Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just because I want it to be a certain way does not make it so.

The best laid plan of mice and men... I had hoped to get good miles in under my belt this week and Tuesday I got 3 at 9:20 per and I had a good 7 mile run at 9:27 per. Then, my achille's heel and foot decided NO MORE. A debilitating pain would run through my foot whenever I would even think about moving it started late Wednesday night and continued through Saturday morning. I was able to move around with a significant limp and it feels a lot better today, but since I still have about 7 months to go, I am going to take this week off from running. I'll try to get 2-3 miles a day walking back and forth to the U of I athletic center to do lifting and maybe some stair master/stationary bike, but NO RUNNING. I guess this is another reminder of my being a little too optimistic having reality come up and hit me in the face...

This brings me to my next physical failing... I had to get reading glasses this week! Heavens to mergatroid, NO!!!!! I have not been to an optomitrist, just got them at the local CVS, but the fact that I had to get eye help flies in the face of 46 being the new 35! Oh well, I'll just use them to read things and look contemplative/distinguished and stay in pretty good shape. I am taking in stride changes in circumstances (eyes, longer recovery time to recovery, social relationships, etc.) and am working hard to accept things as they are and make the best of things. Now, if only other people would just do the same.

Which brings me to the continual decline in the level of civility shown in our public discourse. Democracy is one of the hardest forms of government because it demands participation from all of us. Now that works when people care and want to take the time to understand issues (18th and 19th centuries), but it centralizes power in a world where the guy with the biggest soap box wins, regardless of the voracity of his arguments. Democracy requires, nay I say DEMANDS, people to leave their egos at the door and to have an open mind to differing points of view, as long as those different points of view are anchored in the reality based world. It is ridiculous to expect that the administration (the Bush administration) can have an energy summit without including the Sierra Club and consumer groups to help forge a long term solution. How can the Democrats actually expect to get health care reform through without bringing insurance companies, AARP, small businesses and healthcare professionals to the table? Then, when people do not get their way, cries of Death Panels, Government Employment of Doctors and Rationing (all bald faced lies) fill the airwaves. Honestly, we all agree that these things (energy, healthcare) are issues and that no one has a monopoly on all the good ideas (well, I do, but that's a discussion for another day), but we need to look at fact based solutions to our problems. In some ways, it would be better to have economists in Congress than lawyers. Economists (monetarists and fiscal doves, demand siders and supply siders) often look at things a little more impartially if the math and thought process is logical.

I guess what I am saying is that you can't govern a nation of 300 million people and be the leader of the world by living by the 15 second sound bite. What once was reasoned debate has turned into political parties saying NO just because of who proposed the idea. And that helps no one. When people defend their right to spread lies (birthers, tea baggers, etc.) by wrapping themselves in the 1st amendment to the Constitution, no one is helped. In the long run, Beck, Limbaugh, Savage and the rest will be proven for the traitors of truth that they are. The problem is, America won't take the time to actually find the facts. Again, Democracy is hard. The re-set button that Rep Boehner is talking about with respect to health care should not be to scrap work that has been done, is should be to re-set the divisive rhetoric. Once we can respect each other, truly respect each other, then we can get to work. That's my soapbox.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain, Laps and Week 2 Thoughts

Week two of training is in the books and I got about 21.5 miles covered. Daily schedules screwed things up so I was not able to, scratch that, did not follow the training program as strictly as I would like to (see, I'm taking responsibility for myself). Instead of doing 3,5,3,3,9, I did not run on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I did 7.5 miles on Thursday, did not run on Friday, so I did 6.8 miles on Saturday and since I already ran on Saturday, only got a little over 7 miles done on Sunday. Pace was okay (9:30 range), but I need to pick it up some.

Yesterday's run was fun, it started out misting a little bit, but after about 2 miles, I got hit by some isolated showers and got drenched. We have been having a "dry spell" and it was good to get some rain. It was nice, it was a reasonably warm rain and so I did not get too sweaty. There are two things I really enjoy doing when its raining, and both of them revolve around exercise. One is running, the rain helps to keep things cool and the other, introduced to me by a dear friend in Northern California, ...well, let's just say that it's nice to through the windows open and listen to the rain while "working out". Anyway, the rain helped me to get my best pace of the weekend (about 9:20) and there wasn't too much traffic on the streets since the Bears game was on. Saturday, I ran out in the Heartland, among the corn and soybean fields and it was nice to feel the solitude and listen to the cicadas and the tempo of my footstrike. Thursday was from downtown to campus in a big loop to try to keep down the monotony.

