Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shoes for Every Occasion; or, Shoe Murderer

I wish I knew of a good way to tell when my shoes are wearing out.  It was a week of my feet hurting after work outs, socks coming out of the shoes filthy, and blistering that didn’t abate before I came to terms with the fact that my Saucony’s were rotting on my feet.  It was time to put them to rest and head to Bob Roncker’s Running Spot.
Poor Saucony's, barely had the start of a life! (2014-2014)
Fitted into a pair of New Balance’s I love, I feel returned to form.  There’s nothing like a new pair of shoes—with their fresh smell, perfect cushioning, and grippy tread—and I relish the feeling while I can.  Because with my weight and the amount of exercising I’m doing, they take surprisingly little time to wear out.  I’ve already sent three pairs of running shoes to the trash heap! (Four, if you count the pair I started the year in.)
The dearly departed: HOKA BONDI 2 (2014-2014), Adidas Supernova Glide 5 (2014-2014)
In addition to my New Balance’s, which are my all-around shoe, I have a pair of Mizuno’s I alternate in.  I use a pair of exceptionally supportive Nike’s just for roadwork, walking and running.  After trying to play tennis in a pair of super-cushioned HOKA’s and miraculously failing to twist an ankle, Joseph took me down the road to the fantastic Midwest Sports outlet, where I got a proper pair of Adidas tennis shoes. 

The difference in using a shoe for its intended form is night and day and got me to wonder.  Why not a cross training shoe for group training, with its lateral movements for which a running shoe isn’t designed.  Maybe I could use my tennis shoes but, knowing my shoes aren’t going to last even close to forever, shouldn’t I save them for tennis?  And then what should I to wear for cycling when none of the above share the attributes of a biking shoe…

My shoe budget has replaced a substantial fast food budget and I’m infinitely healthier for it!
Ooh! New Shoes!!! (2014-???)  ???=2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tennis for One

I’m told that my tennis racquet does indeed have a sweet spot but, for all my staggering strokes taken against the technically sound Joseph, I had yet to develop my sweet swing.  What I required was a lot of no pressure practice, so during a lazy Friday lull I gathered my two tennis racquets and three tennis ball and took to the Five Seasons basketball court.

Hitting the balls against the wall was so much fun that I lost track of time.  Over the course of three hours, I swung and swung with the intention of going until I fatigued my arm.  At first the motion felt so unnatural that it started to hurt my wrist and sent the balls far up the wall, clanging off the windows thirty feet high.  Then, a little tired, I relaxed my wrist and eased the trajectory of my swing and the balls started coming off straighter, giving me much better control.  The more strokes I took the more the balls popped off the sweet spot and the longer my rallies got. 

Much more than on the hard court, the wood floor sapped most of the returning tennis ball’s bounce, so by the time it got back to me I had to really concentrate on putting a fast and full swing on the ball in order to put power into the shot.  When my legs got tired from running and shuffling, I went up to seven feet from the wall and practiced my net work.  Without letting the ball hit the ground, I kept the racquet light in my hand, tapping the ball against the wall. 

Repeating the long strokes and the short work quickly passed the time and I was amazed how well my body met this challenge in endurance.  The next day I wasn't sore in my legs, knee or ankles as I would have expected.  All the swinging from the core caused my abs to be tender Saturday morning, which—ultimately wanting a six pack—I love.  I bet a lot of tennis players have washboard abs and, if so, a tennis player I will become!  Oh, I really need to work on my serve…

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In-Training for the Queen Bee Half Marathon

Laurie and I went a-walking yesterday in what Laurie calls our long walks, preparing for the inaugural Queen Bee Half Marathon on October 11.  Joseph, Laurie and I will start and then finish at the Horseshoe Casino after flying through a full 13.1 miles of Cincinnati’s many wonderful neighborhoods.  Well, we may not fly through a course of that length, but we will walk it and we will finish it! 

And so we’re not out there for four or more hours in this test of endurance, Laurie has us in-training for the half, and it’s a good thing we are!  Marching around the neighborhood opposite Five Seasons, we walked 6.5 miles in a little over 90 minutes, bumping up our distance of 5 miles last week.  I’m amazed how much more I am able to engage additional areas of my body—like my core—while walking and also how sore I feel today!  Instead of soreness in my hamstrings and quads as from running, I’m sore in my calfs, shins and gluts.  But the soreness is far less than last week and will hopefully be less and less going forward, until I start the Queen Bee in perfect half-marathon walking shape. 13.1 miles, wow!  Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 2014

The rising early morning sun removed the September chill from the air as we waited for the start of race.  While listening to the run’s instructions and rules, the participants formed a dense pink-cladded column behind the starting gate.  And then, the sudden BOOM! of the starter’s pistol officially opened the 2014 Komen Greater Cincinnati Race for the Cure.
Team Five Seasons: Joseph Pinnell, moi, Tom Porter, Amanda Mills
The course around Coney Island was wonderfully wide and totally flat—my favorite yet.  There was no bottlenecking at the starting stages today and I opened up into quick pace.  I jogged and jogged, mindfully focusing on my breathing without worrying about the time elapsed or distance covered.  Just as I was about to slow into my first walk of the day, Joseph told me that I broke ten minutes in my first mile —9:44!—my fastest mile time ever!  So surprised and elated, I forgot that I was tired and ran about half a mile before my wind, or lack-there-of, slowed me.

