Friday, August 30, 2013

It's Fan Boy Friday! Meet Susan Patriquin.

As if I needed another reason to love Fridays, right? But blogging about some of the amazing people in my life puts me in such a great mood. While I'm running during the week, I let my mind wander and I think about my different friends. For days, my thoughts return to the people who make my life truly worth living, and I'm happy every single time. To be honest, I never thought about that aspect of it, about how writing Fan Boy Fridays might make ME feel better. But it does. It puts the good in my life front and center and I'm reminded - again - just how fortunate I am. With that in mind, let's get to this week's Fan Boy Friday!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Susan Patriquin.

She has been a part of my life since I was a young boy, when she married my Uncle Tim and became part of the are-you-kidding-me?! huge Patriquin family. For more than thirty years, she has been a part of my life, and I am thankful every single day.

She is my Aunt, yes, but we're close in age and she feels much more like a peer. And although she lives halfway across the country in Austin, Texas, she is my go-to person when I need to vent about whatever day-to-day nonsense is bothering me.

More than that, though, she is the person who really taught me what it means to open your home and be a giving, welcoming host. Over the years, I have shown up on her doorstep alone, with Marine friends, with an entire relay race team of strangers... she never knew just who would be on the other side of the opening door. But it has never mattered. Each and every time, she has invited me and whomever was with me into her home, made us feel comfortable and at ease, and shown by example what hospitality looks like.

"Texas Toast," our Capital to Coast Relay Team
invading Casa Patriquin in October 2012. 
She is a talented decorator with an amazing eye for detail, she is a loving wife and a mother to my cousins, Tom and Stacey, and she is an "adopted Mom" to who knows how many people over the years who needed a stable and caring person in their lives. And she enjoys Jack on the rocks or a good glass of wine. What's not to love?

Susan, you are a truly fantastic person. Without exception, every single one of my friends that meet you think, "dude, she's awesome! I wish she was my Aunt!" And it's true. I am lucky. I'm glad that my Uncle had the sense to hang on to you all these years and not let you get away. You have made such a positive difference in my life and you are, truly, family.

I am a fan.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good. Better. Best.

Oh, today is a very good day, indeed. It was my first time running since my Saturday long run debacle, and I was anxious to see how I would do.

I'll jump to the end and say, I did great. I really, really had a great run.

The run was simple enough. I was scheduled to run a warm-up mile, four faster miles, and one cool-down mile. After Saturday's screwed up run, I was determined to strike the right balance between pushing myself and overdoing it. And I really got it right.

This was my scheduled pace for the six miles:

But at my third mile, I felt strong and I felt fast. And I thought, pfft, why not try to just get the run finished in less than an hour? So I decided to do it at this pace:

But something clicked in my head and I thought, come on, why not get a full 10K in the hour? I knew that I wold have to really step it up for the last two miles, and I did.

It's not easy knowing when "push yourself" becomes "too far," but I think it's worth trying to figure it out. I had an amazing run today and I feel very proud of myself for the extra effort. And this is the face of someone who pushed hard, kept going, and stepped up to the extra challenge.

It's a good day, indeed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Accepting The Challenges in 2014

I've been running for nearly three years now, and I'm still on the lookout for new challenges. For 2014, I think I have found the perfect events.

I will repeat my 2012 challenge, the Triple Crown Series, which is three half marathons here in San Diego. It's the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January, the La Jolla Half Marathon in April, and the America's Finest City Half Marathon in August.

I will also be running the Beach Cities Challenge, which is three full marathons. I'll run the Surf City Marathon in February, the OC Marathon in May, and the Long Beach Marathon in October.

In addition to those six events, I will also be running Ragnar Del Sol in February, the Irish Run 17k in Arizona in March, Ragnar SoCal in April, the Ventura Marathon in September, the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Ragnar Tennessee, and the Atlanta Marathon, all in October. And I'm pretty sure there are other events that I just can't remember right now.

These are big, big challenges. And I can do them.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Not This Year, Ventura.

Two weeks ago, I made a very impulsive decision to sign up for The Ventura Marathon. And when I signed up, I thought it was a great idea.

But after I spent a little more time sorting out the idea, I realized that there is a difference between impulsive and manic. And unfortunately, inserting an additional marathon into my Marine Corps Marathon training is not a sensible idea. It's a 26.2 mile run on a weekend that is supposed to only be a 7 mile Saturday.

