Saturday, August 30, 2008


Right after my 18-mile run last Saturday, I was a bit hazy. I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I got a visit from my nemesis- the one person who I've lived in fear of and tried to avoid for over a year. I got a visit from myself. Or, I should say, my old self.

She moved into my body and psyche and completely took over. For the old me, exercise is something reserved for self-righteous zealots. In her world, there is only one god: food, and lots of it. So, there has been no exercise for 9 days. No healthy eating choices for 9 days. It's been a fun visit, but she's got to get the hell out. I want my body back.

So, I'm starting over. I'm looking deep within myself to remember the reasons I started a healthier life in the first place. It's lockdown time. I'm ready to get back to the roots of this whole journey.

I'm back!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My poor lawn

When I made the decision to train for this marathon, I knew it was a huge commitment. I was aware of the hours it would take out of my week, and that priorities may shift a little.

What I didn't anticipate was how many things would get neglected. For example- I enjoy having a clean household and a mowed lawn. These days, I'm embarrassed to make eye contact with the neighbors for fear of retribution over the jungle that is our front yard. Angie and I rotate the mowing responsibility, and right now it's my turn. I had an opportunity to get it done over the weekend, but I was still hobbling around like a zombie from my 18-miler. So, the grass remains ridiculously tall. The living room carpet remains unvacuumed, the bathroom floor is unmopped, the garage is cluttered...I could go on and on.

Every morning, Angie and I wake up around 6 to sit around, watch the news, and complain about having to go to work. Mostly we just sit on the couch and grunt at each other, until we're properly awake and ready to have a civilized conversation. We discuss the things we'd love to do, vacations we'd like to take, etc. This morning, I was daydreaming about post-marathon autumn, when there will be time and (hopefully) energy on Saturdays for me to rake leaves and clean out the garage. Oh- and sleep beyond 4:30 a.m. That will be most wonderful.

I never thought I'd see the day when I'd actually want to do yard work and clean the house, but that day is here. October 18th can't come soon enough.

Monday, August 25, 2008

18 miler

I awoke at 4:30 on Saturday morning to the sound of crashing thunder. "Oh, f***," I thought. It was the day for my 18-mile training run, the longest distance I'd ever gone. The idea that it might be canceled due to lightening (thereby postponing the inevitable) was worse than the idea of actually doing the run. As I slathered Body Glide all over my usual chafing spots, I muttered profanity to the dog about the thunderstorm. He tilted his head from side to side and wondered what the hell I was talking about.

My dad, who is training for a hiking trip in Wyoming, accompanied me to the meeting place and strapped on 40 lbs. of hiking gear. As our coach was making announcements on his bullhorn, he introduced my dad and said "he's a big lightening rod with that backpack on, so stay away from him."

I took off with my usual pace group and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises ever. The lightening was still there, but it was far in the distance and no longer a danger to us runners. Gentle raindrops created a refreshing reprieve from the usual heat and humidity we've experienced the past few weeks. The first 5 miles were unnervingly easy, but my confidence was soon shaken when I started having unpredictable spasms in my hip/butt every few steps. I was only at mile 6, and the prospect of having to conquer the 18-mile distance at a later time was something I didn't want to think about. To my great relief, the spasms stopped as abruptly as they began. I chatted with the other people in my group as much as possible, trying to keep my mind off the fact that I was running 18 freaking miles.

A few hours later, when it was all over, I was in a fair amount of pain. I popped a couple Tylenol, had a hot shower, and tried to drink as much water as possible. Just like when I ran 16 miles three weeks earlier, I was feeling mentally out-of-sorts...kind of loopy and emotional. I'm not sure why that happens to me, but it's a side effect I'm not too fond of.

Even though I've gotten used to the fact that I've lost all this weight and can actually run, sometimes it hits me just how nutty it is that I can run long distances. During those awful fitness tests in high school, I couldn't run even half a mile without stopping to cough and wheeze. Now I know I can run 18 miles. Yeah, it hurts like hell, but I can do it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Golden Arches of doom

So I ate McDonald's last night. After my regular dinner. Right before bed, too. This morning I'm feeling marginally guilty, but more than that, there are physical manifestations of my trip to the Golden Arches. Headache, fatigue, bad mood... I could go on.

