Entries in LifeTime (3)


February brings new Challenges

On Saturday, I went out early for a Long Run with my running partner Mike. At 6am, it was dark and chilly but there we were, on the Prairie Trail, heading out for an 8-mile run. I was hoping this would feel 'right' and let me know that I am still on track fitness-wise (even though I took that week off).

But before we even got started, Mike had found a woman's purse on the trail that had clearly been rummaged through. So we decided to call the police so that perhaps they could reunite the purse with its owner. Since the purse had keys and other contents strewn around the path, Mike was certain the owner would be worried. I thought the purse looked as if it was stolen (maybe a 'snatch and grab') so we agreed calling the police was worth the delay in our run. The police came, did their investigation, and we went on our way.

The path was nice and clear of any snow or ice, and the run started out very smoothly. Of course, we talked along the way, which is a good way of making sure we kept to a steady, easy pace. We both had our headlamps lighting our way as we ran, looking like two coal miners with running shoes. We went about 4 miles before it was light enough outside to turn off the headlamps.

On the way back, we saw a group of ducks swimming on a lake to our left. I made the comment that "Ducks were God's original triathletes: they swam, ran, and flew!" He took the photograph and we kept on moving. When we finished the run, we both remarked that running together was a good thing. We keep each other on task, strengthening our resolve to complete the run. It is good to have someone who understands how running makes you feel and shares the drive to improve and push yourself to do more. I am going to need that support this year!

Our final mileage was 8.7 miles! I was very pleased with that! My final mileage for the week came to 20.3 which was about where I wanted to be for the week.

On to new Challenges!

Today I started two new challenges. The first was signing up for the LifeTime 90-day Challenge, a weight loss challenge the club launched where you set a weight loss goal for the next 90 days. I signed up for a 15 pound weight loss goal, and did my initial "weigh-in" with my coach Meghan.

During the next 90 days, there are many free classes and programs you can take to help reach your goal. At the end of the program, there is a 5K race followed by awards given to those who lose the most weight.

I did this program last spring and had great results. I hope to be able to check out many of their exercise programs during the Challenge because they make many of them free to participants. It is a good chance to do things that you might not otherwise try due to cost or lack of opportunity. I am looking forward to the 2012 challenge!

The second thing I did today was to start an experiment with Natural Running by testing out a new pair of running shoes I ordered from Altra Running. They are called "The Instinct" and are a new breed of shoe marketed to be the step between a regular running shoe and a minimalist shoe.

The company was started by a couple of running shoe designers from Nike who started their own company. The shoe has cushioning similar to a regular shoe, but a minimalist heel to toe ratio (called a "zero drop" heel). Because male and female feet are different, they have different models for men and women to ensure the best possible fit. I first heard about the company during an interview about their shoes on The Marathon Show and since my current shoes are due for replacement in another 100 miles (4-5 weeks), I figured now would be a good time to check into a new pair.

The 'experts' say it takes 4 weeks or so to get your feet and calves accustomed to running in minimalist shoes because they encourage a mid-foot strike and engage your calves and arches more than regular running shoes do. Taking things too fast could lead to potential injury and I want to avoid that.

So today, I took my first step into the Natural Running world. To take things slowly, I decided to run 3x400m in them (with a 400m warm-up walk and 400m cool-down walk). That means 3/4 mile of running and 1/2 mile of walking in the new shoes.

The good news? They felt great! I had no problems running in them, partly because I am more of a midfoot striker (and I walk in socks whenever I am home). I ran at a 12:00/mm pace for 2x400m and at 10:30/mm for the third 400m. And I didn't experience any discomfort at all.

So I think I like these! I am going to wear them for one run each week, adding 1/4-1/2 mile each time until I can do a 5K in them. Then I will have a better idea if these will be a good fit for me, and if I should try them out on a Long Run. My main concern is that I am a heavier runner than most who go 'minimalist', so I will be paying close attention to how my feet handle it.

