A not-so-quick reflection…

So Jaime and I knocked out our second 16 mile long run this past weekend.  I’ve probably said it before, but I severely enjoy every weekend being a new personal record.  I will be a little sad when the marathon and associated training is over, and my Nike running app stops telling me that I just broke a new record for my longest run. 

And yes, I am excited that we just ran 16 miles.  And like most things, if I am excited about it I either:

a)rush head long into it, spending exorbitant amounts of money without thinking, and end up about a week later with buyer’s remorse, a lot of stuff I don’t need, and a lot less excitement or

b) talk about it insistently (which I could have sworn was spelled “incessentatly” but that word apparently does not existiate)… or write a blog post about it. 

For those on the edge of your seat, I have chosen option b when it comes to our marathon training.  The poor folks that work around me or talk to me for any length of time get to hear me blabber on about the Paleo diet (check out premadepaleohawaii.com, my OTHER new blog), CrossFit, or marathon training.  I realize I just want people to be impressed as I am that we ran 16 miles, so I always find a casual, creative way to bring it up in conversation.

Coworker A: “So we went to the movies this weekend, saw Sinister.  I had really high expectations, but it turned out to be a little hokey in the end.”

Me: “Ah, Sinister.  Like when Jaime and I ran 16 miles this weekend.”

Orrrrr….

Coworker B: “My daughter has decided to join a commune in central Oklahoma.  We are really concerned about her because the leader of the commune is a registered sex offender and all of the other members of the commune seem to be women between the ages of 18 and 22.”

Me: “Ah, commune.  Like when Jaime and I ran 16 miles this weekend.”

So to any of you folks who have had to deal with this particular obnoxious side of me, let me go ahead and apologize now.  It is hard work being this self-aware, and I will try to reign in my excitement. 

Okay, but that is not the point of this post.  Sometimes when I talk about marathon training, a small group of people actually don’t roll their eyes and pretend to pay attention while they try to recite the alphabet backwards silently.  They listen intently, reflect on their own fitness, and say, “I could never run five miles much less a 16.  That is just a bridge too far.”  To be fair, they never actually use the words “a bridge too far,” but covers a lot more ground than what they normally say. 

And to that end (i.e. this IS the point of this post), I have started reflecting on how far I have come this past year. 

For instance:

#1.  Jaime and I started running again in May.  I distinctly remember it, because we had just hit the .5 mile mark of a 3 mile run.  This HALF mile was all downhill.  No, really.  Sometimes it was a big gradient downhill… sometimes it was a slight decline.  But make no mistake, it was ALL downhill.  And at that half mile point, I had to walk.  I was out of breath.  My legs felt like lead.  I was ready to lay down and die right there in the road.  We all have to start somewhere… or in our case, restart somewhere.  It was severely humbling.  And now, like I have severely overstated, we ran 16 miles.

#2.  Anyone who knows me has a pretty good idea of how much I like to sleep.  The words A LOT come to mind.  I have been endless harassed by my beautiful wife for wanting to go to bed ridiculously early to ensure that we would have 8 full hours of sleep the night before a run.  In fact, if we were getting up at 6:00 a.m. to go run, and we didn’t make it to bed by 10:00 p.m., it was a foregone conclusion that I would not be waking up for the run.  If we got to bed by 10:15, I would whine about going to bed late and just refuse to move in the morning.  Have you ever tried to walk a dog that decided to plant itself instead of walking, and somehow that 75 lbs dog had somehow created the weight of one of those stone/granite dogs from Ghostbusters?  Yeah, that was me in the bed.  Not budging.  Since the third week of August, we have gone to bed and gotten up to run at hours well before 6:00 a.m.  I am not quite sure when the whining stopped, but it stopped even becoming an option to not get up and run.  We have gotten out of bed at 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. for races.  We probably whined a little bit then, but we got up.  And this was on the weekend.  I am pretty sure that is against my religion or at least against every natural instinct I have.  I find it more amazing that we have gotten up numerous times now on Saturday before 6:00 a.m. to go for a run.  Seriously?  Who does that? 