I always feel this way after eating junk with no nutritional value. So, why do I continue to do it? Why is it so difficult to think "Oh, I probably shouldn't eat McDonald's because it will make me a zombie tomorrow" prior to the act? Because I want fries, that's why. The anticipation of salty, starchy goodness outweighs any common sense that makes an appearance in my brain.

Also, I should mention that when I get a craving for junk, Angie is usually close behind me. In this case, she actually was the one who went and picked up the food. So not only am I subjecting my own body to this artery-clogging crap, but a loved one's as well. That's a pretty terrible thing for me to do. So, this morning, I told Angie that McDonald's is on the "banned" list for now.

On a brighter note, the binge eating is starting to subside a bit. While I had my disgusting cold last week, I allowed myself to make terrible choices at mealtimes, thereby cutting off any sense of deprivation. I guess that's the reason I haven't had a binge in a while. Now, if I can just stay on the common-sense-wagon for a few days, I'll be in better shape.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back from the couch

It's been a foggy-headed, snot-filled week. I've been sick with a nasty cold. Six days have passed since my last run...I didn't even go to my group run on Saturday. I felt really guilty about that, but I was feeling so run down that I knew a rest was in order. The prospect of running 4 miles this evening fills me with both relief and dread. Here's the thing- the past few days of sitting on my butt and eating anything I want has been kind of nice. I'm getting way too used to it. Dangerously so.

At the same time, however, I've felt like total crap, and not because of my cold. I've had a headache for almost 48 hours because I'm dehydrated. Water? What's that? Oh yeah, it's that stuff you're supposed to drink instead of diet soda. My body is signaling to me to get back to my routine, so I'm going to start listening.

It makes me wonder how many people's diets have been derailed because of an illness. How many of you have fallen off the wagon because you've gotten sick? How did you bounce back?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Running on empty

I have a hard time sleeping on Friday nights. My group workouts on Saturday mornings tend to make me nervous, so it's often a struggle for me to fall asleep the night before. This past Friday was no exception. In fact, I didn't sleep at all. Not one wink, not one minute. Sleep never came.

At 10:30 p.m. that evening, I got under the covers and was not surprised that I didn't feel tired. I did my best to clear my head and relax my body. Sometimes just laying quietly is enough to bring on the snoozing. Forcing yourself to yawn sometimes helps, too. After a while, I checked the clock...after midnight. "If I fall asleep soon, I'll still get about 5 hours," I told myself. Every position was comfortable for only about 30 seconds. Stomach. Right side. Left side. Back. Stomach again. After enough tossing and turning to wake the dead, I was still wide awake, while Angie snored softly beside me. It was 2:30 a.m.

I asked Angie to spoon me, hoping a little human warmth would take me to Sleepytown, USA. It was breathing was slowing and I could feel sleep washing over me. Then, Angie apparently had a nightmare, and I felt her arms tightening around my neck. I love it when my girlfriend tries to kill me in her sleep. Nothing says love like strangling your significant other during a REM cycle. Taking my near-death experience as a sign that I should just get up already, I shuffled into the living room and turned on the TV.

I hate staying up all night. Everything seems to have a strange nighttime haze over it. Time stands still, and loneliness looms. You're surrounded by people, yet you're all alone in the universe. After flipping through the channels, I settled into Lifetime's Intimate Portrait of Ava Gardner. What an interesting lady she was. My grandmother and I used to watch Showboat all the time while I was growing up. Every so often, I still find myself humming the tune of "Cant' Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine." It was 4:00 a.m.

By 5:00 a.m., I had my running clothes on and I was on my way to the meeting place. I couldn't tell if the fog I was seeing was real, or just a hallucinatory manifestation of the fog in my head.

Running 10 miles on zero sleep was...unpleasant. Each mile seemed to get progressively longer. If it hadn't been for the distracting conversation of the group, I probably would have given up. After the run was over, I headed home, showered, and ate a second breakfast. Then, I finally got some sleep.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Some pics

A couple of people asked for more pictures, so here we go!

