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Finishing is Winning

I keep thinking about doing my best. There is a distant image of perfection of who I could have been in my mind's eye (Which, probably needs to be poked out.) Ah - if I had only chosen this path to fitness long ago.

There are so many things I could have been. Well, maybe not a Kenyan, but a lot of things.

When we were a kids, we dreamed of being astronauts, doctors, fireman and cowboys. Later on it was rock musicians and sports greats. In first grade I wanted to be married to the girl next door, but she fell in love with Tomas up the street.

As you are probably well aware, I didn't become any of those things. Well. I did get married, but not to the girl next door. Actually by 4th grade I think she had cooties which made her yucky!

If I had to do it all over again, I would have started running way back then. My friend Tom says that you can achieve the same results in about 2 to 3 years as you would have with a lifetime of running. I don't know.

Sunday I did the pastor a favor and skipped church to run a 10K race. He hates when I stand on the pews any way.

It was in the region known as the Worcester Hills, about an hour from Boston. Guess what? They have HILLS there; lots of them. From 30,000 feet it looks like a topless beach in the French Riviera.

As I look back over the last 2 years, I have come a long way in my running performance. My first 5K, the graduation of C25K took me 31:42. My best 5K time was 7 months later and was 25:08. That's 2 minutes per mile faster. About 10 minutes per mile, down to a pace of 8. You can convert to miles or kilometers HERE.

Runners use pace as a standard comparison - well, that and brightly colored shoes.

My 10K times have fallen from 1:05:37 last fall to 59:08 on Sunday. I have only done one half marathon and the next one is going to be under 2 hours! I have another one planned in August, and 2 more in September. Interestingly, my MFP pal, BigMech has been there for both my 5K and 10K PRs. He's like my lucky rabbits foot. Although he's lost 250 pounds (one of me), I can't keep him in my pocket.

Maybe my friend Tom is right, in another year I will reach my running destiny and achieve my top speed and performance.

Honestly, I don't really care. I love to run, not for the competition, but for the heart and for the head. In the fall I am shooting for my first marathon. I just want to finish - to say I did it. And then we'll see what I do next.

I have already applied for a spot in the Boston Marathon and I am waiting to hear back. Why? Because finishing, for me, is winning.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I appreciate the comments and votes!

Why the Gym and I Are Breaking Up

I have been a member of the local YMCA for over 2 years. I have worked out a few times a week since we joined. I did skip it while I was in ICU, after 2 surgeries I had, and while I was away on vacation. I like vacation better than surgery.

I learned a lot from being part of a gym and taking some classes.

The real reason I am leaving is not because of anything they did. It's not even because of the people there, many of whom are on the People Of Walmart site; it's just that after being unemployed for 9 months, I need to cut some expenses.

I can run outside, and I have perfected a home workout routine for strength training that I can do on the carpet - right after I shampoo the spots where the dog puked.

I will miss the ability to go run on the treadmill if the weather sucks. And circuit/strength training was really easy with their machines. I admit, I haven't taken a class in awhile, but I loved them because we had fun and encouraged each other. The staff was helpful in showing me proper form, and opened my eyes to the possibilities of various types of workouts.

One of the funniest moments happened in my In It To Lose It class. We had a fellow named Dick in our class, and he would often show up late. One day one of the other students came to class late. The trainer asked the late comer sarcastically: "What are you, pulling a Dick?" I just about dropped my Bosu ball.

Here are a few of my observations about the gym:

- Classes: If there is a class where people do sit ups while facing each other in a circle, one in which they give each other high-5s, I grantee someone will fart, and you will know who it is.

- Planks:  A 1 minute plank is no different then being backed over by an SUV.

- Treadmill Use: If you use a treadmill, be sure to get one in the back row. That way if you step off it at 8 MPH, not as many people will see you. The down side is that it also might take someone longer to come to your aid.

- Cell Phones: If you are using you cell phone and taking up space on a machine, you deserve a freakin' slap. If you are yakking it up on the treadmill, someone needs to trip you.

- Skin: Modesty is well, not the motto of everyone there.

- Plastic Surgery:  You will see at least one bad Botox job. There was one woman I was going to put back in the fish tank.

- Mirrors: The more muscles you have, the slower you walk by the mirror.

- Couples: Most men don't really want to work out with their spouses.

- Free Weights: Grunting is tolerable in the free-weight section, but screaming like you just had an orgasm is not.

