Day 53.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

Today was the first day since I stressed my right knee that I’ve felt “normal.” 

Up until 7 weeks ago, I had been sedentary for a good year-and-a-half. I had Type II Diabetes (2 meds) and Hypertension (2 meds). As of last week, my doctor pulled me off both meds for diabetes and titrated me down to half of what I was taking for high blood pressure.

Getting back to running has been the best thing I've done for myself in decades. (I'm 66.) I started off walking on these stubby, little legs (I'm 5'4") and was clocking a 17:50 pace over 3.17 miles. Certainly, nothing to write home about.

Before stressing my right ACL during weight training a couple weeks ago (I hesitate to call it an injury) I had run a 12:28 mile. So, I was making good progress. I gave the knee 3 days rest and babied it since then. Until this morning. I pushed myself pretty hard today and did a 44:54 5K. That's a 14:20 pace.

Now, I know I'm not going to burn up the track in November. I'll be 67, then, and have a stride length that is barely longer than I am tall. I'm probably not going to be even in the top 10 in my age cohort. The important thing to me, though, is the fact that I'm running for my life. I'm getting healthier by the day.

When I started, I weighed in at 179 pounds. I'm down to 168 and I give the credit to the running (of course) and being on the Keto Diet. Never thought it would be possible to lose weight while eating so much fat. (Up to 80% of my diet.) But I have and I'm looking to lose even more before Thanksgiving. My goal is to end up somewhere between 140 and 145. Shedding 35–40 pounds has got to help me get my pace down to a decent range. I use 35 barbells to do curls with and I couldn't imagine carrying around that extra weight for a 5K. But that's exactly what I've been doing, every step of every day for the past year-and-a-half.

Each day is a new day, a new adventure, and a new opportunity to regain the health I've squandered for too many years.

Day 51.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

Most days when I run at Woodrow, I run alone. This morning, the track was busier than usual. A couple of young guys (who could have been father and son, as I think of it) set up a small area with some plyometric hurdles, jump rope, a rope-ladder for side-stepping, etc.

As I walked/jogged/ran around the track, trying to better my previous time and pace, they ran through a series of exercises punctuated by a lap or two of running at a medium distance pace.

At about the 2-½ mile mark, the younger guy — who was roughly my size but likely a ⅓ of my age — and I happened to sync up right at the start of the backstretch 100 yds which I sprinted on each lap. We both took off. I’m proud to say that I held my own with the kid. At about 80 yds, I realized that I was running as fast as I possibly could and he was holding back, with plenty left in reserve. He still “won” by only a half-step. Even so, I felt pretty good keeping up with this young guy.

No problems with the knee today. But my average pace is still down and I really need to start working on that. By sprinting on the backstretch, I’m getting my top speed up and my wind holds up to the finish but I have to admit that it’s taking me too long to recover. . . almost back to the start of the next sprint. I think what I need to do is figure out how to recover more quickly. I’m enjoying this, greatly. I just need to get better at it.

Day 50.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

Running alone is just not the same as running with a partner. Saturday’s run with my friend, Monica, was inspiring because my average pace was 14:47. Not so great today. My pace was 15:50.

Again, I walked most of the course but sprinted the 100 yds down the backstretch of each lap (as close to sprinting as these stubby legs can carry me). Thirteen laps make it about a ¼ of the whole distance. I really need to get through this “injury” — I’m reluctant to call it that — so I can get my pace back down into the 13s. That’s where I was before I stretched this knee.

My goal is to consistently be running a 13-minute mile before the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. This 3-day setback has actually put me back a couple of weeks in terms of conditioning. But I’m back on my feet and making progress. And that I can’t complain about.

I’d still like to have a running buddy, so if you’re interested and run between a 14- and 15-minute mile, let me know. The company and the competition would be welcome. I have a few favorite courses but I’m open to new trails. Just be ready to get up early in order to start by 5:45 or so. Not a fan of running in the Texas heat.

Day 48.

