Pictures!

Quick update to the race report I did for The Florida Run 10K that I ran back in November.  They posted pictures!  I’m a sucker for pictures.  Not really any super good ones of me, I don’t think, but I wound up with three.  I’m going to go back in and put them into the race report itself, but wanted to put them here since they’re new.

Pictures!

results%2f2350bfa8301645cdadc5%2fdsc_4848At the starting line.  You can see this was a small race, though they were very well organized.  This picture is a little Where’s Waldo, but with me.  I’m in here, though…

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Right after the start.  I really struggle with relaxing my arms – they always wind up high and tight like that unless I’m focusing on it.  I don’t know why, and I feel like I’ve done a much better job of working on it when I’m training.  But, especially when I am having to focus on other things (like a race start), they go back up there.  I’ll keep working on it, but I’m also open for ideas.

Incidentally – that guy in front of me was one that I marked early as “want to finish before him”.  Not sure why him, but there you go.  I stuck with him for the first mile or so, and then he left me behind. I figured that was that, until about mile 4, when I passed him as he was walking up a hill.  I never had to drop into a walk, and I never saw him again.  It was roughly there that I realized I had a very good race going.

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Not too often you get pictures from the back like this.  Look at those calves!

I linked to the full race report in the first line of this post, if you’re interested.

Pictures!

Progress Pictures

Finally busted through a little plateau in my weigh-in this morning.  I’ve now lost 53.6 pounds, and I’m three weeks ahead of where my schedule says I need to be.  I’m also now officially smaller than the smallest I got when I was training for the Ragnar & half marathons in 2013 / 2014.  So I’m smaller than I’ve been in 10 years.  The next goal is another 15 pounds and I’ll be smaller than I’ve been in probably 15 – 20 years.  This is 269 pounds.

The progress, it is happening.  Woot!

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For reference:

Initial Pictures – about 320 pounds

 

RR #22: Ashburn Farm 10K

In retrospect, I should have expected the email.  For whatever reason, though, I didn’t, and was a bit surprised when:

“Looking forward to seeing everybody on Thanksgiving – hey, there is a 10K about 45 minutes away – anybody want to do that?”

So, I signed up for a 10K on Thanksgiving morning.

This was the 23rd running of the Ashburn Farm 10K, which is a fundraising event organized by Crossroads United Methodist Church in Ashburn, Virginia.  They support a charity in Uganda that helps young people with school – a worthy cause.  They were expecting around 2,300 going into the event, though I did hear the number 3,000 at one point that morning.

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Six of us went – our hosts for the week, Dave and Erin, two of their kids, my sister-in-law, and me.  When I announced we needed to leave around 6:30am in order for me to be comfortable about getting there, my sister-in-law groaned a rather lot.  But we were out of the house by 6:40 – not bad.

We parked near the start line, which was about two blocks from the finish line and therefore a perfect place to make a quick exit after.  Packet pickup was in the church, and then we headed back and stayed warm in the car until the 10K start, which was 8:15.  Dave and one of the girls were running the 5K, so they came out and cheered and then presumably headed back to the car.

Couldn’t hear much from the back of the pack, 3-2-1, go.  It took about 45 seconds to get to the start line (this will be important later), and we were off.  I never felt crowded at the beginning, which was nice.  I had looked at the elevation profile, so was prepared for the hill in Mile 1 – a hill that was especially daunting for the Florida runner.  I can do an 8 mile long run and my Garmin will tell me that my total elevation gain is 8 feet.  So a 100 foot hill is a monster.

My goal was to PR, which is to say that I wanted to beat the time I ran less than two weeks before at The Florida Run – which was a 10:43 pace.  Mile 1 was a 10:38 mile, so ahead of pace even with the hill.  But I felt OK, so I went with it.

