Posted by: Stephen Newell | October 20, 2008

A Weekend Compendium: Days 47, 48 and 50

I got lazy at blogging this weekend. Sue me. Anyhow, here’s the skinny:

Day 47 (Friday)
I did absolutely no running today. Okay, that’s not quite true, I walked the first half-mile at home. I had planned to go over to my mother-in-law’s and do a “long” run, but we got stuck at home all day waiting for UPS to deliver my brand new ESV Study Bible. And I’m management at UPS. Go figure.

Anyway, I decided to just do a half-mile since we had been stuck inside for so long and then we would go to the Deaf social. So I walked the first half and dutifully started running back down the hill. After the first minute I had to stop, gasping for breath. There had been a drastic change in the weather, going from 80° all the way down to 65° in just over a day, which meant my sinuses were acting up. It’s kinda hard to run with a plugged nose, you know. So I decided to walk back to the apartment and call it a day. Live to run another day, I suppose.

Day 48 (Saturday): 4:00 PM | 61°| 1/2 mile | Time: 5:35
Having had a day to adjust to the weather, we went to my mother-in-law’s. Wary after the previous day’s challenge, I decided to just do a half-miler around the block. I also decided that from now on I would only time the run/walk portion of my outing, which was to be a half-mile. This is in keeping with my goal to first be able to run a half-mile without stopping.

I quickly discerned on the warm-up walk that this would be a truer test than the route I had been running at home. The half-mile block is completely flat, with a few dips in the sidewalk here and there where cars have gone into their driveways. I was able to run from the house all the way to the second corner without stopping, a full minute. After walking two minutes, I ran for about 45 seconds before stopping. I walked another minute and then ran 30 seconds before finishing off the block at a walk back to the house. As you can see, it took me 5 and a half minutes. I wondered if I’d have been able to run farther and more consistently if I’d been able to breathe clearly.

Day 50 (Today): 4:00 PM | 68° | 1/2 mile | Time 5:35
It was a little warmer today (Monday). Sun was out, nearly no breeze. We went back to my mother-in-law’s since my wife wanted to go to Once Upon a Child to do some shopping for Grace, and her house was on the way. My brother-in-law got home just as I was walking down the driveway to do the run. Maybe next time I’ll see if he’d like to come with and pace me. I want to stop this running for a minute and stopping business; I’d like to go a little further than that.

This time I went in the opposite direction that I did the previous time. The warm-up walk was okay, but I’m starting to wonder if my sinuses are affecting my breathing or if I’m simply walking at too quick a pace. I was a smidgen winded at the end of the half-mile and couldn’t even complete the first minute of running, stopping at 45 seconds. Did the full two-minutes of walking before going another 30 seconds before stopping. Walked a minute, ran another 30 seconds, walked another minute, and this time ran back to the driveway.

Not only am I wondering about my sinuses and walking pace, but I’m also wondering if the watch is giving me an out by fooling my mind into stopping after a certain time or thinking I won’t be able to reach a full minute at times. Maybe I need to do what I used to do as a kid, try to beat a record by doing a little better than the previous time. You know, throw farther, hit a longer homer, hit a certain object, etc. Next time I’ll forget the watch and try that.

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Posted by: Stephen Newell | October 15, 2008

Day 45

4:30 PM | 83° | 1 mile | Time: 17 minutes

Went out for a run/walk today. This time Tricia, Grace, and Reese decided to tag along. Tricia wanted me to take Reese when I ran but I didn’t want to have to constantly stop, so she stayed with the girls. Reese is too little to keep up; if she was a Golden Retriever it wouldn’t matter. I can’t believe I just said that. 😉

The walk up took 12 minutes, according to the new watch I bought at Wal-Mart on the way home this morning. I hit the timer as I began running back down, and when I made my first stop I discovered that I had run for a full minute without stopping. Intrigued, I decided to see where a 2-minute walk would take me. Lo and behold, 2 minutes ended exactly where I was to begin running the last 1/8 mile to the bottom of the hill. Further, it was just under a minute from that point to the bottom of the hill.

For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means I was doing pretty much exactly a beginner’s running plan of run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes. The only difference is that if I were doing the actual plan, I would be doing this in 10 repeats. It is only 2 repeats to do the half-mile here. Let’s see…quick mental math…that means if I did the full 10 repeats I’d be doing 2 1/2 miles.

Nonetheless, the entire half-mile took 5 minutes to get back to my apartment door. So I suppose my time Monday was more accurate than I thought, if you factor in an extra couple of minutes for the dog to run around during the first half-mile.