What is my point?  Somewhere in this mix of fitness, there has been a slowly shifting mindset that has had a huge impact on how we tackle our days. 

And it’s awesome.  But I really can’t wait for the marathon to be completed so I can sleep in on Saturday.  Just sayin’….

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JayClay vs the Half-Marathon

Sunrise at the Gunstock Half-Marathon (Photo courtesy of Jaime)

That’s right.  I just recently heard you aren’t REALLY married until you have a celebrity name for your coupleness.  Thus, JayClay.  Always put your best foot forward (first) and save the best for last.

So at some point, getting up at 4:00 a.m. to go run 13.1 miles over hilly and wild pig infested trails seemed like a good idea.  I’m just not sure at what point that was.  But that is exactly what we did.  We woke up at 4:30 in the morning, ate come Crustables (the training guide said a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was totally acceptable as a pre-race meal), and headed to the almost-North-Shore to run all willy-nilly through a working ranch.  In short, it was awesome.  For instance, as we signed up to get our race bibs, I had to point out the horse, ummm, droppings in front of the table to make sure Jaime didn’t step in it.  She questioned why they didn’t set up the table NOT in front of the poop.  I then pointed out the other piles of poop and suggested that maybe they should have set up in front of them.  Point taken.

It was a wide range of folks and after the national anthem punctuated with a cowgirl riding around in circles on her pony with an American flag waving in the wind (I was disappointed when it did not rear up at the end and do a horse wheelie), we were off like a herd including a whole lot of dust getting kicked up into our lungs.  Once we finally made it around the seven teenagers (they might have been college age… who can tell these days?) in their tie-dye shirts talking about what conditioner they should use after the race, we were off on a steady pace.

Gunstock Ranch Trail Half-Marathon

About one and a half miles into the race, (well, SOMEBODY was racing, but I can assure you it was not Jaime and me), we heard a rustling sound in the brush behind and to the right of us.

“No big deal,” I thought, “I’ve seen this plenty in Arkansas… a rabbit or a bird can make a huge ruckus.  Here in Hawaii, the mongoose can… OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” as a good sized wild pig came barreling out of the best bush next to us.  When I say barreling, it was not a pig in a barrel, although a pig in a blanket does sound nice right about now… no, this misguided swine charged across the trail just behind us and straight into a simple, criss-crossed wire fence: which it abruptly bounced off of.

  • My first thought: “Oh, THAT’S how they make bacon.”  Once it bounced off, it stopped and turned towards Jaime and me.
  • Second thought: “Oooo… this is just like Lost. Maybe I can take this wild pig with my bare hands (although bear hands would be much more useful right now) and my new nickname could be Locke!”
  • Third thought: “This is going to suck.”

During these three thoughts, I began subtly pushing (quickly shoving) Jaime behind me and thinking of how Bacon and I were going to resolve this issue when he finally ran back into the bush the way he came.  Problem resolved.  Secure in my manhood in protecting my woman, we started running again when Bacon charged back across the trail about five feet in front of us.  Fortunately, he picked a spot without a fence, and that was the last we saw of him for the day.

Beyond dodging cow pies and horse poop, we plodded on to victory.  Or at least our longest run to date.  And we weren’t last.  We ended up #81 and #82 out of 200 folks (I was #81.  I think my timechip crossed the finish line first), and were happy, satisfied, and actually felt like we could have kept running.  Our time was 2 hours and 30 minutes.  Sure, our finishers’ medallion was a dogtag with a sticker on it, but it is one of my proudest accomplishments to date.  Until we run 16 miles next weekend.

Team JayClay at the finish line with our “medallions.”

Open Letter to Jason Surowiec

Dear Jason Surowiec,

When I left Japan back in February of this year, I felt like I didn’t really say thank you enough or really show my appreciation for the enormous impact you’ve had on my life.  Even when I first met you at HSL-40 at Mayport, FL, I saw what an extremely positive and supportive individual you were.  And it was at that point that I had already developed my ridiculous fear of disappointing you.

I was super excited when I found out you were going to be moving out to HSL-51 in Japan.  With such a small, close-knit society, it is always nice to have someone with a positive outlook show up when you live in a fishbowl.

