Monday, September 3, 2012

My First Year as a Runner

Thoughts and ramblings by a first year runner

My first year as a runner….
First of all, I will mention several people who have had a positive impact on my running. If you are reading this and aren’t mentioned, but ran with me or even spoke about running with me, thank you! I appreciate your encouragement, tolerance and any kind words you spoke to me regarding my pursuit to become a “runner”.

The challenge…My neighbor Mike had mentioned to me on more than one bike ride that I should take up running and run with him. I was thinking to myself, yeah right! Me, run? When I tried running as a heavy person, my knees would be on fire for days afterwards. My orthopedic surgeon admonished me not to run and ruin his work. However, now I was 70 pounds lighter. Could I Run? I took off in secret one day to run two miles. My cardio condition was pretty good thanks to spin class and bicycling. The two miles seemed painless. I waited to see how much pain I would be in the next day. Amazingly I had no knee pain or soreness as a result of the run. I added another run, then another.

Pufferbilly Fun Run 2011... I had registered for the run not really knowing what to expect. I figured that this would be a solitary pursuit as my running had been for the past week and a half of training in secret. Much to my surprise it was very social. Kelly, Marcy, Larry, Mary Ann and Jane to name a few all contributed to this run being a fun and social experience. I got third in my age group which was a fluke. Had I been in the group five years older, I would have placed fourth. However the simple fact was that I was hooked.

Me and 7000 close friends…At Mike’s suggestion, I signed up for the Living History Farms race. 7 miles of cross country fun. I was a warm November and the race was a lot of fun. With 7000 people in the race, the people-watching was great. About this time I started thinking about running more. It had become more of a priority for me.

The first goal…In December I decided that I would do an organized, timed race every month in 2012. I shared my goal with several people who I thought might care. Over the Christmas holiday, I got on the internet and looked for a January first race. I found a race called the Frozen Foot run in Ames. I had no idea what to expect but I showed up early and ready to run on the morning of New Years day. No one was there… So I waited and no one came… I was thinking I must have the wrong location. Finally the Lynches showed up to open the building. This was obviously going to be a home-spun experience. Once again I saw Marcy and Kelly. I met the Cottiers, Wendels, Rasmussens, Beth H. and several others. It was basically a cold five mile run followed by a party. Again, I was taken by how social running can be. I thought when all of this started that it would be a solitary pursuit. How wrong I was!

Got any red?...In February I did the Red Flannel Run. It is a fundraiser for the Des Moines Y, and a lot of Boone people participate. Now some of the faces I was seeing were considered in my mind to be “the usual suspects”. Larry M. and I ran the five mile race mostly side by side. We came in at about 41 minutes which I figured wasn’t bad for a couple of old guys. The impromptu Boone Party after the race was a nice bonus. I had lots of encouragement by Marcy who had unofficially become one of my biggest supporters.

Do you have a calendar?...February brought another Frozen Foot Run. This time it was hosted by the Rassmussens. The first thing I did was show up a week early. (Excited I guess!) Mary was nice and invited me in while gently telling me that the run was the next week. When the big day finally got here, I got to know several people a lot better. I ran with Jonathan Wendel. I didn’t realize it at the time but Jonathan and his wife Kathleen regularly run marathons. This day was a turning point for me regarding my running. You see, even though I had been running on a regular basis and was in the throws of fulfilling my goal of running at least a race per month, I still didn’t think of myself as a runner. Jonathan was asking me about my running and what I had been doing when he said it….he called me a runner. It didn’t sink in right away, but later that day I thought, he’s right, I really am a runner. This is also the point where I started to really get to know and grow very fond of some of the Ames Area Distance Runners. Namely Jonathan, Kathleen, Beth, Rolf, John P. and several others. What a great group of people. They are all a combination of caring, fun, funny, encouraging and serious athlete.

The family, part 1…In March I did a 5K with my daughter Kate who decided that she too would like to be a runner. We ran a fun 5K which she chose, so naturally it involved dogs. I was fun to run a non-competitive 5K shoulder to shoulder with my daughter. What a great day!

The second goal…About at this point I decided on another goal. I wanted to run a 5K at 22 minutes or less. The April 5K I did was at Ada Hayden and I was just under 24. Was it really possible for a guy with my advanced follicle impairment to run 22?