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Mile 2 was kind of rolling, with some downhills after the crest at the end of Mile 1.  Miles 2 – 5 were a big out-and-back, and at the end of Mile 2 is where I met the leaders going the other way, near their Mile 4.  Looked like running club or track kids – they were flying. Mile 2 was a 10:21.  In Mile 3, also kind of rolling, I met the three people I was running with coming back on the out-and-back, as well.  I wasn’t as far away from them as I might have thought.   Mile 3 was 10:22 – very consistent.

About halfway through Mile 4 we turned up a hill that, again, wasn’t that bad for most, but … Florida.  It sucked.  That hill continued into Mile 5, but by then I knew I was on a real PR pace and took off.  Mile 4 was 10:33, Mile 5 was 10:15.

And then the elevation turned downhill.  Mile 6 was a downhill bomb for me, losing 100 feet of elevation in the mile.  There was nobody around me – really not anybody in front or anybody behind.  I was on an island and decided to uncork it.  It felt … great.  I ran Mile 6 in 9:38, which is one of the fastest miles I’ve ever run in a race.  And to have that happen in the sixth mile of a 10K, well … that feels good.

Near the end of Mile 6 we met up with the 5K race, and because of my time that means I was with the walkers.  I spent half a mile dodging walkers, and as we neared the finish line we were in a residential area with turn-y roads and apartment complexes, so you couldn’t see the finish.  It was maddening.  A couple of hundred yards out Dave and his daughter came back to cheer for me and told me it was close, just go.  The clock at the finish line said 1:04.24 when I crossed it, and my watch said exactly 6.2 miles and 1:03.43.

My official time was 1:04.24, a 10:22 pace, and the timing company posted that my net time and my gun time were identical.  And that appears to be the case for most of the people that ran – there are very few people that have a different net time and gun time.  Of course, that doesn’t make sense.  It looks like their start line failed to register our bibs, so they had to go with the gun time at the finish.  That sucks – I’m convinced I ran this nearly 40 seconds faster, at a 10:15 pace, which is spectacular for what I’ve done in the past.

Update:  They updated the times!  My official time for this was race is now 1:03.38, or a 10:16 pace!  Not sure what made me look, but … woot!  The next paragraph has been edited to reflect the updated time.

I PRed by nearly 3 minutes, off of a 6.5 minute PR that I set less than two weeks before this race.  In the last two weeks, I’ve taken 10 minutes off of my 10K PR.  10 minutes. I’m crediting Crossfit – I’m about the size I was when I was running these a couple of years ago, but my aerobic threshold is so much higher.  I’m thrilled with this, even if I did lose a few seconds.

PR!

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Notes:

  • Much of the course was not completely closed to traffic, and I saw two different instances where cops were yelling at drivers.  Thanks to the boys in blue for coming out on Thanksgiving morning and keeping us safe.
  • Because they all finished a few minutes before me, I didn’t really get a chance to visit the after-race amenities inside the church.  They said it was a zoo in there though – fortunately, they grabbed me a water and a banana.
  • I don’t like uphills, of course – but I remember now why I don’t mind hills in general.  Downhills are awesome.  That last mile was a bomb and felt like it – I have almost never run that fast.
  • A few people cheering for me at the end by calling out my bib number.  It was cool.  I’ve got a couple of races coming up where my name is on the bib – I think that is going to be a good thing.
  • Afterward we went back to the house and WRECKED Thanksgiving dinner. Wrecked it.  My early calorie deficit did not last very long.  I ate a lot, is what I’m trying to say.
  • Not a lot of SWAG – a nice long-sleeve cotton shirt with the logo that you saw above, and some coupons to local places.  Apparently there were some door prizes, but I spent so little time in that area that I have no idea. Not complaining – it was a $35 race and they were raising money for charity.  And it is a nice shirt.
  • Next race:  Celebration Half Marathon, January 29th.  I may try to find a 5K between now and then, but other than that, a big one is next.  Given what has happened in the last two weeks, I feel REALLY good about that one.

PR!

Thanksgiving Throwdown

Gallery

This gallery contains 13 photos.

