Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jacksonville Beach, FL, get ready!

So. It's decided. My 4th event in the 50 States Half Marathon Challenge will be Florida. In February. What a lovely break from the winter of Minnesota that will be. :-)

I'll be running the Breast Cancer Half Marathon on February 12, 2012. There are multiple things about this that make me happy:
1) It supports breast cancer research through the Mayo Clinic, which is based here in MN but has a satellite branch in Jax Beach. I lost my good friend Karin Harrell to breast cancer a number of years ago, and I miss her all the time.
2) I can stay with family who lives within just a few blocks of the start line. Ok, I suppose they're not technically MY family, but close enough. My super awesome big sister, Mitzi, and her husband are making the 7 hour drive down from NC to see me and we're staying with his mother. Thanks in advance, Linda. You will be the first recipient of my soon to be famous Minnesota themed hostess gifts. :-)
3) I got a flight for less than $350, meaning it will be free for only 15,000 Visa points. Free flight AND free place to stay? Yes, please. Sorry, John Harman...Flights to Tampa were too expensive.
4) Average temp in Minneapolis in February is 29(F), while the average temp in Jax Beach around that time is 68(F). 'nuff said.

The only thing I am NOT happy about is how much it cost me to enter the race. I decided I wanted to do this race back on November 1st, but it turns out the registration fee bumped up to $95 (from $75) THE DAY BEFORE. Also, they snuck in a $10 online registration fee, bringing the total to $105. Sigh. I'll just have to plan further in advance next time.

But still. Florida...in February. With my sister. :-)

Footnote: Great holiday/birthday gift idea, considering I already have everything I need in this world -- If you feel inclined to contribute to future travel expenses that will be incurred as I work my way around this great country of ours, please scroll down to the bottom of my main blog page and click on the ChipIn link. Certainly not required, but definitely much appreciated.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just say NO to holiday weight gain!

Let's face it. The holiday season is upon us once again, and it can be one of the toughest times of year to even MAINTAIN your weight, much less lose anything. It starts with Halloween candy, cruises right on through pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, cookie swaps at Christmas, and booze galore at New Year's....never mind Super Bowl parties.

This article gives some good advice on how to get through the feeding frenzy. It's mostly about awareness, stress management, and PLANNING. I don't remember where I heard this saying first, but it comes in handy a lot for me these days: "If you fail to plan, then you're planning to fail."

What about exercise? Surveys show that an alarmingly large majority of Americans don't do much for themselves in this department. Most say a lack of time is their main excuse, and that only gets worse during the holidays. Depending on which area of the country you live in, the weather may also increase the urge to stay inside and hibernate. HOGWASH, I SAY! There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad choice of clothing!

If you need something new, fun, and challenging to spark your interest in exercise this time of year, I have an answer for you. Behold...the 2011 Battle of the Bulge Challenge. That's a link to a Facebook event page that I created, based on the challenge originally dreamed up by a Park Ranger at Yosemite. The challenge starts TODAY, November 1st, and runs through midnight on New Year's Eve. You have to complete 50 miles of running and 1000 reps of each of these exercises: lunges, squats, pushups, and situps. Break it up however you want over that 61 day period, but GET MOVING.

The running part should be pretty easy for me, as I'm already working on getting ready for my next adventure in the 50 States Half Marathon Challenge. I've pretty much decided that it's going to be the Breast Cancer Half Marathon in Jacksonville Beach, FL on Feb 12, 2012, though I haven't booked anything yet. NOTE TO SELF - Keep a better eye on the calendar, because if I'd booked that race YESTERDAY, I would've saved $20 on the registration fee. Dammit. Now it's going to cost me $95. Sigh...Live and learn. The rest of the BoB Challenge is totally doable as well. If you break it down to a minimum daily requirement, it's only about 16.5 reps of each thing per day. Bump that up to 2 sets of 10 and you're there with time to spare.

