Catching Up!

I haven’t posted anything since the middle of November and I wasn’t posting much in the month of October either. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a post and never finished it. Why? Well, mostly life just got in the way. It’s affected my running schedule as well but I’ve never stopped running–I just stopped blogging.IMG_0416

Thankfully, life has settled down again. Ah! The relief. I guess I’ll begin by giving a rundown of my running life the past four months:

December

On the very first day of December, which was 191 days after my triple-bypass surgery I ran in a 10K. I was really kinda down on myself the week before the Jingle Jam 10K in Evans, Georgia because I knew I hadn’t been training to the expectations I has set for myself. I just wasn’t ready for it. It’s a fairly hilly course so I decided I’d run the flats and descents but walk the inclines. I did exactly that but it was more incline than I though. The organizers essentially reversed the course route. I think it made it harder, not easier but maybe it was just because I wasn’t trained up enough. I finished but at my worse time ever! It was so bad I didn’t even write it down. It was something like and hour and 20 minutes. Really awful finish time.

Like I said, I was down on myself all week but once I got out on the course all I could think about is how grateful I am. Here I am at 62 years old and gone through open heart surgery just six months before and running in a 10K road race. That’s quite an accomplishment isn’t it? I think so. Sure, I wish I could have done better but don’t we almost always feel that way?

January

The month of January started with going with friends to Hilton Head, South Carolina to celebrate the new year. We spend five days and the first two were a bit wet but the last three days were beautiful. Anytime I travel I like to find a place to run and Hilton Head is a fantastic bike and pedestrian friendly place. We stayed in Harbour Town which is a little more secluded and we could see this historic landmark from our condo. Anyway,

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I got one run in on New Year’s Eve. It had rained during the night so it was very humid but a nice mid-sixties temperature. Got a little over 3 miles in.

Of course, I ate a lot of seafood there. Mostly raw or fried oysters. It was New Year’s Eve after all so I also drank a bit too much but no hangovers anyway.

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Love ’em Raw!

Just seven days after our Hilton Head trip we were on the road again. This time to St. Augustine, Florida. Actually, this wasn’t our final destination, it was just the first leg. Final destination? Keep reading. HAHA!

It was chilly! A cold wave starting coming through Florida the day we hit the road. No shorts or beach for this portion of the trip anyway. On our first full day, we drove over to the World Golf Village and the World Golf Hall of Fame.

As you can see in the photo above I’m not wearing a jacket but that was only because it would interfere with my golf swing. Trust me, just as soon as I finished trying to get close to the pin (wasn’t even close), my jacket was back on again.

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Our second day we spent mostly in the historic part of St. Augustine doing the usual tourist stuff. I didn’t do any running in the historic part but I sure did walk a lot! We did the Historic Tours of America thing in St. Augustine. If you’ve travelled in the U.S.A. you’ve probably seen them before. They’re open-air bright green and orange trolley’s and you can get on and off wherever you like all day.

After a few days in St. Augustine we were on the road again heading down I-95 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Still windy and chilly though. The winds made driving a little hard sometimes but we made it safe and sound.

Just like St. Augustine, this isn’t our final destination. Hold on, I’m about to tell you. On our first full day we headed to the Port Everglades to catch a ride on this baby:

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Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas

Once on board the ship, we get settled in and just before sunset we headed out to sea for two destinations:

Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba

This was with a group of people I went to high school with Indiana. Even though it was sometimes chilly, sometime cool, rarely warm we had a great time. Our ship was smaller than any other cruise ship I’ve travelled on and no running track. I did get to the gym 3 of the 5 days on the cruise. We were at the port in Havana for a day and a half and looking out the windows in front of me on the treadmill I had a great elevated view of Havana while I ran. So technically, I’ve now ran in Havana, Cuba! HAHA.

February

Things are starting to get back to normal again! A few months ago I signed up for the Augusta University Half Marathon scheduled towards the end of the month but I wasn’t ready so I didn’t even go. I did run for an hour on the day of the race! Monthly mileage still isn’t quite where I would like it but it’s better than it has been. For the month, roughly 37 miles. The longest run was for just shy of 5 miles. That’s no where close to half marathon distance.

March (So Far…)

So far this month everything is going pretty well. I’m on track to log over 50 miles this month. On Saturday I ran seven miles and that’s the longest run in a long time. As in BEFORE my open heart surgery.

I’m 47 days away from running the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon. You may recall I ran this one week after the St. Jude’s Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee in 2017 and was supposed to run it again last year but the heart issues caused me to cancel. I’m pretty happy with my conditioning at this stage. I’ve lost 19 pounds since the 1st of January! I’m only about a pound and a half from my race day goal weight. Maybe I’ll have to reset my goal before then? Looks like I’m well on my way to being ready. I’ll try to post more often now.

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14,741,053 Steps Ago…

14,732,406 steps ago was June 21st, 2013. That’s the day I wore my Fitbit activity tracker for the first time. All those steps add up to a distance of over 8,295 miles or an average of 7.5 miles per day.

The three years prior to 2013 I was busy prepping a house to sell. Selling that house. Building a new house and then moving in and settling in to the new house. I gained weight, stopped exercising and by June of 2013 I was taking two blood pressure medications and weighed about 245 pounds. I knew something had to be done and putting on my Fitbit Flex was the start.

It began by just walking. On most days I walked at least five miles. Once I worked my way up to walking 60-90 minutes each session I started thinking if I can walk six or seven miles surely I can run one mile.