I did something this morning that would have befuddled me from a year or two ago.  I participated in a Crossfit competition.  This was Celebration Crossfit’s Thanksgiving Throwdown – my partner, Winston, and I squared off against five other teams, … Continue reading

RR #21: The Florida Run at Lake Louisa State Park

Update – 12/19/2016 – the race published pictures!  I talked about each individual picture here, but I want to come back in and put them into this post for anybody that might be looking for reports on this race.  Pictures!

Here’s how the website describes, in part, The Florida Run at Lake Louisa State Park:

Known as one of Central Florida’s more challenging and unique races, the course will take runners on paved surfaces, dirt trails, grass trails and some sand.

Lake Louisa State Park is in Clermont, Florida, about a 30 minute drive from the house.  I was worried about timing for my traditional pre-run oatmeal, so I had my coffee and a bowl of cereal, snagged a couple of Lara bars, and headed out.  I have visited the park before – and I hit the gate at about 6:20am for an 8am start.  Normally the park opens at 8am, but they make an exception on race day.  I made my way to the back of the park and headed over to the lakeside bathrooms for a quick break … and saw this – which is a sunrise that you normally don’t get to see:

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Well.

After that auspicious start, it seemed it might be a good day.

This is a really small race but is very well managed.  The Florida Run includes a half marathon, the 10K, the 5K, and a kid’s fun run.  There wound up being 114 finishers in the 10K, and it was probably a few more than that for the half marathon.  But, packet pickup was smooth and easy, and the timing company did a great job.  There was an announcer, a nice chute, and good signage throughout.  Just very well run.

For whatever reason I needed two more trips to the restroom, and then headed over to cheer on the half marathon start, which left at 7:45.  While the mosquitos chewed on me, we had an opening prayer and then a very well done National Anthem – 3-2-1 go, and they were off.  Took maybe two minutes, maybe less, to clear the chute.  15 minutes later we lined up in the chute for the 10K, same 3-2-1, and off we went.

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Because we were in a state park and running what can only be described as a rural route, there was no spectator support.  We were on our own almost immediately.  The first mile was paved, was uneventful and maybe slightly rolling.  The first water station was at about the 1.5 mile mark, followed immediately by one of the bigger hills I’d seen in a while.  By my New York standards it almost doesn’t even count as a hill.  By my new Florida standards, it was tough.  But I powered up and did OK.  And then at about 1.8 miles, we turned off of the pavement onto a path, and the second mile marker was a bit down this path.  Mile #1 clocked in at 10:44, and Mile #2 at 11:04.

This part of Central Florida is basically one big sand dune.  And these paths were like a beach that had a lot of grass growing on it.  The ground was always a bit soft, and if there was no grass in an area it was not all that different from any sandy beach.  Obviously we tried to avoid those.  Maybe 0.75 mile into this we made a sharp right turn and headed up one of the bigger hills I’ve run in literally years.  Again, by non-Florida standards I don’t think it was so bad.  But, when you factor in the sand and the pancake-flat ground around my house that I train on, it was pretty brutal.  The next aid station was at the top of this hill, and they laughed when I said “Well – that sucked.”  The top of this hill was also the third mile marker – Mile #3, which included that crappy hill, was an 11:17 mile.

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At that point, we were back on pavement, and started back downhill, and I knew I was going to have a good day.  Even after those hills I was feeling good, and I knew that the hardest part of the run was behind me now.  Given that, I decided to uncork it a little and start reeling people in.  That got easier because at about this point the 10K and half marathon courses converged, and I was suddenly in the middle of a bunch of runners that were halfway through a race that they had started 15 minutes before I had started mine.  If this were a Ragnar, I’d say it was a target-rich environment, and I started focusing on picking people off.  Mile #4, which included some more off-road sandy trail, was a 10:31 mile, and Mile #5 – where we passed the first water station again going the other way, was a 10:41.

