Folks, I’m sorry about the gap between posts. I often get asked by well-meaning members of the public, almost every day in May and June in fact, “So, school year winding down?” I try to swallow my annoyance at the comment, and say something like, “Not too far now.” I realize that if you don’t work in schools, maybe even high schools specifically (having never worked in a different kind of school, I have no frame of reference) you have no idea that a school year is like the first rise on an roller-coaster. Things just keep going up, and then suddenly, the day after school lets out, you look up from a pile of rubble and ask, “Hey, where did everyone go?” In my job, then, I typically take the rest of June and the first two weeks of July to put a bow on the year just completed, take the last two weeks of July to recover, and starting August 1st, I get back on the roller-coaster for the next ride to graduation.
Not complaining. I like my job enough that I went out and found another one. Its just tough to get some people to understand what I do, when I do it, and that the end of a school year is definitely not a “winding down” kind of a thing. All of that was a long way to say I’m busy and blogging has taken a back seat.
Additionally, I’ve had a hard time being as motivated as I was in Aug.-April. Now that I’ve met that big 40×40 goal, it seems as if some of the weight-loss urgency has gone out of my sails, and it’s not nearly as much fun to write, “No significant loss this week,” as it was to write about losing 5-8# at a time.
I did weigh in at 304 in Week 39, at 304.6 in week 40, and at 303.2 on Thursday for Week 41. This means that I am, for the most part, maintaining my weight at that level and not gaining. However, that is disappointing because other goals are right there for the taking – dropping below 300#, hitting a 35 BMI, weighing 250#, being skinnier than Marcus 🙂 – these are all good goals and ones I haven’t made much progress on lately.
I have been keeping up the physical activity though, and I am confident that when things slow down a bit after graduation, I’ll be back on it.
Speaking of the exercise, if you read Michelle’s post earlier this week, you saw that I successfully completed my first half-marathon. This is not something that was on any goal list of mine; as you can imagine, offensive tackles don’t typically associate fun time activities with long-distance endurance events. However, Michelle wanted to run it, and it coincided with a long-walk training day in my 3-Day walk training plan…so I figured what the hell.
I set a goal of 3:30:00. That was based on the fact that I’d spent lots of time walking long distances, 7 miles or more, in the 16-17 min/mile range. I calculated that to walk 13.1 miles in 3:30, I’d need to average exactly 16:00 min/mile…and I thought this was doable. (Though I was secretly worried that I would not even finish before they closed the course at 4 hours and 15 minutes.)
The kink in my plan happened while in the starting que. I overheard a woman about my age talking with some of the other competitors that she was shooting for a sub-3 hour race. She said that she had done two other half-marathons and that her best time was 3:03. My strategy changed to “Stay within sight of that lady” immediately. Right or wrong, since I was already worried about finishing, I thought if I could stay with her as long as possible, I had a good chance of finishing sub-3:30.
I stayed right next to her, or a dozen steps behind, until we hit the bottom of Observatory Hill. We even struck up a conversation on the climb, one where I shared with her that she was my unknowing pacer. I learned that she was a dietitian; I shared my story with her, in between gasps of air. And she left me in her dust just after mile 2. I was a bit despondent, but I continued to try to struggle to keep her in sight. Even doing some light jogging when the gap started to get too much for me.
However, it seemed that, other than some real pain in my feet, I got stronger as the race went on. I think all of the strength work I did in the winter on the stationary bike, really seemed to help. As we got to mile 7, or 8, I passed her by, and for the only time in the race, I got a bit competitive. I had been running on the downhills as it seemed to save on my joints, if not in pounding, then in time it took to cover it. And as I passed her, we entered a long, sloping downhill. I ran it through, and ended up covering almost all of the next mile in a light jog; my most extended run of the day.
After we left the Arboretum, and then Vilas Park, I too struggled up the steep hill Michelle mentioned. I was alone at that point in the race though and didn’t have anyone to pass or to get passed by. It was a pretty solitary struggle, with a lone spectator at the top of the hill adding his shouted praise. It might actually have been my favorite part of the race.
At mile 11, I had 28 minutes to cover the remaining 2.1 miles to make it in under 3 hours. It was here that I both started to think it was possible, and began to worry that I was going to be just short. I alternated speed walking and really ugly shuffle jogging for most of that two miles. I did however, out of pride, refuse to run the last 1/2 mile, at all. Michelle had sort of intimated that she didn’t think I’d have the mental toughness not to run. I felt that anyone finishing in 3 hours, to run across the finish, who are they kidding, really?
So I walked across the mat in 2:58.xx. Pretty thrilling, really. I was exhausted, but also happy to have completed my first half-marathon. I was a little emotional, worried even that I might start to cry, but I kept it together. My emotions at a time like this are a little conflicted. One, I am amazed that I have come so far in such a short time. Two, I am proud of the effort I have put forward in the last 9 months. Three, I am ashamed that I let myself get so far out of shape. Four, I am embarrassed to celebrate completing something that, the only reason it’s an accomplishment, is because of the decades of no activity. Five,…well, you get the point. It’s not so clear cut for me. Maybe when I get to the point where I accomplish something I know I couldn’t have done at 20, then I’ll feel a more purely happy response.
As always, thanks for reading and…be careful out there!!!