So that’s what I did, I went out on my usual walk but somewhere along the way I would start running and run for approximately one mile. I was very slow and yet I still felt like I was going to die. But I stuck with it. One mile became two miles then two miles became 5K. By December I could run 10K. Barely! But I could do it and I ran in my first 10K race in about twenty years. My finish time was around and hour and fifteen minutes but I finished and I felt like that was quite an accomplishment.

Since then I’ve ran in quite a few 10K races, a few 5K races and in April of this year I ran in a half marathon. Since June of 2013 I’ve lost about 30 pounds and no longer take any blood pressure meds. My resting heart rate is well below 60 beats per minute. I still would like to lose about twenty more pounds. Not sure if I’ll ever get there but I’m working on it. My running progress is slow and steady. I’m getting faster and running further. This too is a work in progress.

I’m about six weeks away from the 60th birthday and feel better then ever. Let me tell you something. If I can make this kind of progress so can you. It just takes a little discipline, dedication and a whole lot of determination. And patience! You have to be patient.

Take it one day at a time. Take it slow and continue to make steady progress. I see it all the time and on occasion I’ve been guilty of it myself. Trying to push your progress too quickly will only result in burnout or worse yet injury. The key for me is to go out with a duration of activity in mind. Let speed and distance take care of themselves. Somedays are better than others. My mile splits can vary more than two minute per mile from one day to the next. I just accept it. Three years and I’m injury free. Yes, I’ve had a few aches and pains but nothing serious. Nothing that stopped me from continuing on. For me, by just going out for a specific duration has taken a lot of pressure off. If my goal is a 45 minutes and I run at least 45 minutes then it’s a successful workout.

Who knows where I’ll be by this time next year but that’s part of the adventure. I know if I stay determined I will make progress. I’m not special. If I can do it–so can you.

White Bean, Tomato & Cucumber Salad

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I posted this photo on Facebook over Memorial Day weekend and I had several people ask me about the salad. It’s so quick and easy to fix. This salad could be the main course or a side.

1 15 ounce can of Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint of Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1 large Cucumber, seeds removed and sliced
1 medium sized Red Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley (optional)
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Best if you let it stay in the refrigerator over night to let the flavors meld.

 

Milestones for the Year (so far)

I didn’t officially start training for the half marathon until mid-January of this year but I began preparing in mid-December 2015. At that point I had dropped twenty pounds off my weight since 2013 but for 2015 I seemed stuck at about 225 pounds. I knew I needed to drop more weight if I wanted at achieve my goals and not get injured in the process of my training. I admit, I like my beer, wine, bourbon and gin. I knew the only way to get unstuck in my weight loss was to give up the empty calories of the booze. You know what? It worked! In mid-December I gave up drinking alcohol completely. Yes, even through the holidays and the new year celebrations. Since mid-December I’ve lost at least 12 pounds. Depending on the day–maybe more like 14 pounds. The chart below shows my progress.

The goal was to get down to 210 pounds by race day. I weighed in at 210.4 last Friday. I’ve picked up a couple since but that is within my usual fluctuation so I could actually get below 210 pounds by Saturday. My overall goal is to get down to 205 or less. One thing at a time. One day at a time.

There was an unexpected benefit to giving up the booze. My resting heart rate has taken a tumble! I’m sure the added miles running have helped but I’m convinced the drop in my resting heart rate (RHR) is primarily due to giving up the alcohol. Here’s my proof:

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The chart above is from December. My average RHR for the month was 68 BPM. Not bad for someone my age but it certainly could be better. Notice the steep decline in the latter part of the month? That’s when I stopped drinking the booze.

Now compare my RHR chart for this month. I’m averaging a RHR of 55 BPM. Quite an improvement for sure. My RHR has been at this level for two months now. Why I’m I convinced the lower RHR is due to cutting back on the booze over my increased physical activity? I mentioned in my last post about my half marathon training that I had indulged in a little alcohol consumption in the past few weeks. The two blips in the chart below where my RHR hit 60 BPM happened during and immediately after my acohol consumption.

I can’t honestly say this is enough to convince me to never drink alcohol again but it’s enough proof I will think twice before I pop the top off a beer. If I hadn’t got to see the results with my own eyes I would never believe it. That’s changed now–I’m a believer!

Sidebar: Charts were created using the Fitbit mobile app.

Almond Cherry Granola

I eat this granola with Greek Yogurt almost every day of the week. It’s easy to make, tastes great and is full of carbs, fiber and antioxidants. I first learned of the recipe from the book, “Runner’s World Meals on the Run” from Rodale Press. I’ve modified it slightly though. My recipe makes twice the amount and I’m not a big fan of cloves so I reduced the amount used.

Makes 10 Cups

Wet Ingredients:

6 ounces Canola Oil
4 tablespoons Honey
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract

Dry Ingredients:

4 cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Slivered Almonds
1/2 cup Chopped Cashews
1 cup Toasted Wheat Germ
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves

1 cup Dried Tart Cherries (Added after baking)

Pre-heat the oven to 35o degrees F.

In a medium bowl stir together the wet ingredients. The mixture should have a medium brown color when blended.

In a large bowl add the dry ingredients (minus the dried cherries) and gently toss to mix the dry then pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture. Stir to combine, making sure all the dry ingredients are coated.

Spread half the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir the ingredients. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes. (I prepare two baking sheets and I use parchment paper on the baking sheets to make clean up a little easier. You can bake both sheets at the same time but I prefer to bake one sheet at a time.)

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Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the dried cherries onto the baking sheet. Allow the granola to cool on the pan then store in an airtight container.

Repeat the baking and cooling process for the remaining half of the granola mixture.