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At some point in all of that the half marathon course had diverged again, and there were only two 10K runners in front of me within reach, so I focused on trying to pick them off.  I actually got both of them with less than a quarter of a mile to go, but one guy apparently didn’t like that I passed him and hit the gas – he finished ahead of me by about 10 seconds.  I had passed a girl, too, and right at the very end she went by me at full sprint speed – again apparently not liking the idea of being beaten by a fat guy.  I wonder how far she would have been ahead had she portioned that energy out a little better.  Mile #6 was a 10:44 mile, and then the last little bit took a little over a minute – I forgot to hit the button on my watch until well after I crossed the line, so I don’t know exactly.

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I’m not sure who the spotter was as we came in to the finish, but the announcer called my name and town as I entered the chute, and I collected my very nice medal and bottle of water and headed over to the food tent.  They had Clif bars, oranges, bananas, and chocolate chip cookies – not a horrible spread.  About 10 minutes after I finished the first half marathon finisher came in, at about an hour and a half.  Dude was flying.

My stated goal going into this was a PR (1:13 and change) and my really hope-to-get goal was 1:08.  My finish time was 1:06.32 – a PR by nearly six and a half minutes!  I was and am thrilled.  Especially with the hills and the sand, I never would have expected to be able to do that.  I know based on my recent 5K and some recent training that I’m capable of that speed, but I didn’t think I would have been capable of that kind of endurance.  And my weekly mileage isn’t really that high – Crossfit is getting me into the best shape of my life.

I’m officially on the training schedule for the Celebration Half Marathon in January – this makes me very optimistic for that.

PR!

Notes:

  • Can’t say enough about how well the race seemed to be organized, especially for such a small race. I’ve run races that were quite a bit bigger than that one that didn’t have some of the niceties, and that didn’t go as smoothly.  Well done.
  • Those hills could have been worse, but they also weren’t exactly smooth. I’m going to have to figure out how to get hill training in somehow if I ever want to run any events outside of Florida.
  • I haven’t been training with water, so I didn’t take any at the first two water stations. I took Gatorade at the last one, with the thought that maybe I’d get a boost.  Not that I could tell, but it didn’t hurt, either.
  • When I got done with the last bit of trail running, there was a volunteer there that was yelling “No more sand!” I told him he was my hero.  I meant it.
  • I wish I had taken a picture of the trophy table. Other than a trophy that was designed for local teams to pass around, the trophies were all pieces of cut 2x lumber that had been laser printed with the race logo and the winner’s category.  Unique, and very cool.

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  • Actually got a SWAG bag, which doesn’t happen that often anymore. There were some coupons and flyers, a couple of medicine samples (Advil, etc.), and a little tube of sunscreen.  The race shirt was cotton but very nice (though they only had XL, so I may never be able to wear it … <sigh>).  And we all got a very nice medal.  I still don’t know how I feel about getting a medal for running a 10K, particularly since it is the exact same medal the half marathoners got (and, not for nothing, that the 5K runners got).  BUT – I am not conflicted enough to not hang it with all of the other medals.  The bib also was not only race-specific, but it was distance-specific … the different distances had different colors and descriptions.  I love that detail
  • Next race: Ashburn Farm 10K, Ashburn, Virginia – a Thanksgiving day race that I now intend to try and absolutely bomb.  We’ll see.

Onward!

Not the fat guy!

The 6am crew at Celebration Crossfit showed up for our Halloween WOD – pictures were taken, yadda yadda.

I’m a shadow of my former self.  More than anything, what strikes me is that I don’t look like the fat guy in this picture.  I am the fat guy in this one, but I don’t look like it.

These people – they make it fun.  50 pounds to go, and I’m not sure I can do it without them.

Onward!

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Flat Lines

For four weeks in a row, I weighed in at exactly the same weight.  No up, no down, just the same, each week.  My graph looked like:

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You see that flat line down there at the bottom?  That’s enough for a Grade A freakout if you aren’t prepared.  If you are accustomed to a steady pattern of losing weight at a pace of 1.5 – 2.0 pounds per week.

