Author Archives: Grand Floridian

Terrain Mapping

I am increasingly aware of every incline, decline, false flat and terrain change in the surrounding area where I run.  I am well aware that if I start and stop from the same spot that I will have an equal amount of decline and incline during the run.  That doesn’t stop me from considering the terrain before I depart and thinking about where and when I will hit the hills out on the course.

It has been a while since I last wrote.  You may think that my training ended and I just stopped updating.  Not true.  I have been busy with work and dealing with a daughter away at college and a son starting to drive.  And I have been busy running.  I am on the plan to run OUC Orlando Half Marathon in early December.

Since August 20 and my last post, I have run 20 times and more than 60 miles.  There have been runs in North Carolina to the Florida Keys.  I have run while on work trips and long weekends.  The consistency of making time for my program in my regular week offers challenges and a sense of accomplishment throughout the week.  Getting out early in the morning, especially on Saturdays, offers a chance to commune with nature and hear birds, wind in the trees, running water and rain hitting the leaves before it hits me.  I can see the beautiful sky, clouds, creeks, nice homes, sun shining and a variety of trees and animals.

I have also obsessed over researching for a new pair of running shoes as my old pair have deteriorated.  I will update on my process and results in a separate post soon.

Today was my first 5 mile run of not only the program but my life.

5.00 mi
12′ 52″ / mi

It actually felt better than last Saturday’s 4 mile run.  Maybe the new shoes were a part of that.  Update me on what you have been up to lately.  Are you running, biking, walking, yoga, meditating, or anything new? If not, why not?

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On the Road, Again

Tuesday started in Charleston and ended in Charlotte. I didn’t get the run for the day completed in the morning when I had hoped to due an over zealous use of the snooze button and things that had to be done.

Sometime while working all day but before beginning my three hour drive to Charlotte, I became aware that my nephew, Liam, had challenged me to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. As this was done on Facebook, I didn’t see it until about 21 hours into the 24 allotted. By the time I arrived in Charlotte the 24 hours had passed and it was time to run.

I changed and headed out of the hotel in near total darkness looking for a path that was lot well enough for me to follow. I resigned myself to running loops as if I were on a track. One length was uphill while the other was down. As soon as I began running I was ready to quit. I wasn’t feeling it. By the mile and a half mark, I had the near constant sensation that I was going to vomit. I powered through and did not set any pace records, but got it done.

3.13 mi
14′ 19″ / mi

After returning to the hotel, I made numerous treks to the ice machine to fill my tub with ice cold water. I filled a bucket and proceeded to record video thanking Liam and dumping the bucket over my head, plunging myself into the tub and challenged Ralph Peña, Mike Padron and Sam Kimbrel.

I tried to post that video on Facebook but was unable to after many attempts last night but it just went up moments ago.

Do something!

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The Longest Weekend

This weekend has been on the calendar as long as we have known where Shannon would be going to college. This is the weekend that we move her into her residence hall and she begins her freshman year. We arrived late Thursday night and checked into our hotel exhausted from the drive. We were unconscious before there was time to think of what was ahead.

Friday morning, we were up early for breakfast and headed to the campus to get in line for the unloading of our vehicle and load-in to her room. We went right to work and made more than a couple trips to various stores to set her up right. Although we spent most of the day arranging and building, hanging and organizing, it was not long before she was headed off to convocation and an evening of activities with her new classmates and teammates.

We went off to explore Asheville and to apply a liberal amount of carbs and alcohol to our wounds. I believe we did a great job of it since we included Asheville Pizza and Brewing and a stop at the Grove Park Inn for drinks and finally dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe.  Asheville was overflowing with people, music and excitement.  There is no mystery as to why Shannon fell in love with this area.  While waiting for a table at Tupelo, we walked down to Green Man for a beer and acquired album by The Tillers.

Saturday morning called for an early morning run due to the full day we had planned. I scouted a safe route from our hotel and while certain there would be elevation change I was excited for the opportunity to run in Biltmore Forest. I was up early and out just before the sunrise. I ran nearly straight uphill on Vanderbilt Road for the outward mile and a half and downhill coming back. My legs did burn on the climb and I was unable to maintain any pace, but my shins burned even more on the descent.


