Month: November 2012

Weight Loss Day 56

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Almost 2 months has gone by and I have lost 19 pounds. I have a 2-pack now. I basically took a couple weeks off in the middle as a result of illness, otherwise I would have met the goal of 30 pounds. I still aim for that 30 pounds before the PF Chang’s half marathon.
I have stepped up my training in the last week. I am combining cardio and weights now. I lost 8 pounds in the last week. I am running over 5 miles continuous and will be at 8 miles continuous before the week is over. 13 miles continuous is the distance goal and 2 hours is the time goal for the race in January.
A couple friends and I are going to run in the Tough Mudder in late February. This should be far more challenging than the Rugged Maniac (there is a video with people running through an obstacle with what looks like electrified wires hanging down). If for no other reason, than the fact that it is 10-12 miles long. Plus we get a headband.
I am feeling good. I am completely optimistic that all these goals are within my grasp. Much like Michelangelo stated about the statue contained within the block of marble, my fit and healthy self is located within this mass of goo, disorganization, and laziness. Discipline is my chisel. I have the vision of what is contained within. My actions are removing the parts that do not fit the picture and I am slowly releasing the picture into the physical world. I am enjoying the ride. I hope you are too.



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The title of this post means free. Interesting since we use the same word as the root for gratitude which means thanks.
Gratis is also the root in the word ‘grace.’ What is grace? Webster’s defines it as ‘unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.’ Grace is the presence of the Divine in your life. The presence of the Divine in all things. Grace is something one can ask for but it must be granted. One can strive for it but when one pursues something too earnestly, it tends to be elusive. Particularly if one’s intentions are not pure. I am open to grace and I welcome grace into my life when it comes. I ask for grace to befall those who seem to need it in tough times or in times of lack. None of this means that grace is granted, nor do I expect it to be granted. I do not seek to see if it is granted either. This is the wonder and beauty of prayer and blessing. You ask and give them but do not attach to the outcome of the prayer. Does it work? Do not know. I am not part of the outcome. I only know that I feel great peace when I perceive a state of grace in my life or when I pray for grace for others. I am grateful for this experience and always have been. Much as I am grateful for all the blessings in my life.
This is the time of year to be thankful/grateful, or so they tell us. Historically (there is far more history than there is the present by the way), Autumn is a time for being thankful to the Earth (God) for the bounty of harvest. Harvest allowed us to survive the winter in times when we could not go to the corner to pick up a candy bar at 2am. Our ancestors were lucky to survive a winter in the American Northeast or in Europe. Lucky to survive. Rolling dice or cutting cards to determine who lives and who dies. Try living each day for months with that onus hanging over your head. Add to that the thought that your family may not live through the winter and you have to care for them in the hope that they live (and you do not die in the process of sacrificing your life energy to keep them alive). If you have ever, even for a moment, sacrificed anything so your family can have something they need, you have a glimpse of what our ancestors went through each year of their lives.
Technology has changed this lifestyle for most of us although there are still many who wonder where their next meal will come from or if they will survive a freezing night. Not to make light of their plight, but our ancestors worked the land, built their houses with their own hands, and made their own food. Many of those who go without these days do not work and are not motivated to do so. Many are suffering from mental illness and many are victims of severe hardship but a large number do not recover. There were indigents in colonial times but they were cared for by the community or imprisoned (not much changes does it). When we look at where we have been and what our ancestors were grateful for, one wonders what we have to be grateful for in these times.
John Bradford is quoted as saying “there but for the grace of God goes John Bradford” when he watched other prisoners being dragged to their deaths. We have survived this phrase as ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ Meaning that anything can happen to any of us and it is a prayer thanking God for the grace that keeps us safe. Be thankful for the obvious things, family, friends, food and shelter whether you have them in abundance or scarcity. Be thankful for those things you may take for granted like breathing, walking, the ability to get yourself to the bathroom or kitchen. Also be thankful for things that are not so obvious…

I am thankful for holding not only my children for the first time, but every time since. I am thankful for holding my wife’s hand the first time and every time since. I am grateful for waking early and watching the fiery sun blaze it’s presence on the Earth each and every time it happens. I am grateful when I hear a song that strikes the right chords in my chest every time I hear it. I am grateful for meeting new souls and discovering their obvious and hidden beauty. I am grateful for the meditative energy I get when I create dishes. Baking, broiling, grilling or even making a salad are all energizing experiences for me. I am grateful for being able to run and enjoy it. I am grateful for being able to swim and enjoy it. I am grateful for my relationship with the Divine. Gratis is free, freedom is gratis.

Gratis to you and gratis for you. I love you and I am grateful for you too.

Thanksgiving dinner

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Thanksgiving is not on Friday for our family. Dinner is on Friday. I decided that this was sacrilege so I am making dinner at our house and we will have dinner with the rest of the family on Friday. Here is the tentative menu (really, I am only cooking for my wife and I):
Fresh candied yams (yams, not sweet potatoes)
Mashed cauliflower
fresh bread
pumpkin pie
And we will have the kids make cookies
Regardless, this is about having a good time and enjoying each other. I am grateful that I have this, or any, time with my family. My children are going to assist in making all of this dinner. They are really becoming interested in cooking. I am glad. This is my main active meditation. I look forward to passing on this meditative activity to them.

Rugged Maniac?

