Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out on the down low

I've had some pretty incredible New's Years Eves. I've gotten in 'trouble' in more than one foreign country. I've been lost and wasn't sure I would be found. I've been on large yachts sipping champagne and watching fireworks. I've started 5k's at the ball drop and I kissed a girl I'd never met before. 

I've woke up on January 1 of whatever year and been in the best shape of my life or just in shape. I suppose more than a few, pretty out of shape as well. Up, down, turned around, in the whole scheme from what I remember, its been a pretty wild  ride. 

This weekend, Lord I remember how much fun it was to have a major holiday like this on a weekend, is very low key. We've passed on the parties, we've closed the house down for the year as it were. Mistress, for those that do not know that is my wife's non de guerre, is still recovering from a very invasive shoulder surgery the day before Christmas and still pretty wiped out. Not being used to the drugs they gave her during and after it's been a scary detox. Bed rest and quiet are the top prescriptions. 

The timing is right for this low key New Years. My 2011 was full of excitement; marathons, ironman, obstacle course racing. My first 1st Place finish ever in a race. Most importantly the workouts and friendships I made along the way. I would be remiss if I didn't say it sadly includes the loss of more than a few good friends to causes noble and not. Missed the same nevertheless. 

I'll miss 2011, all things considered I grew as a husband, a father and an athlete, which made me, I think, a better man. I am not the same person I was when the year started. I can't wait to see what kind of person I'll be a year from now. 

Don't survive. Thrive. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

simplified nutrition

I am often asked to define my 'diet' or the way that eat. Do I do The Zone, Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, Eye Color, Blood Type, on and on I could go. And my response is rather uninspiring. I don't normally do or recommend exclusionary diets, as in almost every case they result in cheating and rebound weight gain. 

Instead I eat just about everything, in moderation, and of course I have some loose parameters to keep myself on track. The main rule of thumb is that the foods I eat individually have five or less ingredients, not including the ingredients that follow the caveat, "Contains less than 2%...". Following this rule of thumb means for example I am picky about the crackers I eat but I still eat them; choosing Triskets (3 ingredients) over Wheat Thins (11 ingredients). In discussing a combination of foods in a meal such as an omelet, each ingredient would comply with the 5 or rule while there may be more than five ingredients in the overall dish. 

Look, this isn't some peer reviewed, zero defect program. There are lots of poor food choices that can be made with items that have less than five ingredients; canned whipped cream has less than five ingredients, some fruit juices have less than five ingredients because there really isn’t fruit juice in it but a combination of chemicals that create that flavor.

When I come off a training or nutrition layoff, when I need to reset my mind and habits back into a proper lifestyle of eating, I go a little more extreme for a short period of time. Think days not weeks. Eating will be as bland as I can get it, eschewing condiments or extra spices, I get as close to natural or fresh and as clean as I can get to force effect of action.  As I have been doing this for years, I can re-establish my patterns again quite quickly.
Not to deny myself and create a binge situation, I have two or three cheat meals per week. One is family based, one is personal based. My family includes children whose routine is pizza and DVD night every Friday. I cherish this time as a father because I know far too well how quickly sleepovers and social engagements will derail these family moments. So if it makes my kids happy to see me eat pizza with them on the floor, I will do it. Every time. And then one personal cheat meal for me each week. This covers a moment of weakness, an unplanned meet up with a friend, and things of that nature.

I could follow a book diet or exclusionary program and I have. I know I don’t like to be denied food options and I know I need to recognize what it is I am eating, If my body is telling me I need salt, I want to be able to go for some crackers but also want to recognize a good choice over a poor one.

My program forces me to eat more of the things I don’t normally choose like fruits and be picky about the things I would like to eat like bread. It almost totally negates junk food as very few candies and sweets are fewer than five ingredients.

I stay compliant; I have an unlimited opportunity to create meals when I can’t control the situation outside my own kitchen. I have flexibility. I don’t feel the need to cheat or lie to myself about what I want and what I can eat. Its not for everyone.

It’s not enough to exist. I am going to live.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beginning next Monday

The problem with the title of this post is that 'Next Monday' is always the next Monday. And not tomorrow.And I am looking forward to it. For the last several days I have taken a micro vacation from training, which is odd since my real vacations usually involve racing or training or adventuring. Nevertheless, for the last week I have lived on the other side of fitness, otherwise known as just like 80% of the American population. 

I have eaten anything I wanted in the quantity's I've wanted. I have cracked beers at 10am and stronger cocktails in the hot tub starting at noon. Ate way more movie popcorn in one sitting than I should have. Devoured handfuls of peanut M&M's at a time. I did have some blackberries the other day, sandwiched between sponge cake and whip cream. I am sugared, boozed and fooded out. Today is the last hoorah. I have lived with Common Man Syndrome, (the title of my former long running website). Yet those that read that (ahem) amazing website, whose entries have been transferred to this one, you know I am not the Common Man. I am the UNcommon man. 

So, next Monday really is the start of my next periodization phase. My nutrition will for a short period be extremely tight to reset my habits, get some quick results to counter my excess and get my mind reprogrammed to start thinking right again. When you eat clean you really don't need to take pills or buy programs to detox. Your body will do it naturally. So I expect some radical GI issues next week. It won't be as bad as having the sugar gut I have today or the hangover feeling most people will have the morning after a Christmas party. 

My morning rituals will have new stretches and workout routines.My normal workout program is still a great rotation of power, agility and endurance so not much needs to be changed on that front. I will start adding more planned cardio at the end of the day, to get back to my combat weight more quickly. It will be good active rest as well. 

My one weakness in the last phase of training was supplementation. I cramped too much when it counted.  This is something I will address this phase with better flexibility but also introducing something to help reduce lactic acid build up, increase oxygen uptake at the cellular level and delay muscle fatigue. I'm looking at changing my multi-vitamin, and adding glutamine and BCAA's back into my diet. I'll also look at some performance products that friends have really felt helped them, like Sport Legs and Recovery e-21. This can be a longer term trial period than my next 90 day training and racing season but anything that works in the winter will work in the summer and as 2012 progresses so will the difficulties of my racing. 

Let it Monday. 

Its not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter season racing, the second half

The first half of my winter racing season was to test my body's ability to physically recover from repetitive intense racing. The second half, beginning in January will test my ability to suffer mentally and physically over longer periods of time. 