3.06 mi
13′ 38″ / mi

10 push-ups

After breakfast, we drove out the Blue Ridge Parkway to Craggy Gardens and did the 0.7mi hike/climb to the summit for the 360 degree views.

IMG_5230 IMG_5219

As Saturday went on, we found ourselves at Wicked Weed for a late lunch and explored Asheville while returning to Grove Park Inn for sunset drinks.

Classic Burger and Milk Stout at Wicked Weed

Classic Burger and Milk Stout at Wicked Weed

We saw Shannon for a few more minutes across the weekend to setup her television and some decorations that we got her for her room and finally to go to Mass before we left.  We made the long drive back to Florida to start our week of work and school and left Shannon to her new chapter in Asheville.

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Pick Up the Pace

Spoiler Alert: I may get the feels in this post.

We have an emotional weekend ahead. Tonight we take our beautiful daughter, Shannon, to college. She is heading to Asheville, NC to attend University of North Carolina – Asheville. If you don’t know our family well, you will have to take my word on how close knit we are. We have had a little time to begin getting used to her absence as she had such a wonderful friend group here and they have had an emotional few weeks already as they have been saying goodbye to one another as each departs for the next chapter. I will miss many of her friends as well that have nearly lived in my living room the last few years.

Today, I wanted to pick up the pace for a number of reasons. I wanted to see if there was a faster pace where I might actually find some comfort running and holding that pace. I needed to get done with the run as there is a lot to do today and Ana and I are both working. Plus, I just felt like kicking a little ass.

I went out in what felt comfortable but decidedly faster than my two precious runs that I ran the entire 3 miles. The pace that I settled into was fluctuating slightly but it was under 11 min/mi pace. I decided about the 3/4 mile mark that it wasn’t sustainable for 3 miles yet. I held it to the mile and then began intervals. In my neighborhood I choose to use the streetlights for demarcation. They vary in separation but average maybe 100 yards. I run to the next at about an 8 min/mi pace and then walk to the next at maybe a 14 min/mi pace and kept this up for the second mile before increasing the walk length to two streetlights and eventually three to complete the third mile.

Even with the intervals of walking the entire 5k was completed in over 1′ 30″ per mile faster pace than Tuesday’s continuous run. And based solely on perspiration and hyperventilation, it was much more challenging as well.

For good measure, I knocked out ten push-ups and 10 myotatic crunches (Follow the link for a demonstration)
before hitting the shower.

3.12 mi
12′ 34″ / mi

10 push-ups
10 myotatic crunches

After tonight’s long drive, we will be loading my baby girl into her dorm room tomorrow morning. Not long after that, she will depart for convocation and we will hangout in Asheville hoping against hope that she has another minute to spare or needs anything before we drive home without her.

We are just as unprepared to let go of our kids as we were to have kids in the first place. We have no idea what we are doing and we will just have to figure it out as we go.

The next run on the schedule is for this Saturday. If it goes as planned, I will be running in and around Biltmore Forest.

Stay hydrated and go do something. Geez!

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Home Sweet Home 5k

I am back in Florida and I am on plan in my training. I have not allowed rain, travel, a busy schedule or oppressive heat to deter me from my planned runs. I wrote out my training schedule on monthly calendars from the date that I registered until the date of the race. So far, I have been able to hold myself accountable. Tuesday morning called for 3 more miles to get logged. The road that circles our subdivision, if circumnavigated twice, makes for a nice route of almost exactly 3.1 miles, or 5 kilometers, also known as the 5k.

The weight is not falling off as fast as I might like. Isn’t that the way it always goes? I do, however, notice changes in my body composition. I have not tracked my fat percentage or measured like I should, but I am confident that I am moving in the right direction. I have shared my story often this week. Most people can’t believe that I was ever on the wrong side of 300 pounds. I am amazed at the changes in clothes sizes and comfort during physical activities that being 50 pounds lighter affords.

I am considering adding on some shorter races in preparation for the half marathon to get more participation from family and friends in the training process. I am looking at races like the “UCF 5-miler” and the “Turkey Trot” if anyone has any interest or input.