Which brings me to my next thought...LAPS. I believe that the only thing laps are good for are dances. The more the merrier. However, when running, especially distances, laps are bad; even with a band. The temptation to stop before being completely finished with a circuit is too great when you are trying to run 10 miles by doing 3-31/2 mile laps. That's what happened yesterday. I wanted to get the 3 laps done, but after I got done with two and with the ankle hurting a little, I said "screw it". When I am on a big loop, I can't stop in the middle because I still have to get back home and psychologically, that keeps me going. From now on, I am going to plan out longer loops so I don't end up with doing laps and that will take a decision point out of the mix.

Now I said something above about the ankle hurting and I guess my achille's heal is really my Achille's Heal in my training. For about the first half mile or so, it ends up killing me and then the pain just goes away until about a half hour after the run is over. Then, I can hardly walk. I think this stems from chasing a cat around my house and an injury I suffered about 3 years ago. I knew that chasing that "cat" around too much would end up causing me problems. Well, I will do some more calf raises, etc. to be sure that I can get more strength there.

Not much else to discuss today. Glad to see decorum and comity come back to Congress and Washington as a whole. Might say something about politics this week, too. When running, the mind can wander and you can really think about things. I can even convince myself that I have profound thoughts. But enough about dry spells, rain exercise, lap dances and chasing cats, I need to focus on something more positive; more attainable goals right now! I could still use a leg massage, though... This week is a reasonably easy week: 3,5,3,5,6. I'll be sure hit all of the days appropriately. Still lifting, too!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Since I did not run yesterday, I found my soapbox.

I was thinking to myself, "Self, what is it that drives medical costs?" The answer was clear to me... Sick People drive medical costs. Well, sick peple and surprises. If we can cut down on sick people and surprises, we can probably drive down the cost of medical care and related things like medical mal-practice suits/awards. So, anyway, let's look at the American Healthcare system and come up with a real solution, not just forcing a square peg through a round hole with the current mish mash of healthcare offerings going through Washington and hand them a real solution. Thus, I present to you Be Well America.

The Be Well America Healthcare Plan revolves around being, well, WELL. The leading drivers of health care costs have been people not following a healthy lifestyle and not letting medical professionals know about their history. As a case in point, I give you the comparison between two major hospitals and their per patient day cost of services. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota treats many severe and complicated cases; as does the UCLA medical center. The Mayo clinic incurs a per patient day cost of approximately $58.00; UCLA costs $98.00. The main difference between the two is patient intake. When someone goes to Mayo, they are referred by their primary care physician and come with a detailed medical chart explaining what is wrong with the patient. The primary source of patient intake at UCLA is the Emergency Room. Staff has no idea what is wrong with an ER walk in without undergoing a huge battery of tests to not only find out what the problem is, but to also cover the hospital's backside to be sure they don't make any mistakes. This problem needs to be fixed!

How do we fix it? By following the old wives! You know, I'm not sure who these women are, but they are pretty darn smart. If we follow the old wives' saying that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", we can start driving down healthcare costs. By having a long standing relationship with a primary care physician; or at least portability of electronic records given today's mobile society, a lot of the guess work can be taken out of the mix. So, how do we build doctor patient relationships? First, provide economic incentives to graduate more primary care physicians. Low interest loans, tax credits, SBA loans to establish practices and grants to put a doctor in underserved communities. Also, hospitals need to move specialists to being salaried staff rather than piece work body mechanics. Doctors are provided bad incentives when they get paid by the operation or procedure rather than a regular salary. Second, get people to go to the doctor. Since it appears we are stuck being the only healthcare system in the world burdened with the insurance industry, provide real Health Maintenance Organization coverage to every man, woman and child that is legally here in America. An HMO system as they were originally designed will set out recurring doctor appointments and offered programs to encourage healthy lifestyles. Insurance companies love recurring visits; if patients stay healthy, profits increase. That's a lot better than sying no all the time. Third, provide the citizenry with financial incentives to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make health-club memberships tax deductible as long as you can show proof that you are going to the gym. Get a tax re-bate of a portion of your insurance premiums for maintaining good health (lowering blood pressure and cholesterol through lifesyle changes, not medication). You can even get a credit for buying the Wii-Fit game. If the American People can take responsibility for themselves, which they have shown an ability to do over the years, they can do their part and NOT BE A VICTIM! GET UP OFF THE COUCH AND PUT THE SUPER SIZE AWAY! GO FOR A WALK EVERY DAY!