My schedule as it stands:

Tough Mudder, Arizona on January 14. 
Super Spartan, Southern California on January 28.
Super Spartan, Arizona on February 11.
Goruck Challenge, Phoenix on February 18
Super Spartan, Miami on February 25. 

These challenges are uniquely dependent on philosophy, location, weather, course terrain and in the case of Goruck, personal preference of the cadre running the class. It will combine intense running with ballistic movements to navigate obstacles and prolonged physical and mental stressing to maintain certain exertions as long as possible.  

As someone who doesn't normally think about age but exertion, I am finally starting to come to terms with my own abilities. I can and will always improve, but I realize I am moving farther away from when I could have learned proper technique and used it for many decades instead of just a couple. I am living myself out of the most competitive age groups, rather than looking forward to entering them. I realize I can still compete and in fact beat a high percentage of people regardless of their age, but I can't also dismiss that my first marathon was in 1992. 

I get so excited looking at my entire winter racing season, what has occurred and what is to come. I am learning it is sometimes best to train smarter not harder. Something I have not historically been good at. I am trying to comfortable in my ability and recognize the glory in the improving and doing, and not comparing myself to athletes half my age. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mid season break

Last Saturday I ran two races in one day, a 5k and 12k, different city's, different courses. It was a good mid season finale to my winter racing season that began 7 races and 5 weeks earlier. For this first half I pushed my recovery phase by doing one hard race at least every week and in some instances raced twice in a day or on consecutive days. 

This week did not begin with any intention of letting up the training cycle. Funny how things work out for the best, if you just get out of the way and let things unfold. After a few days of active stretching and limbering, by Monday I was still not physically or mentally prepared to hit my training hard again. It took me two more days of internal struggle to just call the whole week a recovery, put my feet up and pull out the cheat food. 

This wasn't an easy decision. I had momentum on my side. I am in two social media groups that required a certain amount of activity or specific exercises every day for the month. To take this whole week off would essentially remove myself from these friendly challenges. I was reviewing endless photos and video of my racing the last few weeks and created a specific plan to address what I considered weaknesses needing my attention. To decide to step back from activity and acknowledge that with even a week off I would gain some off season weight back, was not something I wanted to relinquish. 

The timing however could not be ignored. A window of opportunity to step back from the edge instead of balancing on it. A chance to fully recharge and kick off the last half of my season completely 100%

Its not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Race Report: Sally Meyerhoff 5k-inaugural

I had several friends come from out of town to participate in Ironman Arizona. While walking around the expo area and observing people riding and running the course, I was asked many times, "What's with all the guys wearing pink knee high socks?" 

Like any big city it's cultures are sometimes defined by its localized tragedies. In our case, we had a fast rising star in endurance sports, a rarity to be sure, a female to boot, whose life was cut short in a cycling accident. Her name was Sally Meyerhoff. For those that saw photos of Sally or saw her in action, or knew her as a person, you were affect first by  her penchant for wearing bright pink accessories and second an infectious positive attitude. You could not help but like her. 

After her passing, family members and closest friends created a foundation to celebrate her life and create the opportunity to help young women achieve in athletics. Immediately local, national and international endurance superstars agreed to help. Along with a 5k to be run later in the year, it was announced that to support the memory of Sally buy her trademark pink compression socks at a local vendor or buy a pink bracelet sold by the foundation and wear it proudly. Thus in Phoenix, pink became the new LiveStong yellow bracelet. 

I am friends with the face of the Sally foundation, Steve Rink, who was Sally's mentor and close personal friend. We communicated many times while he created the run event. He expected 400 people to attend. He wanted 500 which would be an amazing attendance for any inaugural 5k. As that goal was expressed there came an outpouring of support from Sally's friends from around the world. There started to become an amazing swag bag for the first 500, which I was, and for the award winners, which I was not. As I stood in the start chute race morning, I was surrounded by over 1,000 people. Two times a amazing attendance. 

The run itself was very fast, you could not help but run fast. The sun barely peaking over the range to the east. Some of the fastest runners in the country coming to pay respects for a woman who accomplished much but had so much more to do and give. 

I ran so fast I was immediately torn from my group of personal friends and was sucked into a great draft created by amazingly fleet people.  I ran as fast as I could I think simply because sometimes to run fast with reckless abandon reminds you of what living is all about. So I ran, faster than I expected, faster than I wanted, but I did not stop when it hurt. I stayed in the moment and enjoyed a blessedly beautiful morning running with people like me who just wanted to feel alive and keep the pink torch burning for a flame that burned out much too quickly. Instead of one bright pink flame representing Phoenix, there  is now Phoenix representing one bright pink flame, thousands of times over.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I love making my Christmas List

I love Christmas. I am very vocal about disliking most holidays but Christmas is special in my heart, my soul and my mind. Aside from the connection it has to my religion, I truly do very much enjoy giving to others. All year long I enjoy doing and giving things with nothing expected in return. But at Christmas everyone seems to be in this frame of mind which makes it fun to share this sentiment with a group consensus.

And let’s face it, who doesn’t like getting presents, especially when you’re giving out a list  for things that you want. It’s like annually registering for wedding gifts that you don’t have to share with a spouse. Christmas lists are full of possibilities. Yes there are going to be those Big Ticket items that you know most likely you’re never going to get, but it may give the Gifter inspiration for a gift you did not expect.
Its depressing to think that for most people, creating a Christmas list is a chore. The person creating the list doesn’t really remember all the things they wanted through the year and suddenly feel pressured to create a list that is both humble and cost effective, but satisfying and usable in their life. They are afraid that what they receive will not specifically be what they wanted and therefore incompatible with your intended purpose.

Conversely, there is pressure on the Gifter to comply with the list as best they can. Hastily created lists are made more difficult to fulfill when there are generational considerations, novice internet family members, Gifters who in another state and mailing packages. 

As a serial research shopper I have developed a few key tactics to building a bomb proof Christmas List all year long. While geared more towards your benefit for next year, if you are a dedicated web surfer and can delay presenting your list for a few more weeks, this will certainly help this go around.   

First, in this digital age you would be a fool to not have a folder on your web browser titled ‘Wants’, ‘Possible Buy’, ‘Wish List’, ‘Christmas List’ or some such term.  All year long as you come across something online that you want, bookmark it to this folder. It might include several URL’s leading to the same item offered at different online stores. Later on it might be that one of those URL’s has broken, sold out or the price changed. It is also pleasantly surprising to review bookmarks and see where your mind was at earlier in the year; as the things we like, fads, ideas always seem to slip our consciousness so quickly. 

