Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Race Report?

Who writes a race report for a race they did a year and a half ago?  Truth is I've written a race report for Ironman Texas 2014 about 50 times in my head and each time it would sort of drift off and never get put down.  There are all kinds of reasons I've never written a race report, but they all lead back to one thing.  You write race reports because you're proud of what you've done.  Maybe you finished a big race, had a PR, done something really awesome you want to share.  On the flip-side, maybe you DNF'd but learned something, maybe you had a bike mechanical and man was that unlucky because you were so prepared.  Whatever the case may be, you write a report or tell people about it because you feel a sense of accomplishment in what you did, win or lose.

That's why I don't have a race report for IMTX 2014, because I"m not proud of it.  I'm not proud of how I approached it, I'm not proud of how I participated, and I'm not proud about how I felt about it after it was over.  Here's some things I know.  I'm an ungrateful jerk.  Last may made me a 2 time Ironman finisher, that's something a lot of people can't say.  There are so many people out there that work SO much harder than I do, and can't get to the finish line.  I'm sitting here saying that my second Ironman finish gives me no pride, and that's a jerk thing to say.  It makes me sound like an ingrate, and I probably am.  The fact is that when I finished IMTX in 2014 in a time of 16:21 it was the complete opposite of the emotion I felt when I finished IMTX 2011 in 13:43.  In 2011, I could have DNF'd and still felt incredible pride in what I had done.  I would have been disappointed, sad, mad and all kinds of other things, but I would have been proud of what I had accomplished because I had earned that.  I worked my tail off and no matter what happened on that day in May, I deserved to finish that Ironman.  In 2014, it was the total opposite.  I hadn't worked, I hadn't trained, I signed up and toed the line out of some sense that it was going to say something about me.  To say I overlooked the race both is and isn't true.  I knew it was going to be a hard long day and that I wasn't likely to be close to my previous time, but I had a sense of malaise rather than a sense of anticipation, excitement, or even fear.

The day started out in a very unexpected fashion.  The swim was wetsuit legal for the first time and do to this, or luck or a combination, I pulled out a 20 minute PR on the 2.4 mile swim.  That's a huge time improvement over my last Ironman.  It was the last time anything went "right" for me all day.  It gave me some confidence, maybe I wasn't the worthless out of shape slob I thought I was, I mean I busted that swim out and had a great time, let's keep it rolling!

One of my biggest excuse makers that I had going into race day is that I had cracked the frame of my bike 2 weeks before the race and was racing on a bike I had ridden once for any length of time.  I had a great new bike, the bike was fine, but I wasn't.  From basically the start of the bike, I began to talk myself out of the race.  What are you doing?  Look at your heart rate!  I feel a pinch here.  My tri suit is rubbing me there.  All triathletes do this a thousand times throughout a long race day, but this was different, every thought I had started to weigh me down, because I truly didn't feel I belonged out there.  Then the wind happened.  I could recount all kinds of things, like the time I was going 9 miles an hour on a flat straight road, and that's all I had, or when I realized half way through that my speed and cadence weren't calibrated correctly and so I didn't really know how far I was or how much above or below my effort I had been doing.  All these things "matter," but they aren't enough to ruin you.  Well they were that day for me.

All of this is just the lead in to what really is the summation of the whole experience before, during, and since this race, and that's the marathon.  A 26.2 mile run.  I walked 24.8 miles of it.  I came out of the change tent with absolutely nothing in the tank, and two huge blisters ( I still don't know how) on the balls of my feet.  Again, those "matter" but they weren't anything that would have stopped me in 2011.  Nothing that would have stopped someone who wanted to run strong and finish well.  The truth is, everything leading up to this point could probably have been chalked up to a bad day, bad conditions, bad circumstances, but on the "run" things got very dark.  I hated every step of what I was doing.  I didn't want to be there, I didn't want anyone to see me, I didn't deserve to be on the course with people who were trying so hard to do something so awesome.  I think if I had walked off the course and handed in my chip, I may have wound up in a better place mentally.  The way it went, I kept walking, I kept telling myself how weak I was, and weakness grew and won.  I told myself over and over that I didn't deserve to walk off the course and go take a shower and go to bed. When I crossed the finish line I feel like the only thing I had proven to myself is that I could spend a long time, a REALLY long time beating myself up and telling myself how worthless I was.

