Tuesday, October 30, 2012

One (Good) Thing Leads To Another...

Last night, despite a crazy stressful and long day, I decided to not indulge in a pint of ice cream. 

This morning, when I woke up early, I had a choice between going back to sleep or going for an early-morning run. I chose to run. 

This afternoon, thinking back on those two choices, I realized that the first one directly led to the other one. I had already done something good for myself and I liked how it felt, so I chose to do something else good for me. 

And it's really that simple. One good thing leads to another. 

So... what are YOU going to do to start your own chain of great choices? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Food For Thought

I love it when I run across a random quote and immediately think, "wow, I totally get that!"
“The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other - but to be with each other.”
~ Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run
It's a simple fact, I am not a fast runner. I am not likely to ever win a race. I'm comfortably a middle-of-the-pack runner and I'm perfectly fine with that. I don't run to win races. I run because I like the way running makes me feel.

And this quote from Christophe McDougall? Spot on accurate. I don't join relay races and run my portion of 200+ miles with the hopes of beating other teams. I join and I run because I treasure the experience. There is something so amazing, so personal, so powerful about sharing those miles and those hours with friends and strangers alike.

I don't know that it gets any better than that. So, I'll continue to find events big and small, corporate and local, distance and endurance. Because I love this stuff.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tonight, Watch Something Exciting and Historic!

Tonight, we have a chance to watch people twist and distort facts and reality as they work to solve our never-ending world problems. They'll spin tales and dodge attacks. They may even lie and do so towards a grander goal. No matter what, it will be exciting and fun. 

Or you can skip Doctor Who reruns and just watch the debate. 


Monday, October 15, 2012

Testing My Limits

I have a marathon scheduled this next Sunday, October 21st. It's the Hercules Marathon in Santa Monica, California, and it will be my third full marathon.

If I run it.

I'm not ready. I know it. I haven't prepared for it. I haven't been running long runs and I'm a few pounds heavier than I was in May when I ran the Pasadena Marathon.

If I had any sense at all, I'd change from the full to the half and be happy with a thirteen mile run. But when it comes to running, I've never really been known for my good sense, right?

So what are my options? I can run the full marathon and not worry about my overall time. That would mean I could slow my pace, get a good long run out of the day, and still complete the full marathon. Or I could run the half, still get a good long run, and not push myself to the extreme of a full. Or I could blow off the whole event, not spend the weekend in Los Angeles, and stay right here in San Diego.

What to do, what to do?

I want to run, so I'm in for at least the half. And I would like to complete the full and feel like I'm somewhat on track with my running program, but I don't know.

Ugh. I have no one to blame but myself. I haven't trained up for this marathon and I'm acting as if I can just knock out twenty-six miles with no problem. But that's a fool's notion. I need to respect the distance and be realistic about what I am capable of right now.

Half or Full. Full or Half. I just don't know.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Capital to Coast Relay - Part 2

It's no easy feat, bringing together people from all across the country and preparing them for a 36 hour, 223 mile running adventure. But with with some planning, hard work, and a bit of luck, it can be done. And this weekend, we're going to prove it.

My adventure began Wednesday, as I headed to Lindbergh Field in San Diego to fly out. My hopes for an uneventful travel day were dashed early, as I arrived at the airport at 9:30am to find overflow crowds trying to check in with the Sky Cap and at the Southwest ticket counter. Feeling crafty, I took advantage of the shorter lines at the "no baggage, boarding pass printing only" kiosk and then the "express baggage drop-off for those with boarding passes already printed" counter. It took me less than ten minutes to go through both of those lines, bypassing the full-service line and its forty-five minute line. After that, it was a quick dash through security and I was at my gate.

Unfortunately, I burned through all of my luck, because at that moment, everything turned bad. My 10:35am flight was delayed until 10:55, then to 12:50. Every other flight out of my terminal was delayed, as well. Seems heavy fog had grounded planes at airports across the country, so there were no planes at all on the ground in San Diego. The already small Southwest Airlines terminal quickly became a massive crowd of people with no place to stand, let alone sit down. Passengers were packed from wall-to-wall, pushing back all the way to the security area. Literally, every stair leading back down towards the TSA area was filled with people occupying the last of the sitting space available.

With no place to stand upstairs and three hours to kill, I decided to head back out of the secured terminal area and go to the restaurant in the front area of the airport. *BINGO*! There were only four people inside and there was plenty of space for me. I ordered a beer and some food and decided to pass the time away from the crush of people upstairs.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, I received no fewer than six text messages from Southwest Airlines letting me know that my flight was changed to 12:35, 12:50, and 1:00pm, plus multiple gate change notifications. It was a crazy amount of shuffling, so I just ignored it and enjoyed my early lunch. By 11:30, I was making my way through security (again) and rejoining the massive crowd still seeking escape from Lindbergh Field.

Finally, to the relief of passengers and airline personnel alike, planes began to arrive and then depart from San Diego. My flight left at 1:00pm, and I was thrilled to make the quick trip to Austin without a third passenger occupying the middle seat in my row. By 6pm local time, I was deplaning here in Texas and joining my friend, Brian, who had himself arrived from Long Beach an hour before. Baggage claim was quick and we were out of the terminal and into the car with my Aunt Susan. I had arrived in Austin!

Because Brian and I had arrived a day before everyone else on our team, we were able to enjoy a quiet night out for dinner. We went to Carino's Italian restaurant and had a fantastic meal. After my day of travel nuttiness, I decided I had earned a couple of Italian Margaritas, too. Hello, icy deliciousness.