So...If you're looking for some inspiration and support as you try something different to get through the holidays in a healthy way, click that link up there. If you're not on Facebook, drop a comment here and we'll figure out how to get you a copy of the challenge documents via email or something. Good luck!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

3 down, 47 to go: Mankato Half Marathon

There I was, somewhere between Mile 1 and 2, just starting my 11th half marathon and about to cross my 3rd state off the list. Though I was thrilled to see my friends Chris and Clint (who kindly took this photo), I'm not particularly happy about how thick it makes my neck look. :-) It was also good to see lots of old friends from work, hockey, the Y, and the running group I used to hang with when I lived in Mankato...John, Kim, Sreelatha, Michele, Angie, Joy, Liz, Dawn, Christine, and many more.

I've never bothered to go and listen to any of the speakers that they have at the standard fitness expo events before any of my races. I'm usually more interested in just going in, grabbing my packet, seeing if there are any good freebies being given away, and escaping without spending unnecessary money on impulse purchases. This time, however, my friend Jenn and I got to see Rebecca Meyer from Season 8 of NBC's The Biggest Loser. She's working on her 50 in 50 by 30 Challenge, where she is doing a race in each state before she hits age 30. Reading about Rebecca's challenge and finding out that she'd be speaking in Mankato is what gave me the idea to do my own 50 states challenge. I just wish could use speaking engagements to pay for it like she probably is. The added bonus? My former orthopedist, Dr. Scott Stevens of the Orthopedic and Fracture Clinic in Mankato, aka Dr. McHottie, happened to be the speaker right before Rebecca. Seriously, ladies...If you live in the Mankato area, this is the guy you want, and not just to fix your ailing knees. :-)

Speaking of my friend Jenn, that's her as she approached the finish line of the 10k race. She used to weigh over 300 lbs, but she's working really hard to get healthy, and to date she's lost about 60 lbs. I helped her get across the finish line last year, but with me in the half this time she was on her own, and I'm proud to say that she crushed her time from last year by over 10 minutes! Jenn has had far too many people in her life tell her that she can't do things, but hopefully this accomplishment will help her remember that SHE CAN. She sets a wonderful example for her two children, Jamie and Sarah, who also participated in race events over the weekend. My thanks to Jenn and her family for letting me stay at their house and save hotel costs. Sarah Barah kindly gave up her bed, and Paul cooked some great meals. They even made sure I had toasted bagels with peanut butter on race day!

The race itself went well. I finished in 2:28:05, only a few seconds slower than Fargo earlier this year, even on top of worries about my left hip and knee. My PR is 2:03:48 at the Norfolk Half Marathon about 6.5 years ago, and I hope to get back in that time frame at some point. Pie in the sky dream: Break 2 hours. So...What's next? I'm done with races for 2011, and Hot Flash is about to start the new hockey season, but that doesn't mean I'm done running. Cold weather running is my favorite! Right now I'm thinking about the 2012 races I should plan on doing and what states I can cross off the list. These are the possibilities so far:

Feb/Mar - Florida, either Jacksonville or Tampa, because I know people in both towns. Also, it would be a nice break from winter in Minnesota.
Jun - Nebraska, because my friend Justine's parents live near Norfolk. Unfortunately, summer races are HOT.
Aug - Wisconsin, because the Gopher to Badger race is both cheap and nearby. Might not even need an overnight hotel stay.
Sep - South Dakota, because Sioux Falls is cheap, nearby, and other friends might be going.
Oct - Iowa, because Des Moines is a relatively short road trip. Downside: People who live there can't drive for shit, so there's an added risk factor. Long story.

The only deal breaker on any race is going to be whether or not they give out finisher's medals, because my vision of the future is a giant, framed display of medals from all 50 states, with my challenge completion certificate in the middle. Here's what I've got so far:

So that's it for now. Please scroll down and click on my ChipIn link if you are so inclined, and let me know if you might have a sofa or spare bedroom I might take advantage of in the future. I promise to bring Minnesota themed goodies.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

50 States Half Marathon Challenge: What...WHAT?

I've decided to take up the 50 States Half Marathon Challenge. Read about the challenge itself at Half Marathon Club and follow my exploits here. This post will describe the beginning of my odyssey.

As many of you know, I took up running a few years ago. By accident, really. I mean, I used to be in the Navy's 3 Mile Club, meaning I would force myself to kind of run a mile and a half twice a year for their Physical Readiness Test (PRT). Back in 2003, however, I signed up for my first MS Challenge Walk, which was 50 miles in 3 days to benefit Multiple Sclerosis. Just so happens that the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon took place the weekend prior to our walk, so my friends and I decided to walk it as our last training event. It was fun to see all the local bands playing great music at intervals along the route.

