kinda blog.

12 hours 41 minutes ago

I was only about ten klicks into the Chicago Marathon that I’d heard that the lead runner had finished.

Fair enough. He’d probably started a good hour before I did in the very first wave, and also fair enough, he was significantly faster than I was.

The lead singer of one of the street bands playing along the side of the course finished their song just as I was passing and announced the finish to the cheers of the runners, and also noted with some excitement that a new world record had been set. Two hours and thirty five seconds.

I wasn’t even close. But for nearly an hour I’d shared the course with the world record for the marathon.

Kelvin Kiptum hadn’t quite come out of nowhere, but the vibe around his win seemed as though as an up and coming runner he had pretty much done just that. Come out of nowhere and set the record and unexpectedly.

Amazing.

We were out last night when I got a string of text messages on our run club group chat.

“Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and coach killed in road accident in Kenya”

I mean, I didn’t really run with this guy, but I kinda ran with this guy. He was just 24. Run in peace, man.

2 days 14 hours ago

It hasn’t been deliberate, me not writing much on my fitness journal that is.

My life, the whole of it, from top to bottom has been upended these past eight months. Almost one hundred percent that has been my own fault. I jumped into the self-induced whorlwind of a midlife career change and have been spending my days pursuing a mix of self-funded adventure, art, and writing.

I wrote a novel.

I started a podcast.

I built the first foundational pieces of a creative practice.

And I’ve just slowly, methodically, and regularly kept up with a post-marathon running maintenance plan.

That last point, and the subject of this fitness journal, is probably the most boring of the list.

I did some amazing stuff, of course.

I ran Chicago Marathon 2023.

I ran some short morning runs in various European cities, including London, Paris and Nice.

I got lost running through Oakland, California.

I adventured, I trained, I just ran.

It was good. And I didn’t really write much of it down.

I’ve been incommunicado. And that’s okay. I may continue to be incommunicado. I haven’t decided what this space is for these days. What role does it play in my daily-writing everything-has-a-purpose creative life? I don’t know. But I just thought, anyways, I’d drop in and say hi. If anyone is still checking this space..

2 days 14 hours ago

Being vague hasn’t helped me in the past. Being specific is where it’s at.

A little.

A few more.

Just a bit off the top.

Nah.

It’s Day 1 as I write these words. I had my little week of gluttony and fun and sitting around not getting in quite enough miles on the trails (though just a week ago I was still pretty deep in the throes of a chest infection so I blame that a little bit, too.) And Easter is exactly 50 days away. How’s that for specific.

As usual I have an A goal and a B goal.

My A goal is the harder of the two, and I think it’s achievable if things go ideally and I really get into a groove. My A goal is to drop ten pounds.

But wait, you say, you just wrote that you’re only up 5 pounds from where you ended your weight adjustment challenge last year, right? True…ish. A couple things. I hit my goal weight at the end of the challenge and I had dropped nearly 23 pounds from where I’d started almost exactly one year ago (from right now) to when I finished about eight weeks later. That was five pounds lighter than I was when I weighed in this morning as my new baseline. Following? Okay. But then I kept losing after the challenge because, simply, that’s when my marathon training STARTED. I lost another five pounds after doing that, hitting my lowest weigh in numbers about four weeks after last year’s challenge ended. THAT number was about ten pounds less than I am right now. So, my A goal is to get back to THAT number, which means losing ten pounds from today.

My B goal is simpler, though still a challenge. Drop five pounds and get back to the number I was at when I finished my challenge last year. This means kind of reseting for the spring and summer, and better, reversing the whole upward trend I’ve been seeing on my weight tracking chart (which is a real thing, tracked in my Garmin app, by the way.)

So here were are. It’s Saturday, February 10, 2024 and starting today I am at day 1 of “a few pound more” and I’m gonna start following those rules I followed last year, rule’s I’ll explain in greater detail in a future post, but simply: limited snacking, sweets and seconds unless it’s a weekend or special occasion.

It’s been 0 days and I’m down 0 of the 10 pounds of my goal.

6 days 12 hours ago

Along came Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and a cold snap that left me locked in the house for about three weeks eating all the chocolates and treats leftover from the aforementioned sugar-heavy holidays.

The metabolic inertia I’d gathered from my diet and subsequent summer of crazy marathon training meant I was just hungry all the time. And sitting around not training for anything specifically has left me a little flipfloppy when it comes to my everyday diet.

I’m far from having gained all that weight back, but it would be fair to say that on an average day I’m five pounds over where I ended last year’s weight loss effort. And that’s probably normal, natural, and not unexpected.