In this photo: item, price & store. 
Second, if you have a mobile phone with a camera, take pictures of actual items you see in the store, such as a new book, DVD or tool, A video game for a specific player, an exercise accessory or article of clothing.  Take a photo of the item on the shelf with all the pertinent information that shows the brand, model, size and price. Sometimes another photo is required to get this information from a price tag. Then email these to yourself and place in a folder listed similarly to the one you have on your web browser.  This is also a really good way to shop with children when you are out with them.

When it comes time to create your Christmas list, head straight to your two folders and start cutting, pasting and hyperlinking your wish list to an email or word document. Part of each written summary should include a make and model, size, color and cost of the product,  name of the website the provided link leads too and if the item is also available locally. This last note helps members of the family living abroad coordinate buying and giving gifts without shipping charges. I will also sometimes include photos of the item so there is no confusion.

Make creating your Christmas list something that is as enjoyable as opening gifts Christmas Day.   

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Race Report: Mesa Turkey Trot 10k

The Mesa Turkey Trot 10k is one of the oldest races in the state of Arizona. There is also a 1 mile and 2 mile event, so lots of families, kids and strollers come out. It is not far from my house and it seems every Thanksgiving I am somewhere that morning seeing event shirts and bibs on people after they have finished. I’m told it is largest 10k race in the state, but that’s not confirmed. This year, well more specifically two days ago, I decided to sign up and finally see what all the fuss is about.

always cool to see the kids race
I’ve been racing pretty steady the last two weekends and thought a 10k would be good to work on lactate threshold and high heart rate pacing. Then I decided that I have been racing that way already, time to change things up. Instead of a road race pace, I would run there and back and run the 10k race wearing a 30lb backpack.  This would actually benefit me in some of the obstacle course racing that I do.

My goal was to just not stop running with the ruck on my back. Otherwise I thought a good pace would be around 11 minute miles, at least to start. I figured after the run there and into the later miles I would start to fill some tweaks and I would slow to shuffle step.  As I waited the last couple minutes for the run to start I did 50 body weight squats and 50 pushups with the pack on. I got some funny looks.

damn iPhone camera. I am not THAT wide
The course itself revealed nothing new to me.  As a local runner, I have put sole to pavement all over the route many times.  I realized a mile in that other than a cup of coffee, I forgot to eat breakfast and got concerned I might bonk. I had a bunch of beef jerky and energy bars in my pack, but I didn’t want to stop and pull them out. I did have a full 3L of water and sipped the tube as often as I could. I just kept going and finally ate at the finish line.

My Garmin 310 didn’t charge overnight so I ran with my Timex ironman and would figure pace splits off the mile markers along the course. As I started way back in the chute, I wasn’t sure exactly how the clock would read as hit those markers and sure enough when I saw the first mile marker with a race clock on it, they were way off. The race clock read 10:50, which felt closer to my pace so stopped looking at my watch.

I just kept plugging along feeling good. I passed a few people but people passed me too, so I started to think my pace was slipping away from me. I was able to see a mile marker and clock up ahead but couldn’t read it yet. I looked at my watch and figured based on the time and my notion that my pace was slipping back I would be coming up on mile 3. As I got closer the sign read MILE 4, and the clock read 38:08.  Whoa. I was running 9:30 miles. I was way ahead of my estimation and I felt really good. It was at that point that I realized I could break an hour with the heavy ass ruck on my back.

As I crossed the finish line, the clock read 57-something. There is an official chip time coming later, so we will see where that ultimately puts me time wise.  But I was sub 1 hour for sure and several minutes ahead of my project finish time.

I called the family to celebrate another race done and one of the kids asked, as they always do, “Did you win, daddy?”  I told them, “I did win. I was first in division, the heavy backpack division.” There was lots of cheering and laughing over that.

It’s not enough to exist. I am going to live.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1 weekend in Texas, 3 epic races

Loving the mud
I decided over the last weekend, at almost the last minute it seems, to fly to Texas on the weekend of December 3, for the chance to obstacle race at the Super Spartan event in Glen Rose. Spartan Racing puts on premier obstacle course events all over the world but mostly in America. They have a range of distances that are comparative in basic terms to considering a triathlon distance like, Sprint, Olympic, 70.3 mile and 140.6 miles. Spartan racing uses the following to describe their events; Sprint, Super, Beast and a very select few are allowed to do what is called Death Race, an event where participants are only told what to bring, not what they will be doing or how long it will take. Lasting from 24-40 hours without stopping, the finish rate is less than 25%. The Super I will be doing is their version of the Olympic triathlon, an 8 mile obstacle course with around 16 obstacles. Terrain is certainly an obstacle to consider. 

What made my last minute decision to fly to Texas so special is Spartan has made Glen Rose, their last race of the year, a real festival or celebration to obstacle course racing. Instead of the usual amount of obstacles over the 8+ miles, they doubled it to almost 40 obstacles. Plus they have added some interesting bonus events that are pure adrenaline and possibly one of a kind, certainly first of its kind.  

 Saturday is when all the normal heats (or waves) of runners attack the course every thirty minutes with the usual excitement and hoopla expected of people having fun, getting muddy and challenging themselves. Obstacle racing is becoming so popular that for some people this will be the first race they have ever done, most running it with a group of friends. Most obstacles are physical like climbing over, under or threw structures, but also mud, water, strength and endurance challenges are included. There is also some form of mental challenge to throw you off. At the Arizona event earlier this year, racers had to complete one side of a rubic cube or suffer a penalty of push ups or burpees. In fact for every obstacle if you can not complete it or wish to bypass it, you are given the option of completing some form of calisthenic. I will be participating in the morning waves like everyone else. I will be doing it as part of a team, and while this will be the first and only time most people will go through this course, it will be mine and this teams second run through and it will be the easiest opportunity we will have to do it all weekend.  