A funny thing happened at the trail… I have developed the habit of driving to Madrid and running on the High Trestle Trail. One day after running a 10K I was standing by my car stretching and recovering. A young blonde came up on rollerblades who was apparently parked next to me. She asked if I had been out bicycling? (There’s no bike in sight.) I explained that I had just run a 10K. She said, “10K, how far is that?” I explained that it was 6.1 miles. Without missing a beat she said, “Wow! How far is a 20K?” You can’t make this stuff up!

The big day…May brought yet another 5K at Ada Hayden and it happened. 21:35. It wasn’t even summer yet and I had just hit my summer goal. The guy that won it with a 15 something told me I had a great run. I laughed out loud as the guy who beat me by six minutes was trying to give me props. That is the kind of thing that makes the running environment fun.

The beach….June arrived and I had a business meeting in Hollywood Florida. They were having a beach run for the meeting attendees, so I figured this would be my June run to count toward my goal. Of course the “fun run” on the beach turned into a “fun race” the moment the first guy took off. It was 6:30 in the morning and it was so humid we were all melting. When I finished one of the hotel employees, a rather large guy went out of his way to tell me how impressed he was with my time. Again I smiled and thought that apparently people in their 40’s must not be expected to be fast! As with all of these runs, the best part was meeting the people after the race. There is obviously a camaraderie among runners.  

The family part 2…By the time we were rolling through July my youngest son and wife had decided that they too liked to run. Surge picked out a race that was being put on by LifeServe, our local blood center. He has become a regular donor and decided we should do that race. The three of us went to downtown Des Moines bright and early one August morning. When we took off I couldn’t help but think of Traci M. and her joke about when you are running, “it is just you and your negative thoughts.” We were running straight up hill to the state capital. For a few moments it was miserable. It got better and I finished in 22 flat. I was 12th overall and thinking I needed a new goal.

My long run…Later that month I did a small group run with Jonathan, Kathleen, Beth and Rolf. It was my first 13.1 mile run. It was a big deal to me, but entirely routine for the four of them. Of course they encouraged, and congratulated me as if I had just finished a marathon.

The big finish…September 1, 2012 was an important race. Not so much that the race itself was significant, but in that I had now been a runner for one full year. As usual, my running mates were there making it look easy. Joe and Nancy ran and proved once again that runners are among the nicest and funniest people in the world. Some ran 15 miles, but most of us ran the five miler. The funny thing is we all placed in the top three of our age categories. What a great way to complete my first year as a runner! Beginning next week when I run in my second Pufferbilly Fun Run it will be the start of year two. I look forward to another year of challenges, fun, stress relief and camaraderie.

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement, advice and support. Let’s go for a run!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Amanda's Journey

Greeting fellow Weight Watchers!

Looks like winter finally decided to arrive for us. That means we have one final stretch of getting creative with our physical activity in order to maintain and achieve good health.

I hope you all survived the Super Bowl and stayed on plan.

I have a special interview for you. Below is an interview with one of our successful members, Amanda J. Amanda was nice enough to agree to let me give her some questions about how it is going for her regarding Weight Watchers. So here we go…

ML: You have lost close to 70 pounds. You have been making great progress in your journey to a healthy weight. Did you have an “aha“moment that got you started?

AJ: I had been going to Weight Watchers meetings for months and I didn’t really have an “aha” moment. I just woke up one Saturday morning in July and said to myself, “I’m going to quit drinking pop” (which was a huge task!) I made it through the morning and afternoon and by that evening I had such a headache I gave in and had not one, but three Dr. Peppers! The next day I decided to try again and haven’t had any pop since. Along with that, I decided to work in eating better and exercise.

ML: Are there things about the WW plan that are easier than you thought they would be?

AJ: The fact that you can eat whatever you want makes it easy. All the tools available to help figure points also make it easy. Well, as easy as this can be. J

ML: Are there things that are harder than you thought they would be?

AJ: The hardest thing was making food choices that are healthy for me and leave me enough points at the end of the day to not be starving to death. It is getting easier now, however.

ML: I’ve noticed that you seem excited to weigh in each week. How important is the weigh in regarding staying on track?

AJ: Weighing in weekly keeps me motivated, lose or gain. The times I lose makes it that much more motivating to keep doing what I’m doing and keep losing weight. The time I gained, it motivated me to get back on plan and work harder the next week. Weighing in is just as important to me as staying within my daily points target.

ML: What are a couple of the most important things that you get from coming to the meetings? (Other than the awesome jokes told by the Leader – that’s a given!)

AJ: The information received during the meetings is helpful. I also enjoy hearing the other members’ victories and struggles.