Maybe it's no surprise considering all this that the last place I wanted to be after that was swimming, biking, or running, but it's actually worse than that.  I didn't want to train anymore, but I knew I was "supposed" to want to.  I didn't even want to go outside anymore. So instead of saying to hell with triathlon and training and just stepping away, I kept going out to run, out for rides, and I would quit every time.  I hated it.  I became an expert at failing.  At quitting.

This seems like a whole lot of whining and moaning about a lot of nothing, and honestly I feel as much like if not more of an ingrate as before, but there's one difference.  This is the last time.  It's the last time I tell this story.  It's the last time I feel undeserving, ungrateful, and inadequate.  I'm simply hitting the reset button.  I've loved this sport that has given me so much for a long time, and I'm ready to love it again.  The worst part about my last Ironman might also be the best part, I took nothing from it.  There's nothing about it I carry forward with me, positive or negative, it's kind of like it didn't happen.  That makes me sad, but it also makes me happy I don't have to hold the baggage.

So who writes a race report for a race they did a year and a half ago.  I guess I do.  I wrote it to let it go.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Time to TRI Again

I started reading through this old blog and especially the last few posts I've made on here that are sad and devoid of much hope.  It's a funny thing to sit here today with a much different attitude, although, according to those last few posts, things have only gotten "worse."  I've gained even more wait, I'm 55 lbs over my previous racing weight, and I haven't really made any progress in getting back to regular training.  All that being said, I feel AMAZINGLY more positive about where I am and where I'm going than I have for months.

There have been a few changes, I've started a nutritional plan that is working.  It's a little pricey, but it is portion controlled and tasty, and I love it.  I've lost 6 pounds, a small drop in a large bucket, but it's enough to curb my bad attitude.

Biggest of all, as I sat around this morning looking at my friends social media posts about finishing Ironman Florida and Austin 70.3, I said out loud to Sarah, "I really want to do another Ironman..."  Her response, Florida registration opens at noon.  So yeah, I'm registered for Ironman Florida 2016.  I'm not scared, I'm ecstatic.  For the first time in a long time I'm HOPEFUL.  That's really the feeling I've missed the most.  I can stand being slow, I can stand being hurt, I can even, to a certain degree, stand being overweight but I cannot abide being hopeless, and I have been for almost a year.

I am also not naive.  This is going to be a TOUGH year.  I have to almost start from scratch.  I only say almost because I at least know what this takes.  My body has forgotten.  It's soft and comfortable and not used to 5:00am swim practice and 5 hours on a bike.  It will remember, but it isn't going to be easy.  I can't wait to do another Ironman.  I can't wait to train again.  I can't wait to be a triathlete again.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Last Debbie Downer Post

I've got to turn around the content of this blog if I'm going to turn around the content of my life and training.  I've got to do something this weekend I've never done before.  I've got to not start a race I'm registered for.  I won't be going to the line at Buffalo Springs 70.3 because I'm not ready.  I haven't been able to run because of a foot injury, and if there's anything I know about this race it's that it's all about the run.  When I walked the marathon at Ironman Texas and finished in 16:21 minutes, a lot of people told me how awesome that was because I stuck it out.  The fact is I think it did me more harm than good, mentally.  At some point I gave up out there during Ironman, but I just kept walking.  The lesson I learned that day is that I can give up and still finish.  That's NOT a positive thing.  I used to compete with myself, challenge myself, set goals, set challenges.  Lately I've been back in a "see if I can finish" mode, and that's not where I want to be.  If I had started the race this weekend, it would have been in the hopes that I could finish, not in hopes that I could beat my last time that I did it. So I'm taking a week of vacation, a couple of road trips.  I'll run if and when I want, as far as I want, and if my foot feels bad, I won't.  In a week or so, I'll decide what the rest of my summer holds and how I'm going to approach training for the marathon and the 50 miler.  I want to train strong, I want to be strong.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2015 Houston Marathon Is A Go...Kind of.

