Remission: My Wife Is Beating Me

Couple running

CC 2012 Peter van der Sluijs

My wife has done very well with her attempts to get into running. She is into running. Big time. She is up to three miles, wants to run a 5k this spring or summer, and will run even with bad pain in her thigh. Her fat ass husband?

Well…

I’m easing in slowly. I was almost up to two miles, caught a cold, and ratcheted back down to a mile and a half. And I may have to rethink how I’m going back into this. I do better outside, but the treadmill has let me recover from December’s outbreak of SARS or bubonic plague or whatever that was that swept Chateau Nita during the holidays.

I’m proud of her because she didn’t think she could do it. I’m mad at myself because I gave myself a way to extend my deadline to run a half marathon, swapping the Flying Pig in May for the Loveland Half Marathon in October. But training starts in earnest in May, after I finish this year’s segmented trip on the Little Miami Bike Trail. I’m starting in March, but if I want to make the race in October, I need to be able to run five miles by Memorial Day at the very latest.

I’m getting there. I finish school in April, which will make it easier, but it’s frustrating when I have setbacks now. Still, I’m proud of my wife. She looks happier, says she feels better, and she may have to raid the second-hand shops soon. So if I can’t get to where I want to go fast enough, I can at least cheer Nita on.

Remission: The Weight Coming Back Off

Jabba the Hutt

Lucasfilm

December proved to be a depressing chapter in my quest to lose weight and great rid of most, if not all, of the brown bottles in my medicine cabinet. Of course, I have to keep things in perspective. The version of diabetes I have is insulin resistance caused by eating a lot of…

Let’s not call it crap. Let’s call it really good but nutritionally suspect food. Because, let’s be honest, it ain’t Friday night without bar food.

My main focus has been running, and I made it to three miles a run before the perfect storm of sinus infections, bronchitis, and possibly the flu hit the Winter household. Happy holidays, folks. Try not to hack into the manger.

So New Year’s Eve, I started over again with a mile. Slowly. It forced me to abandon plans to run the half marathon event at this year’s Flying Pig Marathon. I can’t finish my last semester of college and go from couch to half marathon by May if I’m starting in the hole.

What I have done, however, is cut out more of the snacking. I still occasionally love my peanut butter, and I still hit the bar food every so often. But fewer pop tarts (which make me sleepy late in the day anyway) and fewer trips to the convenience store for candy have paid off in an immediate drop in weight. I started this past week at 272 pounds after ending 2014 at 279.

Snacking is the single worst culprit in weight gain, weight fluxuation, weight inertia (neither going up nor down). Oh, this candy bar won’t hurt. Oh, one donut won’t kill me. I won’t insult your intelligence and say I’ve stopped altogether. I have, however, slowed down on it. I still have one vice. At work, we have a cafeteria that serves breakfast. Every morning, I seem to find myself getting a biscuit and bacon. I love bacon, but grabbing it midmorning after having breakfast at home is not something I need to be doing on a regular basis.

But there are unexpected benefits besides a sudden drop in weight. I don’t get the later afternoon crash anymore. I also sleep better. I’ll take that. I’m sure exercise has a lot to do with it, but snacking less has to be playing a part.

So now that exercise and snacking are handled, I need to start looking at my regular meals.

I’ll ponder that over a beer and fried cheese sticks.

Running In Place

Hamster in wheel

(C) 2005 Mylius, GNU FDL

Running has hit a snag. It’s called Standard Time, which I’ve ranted about time and again in this space. Why? It gets dark before 5:30 now. I get home at 5:30. Couple the cold and snow with the dark, and outdoor running is just not going to happen.

So I ordered a treadmill, spending extra money for one that can handle my fat ass. Nita is excited because she hates running outdoors even in the best weather when the days are long. I like it because I can do 3-6 mile runs in January when the temperatures resemble a summer day on Hoth and the days are only slightly longer than in Stockholm.

I had to bring this monster home myself, a 150 pounds of metal, rubber, and plastic. Would it fit in the car? It would fit in AJ’s if I folded down the seats right. That was the easy part. Then I had to get it in the house. That was a workout. I spend about twenty minutes wrestling this thing into the basement. Once down there…

I was done. Time for beer.

But of course, I couldn’t just let it sit there. We wanted to get a run in the next day. So down I went to try and decipher the instructions. I got the machine partially built when the clock struck nine and I realized I needed a beer. So there it sat Sunday night.