Bachman Lake Trail.

Once again, my friend Monica joined me at Bachman. And, once again, my friend Monica kicked my butt. At about the 1.85-mile mark, she took off and beat me to the finish by a good 6 or 7 minutes, as far as I can tell. [Insert cartoon of me pulling my hair out.]

This problem with my knee is getting better but, Lordy mercy! It has really set me back on my heels. Three days off and my conditioning is in the toilet. Seriously! This is a mystery to me how the body — okay, MY body — is like memory foam. And not in a good way.

It’s the same way with my weight; it’s bouncing back up. Was 168. Now 171. I’m beginning to think the one thing that is keeping me from my goal of a 39 minute 5K is the extra 30 pounds I’m carrying. This morning, I picked up one of the barbells I use for curls. 35 pounds. I thought, ‘Damn! I need to lose almost this much weight by Thanksgiving!’ I can’t imagine running 3+ miles carrying an extra 30-35 pounds. But I’m doing it EVERY DAY. More motivation to get rid of this weight.

Perhaps, it’s all the character I’ve been building the past 7 weeks that is so heavy. From now on, I’m making a plan: No more discipline, no more perseverance, no more goals. It’s weighing me down! I quit all that stuff and surely the weight will fall off. Right? Right?!?

Maybe I just need to slog through the difficulties and quit complaining. Think I’ll do that instead.

Day 46.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

I believe that in order to know your capacity — and your limits — you have to test yourself. You have to push yourself to see how far you can go. I set out this morning to walk a 5K. That's 3.1 miles and change. Let's call it 3.11 miles. 

My intention was to WALK the entire distance. Something in me, though, thought it might be a good idea to run the backstretch of each quarter-mile lap. That’s only a hundred yards, 300 feet. Times 12 or 13, that’s about a 1/4 of the total distance. In spite of having a minor twinge right below my right kneecap halfway into my second lap, I pressed on. And I’m glad I did.

Each successive lap was a bit faster than the one before. I never broke into an all-out sprint but the last couple runs were at a pretty good clip. For me, anyway. The only “pain” I had was in my feet. Until I get to a certain speed, I run flat-footed, and that is much more uncomfortable than running up on my toes. Nevertheless, my only real difficulty was keeping up a good walking pace with these short, stubby legs. 

Despite having some popping going on in my right knee when I’m just walking around, I’m doing much better than last week. What this experience has taught me is that I need to restrain my youthful exuberance so I don’t injure myself. Within those constraints, I still don’t know what I’m capable of and that’s a good feeling at 66 years of age.

Day 45.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

Still walking. But today I doubled down on my comeback. 2 miles. This is going slower than I'd like. But one foot goes in front of the other until this knee gets a bit better and I can get back to running.

I keep moving forward but I don't want to lose the conditioning that I've gained over the past 6 weeks. It's frustrating. And I know it's going to be okay in the end. By Saturday, I want to be running at least a mile a day. Tomorrow, I'm planning on walking 3 miles. Friday, a little intermittent jogging. And Saturday I plan (Man plans. God laughs.) to pick up the pace a bit and run at least one mile out of three.

Day 44.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

After 3 days rest, he rose. Late. And only walked a mile. The knee was a little tight but there wasn't any pain. I'm going to ease back into running over the next week.

With all the good news on the medical front, I think I got just a bit too overenthusiastic and strained my knee a bit. A warning, you might say. A shot across the bow. So, I'm going to push myself but not too fast. I'll push slowly and ease into [insert cliché metaphor here] in order to get back to training for the Trot.

Barely broke a sweat this morning. Even kept my shirt on! I'm not sure how long I can maintain this restraint. :) Nonetheless, the last thing I want to do is injure myself. So, I'm in no rush. Literally. I'm in reboot mode. Let me know if you'd like to join.

Day 41.

Home. More Good News.