Once I really started thinking about the extra marathon and not running it, all of the other factors seemed to fall into place. I was able to defer my registration until 2014 at no additional charge. The house I am going to stay at will still be available to me to use. And since I have a whole year to plan, I now can find friends who will either run the marathon with me or, at least, travel on the train with me to Ventura for the race weekend.

Instead of a quick up and back by myself, I will be able to plan a whole race weekend with a group of friends.

Thank you, Universe, for making the decision so crystal clear.

And Ventura Marathon? I'm coming for you in 2014!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Let's talk about my Saturday long run. It was good, it was bad, and it was ugly.

Here's the actual plan:

First, the good. I was supposed to run fourteen miles in approximately two hours and forty-four minutes. And I did it. That was very good, indeed.

The bad? I felt so good over my first ten miles that I got cocky, and that led me to make a poor decision. Fourteen miles is no small accomplishment, and I should have been content with that. But no, after mile ten, I decided that I knew better than my training plan and I pushed myself to go faster than scheduled. The first two miles weren't so bad, but the last two? Oh, they were not good.

The ugly? My plan to run fourteen miles unwound during mile thirteen. I pushed myself too hard, too fast and I paid for it at the end of the run. Instead of mile thirteen being all run, I had to stop at 12.9 and walk until I hit 13. It was disappointing, because I had intended to run it all. And as I ran the last mile, it was even worse. I had to stop at 13.4 and walk until 13.5, then again once more before finally running the last bit.

It's not a big dramatic failure, but it was humbling. The first ten miles felt so great that I lost sight of my training goals. And I paid for it. Next Saturday, when I run my sixteen mile long run, you better believe I will stay on pace.

It really does feel good to finish a long run.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. They're all a part of running, right?

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's FanBoy Friday! - Meet The Murphy's.

I've said it many times, but it's always worth repeating. Running has given me so many gifts beyond the weight loss and improved health. It's also given me experiences (Bay to Breakers, anyone?) and opportunities (From Fat to Finish!).

Most importantly, though, running has brought the most amazing people into my life. And two of those people are the object of my attention in today's FanBoy Friday.

Friends, meet The Murphy's.

Yep. In kilts. Because they're cool like that.

Kat and John Murphy. They look like two normal people, but they're not. They are quite extraordinary.

I first met them in April 2011. They were in the second van of my very first Ragnar team, and I had very little time to spend with them. Fast forward to February 2012, and I joined their team to run Ragnar Del Sol in Arizona.

Post 200 miles of running in the Arizona desert.
I knew they were good people, but until my weekend with them, I really had no idea just how generous and giving they were. They not only took on the responsibility of captaining the Del Sol team, they also opened their home to all of the runners after the relay. We had a fantastic dinner and a long night of drinks, laughter and mayhem.

In the year and a half since then, I have had the chance to really get to know them both. And I can't say enough good things about them. Their home in Arizona serves as a hub for their large group of friends, and there is always something happening. Whether it's a barbecue by the pool or an early morning run, the Murphy's make sure that everyone stays connected. And through them, I have also been fortunate enough to meet and become friends with many people in their extended circle. More win!

Thank you, Kat and John, for opening your home to me. Thank you for opening your hearts to me. And thank you for making me feel not like a guest in town, but like a family member who returns and is welcomed each time with open arms.

You two are both such giving, caring people. Being your friend is an honor. And yes, I am definitely a fan.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Life, Setbacks, and The Return of the Awesome.

Oh, life. It loves to throw you curveballs, right?

I just blogged about how my Perfect August not being so perfect, but I was still continuing with the challenge and going to keep myself on track.

And then came Wednesday, my next scheduled training run. Rather than wake up recharged and ready to go, I was exhausted from a long night of sitting up with our dog and her seizures. It was mentally and emotionally draining, which means that I was in no shape to go running. Worse still, I couldn't really even leave the house because I had to sit with the dog until Ric could get home at 3:00pm.

Yep, life happened. Between my scheduled rest day Tuesday and sitting out Wednesday, I felt like my whole training plan was off-track. Despite weeks of hitting my benchmarks, I felt like the whole plan was setback.

Fast forward to this morning. Instead of dwelling on the missed run yesterday, I just made sure I was prepared to get caught up today. My bags were packed and I was out the door and on the way to the gym by 6am.

And man, oh man, was I on fire!

My plan called for a warm up mile, a 9:31 mile, a half mile recovery jog, another 9:31 mile, another half mile recovery jog, another 9:31 mile, and a cool-down mile. Six miles today and just over an hour to do it.

By the time I hit mile 4, though, I was feeling like a crazy man. Everything felt great and I knew I could do more than I had scheduled. So I cranked up the pace and decided to run both of the last two miles at a sub-9 pace.