When the 2004 event rolled around, we signed up again. We got to Mile Marker 1 just as the Kenyan Track Club was clipping past Mile 8, but whatever. At that point, I had what I call my "Forrest Gump moment" where I just "felt like running". I didn't have anything with me like water or Gatorade though, so I decided to take walk breaks at the water stops and see how far I got. Lo and behold, 2.5 hours later, there I was on the Va Beach boardwalk, thinking "Who's feet are these?" and "What could I do if I really tried?" This is me on the morning of the 2003 race:

In 2005, the Shamrock Marathon was my first full length marathon. Here is one of the few pix I've ever had taken of me while running that I actually liked. Since I'm still smiling, it's clearly before the halfway point of the race:

I moved to MN not long after that, and completed the 2005 Twin Cities Marathon in October. That's the race that made me decide that I prefer the half marathon distance, and since then I've completed a total of 10 half marathons.

My 11th half will be this coming Saturday, October 22, 2011, when I run the Mankato Half Marathon. Though I've completed multiple half marathons in MN, this is the one I'll be counting towards the 50 States Challenge.

Why a 50 States Challenge?
Well, frankly, I need something to do to stay active and motivated. Also, given the expenses involved in traveling to each state, I'll probably only be able to swing 2-3 trips per year if I'm lucky, so this is also a long term activity plan, which will hopefully keep me healthy and help with overall weight maintenance, at least through retirement. Every day I go to work, I see what happens to people when they fail to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and financially. This challenge is part of my plan to Age With Attitude. :-)

I have a vision of my 50 States completion certificate in a frame surrounded by all my finisher's medals. How awesome is that going to be?

Why the ChipIn Page?

As you might imagine, taking on a 50 States Challenge isn't exactly cheap. The average race fee is at least $75, plus plane fare, hotel, rental car, gas, food, etc. I love my job, but it barely pays enough to live on and fund a modest retirement, much less big extras like this. I'm going to need luck and help.

I'm hoping that people who read this blog as I go forward will be inspired to make a contribution in the name of setting an example for staying active and healthy as you age. Besides, I have pretty much everything I need as far as birthday and Christmas gifts are concerned, so I can be pretty tough to shop for. I've been telling my family for years to just get me gift cards to stores I like, but now I'm using this. If an occasion arises where you feel the need to bestow giftage upon me, please use the ChipIn button, which should appear below if I've done it right. You have my word that any donated funds will be used ONLY to support my 50 States Challenge. If you have a couch or spare bedroom where I can crash when I come to cross your state off my list, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I will be bringing Minnesota themed goodies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Babes in Bikeland III

Originally uploaded by deplaqer
This is me in my Fat Cyclist jersey at the after party for Babes in Bikeland III, an all female alleycat race held annually in Minneapolis, MN. Alleycat races are basically scavenger hunts on bikes. You are given a manifest with a list of 10 or so stops to make, and the route you pick is entirely up to you. Speed is important, but not the only factor. Some stops require you to simply gather a stamp to document that you went there, but sometimes you have to write something down, answer trivia questions, complete a pick up/drop off, etc. There can be time penalties for incorrect info or missing a stop, so accuracy is critical as well.

This isn't necessarily the most flattering photo of me, but I used it because up until very recently I was too fat to wear my Fat Cyclist jersey. How sad is that? Too fat for a jersey that has the WORD fat on it. For those who don't know, Fatty is Elden Nelson, the author of the Fat Cyclist blog. Fatty writes really well, and I enjoy both his humorous posts and the ones he's written to document his late wife Susan's battle with breast cancer. I highly encourage you to click over and read more from him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Robert Reich Explains Public Option

This guy explains things so that everyone can understand. No scare tactics, no shenanigans. Please take less than 3 minutes out of your busy day and watch this video, then share it with someone else.

If you disagree AFTER you have completely and accurately informed yourself in a responsible manner, fine...but PLEASE...DON'T LET THE RIGHT WING UBER CONSERVATIVE HACKS WIN WITH DELIBERATE LIES AND MISINFORMATION.