The first time I run the course will take place between the time that the course is completed on Friday and the first wave on Saturday. It is called the Hurricane Heat.  The Hurricane Heat is a commemoration of Hurricane Irene that destroyed much of New England and Spartan Headquarters located in Killington, Vermont earlier this year and in the process interrupted a Spartan Race due to safety concerns by the city. Undeterred, one of the owners and a couple intrepid racers did the course during the hurricane, by themselves, no volunteers, no aid stations, just because the hurricane added another level of hardship to the already tough course. Now the Hurricane Heat is offered as a special event at most Spartan races where the founders and athletes tackle the course with no thought to competition or a clock. Its about camaraderie and taking the course to a whole other level of extremism with constant opportunities to make everything more challenging. Now that this specific course has twice as many obstacles as normally offered its a maybe once in a lifetime opportunity for someone like myself. 

Finally, after the last heat has been run Saturday and all the participants have enjoyed the course, I will run the course one last time. A special heat will be taken though the course by a company called GORUCK.  They put a unique twist on obstacle event management by not creating a challenge out of wood, rope and tubes but utilizing the unique nature of the landmarks, terrain and layout of whatever urban city they are in that weekend.  Their events always start in the middle of the night and last 15-20 miles and 8-10+ hours. Each participant must wear a weighted GORUCK manufactured pack in their ultimate definition of product testing. As the company was created by and run by former and current Special Forces personnel, the way in which each class traveses the city is a unique team building experience. Who knows how long this last run will last. Who knows how these men of unconventional warfare will instruct us to go through it.

My attempt at javelin toss obstacle
In a nutshell, I see the opportunity and will be doing one eight mile supercharged course, three completely different and unique ways over a 24-hr period. .Something like this may not happen again in a way in which I can attend.  The added benefit is that I will be attending this weekend as part of a unique group of people called Storm Chasers. This group is comprised of people who travel around the country to participate in the Hurricane Heats at each Spartan event. It is a unique group of fellow athletes who love obstacle course racing  and I can not wait to spend an entire weekend, a Spartan marathon if you will, with them. 

As part of a shameless plug, if you are interested in participating in the Arizona Spartan race in February 2012, as part of a team and getting a discount on your entry fee, contact me here or on Facebook. 

It is not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Stuffing Muffins

Stuffing is always one of those turkey day side dishes that never seems to please everyone, even after going back for seconds and thirds. Most people like it moist, but everyone enjoys the crunchy sides of the baking dish and fight over those crispy baked on tidbits long after they have said, "I'm so full." My wife, frustrated at the lack of crispy, crunchy stuffing on the table has created her own type of stuffing presentation that guarantees everyone will be happy. Stuffing Muffins. 

Rather than baking the stuffing in a large deep dish in the oven where only the top gets the coveted crunch, use a muffin tin. Using a muffin tin, guarantees that everyone will get some moist stuffing and a crunchy top. Furthermore, for those looking for a bit of portion control eating one stuffing muffin (at a time) will keep you honest with your nutrition and still keep the host pleased.  

It also saves space in the frig for leftovers. Just put them in gallon zip lock bag and over the next couple of days, you can pop it in the microwave without having to waste spoons and bowls moving from one bowl to another. Less clean up of dishes is always good on this weekend. 

While I don't have her recipe handy to provide you, I found a similar recipe off the food network website. If your interested. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spectating IMAZ

Spectating an iron distance race doesn't come without its own challenges. One must consider weather, nutrition, locations for viewing and basic comforts. While you are there to support a loved one or friend who is constantly moving forward, sometimes you stand in the same place for an hour, just to see them for 5 seconds. I have friends out there today who plan to finish in a range of time from under 9 hours to 16 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds. Care is needed to endure your own personal iron day. 

That doesn't mean I can slack on my own training today and there is no better motivation than watching 2,000 people in an ironman. I expect at some point I will be walking or running for several miles giving moral support to those that need it. I will have my mountain bike to move around the course to take pictures. Add to that volunteering at aid stations and meeting up with friends. What I try to do today for my personal fitness has to intergrate seamlessly in some else's much bigger occasion   

Let start with some added weight, 28lbs according to my hanging weight scale. That is the ruck weight I will be starting with for the day. The pack will not leave my back much during the day. This will make every thing I do physically that much more difficult which will help in obstacle course racing for when I do and do not need to carry a similar sized pack. As some of this is food, beer and water, The weight will drop as the day progresses. Which is fine because later in the day I will probably be running some miles with it. 

The mountain bike will certainly get several miles on it today. Riding the course between aid stations and potential friend meet ups will demand speed that driving around the course will not provide and walking will be too slow. 

A jacket and running pants for the chill after sunset, sunblock and lipbalm, advil, baby wipes, throat lozenges for long hours of yelling, pepto, bandaids, sharps, headlamp, some duct tape, plus several other items are stored inside. Along with my camera, portable iPhone charger and assorted other items I personally think are required daily carry. 

The day is all about the athlete, but don't forget about yourself. 

Its not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Race Report: Mad Mud Run

I woke up the morning of the race feeling pretty crappy. I was officially ten days into a sinus, throat issue that leaves me with a hoarse voice and feeling about 75% as long as I am taking cold medicine. Even after the ritualistic snorts, hacks and gags and clearings I still felt like making it through the Mad Mud Run 4 mile race was going to be a greater effort than I wanted to deal with. But I went, because ya know what, we can’t always race or train in the world of unicorns and glitter. Often times you have to dig deeper than perfect world.

I will admit once the race was over I drove straight to the Minute Clinic next to my house and then waited 3x longer than it took to finish the race to see the doctor. After my co-pay, probing and questioning, I was told I probably had allergies and try over the counter Sudafed.

After all is run & wet
A face in the crowd. When I got to the race, I kept looking for a familiar face but none were to be seen. As this is mostly a team event, there were lots of people in happy little gaggles able to dissipate their nerves among their friends. When the time came for my heat,  the solo’s, not many males or females were lined up, comparative to teams, which meant that these people were here to get it on.  I was hoping for mud early and often, as I train with heavy muddy shoes on purpose. I know when thick mud is stuck to your shoes and socks, it’s much harder physically to hold a normal pace if you haven’t trained for it and that starts to affect you mentally. Alas not to be, not much mud in the Mad Mud Run.

It always feels good to pass a CrossFitter. These people are pretty cocky before endurance and obstacle races but when it comes down to the running of the clock, they gasp and flop around like fish out of water between ¾ -1 mile into the lightening pace they set for the group off the line. Totally gassed and wondering why all the double under jump roping they did over the last month wasn’t enough to handle a 7 minute mile pace in dirt and sand for 4 miles.   It wasn't even the end of the first mile about 20 people dropped suddenly from the pack like planes shot out of the sky, nose diving into the scrub to cough, dry heave and put hands to their hips.