Yeah. I did that.

Here's what I ran compared to what I had scheduled:

It may not seem that different, but I ran two miles at a sub-9 minute pace after already running four miles.

You better believe I felt awesome after that. And I looked awesome, too.

Who's feeling completely trained and ready for a fourteen mile run on Saturday? This guy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Perfect August? More Like, "Way Better Than Before" August.

Well, it's official. Perfect August has collapsed under the weight of this weekend temptation:

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. Nom, nom, nom.

After my 12-mile run on Saturday morning, I was craving a burger. And when I stopped by Wendy's to grab some lunch for my husband, I gave in and ordered this delicious lunch for myself, too. And with that, Perfect August and my "no fast food" challenge came to a halt.

On one hand, I'm disappointed with myself. I enjoy this sort of intense, short-term challenges, and I know I could have been strong enough to stick with this one. On the other hand, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I made a conscious choice to eat and enjoy the burger, and that's that.

More important than failing my own challenge is my response now. The old me from years ago would fall into an all-or-nothing mindset, and now that the challenge is lost, fall back into old habits, stop going to the gym, and eat whatever junk I wanted in whatever quantities I wanted.

But I'm not that guy, at least not anymore. I don't have to be an all-or-nothing fatalist about it. Yes, I had fast food over the weekend. This morning, though, I took the time to prepare my snacks and healthy lunch and pack them into my cooler to bring to the office. And then I was right back at the gym and running the recovery miles according to my Marathon Training Plan.

Short-term challenges are fun and serve a purpose, and I am going to continue this one and have the best August that I possibly can. But I won't let a single meal send me into a tailspin. The bigger picture here is my overall health and fitness, and that cheeseburger really didn't impact that at all. And since I am right back on track, I will still have a fantastic August that I can be proud of.

I may not have a Perfect August, but I will still have a way better August than if I hadn't attempted the challenge at all.

PS: To my friends who are struggling right now with their own, "I messed up and won't reach my goals," issues right now, I offer this reminder. You are not your mistake or your slip-up or your occasional bad day. You are your commitment, dedication and determination. So start acting like it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's FanBoy Friday! - Meet Eric Strand.

Welcome to another edition of FanBoy Friday.

This week, the shout-out from my little corner of the web goes to Eric Strand.

Which Eric Strand? Not the Swedish Olympic Fencer. Not the Editor of Donnie Darko and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. And no, not the Ultra-Marathoner. Believe it or not, this Eric Strand is cooler than all three of those guys combined. True story.

My Eric Strand is a Marine Corps Brother, Dedicated Husband, Tattooed Grandfather, Healing Practitioner and all-around bad ass kind of guy.

Exhibit A:
Note the shirt. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
And Exhibit B:
See?  A cool mantra and even cooler tattoos.

So why is he my FanBoy Friday pick? Because he's the man I want to grow up and become. He is the epitome of the Marine Corps expression, "No better friend; No worse enemy." He would do anything in the world for the people in his life, and he would stop at nothing to destroy you if you hurt those same people.

For so many reasons, I am in awe of this man. (And not just because his wife is smokin' hot and a justifiable pick for FanBoy Friday all on her own.) He inspires me with his dedication, his commitment, and his single-minded focus.

Eric, I am a fan.  Having you in my corner makes me that much more confident and I thank you for that.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Perfect August, Meet Impulsive September.

Sometimes, I surprise myself.

A kernel of an idea takes hold and, before I know it, it's become a full-fledged plan. That's what happened today.

A great friend of mine from the midwest will be coming to Los Angeles to observe the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. And since she is coming all the way here to California, I decided that I would drive the two hours north to spend some time with her. I hadn't worked out the details, but the trip was a definite.

The vague became the specific quickly. It started with an email from an old friend to a few people, me and her sister included. There was discussion back and forth about an Iron Man Triathlon in Tennessee in 2014, and a plan for my friend to escape that craziness and head to Ventura, instead. And that led to talk of the Ventura Marathon.

From there, the marathon called to me and I answered. Now, I am officially registered to run the Ventura Marathon on Sunday, September 8th.

It will be a busy weekend, certainly. It starts with running the Aloha Run 5k on Saturday morning. After that, I'll spend some time at a birthday party Saturday afternoon, then drive up to Ventura for the night. Sunday morning early, I'll run the marathon. Then I'll head to Malibu, visit with my friend, and check out some of the action at the triathlon. Finally, I hope to meet up with a different friend and celebrate her birthday. A couple hours of driving home back to San Diego and that will be the end of my crazy weekend.