Just got an email of the results of blood work that I had done on Tuesday. I won't bore you with ALL the details but this was confirmation of what I told you a couple days ago. My Ha1C is normal. My cholesterol is normal (despite eating so much fat!), and though my triglyceride level is a bit high, it's down almost 60% from January. The past 6 weeks of changing my diet and daily exercise has turned things around. It's had a huge impact on my health. Everyone has their own path, I know, but I can't recommend this regimen highly enough.

Anyone with questions? I'm happy to answer them.

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Day 41.

Home.

R & R is a necessary part of growth and change. Setting aside today and Sunday (and, possibly, Monday) as a respite from all my efforts is giving my body time to heal the small wounds from training, and my mind the break it's needed from constantly thinking about the day's progress and what comes next.

It's also given me a little time to appreciate the improvements in my health. With my doctor pulling me off my diabetes meds and beginning the process of reducing my meds for hypertension, I'm realizing a dream I've had for quite a long time. I'm not going to be sad or angry with myself for not doing this a long time ago. What's the point of that? But I do know now that this has been in my power the entire time. I feel a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

So, once rested, I'm back in the fray. The running is hard work and I rather enjoy it but running in the Turkey Trot 5K at Thanksgiving is just a symbol of my effort to improve my health. It's not my life's goal. It's a tool, a process for achieving that state of good health and I thank God for the ability to be able, still, to engage in activity that makes that process much faster than, say, chair aerobics. I'll continue doing whatever I'm able to in order to stay in good health. 

And if I don't, I give you permission to call me out on my commitment.

Day 40.

Bachman Lake Trail.

Okay, I get it. I’m not 26. I’m 66. My body isn’t as resilient as it once was. This morning, instead of running Bachman, I walked the 3.16 miles around it and, at the end of the circuit, was nursing a sore knee and hip. To be sure, these aren’t injuries. But they’re definitely warning signs to rest and have compassion for this old body as I pursue excellence and better health with all the diligence, perseverance, and passion I can muster.

So, today was my way of slowing down just a bit, easing back on the throttle, heading into the pits for a change of tires and refueling. I’m also practicing my clichés.

While writing this post, I’ve made an executive decision: I’m taking off tomorrow to sleep in, rest, and fast. I’ve fasted a couple times since starting my training and I’m feeling some benefit from it. I might just keep it as a permanent part of my regimen. Intermittent fasting is difficult for me because I do love me some food but I definitely feel lighter and more energetic and clearheaded when I fast.

That’s all I got. More Monday or Tuesday, or as events warrant writing about them.

Day 39.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

Another short day and another short run. Had breakfast with Dr John this morning so I only ran 2 miles. I'm beginning to think that I might start focusing on 1 mile at a time. Today's first-mile pace was the fastest I've run since starting this training, 39 days ago — 12:28 — almost a minute faster than yesterday. The second-mile pace was 15:32, for an average pace of a 14:00. More importantly, today was the first time that I've run a mile without slowing to a walk. I ran the entire first mile. That's significant to me.

Since I'm doing this with no trainer at my heel coaching me with the proper technique or the best strategy for my age, weight, etc., etc., I'm trying to figure this out on my own. All I have to go by is my gut. What does my body tell me it needs to improve my time? I'm becoming more attuned to my body than ever before. I'm paying attention; I just don't know if I'm interpreting what it's saying, correctly.

Having my doctor on board with what I'm doing takes a lot of the worry off my shoulders. Getting rid of some of the meds I've taken (for too many years) I believe will help me, tremendously.

What I don't want to do is start thinking my way is the best or the only way to train properly. Right now, I'm open to some coaching from someone who's been down this road and can offer sage advice.

I'm not as fit as I'd like but I'm otherwise in good health and my doctor has given the go-ahead for this training so I'm going to push myself as hard as I deem necessary to meet my goals. Steel on steel. That's how to sharpen a knife. Until proven wrong, that's how I'm going to train.

Day 38.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

The Buddha said that all life is suffering. I believe it. In spite of all the great strides (no pun intended) that I’ve made this past month, each day is a struggle. Today was no different and I’m just starting at a different level than I was a month ago.

