fitness

Race Report: Bootleg Tucson Marathon

First, I’d like to thank my friend Brooke for this disclaimer which I have shamelessly stolen from her google Doc about the bootleg race: Please note that this is NOT an official event in connection with any particular individual, club, or organization.  This event has no connection to or affiliation with the Tucson Marathon, it’s race directors, or the Holualoa Companies.  This is classified as a SELF SUPPORTED group of friends choosing to share the experience of running various distances together.  Any help, aid, or supplies are being offered by individuals in a Good Samaritan capacity and said help, aid, and supplies are not guaranteed.  It is additionally stated that no individual or party participating in connection with this event is being monetarily or otherwise compensated to do so.

So yeah. I finally did it. A full marathon. I decided back in the spring that this was going to be the year I finally ran a marathon. I chose not to talk it up much because with COVID and all… well, there was no telling what the future was going to hold.

A couple of months ago, my friend Don invited me to join a running/riding social group on FaceBook, so I decided to check it out. There was a thread about the 2020 Tucson Marathon – which was scheduled for December 5 – where I chimed in that I was planning to do it but was waiting to register because there was no telling what COVID was going to do to it. (Spoiler alert: it got COVID Cancelled.) My new friend Brooke from the group had wanted to meet up for a long run since she was also training for the 2020 Tucson Marathon as her first so we did a 20 miler together, which was fun.

The race cancellation notice came out just a day or two before that run, but we decided to run anyway. It was during that run when I mentioned I was planning to run the marathon on my own anyway because I’d come this far in my training and wasn’t about to give up on it. To which Brooke said, “Well… if you’re going to do it, then I’m going to do it too! I bet we can even wrangle up some volunteers for support.” A quick poll on the FB group showed further interest, and we were off and running. (HA!)

Brooke found, mapped, and chalked markings for an out-and back 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon, and 50k route, and organized volunteers. Another group member came up with a shirt design. I coordinated with a local business to put that design on shirts and medals which interested runners could then purchase at cost. Another member of the FB group volunteered to hang out at the start/finish with her camera to take photos for us. And the volunteers provided water (individually bottled, no big jugs) and snacks at a couple of drop-tables along the route, with my dear friend Don manning a goodie table at the start/finish line.

Tucson has an amazing community, and the way everyone worked together to accomplish this was just… stunning. Thank you all!

So, the race itself. We met at the park early for a planned 7am race start. (Yes, everyone masked up and maintained responsible distancing.) It was quite the cold morning – 32°F/0°C – and because the Catalina Mountains were between us and the (eventually) rising sun, it stayed rather chilly for some time. But by the time I made my way across the finish line it was a lovely 62°F-ish/16.7°C-ish. The out-and-back route was generally uphill on the way out, with the last 4-ish miles at a more pronounced grade, then (obviously, though it didn’t feel like it many times) mostly downhill on the way back.

So, how was my experience with the race itself? Well, here’s the gist of my inner monologue.

  • Mile 1
    • ZOMG I’m doing this! I’m running a marathon! (checks Garmin) 10:00/mile? I need to slow down or I’m going to burn out WAY too early!
  • Miles 2-8
    • This is quite lovely, if rather cold. I’m not sure why I was thinking this might just be a “one and done” thing. Maybe I’ll go ahead and make an exception for a second one at a “real” event when those are happening again. I mean, I got up to a 22 mile long run in training and didn’t die. This will just be another 4-ish miles on top of that.
  • Miles 9-13.1 aka “The Climb”
    • This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. Why are the tops of my feet so sore? That’s a new one. And I’m not even close to the mileage I was making on my training runs yet. Am I doing something weird with my form? I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
  • Miles 13.2-17
    • I know this is supposed to be pretty much all downhill now, but… where the hell are all these inclines coming from??? This still sucks. This still sucks. This still sucks. This still sucks.
  • Miles 18-19
    • These were probably the two most difficult miles, both physically and mentally. My internal monologue said “Eff you… I’m done” and went off to smoke behind the gym, so this was basically two miles of pain and fighting the urge to break into tears for no particular reason. Much walking was done.
  • Miles 20-25
    • Having realized it was in it for the long haul, my internal monologue came back. Mostly in the form of choosing a landmark some distance ahead which I could have a walk break after passing, and chanting the name of that landmark until I got there. “Trash can. Trash can. Trash can.” Or “To the bridge. To the bridge. To the bridge.” Or “Big shadow. Big shadow. Big shadow.” I may have chanted along out loud a nonzero number of times.
  • Miles 26-26.38 (I intentionally overshot my turnaround point by a touch just to be sure my GPS wasn’t playing games with me)
    • ZOMG I’M DOING IT. I’M GOING TO HAVE DONE IT. I’M ALMOST DONE!!! I’M NOT DEAD YET!!!
    • Also, resisting the urge to break into tears of joy at the thought of finally getting to stop.
    • Also, also, I was right the first time. I don’t want to do this again.