It's still kind of unbelievable to me, that I can decide on a whim to run a full marathon and have the confidence to know that I can do it. My life is so different today than it was a few short years ago.

And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Suck It, Barter Hill.

I'll admit, I have been feeling pretty cocky about my marathon training. The shorter distances and slower paces have been pretty easy. Heck, even the 10 mile run last Saturday wasn't too bad.

But today was different. I was a few minutes into my warm-up mile and I already felt like it was going to be a bad run. At the mile mark, I increased my pace to 10:09 per mile. And less than a half mile later, I hit Barter Hill.
This doesn't feel good today. You could do the miles, instead.
You're just hungry from not eating breakfast. You should run the miles after work.
So what if you blow off one training run? You're still running twelve miles Saturday.
See? Barter Hill. It's where I start making deals with myself to do anything except complete the task at hand.  It starts with a kernel of self-doubt and builds to a full-blown attack on my confidence and determination.


I dig deep, tell myself there is no way around the task except to finish it, and I keep going. That's what happened today. I shook off the "stop" attitude, turned the music up a bit louder, and fought to find a running rhythm. At the end of my scheduled five mile run, I felt powerful and successful.

It doesn't always work. Sometimes, the voices of doubt get too loud and I cave. When that happens, I feel like crap emotionally long after any physical soreness would have faded. And that's my lesson, the big take-away.

Don't let temporary weakness (physical or mental) become more than it is. Push back and fight back. The victory at the end is that much sweeter knowing how much you worked for it.

Confidence, like sweat, is very sexy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Want to run the blah blah blah?" "Sure!"

I'm just the guy who can't say no, apparently. Ask me to join you for a running event and my response is, "shut up and take my money!"

Want to see what it looks like? Here's my running schedule for Oct/Nov:

  • Oct 18-19 Capital to Coast Relay (Austin, Texas)
  • Oct 27 Marine Corps Marathon (Washington, DC)
  • Nov 2 Hard Rock 5k (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Nov 8-9 Ragnar Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Nov 15-16 Ragnar Trail Vail Lake (Temecula, CA)
Yep. I'm booked with a different running event every weekend for five weekends in a row.

I'm a runner. Stop me before I register again.*

* I'm kidding. There's no stopping me!

And we're back!

Well, my great weekend is over, and now I'm back. Or, as my friend Dawn explained, beer weekend blog amnesty is over.

First up this morning, the gym for a little warm-up run and some good strength training. Later today, a better blog entry. Let's have a great day, friends.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Great Weekend

Friends are in town for a 5k on Sunday, so blogging will have to wait until Monday.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's FanBoy Friday!

We all know about Sunday Fun Day and Throwback Thursday, but I think we need a new weekly celebration. I'm kicking off FanBoy Friday (FBF).

What is it? It's a chance each week for me (and you, if you want to play along) to choose a friend and give them a WorldWideWeb shout-out for their awesomeness.

Here, I'll start and show you how easy it is.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is my friend, Minna.

We met when we were both members of, and she was one of the very first Buddies I had there. From the very beginning, she was a big motivator for me. She took the time to comment on my blogs, cheering me on when I was doing well and encouraging me when I was down.

After a while, our SparkPeople buddy'ing became a Facebook friendship, and we now stalk each other and "ooh" and "aah" over each other's lives. She lives in Uppsala, Sweden, so her European life is very different from my SoCal coastal living.

Why Minna for the shoutout? Because she's awesome. She's a beautiful person with a wonderful spirit, and I thank the Internet and the fates that she and I crossed paths. And one day, she and I are determined to cross a Finish Line together, too.

FanBoy Friday, I give you my friend, Minna. You may now say nice things about her.

(And feel free to steal FBF and give your own random friend a shoutout. Good people deserve it!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Perfect August, Day Eight Recap: "Getting In A Groove"

It's been a full week now (eight days, actually, as I'm writing this), and I have to be honest. I feel great. It's amazing what a break from junk food does for my energy. I had already been running again before the challenge began, but the combination of consistent exercise and healthier eating has already made an impact.

I'm sleeping better than I have been in months. I'm out almost as soon as I hit the pillow and, for the most part, I sleep through the night. I wake up ten to fifteen minutes before the alarm goes off and I feel refreshed and recharged.