Today, I ran a 2-miler because of time constraints. I generally walk the first ¼ mile as a warm up so I end up doing a little math to figure out my pace for the first mile of running. I mention this because my average pace the first day I ran on Day 1 was 17:50. Today, my pace for the first mile was 13:23. And I felt like I was going to burst my lungs.

This is my point: When you’re in the paradigm, you can’t see the paradigm. In other words, it’s not easy to see the progress you’re making while you’re making that progress. And the lesson is, don’t give up. . . whatever you’re doing. Find something to measure your success in your work, your diet, your hobby, your relationship — and track it. 

Measure it daily and monitor it. Chart it if you want to. Be serious about following that one thing and use it as the gauge of how you’re doing in your work, your diet, your hobby, your relationship. Because if it doesn’t get better, it gets worse. Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics applies here: Without an outside influence, everything turns to crap. Or words to that effect. Be part of making it better.

Day 37.

Bachman Lake Trail.

After fasting for 36 of the previous 48 hours, I hit the trail. The first mile was good. . . a 13:30 pace. Then, my old friend, bursitis on the outside of my right hip, caught up to me and stayed apace for the rest of the 5K.

Even so, I’m running more than walking, consistently. And when I’m running, it’s at a better pace. 

Even though my bursitis flared up a bit, I did get some good news when I saw my doctor, John Richmond, this morning. Because my numbers have improved so much, he’s titrating my BP med to ½ of my normal dosage with an eye toward getting down to 20% of my present dosage. (Eventually getting me off it, entirely, I hope.)

But the big news is, he’s taking me off the meds I’ve been taking for diabetes. Our deal is that I have to continue with the weight loss. And my blood work will confirm everything. 

John was really excited for me and had nothing but good things to say. I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear all this. And I’ve only been running and on this Keto Diet a MONTH!

I feel so much better than I did 38 days ago. For 66, I feel great. For 46, I’d feel pretty damn good. I plan to keep this up as long as I can.

Day 34.

Woodrow Wilson HS Track.

Today was a short run. Yesterday’s run with my niece, Whitney, pushed the envelope and I woke up sore. My hammies were screaming! So I decided to do double duty — a short run (2 miles), then, work out the legs this afternoon.

Turns out that run with Whit was the kick in the butt I needed. This morning’s pace — 14:10.5 — was a PR, putting me that much closer to my goal of a 39-minute 5K.

My weight seems to be holding steady at 168–169 lbs. I’m drinking about 80 oz. of water a day and my BP is dropping consistently. Given a little more time, a little more weight loss, and a bit more conditioning, I may be able to begin titrating downward my meds for hypertension. That would definitely be a good thing.

I’m starting to run longer distances and recover more quickly than when I started this regimen. I’m really looking forward to being able to run not just a 5K but 4 or 5 miles without slowing to a walk to recover. When I run the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, I want to be in better shape than last time. I don’t want to be totally spent when I cross the finish line. That’s my goal, to train for a longer distance than I’m going to run on Thanksgiving Day.

Speaking of race day, I’m already starting to look into what I should eat the morning of the race to give me some extra energy. I’ve had a variation of this conversation with people previously and opinions vary. Without getting into the weeds, my dilemma is that I’m on a ketogenic diet and virtually all my energy is coming from the fat that I’m ingesting (which is 70–80% of my diet) and my own fat stores. That’s why I’m losing weight. 

As I’ve said previously, my goal is to get down to 140–145 lbs. But on race day my requirements are different. I don’t normally eat before I run or work out because my stomach is a little sensitive and it gives me severe heartburn, not exactly great for running a 5K. That said, there has to be something I can eat that will give me the extra fast-release energy I need for the race without giving me an upset stomach. The search goes on.

Day 33.

Glen Rose.