So, yeah… that’s about how it went. I was hoping for a finish near 5:30:00 but expecting something closer to 6:00:00, and would have been thrilled with anything below six hours. And? My Garmin said 5:28:09, and Zombies, Run! said 5:37:44. The Garmin time is shorter because it auto-paused whenever I had to stop for traffic signals or to refill my water bottles. So that’s my actual moving time. Zombies, Run! is nice to have for the total time though.

When I crossed the finish line I felt terrible and proud at the same time, which I think is pretty standard for this sort of thing.

I’m glad to have this accomplishment under my belt, but these super long distances just aren’t for me. I think the half marathon will be my long run “happy place”. I can knock one of those out in about two and a half hours and be pleasantly tired but not so wasted that I can’t accomplish anything else for the rest of the day – much less being wiped out for the next couple of days.

On working from home

Made it to the end of my first Work From Home day of this however-long-it’s-going-to-be span.

Still managed to get an Arm Day in without going to the gym thanks to my old workout DVDs which I thankfully did not get rid of once I quit using them. (I do also have them ripped to a flash drive… somewhere… but this was more efficient for now.) Super excited to run tomorrow since it’s one of my few spots of “normalcy” in all of this. Also super glad that I run so early that no one in their right mind would be out and about, so I’m still technically isolated out there.

As you may have seen from the photo I shared this morning, I got my home workspace set up. The cats are very confused about why I’m spending the whole day at home and none of it on the couch with them.

Without any of my usual on-campus errands, my step count is suffering quite a bit. Though I’ve also taken a couple of short walks in the neighborhood which was nice. Even still, I’m sitting at about 5400 steps as I write this, when I’d normally be pushing 10k steps by now. Maybe I just need to do some jumping jacks or something whenever I get up to use the bathroom.

Anyway, I could totally get used to this.

“Why are these things here, and why are you not on the couch?” – Arthur & Owen

I have a… nice ass?

Okay, it’s Wednesday. Which means it’s my weekly Beer Night, when I meet up with a bunch of other tech folks from the U at a local bar for pool and beers. Now that the sun is setting later, the sun can be a problem when playing at our preferred pool table. So I went out to the patio to pull down the sun shade which directly impacts said table.

Because the tool for pulling down this shade has gone missing, this means standing on a chair to turn a threaded mechanism by hand. So I do so as I’ve done many times before. Then I start sensing an… unusual… vibe from another table out on the patio. I look over to see a couple who now has caught me looking at them. The guy points at his lady friend and says, “She says you have a nice ass!” I smile politely thinking maybe they’re just drunk despite the early hour, then he says “She wants you to get up on you tippy toes!” I decided to play along and stood up on my toes – which resulted in giddy and (I think) slightly embarrassed laughter from both of them.

My friends were aware that something out of the norm had occurred but did not know what. I filled them in on the story, we had a good laugh, and I thought that was that. It was then my shot, so I went to deal with that but noticed one of my friends reacting to something out on the patio. After finishing my turn, I asked what I’d missed.