I'm also noticing that my overall attitude is better. Starting each day with an hour of cardio or cardio/strength training helps me feel more calm and less stressed all day long. Maybe it's physical and maybe it's all just in my head, but who cares? It's working and I feel great. If a sweat-fest in the morning makes the rest of the day better, I'm in.

I'm remembering what it feels like to be in a groove, when physical activity is as much a part of the day as bathing and eating. And as I go about my daily routine, I like feeling the occasional muscle soreness as a reminder that, yeah, I kicked ass earlier in the morning.

Today is the eight day in a row of Perfect August, and I was on fire. I repeated Tuesday's workout (a mile warm-up run, a strength training circuit, and a mile run afterwards). The muscles were still store from the first go-round, but I stuck with it.

I won't be perfect forever, but this month is proving to be a great exercise in discipline and motivation. The fact that the scale is also moving in the right direction is just an additional perk!

(And yes, I did hit every goal today. And now, I'm off to bed.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Perfect August, Day Seven Recap: "Tech This Out!"

It's the end of Day Seven of Perfect August, and I'm too excited about getting through the first week to wait until tomorrow to blog. Tonight I'll blog about the day, and tomorrow I'll write a recap of the month so far.

First, the checklist. I ate right, exercised, skipped alcohol and diet soda, drank water, stayed within my calories, tracked it all, and am blogging (again) before I get to bed and get a full night's sleep. (I think I listed everything, but if I forgot, no worries. I hit all the checkmarks today.)

Now, to the great stuff. Today. Wow, today. It was Cool-Tech-Day for me. First up was my new music app for running. It's called Rock My Run, and it's continuously mixed playlists with all songs by the original artists. They are all upbeat, fast pace, easy-to-run with songs and they are a welcome addition to the fitness music genre. Instead of remixed, remade, cheesy tracks sped up to near Chipmunk speeds, I can listen to real music that I know and enjoy. The best part? It's free. The app itself is free and many of their thirty-minute mixes are free. You can download one per month and you can stream many others. There is a premium option that I will probably choose, but for now, the free stuff is fine for me.

Even better than the music app was a new running program I found called Virtual Active. It is a first-person, forward motion video that lets you run courses, trails, and roads all across the world.

This is my iPad sitting on the treadmill just after my run. You can see that I was running on a trail, and the video kept moving at my own pace. If I ran faster, it went faster. If I ran slower, the video slowed down.

And this is what happened when I stopped running completely. The app said, "no exercise detected," and the motion stopped completely. It really added to the feel that I was running, in this case along the beautiful lakes and rivers of Northern Italy.

I will blog more about this application (and my new involvement with the company that is making it), but for now, I'll just say that running like this today made my five mile, nearly one hour run go by in a snap. I really was able to enjoy the "view" on my iPad and not think about the running.

And of course, the inevitable selfie. This one was shot after my run, and I think my Marine Corps Marathon 2013 "Determination" tech shirt looks pretty damn good.

Perfect August. So far, so good!

Perfect August, Day Six Recap: "Weights Are Heavy!"

Perfect August rolled on through Tuesday. I had an amazing day and I'm starting to really appreciate the ripple effects of eating healthier over several days in a row.

First, the checklist.

  • Workout per training plan? Check.
  • Healthy eating? Check.
  • Tracked calories? Check.
  • Sixty-Four ounces of water? Check.
  • No Diet Coke? Check.
  • No caffeine after 2pm? Check.
  • Blogged? Check.
  • Full night's sleep? Check.

Let's talk about the workout. It was an off-day for running, so I planned something special. For the first time in months... and months... and months... I returned to strength training. It's something I don't really enjoy, but the results are worth it.

I started out with a one mile, ten minute pace run on the treadmill to warm up. Yes, I know it's technically a non-running day. But a quick warm-up mile can't hurt. After that, I hit the weight room for an upper-body, core-strengthening circuit. My weights were lighter than when I last did this, but I decided it was better to build back up rather than go too heavy, too soon.

The workout felt good. There really is something primal about pushing your body to work harder than you thought you could. I'm no muscle strongman, but I also wasn't worried about comparing my workout to anyone else's. I felt good, the weights felt right, and I walked away proud of the workout. What else can I hope for? I finished with another mile on the treadmill, too, because I'm awesome like that.

And here's the obligatory selfie, post workout. Sure, I know what you're thinking. "That guy's a total Autumn. Why is he dressed like a Spring?" What can I say? I'm bucking the trend and wearing light blue. I can't wear green and tan all the time, you know.

I know I've said this already, but I am really am enjoying this Perfect August. It's influencing me all day long, as I take a moment to evaluate calories and portions instead of just tasting, biting, and snacking automatically.