Training and genetics, the age old story. I never stopped running as fast as I could, mouth breathing all the way with my nose congested, but I won’t pretend that I kept my sight on the front pack for longer than about half way. There were some genuinely fast guys in the front, yes a few wearing CrossFit shirts (they are not all slow, ya know).  The trail was some desert hard pack but mostly very soft dirt and sand which put desert runners on an equal footing. I may train for trails but I don’t have the natural fast running pace some people are born with and those guys at the front were easily running low 6 minute pace.  So my goal was to just not let anyone that looked within about 5 years of my age passing me and try to take down a couple of guys along the way.
Obstacles are an equalizer. I was able to see each obstacle about 50 yards before I reached it and got to see the three guys in front of me tackle them. This is where I was really happy about the training I have been doing because at every obstacle I easily gained ground on the competition. On climbing walls it would take guys 8-10 seconds with lots of wasted foot and hand placements, I would vault them in 2-3 seconds. One man in front of me was half way through the low crawl obstacles when I entered and I passed him and completed it before he got back up. But he was just a bit faster than me and would catch up between obstacles staying 20 yards ahead until the next challenge.

Overall the obstacles were good, not as many as I would have liked but this was designed as a fun team building event with friends. The final obstacle and only mud bath on the course in front of the finish line. And I made sure to give it my all to show the crowd, along with some competitors waiting for their wave to start, a good high speed base stealing slide into the goop.  After finishing, I overheard a mother telling her son that he was about the 20th person to finish. I came in right behind him. So I think I made the top 25-30 overall for solos. The results will get posted later with the photos.  Based on my watch I ran 3.89 miles in 30 minutes or a roughly 7:40 pace through a lot of sand and dirt and of course overcoming several obstacles including the long mud pit along the way. I don’t think anyone in front of me was in my age or older.

Any chance to get muddy and push the pace on a run is a plus in my book, sinus issue notwithstanding.

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stomach Flu

The house was full of excitement Saturday and Sunday, why I am stating that on the following Friday I will get to in less than a minute. Saturday morning I finished first overall in a race for the first time in my life. Later that day Mighty Mo's flag football team went 12-0 for the entire season and won their divisions championship. By the time we collapsed in the house we were jubilant and exhausted. 

On Sunday I was physically wiped out, still feeling the effects of the previous days red zone 5k on my lungs, scrapes and burns on my forearms and knees from obstacles and 4 hours of photography in consecutively more adrenaline fueled football games. By mid day Sunday my lower torso was having stabbing pains and by the end of the day I decided I either had food poisoning or my head cold had turned into a stomach flu. Whatever it was I was pretty much banished to the bedroom through Wednesday. 

I was very disappointed in the sudden turn of health. Here I had been healthy all year long, nary an issue and then the week before my winter race season I get a head cold and then the week before I have a guest, another race this weekend and have several friends flying in for Ironman Arizona I get a stomach issue. My greatest fear was not that I would be sick during all the appointments I had made but that I would infect someone prior to their race effort on Sunday and they would not have the ironman they deserve. What really pissed me off is that my training partner, who is also my chiropractor, is also racing in ironman this weekend and if I went to see him for my rib, I might have got him sick. I couldn't risk that so I've been dealing with this probably popped out rib in my back for over a week now. Self adjustments using the foam roller have been somewhat successful. 

Man, this post sounds like a Debbie Downer. But hey, I am an optimist. I started feeling better Thursday. Anything is possible with the right combination of cold medicines. I do not believe that I will affect anyone's race and I shouldn't miss any of the festivities this weekend. In my circle of friends the ironman fun starts Thursday night with a team dinner and ends probably middle of next week when the first time finishers get their tattoo. And I have a mud run Saturday. I am not going to push it on this one, just enjoy the mud. I don't want to waste myself for the weekend again. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Race Report #4 2011: Toro Loco Challenge

Having a head cold is often times the worst way to enter a race. That was my thoughts driving south last Saturday to participate in the Toro Loco Challenge, a 5k obstacle race in the flat middle of nowhere between Phoenix and Tucson. 

I felt very rushed. The race was planned as my first winter race and it was a little over an hour away. Due to rain the weekend before my sons football playoffs were rescheduled to take place at the same time as the race. And they were the number ranked team. And I am the team photographer. I was also going to this race all by myself. I haven't been to a solo event in a long time, where I knew no one, I drove with no one. So I felt divided and alone. Once I got there I chatted with several wonderful volunteers and a few other racers and became more relaxed. Everyone was very nice. 

The race itself was not the best marked, nor the best volunteered for that first wave but I had a lot of fun. Enough fun that I never unjustified in the investment of time driving there and back, how much gas I went through or the time away from my son's first play off game of the day. It was fun enough that I did it with a head cold and sore rib after falling off a practice obstacle at the park the week before. 

In a slight change of my normal race recap, instead of discussing all the nuances and obstacles during the event, I want to just state that I was the first across the finish line.

Its not enough to exist. I am going to live.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My scale is a damn Greek Siren

I hate my scale, and I don't use the word Hate very often because its a really powerful and yet overused word. When discussing my scale, I can't help but utter the strongest terms possible to describe it. It does not matter if the scale gives me the number I want or the number I dread, it still ends up screwing with my day. 

First off, I wait till I feel at some point I am the lightest I have felt since the last time I stood on the scale. And then I look down as if my feet are planted over a sliver of chasm leading straight to hell and I am standing over it looking in. If the number is favorable, I feel that I need to celebrate the success and want to make it a cheat day. If the number is 'the Devil' then I feel like nothing I've done in the past few days/weeks has mattered and I want to make it a cheat day because, "...watching my portions and food choices ain't working."

I put standing on a scale up there with getting a shot. Complete misery. And don't get me started on how every scale reads just a bit differently than the one you want to trust and of course the average body fluctuates weight on the scale based on what is being worn, what has been consumed that day and all sorts of other real and  ephemeral possibilities. 

I know, I know, don't listen to the scale. Throw it out. Go on how you feel, not what you weigh. How your clothes fit, not the scale. But like the Greek seductress, I am compelled to listen to its words. 

I am not going to exist, I am going to live. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sometimes I need supervision

I have nothing against personal trainers. Hell, I've been one personally and professionally over 15 years of being in the fitness industry. Yet I rarely use them for my own results. I see all the benefits, yet call it hubris or experience but I don't see the reasoning of a long term training package for myself when I can still kick my own ass in a workout. 