We passed the water station and I was huffing and puffing so much that I had a hard time downing the liquid reinvigoration.  Joseph helped me with a quick lesson of deep breathing and I was soon off jogging again.  Not nearly as long did I last, as the second start was the first done tired: back to walking.  Sorry, I said to Joseph.  Never apologize, there’s no need, he replied, and I could tell he said this because he could see that I was earnestly trying. 

After a few more starts and stops, I had a feeling that if this continued it’d be a long and ugly slog.  If I could just push myself to run a little longer, I reasoned, it’d go much faster.  I looked down the path and saw that the course rounded a corner about a tenth of mile downfield.  Don’t let me stop until we get to that bend! I told Joseph.  That was the toughest bit, stretching the jog to the corner, and I walked as soon as we reached it.  But I had earned the rest.  I repeated this tactic, increasing the intervals before walking as the finish line got closer and closer.

In the meantime, timekeeper Joseph called out more personal records that I didn't even contemplate attempting to beat:  2 miles in 22:15, surpassing my goal of 22:22; breaking 34 minutes for 3 miles.  I was especially proud that I was able to break the finish line in a run, something I hadn't the energy to do at May’s Flying Pig.  I broke the finish line in 36:23, beating my Pig time by nearly ten minutes!  As we celebrated afterwards, I was ecstatic with my personal records, gratified by the confirmation of my hard work.  And I’m glad it wasn’t perfect, that I walked and wheezed and nearly threw up.  It means there’s room for improvement and reason to redouble my efforts.  Tomorrow morning, it’s back to Five Seasons!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shades of Week One

The nerves are all tingling in unison as I have prepared for Sunday’s Komen Race for the Cure 5K.  I’m an anxious, self-stressed, cortisol producing mess, and it feels like I’m starting the training journey all over again.  Like early on, my weight has been hovering around 297 pounds.  But unlike the beginning of the year I've been faithful to my diet, eating only my Mindy-approved plan.  I am consistently at or under my daily calorie goal, and have sweat soak my clothes every time I finish at the Club.

In Laurie’s group Wednesday night I started feeling the tell tale lack of energy that preceded the faintness I felt in my very first weeks of training.  It’d been so long since I felt that way that I stopped bringing the piece of fruit, which served as an emergency energy, months ago.  All culminated yesterday, when I was playing tennis with my friends, Joseph and the sweetly sprite-like Amanda Mills.  I am as nervous in learning tennis as I am in everything else, and they noticed that my footwork was little anxious steps, my swings over thought, halting motions.  The clarifying moment occurred as a ball was sent projecting behind me, near the baseline.  Caught off guard, my over-stimulated brain chose the rarely used tennis move consisting of a sideways, backwards jump, a feckless flailing at the ball, followed by a landing without the assistance of one’s feet.  It happened to fast and without thought; one moment upright, the next painfully hugging the court with my left shoulder and wrist.

When everyone is too polite to ridicule me, it is I who must say that this is ridiculous.  I’ve put forth the effort that has prepared me for Sunday—I am ready.  My goal is to beat my 5K personal record of 46:08 from May’s Flying Pig, and I know that I beat that time by about seven minutes at The Color Run.  As Mindy told me, I just need to just let life’s challenges come at me, rather than contorting my mind in attempts to anticipate every possibility.  If anxiety is a sort of electricity that flows freely within my body, I need to find a way to ground the livewire that so stresses my flesh and wits.  Mindy has recommended guided meditation and has led me to some great apps.  I think it’s starting to take the edge off, and know it’s healthier than Xanax or alcohol.  Tonight and tomorrow I rest my legs, my shoulder and wrist.  Sunday, we have a Race!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Komen Race for the Cure Packet

As the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K is quickly coming up on Sunday, it’s time to open my packet and examine the goodies.  As someone who has been on packet pickup detail for my team, it was convenient having the packets sent to my doorstep.  I can tell that it was ready and stuffed in advanced and slapping the address label—with my race information on it—must have been the last step before the packet made its way to the post office.  Such a system shows that the Susan G. Komen Foundation is an efficient and experienced organization!

The packet contains a race shirt, race bib, and a Friends for the Cure Donations Program handout.  I haven’t found the safety pins for the bib, but I have literally misplaced the pins from packets more times than I've pocketed them.  I expect to soon find the little stamp bag taped to the back of something or hiding amongst my things.  It’s a beautiful shirt, with the foundation’s cascading pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness center focus.  Nothing, short of nothing, is cooler on a sunny day than running in a white shirt; there is no better cause than helping to fight breast cancer.  I can’t wait!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

On the Right Side of 300

The right side of 300 is obviously the side where the numbers don’t begin with three hundred, and, when I stepped on the scale yesterday, for the first time in nearly and a decade and a half, I weighed less than three hundred pounds!  A feeling of overwhelming exuberance overtook me, and I found myself smiling and smiling, in a prolonged state of glee.  And when this feeling subsided just enough for me to return to my rational senses, I went to loved ones, one-by-one, and recaptured, again and again, that state of joy for the rest of the afternoon.

The best number ever displayed from a most begrudging machine.
 All the unproductive dwelling, the setbacks from splurges of snacking, and the soreness earned by trying to make up for it, are some of the things which I had to endure in order to progress.  Along with my status as a three hundred pounder, I've consigned these things to the past, and am bound and determined not to backslide on either front.  This is the time in which healthy, life-long habits are inculcated, and as I work towards my next goal of 278lbs (which marks a hundred pounds since January 15) I really want to settle into the habits that will carry me going forward.  Talk to you soon!

Joseph and the Project