They said the waitress – who was filling in for our usual waitress – had come over to the couple’s table and commented that someone had figured out how to lower the shade. Apparently their response was something along the lines of “Yeah, that guy with the nice ass over there pulled it down!”

So, yeah. Thank you strange couple for the ego boost. That felt really good and was a lot of fun.

Apparently, this is a nice ass…

Mt. Lemmon Half Marathon: Race Report

Saturday morning I completed the Mt. Lemmon Half Marathon. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. My only real goal was to beat my first half marathon time from December 2014, which was 2:23:something.

I woke up with my alarm at 3:30 AM, had a quick shower to rinse off the sleep, chugged a cup of coffee, wolfed down a peanut butter filled Clif bar, filled my water bottles, then did a quick check to be sure I had all the gear I’d need before heading out to La Mariposa to park and catch the bus up to the starting area.

Scored the single-seater bench at the back of the bus!

The morning was cool – mid-50s (F) – which was much better than the week before when our lows had been in the low to mid 40s. Turns out that while I didn’t wear as many layers as I would have had it been in the 40s, I still overdressed a bit. The bus ride was largely uneventful – aside from some annoying conversation I couldn’t help but overhear floating across the aisle. Fortunately it was only about a 20 minute drive, then I was able to distance myself from those folks

Sky is getting lighter. Almost time to line up!

The first seven miles or so were super fun, mostly because as Zombies, Run! would rattle off my km times, I knew I was blowing old PRs out of the water. Granted, since the road drops something like 630 feet per mile, I had a major assist from gravity. And I’ll take it.

The last six miles or so were…. mostly just me being ready to be done. The route almost levelled out and there were even a couple of small hills to climb, which were actually a bit of a relief after all that downhill running. Though I did have to walk on the larger ones.

Me and my sweet medal!

Well, I finished. I placed 381st of 776 runners, 148th of 243 men, and 15th of 27 in my age division. So pretty strongly middle of the pack all around. Also, I blew away every single PR I had on record. Here’s the list of my new records:

  • 1 km 0:05:22
  • 1 mile 0:08:45
  • 5 km 0:27:53
  • 10 km 0:58:31
  • 13.1 miles 2:15:05.42

So yeah. I don’t feel like I’m gloating when I say I pretty much killed it. Also, pretty sure I saved the ski lodge from the orphans…. or whatever the heck that After School Special subplot was supposed to be.

And now the part you’ve all been looking for, I’m sure… the official photos!

And now for the part where I don’t repeat the mistake I made after that 2014 half marathon when I didn’t get back into my exercise and food habits after “treating” myself and “resting” for far longer than was really warranted. I’m still pretty stiff and sore now (Monday evening) but I went to the gym for Push Day today and fully intend to do a short run tomorrow. It’ll probably be stiff and slow, but it’ll be a run. Also after a weekend of “I just did awesome in a half marathon!” indulgences, I’ve been getting back into my better food choice patterns today.

So, yeah. That was super fun and I’m glad I did it. Will I do it again next year? I don’t know yet, but chances look pretty good. As always, thanks for reading.

Fall Colors

Today I went back up to Mt. Lemmon in hopes of catching some fall leaf colours and it did not disappoint. It was a deliciously chilly 46° F when I got to the trailhead, and only 53°F by the time I was all done and headed back down the highway. I took the Marshall Gulch/Aspen Trail loop – including a little offshoot that I’ve been meaning to check out – then explored the Sunset Trail a little bit while I waited for the General Store to open up so I could buy a box of fudge.

That’s the AllTrails map and elevation recording. And now, a giant photobarf. Click on any photo to embiggen.

So, yeah. Should the day come that I leave Tucson for good, this pretty much cemented that it’ll need to be for a place that actually has four distinct seasons.

Ninety-five…

Things have been kind of crazy for the last bit, but I hit the 95-pounds-lost mark yesterday. I’m down a touch more today, which means I now weigh less than the weight listed on my high school driver’s license.

So what have I been up to since I last wrote? I’ve done more hiking, run a couple more races (the Jim Click Run & Roll 8k and the Great Pumpkin 5k), played an orchestra concert, and generally been keeping myself way busier than I’m generally accustomed to being.

