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.

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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.

Remission: 2015

Running at twilight

(CC) BY-SA Tomas Fano

We’re down to crunch time for the Flying Pig. My goal is to run it in 2016. However, I’ve had to alter my plans somewhat. Part of the plan had been to run the Flying Pig Half Marathon this year. Only on my way to ramping up to a 90-day half-marathon training plan, the Winter household got hit with a wave of respiratory viruses. Get over one cold and another takes its place. This has killed running for both me and Nita in December.

It’s mostly over now.

In the past, winter has impacted our running efforts. It gets dark early. The cold temperatures are not so much a problem, but there is the danger of snow and ice. It’s not a matter of toughing it out. It’s a matter of staying upright and uninjured. Fortunately, this year, we have a treadmill. It’s enough to get back to the three miles a run I’d reached before Thanksgiving. One can do five miles on a treadmill easily enough. It has an aux jack like most modern car stereos, so I can listen to audio books while I run.

But I will not be ready for the half marathon this year. I have to get back to where I was before I got sick. Plus I have to finish my degree, which won’t happen until April. So instead, I’ve switched things up. I’ll be doing my annual weekend trek on various sections on the Little Miami Bike Trail starting this year in Springfield in March. Yeah, March. That’s going to be interesting if it snows a lot. Then the summer will be spent training for the half marathon. Which half marathon?

Well, I’ve decided to run the Loveland Half Marathon this coming October. That gives me an extra five and a half months (counting the full month of May as the Pig is run the very first Sunday of the month) to train. Also, I go into late fall with a head start on training for the full Pig in 2016.

Why am I doing this when my fellow cross-country runners from high school have stopped running due to knee and hip issues (and, let’s be honest, pressing golf games)? Simple. Training has the side-benefit of improving my health. I know I need to eat better. I already drink less. The exercise is the key to eliminating a lot of blood chemistry numbers that have resulted in lots of brown bottles in my medicine cabinet.

Plus it’s on my bucket list. I said when I graduated high school that I wanted to run a marathon. Should have done it years ago. I want to do it while I’m still relatively healthy enough for it.

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.