As I mentioned before, I like this run less and less now that I’ve run it 3 times. I want a flatter route, not something with an uphill walk to start and a downhill walk that makes it hard to pace myself and stop without risking injury. The “Kroger Loop” at the bottom of the hill has only 2 hills, both on the turns, and is .68 mile around. I could do 4 laps to get the 10 repeats if I wanted to follow the beginner’s plan. (UPDATE: A second look through MapMyRun shows the “Kroger Loop” is actually just over a half-mile at .53. For some reason I counted the short walk up and down the hill to and from my apartment in the route. 5 laps would give me the 10 repeats for the beginner’s plan. Things are looking better and better.)

Friday we will go over to my mother-in-law’s and I will run the half-mile block there. Perhaps I’ll see if I can do the 10 repeats there as a “long run” for the week.

Posted by: Stephen Newell | October 13, 2008

Day 43

4:35 PM | 81° – Humid | 1 mile | Time: An astonishing 15 minutes

Today was my second attempt at running down the hill. I had my brand new Mizuno running shoes on. My feet felt strangely fine, but my calves became very tight and sore as I started walking up from the bottom of the hill. I attribute that to not doing any walking yesterday – I think my legs were apprehensive about walking after the “torture” they went through last Friday.

This time I tried a different approach. As I walked up, I noted breaks in the sidewalks for intersections and driveways and tried to calculate a stop at two different breaks. When I reached the top of the hill, instead of immediately accelerating to a trot, I walked down the incline at the complex entrance until I reached the flat part just in front of the first set of buildings. I was able to run to the first stop I noted earlier, though I wonder now on reflection if I could have continued. I listened to my body (or was it, again, my mind?) telling me that my lungs didn’t like this and I needed to stop. Next time I will try making my first stop a little farther down the hill.

Notice the time above. I don’t believe that’s one bit accurate. I left at the duly noted time, but when I came back in the apartment, the clock on the wall said it was only 4:50! It couldn’t possibly have taken me that short. It had to have taken at least 10-12 minutes just to walk up. I know I’m not that fast…yet. On my way home from work tonight I will be stopping at Wal-Mart and purchasing a digital watch to wear while running; you know, the kind that has stopwatches and stuff. Then we’ll get to the bottom of this.

I feel good after this run. Reese still thought I was going to die, though. This time she was actually crying when I came in and sat down. I took my cold shower and now I am about to make a glass of chocolate milk and then head out the door for church visitation.

Posted by: Stephen Newell | October 11, 2008

Running Tools and A New Location

Through Joe Thorn I discovered a very helpful site called MapMyRun which allows you to plot your runs and get a distance for it. I think I mentioned this tool in a previous post. That being said, I discovered something while plotting different runs on it. The block around my mother-in-law’s house is exactly a half-mile. Flat, too. I also discovered the bigger block on which the property actually sits is almost exactly a mile, with hills. Even better, both of these blocks have sidewalks. Hmm, action plan brewing.

I think I might start doing weekend runs at my mother-in-law’s from now on. This would give us (and her) an excuse to let Grace see her grandma on a regular basis, and might even get my wife to walk regularly. Her mother is a walking freak, doing regular 5k walks at least 3 or 4 days a week. I could let the girls go walking while I went off and did my run on my own. Heck, if my brother-in-law is home I might be able to convince him to run with me as well. I wonder if the family that runs together, stays together.

Okay, enough cheese.

The reason I plotted these runs is because after running my apartment loop, I liked it less as a place to start running. Oh, I will still run it, as the hill it sits on would be good for me. But I need something a little more…objective.

After that first actual run, I found myself wondering that night and most of today if a 5k isn’t doable in the near future (read: next year). Two of my wife’s cousins are runners, and one of them lives here and regularly runs a 5k. Should I challenge myself by actually signing up for one? I don’t know. I’ll have to think and pray about that.

I think tomorrow I’ll grab my new shoes and walk the half-mile block at my mother-in-law’s to get the lay of the land. I might even try running it, though I said I’d take 2 days to recover from yesterday. We will see.

Posted by: Stephen Newell | October 10, 2008

Day 40: First Run

3:20 PM | 81° | 1 mile | Time N/A

Yes, I know I’ve been lazy about blogging. With the changes in the weather come the twice-yearly sinus struggles, which these days tend to lay me out. I’ve done all my walking at work (the mile from my building to the parking lot). I realized earlier this week that if I didn’t take the initiative (as opposed to letting God’s irresistible grace draw me), I would never get in that first run.