Speaking of the orchestra concert…. I bought a new tux this summer. And by the time last weekend’s concert rolled around, the new pants wouldn’t stay up and I had to go find some suspenders (braces for you Brits) between the dress rehearsal and concert!

Just for giggles, here’s a tux progress photo.

Left to Right: January 2019, April 2019, October 2019

Also, this morning I discovered that my Garmin has calculated my V02 Max to be 47, and says my fitness age is that of an “excellent 20 year old”.

I’m really just excited that the pointer has edged into the blue zone.

And because I can’t figure out whose body my phone shopped my head onto at the gym this morning, today’s photo from my r/loseit challenge team’s “pics or you didn’t gym” channel.

I don’t know who this is any more.

So what’s next? Well, I’m less than eleven pounds from Ultimate Goal Weight now, so I’ll keep plugging away at that. I’ve got a couple of UGW rewards planned which I’m super excited about whenever I get there. I’ll be attempting my second “real” half-marathon on November 2nd, so I’ll keep plugging away at training for that. (I don’t really count the A-Mountain half that I walked a few years back.) I’d like to get in another hike or two in on Mount Lemmon before it gets too cold up there, and hopefully catch some pretty fall leaf colors in the process.

As always, thanks for reading. Until next time!

Denial can be a good thing.

I wasn’t quite ready to admit my vacation is almost over so I got up early to drive up Mount Lemmon to go for a hike today.
I decided to do the Marshall Gulch and Aspen Trail loop, for a total of 4.4 miles. (I actually logged 4.6 miles wandering around the bottom of the trailheads after I got back, but the official loop is 4.4.) I started with the Marshall Gulch trail, which mainly runs through ponderosa pine forest.
It was deliciously cool, and there was even a trickle of water in the gulch.
The trails also go through old burn areas from past wildfires. It was interesting to see the new growth against the old, burnt trunks.
There were even still some wildflowers around.
Hey, I think I can see my house from here!
It was wild to walk through such dense growth of young pines. Most of these were only 6-8′ tall.
This is on the Aspen Trail portion, which is largely lined with – you guessed it – aspens. I never knew we had such lush green pathways up on Mt. Lemmon. I’d always assumed it was mostly just the pines and scrub with some interesting rock formations. I didn’t take a ton of photos along this section because I was too busy enjoying it.
Obligatory self portrait. Yes, I actually hiked shirtless. I’m no Adonis, but it’s nice to finally have the self confidence to do that.

I think this is my new favorite local hike, though I’m toying with the idea of heading up the mountain every other weekend or so to explore a new (to me) trail. I can’t believe I’ve been in Tucson for this long and never actually done a hike up there. I’ve been up the mountain multiple times, but usually just a little day trip to have fudge or pie or something. And the last time I did that was years ago. Seems a shame to waste such a great resource just about an hour drive from my front door.

Also, super mega thanks to the guy who gave me a pen so I could fill out the forest service’s fee envelope to avoid a potential $80 ticket. There were no writing utensils at the fee box and apparently all the pens I which used to keep in my car have mysteriously disappeared.

Cinco de Mayo 10k report, Onederland!

So today was the Dr. Gann’s Diet of Hope Cinco de Mayo 10k. I always forget how much of this course is uphill – and how much of that uphill is in the first half. I did pretty well and enjoyed doing the latest Zombies, Run! virtual 10k at the same time. Made it through the first half without any walk breaks, though some of the uphill bits got the better of me on the return leg.

At first, I thought I’d done a new all-time PR. Turns out I remembered my previous PR incorrectly, and actually missed it by a good 6 minutes. But still, this was a new record since getting back into running back in the fall. Gun time was 1:10:33, chip time was 1:09:37. Placed 16th out of 17 in my age group and 313th out of 420, which is about what I expected.

Here are some photos I snapped at the race.

Oh, and here’s another thing that happened this morning:

199.7!!!