Man did I kick my own ass last weekend. I am still paying for it a few days later, much to the pleasure and pocket of my licensed massage therapist. Her remark yesterday that my right side felt like it had been hit by a truck, don't ask how she knows how that feels, needed no response from me except for the grunts she produced loosening a the larger muscles of my back. 

There are times when I bite off more than I can chew writing up workouts. Instead of changing it from a physical workout to a mental workout to get through it half way through, I should have just pulled up on it. This is one of those situations when having a trainer would have come in handy. (See I can play both sides of this).

Another lesson learned, one I'll put in the same category as brain freezes from eating something too cold really fast. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Winter race season

Normally this time of year is devoted to marathon or Ironman training for events like the PF Chang Rock N' Roll marathon in January, Lost Dutchman Marathon in February or the former April Ironman Arizona date. This year however, I've been able to cobble together a decent and diverse Winter racing season that incorporates fun, speed, challenges and the distances balance my training time. Lets take a look. 

11/12 Toro Loco Challenge. A 5k obstacle course race in Eloy, Arizona. I think this is an inaugural event as far as I know. The date fit and I look forward to racing in an area of Arizona I have not spent much time. 

11/19 Mad Mud Run 4 mile course in Scottsdale, Arizona. These are always fun events. The trick with events that are 'mud' runs in Arizona is that they are usually running on desert trail, navigate a few obstacles and then a mud pit at the finish line. The event host, Sierra Adventure Sports, is a company that I have followed for a few years and they have impressed me with their risk taking in putting on events in sketchy desert areas. 

12/10 Sally Meyerhoff 5k road race in Tempe, Arizona. Sally was an amazingly gifted local athlete who was killed in March 2011 in a cycling accident. Just months before her death she had won a half ironman, became the Xterra world champion and won the PF Chang marathon, the first American female to do so. This race is supporting a foundation in her name and her friends from the endurance community, worldwide and locally, plan on making this race a true gem. 

12/10 12k of Christmas in Gilbert, Arizona. It has been a very long time since I have done a real 'Christmas' run with lots of costumes and season spirit. I look forward to just enjoying the scenery. It is not a typo that both Sally's 5k and 12k of Christmas are shown a 12/10.  Sally's run starts at 8am, I expect a rather fast 5k time, then hop in the car and drive to the 12k that starts at 10am. I have never done two different races in different locations on the same day so that will be good fun. 

1/14/12 Tough Mudder in Wickenburg, Arizona.  I drove 28 hours round trip to do the first Tough Mudder in Bear Valley, California in October 2010, thankfully this is much closer. I have been an obstacle course enthusiast for years, since my time in the Army and finding something similar in the civilian world was sorely lacking. TM let me see this new category of racing really start to be taken seriously. 

2/11/12 Super Spartan Race, Chandler, Arizona. This company absolutely rocks, it will be my second time doing this race at this location and I expect the obstacles and the course to be taken up a notch. While this may be only my only Spartan race for the winter, I expect to travel to a few of their other events throughout 2012.  The brilliance behind Spartan is that they have four levels of races and my goal is to complete all four, including the Death Race, a once a year race that the race directors only provide a mandatory gear list and do not tell the contestants what the events are or how long the race will last. 

2/18/12 GORUCK Challenge, Phoenix, Arizona. Hosting 'classes' around the world almost every weekend of the year, this company has brought the military conditioning mentality to the public. It is not a race, it is a team building event that is run by former and current members of the US Army Special Forces. Each city event has two classes that start in the middle or the night and last 15-20 miles and between 8-10 hours.  The mandatory equipment is a GORUCK pack, bought or borrowed from the company as these events are really designed to be product testing of the packs. And based on body weight each person carry's three or four paver bricks in the pack for weight. 

I have an open weekend on 12/3 that I may try to fill at the last minute. There is a half marathon I have given a soft commitment to running in Las Vegas. Its actually a Sunday night (12/4) run on the strip. I have a few team mates from AZTRICLUB that are already committed. However on 12/3, there is a 5-8 hour adventure race only a couple miles from my house at Saguaro Lake called Desert Rage Adventure Race. I would rather do that event for many reasons. 

I am pretty excited to pack the next few months with these races and be able to add to this schedule as peer pressure and personal satisfaction demand like turkey trots, New Years races, maybe the odd super sprint triathlon. I'd really like to open up my season in the Spring and Summer for destination events where friends live, combining good friends and healthy racing. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bowling For Food

Today I am thinking about food. Most days I don't think about food. I just eat. And eat and eat and eat. I am a unconscious eater. I don't necessarily eat poorly, but no one is perfect and we all have our kyptonite in the kitchen. Mine by the way, M&M's. I will knowingly destroy a bag of M&M's. I am much like a Koi fish in that regard. As a Koi will grow to the size of the bowl, aquarium or pond you place it in, I will eat as many M&M's are in a bag, regardless of size of said vessel. 

Most meals I am very good about where I eat, what I eat, how it is prepared and how much I put on my plate. For the first round. It's that damn unconscious mind of mine that puts a second portion on my plate. It certainly doesn't hurt that my wife is a wonderful cook. (cliche').  The good news is that without even really trying, a part of my subconscious I have trained well, I eat pretty balanced meals. 

Some meals, mostly late snacking, when I am tired and my defenses are down, I'll find myself suddenly several handfuls into a bag of corn chips, dried fruit or nuts. Unconscious eating habits. I can be on point for 90% of my day, but that 10% of the time easily adds 50% to my daily caloric intake. 

Part of my issue with eating to much is that over the last two months I have also changed my workout routine. I have completely changed physical activity from all endurance based training for Ironman distance triathlons to a balance of functional strength training and endurance for obstacle course racing. While I have focused a lot on the types of exercises added and subtracted, I did not dig deep into the affects it had on my latent caloric expenditure. I burned a lot more calories in training for Ironman distances than I am in this new paradigm and I did not change my eating habits to reflect that. 

So back to the title of this post, Bowling For Food. I have this bowl, a Guyot Designs Squishy Bowl. It has a capacity of 16oz. There is really no reason for me, at any meal to be eating more than 16oz of food, so I have used it control my portion size for the entire meal. Yeah, I know, its a stupid trick. But it gets me back to really thinking about how much I am putting on my plate and after a few weeks of positive reinforcement, I am no longer subconsciously eating. Sure I am occasionally tempted to fill it full of M&M's but I do have that much control over myself. 