- Attire: I suggest posting a picture of your gym attire on Facebook before actually going to the gym. You might get some constructive feedback.

- Spandex: If you have chub rub and run wearing Spandex, people will think you are lying when your pants catch fire.

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

Kickstarted!

I have been around for pretty much 2 years. I love MFP - I mean there are some whack-jobs here to be sure - but I love MFP.

I remember when I first logged on MFP, I didn't have any friends. I was a heart attack survivor trying to find a new lifestyle.

The community began to grow on me, and I tried to participate. I learned the lingo like "NSV." I felt dumb, I couldn't figure out what the acronym was. I would read: "Great NSV today, my pants fell off." In context I thought it was some kind of orgasm. Turns out it is.

As I spent time getting to know people, some came and went, but a few have really stood by me. By a few, I mean like over 1000. I have met some of you at races and from others, I received heart felt congratulations on my MFP orgasms. Last week when all hell broke lose in Boston, quite a few of you sent me messages and checked to see if I was OK. 210+ people voted for last weeks blog. Wow!

I found this community receptive to my blogs. And because of that, I started writing a book. When I end up on Dr. Phil, it's your fault.


The book cover is in draft copy, and this weekend I'm running a 10K race in which we'll film some footage for the Kickstarter video. In the promo there will be pleas for financial help, a couple of facts, a few lies, one off color joke, the use of the word "sex" and then it will be online. I owe that to all the slightly twisted readers I have on here. :)

The website is growing in popularity, the LIKEs on Facebook are increasing, and I took a few insults regarding my masculinity for starting a Pinterest page. Nothing quite like going to a Stella & Dot jewelry party for men; trust me.

Even the YouTube videos of me pole dancing finishing my first 1/2 marathon was viewed 22 times!

Here is the preface draft from the book (which has pictures like the one above if you don't like reading too much):

In the two years prior to writing this book, I learned a lot about health, nutrition, faith and fitness. This is not another fad diet, it's not really a weight loss book, it's not a system, and I am not another guru with new and unproven science to seduce you with - it's none of that. I am also not an expert, but if I had the chance, I would play one on TV.

This is the story of a guy who was obese, became very ill and lived to tell the story. Despite what the medical community said, that man decided to make the most of life.

I have often said, "If I had only known." This book represents a lot of hard work sifting through the myths, the mystery, the unbelievable claims, the science and the practical day-to-day habits that make living a fit life possible.

It's a book about me, and I think in reading it, you'll find that it's really a book about you.

From the day I left the Framingham Heart Center in April 2011, I stubbornly desired to be healthy. On some of my morning runs my route passes by the hospital, and in my mind's eye I would see the monitors, tubes, and wires - then I would declare my health and wellbeing. My inner-voice said, "Never again, I'm never going back!"

I would also like to say this book is the magic pill you've been waiting for! Maybe not. At the very least, I hope you'll find reading it as entertaining as a teenager finds a SmartPhone screen.

It's honor to be elected for the magazine rack in your bathroom.

I Found My Feet Down There

When you get to MFP you think, I'll lose some weight, get good looking and live happily ever after. I suppose some do.

It's been a couple of years since I thought about how freakin' hard it used to be to put on a pair of shoes. When I leaned over my fat belly crushed my diaphragm and I almost suffocated while trying to make a bunny ear in my shoelaces. To make matters worse, my lower back would occasionally go into spasms.

When I worked in corporate, I was a shoe addict (and ties and watches and drugs and cigarettes). I had loafers, oxfords, derbies, monk straps, and wing tips in various colors.

Then I got fat and bought a pair of slip-ons. To make matters worse, I got plantar fasciitis from cheap sneakers and high inclines on the treadmill - and excessive weight. The podiatrist custom made me inserts for my Merrill' and that was pretty much the last time I saw my feet for nearly 8 years.

Now that I am a jogger runner, all that's changed.

I am still addicted to shoes, I have 8 pairs of running shoes; most with matching Under Armour wicking shirts and Nike Combat underwear. If you are a walker, a jogger, or a runner, here are my recommendations.

Training Shoes - Like training pants, but they go on your feet. :) These are for walkers/runners and they have more cushion than the super light running shoes. I like mine because I can go 6 or 8 miles and my feet feel great. Recommended for newbies - especially if you are overweight. They are good for easy runes and not recommended for super long distances.