Yup, that weight starts with a 1. I’ll likely yo-yo back and forth over that line for the next few days (at least), but I’m still taking that win.

My brain is stupid

That’s it, really. My brain makes me see things as they aren’t, and I tend to believe it no matter what others tell me.

I log my weight in MyFitnessPal every morning without fail, and the resulting graph is pretty zig-zaggy. That’s okay. I know weight loss is not linear and as long as things generally trend downwards, it’s all good. But I do start to get down on myself for the graph not trending downward as quickly as I think it should be. Default view each morning is the last month’s worth of weigh-ins. So I zoom out to 2 months, then 3 months, then 6, then since my starting weight in March 2018.

That last graph is pretty damn impressive, if I may say so. But that doesn’t keep my asshole of a brain from deciding it’s not “good enough”. Then I scale the view to “All time”. That goes back to when I first started logging in MFP the last time I lost a significant amount of weight. That is the graph that puts things in perspective for me.

The above graph starts about 25 pounds into my last major loss streak. The lowest point was about when I ran my first half marathon, which is when I pretty much fell off the wagon health-wise. I find it fascinating how you can see how about once a year I’d have an “Oh crap, I need to get my shit together” moment, drop a few pounds, then just…. stop caring again. But seeing that huge drop at the end is super encouraging.

Also, this time around I’ve managed to keep up strength work in concert with my running. This is paying off in that I can wear the same clothes that I wore at my previous all-time low weight and they fit even better.

That brings us to last Friday morning. I was getting ready for work and every single shirt I put on felt like it fit like a circus tent. EVERYTHING was too big. So after work that day, I hit up the thrift shop for some new-to-me and better-fitting shirts. I tried on a full dozen shirts from the Large section. Three were too small and the rest were too big, so I decided to try on some stuff from the Medium section and you know what? THEY FIT.

I actually went home with four mediums and one small. (The small is still just a touch too small, but I liked it and could tell it should be comfortable soon so I went ahead and got it.) The problem was, I still didn’t feel like I looked any different in the mirror. So when I got home, I put together a side-by-side comparison of three photos. One from early March last year, and two from Friday – one in a medium shirt and one in the small.

Seeing those photos together, the difference is undeniable. But I still could not see the change without the “before” side-by-side.

Tonight I stopped by Target on my way home to pick up a new water bottle for running. On a whim, I decided to check out the clearance rack in menswear. There were a couple of shirts I really liked in the Medium section, so I tried them on. They fit so well that I couldn’t not buy them. And even better, I could see the change in myself without having to compare new photos to old photos! Here are my new new shirts:

So, yeah. My brain is a jerk but I’m starting to reign it in. Body dysmorphia is real, and it’s important to remember that.

Celebrating being overweight!

All sorts of craziness is happening. Yesterday I got my latest cholesterol test results. I always forget how to read those charts. I’m not going to publish any specifics here, but just about everything appears normal to my eye. I’ll go over it with my doctor in a couple of weeks.

In other news, this morning I realized that my BMI is now 29.9. I have officially moved from Obese to Overweight, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Next stop, Healthy.

Also, this morning I was feeling the “Bowie tee and a sportcoat” vibe. See, my David Bowie tee-shirt has been in the “I can wear it, but I’d be more comfortable wearing something over it” category. So I’d wear it, but only under a sportcoat or flannel. Today I put it on and thought, “You know… I’d actually feel okay walking out of the house as-is.” Then I grabbed my sportcoat because that was The Plan, and felt like a kid playing with his dad’s clothes.

Then I remembered that I had purchased a new (to me) sportcoat at Savers several weeks ago for like $6. It was juuuuuust a bit too small at the time, but I liked it so much I had to get it. Would it fit now?

YUP! In fact, I think my exact words were, “I look fucking good!” So the old coat went into the donate bin, I’m wearing the “new” one, and enjoying it very much. I’ve also received a bunch of comments from people who see me every day about how good I’m looking today. And I did wear the other coat just Tuesday without much comment.

It’s amazing what properly fitting clothing can do for you.