45 Miles

Motivation-November-20A week from Tuesday I face my biggest physical challenge to date, 45 miles. If it were not for taking control of my health I would never have consider this idea an option. Since achieving my goals I have had a new found energy to “do epic shit.” It started in 2013 when I completed my first half marathon in 1:58. In April this year I had the itch and completed my first 50K (31.7 miles) in 8:53. I walked around for 4 weeks on a runner’s high desiring to run longer, go further.

Based on a post by Mark Rowlands from the Trail and Ultra Running group on Facebook, I read about a challenge to run your age on your birthday. I thought about this for a moment…hmm, 45 years old. Looking back on the 50K and knowing how I felt the last 2 miles, could I accomplish another 13.3 miles for a total of 45 miles? I decided to look into the possibilities of pushing my body yet again.

While my training hasn’t been up to par recently due to other priorities, on November 11 I will be slipping on the Luna Sandals and looking to run farther than I ever have. I spent time reading up on 50 mile races, which I will be participating in for the first time next April (AR50mile.com). Originally I was planning on using trails at Contra Loma Regional Park. Unfortunately, the parking lot I wanted to use in order to stage my aid station never seems to be open, so I abandoned that course.

I wanted to keep the run to a 2-3 mile loop on relatively flat ground on trails. I started running during my son’s soccer practice at a Creekside Park in Oakley, each loop was only a quarter mile, but offered some things a trail wouldn’t. Looked at some of the local school for a bit longer loop but nothing fit the bill.

Without having to drag out all sorts of equipment and be gone probably 10-11 hours acting crazy (well, running) I started looking at the local trails around the house. Unfortunately none of them are dirt trails but I finally conceded the fact I would not be able to have a trail close to home, on dirt.

45milerunWhat I did come up with after some searching and mapping out routes was a 3.26 mile loop that would keep me close to home and take my by my house every 1.63 miles. This will allow me to use my house as an aid station and I won’t need others to help me along the way or have food and drinks ready to give me when I stop by. It also gives me access to a restroom, something that I only used once when I ran my 50K. The other nice feature, if I get tired and DNF, then it’s a short walk home and I reevaluate where the failure occurred.

I look forward to this run as it’s relatively flat and I should be able to manage a consistent pace. With that said, 45 is nothing to shake a stick at, it’s going to be tough and challenging. The 50K is the only distance run I can compare with and aid stations were roughly 8 miles apart. The best part is I don’t have to carry a hydration pack or hand held bottles for that matter.

To fuel this run I am planning on Medjool dates, yellow potatoes, boiled and quartered, bananas cut in half and possibly some pinole and chia based snacks from Fuel Your Run courtesy of No Meat Athlete. I have made the hand pies with bean and squash filling as well as iskiate, which is a chia fresca. I have read many comments from other ultra runners and some of the food they fuel themselves which sounds absurd. I am going to try and keep it all natural and not rely on the processed sugars see on the shelves and sponsoring many running events.

The goal, to finish. Times are irrelevant, but many judge endurance by how long or how far. Both will be personal bests WHEN my feet carry me over mile 45. While the AR50 will be more challenging and grueling, I believe I could accomplish this 45 miles run in 9 hours. Again, the goal is to finish, but tying a time to it will provide me something to shoot for. So if you live in Oakley and see that crazy guy running when you leave for you and running when you come home from work, it will be me. Looking forward to the challenge.

3 Years Plant Strong

3yearsToday makes it 3 years plant strong after making what some was called “extreme changes” in my life. The decision to take control of my health was unlike any other challenge I had undertaken. At 42 years of age, I was feeling overweight, rundown, sore with aches and pains, constant migraine headaches. Since turning 40 I had undergone two knee surgeries and I wasn’t the same person I was 10 years ago, even 5 years ago before taking that road less traveled on my journey to health.

I have a coworker to thank for getting the ball rolling (read Live to Eat) recommending the documentary, Forks Over Knives. After viewing this documentary I was left stunned. I didn’t know what to think, everything I thought I knew about nutrition (like most Americans) was not what it was. Many of the foods I enjoy under the guise of “health” had been promoted by conglomerates like the beef and dairy industries in order to profit not to maintain health.

FOK moved me, so much so that on the day before Halloween I made the decision to get healthy and stopped consuming foods that were making me sick and fat; meat, dairy and added oils. Many thought I was crazy and didn’t understand the reasons for these changes. In fact, many didn’t really care to listen or show interest in getting healthy. I happened upon Dr. John McDougall and my life changed. It wasn’t easy at first, as I had to learn nutrition all over and forget the inaccuracy I was fed growing up about food groups and what many Americans fail at, moderation.

