jumping the occasional puddle.

Mile 4: Running along the beach is where I met up with Team Joe. Joe was blind from diabetes. He had a fellow leading him with a lanyard warning him of obstacles. There was still a fair amount of traffic, so we could keep a conversation. We shared our survivor stories and then I picked up the pace.

Mile 5: Huge puddles covered the width of the road and we had to go up on lawns to avoid them; then the inevitable, too much water and vented sneakers. My toasty warm feet were now soaked. Water squished out of my running shoes with every step, causing sea foam to form around the lace holes.

Mile 6: The worst hill of the race took up most of mile 6. A lot of walkers, of which I became one through the water-stop grabbed a handfulof refreshment. I had a quick cup of H2O and ate a raspberry energy thingy.

Mile 7: It was here I started to doubt myself. God, it was windy, cold and even though the rain was light, it had soaked through everything. A gust of wind blew my glasses off. Here 3 kids, probably all under 10, were just so excited about the race they were high-fiving everyone - me too.

I had a breif thought, I was a heart attack survivor, and  I am running a half marathon.

Mile 8: I hit the next water-stop to stretch and massage my sore knee. I drank a few sips of water, and on I ran thinking about those 3 kids. It was surreal; like I wasn't even there - well, except that my knee was worse with the cold damp wind.

Mile 9: The right knee started feeling better, and a tailwind and a slight downhill contributed to my fastest mile: 9:35.

In the middle of an intersections there was a guy clapping and yelling, "This is New England running at it's best, come on let's pick it up!"

Mile 10: Honestly, I was wishing it would just be over, but I was just too close to quit.

Mile 11: Part of the route was on a state highway and they made us run 2 abreast. The shoulder of the road was 3 inches deep in runoff, so I walked on the outside of the cones for a few hundred yards.

Mile 12: I went into a trance of sorts, running through some of the neighborhoods. My arms were numb. I gave up dodging puddles and took the shortest route. A gal on the side of the road yelled a convincing, "You've got this!" and gave me a high-5.

Mile 13: I asked one of the race marshals, "how much farther?"

"You are almost there."

And then suddenly I heard music playing in the distance.

To The Finish: I rounded the bend and headed up the hill. Under their umbrellas, was my wife, her cousin and her husband, and my very wet, but excited 9-year-old cheering me on. A couple of high-5s as I cranked it up and raced across the timing strip passing a 6 or 7 runners in the last 100 yards.

The next few minutes were very personal and life changing.

It's hard to express how it feels to have been in ICU less than 2 years ago, have run my first 5K eleven months ago, and to have finished a half marathon.

The Aftermath: A 2" inch blister on my left foot, bleeding nipples (Yes, I wore all the right stuff!), very sore quads, and an overwhelming sense of awe at what I have been able to accomplish in spite of the song that had played over and over telling me I would never be a runner, it was too far, I was too old, my knees would give out. That song is dead.

I always look forward to votes and comments, but today, I just need to remind myself how, with God's help, there is a lot I can do.

Fitting it In!

I have 14 minutes to write a blog this morning. Sure, I would love to take longer, but school starts at 8.

Life is busy!

I am finishing up school this week (still have 3 exams), flying to MN to start a new job next week. In the midst of which, I have trained for my first 1/2 marathon that takes place on the 24th. Then there are the kids, the gym, logging, the Bruins, and helping out around the house and my favorite: date nights with my wife. And I need to get my home office in order!

As I approach the end of my second year of weight loss, I look back and remember having little or no energy in the first year!

The sad part is that I thought I would never feel better and never enjoy looking in the mirror, or being in a family photo. It was a chore to put on my shoes, my back ached most of the time. I felt tired, fat - even gross. One day I made a decision to change, and not long after that I had a heart attack.

If I have done one thing, it's not give up. I have a goal weight which still seems elusive - but I am dedicated to logging no matter what the scale says. I schedule my runs, weight workouts and cross-training just like I do a doctors appointment. Occasionally I reschedule to get a long run on a sunny day, but I don't miss them.

I fit it in!

I am looking forward to the soon coming year 3 where I will make my weight loss goal, I will run a marathon, and I will look back at feeling good last year.

How about you, how do you fit it in?

Thanks for the votes and comments!