I received word yesterday that I had received a spot through the Houston Marathon Lottery, meaning I'll be toeing the line there for the third time this coming January. In keeping with my new commitment to optimism mixed with gentle realism, it's time to think about my goals for this marathon.  First, a little history.  My first marathon came roughly 9 months after I ran my first step as an adult.  I joined a couch to 5k group and basically went couch to marathon instead.  It was an amazing ride and I finished that marathon in ~5:20.  This was a bucket list style marathon, my only goal was to complete it.  I trained that way, I raced that way, COULD it be done?  Houston Marathon number two was a different animal.  I had been running and competing in triathlons for 3 years.  I had figured out how to train, I was running faster and longer than I had before and I had a bold goal.  I wanted to run a sub 4 hour marathon.  My eating was pretty well controlled although I noticed that I was having more "cheat days" than I was used to and the scale had started to creep up.  I pushed hard, I raced smart, and I ran a 4:01.  This was just shy of a 1:20 minute pr, something that's basically unheard of, but it was bittersweet, one stupid minute.  That was two years ago, which brings us to here.

On the upside, this will technically be my 5th marathon (2 stand alone, 2 Ironmans) so I know what to expect.  The "can" question doesn't plague me the way it used to.  Of course anything can happen on any given day, but I know it CAN be done.  The question plaguing me today may already be clear, am I shooting for that elusive sub 4:00 again? The downside is, well, everything I talked about yesterday.  The downside is that I feel disconnected, I feel fat, and the last time I went to the line feeling like this, I did a 16:21 Ironman (with a 7:30 marathon, all walking), a 2:30 personal worst.  To be clear, and this has been difficult to admit to myself, but I did that Ironman so badly because I was doing it fat, mentally.  I told myself many times, you don't deserve to be out here, you don't look like these people, you didn't work as hard as they did.  That's why I did so poorly, because I convinced myself that's all I was capable of.  I had blisters, I didn't have good race nutrition, but my biggest failing was mental, but I digress.

I'm coming to another unpleasant, although not really surprising, realization about the weight I've put on.  It's making it a lot harder to run. Shocking I know, but the truth is my "running mind" still wants to run the pace I used to.  I can still "feel" that pace and I want to run it, I even think my body feels good doing it...for about 3 miles.  Then it reminds me pretty quick that I'm not 32 and 180 lbs anymore.  I've got aches and pains, tendinitis, etc. and it's because my body can't haul around the extra weight as fast as I want it to.

So can I hit that sub 4?  I think I can IF I get the weight off of me and keep running.  It even feels stupid to type.  It feels like saying, "I can learn to speak Spanish if I study the language and practice with other speakers."  As obvious as this equation might be, it's something I'm going to have to work at.  I know what I need to do with the food side to start losing weight, but it's trying to figure out how to keep myself running without continuing to hurt.  The easy answer is slow down, but it's hard to convince my brain to slow down more than my body already requires.  After all, I want to go fast!

Monday, June 23, 2014

New Beginnings, again and again

When I started this blog 5 years ago, I titled it "Fat Man Running" with a bit of a tongue in cheek sensibility because I was feeling great about the fact that I was on my way out.  I had turned my life around and was losing weight, running, and feeling happy.  Five years later and things are, well, different.  Not completely, I still run, I'm still a happy person, but the joy, the confidence that I had gained that allowed me to be deprecating enough to title my blog something about being a "fat man" has definitely changed.

In some sense the title is more appropriate than I could have known.  When I started running five years ago, simply put I was a fat man.  I was 6'0" and over 300lbs.  Fat man.  Over the year of 2009 I lost over 150lbs and at my lowest hit somewhere right around 180lbs.  Today I'm sitting squarely up around 210-215.  Lots of numbers, who cares.  What I do is go back to each of those points on the timeline and think about how I felt.  At over 300lbs, I was on a collision course with diabetes, heart disease, and who knows what else, what was worse is I knew and really didn't care.  The various gory details of why I was a depressed, fat slob (and I don't toss that term around flippantly) aren't necessary, but I did "change."  I started running, I started eating so I could run farther and faster and more.  I wanted nothing more than to run and run and run.  It got me down to 180lbs, it got me involved in new friends, it got me a new girlfriend (now wife), it got me a second chance at life.  Now here's what no one does know.  I was still fat. Fat in the head.  I would look at the minimal flab that I still had, either from being overweight, or just still being a larger guy, but I looked and saw a "fat guy."  I hid it, I masked it, and most of all I was able to tell myself that it was "so much better than I was."  It was true, and for a while it kept me satisfied.  I was new fat.  Healthier fat, skinnier fat, but still a fat guy in my own eyes.  Fast forward to now when I'm 30ish pounds heavier, I've run marathons, done Ironman Triathlons, raced, trained, coached runners, triathletes, I've totally immersed myself in the things that made me different, and guess what, I'm still a "fat guy."