Monday night, I come home to find one of the cars has a flat. And it’s not one I can easily change. (Remember, I once did my own brakes, so it’s not like I can’t work on a car when pressed.) I spent the first hour and a half at home waiting on the AAA guy. No sooner did he finish up than AJ called to say he’d banged his head at work, requiring a trip to the Urgent Care. Nita took him while I came home waiting nervously by the phone. I don’t do waiting so good. Rather than get worked up pacing the house, I took a Zen approach to waiting for news and went downstairs to finish the treadmill. Which went well until I tightened up the support brackets.

I had to double check the logo on the side of the treadmill. It did not say Ikea, yet there I was on the floor with an Allen wrench trying to finish the damn thing at 9 PM. But…

I texted the picture to Nita and AJ. Yes, they were happy.

So last night, we broke it in. Nita, after a weeklong layoff, did a mile and a half on it. AJ, who never runs, did a mile. Me, who was up to three miles a run a week and a half ago, didn’t make a mile. And I hurt.

I needed a beer.

Remission: It’s All Coming Together

Running_Man_Kyle_CassidyIt’s not a stretch to say I did not have a good summer numbers-wise. My weight went back to 280. Blood sugar and cholesterol followed. In fact, cholesterol, not A1C, is what freaked my doctor out on my most recent (and overdue) checkup.

My wife and I have both been running this summer, but I fell back to a mile a run, three days a week and sometimes down to two.

But now we’re getting into to, using a football metaphor, the red zone. My goal is to run a half marathon in 2015, specifically the Flying Pig. I want to run the full Pig in 2016. So I need to be running more than 3 miles a week.

I’m working slowly on it. By Christmas, if all goes well, I’ll be up to 5 miles a run three times a week. Come January…

I’ll admit, I worried about being ready to run 13.1 miles in five months. As it turns out, I found a training plan for the run. You don’t have to work up to running 13 miles a day. In fact, you could hurt yourself doing that. You run five times a week, starting by running 3 miles a day. Sunday (or whatever your final day is), you run your long run. It starts out at three miles and increases one mile weekly to 13 miles. The week before the half marathon, you actually only run 6 miles on your long day. During the week, you insert longer runs from 4 to 6 miles, which is doable.

This is perfect for me as I have my final semester of college coming up. So for the first half of the semester, I’ll have two built-in rest days while I knock out an accelerated class.

So the first running goal is more than doable. Now I just have to figure out how to train for the marathon after that.

End Of The Trail

Little Miami Bike TrailA week and a half ago, I reached a park in Yellow Springs, Ohio while riding the Little Miami Bike Trail. This is the furthest I’ve gone in my annual trek up the trail.

It’s also the first year where I was able to connect all the sections from Newport, KY, across from downtown Cincinnati, to the trail proper. Because of an old fishing lane on the Beechmont Levee and a connection between the trail around Lunken Airport and a nearby park, I was able to ride from Lunken up State Route 32 to the southern end of the trail and about eight miles into it.

This was the first year I went past the Xenia Trail Hub. Xenia is a former railroad town between Dayton and Cincinnati famous more for a 1974 tornado outbreak than anything else. But Xenia is a decent sized city serving as a bedroom community for Dayton, a quiet little city. The trail gets interesting as it goes into Yellow Springs, a college town suburb of Dayton. It goes past Antioch College – literally across the street from it – and into downtown Yellow Springs where there are a bunch of bars setup to accommodate bicyclists. The trailhead in Yellow Springs is a park at the end of a spur that cuts through a cornfield.

I had a harder time of it this year. Part of it is that I was more out of shape than I was last year. Also, I think the battered Huffy, which I picked up at a thrift shop for $50 a few years ago, is not really well-suited for what threaten to become century rides in the coming years. I sense a graduation present on my horizon: A new bike. Maybe not brand new, but better suited for a more serious cyclist.

 

Remission: A Little At A Time

Bike laneIt’s been rough trying to get the weight back under control. Our household is three adults now, two going to school and one working strange hours along with drum corps. It often means eating fast food or at odd hours. Compounding that is a job change. I’ve had trouble looking for ways to manage my lunch hours in a new area.

But the one thing I can control is exercise. As long as the weather cooperates, I can run. Getting back up to running three miles a stretch has been a challenge. But I keep doing it.

What has helped is the annual trek up the Little Miami Trail. This year, I plan to go all the way to Springfield, nearly 80 miles from Downtown Cincinnati when all is said and done. By the time I finish, I will be starting my final year of college (Helluva thing to say in your forties). That opens up a day each weekend to running.