3.11 mi
14′ 06″ / mi

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In which, I can’t decide if 5am is late night or early morning…

Saturday! I have a full day ahead with AdvoCare National Success School well underway and plans to race from Dallas to Frisco for tonight’s FC Dallas game against the Colorado Rapids. Have I told you how much I love soccer and the MLS? Pay attention.

So with a busy day ahead, I was up putting my run gear on before 5a. I considered taking a different route than Thursday, but being it was very dark out and that way seemed well lit and provided opportunities to see the stadiums at night, I went the way that I knew. I may have made it a little longer as I went through a park and got closet to Cowboy Stadium to see all the lights going off from the stage setup inside and to take more pictures.

The night sky was beautiful and clear allowing stars and a near full moon to shine. The temperature was comfortable and there was a blessed breeze. Other than a quick photo or a redlight, I didn’t stop. This made the run unique as I have never run for three miles at any pace without stopping. It hurt and my mind and body negotiated many times over what was happening and what should be done, but I ran on.

3.19 mi
14′ 37″ / mi

I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment as I overcome the difficulties and potential excuses to continue on with my plan to train toward this half marathon. In the words of James Brown “I Feel Good!”

I had a great day and drank my body weight in water and then enjoyed the evening while FC Dallas completed the day with a win.

I head back home tomorrow to my family that I miss so much. I will never say that Florida is too hot again after these few days in Texas.

Do you have a plan to reach your goals yet? Do you have goals?


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In which, I discover Texas is freaking hot…

So Thursday is a run day, but I also had to work and travel and had an evening event. I couldn’t run early because I was up and on the road before 5am. This meant my best opportunity was a lunchtime run in 95 degree heat.

I would normally work to avoid running in the hottest part of the day. Little did I know, I had avoided that. I would later find out upon leaving to go to my evening event that the afternoon high was 105.

I didn’t set any pace or distance records as I ran from my hotel and passed the Ballpark at Arlington toward Cowboys Stadium. I am not being paid to use their official, sponsored names. I ran away from my hotel to a mile and a half secretly hoping that someone would pull along with an air conditioned vehicle and rescue me with a lecture on the stupidity of midday running in August in Texas.

I reached the home of the Dallas Cowboys and even though I had the same distance back to the hotel as I had just ran, it seemed much further. I stopped a few times to take pictures and to question my life but trudged onward.

As I said, the run/walk did not set any pace records but it was completed and my plan remains intact as I work toward December’s half marathon. Anyone have a name for that distance yet? I’ll have to come up with one.

Get up and go!

3.42 mi
15′ 35″ / mi

See you Saturday!

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In which, I run in the rain but it’s not too hot…

Full disclosure: I failed to do any cross training on Monday as planned. I was going to ride bike in the evening, but the Florida evening rain had other ideas. I know that I could have done something else, but I wimped out.

As I headed out Tuesday evening to get the planned run done, the weather was gloomy and threatening. I had no sooner started tracking my run with the house extremely close, and dry, when big fat rain drops began pounding the pavement.

I should also point out something that I forgot to mention in the last post about what is slightly different with this training plan. I am running without headphones or music. I have always tried to distract myself from the discomfort of running with motivating music. At the very least, I could interval run/walk with every other song. I have now taken to praying in the beginning of my run, counting out strides and trying to correlate count with pace in the middle, and thinking of all that I need to do toward the end.

The rain stayed consistent but never came down so hard that I was uncomfortable. If given the choice between blazing heat and pouring rain, I’ll take the rain.

I tried to pickup the pace and run longer without stopping. When I eventually stopped to walk, I began run/walk intervals at every streetlight with the run being at a much faster pace than I was maintaining earlier. It was hard but I felt great.

Have you signed up for the OUC Half Marathon yet? Do you have a race or challenge in mind? What are you waiting for? Comment below and we can help each other.

3.15 mi

Next run is scheduled for Thursday. It will be tough as I am traveling to Texas and have an evening event. Stay tuned.

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In which, I sign up and begin training…

So, last Thursday was the last day to register and save $10 for this December’s OUC Half Marathon.

I am nearing the end of another 24 Day Challenge and having lost another 15 pounds so far and dropping another couple inches in my waist has me motivated. Buying shorts in a store yesterday with my kids on this tax-free weekend that doesn’t sell my previous size was motivating. Not being completely disappointed when passing a mirror is motivating.