This is about the biggest I ever got. Those are my size 26 jeans, and my XXL hoodie that barely covered me. It was about a year later that I started trying to lose weight.

I remember when this was being taken. I tried to stand sideways in an effort to appear thinner. Worked really well, eh? This is the final picture I have of myself when I was obese. I never allowed myself to be photographed after I saw this.

On my way down on the scale, and feeling better about being in front of the camera. I was maybe 200 lbs. in this picture.

Here I am at 185 lbs. Feeling great!

Angie and I ringing in 2008. We drank our champagne by 6:30 p.m. and passed out at 9. Clearly, we're the life of the party.

161 lbs! This was taken before a 5K race. See how happy I look? After the race was over...not so much. I totally wore myself out and thought I was going to faint after I crossed the finish line. However, I beat my previous 5K time, so who cares about a little wooziness?

At the St. Louis Zoo. I'm the one in the foreground.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sweet 16 / Q&A: Fat talk

I spent most of Saturday morning in pain. Body parts that I was blissfully unaware of previously were screaming at me. It was hot and humid. It was my first 16 mile run, and although I was hurting, I was (mostly) loving it. I once heard the coach of my running group say that if you can run 16 miles, you can probably finish a marathon. If my body hurt that much during Saturday's run, I don't want to imagine what 26.2 will do to me. Afterward, I walked around like I had a redwood tree up my butt, and my mind wasn't quite right. I felt confused and emotionally fragile, like I could break down in tears at any moment, though nothing was wrong. After a couple Tylenol, a hot shower, and plenty of water, I was back to normal. The upcoming week will be a recovery week, so I'll back off a bit on the running and try to keep my eating in check.

Subject change...

One of the questions I received from a reader was this:

I've got a question - I read an article not too long ago that had been written by a woman who had lost over 100 lbs. She said that a few times she's had weird conversations with people who didn't know her when she was at her heaviest. They'll make derogatory comments about fat people, and expect her to join in...when really, she's horrified by what they just said. At the time she wrote the article, she said that she still hadn't figured out how to respond to these people. Has something like that ever happened to you?

Fortunately for the people out there who have a problem with overweight individuals, this has never happened to me. Because if someone were to make a rude comment like that, I'd get angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry, because...I', I'd tell you you were mean. Yeah, that's right. Don't f*** with me.

Seriously, though, most of the people I interact with know my story. So far, I've avoided this kind of talk. Sometimes, when I'm daydreaming, I imagine what I'd say if I were ever in that situation. I'd like to think I'd stand up for the fat people of America. In reality, I hate confrontation and I'm kind of a weenie. Hopefully I'll never have to find out.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Last night, we went to see Dean Karnazes's new movie, UltraMarathon Man. It played only one night, one time, in only one theater in town. It felt pretty great to be seeing a movie that was all about running, inspiration, and perseverance. In an effort to raise money to combat the childhood obesity epidemic in America, he ran 50 marathons in 50 states, in 50 consecutive days.

Angie and I met up with a running friend of mine and we found seats toward the back. The theater was full. Some people were clearly runners; all one had to do was look at some of the leg muscles on these folks to know they'd logged a few miles in their day. Others were clearly not runners. Maybe they came to be inspired by Dean's message, or maybe they were dragged, kicking and screaming, by a friend. Either way, they made the right decision.

The film showed little snippets of all 50 marathons, and spent additional time covering the more interesting ones. He started his journey in St. Charles, Missouri, at the Lewis and Clark Marathon. Before the race began, he and his wife renewed their wedding vows near the starting line. It was sweet. In Kansas, my home state, Dean ran in Wichita during gale-force winds and pounding rain. He definitely was having a bad time, and it was only the second day.

I shed a tear or two (big surprise), and laughed a lot as well. But mostly, it filled me with excitement, knowing my marathon is not too far off. At a time when my training is wearing on me, the film reaffirmed why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Dean touched a lot of people during his 50/50/50 challenge. He seems like a very humble, approachable, likable guy, and I really hope I get the opportunity to meet him one day...maybe even run with him, if only for a minute.