ML: You are in the journey working toward your goal.  Are there any positive life changes that you have already noticed?

AJ: I have gone down 2-3 pant sizes. I find it easier to go workout than before; I actually enjoy it.

ML: Do you break your goals down into small increments, or just think of staying on track toward your ultimate goal weight?

AJ: When I first started, I broke my goals into small increments. My first mini goal was when I got to 20 pounds I would get the Brazilian Blowout done to my hair.  Since then, really, my goals have been to get to the 5 pound mark.   I will probably reward myself with something when I hit 75 pounds and then at 100 but I haven’t decided exactly what that will be J.  I have recently figured out my ultimate goal weight and the fact that I’m under 100 pounds away from which has really excited me. J

ML: How do you stay motivated?

AJ: I stay motivated by not wanting to go back to being as overweight as I was when I first started. I realize I have a long way to go yet but being able to look back and see the physical changes keeps me motivated to look forward and keep trucking.

ML: We have talked about doing a 5K together this summer. Do you have other activity plans that you are looking forward to being able to do?

AJ: I haven’t really thought about this much. I do think it would be pretty neat to be able to complete a sprint triathlon or something.

ML: What are you most looking forward to when you hit your goal weight?

AJ: I’m looking forward to being able to shop in the “normal” sized sections and being able to buy pretty much anything I want.

ML: What would you tell someone who wants to go down the path you are on, but hasn’t started yet?

AJ: I would tell them to go for it. The hardest part is to get started. Once you hit the 20 pound mark you will be so motivated you will want to keep going. There will be days where you get off plan but all you have to do is get right back on the next day (or meal).

ML: Wow! Thanks Amanda. All of your fellow Weight Watchers are really proud of you and are inspired by what you are doing. I wish you all the best as you continue on your journey to good health.

Well there you have it, wisdom from one of our own.

Being overweight is hard.
Losing weight is hard.
Pick you hard!

Troy (aka Macho Leader)
February 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Results of Social Media Survey

Results of Social Media Survey by Thompson Financial:

Question #1:  Do you use social media to communicate?
                        Yes:  92.8%
                        No:  7.2%

Question #2:  Which of the following do you use?
                        Cell Phone:  95.5%
                        Facebook:  85.1%
                        Land Line:  28.4%
                        Skype:  28.4%
                        Blogs:  25.4%
                        Twitter:  22.4%
                        LinkedIn:  20.9%
                        Other:  9%

Question #3:  If you had to pick one, which way do you prefer to communicate?
                        Cell Phone:  44.7%
                        Email:  17.1%
                        Land Line:  14.5%
                        Texting:  11.8%
                        Facebook:  7.9%
                        In Person:  2.6%
                        Twitter:  1.3%

Question #4:  Do you use your cell phone more to text or to make calls?
                        Texting:  58.0%
                        Making Calls:  47.8%

Question #5:  How much personal time in a 24 hr period do you spend using social media?
                        0-1 hrs:  36.8%
                        1-2 hrs:  29.4%
                        2-3 hrs:  19.1%
                        3-4 hrs:  5.9%
                        5+ hrs:  10.3%
Question #6:  At what times during the day do you most often check your social media accounts?
                        am (before work):  33.8%
                        lunch:  19.1%
                        pm (after work):  36.8%
                        after dinner/before bed:  48.5%
                        Other:  10.3%

Question #7:  Has your social media usage changed in the last six months?
                        No:  54.4%
                        Yes, I use it more:  35.3%
                        Yes, I use it less:  11.8%
                        Yes, I have changed from using Facebook to Twitter more of the time:  1.4%
                        Other:  1.4%

Question #8:  For what do you use your social media accounts?        
                        Communicate with Friends:  71.6%
                        Communicate with Family:  64.2%
                        Get Information:  49.3%
                        Give Information:  25.5%
                        Connect with Business:  11.9%
                        Other:  2.9%

Question #9:  On which of the following outlets would you be most likely to read about Financial Products?
                        Website:  66.2%
                        Mailings:  27.9%
                        Facebook:  22.1%
                        Blog:  14.7%
                        Text Message:  10.3%
                        Twitter:  7.4%
                        None of the above/Other:  7.4%
                        All of the above:  2.9%

Question #10:  In what age group do you fall?
                        Under 35:  59.4%
                        Over 35:  40.6%         

*some of the percentages add up to over 100% as you could pick more than one response.

Thanks to all who participated!