Not sure if I will want to run in these for a HM, but, we will see how this experiment goes. At worst, they can be my casual 'tennis shoe' if I choose not to make them a primary running shoe, right?


Hey Diabetes! I am kicking your butt!

I go see my doctor next weekend for my regular 3-month bloodwork and diabetes checkup. I have been maintaining a good eating regimen and checking my blood glucose levels pretty regularly since my last checkup in July. So I am pretty confident that I have been managing my blood sugars well. I am hopeful that my doctor will decide, based upon the bloodwork results we get, that I no longer need medication to manage my blood sugar levels. Right now, I am off of everything except a very low daily dose of Metformin (500mg). Going off all medications, and managing my blood sugar via diet and exercise alone, has been a primary goal of mine since I was first diagnosed back in April 2010. This might be it!

I am so excited about this possibility, that I couldn't wait until the appointment. So I went to the drugstore and purchased a Home Self-Test Kit to analyze my blood sugar levels over the last 90 days. This is called an HbA1c Test, which can assess your average blood sugar level over that period based upon your red blood cells (which have a 90-day lifespan). So I took the test this morning. It takes about 8 minutes to administer the test and receive the results.

A1cNow shows my awesome test results!Awesome news!! My A1c percentage was 5.5! Why is that good? Because the regular range for NON-diabetics is between 4-6%!! (For a diabetic, having an A1c around 6.5% is considered good.) To be at 5.5% is awesome! What is even better news is that I have scored below 6% on these tests since March. Because of this, the doctors have been cutting back on my medications a little bit at a time to see if my blood sugars remain stable/good. Well so far, that has been the case. So, there is a good chance the doctor will make the decision to stop the Metformin at my next checkup!

I cannot tell you how great this makes me feel right now. With the adoption of better eating habits, food choices, and portion control, and the significant increase in exercise into my daily routine, I have been very successful at lowering my blood sugar and losing weight. When I started this journey, my A1c percentage was 11.7 -- very high -- and I was 108 lbs heavier than I am today. Now, I am at 5.5% and wear a size XL shirt (instead of the 4XL I used to wear).

And the journey continues. I still have 52 more pounds to shed so I will stay the course. I am bound and determined to reach my goal. In fact, if all goes according to plan, I will be running in the Illinois Half Marathon just about the same date two years ago when I was first diagnosed. So finishing that race (actually, finishing both the 5K and the Half) will be a sort of culmination for me -- a milestone of achievement in both health and fitness. There might be tears that day, just sayin...

In other news

I ran 3.5 miles on Thursday to finish up my second maintenance run for this week. I was feeling pretty strong during the run which I took at a 11:15/mm pace. I took a different route, running over to Woodscreek Elementary, then down to Golf Course Road, to Miller Road, and then back to Glacier Ridge Elementary, and finally back to the house. It was kinda cool to run to the two elementary schools that my children have all attended.

Tomorrow, October 1st, I am running in the Chicago AIDS Foundation 5K Run in Grant Park in Chicago. It should be a fun race, and it supports another worth cause -- research towards the fight against HIV/AIDS. I am proud to be supporting this research and if anyone feels similarly called to help with this fight, you can lend your support at my pledge site. This will be my third race in as many weeks so I will have to admit that I will relish the next 15 days before my next race to rest and just do my training runs and strength training. Races can take a lot out of you, and I was definitely feeling a bit tired this week. But I am feeling ready for tomorrow!

This week LifeTime Fitness published my fitness journey article on their public 'weight loss' web site, along with a 'before and after' set of photos (which you can see on the About Me section of this blog site). They actually contacted me about a week ago and asked if they could republish this story because they felt it would be encouraging to others who are going through similar journeys of their own. If you want to read it, click here.

Polar USA, the makers of the RS300X sport watch that I use for training, also published an article about me on their web site. It is a little harder to find it since I cannot put a direct link to it. But if you go to their "Polar People" site, you just have to scroll down the photos on the left until you see mine and click on that. Then the article will appear on the right.