What, on top of living healthy lifestyles and maintaining a relationship with a doctor and your records needs to be done? Well, let's look at the insurance industry: Health insurance is the only form of coverage that I know of that you fully expect to use. Car insurance is there if something un-expected happens, homeowners insurance is there in case of a fire, life insurance, beyond just being a forced savings account is there in the case of an un-timely death. Health insurance is used to spread timing risk and subsidize people who don't take care of themselves. The only problem is that health insurance companies, being driven by the bottom line, think that risk management revolves around saying no. By having commercial insurers handle the HMO, regular care levels and letting a "public insurer", not an option be the major med carrier we can have real risk management in the major medical arena. This will drive down insurance costs by paying lower HMO rates to insurers and by havving a non-profit carrier handle the really big stuff. The goal of covering everybody leaves doctors and hospitals competing for patients, not for insurance carriers.
These are a few thoughts, by developing and maintaining records, fewer mistakes will happen, thus fewer lawsuits. By maintaining healthful lifestyles, we will see fewer chronic health issues; as well as raise healthier children. We don't need government to take care of us, we need to take care of ourselves and have Uncle Sam be there, to quote my godfather, "in the dawn and dusk of life". That's all I have to say about thaaaat.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Weeks Stats

First week down, 7 months 3 weeks to go!

Tuesday's 5k - 29:39.89 - 9:15 pace

Wednesday's 4 miles - 36:02.55 - 9:01 pace

Thursday's 2.5 mile walk - 33:00

Saturday's 4.5 miles - 40:14.02 - 8:55 pace

Sunday's 8.21 miles - 1:19:02 - 9:37 pace

Did weight lifting Monday, Wednesday and Friday (All upper body: Chest, Tri's, Back, Shoulders, Chest again on Friday and Biceps). Week 2 is 3,5,3,3,9 (totalling 23 miles for the week) (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday)

Coming back down to earth.

Well, here I was, all excited about my pace on Saturday and then I had the route measured more accurately. I did figure I had to have something wrong in my timing of my miles, so we got dad's car out and drove the lap to see what the old Cadillac odometer had to say. What I thought was 5 miles was more accurately 4.5 miles, bringing my per mile pace to 8:50, not 8 minutes. Now while a little depressing, this is more realistic and since I have committed myself to living in the reality based world, I truly have some work ahead of me. I ran the 8.21 miles last night in 1:19:02 (roughly 9:37 per mile) and that's okay , because my long runs I want to run at a slower pace. Progress is slow. The shorts did not speed me up and so, as I said Saturday, I need to be patient; keep working at it. As you can see from the picture, I need to work on time and burning off the residue from 30 years of beer drinking. However, the abs are starting to show up. Also note the big bump on the right shoulder. Dislocated it when I got drunk and tripped over the pool toy box back in May of 2007. Oh Well, I'll add healthcare two cents this week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Was it the shorts that slowed me down?

Well, today's training called for me to run 5 miles at race pace. We all recall that was at about 8 minutes per mile. I figured that it was going to take me a long time to get there, especially for the full 26.2, but I just got some new running shorts on Thursday that did 2 things: 1) they were much lighter than the ones I got on the Central Coast (they had a really bad selection where I shopped) and 2) they don't make my butt look big. I got the 5 miles done in an eye-popping 40:14.56! That 8:03 per mile! The fastest was the third mile at 7:46 and the slowest was the second at 8:18. It was pretty warm out and the shorts were a lot lighter than my other ones, so that coupled with breaking in the new shoes may have got me to what I hope is a natural pace for me. I warmed up by mowing the folk's yard and then I went out to run 10 laps on a 1/2 mile circuit that had a gradual 500 yard incline and a more precipitous decline over 200 yards. This is pretty similar to the Illinois Marathon course, so hopefully, I won't be surprised as training goes on. I'm stoked about the results today! I just need to not get too excited; patience is the key.

Speaking of patience, I need to slow down on something else. The real estate market is good from a buyers perspective and I have always liked "New York" style apartments in brownstone buildings. Well downtown Champaign is really turning into a hopping place and there are a number of nice units within walking distance to the West Side Park and nightlife all right around $100K. I can afford that, I just need to be patient and get the finances a little bit more in order before committing to something; especially if I am not entirely sure how long I will be here. I want a lot of stuff now, but by my telling you all that I recognize that I need to slow down, I can't say I did not think about it. Almost 30 good days in a row, I don't need to screw that up now.

I said I would post pictures about my training. Took some today and will add to the blog on Monday (technical issues). Hope to get rid of some of the stuff on my sides without resorting to micro-lipo. I'll track progress over the months. 8 miles tomorrow; I could sure use a leg massage.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some things I've learned early on

Whenever I set out to do something, I lay out some goals. Get good grades in school, get projects done well and ahead of schedule, be good in whatever I do. Well, for my run, I would really love to finish the marathon in under 3:30. Not much under 3:30; 8 seconds under would be plenty. 3:30 is the time I would need to hit in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon; not that I would run it, but it would be nice to know that I could if I wanted to. So I then figure out that I need to average, I repeat, average right at about 8 minutes per mile. Now that might not seem too fast, it's twice as slow a decent miler (not a record holder); but it came as somewhat of a rude awakening for me. You see, I average about 9 minutes per mile when I run distance and to sustain a pace 11% faster than that is going to be a challenge. I can run one in less than 8, but 26.2..., let's just remind ourselves that I have 8 months to get there. I am going to push pace up a little bit so I can make progress toward it.