Running Shoes - These are a little more expensive than the training shoes (yes, they also go on your feet!). They are made of lighter weight materials and are usually well vented.They run a fine line with a minimum of cushioning, yet they are stable. Most need to be replaced within 300-500 miles depending on many factors, including your weight. If you are a heal striker, I would stick with the training shoes.

Recovery Shoes - I know, some running company decided that since it's too expensive for most runners to have aprés ski boots, they should have post-workout shoes. My daughter got me a pair of Skechers GoRecovery, and you know what, I look forward to wearing then for an hour or so after I run or workout.

Flip-Flops - Some people call them thongs, but isn't that what porn stars wear? I like them because I lived at the seashore for many years. I usually wear mine from May until October. I know they are not recommended by podiatrists anywhere, but who cares. I'd be barefoot if I could!

Slippers - Because I needed a trick for the dog to do. My other daughter got me a pair - probably at Walmart the cheap skate, but since I telecommute, I call them work shoes.

And no discussion would be complete without saying this: GET YOUR RUNNING SHOES FITTED AT A RUNNING STORE WHERE THEY DO A GAIT ANALYSIS! How you run, how your foot stikes the ground, the height of your arches, how you pronate and your weight; it all must be taken into consideration when purchasing shoes! The bunny slippers? Use your discression.

When was the last time you saw your feet?

Thanks for the votes and comments!

This was my original post for Tuesday, but I wasn't feeling too witty after the tragedy in Boston - in fact, I still don't. As I ponder the title of this blog, there are 17 people that will never put on a pair of shoes again; 14 amputees, and 3 dead.

Please read yesterday's blog and vote on it and share it. I would like to see it one of the most popular blogs on MyFitnessPal. Thank you, David.

Monday, Bloody Monday

Today I woke up. It's my short run day - an easy 5 or 6 miles. I should have been excited about the perfect spring weather, the sunshine, 2 cups of my favorite coffee, nature making its move before the run, and thinking about my next race.

Instead, as I got dressed, I watched the news, the horror, the images of the sidewalk I have been on dozens of times, and the Boston Marathon finish line strewn with bomb blast debris.

Yesterday started out perfectly. My wife and our 9-year-old got up and walked the mile down to the race route. We are at the 10K checkpoint (Mile 6.1 of 26.2). There we cheered and clapped for thousands of runners as we waited to high-five our friends (whose names will be changed).

My little one sat on my shoulders and my wife by my side. "What color is John wearing?" She asked.

"He's wearing a red shirt with white lettering and dark blue shorts; I saw them in the picture he posted on Facebook. And the ladies are wearing purple. And the Mark is wearing a dark blue Running Club tank-top."

My cell phone buzzed with a text message. Mandy was killing it. 44 minutes to the 10K checkpoint. She pulled over to the ropes for a quick high-5.

10 minutes later the next buzz and John showed up with a huge grin. "55 minutes," I shouted and high-fived him. It was his first Boston Marathon. Then Mark came through. "1 hour buddy, you are on pace for a personal best!" Another high-5 and off he ran. We waited another 5 or so minutes and Kendra shouted from the middle of the road, "Hey David!"

"Good luck!" I yelled as I waved.

We started our trek back home through the throngs of cheering Bostonians amidst the balloons and clanging cowbells. Then we stopped for lunch with a view of the race route.

All the way home we talked about the crazy costumes, funny t-shirts, and how fun it was to see our friends among 23,000 others - plus the hundreds of bandits running without numbers. If I didn't have to get back to work, I would have been one of them.

I sat at my home desk posting the checkpoint times of my friends to Facebook as they made the 1/2 marathon and 30K check points. I got my last one at 1:47. John had made the 30K checkpoint at 3:04:04. The others had past it a few minutes earlier.

I was expecting to get more updates around 2:47. Mandy had already finished in 3:30. The others were all on pace for a finish in about 4 hours.

Nothing.

I was checking the BAA website and no finish times were recorded. They must be overloaded, I thought. Then I noticed some one posted something on MFP about bombs going off at the Boston Marathon finish line. I Googled it and got the first news stories and 1 photo. I scanned it looking for signs of my friends. I saw the Mandy had LIKED a Facebook post and I messaged her to see if John was alright.

No answer.

I texted the guys on my phone and left posts on their Facebook pages: "Just let me know you are OK."

No answer.

At 3:42 I heard John was OK. Later I heard those from the purple team were all accounted for. Thank God. It took until early evening until Mark returned my text. He was safe in his Boston hotel.