Food is the culprit, as you might guess.  It isn’t that I’ve gone crazy and started eating whatever I want in all of the quantities I want.  No – I’ve just relaxed a little.  An extra bite here or there adds up, you know.

Also, unlike previous efforts at getting slimmer, the exercising I’m doing has a distinct muscle-building and body-composition-changing element to it.  So, though my weight number got stuck in one spot for a month, my body was still changing and I’m very close to requiring another belt purchase.  I’ll take some pictures soon.

All of this would be difficult to work with if there were no perspective.  If I only had a visual way of seeing how much progress I’ve made, where I am relative to my ultimate goal and my ideal path, and how significant these four weeks are in the grand scheme of things.

Oh, wait.

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And notice that little dip at the end?  I focused on food last week and lost 1.5 pounds.

Heads down – lets do this.

The Hard Part

I get up at 5am, pretty much every day.

I do Crossfit, which looks insane if you’ve never done it before.

I’m also running – did 15 miles this week on top of the Crossfit.

People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them all of that.  Especially when I say “5am”.  I might as well say 2am; most folks seem to think they are equivalent.

But here’s the thing – that stuff is actually not so hard.  Yes, it is hard work, and it hurts sometimes, and sometimes I don’t want to go.  But runner’s high is a real thing, and you can get it after non-running workouts, too.  Exercising becomes addictive, and you go because you like to go, and you get up early because that’s the time you’re ready to go.

No – exercising and getting up early is not the hard part.  This is the hard part:

Meal Prep

About 14 meals here, including breakfasts.  10% – 20% of your progress will come in the gym.  The other 80% – 90% comes in the kitchen.  Prepping all of this is a pain in the ass, but it is done, and I’ll eat right this week.

Lets go get it…

RR #20: Celebration Rotary Pancake Run 5K

I registered for this race last year and wound up getting lazy and not running it.  This year, I didn’t register for it initially on the theory that I didn’t need races and would like to save the money. But I eventually relented and signed up.  This is a charity race that Celebration Rotary does each year in conjunction with the fire department.  They have a big pancake breakfast at the fire house that is free for runners but that you can buy tickets for if you don’t run.  And they have a 10K and a 5K.

And the start line is about a mile and a half from my house.

With an 8am start and a pancake breakfast, I thought maybe my family would be able to come.  The night before, my wife and I decided that she wouldn’t wake the kids up, so I expected to be solo.  I had my normal long-run oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, and as I was sitting at my desk in my house, I thought something had broken in the kitchen because I could hear running water.  Turns out, it was raining.  Oh, boy.

The finish line, before the madness

The finish line, before the madness

I got to the race site a little over an hour early – even though it wasn’t far I drove so that I had an easy place to stash my shirt, and so I’d be able to leave quickly to make it to a t-ball game starting right after.  I checked in, and an hour early they were already out of men’s XL shirts.  They tried to give me a women’s, but one look at the way it was cut and I had to laugh.  I got a Large, but there is a decent chance I’ll never wear it.  If I’d been thinking I’d have gotten a small and let my oldest son wear it, but, whatever.

On the way back to the car to drop my shirt off, I realized I’d left my Garmin at home.  I briefly considered going to get it, but decided I’d run without it.  I didn’t need it for the overall time or distance, and wouldn’t really need it for pacing, so I left it.  In the end, I think I regret that decision.

The 10K was scheduled to start 30 minutes before the 5K.  They had a DJ, and somebody came to warm us up – I did some laps in the parking lot.  The local Boy Scout troupe marched out an American flag, the girl did a great job with the National Anthem, and they lined up the 10K and set them off, about 10 minutes late.  Once they were gone, they actually physically moved the starting line down the street to the official 5K start, and we all marched down there to get into place.  I noticed several kids and others that didn’t look like they had a lot of 5K experience near the front, so I went ahead and lined up farther up than I normally do.

