Updates, A New Friend & A FB Break

Well, I've missed my last few weeks updates so I've got a lot to cover with this post. Sorry about that, not sure why I haven't been doing my updates. I've missed 3 weeks of updates & am currently in Week 8 of my Garmin Half Marathon training. I won't rehash everything from those missed updates, but suffice it to say, things have been going mostly well. I have been fighting a sinus infection which has caused a handful of missed workouts or mediocre efforts, but I've been getting it done for the most part and I continue to improve. It's been an interesting year so far & I've had some mental highs & lows already, but I'm doing my best to stay strong and continue to fight for good results; the results I really want & need to see this year.

My weight graph for 1/1 to 2/20
Let's start with my overall feelings of how things are going. As most of you will recall, last year I had the goal of running my first 50 miler last fall and my first 100 miler earlier this month, but in the latter half of the year I took a chance. As important to me as those 50 & 100 mile goals are to me (and they still are VERY important to me), I decided to put them on indefinite hold. I just wasn't feeling ready & with how important as these goals are I want to be able to attack them full force. Last year I was covering a lot of miles, but I wasn't doing many quality miles. As a result, despite accomplishing many big things, my overall fitness was really suffering. My weight was stuck right around 200 lbs., my miles were getting much slower and much harder. If I really wanted to accomplish those goals I needed to be improving rather than getting in worse shape.

I came up with a new plan. I would focus on quality rather than quantity in 2013. I would turn my attention to triathlon-style training, rather than the solely run focused training I've been doing. I would start the year with a full 16 week training plan for the Garmin Half Marathon with the goal of my first sub-2 hour (actually shooting for 1:50) and adding in cycling, swimming, core, strength, yoga, etc to that plan. Then I will spend the summer focused on triathlons working up to the Redman 70.3, my first half Ironman. Those goals will help me focus on getting back my overall fitness, strength, speed and getting my weight back down. My weight goal is to be around 170-175 lbs in time for Redman. After Redman I will run my first and likely only marathon of the year at the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon in mid-September.

The hardest part of this plan is not running marathons or ultras for a full year. See, I really LOVE running marathons & ultras. There is absolutely nothing like crossing the finish line after 26.2 or more miles. Sure, I like 5ks, 10ks, even half marathons, but none of them come even close to matching the high of finishing the grueling effort of marathons & ultras. How was I going to live without that rush for an entire year?? My last ultra of 2012 was the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k on 11/17 and my next won't be until my 3rd consecutive year running the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon on 11/9. The only parallel I can really think of is asking a drug addict to go cold turkey for an entire year. I know it'll be worth it, but can I live without it for so long? I'm already having a tough time with this and it's only 2/20 right now. As I sit back and watch/hear about so many of my friends running great races at marathons & ultras around the country, it just gets harder for me. I want to be out there with them. I want to share that experience with my Marathon Maniac friends, my Trail Nerd/Mud Babe friends, my HCR friends, and many others that are training for and running marathons/ultras right now without me.

To be honest, I've questioned that decision for most of this year, until the last couple weeks really. Sometimes I forget that when I first decided to get in shape it was a long, hard process. Looking back I tend to remember it as happening almost overnight. It really felt like it did. As the days & weeks ticked by this year I started questioning my decision. I wasn't losing weight very quickly, I was getting faster & stronger, but really, was I getting that much faster & stronger? Had I given up my love of marathons & ultras for nothing? Was I going no where, getting no closer to my goals? I know it sounds stupid, but it's how I felt. I was wasting my time & missing out on the fun I could be having. Then, almost overnight, I suddenly realized what I've accomplished this year. I started the year at 198.0 lbs, today (2/20) I weighed in at 188.6 lbs. That's a weight loss of 9.4 lbs & 4.75% of my starting body weight. It's also the lowest my weight has been since 11/17/11. More importantly, I am down 2 notches on my belt, I can see the changes in my body (reduced fat, increased muscle) and I can feel the vast increase in my core strength. Last year my overall avg running pace was 12:19/mile, so far this year I'm averaging 9:53/mile. Granted, the distance is different, but I haven't been able to run more than very short distances at that pace for quite a while and I've been doing 8-9 milers at or better than that pace several times this year.

Those things added together finally showed me that I am not only making progress, I'm making huge progress quickly. I now feel like the decision to postpone my 50 & 100 mile goals was not only the right one, but maybe the best one I've made for my fitness in a very long time. Probably since the decision to run my very first half marathon. I'm getting stronger physically, stronger mentally, stronger on the run, stronger in the pool, stronger on the bike. I'm getting back to where I want to be. It's hard to not start looking at the future again once I start seeing this kind of progress. I'm keeping everything very tentative, but I've started contemplating potential new target time frames for my big 50 & 100 mile goals. Here's what I'm thinking:
  1. Sept '13 - First 70.3 Triathlon (Redman)
  2. Nov '13 - First Marathon back (Pilgrim Pacer)
  3. Apr '14 - First 40 Miler (Free State)
  4. Sept '14 - First 50 Miler (Hawk)
  5. Feb '15 - First 100 Miler (Rocky Raccoon)
  6. Sept '15 - First 140.6 Triathlon (Redman)
Again, that timeline is FAR from set in stone, just a potential progression I've been thinking about the last week or so.

