Health Kick – Months 4 & 5 & the LA Marathon

The Bad News – Plateauville: I feel like I’ve hit a plateau on the weight goals.  From Mar 1 to May 1: in short, 222 to 218-220 and that’s where I am today. This makes for an unworthy graph to add to the site.  It is still a loss, not a regression.  I have added a few more carbs, and hit them relatively hard during a trip to Costa Rica at the beginning of April.  I didn’t follow through on the no alcohol pledge – the wine was irresistible for a while, though I have laid off the red wine for the last two weeks until tonight to help relax my back & neck.

All told I feel there should be more of a reward, more progress given the efforts put in. Perhaps it is just that the incremental pound is harder to lose. The weight stopped dropping as the marathon efforts were gearing up.  I wasn’t as good thereafter, in part just from normal resting and then a week vacation where everything was a carb didn’t help. Maybe I need to go hard core again, dropping even the blueberries and greek yogurt at breakfast.

The Good News: I achieved one of my goals: to run the LA Marathon, 3/15/15.  I characterized it in my first post as “a possible excess of ambition” but it was the right stretch goal.  I was 220.9 lbs 26.4% fat in my weigh in the day before. 5:08 as a finish time is nothing to write home about but under the circumstances — heat high enough to move the start time a half hour early — it might be the best run of my life.  Such a peaceful sunrise over Dodger Stadium as Erica dropped me off around 6. The stretching, anxious crowd of tens of thousands gearing up to run had a good sense of camaraderie.

Before the 2015 LA Marathon at Dodger Stadium

The crowd in LA was fantastic: supportive and fun. Koreatown was the best but even the barrios around downtown were up bright and early to cheer. By Santa Monica people brought out ample supplies of water to help replenish the race’s deleted supplies.

The steep downhill of mile 14 was more of a curse than blessing – my left leg cramped pretty severely; I wasn’t used to the heat or running downhill.  By mile 18 I resorted to some intermittent walking accordingly. That compounded a slow first four miles from very poorly seeded starters, weaving between a whole lot of people intending to walk the course who put themselves as 8 minute -10:30 minute milers.  Despite the weaving did a 10:20 pace for at least the first 9 miles.

I remember fondly running in preparation for marathons when I lived in LA but the timing to do the Los Angeles one didn’t work out.  To have the race’s final miles close on the Brentwood-to-Santa Monica stretch of San Vicente, where I had run so often before (second only to stretches of Olympic Boulevard) was very appealing and probably helped me power through.  The toenails still each bear bloodshot marks but didn’t come off.

The final .2 of the 26.2 was the best: it was certain I was going to finish; the crowds were thick on either side of the avenue and the limitless Pacific was blowing cooler breezes.  I ran looser, the cramp seemed to disappear in a final burst of energy. This was my highest runner’s high. The family was there waiting for me, with Caroline giving the line of the day: “Daddy if this was your full time job you would have won the race.”

Thanks, sweetie.

LA Marathon afterwards on Santa Monica Ocean boulevard

I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 4:21 in 1997: a 10:00 pace I wasn’t wild about at the time.  Should that be in my sights now?  There would be a certain resonance to beat my 26-going-on-27 year old self. I applied in the lottery but didn’t get chosen and to pony up $500ish for a charity bib seems a bit much. Still this is on my mind for October.

I perused other marathon listings and blogs about running consecutive marathons a glimpse.  Pittsburgh’s was last weekend.  San Francisco’s is late July – that was the marathon (I didn’t finish) in 1997 so there would also be a big check box to mark off.  But part of me also just suddenly lost interest in it all; off a cliff.  I took nearly two weeks off from all but the lightest of running, and didn’t miss the sheer time commitment.  Perhaps I’ll get back that loving feeling.

To change things up for the summer I have a new goal:

Swim 100 miles, May through August

Thanks to other news I’ll write about sometime swimming is about the only exercise I can do right now thanks to a concussion and ankle fracture one two punch on May 2.  I am also supposed to “take it easy” and “not think about anything” which is awfully hard to do unless I’m mid-swim. This clearly is better fodder for a separate post down the road.

The Sleepy Hollow Swim & Tennis club is a less than ten minute drive, with a warm pool and very pleasant surroundings. It is a throwback, like much of Orinda.

SleepyHollow1958

These will be a key month – the calorie burn is going to be quite low and I’ll have to dial down the intake to match. Trader Joe’s Vanilla low carb bars have been a recent go to and I’ve upped the water content. I’ve only significantly weight lifted once in the last six weeks but don’t have much license to push that while recovering. I am occasionally getting late night snacks – All Bran in almond milk (woo hoo!) – which I may wish to temper if there is something to the notion of giving one’s stomach 12+ hours off. I feel I have largely kicked the carb craving however; any incidental large intake of sugar I find immediately unappealing.

Being in the hospital last weekend my heart rate was under constant observation. My resting heart rate, despite the tension of the days was regularly under 50. At least according to some charts for my age group this is “athlete” level.  This has the ironic side effect of sending alarms to nurses until they’re willing to recalibrate the machine.  It led to the highlight of my otherwise miserable weekend in an exchange with one:

“Why is your heart rate so low?”

“Well, I do run regularly.”

“How far?”

Well…if you must know…”Pretty far. I ran the LA Marathon last month.”

“Oh, that explains it. You are in really good shape.”

Amen sister. I’ll see how the recovery from the fall goes and re-assess the athletic goals from there. But I still want to get to 195.  Onwards.

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