Also, I am going back to the questioning my eating motives. Again a stupid mental trick but it forces me to ask a question regarding if what I am doing in the pantry is a planned or unplanned attack on my caloric intake. Now what I do in there is a conscious decision. I always prefer affirmations, but sometimes those become just repeatable phrases that mean nothing. A question makes you think. 

Last trick isn't really a trick but the tried and true background to controlling intake, writing down what is eaten and how many calories it is. I am OCD enough to do this diligently and honest enough when I do it to recognize, "That handful of candy would taste really good, but I just don't want to waste the time, figuring out how many calories and it would be embarrassing to show that to someone for accountability." I will scratch out on paper or spreadsheets all that jazz, but on my iPhone is an app called, Lose It! which is very user friendly for tracking food intake and meeting goals. 

The flip side to tracking all the calories going in, one must track all the calories going out. Since I usually wear some device that tracks exercise calorie expenditure, it is a nice change in the day to add something that shows a caloric deficit that has a positive impact on the total calories for the day.

I mean look, I am long in the tooth at diet and exercise, and even I need to hold myself accountable to how I eat. I eat healthier than most, but I can still over eat healthy food and gain weight. Now I can get myself back on track with just a few sleight of hand gestures like bowls and post-it notes because I am 'feeling' the effects of subconscious eating and being at most ten pounds over my race weight, acceptable in almost any athlete post season. I am not in a full fledged medical or physical requirement to lose 30, 40, 60, 100 lbs. Efforts  that requires serious and drastic lifestyle changes to what, where, how and when, someone eats.

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to the beginning!

Here is the situation. Mistress is a phenomenal swimmer with perfect form in all strokes with a long history of competitive swimming. She went through college on a PAC10 swimming scholarship. Mostly swimming the mile, she would swim 25-30 miles a week. She gave up swimming for several years for us to start our business and our family but over the last year she has joined a Masters Swim program and most mornings is out the door to a early morning swim workout. 

Fall sunrise

At first this didn't bother me. I've had ultimate freedom the last year, so for me, I can workout at anytime I want during the day. I wasn't beholden to o'dark workouts to fit in a session before work. I could stay up late, sleep in and still get two quality workouts a day if I so desired. For an athlete training for ultra distance races staying up late and sleeping in are rarities, so I ensconced myself in that model of living as a symbol of my new trappings. 

Of course this new reality came with its downside. Minus a dedicated time to workout every day, I did my workouts a disservice with uninspired training or creating elaborate workouts to emphasis the fact that I wasn't trying to fit it in before having to do something else. This lack of schedule, this lack of accountability took it's toll in others areas of my life and before you know it, I feel like I've cheated myself out of my fitness the last couple months especially. 

This reminds me a quote from the Princess Bride, (bold for effect)
Inigo: I am waiting for you, Vizzini. You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.
Brute: But the Prince gave orders –
Inigo: — So did Vizzini — when a job went wrong, you went back to the beginning. And this is where we got the job. So it’s the beginning, and I’m staying till Vizzini comes.

Back to the beginning!  Back to routine. Back to keeping a schedule. I am taking back my mornings. I am not foolish enough to think I would pop out of bed with vip, vim and vigor but I got out when I didn't really need to, to do what I really needed to do. 

I have nothing fancy planned for these first few weeks of early workouts, as really its not my main workout of the day like morning workouts used to be. Back then Mistress was in the house and taking care of the littles. Now that falls to me when she at Masters. I'm not planning on any 15 mile runs or 3 hour bike trainer sessions. My goals is to get out of bed with Mistress, which means going to bed early, then a few repeats of a familiar routine I do of push ups, ab exercises, pull ups, squats, burpees and plank for time. I vary each set with different hand placements , switch up ab exercises or a wall sit instead of plank. Add stretching tight muscles and if the littles stay in bed a bit longer some treadmill. 

Today was Day 1 and I got through the set 1x before Mo woke up needing his medicine and get ready for school. I am not used to working out in my living room so when I did crunches I saw the fan blades needed cleaning so I did that. The wood floor had dried playdoh and dog hair so I swiffered that.  The dog thought every time I did a burpee it was time to lick my face. In other words, I got up, got dressed, got through one circuit and got the room ready for me to do more in it tomorrow. 

That is progress and if I can integrate this morning routine back into my life and just get 1% better every day at it, I will be happy. 

It's not enough exist. I am going to live. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

I what?

Whether its getting to close to a pan of frying bacon and having hot grease 'pop' into my eyeballs, you just can't rinse bacon fat out of your eyelids. Or totally doing an endo trying to pop the front wheel of my mountain bike over a curb, but the backpack full of beer was okay, none damaged. I tend to go through my day responding to my self deprecating moment with thinking, "I, what?"

Sometimes I just don't realize what I am doing or why I am doing it. Later on I realize it was part of some Rube Goldberg scheme to include exercise into every facet of my walking day. Thus you have me mountain biking with a half rack of PBR in a backpack. For the extra weight of course. Sometimes I just try things beyond my ability, like obviously trying to ride a mountain bike over a curb. Or frying bacon. 

And just so you know, you really shouldn't walk around a mall with a backpack full of beer. It's not that there is anything inherently illegal about it, you can almost feel like if you were suddenly transported to an alternate dimension like, a pool side in Las Vegas, to party with vapid plastic bombshells celebrating your awesomeness, with nothing but what was on you, that you would be totally prepared. (photo courtesy FHM)

No sadly the reason you don't carry a 40 lb backpack is because you can not fit through the ridiculously small spaces between mannequins and shelves. "I, what? Knocked over your seasonal transition mannequins with the latest fall fashions on it. Crap. I'm sorry."  And even with my hands tucked into my pockets the employees where following me around like I was about steal everything. Everything. My only saving grace from mall security being called was because I look closer to 50 than 15, so I'm just some eccentric (though obviously fit and handsome) old guy and not the normal demo of a pimply faced skinny jean hipster shoplifter. 