I've been fighting myself for 5 years not to be a fat guy.  I've brooded, I've cried, I've pouted, I've run, I've won, I've lost, I'm winning, I'm loosing.  What I have to realize is this is a fight I'll never "win." I'm always going to be a fat guy because it isn't a matter of the number on a scale or on the waistband of my jeans for me, it's the fat in my brain.  I hate that I'm a fat guy, but I am, and the sooner I stop fighting him and start using his fat ass, the sooner I can be happier, more often.  I don't know what this means, I don't know if this is some kind of epiphany or if I'm just thinking, but I'm tired of fighting, but I think that's because I'm tired of losing.  So I need a new way to fight.  You know the old same behavior, different expectation scenario, it doesn't work.  So I'll keep working, and I'll still be fat, but maybe I won't have to always be losing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What a difference a day makes...

I'm waking up a day later and 5 pounds lighter. That's ludicrous, you can't lose real weight that fast. I'm simply coming down from the post marathon inflammation, water retention, and feeding frenzy. It feels good to be solidly back under 200lbs, but what's better is that my wife and I have been able to come to an understanding about the way to conduct our food lives. See, when I lost over 100lbs, I did it alone, single, with no one to think about other than me. I know for a fact that this was a HUGE contributor to my success. I said many times that if I had the lives of many of my friends, wive, kids, etc., that I don't know if I would have been able to do it. Well here I am, married, extremely happy, and in need of dropping some lbs. It was complicated because my wife and I have very different likes, dislikes, wants, and needs when it comes to food. I'm happy to throw some salt, pepper, and garlic on anything and eat it every day until the rapture, but she get's tired of this fast. I base everything off of the protein, a chicken breast, or a pork chop, and whatever I have to go with it. She hates "big hunks of meat" as she calls them and would rather graze on vegetables and small sides. The fact is, both of our individual styles have helped both of us lose and maintain weight, they just don't work for the other. We've tried to coordinate, compromise, be flexible, but when the rubber meets the road, this is an issue we both have enough trouble with that we need it our way to feel successful. Turns out it's not that hard, we buy the foods we like at the store and we eat them when we are hungry. Of course we have dinners that we both like and we sit and eat together, but there's no reason I cant have the breakfast I like and she have what she like at the same time. I ate cereal for breakfast, a banana for a snack, a sandwich, pita chips and yogurt for lunch, some hummus for a snack, and a chicken and slaw pita for dinner yesterday and felt totally NORMAL, in control, satisfied and largely not tempted. It's only day 2, but I'm feeling good about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Marathon Is Only The Beginning...

Most people choose to make running a marathon the goal at the end of a journey. Training, nutrition, sacrifice, pain, training, pain, a little more training, and even more pain. At the end of it all you get to call yourself a marathoner. I felt this experience exactly 2 years ago when I completed the Houston marathon for the first time. I had lugged myself off of the couch and in 9 months went from a 300lb couch potato to a marathoner that weighed under 200lbs. I had found my new passion in life and I was never going back. I did anything but stop there. Since January of 201 when I ran that marathon, I lost 20 more lbs, completed over a dozen sprint and olympic distance triathlons, over 20 running events, a half ironman, and in May 2011 I finished a full Ironman triathlon in The Woodlands, Tx. Yesterday I did something else that I can't believe. I repeated my performance at the Houston Marathon, only this time instead of taking 5 hours and 19 minutes to do it, I did it in 4 hours and 1 minute. I had a one hour and 18 minute pr (personal record), something that is all but unheard of in running. It's a huge accomplishment and only 1 little minute away from my ultimate goal of breaking 4 hours. Today, however, I've done something else that I didn't think I would ever do. I stepped on the scale and saw a 2 as the first digit again. It's hard to write. It's hard to admit, but as I contemplated what to do about it, I realized, I'm going to use this huge accomplishment as the beginning, not the end. It feels crazy to say, but the thought of running a 4 hour marathon, or completing a 140.6 mile triathlon doesn't scare me half as much as the idea of having to lose weight again. I think it scares me so much because this time I've gained 20 lbs while training for a marathon. What does that tell me about the state of my diet? It tells me that I have lost complete control.

So just as I said, this marathon is the beginning. The beginning of me regaining control on my diet, my health, and my life. I have an entire triathlon season to plan for and I will not go into this season battling my weight. I'm starting over, starting over with weight, this blog, and my attitude. Here's to new beginnings...again.