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.

Day 25. And a half.

Today was a difficult day for me. Time, I think, to put a little more time into doing some more research into this Keto diet. As I said, I've been winging it since starting. I believe it may be time to research it so that I do it right.

Today, I was tired most of the day and I think it's due to not having enough fuel to stoke the engine. In other words, I'm not eating enough fat in proportion to the protein I'm eating. From what I can tell, eating too muchprotein — which is, in effect, what I've been doing — can cause my body to create sugar, a process called. . . something or other. 

What I've been reading and watching in various videos is starting to make sense. Since the body (for reasons I don't understand) prefers sugar over fat for its energy source, if I don't eat enough fat to keep my body in ketosis, it will turn the protein to sugar and everything goes kerflooey.

Tomorrow, I'm going to spend the day learning more about the Keto diet. And I'm going to go to the gym to do a light workout. Nothing too rigorous. I just don't like the idea of sitting all day.

So, a little bump in the road but nothing I can't handle. It's time to educate myself a bit more and improve the effectiveness of this diet. Anyone who is on the Keto diet is welcome to put their two cents in.

Day 25.

Good news/bad news today. I'm a little bummed out. Yep, it happens. Why? I got on the scale and my weight has bounced up a couple pounds to 172!

The good news is that I set a PR (personal record) of 49:56 at Bachman Lake Trail this morning. The bad news is that my average pace was lower than my PR at the Katy Trail — only 15:48, a full 30 seconds slower per mile. :(

The good news is that my distance at my target time of 39:00 has moved up a notch to 2.60 miles. The bad news is that I'm tired as all get out after my run. After doing some research, though, I think I may be eating too MUCH protein and NOT ENOUGH fat. After reaching this conclusion, I've decided to adhere more closely to the Keto diet and not wing it as much as I've been. I'll let you know how things change over the coming weeks.

One minor technical thing: The steps counter I'm using reads data from the phone's accelerometer. The distance it shows has continually been less than the distance I've run. I'm not sure how to fix this issue because the result comes from the phone, not the app.

Day 24.

As I’ve said before, the hardest thing about this process is to go to bed early and to wake up at 4:30am. I seem to fight both with every fiber of my being. Long story short. . . I slept hard, finally leaving the arms of sweet Morpheus. I hit the floor somewhere around 5:30. I was in such a fog, I can’t remember, honestly.

Instead of driving 15 minutes to Reverchon Park, where I normally start my run, I walked outside, stretched and took off up Swiss Avenue. 

One thing that really bothered me this morning is an old problem. I have a little bursitis in my Trochanteric Bursa of my Gluteus Maximus. (See below.) Probably from SITTING on my Gluteus Maximus for so long! The upshot is that after running a fairly short distance, it begins to ache like a beast. My iliotibial band (IT) feels like it’s on fire after less than a hundred yards. I may have to have a cortisone shot in this thing to calm down the inflammation. That and/or start some exercises to strengthen my hip abductors and external rotators. I suppose this is where I get serious about this whole process. Time to go big or go home.

I’ve been monitoring my body intensely and noticed that the things that hold me back from running from start to finish are: 1) this bursitis, and 2) a general heaviness in my legs. What I’m NOT REALLY EXPERIENCING is 1) an abnormal shortness of breath or 2) much difficulty in processing either self-generated or ambient heat. So, I’m okay in that regard.

This process is taking on a life of its own. People are supportive of my efforts and some aren’t. Old friends are chipping in their encouragement. And new friends are asking where they can learn more about it and about this Keto diet that I’m on. I’m no expert on Keto and I can only share my experience. So, buyer beware. Besides, I’m not sure that I’m strictly adhering to the rules of Keto. (Sounds like a martial art, doesn’t it?)

So, enough for today. There’s more to learn each day and I’m doing my best to absorb and implement everything I can without being crazy about it. Let me know your experience if you decide to do any of this yourself.

Day 23.

Somehow. . . I got into my mind that I needed to do some hill sprints. So, that's what I did this morning. I promise you, I will be soooooo sore tomorrow morning. :(

If you know the Katy Trail, you've likely been by the Thomsen Overlook at Reverchon Park. The reason it's called an overlook is that the park is about 30 ft below the trail. There's some steps up to the trail but there's also a long spiral ramp from the park to the trail. I'm not sure how long it is but, I assure you, it's long e-damn-nough!

I got there in the rain about 6am and the skies opened up leaving only a few puddles from a brief thunderstorm as I was driving there.

About 3/4 of the way up the ramp, I began to wonder, "What the hell am I doing?!?" I didn't reach the summit before I not so much gave up as gave out. And walked back down. I did this 4 times before I decided I really WASN'T 26 years old and needed to drop back and punt.

After a couple minutes to catch my breath, I walked and jogged a bit until I came to my senses and got the hell out of there. Only a 1.1-mile "power(less) walk" this morning and a pace of 17:52. Sprints knocked me on my keister! But I may be doing more of them, pushing myself to build strength and stamina.

Come, join the fun! If it doesn't kill you, it'll make you stronger.

Day 22.

I started the day feeling good. Didn't sleep 8 hours but I woke up at 4:30 and got to the business of getting ready. Walking from the car to Thomsen Overlook on the Katy Trail, I did an inventory of what was going on with the old bod. Physically, I felt as good as or better than I've felt since starting this process. Good sign!