Removing all meat from this way of eating was an easy decision, but wasn’t done for ethical reasons. This was the first step in a long journey to health. Cooking with added oils was challenging, as the first question I asked myself, “how am I saute my veggies?” Little did I know a small amount of water or vegetable broth works wonders and provides a real food taste instead of oil laden flavor. Dairy was the third part of the equation. As it was I didn’t drink much milk and rarely ate cereal but had never had milk alternatives; soy, almond, hemp or rice. In the end cheese would be the one “food” I missed. I struggled with not eating cheese to the point I would use that fake vegan shit, which was probably more processed and worse for you than dairy cheese.

Through it all I was able to overcome some early challenges. I made a commitment to my health and started recording everything I ate. While I wasn’t counting calories I was tracking food for my benefit, in order to see trends and provide a visual record of where I started and the goal I wanted to achieve. I purchased and read The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health. It was these words that reinforced what I had seen on FOK. The program sounded easy and I saw no reason I couldn’t follow it and be successful.

When I started the program I weighed 219, at times I had tipped the scale above 200 pounds, but at my physical on December 27, 2011 I weighed 216 pounds and had a total cholesterol (TC) of 264 mg/dL, which had continue to rise the previous 3 years. To think it wasn’t my pants and shirts getting smaller, but me getting larger, in part due to the fact of my poor eating habits at work and home. The health problems I faced were being fed by the dairy, meat and oil I continued to include in my diet.

It was a sign of good things to come when I weighed in on the day of my physical over 20 pounds down from where I was when I started less than 30 days ago. At the start of December I weighed in at 190 pounds and my clothes were fitting. The more impressive number I swooned over, the fact I dropped 64 points in my TC! 64 points! I was shocked and amazed that doing nothing but changing the way I ate could make such a powerful statement. It was this real world experience I required that let me know I was doing the “right thing!”

Like man who had just found Jesus, I thought this was my savior. In some regard it was, if I had not made wholesale changes in my life I would continued down that destructive road to deteriorating health. As it was I had turned my health around and I was beginning to reap the rewards and feel the benefits.

Since that day in 2011 I have learned valuable information regarding nutrition. I have connected with many individuals whose health, at one time, was worse off than I was prior to beginning. I have tried many new plant based recipes that I never knew existed, found new and exciting chefs I turn to on a daily basis. People like Julie Marie Christensen who promotes a “protective diet” Chef AJ who cooks “unprocessed” Susan Voisin who’s foods are fat free and vegan and Cathy Fisher “who has straight up good food,” just to name a few. I found I can still sink my teeth into oil free, fat free pizza thanks to Mark Sutton.

Since reaching my target weight of 175 pounds that is where I have remained (+/- 3 pounds). It’s been amazing that it actually gets easier to eat and those foods you thought you would miss, you don’t . I have no problem going to a BBQ without grabbing a slab of meat, burger or dog. No longer do I favor cheese on my pizza. Potatoes have been a godsend and is a cornerstone of this way of eating. Unlike meat, potatoes satiate my hunger. I don’t need to feel guilty eating a few pounds of potatoes a night, unlike choking down that 16 oz. steak I used to desire.

Vegetables and grains now make up my core meals, it’s not all salad, all the time. I would end up being very hungry if it were. My body now thrives on carbohydrates (goes against everything the Paleo crowd promotes) daily. I have learned how to scrutinize labels for ingredients I don’t want to eat. No longer do I (try) eat foods with additives in them. It’s amazing what the FDA approves to be used in food, my body is better for it as I won’t trust the government when it comes to how I eat.

While I would love to say a plant based diet is for everyone, sadly it is not. There are many who will swear how they eat is “healthy” or “clean” and they know how to eat in moderation. That’s great! Enjoy your food and all the best as it relates to your weight and health. While I do promote a plant based lifestyle, it’s not exclusive or better than any other diet, I just know how my body has healed itself and thrived in the past 3 years. The journey has been amazing. I look forward to improving my life as I get older.

Stronglifts Log

I decided to track my Stronglifts 5×5 progress on my website. I currently post a daily log of each workout I accomplish, but it isn’t readily available for all interested parties to read. If you missed my initial post, this is a 12-week program I have embarked on to gain strength and develop muscle. Currently closing in on the end of my 4th week and I do feel stronger and seem to have a new found confidence when I step into the squat rack or lay back on a bench.

I broke down the Stronglifts 12-week program by week, each are listed until the McDougall –> Stronglifts tab in the menu. I will be adding some pictures of the progress and videos of my squats. Hopefully one person find these useful in their journey to gain strength.