Soon enough, we were done with dinner and home at my Aunt's house... or as I like to call it, Race Headquarters. And then, the best part of the whole day for me, I had the chance to visit with my Aunt for a few hours. We talked about everything and nothing and the time flew by. By midnight, it was time for bed. Kind of. I actually puttered around online until 1:30am, but then, I was off to sleep.

Day One of the great Texas Relay Race adventure was done.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Capital To Coast Relay - Part 1

I'm off to Texas to run the Capital to Coast Relay. It's a 223 mile,36 hour, 12 person, 2 van adventure, starting in the beautiful Hill Country of Austin and finishing on the sun-drenched shores of Corpus Christi. This will be my fourth relay race, having already completed Ragnar Relays in Southern California (April 2011), Phoenix, Arizona (February 2012) and Napa, California (September 2012). This is one is unique in that it is a local event and the longest relay race in the State of Texas. It's also special to me, personally.

This race might be better described as the "John Hulsey, This Is Your Life" Relay, because my teammates represent my past, my present, and my future. In fact, our race headquarters is my Aunt and Uncle's home in Austin, and no one knows you like family, right?

I know Brian, Djan, and Bruce through the Marines. It's hard to believe that is has been twenty-seven years since I joined the Corps, but all this time later, I am as connected as ever to these friends. We have reconnected through the power of the internet and social media, and in many ways it's as if the passing years have slipped by unnoticed. The distance between us is much too great, though, so I am looking forward to having time together to catch up.

I am also running with friends that I've met in San Diego and known for several years. Kim and Doug are two amazing people, both so much fun and always up for an adventure. They are driving cross-country and meeting up with us in Texas, and I'm really excited that they are along for this experience.

More recently, I have become friends with Nancy, Jerome and Lynette. I met them all through the SparkPeople.com website, and our shared passion for running was the catalyst for friendships that I already treasure. They are positive, powerful people that bring such energy and passion to all that they do, and I'm so happy to be able to run this relay with them.

And my future? It's represented this weekend by the people I haven't met yet in person but will know well by the end of the relay race. Nicholas and John P., SparkPeople Buddies, have been such a source of inspiration and motivation to me for a long time, and I am looking forward to finally meeting them in person. And I know David and Laura through our Facebook relay group, and I am glad to have the chance to put faces to names and get to know them, too.

"This Is Your Life, John Hulsey." And it's true. I get to run this relay with people that knew me when I was a teenager just making my way in this world, with people that first met me many years ago when I was in my absolute worst physical shape of my life, and with people who have only known me since I have embarked on my journey of health.

Wow. Think about that. People who knew me as a little boy, as a skinny young man, as a fat grown-up, and as a man on a mission to lose weight. I have changed so much in my life, and these folks all represent touchstones for me along my way.

But the best part about all of this? These people each know me now as an athlete. They know me as a man who has run two marathons, fourteen half marathons, multiple obstacle courses, and relay races. They know me as a runner. And I'll take that reputation any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

So, let's do this, Texas. Show me your long, winding roads and I'll show you my stamina. Show me your moonlight and I'll show you how much I love to run in the cool night air. Show me your blazing sun and I'll show you my sweat and determination. Show me what you have in store, Texas, and I'll show you what I'm made of.

Capital to Coast, I'm coming for you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Countdown to Key West

If you know me at all, you know I struggle sometimes with finding day-to-day motivation. To set myself up for success, I create long-term challenges. Before running the Pasadena Marathon, I created Project One Five (a one hundred day, five hundred item challenge). And after that, I completed the Summer of Run Challenge, running at least a mile every day for the 90+ days of Summer. Now, it's time to look ahead to my next big project.

On January 4th and 5th, I'll be running the Ragnar Relay Race from Miami to Key West., Florida. As part of that event, I'll be participating in the filming of the movie, "From Fat To Finish Line." And that means I have three months to get camera-ready. So, it's time to Countdown to Key West!

My challenge will include a bigger focus on nutrition and eating, since I have been pretty casual about that all Summer long. I will also track my biking, running, and strength training. And it will have a bit of an extra component - writing - since I want to make sure I am prepared mentally as well as physically.

And now, the details. Between now and the end of the year:

I will track my calorie intake via SparkPeople. I have a specific weight goal that I want to hit by the end of the challenge, and I have adjusted my calorie range to make that possible. I will continually adjust my eating throughout the challenge to make sure I am striking the right balance between "eating to lose weight" and "eating to fuel training."

I will workout like this:
  1. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I will warm-up with a run (10-15 mins), Strength Train (30-45 mins), and finish with an hour of cardio (elliptical or bike).
  2. Tuesdays, I will run a short run (30-60 mins).
  3. Thursdays, I will not work out at all.
  4. Saturdays, I will run a long run (90-120 mins).
  5. Sundays, I will walk at least one mile at a slow, relaxed pace.
I want to make sure that I don't get lost in my training, so I will spend at least 30 minutes each day writing or blogging. That will help me step back and assess my ongoing progress as well as provide an outlet for my rants when I'm struggling and my raves when I'm succeeding.

I have assigned points to each of these tasks, and my goal is to achieve at least a 90% success rate. To make it fair for myself, I have adjusted the requirements for the weeks when I have other obligations or commitments (Texas Relay Race, Hercules Marathon, Silver Strand Half Marathon, etc.).

There are a lot of moving parts here, I know. But I have created a spreadsheet and planned out the next three months. Now, I just need to stay focused and start checking off my "done!" items.

It's my own Countdown to Key West. Let's do this!