I always walk the first quarter mile just to warm up after stretching. After that, I did my best to jog as much as I could. One thing that seems to be a challenge is the build-up of lactic acid in my leg muscles. It was a recurring problem this morning and I think I might need to do a little research to see if there's a solution. I seem to recall seeing something about adding bicarbonate of soda to my water bottle in order to neutralize the lactic acid. I could be totally out in left field, though. I'll do some reading before I do anything stupid.

Overall, it was a good day. Shorter recovery time. Felt better from beginning to end. I'm kind of on a path of running a slightly different distance every day. Somehow, in my mind, it seems like that might be a good idea. . . keeping my body from getting into an expected pattern. 

Tomorrow, hill sprints. There's a winding walkway from the middle of Reverchon Park to the Thomsen Overlook that has a pretty good grade and isn't that long. I think I'll concentrate on running that hill a few times to work on strengthening my legs and my lungs. Don't worry. I'm only pushing myself to do what I'm able to do. If I'm going to run the Turkey Trot in a personal best time, I need to push this old body to do what it's still capable of doing.

I'm still looking for running partners. Beginners are more than welcome. Let me know if you're interested.

Day 20.

I just finished Week 3 with a long, slow, steady walk of 5.7 miles. 13,771 steps. 570 calories. If there's any doubt that it took a lot out of me, see the picture, below. This morning was probably the most difficult for me to crawl out of bed and hit the trail. The alarm went off, as it always does, at 4:30am and at 5-minute intervals until I haul myself out of bed. (What!? You think my CAT is going to roust me from my slumbers?)

This time I found the unnatural call of the iPhone klaxon completely resistible. My body screamed, “Go away! Let me sleeeeeeeep!!” with equal urgency. It wasn’t until the dulcet tones of my 5:10 alarm (signaling my normal time to leave) that I pulled my covers back and hit the floor, only to stumble toward my morning ablutions.

The net result of all this is that I didn’t start my “run” until after 6am. There’s a very good reason for starting so early: It gets rather warm this time of year, quickly, when the sun comes up. (Funny how that works!) 

Between the heat and the huge throng of runners and bicyclists who seem not to care about the other people on the Katy Trail, it can be pretty disconcerting if you are there much beyond 7am. Come to think of it, I’ve only had 2 people wish me a good morning this entire week on the Katy. 

At Bachman, about half the people I encountered either said “Good morning!” or nodded or kicked out their chin to acknowledge me. Katy draws a much more serious crowd, I’m inclined to believe.

Even as hard as getting up is, going to bed, for me, is even more difficult. And, yet, that seems to be the key for me to being more focused and at ease as I train for the Turkey Trot.

Day 19.

This hard work is beginning to pay dividends. Down another pound this morning. That makes 8 in 3 weeks. If I lose a pound a week through Thanksgiving, I'll be just about where I want to be for the Turkey Trot.

This morning I ran my fastest pace since beginning this training — 15:19. Another stat I'm tracking is the distance I run in 39-minutes flat, my target for this year's 5K Turkey Trot. Today was 2.53 miles. Since a 5K is 3.106856 miles, I have some work to do. I only have to improve by 0.02307424 miles each week to make my target time. That's only 122 ft further each week at the 39-minute mark to make my goal. That's just 56 steps farther. Ain't no hill for a stepper! :)

Next week, I believe I'm going to hit the gym and work primarily on legs. It's going to take a lot of stamina to do this. At my age — 67 just six days before the Trot — it's not as easy as it used to be. I don't mind being old. . . it's the aging part that really sucks.

As Dylan Thomas wrote:
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

So, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Day 18.

In case you’re wondering...yes, I did re-number the days I’ve been tracking my running. It’s confusing to me, too. 

Today was a bit better pace than usual on the Katy. Did 3.59 miles in 56:56. That’s a 15:51 pace. Not bad for a sedentary old man. I’m looking forward to a sub-40-minute 5K on Thanksgiving Day. 

If you haven’t had your Forrest Gump Moment yet, get off your butt and take the first step. Take control of your health. Take control of your life. Give yourself over to the process and know that it works. You only have to do one thing. Take the first step. Others will follow. Walk. Jog. Run. Do whatever it takes to get you from here...to there.

See you on the trail!

Day 17.

Today wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. In spite of jogging more than normal and running a bit, my pace was a bit off. But all that will get sorted as I train toward the goal of running in the 2018 YMCA Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. Progress is never linear, as much as we’d like it to be.

More good news, though. I’m now down 7 pounds from when I started 2 weeks ago. Only 28 more to meet my goal! By then, I’ll be able to do things like: tie my shoes without straining, climb the stairs without huffing and puffing, and look good in my Speedo! Of course, by Turkey Day, it’ll be a bit too cool for swimming, so I’ll hold off on modeling it till a later date!

If you see me out on the Katy Trail between Fitzhugh and Reverchon, say hello and join me. We’ll blaze the trail together. 

Day 16.

Today was the first day back on the Katy Trail. Had no idea it had changed as much as it had. There was some new concrete laid down and with the Memorial Day celebrations, there was some fencing up that, I'm guessing, isn't normally there.

Being a little flatter than Bachman Lake Trail, it was a fairly easy run. Okay. . . power-walk. But there was some jogging thrown in there. Getting my pace down and, more importantly, not feeling like I'm so depleted afterward.

Had breakfast with my friend and primary care doc, John Richmond. He's thinking I can ease off one of the meds I'm taking for my Type 2. I'm hoping this is a trend.

Oh, and I'm down another pound. Seven in all so far. Looking for about 35.