The next topic I want to talk about is my new friend! I finally got a real bike! I've been getting by with my Schwinn OR2 hybrid ($200 from Target), but it is far from enjoyable and efficient. I'll keep that bike for general commuting and things of that sort, but for triathlons, training, cycling tours, etc, I have a real bike finally. It's really been a big focus of mine to get a new bike with my first 70.3 this year, so for Christmas I just ask everyone to give me money to go toward the bike rather than gifts. Luckily, they did. I used my Christmas bonus from work, sold some things, and received presents from my parents, wife, mother-in-law, father-in-law, along with a few others. Finally I had the money for my bike.

Kristy & I went to a few different bike shops to find a shop I liked along with getting to check out a few different bikes. First we visited Bike Source at 135th & Quivira in Overland Park, KS. I went in & met Ben. I told him I was relatively new to cycling, what I had been riding & that I was interested in getting a triathlon bike, although I was still saving up money, so not ready to purchase that day. Ben was awesome. He talked with me about what my cycling experiences & goals were, why I wanted a triathlon bike, etc. He started educating me about triathlon bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, etc.. He told me why one might be better than another, why it might not be as good as another; he talked with me about the various types of components and the differences between them. He showed me several different bikes, including the 2012 & 2013 Specialized Allez Sport Compacts.

I also visited several other shops, but they all acted like used car salesman. None of them wanted to take the time to talk with me like Ben did at Bike Source. I also looked at a Trek 1.5 at one of the shops. It was a nice bike, but I didn't feel as good on it as I did on the Allez. Good thing since I liked Bike Source better than the other shops anyway. Finally, I got my money together & on 2/14 (yes, Valentine's Day) I picked up my brand-new 2013 Specialized Allez Sport Compact. I decided to name her Minuet. So far, I've only been on a few rides with her, but she is truly a pleasure. Comfortable, smooth, shifts very well, accelerates well, handles well. Light, fast & sporty. Just what I was looking for! I look forward to MANY great miles with Minuet!

Lastly, I want to tell you about a little break I've decided to take. Facebook. It sucks you in & takes over your life before you've even noticed what's happened. If there is a computer available you are on it checking on what people are posting, updating your own status, posting pictures, accomplishing little. If there isn't a computer available then you are on your phone's Facebook app. Seriously, next time you are at a restaurant for dinner or lunch, take a look around. Most people will be ignoring the person they are actually with and posting about who they are with on Facebook instead. If our Facebook statuses were honest they wouldn't say "I'm at dinner with my friends." They'd say "I'm at dinner with my friends but I'll read all of your comments instead of talking to them."

Also, I'm sure that I'm not the only one that has noticed how aggressive, negative & hurtful people can be on Facebook. For some reason people will say things on Facebook that they would never say face to face. I've worked very hard to move from the negative mindset I used to have to being more positive, but in mere minutes a simple discussion can break down and ruin my attitude for the rest of the day. Why do friends do this to one another? Why would any human being do this to another? Just because we cannot see one another's faces doesn't mean there isn't a person on the other side of the discussion that is worthy of respect.

Yesterday that is exactly what happened. I had an argument with a few people on a friend's post & it totally ruined my mood for the day. It just lingers. It stuck with me all day, even during my 1 1/2 bike trainer ride last night my thoughts were consumed by it. Why? It was a stupid argument that never would happen in "real life", it was with people I don't even know and the friend whose wall it was on I've only even met once. Why let it consume me? It was clear that I have been sucked in my the monster. The big, blue, evil monster we call Facebook. So I decided to finally do what I've been thinking about doing for quite some time. Sorry, Zuckerman, it's time for me to cut the cord and conquer the addiction. I've deactivated my Facebook account indefinitely. I don't know how long I'll be off & I'll probably do things a lot different when I go back, but for now I need to immerse myself in my real world rather than the virtual world we let ourselves get sucked into.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about Facebook. I've reconnected with old friends, connected with new friends, shared goals & accomplishments with people. I've received & given motivation. I've gotten to know many great people that I never would have met. I do look forward to getting back to those people once I return to Facebook. I hope they know who they are and they recognize that I just had to back away for a bit. We'll see how long it lasts, but I cannot allow Facebook to consume me the way it does. I've got better & more important things to do.

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