Still alive and kickin (well running and biking that is)

Since my last post in July, lots of things have been going on.  I trained for and completed the Air Force Marathon.  I also completed two Half Marathons, 2 5Ks, and my first multisport race -- a duathlon!

Volunteered at the Chicago Marathon 2014 serving Gatorade to 40,000 runners!  We got this cool jacket for that!

Volunteered at the Chicago Marathon 2014 serving Gatorade to 40,000 runners!  We got this cool jacket for that!

I have been continuing my run training with my coach, and have been doing a lot more cycling as cross-training.  So far this year I have run for 711 miles, walked for 59 miles, and biked for 542 miles (70% of those miles were on my new Trek 7.1 FX bike).  Total miles of activity in 2014 so far: 1,312.  Truth is, I am really enjoying the bike I bought over the summer.  I did my first duathlon and really had a fun time of it.  A triathlon may be in my future.

Still running!

The Air Force Marathon was in September.  It was both an exciting, fun experience and a brutal, difficult physical/mental challenge.  The race is always represented by an airframe and this race highlighted the new Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35.  Usually they fly the plane they choose over the race course at the start.  But this time, they didn't.  That was disappointing.

The race went pretty well until about Mile 18.  By then, the heat had risen to the mid-80s, the wind had picked up, and with no shade for most of the course, I was beginning to wear down.  The last 10K was pretty brutal, and my stomach ache and headache were clear indications of dehydration.  But my stubbornness won out and I finished.  Thankfully, I was able to get a nice post-race massage before I had to drive 2 hours back to Indianapolis.  That makes 10 Full Marathons in 8 different states in two years.  Crazy, right?  Guess that is why I am a marathon 'maniac'.

Running for 26.2 miles is never easy.  If it was, then everybody would be running marathons. It is said that only 1% of the population has completed one.  And while I have completed a bunch, each one has presented its own significant challenge(s) to overcome.  But crossing the finish line always brings with it a tremendous sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction.  Which is good because those feelings are often mixed in with the realities of sore feet, tired legs, tight muscles, and a strong appetite.

A new Challenge

In October, three weeks after Air Force, I picked a new race to try.  My first duathlon!  I have never ridden my bike in an actual race before, nor have I had to deal with 'transitions' -- switching between one sport to another.  This race, "The Run and Roll for the Dole", is a multisport event -- a 2-mile run, followed by a 20K bike ride, and finally a 2-mile run.

It was a cold morning with temps around 39F.  There were only about 200 participants, and all of them looked like they were experienced multisport athletes.  I ran the first leg pretty well at a 9:40/mm pace. Then went through my first transition to the bike where I changed into my bike shoes, helmet, gloves, and a neck gaiter to block the wind.  The bike went pretty well even with three serious hill segments at the halfway point.  I averaged almost 14mph on the bike before switching back for the last run segment.

Man does it feel weird trying to run after being on the bike for 50 minutes.  It was really awkward.  In fact, it took almost 1.5 miles to finally get used to running again.  By then I was pretty much finished.  I think I crossed the finish line Dead Last.  But I didn't care; I still finished ahead of millions of couch potatoes.  I finished the race in 1hr, 45min and that was faster than I had expected.  My daughter was at the finish to cheer me on (which was really awesome).

Definitely a different race experience.  I was pretty happy with my performance.  I have lots to learn and many areas for improvement.  But as a first step into the multisport world, it was a great experience.  This will not be my last cycling event.

Diabetes check-up a 'thumbs up'

On the health front, I am happy to share my recent diabetes checkup results.  My HbA1c came back at 5.6, which is a great level for me!  It means my Type 2 diabetes is well under control -- and being controlled through diet and exercise rather than via medications.  My cholesterol levels are in the optimal range.  In fact, all my bloodwork looks great.  That is very encouraging!

The only thing that I am still struggling with is my weight.  It has been pretty stable for the whole year, but my doctor and I both feel that my level of activity ought to be bringing that number down.  This 9-month plateau can be very de-motivating.  So I will be seeing an endocrinologist soon to have some additional tests done to ensure that there isn't some other thing going on in my body that might be interfering with my weight loss progress.  But overall, I am doing well and staying on track health-wise.

So what's next?

Well, last weekend I accompanied a friend who was doing her first 5K race.  It was a great day for a race, and she did a great job!  We walked this race, and she was able to maintain a pace that was faster than her usual training pace.  I was very proud of her!

This weekend, I have a Half Marathon on the schedule in Indianapolis.  I am looking forward to running it with my friend Kipp and seeing many of my Marathon Maniac buddies on the course.  I have two other Half Marathons scheduled in November -- the Veteran's Half Marathon in Indiana and the Space Coast Half Marathon in Florida.

I am also training for two race 'challenges' coming up in January 2015.  I will be running Walt Disney World's Goofy Challenge (a half marathon followed by a full marathon on consecutive days), and the Disneyland inaugural Star Wars Rebel Challenge (a 10K followed by a half marathon on consecutive days).  These two challenges are on back-to-back weekends.  So between Jan 10-18 I will be running four races on both coasts, and collecting a total of 7 medals for the effort.  Whew!  Go hard or go home, right?

So for the next 2.5 months, there will be much more run training in my future, and I hope to continue biking for as long as I can tolerate the weather.  Running in the cold is one thing; biking is quite another (two words: wind chill).  Either way, life will be keeping me busy.  I won't lie -- I am looking forward to January 19th because that will be the beginning of my 'off season' where I will not be run training for several months!  I will be focusing more on biking for some new challenges in 2015.  More on that in another post.

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