I’d been waiting until the heat went down before taking that first run, ostensibly to prevent dehydration. At least that’s what I told myself. But lately I’ve been reading John Bingham’s The Courage to Start, and I realized pretty much just what he wrote: I needed to get out and actually get moving. So today that’s what I did.

I followed the advice everyone gives first-time runners and walked the first half-mile as a warm-up. So far, so good, it was all uphill anyway. So I reached the top of the hill (the main entrance to our apartments), turned around, braced myself, and started trotting back.

This could be good, I thought. Wait a minute, what’s that sensation?

You see, my mesh shorts had started to slide off my waist. I hadn’t tied them tightly enough. I’m sure everyone wants to see a 31 year old fat guy trying to run with his shorts down. So I stopped, retied them, and started trotting again.

[Updated: My poor math has been corrected to reflect the correct distances.]
After 1/8 mile, my body (or was it my mind?) said it had had enough. No more. So I stopped, huffing and puffing. The last time I huffed and puffed like that was probably college. So I decided to do another thing they tell all the newbies: run/walk your distance. The next 1/8 mile was walked so I could catch my breath, wherever it had decided to escape to.

Feeling a bit better, I ran the next 1/8 mile to the bottom of the hill and nearly ran over the mailman. Note to self: look up, not down at your feet.

So I stopped there at the bottom and walked the last 1/8 back up the hill to our apartment, and collapsed gratefully on the couch. Immediately Reese’s Cup, our chihuahua, jumped on my lap and started staring worriedly directly into my face. She thought I was about to keel over dead, so in a canine panic she started licking my face.

So I forced myself to get up and take an ice-cold shower. At least I tried to. The run had so addled my brain I forgot which side “cold” was on the shower knob. Nearly scalded myself when I turned it the wrong way and an immediate blast of superheated water kicked me directly in the legs. But I got it corrected. An ice-cold shower never felt so good.

My wife, curse her bones, thought this entire episode was amusing and had this self-righteous Pharisaical smirk on her face from the moment I lumbered back in to the moment I dragged myself out of the shower. She will get hers. I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too.

I’m gonna take 2 days to recover and try again on Monday. I’m pleased with my effort, since I actually got out and ran this time. I think I will make my goal running the entire half mile without stopping.

Meanwhile, we are going to go to Fleet Feet Sports near our church and purchase my first ever running shoes. Then we’re going to Ray Parella’s Italian so I can reward myself on a job well done. After that we’re going to the Trinity football game.

Yes, I know I’ll probably overeat. No, I don’t particularly care. Let me reward myself in peace. 😉

Posted by: Stephen Newell | September 5, 2008

Day 4

6:10 PM | 90° | 1 mile | Time N/A

Thursday was a family day. All the Newells walked the mile. We strapped Grace into her stroller and Reese into her harness and leash and hit the road. This was a fun walk. Tricia and I got to laugh at the hyperactivity of Reese. It was almost as if she actually missed the two previous walks after having Wednesday off!

We may have to do these walks more often. It was a good family activity and gave us an opportunity to get Grace outside.

I felt pretty nasty at the end due to the humidity. That plus I’ve been following the advice of a runner I read and holding off on the shower until after my walk. I’m told that’s normal but we’ll see.

Tomorrow we’re going to do our walk at the mall.

Posted by: Stephen Newell | September 4, 2008

Day 3

The only walking I did today was my usual frenetic “supervisory walks” during the sort at work. I was running perpetually late so I abandoned any hopes of sneaking in that work walk. Perhaps God was saying to take the “off day” seriously. That might be a good idea; Sundays and Wednesdays are the busiest days of my week.

Thursday is Day 4. I’ll see if I can’t get Tricia to go with me this time.

Posted by: Stephen Newell | September 2, 2008

Day 2

Work Walk: 3:35 AM | 83° | 1 mile | 35 minutes
I would have walked into work but I left home late due to being distracted by the first half of the Tennessee ballgame. Arrived at work and rode the bus in only to find I was actually the first to arrive. Bummer. Went ahead and walked back after the sort. Felt very tired during this walk; my feet were sore from all the walking around during the sort. My work boots have caused hot spots on both feet, and all of them were aggravated. That’s probably why it took as long as it did, coupled with taking the stairs down instead of the elevator. I would bring walking shoes but that’s just one more hassle in getting through the guard shack. Perhaps there are work shoes that can also be used as walking shoes; we can’t use hiking boots. Will need to look into this.

