Thursday, November 26, 2009

22nd Annual Feaster Five Road Race - 5k

Well, it's another year, another Thanksgiving; must mean another Turkey Trot. This year, our first in Massachusetts, we did a big race. The Feaster Five Road Race in Andover, MA. Unlike the Smoke the Turkey race I'd done the previous two years in Sylvania, OH, the Feaster Five is enormous.

Over 9000 people lined up to do 2 races, a 5k and a 5 miler on a mostly shared course. And while you'd think jumping from a thanksgiving race of a few hundred to one of several thousand would be the biggest change.

You'd be wrong.

The biggest change was the course. The Smoke the Turkey race is pancake flat. Feaster Five could literally be the exact opposite. Hills from the very beginning, including a massive hill in the second mile that seemingly never ends. When we walked to shirt pick-up we saw the hill at the end of the course and I thought that hill was long. It was nothing compared to the big one on the course. There were several others as well. This is one of those things it's hard to prepare for with an out of town race, the unfamiliar course.

Oh, and because Rach was leaving for the weekend as soon as the race ended, we did thanksgiving yesterday. So a nice big dinner of turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, champagne, the works.

So, now that I've given you all reasons (read: excuses) I had to have a poor outing, let me end the suspense. My time was 42:24. While this is 3 1/2 minutes slower than my run this past Sunday, the course was so much harder I feel like this was a terrific time based on where I am in my training. We get almost no hill training running in the city. It's very flat. When I passed the 2 mile marker I was much closer to a 15 minute mile because of that damn never-ending hill. The fact that I turned in a 12:24 time for the last 1.1 miles was a terrific effort, especially with the long hill at the end. I simply decided that I wasn't going to let this course get the best of me. I ignored the hills, my burning tired lungs, the throbbing in my right ankle (ok, I didn't really ignore it as much as adjusted my gait until it stopped) and pushed myself through that last mile and up the hill as hard as I could.

Running 5k regularly is clearly helping me get stronger at this distance. We've got one more 5k next weekend, so hopefully I can put one more really strong time up on the boards for the year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

America's Hometown Thanksgiving 5k

Yesterday was the America's Hometown Thanksgiving 5k in Plymouth MA. The race ran right along the ocean, with an out and back course that had 2 turnarounds at each end of the downtown area. We got to run past Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower twice. It's really amazing to me to see such historic places, let alone be there for a race. Rach and I had been out to see the rock earlier this summer, which made racing there a little funny. Instead of being in awe of the Mayflower, I was using it to judge how far I was from the finish line.

I haven't been training as hard as I need to, but I'm building towards it. After Thanksgiving, I'll be going pretty hard for the next 9 months. The good news is that I haven't gained any weight. I haven't lost either, which is really more a function of my lack of eating control. But that'll come too.

My official time was 39:06. That was a PR by 2:15, with my previous best being 41:21. I was expecting this to be better because of the running I've been doing.

Next up is Feaster Five, a 5k in Andover, MA on Thanksgiving morning. That's going to be a tough race, because we're celebrating Thanksgiving the night before as Rach is leaving town at noon on Thanksgiving for the weekend working with the hockey team.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Becoming Timberman... The beginning

My name is Ben.

I'm what you'd call.... fat.

I am 6'2" and as of this morning weigh in at 326.6 pounds. To make it clear, I'm built like an offensive lineman, minus most of the muscle from days spent at the gym.

Now that's not to say I'm your average super-sized couch potato, either. In august of 2006 I was in eastern Ohio when after dinner I noticed had trouble getting my seatbelt to fit. I went into the Walmart (to get McDonalds, ironically), and stopped in the bathroom to wash my hands first. They had a scale there, so for a quarter, I hopped on thinking it might say 300.

It read 386.8 pounds.

I was floored. I hadn't owned a scale in a few years. I knew I had a sedentary job, had recently been divorced, and my favorite hobby was eating pizza while I played video games. But I played hockey once a week, and was at least a little bit active. I couldn't believe where I had wound up. I was skinny as a kid, all the way into college. I decided that day to start changing my life. I went to a nutritionist and worked out with a personal trainer. I did this for a couple months and lost 20 lbs. I kept that off for most of a year, and decided to take the next step.

I wasn't sure what that was until late August of 2007 when I saw an announcement for a race in my neighborhood. The race was the New Albany Walking Classic, which turned out to be the premier walking race in the US. The race was less than a month away, but I figured "It's walking, how bad can it be?". My apartment complex at the time was surrounded by a 1 mile walking path, which I decided to use for training. The first week, I could barely make it all the way around. but before long, I was completing 2 and then 3 laps.

Race day came and I knew I wasn't ready, but I did it anyways. I wasn't fast; in fact, I was SLOOOOOOW. 16:54 a mile, finish 1522/2056. It didn't help that I'd only trained for half the distance of the race. But, truth be told, I LOVED it. I was hooked! So hooked, that I did six more races before the end of the year. And then 17 more in 2008; including returning to the New Albany race where I finished over 1000 places higher at 349/2000.

Between September 2007 and November 2008 , through a combination of the exercise and educating myself about food, I managed to get my weight down to 315.

By February of 2009, I'd done walking races of all distances from 5k to half-marathon (twice). I'd won the walking division in several races, and podiumed in even more. But my weight had essentially stabilized around 325, and I knew I needed to find a way to improve it. I had decided I needed another challenge. I started cycling to work during the big gas price spike in fall of 2008, and found I loved that too. And as a kid, I loved swimming and swam daily all summer long up through my teens. So, somewhere in the winter of 2008, I made a decision that I wanted to do a triathlon. I don't remember a defining moment when it happened, but it did.

And I did a triathlon. And not just one, I wound up doing 4 sprint distance triathlons (.25 - .5 mile swim, 10-14 mile bike, and 5k run) between April and September of 2009. When I was first starting I was even slower at triathlons than I had been in my road races. I actually came in "dead last" in my second tri, which I had managed to avoid through all of the road races I'd done to that point. But I didn't give up, and I improved through both of my next two races. I even started running prior to my first Triathlon after we moved to Massachusetts, and was able to run the last two miles of that race.

During all of this, I met and married the most wonderful super active and athletic woman in the world. She wanted to join me on the Tri scene, but she dreams big; so we talked through all our options, and decided the best "big goal race" for our season is to finish the TimberMan 70.3 Half-IronMan distance triathlon.

To do that, I'm going to have to make some major changes in my body. I need to become TimberMan. This blog will be how I chronicle that process.