No, I will not be perfect for the rest of my life. But this isn't about forever. It's about right now and reminding myself that I do have willpower, I am in control, and I can make the right choices.

Here's to more great days ahead!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eat Anything You Want. No, Really.

You can eat anything you want. Honestly. And I'll tell you why and how. 

For many of us, the first thing we think about when we want to lose weight is dieting. We start thinking about all the food we have to give up and all the wonderful things we can no longer have. Cake, candy, sweets and treats. All of it has to go. 

And then a week later, we snap. We are tired of telling ourselves no. We crack under the pressure. We decide, "I can't go my whole life without having the things I want, so why even try?" 

Obviously, then, that doesn't work for most of us as a weight loss tool. Instead, I suggest you take a completely different approach. My advice is simple. You can eat anything you want. 

BUT... you have to stop and ask yourself, before every bite and every snack... do you REALLY want it? Sure, we all enjoy the bites and tastes. But what do you really want? 

If you are like me, you want to fit into smaller clothes and you want to have more energy and you want to feel healthier and stronger. You want to look and feel lean and trim. You want to be able to walk up stairs without feeling out of breath. You want to walk by a mirror and not feel ashamed or embarrassed. You want to live a long and wonderful life with the ones you love. You want to experience every moment of life and you want to do it in a body that is healthy and strong. 

You want these good things for yourself. And you deserve to have them. So why settle for anything less? Why have something you don't really want? 

The next time you are faced with a choice, don't tell yourself you can't have it. Because if you really want it, you can. YOU are in control and you are in charge. But if that junk food is not what you really want, make a better choice for yourself. 

You have eat anything you want. So the question is, what do you REALLY want for yourself? 

Perfect August, Day Five Recap: "Miles of Smiles"

Monday was awesome. It's true.

  • Run per training plan? Check.
  • Healthy eating? Check.
  • Tracked calories? Check.
  • Sixty-Four ounces of water? Check.
  • No Diet Coke? Check.
  • No caffeine after 2pm? Check.
  • Blogged? Check.
  • Full night's sleep? Check.
    • My planned workout was a five mile run at 11:48 per mile. I was just a few seconds ahead of that pace, and I felt great. I mean, I felt really great. Compared to the ten miles from Saturday, yesterday's five miles flew right by.

      Granted, there is more going on than the miles. Yesterday was also the fifth day of Perfect August, which means it's been nearly a week since I've had any junk food, alcohol, or diet sodas. I felt fueled and strong yesterday, and that helped me get through the run with no problem.

      In the "not so cool" department, after work, it was time to take my Uncle and my Cousin to the airport. They were here in San Diego over a week, but the visit went by quickly. I think they enjoyed it, and I know Ric and I did. Plus, my Uncle made the best sticky rice ever, so there's that!

      On the way home from the airport, we stopped to take a moment and enjoy the amazing view of downtown San Diego and the harbor.

      Honestly, it doesn't suck to live in this town. And I highly recommend a visit if you haven't been here lately.

      Monday, August 5, 2013

      Watching Your "Wait"

      Is this you?
      • "When I drop twenty pounds, I'm going to start running."
      • "Once I'm healthier, I'll run a 5k."
      • "I'm going to sign up for one of those relay races when I lose this gut."
      • "I wish I was in shape enough to train for a marathon."
      • "I'm too fat to jog."
      If you have no idea why anyone would say those things, good for you. Great for you, actually. But, if you have heard those words coming out of your mouth, we need to talk.

      The road to physical fitness begins the moment you decide that you want to improve your health. It's that simple. You might choose to drink a glass of diet soda instead of regular soda or choose water in place of any soda at all. You might take a walk instead of spending an afternoon watching television while sitting on the couch. Or you might opt for a smaller portion of your dinner or skip the usual seconds.

      Whatever you do, your very first action starts you on your journey. So go with it. Let yourself experience all the new and amazing things that come your way. Leave fear behind and embrace the opportunities.

      And do them as soon as you possibly can. Don't wait. Check with your doctor, get cleared to start, and get moving!

      Start biking. Or walking. Or running. Or all of those things. Running helps you drop extra pounds, so why wouldn't you want to do it as soon as possible? (My teammate, Carly, started running when she was 349 pounds. What's your excuse?)

      Sure, you will run a faster 5k after you lose weight and get healthier. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't run one now. Sign up and go for it.