But like last year when I used the leverage of lent (in a secular way) to motivate myself along a timeline, that season is early this year… just one week away. So, here’s the thing. I’ve got a couple final off-diet meals to take in this week, and then I’m off to the races for a few pounds more.

Meal one. Yes. I’m a sucker. I don’t generally eat a lot of fast food, but I’m intrigued. I’ve never ever in my whole damn life had a McRib. WTF? You reply. Nope. Heck, I haven’t had a Big Mac in about five years. I eat burgers, but I hit up higher class joints than Rotten Ronnies. That said, I’m not above it, I just know that there’s legit better food out there. Yet, the McRib has a hold on me and it’s “back for a limited time” as of right now. So. I’m going for it. Gotta add that notch to my dining table leg.

Meal two. There is an amazing takeout chicken place downtown. When I was still working in our core I would hit it up at least once per month, sometimes more, and it was definitely verbotten when my diet plan came online. It is a cult experience, too. People line up for half an hour for a container of their “crack chicken” a spicy fried popcorn-style dish served over noodles. Yum. And they announced that after thirty-two years in business they are closing at the end of February. Permanently. So, I’m going downtown this week to line up with the white collar crowd to get my last container… then probably take the bus home.

And then. And then I’m going for a few pounds more. I’ll do a weigh in on Saturday morning, the 10th of February, as my official start day. Stay tuned.

3 months 3 weeks ago

Two sleeps.

I’ve had two sleeps since race day. This time as I write these very words, forty eight hours ago and accounting for time zone difference, I was standing near the gear check for the Chicago marathon getting ready to strip down to my race kit and file into the corral.

Six of us ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. Six, plus fifty-eight thousand other people, of course. But six of us from my run crew made it down to the windy city by various means and with various certainty and after a couple days of playing tourist, we queued into our corral and took to the streets for a forty-two point two kilometer, twenty-six point one mile road race known as the World Major Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

It was work.

I flew threw the first half.

I kept my goal pace until nearly thirty klicks.

The weather was perfect. The crowds were beyond amazing. The city was a fascination. The other racers were all going the right direction, at least. A new world record was set on the course by (can I call him that?) one of my fellow racers. Two hours and thirty-five seconds. Insane.

I felt the wall hit around thirty kilometres. My legs started twinging. My heart rate number spiked in the display on my watch by 25-35 bpm and even bringing it down by walking a bit it would immediately shoot back up within ten steps of running. I felt like I should be able to run, but off an on I would get a little spinny and had I been out for a stroll in the park I would have sat down and eaten a cookie or something, but I was running the goddamn Chicago Marathon and that shit don’t fly.

I bonked. 

Yeah. I had been taking in calories. I had a nutrition plan and an electrolyte plan and I was following them. It just wasn’t enough.

I made it to the finish with a huge split, but I finished. 

And I should technically be proud because as of Sunday I have a new marathon PR. A new personal record time. By about thirty seconds over my first (and previously best) marathon ten years ago.

I will be proud.

Right now, forty eight hours later, having spent yesterday in transit between Chicago and home, after saying goodbye to friends at the end of a vacation, after settling back into my armchair at home and finally putting up my feet to rest, I just kinda feel down.

There is a very real post marathon blues that can hit you and it has multiple times for me. Part of me writing this post is just to acknowledge that and start the multi-week process of working through the post-race depression that hits like the second wall of the race. That feeling of playing the race over in your head, of suddenly not having a goal to work towards, of recounting the event and probably a bunch of actual biochemical effects of, y’know, just having tortured yourself for 42.2 km. Not only all that, but I’ve been building myself up for this race for literally three years and ten months. This race (including it’s imminent cancellation and conflicting feelings around it) was a leg in the tripod that was my covid pandemic experience. It’s been swirling through a thousand conversations and marked a very clear destination for me for a long time. And it’s now over and in the memory book. Just another medal on the wall. Just another handful of race photos. Just another t-shirt to wear out on the trails.

Right now I’m not loving the marathon. Five races in and my experience has been uniformly the same. I love the work. I love the anticipation. I love the start line. I hate the finish and I feel like hell warmed over for days or weeks afterwards. It’s not my race.

I am a marathoner. Five done and in the books. If I ever do another it would need to be a race for which I couldn’t say no, something amazing and perfect and an undeniable adventure. But otherwise I think the universe and my body are both telling me to stick to shorter races for a while. I’m okay with that.