Saturday, April 11, 2015

Running A Better 13.1

Today was another long run day in my half marathon training, so I decided to do a complete rehearsal, except for the time and venue -- I'll have to just roll with those variables on race day. I knew I could complete the distance, since I accomplished that two weeks ago, so my goal for today was to do it better!

The first part in the process was hydration and carb-loading, which commenced on Thursday. Carb-loading seemed a little strange since it is almost the opposite of my normal diet, but for a few days I can handle it. The rest of the improvement process would happen during the run itself, in the form of drinking water every few miles, and consuming a gel energy packet around the five mile mark. 

After getting good advice about hydration from one of my nurse friends who also runs, I opted to try out a Nathan QuickShot Plus Insulated flask, complete with wrist strap and pocket for an energy gel. The flask only has an 8-oz. capacity, but I figured that was better than the ~2-oz. I quickly chugged mid-run last time. I'm still not sure if I want to carry the flask during the actual race, or rely on the hydration stations.

While perusing various running blogs, I kept reading that a boost of carbs part way through the run would provide extra energy towards the end, so I decided to try a gel packet. Some said that the packets made from honey were easier on the stomach mid-run, so I opted for Honey Stinger Gold gels, as they are 95% honey. I'm happy to report that it tastes like honey, as advertised, and seems to have made a performance difference.

Here are the graphs from today's run:

I tried to start off at a slower pace than I did last time, keeping it right around the "all day long" pace I had been training at, and then stepped it up after about 11 miles. I don't know if it was the hydration and energy gel, or if it was the downhill stretch at the end, but obviously I was able to accomplish a better 13.1 mile run all around. I finished this run at 9:50 per mile, down 9-seconds per mile from two weeks ago; and there was no "hitting the wall" this time!

Now I rest for a week, train for a week, and then do this all over again for the real deal. I will be very pleased if I can repeat this performance on race day!

All Day Long!

Monday, April 6, 2015

1-Year Check-In: Pre-Diabetic, No Mas

Today I had my 1-year check-in with my doctor, who happens to be a runner himself (and he's running a marathon the same weekend I'm running my half). He was thrilled with my progress, and I have to admit it felt good weighing in 36-lbs. lighter than just 12 months ago.

It's obvious that what I have been doing has made a physical difference, and I know that I feel tons better with the weight gone, but the real test was going to be how my lab results came in this time. My doc didn't order any cholesterol numbers today, as those were under control a year ago.

The main concern was with the A1C numbers, as they are an indicator of average blood glucose levels over the last two or three months. As I discussed in a previous post, obesity can stress your bodies cells to the point that they won't allow insulin to efficiently transport glucose into them, and you end up with excess glucose in your blood. Since I have family history of Type II Diabetes, I am even more at risk. 

Here is a breakdown of where my A1C levels have been the last two years, including today's visit. Note that anything 5.6% or below is considered normal, and anything between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered pre-diabetic.

2013: 5.7%
2014: 5.8%
2015: 5.6%

I am no longer considered pre-diabetic!

This is the news I wanted to hear, and one of the main reasons I have been working so hard. Now my goal is to maintain what I started, and see if I can gain a little ground in the blood glucose level department. If I can help it, I WILL NOT let this disease catch me!

To everyone who put up with all of my fitness posts over the last year, and those who encouraged, supported, and joined me in this battle for improved health: Thank you!

For those who are just now stumbling across my blog, I hope you have found something to inspire or motivate you in your own battle to 'Thrive'. My doctor told me today that since I seem to have figured out the keys to good health, I need to share with others, and encourage them to start their own journey to healthful living. So I hope to continue to post updates periodically -- especially with my first half marathon race quickly approaching.

Live well. Be well. Thrive.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

All Day Long

As I look back on the last four years (off and on) of trying to improve my health, I can remember the things that have inspired and motivated me. Sometimes it's a song lyric or beat, sometimes it's a saying, and sometimes it's an event.

I can remember having a head cold and thinking I couldn't go out and run, and then watching Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks play through an NBA Finals basketball game with similar symptoms; and I can remember getting off the couch after the game and going for a run. Nowitzki's incredible performance inspired me to get out and move.

I also found inspiration in the very first song that came up on my running playlist in 2011 when I first started running: "40" by U2. It's a song that has moved me since I first heard it back in the eighties, and it's a song about looking to a Power greater than yourself to pull you up from a pit of despair, and the lyrics are pretty much straight from Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord
And He inclined to me and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction
Out of the miry clay
And He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm
He put a new song in my mouth
A song of praise to our God
Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord

Sometimes it's just a piece of a song that motivates me as I run, like "Every day, every hour; turn that pain into power" from the song "Superheroes" by The Script. Sometimes it's a combination of beat and lyrics, like "Marchin On" by OneRepublic -- there's no way I'm going to even think about giving up and walking when that song comes on Pandora.

During the short time that I have been doing half marathon training, a new phrase has been running through my mind, "All Day Long". This is a phrase that the Sensei at my son's karate dojo uses to inspire the participants during belt tests, and now it has become my slogan. All I have to do is find that right pace, breathe, and keep putting one foot in front of the other; and I feel like I could go all day long.

So, what motivates and inspires you? What helps you make it through when things get tough?