I have been very impressed with the program so far. As I mentioned before it feels good to walk into the gym and know what you want to accomplish and the weights you will be using. Just this week I added a few warm up sets to the squat and bench, as well as starting to work on PRs or personal records. These are the best weight you lifted for each exercise.

Once the 12-week program is accomplished, I plan on setting long term (1 year) goals in order to achieve. Right now, it’s difficult to say just where I am when looking 12 months out. By the end of the program, I should have a much better idea about my strength and what I believe I can accomplish.

Plant-Strong: Year 1

Hard to believe it has been 1 year since I decided to change my diet and take control of my health. Today marks my first anniversary since giving up meat, dairy and oil and eating plant-strong. It has been an amazing start on the road to health and believe it of not it does seem to get easier. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would I could do this. Ask me a few years ago and I would say I could “never go vegan.” Not only have I done so, I have gone an extra step and I have been rewarded with excellent health based on my doctor’s opinion, more importantly based on the numbers.

I don’t focus on what I chose NOT to eat, rather all the choices I do get to eat. It wasn’t easy at times and I struggled, but I never strayed too far from what Dr. John McDougall teaches. I learned of him in the documentary, Forks Over Knives. I was also introduced to T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn. These three gentlemen are my found on which I have built a strong pillar of health. Without their research, studies and teaching I would continue to eat poorly and rely on big pharma and the medication establishment to care for me as I age.

Now at age 42 I am in the best shape of my life and it will only improve. While re-learning nutrition is continuing, it was interesting to see just how jaded the government and big business were in regards to our health. Special interests and profits are the main goals of industries like meat and dairy. They don’t care about YOUR health. They will feed you lies, as long you continue to buy and support their product. Many fallacies surrounding milk as well, does it really do a body good? Research it for yourself.

Now, 12 month later I don’t miss that slice of cheese or that steak on a special occasion. I have found a heart healthy way to enjoy food and thrive on a plant-based, whole foods diet. But I am not here to push this lifestyle on anyone. I would much rather push good nutrition so well intended individuals can make their own decisions. I like being in the 1%, the small minority that make up the group who base their diets around plants. I have gotten comfortable with people looking at me with a queer stare and saying, “You don’t eat meat? Or dairy? Or oil? But olive oil is healthy for you…”

You can read just how far I have come in my latest addition under McDougall titled, 1 Year Review. It provides a run down of the last 6 months and the steps I took to achieve goals I had set, including the last 10 pounds I wanted to shed, along with lowering my cholesterol under 150. I also layout some of my future goals to accomplish in the next year. That actually started today with a new weight lifting program called Stronglifts 5×5. More on that tomorrow.

2012 CQP Weekend

This weekend is the California QSO Party, sponsored by the Northern California Contest Club. It’s a contest where everyone participating works as many stations from California as possible. This is the rare time that operators want to work a W6 station. It’s a 30 hour contest, of which I will be able to work 24 hours. The contest begins at 16z (9am) Saturday, October 6 and ends at 22z (3pm) on October 7. Last year I put only put in 8 hours before running into Mr. Murphy, which ended my contest

I had planned to work most of the contest but suffered radio issues with my Yaesu FT-1000MP and lost 15M. The other bands were nowhere near as hot, so I shut things down and hoped to return when 40/80M open. Unfortunately as I got set to start I could not hear anything on the low bands. Not even N6O, just 3 miles down could not hear me. This was my final effort for 2011 CQP. Going back to the 2010 CQP I had power issues with the rig, which cut my contest to just under 4 hours, in my inaugural year participating in the contest.

Last year I was assigned K6B by the FCC to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the NCCC. I got the permission to extend using this call sign for the 2011 CQP. Each of the prior years I have operated as a single op, high power. This year I will be a single operator, but looking at running low power (200 w) for the contest. That could change and probably should since it is one of those rare times where people want to talk to me! Might make it more enjoyable as well.

Currently I am negotiating to get Sunday off from work in order to extend my operating period from 10-12 hours to 20-22 hours. I really have no plan as to where I will start or how I will operate. I will look to improve my 2011 totals, which were 382 total QSOs, of which 41 were CW. I am going to make more of an effort to secure CW QSOs. My goal this year will be to work all 58 counties. I ended up 7 counties short last year. With any luck doubling my operating time should award me with those missing 7 QSOs.

If I can’t secure time off on Sunday, then I will log about 10 hours during CQP. I will give the station a once over today and repair one radial for the SteppIR. I will run some power through the Alpha 76PA to make sure all if as it should be and be ready to go when I get home early from work tomorrow. I will miss the start of the contest by about 90 minutes.

Regardless of what happens, it will be a great operating time during CQP that kicks off the new contest season. Looking ahead (and time permitting) I will participate in ARRL Sweepstakes and CQWW DX CW in November.