6:00 PM | 93° | 1 mile | 25 minutes
Slept most of the day after getting home and watching the tape of the Tennessee game until 8AM. Woke up at 5 and spent an hour waking up before heading out with Reese at 6. This time we backtracked after the half-mile mark, which is where the apartment entrance hits the main road. It was downhill most of the way back. Reese still had to stop and mark her spot often, but not as much as last time. This time she actually kept up and was happy to get home too. Didn’t try to quit on me either.

Feeling good but sweaty and stinky; I think it is more humid today than yesterday. No problem from the hot spots on my feet; I’m sure it’s the different shoes. Took another hot/cold shower and snacked on graham crackers and Coke. Tricia got home from running her errands and we went to Cracker Barrel so I could chow on veggies. Need to see how many calories I consume from my “usual” at CB.

Tomorrow is an “off” day; I will still walk at work.

Posted by: Stephen Newell | September 1, 2008

The Calorie Corner

I’m about to do something I never, ever thought I’d do. I’m gonna count the calories.

After doing a few chores around the apartment, I walked down to Applebee’s for dinner. I’d intended to eat something light, but as is my habit, I stopped and procured a newspaper. Now, if you know me, I can’t just sit there with only a newspaper. Newspapers must be enjoyed with food. So I ordered my usual mozzarella sticks, and I decided on the mini bacon cheeseburgers with unsalted fries. Feeling quite full and satisfied (as usual), I walked back to the apartment. My legs felt like lead.

Then I got to thinking, aren’t I supposed to be eating right, too?

So I fired up Firefox and perused the excellent Runner’s World website. It said there to calculate the calories I need every day simply to maintain my weight, take that weight and multiply by 13.

285 X 13 = 3705

Wow. Let’s break that down for what I’ve eaten today:

Lunch:
PBJ sandwich (2): 300 X 2 = 600
One 8-oz (approximately) glass of milk: 120

Snack:
1 can of Coke: 140
1 bowl of Golden Grahams, dry: 120

Dinner:
Mozarella sticks: 169
Mini bacon cheeseburgers: 1030 (yikes)
Fries, unsalted: 430

Total: 2609 calories

Relatively speaking, this isn’t too bad when you consider I still need 1000 more calories just to maintain weight. But mein Gott, man! 2600 calories! That is a lot! In order to lose 1 pound I only need to eat no more than 600 more calories. Any more and I’m just maintaining. I think I’ll be only drinking fluids the rest of the night.

So I guess eating my “usual” is out from now on.

Posted by: Stephen Newell | September 1, 2008

Day 1

2:00 PM / 93° / 1 mile / 35 minutes

As reported in the previous post, I walked the 1-mile loop around my apartment complex. I took the dog with me for company; Reese needs the exercise too. She’s cooped up in here much more than we are and has no real outlet for her energy. With the various stops we made for her to mark her territory and do her business, this was a very leisurely walk at the start. But once I got tired of Reese’s constant stops to mark her spot, I got her moving with constant leash commands.

I learned pretty quickly this will be a good course for me to start on. There are a few slight hills, which will give me some variation. I can follow the sidewalk most of the way, until I get to the main road. I also learned the main road is not the safest place to be – no sidewalk and almost no shoulder whatsoever a good part of the way back to the lower apartment entrance. On my next walk I will investigate possible shortcuts through the trees. If there is nothing feasible, I will just backtrack, giving me just over a mile.

I was pretty pleased at the time of the walk. Way back in middle school/jr. high, when I was in Boy Scouts, I could comfortably hike 4 miles in 2 hours at an unhurried pace. Through rough terrain. While I’m sure that’s something to scoff at, I think that’s a pretty good pace. I know my mother-in-law can cover that much quicker, but oh well.

Reese tried to quit after the half-mile, and was literally begging for a stop as we entered the home stretch. Tongue lolling, all she wanted to do was drink and rest. Once we got back she went straight for her water bowl and was drinking like it was going out of style. Me, I had just started to break a sweat, but I think that was more due to the heat than the walk. I took a hot/cold shower and made myself a PBJ with milk.

I feel pretty good, no soreness or tiredness. We’ll see how I hold up after a week of this. Meanwhile, I will be walking the path to my building at work. According to MapMyRun, it is exactly one walking mile from the UPS entrance to my building. So I may get in 3 miles walking today. I’ll let you know when I get home.

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