The real challenge will come during cold weather, as it always does. This past winter, which seemed to last into May, I ran in place, or rather ran around the basement. Rough, but it did its job. Running outside has been the real challenge. I have to deal with the fact that I’m aging as I do this. So recovery times and building up endurance are getting harder to improve. On the other hand, doing nothing will likely be fatal. While most of the men in my family make it to their mid-70’s, every generation seems to have one or two people who die in their fifties. I don’t want to be one of them. I don’t even want to go in my sixties, which my father did (ironically a couple of days before a scheduled procedure to implant a pacemaker.) I have to get into shape. That last half of my adult life is turning out so much better than the first half. I want to be able to enjoy it.

Remission: Making It A Couple Thing

Jogging couple

CC 2009 Ed Yourdon

This summer, I had to restart my running program. I started walking up to two miles, but running? I needed a kick in the butt.

Fortunately, my wife is always willing to kick me in the butt. She saw me mapping out a mile run on the mapmyrun.com web site and asked if I was planning to do that eventually.

“Um…”

The next night. “Hey, honey. Let’s take a run together.”

Um…

We ran. I did a full mile. Nita ran about almost half a mile, walked a couple of blocks, and finished the run. We were both winded. Yes, I, the guy who said he wants to run the Flying Pig Marathon in a couple of years, was winded after running a mile.

But it’s easier to build up this time. We start at the same time, stretching together and taking off together. Nita’s endurance is building up. So is mine. Eventually, I’ll have to run a separate route as I get up to 2, 3, 4 miles and more. But working together, we’ve been able to push each other to get farther. Nita now runs in the park on days where I’m not running or I’m away in the evening. I’ve added my annual trek up the various segments of the Little Miami Trail to my routine.

The changes are slow and incremental, but we don’t want rapid weight loss. Rapid loss bring rapid gain, a sort of whiplash effect. I suspect that my fast drop from 310 pounds to 280 a few years ago also may have triggered Type II diabetes. So slower weight loss gives the body and the metabolism to adjust. Plus, when you lose slowly, your skin has time to reshape itself so you don’t have massive amounts of skin hanging off you when you hit your target weight.

Even when we don’t run at the same time, this gets more doable with a partner.

 

Hitting The Trail

Abandoned rail signal on Little Miami TrailThis weekend, I start riding the Little Miami Trail, a different section each weekend. I began this ritual in 2007 when I would walk part of the trail. Took a lot longer since I could only walk so far, so I had to walk shorter sections. One afternoon, after walking into Loveland took longer than in previous years, I realized I’d be gone until evening if I walked back. There was a bike rental place in Loveland along the trail (which is one of that town’s biggest attractions), so rented a bike, through it in the back of our Santa Fe, and drove it back.

The trail is kind of a mental reset for me. I start in Newport, Kentucky, across the river from downtown Cincinnati. This is actually part of the Ohio River Trail, which has come together rather quickly. The completed section extends from the Levee, an entertainment and dining complex right on the Ohio River, to Lunken Airfield. In recent years, Lunken’s five-mile hiking loop has been extended to a park on the far side of the Beechmont Levee and also into a nature preserve across the Little Miami River.

There is a gap between Lunken and trail itself. I’ve improvised a route along the highway that runs between the trailhead and the airport. From there, the trail is 76 miles from suburban Cincinnati all the way to Yellow Springs, near Dayton.

The old Jeremiah Morrow BridgeIt’s been a year of change for the trail. One section is detoured in rural Warren County due to flood erosion. One of the trail’s most spectacular attractions, the 300+-foot Jeremiah Morrow Bridge, is being replaced with a new concrete bridge. One span is finished, and the trail was closed between Morrow and the tiny hamlet of Oregonia when the original northbound span was demolished. On a more upbeat note, Hamilton County has begun to extend the trail from the Newtown end to connect with another trail in nearby Anderson Township. Unfortunately, the date of construction on a section that would connect the existing trail to Lunken Airfield and the Ohio River remains “someday.”

I like being out on the trail. At one point, I would load up the iPod and ride all day. Last year, I was happy just to ride without sound. Normally, I start my ride on Easter Sunday. This year, the weather did not cooperate.It was not warm or dry enough until well into May. So naturally, I waited until this weekend, when temperatures are predicted to top 90 degrees and scattered thunderstorms are forecast. Hey, life is nothing without an adventure. My goal this year is to get all the way to Yellow Springs. However, in two years, I plan to start in Yellow Springs early in the morning and ride all the way to Newport, all 76 miles, part of a birthday week celebration I hope will include the Flying Pig Marathon.