Food with Benefits - Top 10 Aphrodisiac Foods

Tomorrow is the day on which Cupid unloads his quiver of love drunk arrows upon mankind. Ever since Santa lost weight, he's been moonlighting as the Little Love Archer. Today in his honor, I am going to write about food, but not just any food. This is food with benefits.

According to AlterNet, there are 10 foods that should increase the odds of you getting lucky. And today is the day to stop practicing and mate!

Here is my anecdotal take on the top 10:

-10 Asparagus: I don't know what's in there, but I like 'em. As far as sex goes, I'm not thinking that my wife will appreciate the fiber, you know what I mean? Apparently they boost the production of histamine which helps with orgasms. I dunno, maybe if you have a cold it can help too. I think the best thing they have going for them is their shape. Possibly if you had a long enough one you could use it for a whip.

-9 Almonds: Now we're talking. I love almonds. If they were liquid, I would take a bath in them. Instead of tequila I think you can use them for body shots. I guess they were fertility symbols at one time. I am thinking without nuts, there isn't much chance, you know? The article says that it works best on woman; probably why I don't know.

-8 Avocado: The Aztecs called the avocado ahuacuatl, or "testicle tree." After you stop laughing, think about all the uses it the pit might have. I think we are done talking about avocados.

-7 Bananas: The banana is no stranger to sexual activity. I was at a party once - never mind. Apparently if you eat them it increases the male libido. I think when I was a teenager it worked. I still eat bananas, but I guess I am immune to their effect now a days. I'd probably have better luck if someone else would eat it and I watched.

-6 Basil: Now I really like basil in my food. It is common spice in my house. But when it comes increasing the desire, I never thought of keeping a shaker of it in the bedroom. I guess the only drawback is if my wife says, "What's that in your teeth?" Until then, I think we'll stick to Channel No. 5.

-5 Chocolate: I am with you on this one. I like chocolate so much I would have sex by myself.

-4 Figs: Figs make me think of camels, and camels make me think of spitting - it's not working for me. And besides, Adam and Eve covered their privates with fig leaves. That's like having kids banging on the bedroom door.

-3 Garlic: It's good for your heart and your blood flow; it's the Viagara of the natural world! Now guys, if you can get someone to get close after eating it, you might be in luck. My wife said it would probably be better if I mowed the lawn and took out the garbage.

-2 Oysters: Anything that looks like the flu is suspect. I will admit, that this is my favorite food ever, and I am going to check to calendar to see how lucky they made me! I can assure you that it is not sushi. I put in a little extra wasabi in the soy once, and my wife lost her contact lens as it cascaded down her cheek. That was not lucky.

-1 Honey: Well, it is supposed to increase hormones which make us want to rip our mates clothes off! The problem at my house is that I can't get the stupid cover off it once it has been opened and we lose the desire if I have to go shopping.

I don't know about you, but I am going to take my chances with flowers, chocolate and a thoughtful card, right after I take out the garbage.
Thanks for the votes and comments!

I know, it's a rerun from last year but it still made me chuckle.

Running Down a Dream

Well, I did it! I am just 6 weeks away from a solid year of running - well, after I finally finished C25K. (that took a year) Today I had my best run ever.

When I started running I just wanted to finish a 5K and run a few races. Ha!

Today was not my long run day, but because of the impending blizzard, I decided to go for it. Yesterday, instead of my regular day at the gym with some cardio and weights, I just went for a 2 mile walk. That's a rest day for me.

I got up this morning and the weather report said mostly sunny; now that's my kind of weather. It was 17 F (-8C), so I drank a few cups of coffee and 4 cups of water while I waited for it to get to at least 20. Oh yeah, and I needed a meaningful trip to bathroom.

At 10 am I put on all my long-run, low-temp tested gear. That would be my thicker running socks, my orgasmic Under Armor underwear, a pair of REI running tights which my wife says are for girls, sports shorts and two long sleeve UA running shirts - one is a winter shirt. Then I added a headband and a pair of thin running gloves which I stopped wearing after 8 miles.

I didn't really map out a 1/2 marathon route, but I know my mileage around town from lots of shorter runs. After 1200 miles some things are automatic.