Fast forward to March 2011 and you find us forward deployed to Misawa to help out with the tsunami disaster relief efforts.  I reflect on this time period for two reasons:

#1.  It was the first time I saw you with your shirt off.  Clearly, I like the girls, but it was probably the first time I realized how fit you were.  I remember thinking to myself, “That is the kind of fitness I want for myself.”  You even offered to take me to the gym with you which leads me to #2.

#2.  Looking back a little more clearly, it might have been my first taste of CrossFit…. had I gone.   I was so scared and intimidated by what CrossFit MIGHT have meant that I didn’t go.  But you invited me.  And that stuck with me.  You weren’t forceful or obnoxious about it.  You let me figure things out in my own time.  With hindsight being 20/20, I wish I would have asked more questions.  I remember you mentioned pull-ups, and I ran away with my tail between my legs.

These two things combined left me with a lot to think about.  I laugh as I think about what I was eating and drinking while we were in Misawa.  A few beers every night.  I was eating cereal like it was going out of style.  There was lots of crap from the mini-mart next to the Q we were staying in.  And then they re-opened the Burger King.  Yikes.

It took my until mid June of 2011 for me to actually come and talk to you about making a change.  In fact, it was 18 June 2011.  You gave me the link to Mark’s Daily Apple.com, and within a few hours, I had purchased Primal Blueprint off of his website.  I devoured that book pretty quickly, and it was certainly the beginning of my critical examination of conventional wisdom, the food pyramid or the plate, etc.  And even with this, you gave me a simple website and let me discover my own way.  It wasn’t until 19 July that Jaime and I came to our first CrossFit class.  We actually owe that one to Kelly Hermann. She got Jaime to go, and that got me to go.  But we were hooked after the first class.  Our first coaches were Cindy Larsen and Michelle Munroe McGrevy have yet to be topped by any box we have been to.  The camaraderie and community of the Atsugi CrossFit folks has left a high bar that we are still trying to find.  And every time Jaime and I would show up, your face would light up and you were extremely welcoming.  It is one of the things that kept us coming back.

And here we are in October of 2012.  Jaime and I are running a half-marathon this weekend as preparation for a full marathon in December.  We are CrossFit’ing regularly at our local box and even visiting boxes while we are on the road.  I have achieved my Level One Trainer Certificate and have found I want more of the same.  You have had such a positive impact on my life and by extension, Jaime’s.  I know I am not the only person you have affected this way.  And I can never say thank you enough.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!  I hope that one day I can find a way to repay you!

Your friend,

Clay Shane

My mentor, Jason Surowiec

89th Day Update

So I started this blog on 11 July (well, I ACTUALLY started it sometime in 2011, but I REALLY started writing on 11 July), and it has been 89 days since I began my fitness journey.  I started with a clear goal in mind and an end date for when my fitness adventure would come to an end.  And while I still have my goals in sight and in mind, they are no longer the end of the road.  They are just sign posts along the way.  Mile markers on the highway of my fitness life.  When I get to 185 lbs, I won’t suddenly stop eating Paleo.  I am not going to give up on CrossFit.  My adventure continues and my new goals become inspiring, helping, and motivating others.

So where am I right now?  Take a look:

108 days of change: 29 June to 8 October

108 Days of Change from the Side: 20 June to 8 October

This morning, I weighed 211.6 lbs.  My waist was under 38 inches (37.9 inches to be accurate).  That means I am within limits for the Physical Fitness Assessment.  Woot!  The beginning numbers were 232 lbs and 42.5 inches for your comparison.

To add some cherries on top, Jaime and I ran 12 miles this past Sunday.  I try not to think about it, because that number just seems ridiculous.  We even signed up for a half marathon next weekend (it’s nice really, because now we don’t have to map out a run).

A lot of folks have sent personal messages letting me know that I have motivated them in one way or another.  And these messages mean the world to me.  It is one reason I have kept on trucking.  I will keep posting my progress and thoughts if you guys will keep letting me know how YOU are doing.  Either in comments (click on that little speech bubble at the top of the post) or e-mails to madclay@me.com.  Thanks again for everyone’s support!