For those of you who run, you know what the camaraderie between them is like. These are my friends. We run together when we can, we encourage each other, and we support each others fund raising efforts. And we see each other at other functions too.

How do I process all this? Today I am angry, tearful, thankful, and as I write this, determined. I dedicated my morning run to thinking and praying for those 3 race fans that died as a result of the evil that a very small group of humans seem relentless about perpetrating on others.

As an American, I have a response. As a Christian, I have a response. As a husband, parent and the protector of my family, I have a response.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones, those who have lost limbs, to those who are scared, and to those who just freakin' care about their fellow man and are saddened by this act of violence.

As a runner, I also have a response. I am going to run. The first chance I get, I am going to run in downtown Boston. I am going to remember, and I am going to pray. I am going to be sad for those who worked so hard, only to be robbed of the victory of finishing the greatest race on earth: The Boston Marathon.

Go run or pray, or hug your kid, or call a friend, or do something nice for someone. Please.

Don't be a Dope, Add a Note!

I can't believe that friend requests notes are so much trouble for some people here on MFP. I read profiles with all sorts of rules.  For example: I don't accept friend requests after 6 pm, when I am picking my nose, or on Tuesday. What is Tuesday, you're cheat day? And how many calories are you logging those boogers as? But what about a note? Didn't I ask for a NOTE!

Here are the Top 10 excuses for not adding a note.

1. I don't have any fingers, I pushed the "Add a Friend" button with my nose. (You should see me swype on my iPhone using both nostrils.)

2. I don't speak English.

3. You looked so good in your profile pic, I was speechless.

4. I am a self-absorbed moron, and my note said, "You are lucky to have me as a friend." So, in  moment of compassion, I deleted it.

5. I read your profile and we don't have anything in common except that we have an animal for a profile pic. Meow.

6. I can't read.

7. With both fingers I can't type faster than 22 words per hour and I misspelled "lose."

8. I couldn't think of a nice way to say: I saw your answers on the message boards, and they were just so stupid, I thought it would be fun following you.

9. I did, I accidentally used white as a font color.

10. I was laughing at your blog post and hit the "Add as Friend" button while I wiping snot off the keyboard.

OK, so why don't you use notes with your friend requests?

Thanks for the votes and comments. And yes, I accept friend requests with or without notes - but I do like notes.

And for those who have been long-time readers, thanks for your support on my book project! The website is almost there.

Today is the Day I Left the ICU

Well, 2 years ago was the day I lay on the operating table while the cardiologist stuffed a camera in the artery right next to the family jewels.

I had enough Fentanyl where I could only scream in my mind's eye.

It was about 11 o'clock on Monday morning and I had been sick since Saturday while I was on the treadmill - it had been 3 days. There I was without a cell phone, or glasses - not even a pair of underwear - all of which I had when I had gotten to the ER prior to the ambulance ride.

I was glad to see my wife. The cardiologist told her that I would make it.

My internal dialog was like a psychedelic 60's tune at times. Time was warped, hearing what was being said was a chore. I scanned my body trying to gather data from various extremities. In the midst, I felt God's peace. I didn't know what life was going to be like, but I was glad I still had it, although; I was close to wishing it away not long before.

I had a lot of time to think while I was in ICU. My world flipped from Fox News, to a short discussion with the nurse or doctor, to Oprah, and then brief update on Facebook and a nap.

How was all this going to turn out, I thought?

I had given up on sweating the small stuff like the mortgage and the job so I could be with my family when they arrived. Each day I just wanted things to go back to normal, to be in my own home, to sleep in my own bed and God I wanted clean underwear!

I came home at the end of the week and stood in my bedroom and cried. I took a shower and had a nap.

That first night I woke up at dawn coughing and feeling like I was drowning from the fluid in my lungs. I tired to get comfortable, and then I started having chest pains again. I had my wife take me to the ER.

Another X-ray, more blood tests, more crazy heart enzymes, another EKG, more nurses, more doctors, and more beeping monitors. The only distraction from all of that was the woman who died in the next bay from a heart attack. Her family was devastated. Then it all settled down, and after seeing the cardiologist, they sent me home again.

My friends came to visit after church on Sunday and we walked 2 houses to the lake and back. I was so tired I had to go to bed. (Actually the Bruins were in the midst of winning the Stanley Cup and I wanted to watch the game.)

Today I am grateful for how far I have come. I survived two more surgeries since then as well as a few running injuries - and I am still at this thing we call life.

Thanks for the votes and the comments.
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