I said yesterday that I allow myself some treats every now and again and my Dad bought lunch today and I must say that I have been to the mountain top... of pizza! The Papa Del's deep dish pan pizza with extra cheese, sausage and mushroom is in my opinion the best, absolutely the best pizza known to man. Now I have been to New York, lived in Chicago and lived on the west coast and I can tell you that you can have your thin crust, your Uno's, Due's, Gino's, CPK and even Lou Malnati's. I will go to Pop's for pizza or no place at all. Garlic and olive oil crust, big huge chunks of sausage, a liberal application of great sauce and some fine mid-western mozzerella, uhhhhhhh, Papa Del'sssssssss. I used to eat it all the time went I went to school here, but it's been 15-20 years since I had it and it's better than I remember. All that was missing was beer (I can find Moylan's double IPA on tap here, yes here in the midwest), but we already talked about that yesterday.
Anyway, 4 miles in 36 minutes last night at ARC. I saw some of the One's speech and have some thoughts on healthcare, but that is for another day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And so we begin...

Well, yesterday was the first day of training for my first marathon. You might say "Adam, why run a marathon?"; shoot, I've even asked myself the same thing. After explaining to the others in the coffee shop why I was talking to myself, especially in the third person, I became a little philosophical about it. I wrestled with the old standards of "to prove something to myself and others" and "because it's there" and "for my health" and I finally realized that it wasn't any of those. It was all of those things and more. I ask you to virtually join me on this endeavor and I'll be able to tell you about how it's going, how things outside of running have effected training and how easy or difficult it might be for you if you want to try it... So anyway, in the words of Jackie Gleason... "And awaaaaay we go!"

First let me be clear. I am not training for one marathon. I am planning to run 3 races next year. They will start with the Illinois Marathon in Champaign on May 1, 2010, then the Napa Wine country race on October 25, 2010, ending with the Redding Marathon in Redding California in January 2011. I am doing an 8 month training plan that will allow me to peak around New Year's 2010 and then build back up in time for the May race. I am not going to go on any crazy diets. I'll just eat a balanced diet with a few weaknesses (coffee, cheese, etc.). There will be no major carb loading, no overdoing it on junk, but I will fall to a few treats every now and again. I'll couple the training with a normal 50-60 hour per week office job, a moderate weight lifting program, dealing with normal life issues, putting to bed some old relationships and starting new ones all under the watchful eye of a lot of interested people. After 994 bad days in a row, I've strung together 30 good ones. I hope to keep the trend going. To quote a famous runner, "That's all I have to say about thaaat."

I will track changes in my physical, emotional and mental conditioning through this process. I'm starting out in pretty good shape. I ran a couple of half-marathons this summer in the 2:04 - 2:10 range, did some weight lifting and got my body fat down to less than 8%. I haven't been drinking heavily like I used to; especially since that could land me in a lot of trouble and the fact that I usually do really dumb things when I drink too much (you'll see my dilocated shoulder in a picture I'll post this week).

During my running this past year, I have used training as a sort of meditation; first concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other and "feeling the running" and then moving toward clearing the mind of clutter and addressing issues on a one on one basis as they came up in my mind. I originally thought I could not meditate and run at the same time, but it's kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach simultaneously, all it takes is a little practice. I have also asked myself ... (here we go again with the talking to myself) "Self, is running a manifestation of your wanting to run away from things, your problems?" I think of it more as a way to find my "happy place" to be alone (even though it is not too happy a place to be when you start cramping up at mile 8). Nobody is really interested in bugging me when they say "I want to talk" and I say "Great, let's go over what you want to talk about while we are on this 10 mile run!"

All in all, I think this training program will help me most of all in being patient. Being in my situation, it's natural to want things to happen in a hurry. Training for a marathon is not supposed to be easy and it's not supposed to happen fast. It will take dedication, hard work and a little creativity when the wind chill gets to 20 below. That discipline will also be needed for me to succeed in other parts of my life; to grow into the man I want to be. I'm 46, but feel like I'm 35 and still have a lot to do, so I'm getting at it!

I'll post each week a recap of the last week of training and periodically post pictures of physical progress and discuss changes in my physical shape, as well. My challenge there is to not lose the gains I have made in back, chest and arm strength. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, as a wise man from Oak-town told me "Don't talk about it! BE about it!" and so, we begin...

Start - September 8, 2009

Age - 46yrs. 5 months Weight - 189 lbs Body Fat 7.8%

Last night's 5k - 29:39.89 Easy pace