It was a good run today. I got to spend some quality time with my niece, Whitney. And got to see her kids — Cash, Cadence, and Lyric — and her husband, Stephen. Not to mention my sister, Lorraine, and BIL, Mike. They're not exactly chopped liver. More like pâté de foie gras.

On a relatively flat 1-mile asphalt track around a park here in Glen Rose, Texas, Whit and I blazed a trail and — with her very considerable help as my “rabbit” — I set a new PR. A 46:44 5K. That's an age-graded time of 35:37. Woohoooo! On my way to a 39:00/29:43 5K.

I say it was good because the stretches where I ran were longer than I had run previously and that’s always a good thing. I’m still not quite back to running the entire distance yet. But I will be soon. I can feel it. I’ve got almost 25 years on Whit and she wasn’t even breathing hard as she bird dogged me around the course. That’s my goal…or part of it. I want to not be quite so spent when I finish my run.

I’m going to see Dr John on Tuesday to do blood work and talk about meds, particularly those that I can back off from. Getting all that taken care of and working on techniques that gain me more seconds on the clock are all part of the process. The weight loss is helping, too, I’m sure. I’m down to 168 lbs. as of yesterday with more to come. The less weight I carry, the faster I can go. So, just sayin’.

One more day under the belt. A notch closer to the 2018 YMCA Turkey Trot.

Day 32.

Boy, am I glad today was Legs Day! Sleep was elusive at best and I didn't nod off until the wee hours. Came 4:30am, when Reveille usually goes off I was just about nodding off. So, no run. But, unlike some people, I look forward to Legs Day.

And, as it turned out, it was a good thing, indeed. I met this young guy at Reverchon with whom I struck up a conversation and he gave me the name of an art group that I need to check out. Everything happens for a reason, right?

So, my legs are going to be doubly sore tomorrow after doing the wind sprints yesterday at Woodrow Wilson HS. Tomorrow, I'm getting up early to drive to Glen Rose to run with my niece, Whitney (and maybe her husband, Stephen, and son, Cash) all of whom will undoubtedly kick my ass. 

I'm off to bed. Writing that sentence at 6:53pm is way beyond weird. It's like going to bed in the middle of the day! But disciplined I am. May the Force be with you!

Day 31.

Today, I headed to Woodrow Wilson High School and the track around their practice field. Rubber coated and in fair condition, it was a perfect place to do some wind sprints.

Now, Usain Bolt is not quaking in his Puma track shoes; of that, I am certain. But I do know that it’s good to shock the body into performing at a higher level than normal.

The only sprint that stood out in this morning’s run was the first one. After stretching and warming up a bit, I found a place at the end of the turn coming into the near side straightaway to call my own, dropped off my pocket contents, water, and phone. Giving myself one last rolling stretch of the shoulders, I suddenly flashed on a vision of myself running as fast as I could. I began my approach to the “start line” a few yards away. Within a few steps, I was up to speed, headed to the opposite end zone.

I remember, about halfway through the sprint, thinking, “WTF?!? How the hell am I running so fast?” And then it felt like I sped up. It was startling, truly. Here I am, 66 years old, and I feel as if I just ran the fastest 100 yd. dash of my life. Now, let’s be frank: I know that this was not my fastest sprint ever. The point is, it FELT like it. I had a brief moment where I had a body memory of my childhood, a time when we ran everywhere as if our lives depended on it. Like the wind.

It was a sweet moment.

But after several sprints, it became apparent that unending wind of my childhood was a thing long gone. And that I have a slightly weak ankle I need to start taping so it doesn’t give way. Really, the only reason I stopped this morning was the lactic acid buildup in my upper thighs, which made my legs heavy.

Here’s my point, just to be clear. As we age, we don’t have to give in to the limiting beliefs of a lifetime that say we’re old, we’re decrepit, slow, and feeble. It doesn’t have to be that way. Our “dotage” can be much different than we have always imagined or believed it would be. We can lead healthy, active, lives and not be held back by our own beliefs. Try it. You might just find yourself running like the wind.

Day 30.