I had been challenged a few weeks back by Jeff Boddiford, who will either be credited or blamed throughout this process, to run the OUC Half Marathon.

I have two problems with a half marathon. First, it needs its own name. I don’t want to brag about doing half of something. Let’s come up with a name for the distance. Second is the distance. I have no memory of ever running more than a mile and a half at a time. I played soccer and football growing up and regularly ran more than that in a game, but never without any stops to walk or rest.

I am registered, so I need a plan. I did some research and have a plan to get to 13.1 miles by December. Now it’s about execution. I want to know that I can do it. I want to be comfortable and have a pace that I own.

Today, I ran/walked a little more than three miles. The longest sustained run within was a little more than a mile and a half at about a 12 minute pace. I really look forward to seeing how this progresses and how I will feel throughout. I was in Clermont for the kids’ swimming and found myself running hills of all things.

3.13 mi

Tomorrow may include some biking if I can get Mickey out or some other form of cross training before running again on Tuesday.

What are you doing? I need some teammates. Get off your ass and make it happen. Hit me up on the social media of your choosing and let’s help each other achieve our goals.

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Early this Sunday morning, Mickey and I were up to join a group for bike ride from Oviedo Aquatic Center out to Fort Christmas and back. Full disclosure, I do not yet keep up or ever make it to the full length as these guys can easily knock out 50 miles in the time it takes me to do half that. I do, however, love being up and out. I secretly hope to make a “brick” of it. A brick is the combination of two sports. I have never been able to transition from the bike to a run as my legs come off the bike feeling like concrete or bricks. I can only assume that’s where the name came from, but I will have to check into that. I hope to add a mile run after a 10 mile bike this morning.

As the group took off and headed East along 419, I jumped into the middle of the pack and enjoyed the first mile or two with the group as they stretched their legs and added speed. I am fine with the consistent building of speed. Where they lose me is when we slow for a stop sign or for some debris in the road and then they take back off with serious acceleration and I am dropped. By mile three, I am off the back. Before mile 4, I can no longer even see them ahead.

After mile 5, I decide that if I have any chance of pulling off this brick, I had better turn back. I make a casual u-turn. Enter wind.

The first 5 miles had some false flats with slight climbs and a couple of long sloping downhills where I was able to pour speed into the bike. I was completely unaware of any breeze at all. After making my turn to head back, I became bluntly aware of what I would later learn was a 14 mph wind that had been at my back all along. I don’t know if you are all aware of what a 14 mph headwind does to the pace of an overweight bicyclist, but take my word that it took longer to get back than it did to go out.

Simultaneous to the wind hitting me in the chest was the epiphany of this metaphor in my brain. I had many thoughts as I lumbered my bike into the wind for the 5 mile slog to the car to transition into my running shoes.

I was unaware of the wind when it was supporting and pushing me in the direction that I wanted to go. I took all the credit for my athleticism and strength as I rode along the highway. I did not consider the wind at all. I certainly was not thankful to have it. I was blissfully ignorant. The birds were singing. The sun was shining. The trees were green. The cars were happy to pass me leaving plenty of room.

When the wind literally hit me in the face, my bike slowed. I immediately felt as though I was much too far from my car. Where had this wind come from? Why is it just appearing now? The smallest uphill became mountainous. The birds fell quiet. The sun was beating down on me. The trees were swaying. The cars were impatient and dangerously close.

The ride back was harder, but I enjoyed it for what it was. The resistance of the wind made me work harder. I became immediately grateful for the tailwind I had received for the first 5 miles. Now here is the part, you need to get your head around. I was also grateful for the headwind on the way back as a chance to grow. The resistance would reward my efforts with added strength in the future. I was not the victim of some evil force. I was the benefactor of an empowering force. I had an opportunity to face the wind with grace or to quit and curse it.

I can’t see wind, but I can surely feel it. I can’t see wind, but I can surely see the impact it has on people and the world. I don’t know the word for wind in every language, but I am sure that they are describing the same thing. I can’t see wind, but I know that whether everyone believes in it or not, it’s there.

Remember that I said it was a metaphor?

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