      Sign up for a relay race. Or a half marathon. Or an obstacle race. Who cares if you still have weight to lose? Who cares if your stomach isn't flat? Events aren't designed just for people with perfect bodies. They are designed for anyone and everyone willing to train for and compete in them. So go for it.

      The point of this rambling blog is simple. Life continues while you are waiting for the perfect body, the right size, or to hit your goal weight. So stop watching your "wait." Say yes. Live the life that you want to live and trust that your body will catch up.

      I'm not in my "perfect" shape right now. I haven't ever been, to be honest. But that hasn't stopped me. I've acted as if I was an athlete, signed for and competed in all kinds of "are you kidding?!" events. And each time, I walked away afterwards feeling a little stronger, a little prouder, and a whole lot happier.

      Now's the time, folks. Step up and walk into your amazing new life.

      And just for fun, I put this together on BitStrips. I'm pretty sure this is what it looks like in my kitchen as soon as I get home from my long runs.

      After a long run, John pillages Ric's kitchen!

      Perfect August, Day Four Recap: "Hit & Miss"

      Sunday marked Day 4 of my Perfect August Challenge, and I am happy to report it was a Hit & Miss day.

      What? Oh, no. Not that sort of hit and miss. I hit every one of my goals.
      • It was my one rest day of the week, so there was no running or strength training.
      • I made healthy eating choices, and I used my daily calories wisely enough that I was able to enjoy Chicken Alfredo for dinner and still stay within my range.
      • I tracked every calorie. 
      • I drank a lot of water, well beyond my sixty-four ounce goal.
      • I had coffee early and a glass of ice tea later, but no caffeine after 2pm and no Diet Coke at all.
      • I didn't have alcohol.
      • I got to bed just after 11pm, which was later than I planned but still early enough for me to get a full night's sleep.
      • And I blogged just before I went to bed.
      I also spent some time reassessing my weight loss goals on MyFitnessPal. I updated my weight (losing already... go me!) and made a more realistic plan for getting back to my goal weight. I'm going to add strength training this week because I know that a stronger core means faster running.

      I prepped for the week by laying out my workout clothes, too. 

      Ric is on vacation all week and I'll be getting up in a dark room, so having everything ready make it easier to get out the door with everything I need. More specifically, it makes it harder to say, "oh, I wanted to work out but I couldn't because I didn't know where such-and-such was and didn't want to wake you." (Yes, I know my excuses well.)

      So, it was a great weekend and I'm ready to keep the momentum going through the new week!

      You may be wondering, "what's with the title of the blog?" Since it was a rest day, I took the opportunity to watch two episodes of the mini-series, "Hit & Miss." It's a show about a transgender contract killer dealing with an unexpected family.

      It's fantastic. There are only six episodes and there are no plans for it to return as a series, and you can watch the whole thing on Netflix. Enjoy.

      Sunday, August 4, 2013

      Perfect August, Day Three Recap: "Double Digits!"

      Disclaimer: It's late Sunday evening and I am just now blogging my Saturday recap. I let the day get away from me and am ready for bed, but I made a commitment to daily blogging. So, here's the short version.

      Oh, Saturday. How I love and hate you at the same time. You and your long runs! I am not always a fan of running them, but I love how I feel when I finish them. And Saturday was my first double-digit training day - 10 miles - so I was feeling especially awesome afterwards.

      Let's not pretend that it was an easy run, though. Because Friday was a late night, I slept in Saturday morning so I would meet my "get a good night's sleep" commitment. But, the ripple effect of that meant that I didn't get to start my run until almost noon. Yep, and I'm a morning runner, so the later in the day I start, the worse it is for me.

      The whole time I was running, I was bartering and bargaining with myself.
      • "I should just do 5 miles today and 5 miles tomorrow."
      • "This pace is too slow and I'll be here forever. I should go faster."
      • "I should walk."
      • "I could walk a mile, then run an extra mile at the end."
      • "I'm nearly done. I should run a super fast mile to finish."

      All of that chatter in my head, and there was only one thing that would make it all shut up.

      I wanted to change up, to run faster, to run slower, to stop... anything, it seems, except to run the 10 miles at the 11:53 per mile pace. But I had made the commitment to myself that I was going to be perfect for the entire month of August, and no stupid long run was going to get the better of me.

      After the run, I was feeling all kinds of great. I found it easy to get through the rest of the day and stick with the rest of my goals. I didn't drink alcohol, I ate completely within my calorie range, I didn't drink Diet Coke and I avoided all caffeine after 2pm. I was Aces!

      I realize I have a whole month ahead of me, but so far, having a specific plan has really kept me on track.