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‘Rugged’ Maniac? Not so much. We arrived just in time to get our shirts and bibs. We went to the start and we were off. Ilaiza and I were excited and perhaps a little nervous based on the little information we had about previous courses. Our obstacles included: hills of gravel, dips and hills with loose dirt (about 80% of the obstacles), 2 times we crawled under barbed wire but with about a foot clearance under most of the wires, the barbed wire had some mud we had to crawl through (it only got deep once and Ilaiza did not even get her chest muddy or wet going through this), the walls were 4 feet and 6 feet (there was a small step across each wall making it far too easy), some 10 foot climbing structures, a big slide that ended in a pit of water, one 10 foot pipe for sliding down then one 10 foot pipe to climb up (had a rope in it), and a tunnel dug in the ground with wood planks over the top that had 2 turns in it (it was rather dark), then the final obstacle had a couple climbing structures and a rope net for climbing across a drop. Sound difficult? If you read my previous posts about the description of this event, this is like describing something we put together at my house to cool off in the summer. The giant slide at the state fair is tougher to navigate than this course. I was skeptical about the winning times for this race but I see now that anyone who can do a little sprinting could easily finish in under 30 minutes.

All that being said, it was a blast. We had a lot of fun (mostly watching other people struggle through something that we cruised through. people were crawling on their bellies through the mud under the barbed wire while we stayed on our hands and knees. She is tiny enough, she could have crouched through some of that barbed wire. Challenging would have been trying to walk over the wire. It was fun, but I want more of a challenge. Louis and I were entertaining the Spartan race in February but I looked at the description and it looks a lot like this one. There is a Super Spartan but the one here is only the sprint, a 5k. I think the Tough Mudder looks like more fun and waaaaaay dangerous (the video shows people walking through electrified wires hanging down while walking through water). That makes the race worth the training 🙂

Mudder also gives a cool headband, decent beer, a shirt, and a medal. we got the beer and shirts for this one. The most fun, actually, was the water tank truck pulling up as we got to the hoses and opening up so we could wash off. The water was not only high powered, it was warm.

Would I do it again? Yes. This was essentially Ilaiza’s first race. That made it even more special. I am ecstatic I could be there with her for this. We had a lot of fun. We also celebrated in my traditional method after the race, Grimaldi’s Pizza.

Rugged Maniac -1

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Tomorrow is the race. I read that the winners will finish in 20-25 minutes. That is insane. The run is 5k. There are obstacles and mud throughout the race. They are running 3 miles through mud and over 12 foot walls with a time of 7.5 minute miles. The world record for the 5k is 12:36:22. They say the average finish time is 1-1.5 hours. That is about an 8-10 mile run for me right now. I can handle that. The other stuff is just grist for the mill.
Running is like being in a relationship. You devote time, resources, energy into it and you are happy and content. Running a race is similar to holidays. If you put your time into the relationship on a daily/weekly basis, the race runs smoothly and you finish. Having deadly obstacles in the way is like going dating a young woman or a bipolar one. You still engage in the relationship but you have to be a little more aware of your surroundings and watch where you step or you get mauled. Inattention to those obstacles (and you know what they are and when they are coming once you have a little experience) can be disastrous. We still do them because we need to prove something or learn something about ourselves. And to be honest, sometimes we need the abuse to help us feel more alive.

Rugged Maniac -4

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Well, I thought I was over this bug but I guess I was wrong. I did one set tonight of sit-ups, pull-ups and weights and I have been attempting to cough up a large part of my lung since then. I am not thrilled about this. Not to mention the fact that this coughing is not really productive. Last week, I was able to cough stuff up. This cough is the annoying kind that is all muscle and no phlegm. This makes it painful. I do not take meds because nothing ever works for me. I do not mind that because I do not like taking meds of any kind anyway. I will still persevere and do another set before bed as well as more sets tomorrow.

I will postpone my advancement to 8 miles this week though. I will push that to next week. I still have time to push to 12 miles continuous running in my training before PF Chang’s.

Still working on weight loss. I have lost 14 pounds and I am stepping up my workouts as I get more time without coughing. 2-3 times a day of 2-3 sets of sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, weights (dead lift, static) and then a run mixed in there. The kids getting up is really taking away from run time though. It is getting to the point where I need a 2 hour block at least once a week to go for a run. I can still go for the shorter runs and I do, but I will need the longer runs to prepare my mind and body for the half marathon. My training time should be during the day should the weather in January be comparable to the most of the races, temps in the 70s and enough humidity to be uncomfortable.

I am optimistic for both the Rugged Maniac and PF Chang’s. I will do better than I anticipated (by showing up, if nothing else) and I will put all I have into each race. The point is to have fun. The point to training is to lose weight and get healthy and fit. The race is just a moment in time, a snapshot in the middle of the training. The training is the true marathon. It is the race that requires the most endurance, the dedication and the discipline of body, mind, and heart to continue on. I find that the training is the real test of my mettle. Anyone can show up on race day, but can anyone show up everyday?

Rugged Maniac -6

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Minimal workout today. Kids have stopped sleeping through the night so I am back to cherishing sleep because I am not sure when I will be getting any. Some cardio (push-ups, pull-ups) and weights too. Nothing intense or very long.
I had about 2 hours of meditation today. I mixed in a nap in between but felt rather crappy after the ‘nap.’ It was that Sunday afternoon type of nap that is needed but you wake with a dry, horrible taste in your mouth. You feel more tired after the nap than before or if you had not gone to sleep at all. So I got up and meditated again. Tomorrow will be the beginning of extending my runs. 8 miles with 4 continuous and moving to 5 continuous by the end of the week. The plan for next week is 10 miles with 5 miles continuous extending to 6 continuous. I will see how my body responds to this before extending further. My aim is for 15 miles with 12 continuous before PF Chang’s in January. Weight training has really helped my thighs and knees on these runs. I do not feel as much pain when I run continuous now. I hope the continued weight loss assists my continued running improvement.
Still looking forward to Rugged Maniac but my focus is also on a grander picture. Plus, it will be great experience for running in the Spartan in the spring.