One of the biggest reasons I’m doing all this — the Keto diet, the running, the discipline — is to improve my health, to improve my numbers for hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and cholesterol. I’m tired of all the medications that are like a ball and chain around my neck that I have to deal with every day.

You may know that I’m on the Keto Diet and have struggled with adhering to it closely. I’m monitoring any changes going on in my body and have a running dialog by email with my doctor about anything that is suspicious or that is out of my area of expertise. 

Flipping over into ketosis — the purpose of the Keto Diet — is not without its risks for a diabetic. Mainly — as far as I can determine — because the effectiveness of the meds tends to be exaggerated by moving from glycolysis to ketosis. Which means that I’m more likely to have an episode of low blood sugar. It may be time to titrate off the meds to get my blood sugar back to normal levels. I’ll meet with Dr John next week, do blood work, and see if it’s the right thing to do.

Today on the Katy, I ran 3.11 miles (a 5K) in 50:35. That’s considerably slower than I want. Particularly since I’m running (ha!) with my niece in a couple days and she’s likely to kick my ass! Still training for a 39:00 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, so I’m marshaling my efforts to focus on getting my pace up (or down) to under a 13-minute mile or as close as possible. Then, I’ll rely on race day adrenaline to kick in and provide an added boost.

All-in-all, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made over the past 30 days. Only 162 more days to race day. Come, join me. I guarantee you, it’s not an experience you’ll soon forget.

Day 29.

Today is both a day of rest and a day of fasting.

Yesterday, I spent the day with Mom, as I do on most Sundays. Trouble is, brunch at her facility is rather limited and pretty much not Keto-friendly. I tried to fatten things up by having the cook prepare my omelet with butter but it was mostly a feast of protein, almost no carbs, and a bit of fat. Still, not exactly a perfect Keto meal.

On my way home, I stopped for gas and bought road food (a personal weakness). At least I made an effort to make my snacks Keto-compliant. I bought a bottle of Muscle Milk (40g of protein and a bit of fat), a couple of Macrobars, and some pork rinds (chicharrones), about the only food of its type that I've found with virtually zero carbs and a modicum of fat and protein. I thought, Meh, I'll get back on track with this on my way back home. 

Doesn't get much more delusional. By the time I got home, I was nauseous, bloated, and not feeling well at all. I didn't sleep well at all — couldn't sleep until almost 12 (I go to bed at 8:30 to rise at 4:30) — and simply couldn't get up to run this morning when the alarm went off.

So, today is a day to push the reset button. Rest. Fast. Cleanse. Rinse. Repeat. Tomorrow, I'll not only get back on track with my diet and my training. Some good news: I went to bed at 172 lbs and weighed 168 this morning after my shower. So, there's that.

What this experience has made me realized is, if I'm going to do this Keto Diet, I need to commit to it all the way and not just fly by the seat-of-my-pants. For now, lots of water and rest. Tomorrow's another day.

Day 27.

I'm definitely feeling the effects of the Keto Flu — headache, nausea, fatigue. . . all of it. I'm trying to adhere to this Keto Diet as much as possible and the transition is. . . difficult, shall we say. I think I've not quite flipped into ketosis full time yet but I'm sure I will. Soon.

Today, due to an injury "off the field," my running partner couldn't make it this morning so I was left to my own devices to motivate myself to improve my time at Bachman Lake Trail. Which I did. By 18 seconds, moving my average pace downward to 15:36 and change. I've started running a minute, walking a minute. And, when I can, running for longer. Building up my lung power is tedious and difficult.

Obviously, I'm not blazing a trail here but I AM improving. When I started this process 4 weeks ago, my average pace was 17:50. Definite improvement. It just doesn't feel that way, day-to-day.

I feel like I've hit a plateau, however, my weight is steady at 170 (much more than I want to carry for 5 kilometers!) and I may need to get some training to break through this wall if I'm going to hit my goal of a personal record of 39:00 or faster for the Trot. 

Only 24 weeks left.