My goal, especially without the watch, was to go out comfortably fast and do my best to hold it and maybe have some kick.  I was realistically expecting a 33 to 35 minute 5K, thinking that I had an outside chance at a PR before the day started just because I’m in much better shape than I was when I ran my PR.  The rain made that unlikely, though – even though the active raining mostly stopped, the roads were wet and there was a ton of humidity.

3-2-1, and we were off.  I got caught in a narrow lane behind people running slower than me almost immediately.  I wound up actually running up on the curb to get around, and almost immediately I was out of the crowds and running basically alone.  And a bit too fast.  But I made the decision to try and hold that best I could, and run the race.

Our town is very pretty, even in the rain, and the course was all streets I’ve run on before.  There are no hills, but several turns, so it wasn’t the fastest course.  But there was nearly no congestion, the turns were all very well signed, and there were police working traffic to make sure everything stayed safe.  It was an enjoyable run.

A bit after mile 2 the course runs relatively close to the baseball fields – and my family surprised me by being there to cheer!  My wife, of course, was cheering like crazy.  My 4-year old, in his t-ball uniform, knew what was going on and gave me a five, but seemed almost embarrassed.  And the 19-month old looked very confused.  He clearly had no concept of what was happening, and then when I ran by and kept going there was no telling what he was thinking.  But it was great for them to be there.  I love when my kids get to see me doing this stuff.  Part of this is setting an example for them, and that is easier when they actually see it.

From there it was just a grind to the end.  We could see the finish line well in advance of getting there, so I kicked best I could and gutted it across the finish.  We got medals, which is nice, and an option of a full bottle of water or a full bottle of Gatorade.  And then after I caught my breath I walked over to the pancake breakfast and got some coffee and made pancake sausage rolls.  That was a nice after-race treat.  I finished in 31:09, which is a 10:03 / mile pace.  That is only 30 seconds off of my PR, and this is the beginning of the racing season in Florida, not the end. I’m very happy with the run, and will almost certainly do it next year.

After

After

Notes:

  • On my last training run I did a 10:20 mile, and felt very happy about that. To do 10:03 for three miles means I really am in much better shape than I’ve been in a very long time.  I don’t have any more 5Ks scheduled, but I’m thinking I’ll pick one in March to be a PR attempt – and a chance to get under 30 minutes.
  • The pancake breakfast after was awesome. I’m now officially going to be disappointed with post-race spreads going forward.
  • I’m still very unaccustomed to receiving medals for 5Ks. In the Northeast I never saw that – you didn’t get a medal unless you ran at least a half marathon.  Down here, apparently all races give medals.  The medal itself was small and not fancy, but it was nice, and fun to get.  As before – I almost feel bad hanging it next to my half marathon and Ragnar medals, but not bad enough to not hang it.

    This, without the date, is what the medal looks like...

    This, without the date, is what the medal looks like…

  • Not having my Garmin was very annoying. Not so much during the race – it would have been nice to see my pace, but I didn’t miss it all that much.  But because I didn’t have it I have no idea what my splits looked like.  It felt pretty evenly paced; I can’t think of a stretch where I slowed down or sped up.  But I just don’t know if I started too hard and fell apart at the end, or how good my kick was.  I won’t make that mistake again.
  • I am annoyed that they didn’t have a shirt my size. If they were out by the time I got there, which was early, I imagine several people didn’t get a shirt that fit.  At the end of the day it isn’t that big a deal, but it seems like such a waste.  Oh well.
  • There wasn’t any other SWAG, but there certainly didn’t need to be. We got the shirt, a bib with the race logo on it, a medal, and the pancake breakfast.  That was plenty, and all really nice.
  • Next race: The Florida Run at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, Florida.  I’m running the 10K – some of this is going to be on trails, and in that park that means they could be a bit sandy.  I have no idea what to expect with that, but it should be fun.

We’re racing again!