With maybe a stop at the haunted factory near King’s Island.

Peters Cartridge Factory

Remission: Get Back Out There

lone-runnerI’ve talked a lot about how unremittingly miserable this winter has been. Some would ask why, since I grew up in Cleveland. I wasn’t thrilled with winter in Cleveland, either. There’s a reason so many ex-Clevelanders live in Winter Haven, Florida, while Cincinnatians seem to retire in droves to Hilton Head, SC.

But it’s had health consequences. I originally intended to build up my running endurance so that I was up to three miles a day by St. Patrick’s Day.

That was last week. The mile-and-a-half to the local park and back, never mind the half-mile track inside it, is a challenge. But this week, spring sprung. Monday, I was able to get in part of a mile and a half, making it back to within five blocks of my house. Wednesday, I had a doctor’s appointment midday, which required me to take the morning off. So I ran right after Nita left for work.

It was a gorgeous day, the sky clear. And so peaceful. I’d missed the bulk of rush hour traffic and was able to cross the main drag with little trouble. I even made it back to within three blocks of the house this time. It felt great.

Except it was so freakin’ cold. Yes, winter has been like the drunken relative who insists on crashing on your couch despite the fact that you’re having a dinner party right about when he’s sleeping off a fifth of Ol’ Granddad. As I walked the rest of the way back, I remember thinking to myself, “I could probably run the whole route if it wasn’t so freaking cold!” Twenty degrees.

Last year, though, I ran in single-digit temps. Last year, we didn’t spend most of the winter with ice from partial snowmelt coating the sidewalks.

Of course, next year, I’m just going to have to dig into my pockets and pay LA Fitness $36 a month to use their treadmills from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, or later. By that point, I intend to train for the annual half marathon that runs along with The Flying Pig Marathon.

Or I can just suck it up and learn to run in the snow.

But it’s Cincinnati. Why would I do something silly like that?

Remission: Back On The Horse

mostintrunningLate last year, it became apparent that the pounds I’d lost by May were coming back to stay. Rather than let them bring friends, I decided to get ahead of the curve and start running again. Only I remembered two things about running in winter.

It’s dark as hell by 5:30, earlier on the first day of winter.

It’s also cold.

The latter I deal with by reminding myself that having to jog in the cold is a First World problem, you pussy. Suck it up, put on some layers, and go outside. So I did.

And ran smack (literally) into the first problem. Pretty much any short route I take follows a short residential street in neighboring Amberly Village has decided isn’t worth the streetlights. So, one day in early December, I, being a responsible pedestrian, take my jog up into the grass to avoid on-coming traffic. Getting back onto the pavement, I discovered something else Amberly Village, which incidentally, is one of the wealthiest suburbs in Greater Cincinnati, needs to fund better: Pot holes. (Say what you will about Deer Park and Silverton, on whose fuzzy borders we sit, they fill their pot holes rather quickly.) My foot caught the edge of this seismic fissure in the Earth’s crust and…

“Moooooooooooommmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!”

Yes, a 47-year-old man fell down, skinned his knee, bruised a rib, and cried for his mommy. Don’t judge me. After realizing that 1.) I was no longer 10, and 2.) I hadn’t broken anything, I got up and walked painfully back to the house for a shower and dinner. I sat on the couch sulking with a beer when AJ came home from work.

“What happened to you?”

“I fell down.”

“Were you drinking?”

“Of course. I fell down. Why would I not drink after that?”

He rolled his eyes and went off to his room to play Smite. An hour later, Nita came home from school. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

“I went out for a run and fell down.”

Did I get “Poor baby”?

“Oh. Class was horrible tonight…”

Running outside when you can’t see where the hell you’re going was turning out to be a bad idea. But what to do? Join a gym? Nah! That’s too obvious. And really, I didn’t feel like having to fight with them when I wanted to leave after the days got longer again. Then it came to me. Run in the basement.

Yeah…  We live in a small, four-room postwar cottage. So, we’re talking about forty feet of running room. Then consider that you can only run on one side of the basement as the other is the laundry room. On that clear side of the basement sits an old love seat in what’s now our family room. At the other end is my office. So that takes a few feet out. So what did I do?

Booted up the Mac, built a thirty-minute playlist, and started running back and forth. Silly? Yes. Is it working? Who knows. I’m not running outside until February, when the snows starts melting, the daylight hangs out until after 6, and, most importantly, I can see where I’m going.