I hate to stretch, so I usually do that in the shower, however; I didn't get one this morning. Off I went with my Bart Simpson hair style and started a fast walk up around the block. After about 4 minutes I pulled up to telephone pole and stretched things out; the chilly wind blew. Endomondo paused recording.

The thinking about the 2 hours ahead of me started. It really seemed impossible.

Would I have another injury even with all the stretching and exercising I was doing? I prayed not. Off I went bouncing down the road to a couple of my original guitar tunes; a cover of Tom Petty's Breakdown and a Hendrix sounding piece entitled Gypsy Jam.

9:13 mile 1 was down.

Up the hill to the state highway I ran another mile of my 5K course. I split off onto the high school rubberized track to save on some of the impact.

Miles 3 and 4 were behind me.

I headed out a across town to the Park where they have a mile-and-a-half walking loop around the 9/11 memorial. Our town lost 19 to the that day's tragedy.

At mile 5 my right foot and knee started to get stiff, so I took a minute to walk and stretch it. No injuries today, God!

I crossed the Winter Street dam and headed up the hill to the park where I decided to run it backwards. That means a long steady uphill and a slightly steep downhill.

I deserved a little down hill after all the headwinds by the reservoir. Mile 6 was in the rear view mirror and so was a record 10K - 56:55

Miles 7, 8 and 9 passed by as I trudged through the exit gate back towards the house. My legs were starting to feel it 86 minutes in. I began to think I might not make it. I have pushed through the pain and ended up with injuries too many times. Israel Houghten came on and he was singing Turn it Around; I picked up the pace.

More running, more Tom Petty - Running Down a Dream.

I kept running. After what seemed like a long time I thought I should have passed 10 miles going over the train bridge. I kept running. Finally I took my Android off my arm to check. I guess I missed the 10 mile prompt as it was at 10.67 miles. I had to stop to cross the intersection - well, not really, I was dressed in safety green! Sort of my get the heck out of the way colors... you'd have to be from Boston...

I made my way down Franklin Street and ran the Turkey Trot route backwards. (Some of my MFP buddies know it!) Endomondo clicked off 11 miles and then 12.

If I head home now, I won't complete the 1/2 marathon. My only option was a huge freakin' hill that is 195 feet to the top. My pace slowed to 3 mile per hour. I started to walk.

Rounding the corner I headed down the long slow hill towards my house made a right on my street and it happened.

Endomondo prompted me to say this was a PR for distance and time... I finished!

Weight Loss Motivation - The Lesson of the Superbowl

Have you ever been close to a goal - so close you can taste victory? Maybe you feel like the 49'ers in the last minutes of yesterday's Superbowl game. There is the goal line, there is the win, there is the end of a hard working season's success. Maybe you feel like the Ravens and are just hanging on for the win and get it.

The point is not just the win, but how you play the game to win.

I am there in a number of different ways. About a year ago I ran my first 5K (3/25/2012). In a few weeks, I will be running my first 1/2 Marathon. I am registered, booked a motel, and told my friends; there is no turning back.  I can see the goal line. Last time I had an injury and couldn't run the 1/2. Like the 49'ers, I just couldn't make it happen. The same is true for the job; I have an offer to start on the 25th. I have been out for 7 months.

I am also closing in on my weight loss goal, and have 20 pounds left; a stubborn 20, I might add.

I don't really have a coach, so I rely on my MFP team of experts to supply motivation, correction and encouragement. My old trainer razzes me on Facebook too. I am 1-3 with her in the 5K, 2-0 in the 10K and I am hoping 1-0 after the 1/2 in a few weeks.

So how do you play the game? Here are a few thoughts.

- Think fitness, not weight loss.

- Think inches, not pounds.

- Think about what you are doing right.

- Add new things first.

- Replace old things second.

- Schedule your workouts.

- Start slow and move towards the goal.

- Reward your success.

- Confess your failures.

- Get proper equipment! (Running shoes fitted by a running store, bike fitted by a bike store! etc.)

- Get a few cheerleaders!

- Do it for yourself.

- Set goals. This is tough one. What is a good and achievable goal? What if you don't make it?

- Change your goals if you need to.

- Stay away from bad influences! (or shoot them!)

- Get enough friends so you enjoy your journey.

- Read success stories!

- Don't give up!

That's what I have, what did I miss?

Thanks for the votes and comments! (You can do both!)

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