So it is a series of lessons learned over the weekend. First, you don't need to physically place your face in a pan of frying bacon to see if its done or not. Tongs work pretty good at bringing that stuff to your level, out of the pan. Second, realize you don't normally ride a mountain bike with a backpack full of heavy stuff and some cities have really high curbs.  Lastly, walking around a mall with a heavy ass pack on your back is great training for stuff like obstacle racing, backpacking, shopping with your wife at Christmas, but it gives the same impression as walking into a bank with the mask of a famous President over your face. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

MaeCare Day 4

Spending time with grandpa yesterday cut into our playground time, so I made a deal with Mae, no park because we have to go to the pet store but you can have a fish. Meet, 'Girl', her male Beta. She is very happy. 

Mae and I are on our own again for most of the day. I can't say I am the best food provider. For breakfast she had corn chips and a carrot with ranch dip and apple juice. Now she is watching a Tinker Bell movie and double fisting old ring pops. She gets one after each swim practice during the week but never finishes them, thus the leftovers. 

She is going to be part of  my workout today. Its nice out so I am going to carry her a couple miles to the pharmacy and back. A good upper body workout carrying her. Maybe get her on my shoulders and do a quarter mile of lunges. We've been working on a version of the press up that cheerleader squads do. She stands upright rigid and I do a clean and press by holding her calves. A core/balance workout for her, and I get to do 20 reps of a upright press while shes up there. Also thinking of trying to pull a wagon behind me, if she gets tired. Still thinking of how to tie it around my waist so its hands free while we walk. Some rope for waist and maybe duct tape to constrict the handle joint to keep it straight. 

Mo has football practice tonight and then I'll end the day after that with a special team meeting for future racing with AZTRICLUB. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So many places to post, so little time

Day 3 of Daddy led MaeCare. Split a pumpkin pie pop tart for breakfast. Watching Return to Neverland, again. (And for the hundredth time Mae, I can't find pixie dust). Hoping for a trip to Grandpas to say hello, the pet store for supply's & maybe some park time, (play for her, workout for me). Then a quick jump in the 'hot pool'/Jacuzzi to wash off the sand, Mac & Cheese for her and then nap. 

My neck has been jacked up since last Saturday, so even my limited training has been very painful. Jarring motions worse than muscles straining so no running. Mistress heard me vomiting from nausea when she got home from work and forced me to finally go see my good friend Dr. Banas at Banas Sports Therapy

Feel much better this morning and will try some endurance training on the treadmill. I can tell when I slack on my indoor running, (my pick up bonus running) when my DVR is backed up with multiple new episodes from shows I watch when I run. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Never saw me like that

I take time every day to find time to be alone and meditate. I focus internally, pray, give thanks to many people and things that have happened to me lately,  and generally just appreciate the fact that I can think, act and have fun for another day. Yesterday is the past, tomorrow isn't guaranteed, that's why today is called 'present'. And I like to acknowledge that. 

Often when I meditate I try to visualize myself accomplishing a task perfectly, either an important task for the day like making dinner and screwing up or if it is close to a race, I'll self talk and visualize myself from start to finish highlighting key areas of mental and physical toughness. It is rare that when I mediate I get creative sparks of inspiration or see visions that I was not prepared to consider. Yet when those happen they are like lightening bolts to me. And I had one the other day. 

I was sitting in all places my hot tub, not my usual spot. I had just started my mediation routine when out of nowhere I saw a vision of myself in my mind that was so real it was like a physical blow. I saw myself physically looking like nothing I had every accomplished before. It wasn't a fantasy version of adventure or attractiveness, I still looked like a cross between Quasimodo and the Elephant Man. It wasn't lying in a pool of blood or broken bones. It was just me. Transformed by the results of hard work and dedication that based on the training I have done in and out gym over 30 years I have never obtained, because I had never tried that path. The previous efforts had me going from one extreme or the other, power based or endurance athlete.  My vision was something else.Something better. Something greater. 

Since then I haven't been able to get the vision out of my mind. It has affected my eating, it has affected my training. I've completely rethought my training protocols for the rest of the year. In fact in that vision, I knew immediately how I got there. It was if someone from the future handed me a script of what to do, exercises and routines I had never done suddenly came to my mind as if I had done them for years. It has affected so much that even if I obtain half of the vision I will be successful. 

It blows me away at how much stronger the mind is than the body. If we only take the time to open ourselves up to the possibility that we don't know everything. 

It is not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It is always a fine line between sharing and protecting when you run a blog. While I am pretty open and honest about the ups and downs of my adventures and especially my endurance pursuits, I have debated about today's topic. However, as it as really affected my training and my personal life, I can think of nothing else to write about. After some meditation, I think I can say what I need to say, without triggering too many spiderbots and the reader will get it. 

For the last oh, 15 years or so, I've taken a pill everyday for a condition with my thyroid. Its a condition that affects millions of people around the world, I am not special, albeit 90% are female. Mistress says it is my body trying to express its feminine side.  In real life, I am not really shy about sharing this information but in that setting I know who I am speaking with and there is an implied sense of security or shared trust as conversations are a back and forth, give and take, and not posted forever online.

Based on years of conversation and research it seems the dose I get is pretty small.  So I didn't exactly care earlier this year when I ran out and the missed the doctors appointment required to test and refill my prescription for the next twelve months. I've missed days and an occasional week here and there with very little problem. Plus I can't stand doctors, hospitals, blood draws, all that crap. I've been through too many of those scenarios to conjure up rainbows and unicorns when the appointment draws near. I figured, "It's a small dose, what kind of problems could I have?"

Two months later, the longest period I have been without, I'm willing to admit I have completely SABOTAGED my body in the process of testing my limits. Nothing really new about that epiphany, is there.  It is not as if I have become a crippled invalid or unable to function in society. Hardly. But I have all the classic symptoms back and my frustration has trumped any hesitation I have about going to the doctors. So today I get tested and back on the program.

My symptoms are not uncommon, though everyone tends to exhibit different progression or regression of the common traits. I get cramps in my legs and back really easy, usually while sleeping, when I wake up it takes an hour to loosen up. Not so good when 90% of my exercise uses my lower body and I am used to early morning workouts. Totally lethargic. My usual sleep pattern is about 5.5 hours a night and never naps. Currently I sleep 9-10 hours a night, wake up exhausted, need to lay down mid day and I'm ready for bed at 8pm. There's some other symptoms worth mentioning but as those two points above really affect my day more than anything else.

So that sabotage is over. Back on the drug and back to hopefully a less sleepfull night and more energetic day. Less working out the night time leg cramp and more just working out cramping legs.

Its not enough to exist. I am going to live.