      And as a bonus, here's the video of us Scuba Diving in La Jolla Cove on Friday. Enjoy!

      The Cove short from John Hulsey on Vimeo.

      Saturday, August 3, 2013

      Perfect August, Day Two Recap: "Scuba!"

      Friday was a fantastic day. I'll just say that straight out. It was a great mix of family, friends and fun, and I loved every minute of it.

      First, the checklist.

      • It wasn't a running day.
      • I definitely did a non-running activity. I went Scuba Diving. (More on that to follow.)
      • I did not have fast food. And I made good, healthy choices.
      • I tracked every calorie.
      • I drank water all day and into the night.
      • I did not have Diet Coke. I had one cup of coffee at the office in the morning and no caffeien after that.
      • I did not drink any alcohol.
      • I was up late, but I slept in this morning so I was able to get plenty of sleep.
      • And I blogged yesterday morning.
      So far, so good. I'm two for two for the month. Go, Me! And now, the fun details.

      Yesterday was Friday, and like every week, I worked a half day and was out of the office just after twelve. I had a few stops to make and a few people to pick up, and then we all made our way up to La Jolla Cove. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon, with a light breeze, blue skies, and all kinds of sunshine.

      My cousin and my two friends were with me and we spent nearly an hour scuba diving in the Cove. There was much to see with all the local sea life, but my favorites were the sea lions. They were everywhere in the cove, swimming around and darting in between us. They were so close, at one point I was staring right into one of their faces. It was like playing with dogs in a park, almost. I'll share video as soon as I can get it edited.

      After the dive, it was time for our Huli Huli Chicken and Game Night. Yeah, I know, that's a long title. But we had the most amazing chicken and rice dinner, followed by a million laughs playing Cards Against Humanity.

      Thanks to everyone who joined us. I don't know how the night could have gone any better.

      And now, it's time for me to run. Literally. I have ten miles to complete today. Time to beat feet!

      Friday, August 2, 2013

      Perfect August, Day One Recap: "Actions and Rewards"

      Day One of Perfect August is behind me, and it goes in the Win Column.

      • I ran five miles yesterday morning.
      • I ate within my calorie range.
      • I tracked everything on My Fitness Pal.
      • I drank over 100 ounces of water. Seriously.
      • I did not drink any Diet Coke.
      • I did not drink alcohol.
      • I got eight hours of sleep.
      • And, obviously, I blogged.
      See? It's a Win. And I'm happy to say that all of the accomplishments above weren't even the best part of yesterday. That award goes to Chris and Jen Jeske, who responded to my Perfect August challenge and decided to play along. That led to me inviting them to run the San Diego Beer Run with me later this month, and they said yes. They're coming down to San Diego to spend the whole weekend and run the event on Sunday with me. How cool is that?

      I haven't seen Chris in person since we were Marines together in Hawaii, and I have never had the chance to meet his wife, Jen. But that will soon change, and all because I created and shared my August challenge. 

      Just like that, making a commitment to my own health continues to pay off in ways I never imagined. I blogged about it before (Losses and Gains), but it's worth repeating:

      Do good things for yourself and more good things will come your way.

      So, the question is, what will YOU do today to be good to yourself?

      Thursday, August 1, 2013

      Operation Awesome, Meet Perfect August.

      Three years ago, I started a health and fitness journey that continues to this day. And it all started here:
      Monday, June 21, 2010
      I just spent a week with the best people I know. This year's Marine Corps reunion was here in San Diego, and I was able to spend time with my longtime friends. They always bring out the best in me, and this week was no exception. 
      So here I am a week later, still riding high on the experience, and now ready to turn that good feeling into results. 
      More later. For now, just know that I am good to go. It's going to be a very good thirty days. 
      I was very successful over my first two and a half years, dropping the extra weight and accomplishing every running goal I set. 

      But this year, I have struggled with motivation and commitment. I've tried many different approaches to getting back in my groove, and the results have been hit-and-miss.

      Fast forward to Summer 2013 and my ongoing Operation Awesome. I have been successful in stopping my slide backwards, but I am still not satisfied that I am completely back on track. I do fine for a bit but not long enough to really feel better.

      And that brings me to "Perfect August." I enjoy mini-challenges, and my journey to health really kicked into high gear with this one:
      Wednesday, June 23, 2010
      I'll be honest. I'm a "lots of energy upfront" guy who quickly loses interest or motivation. I struggle with taking a good idea and seeing it through to completion. And with physical fitness and a lifestyle change, that sort of stop-and-start undermines success. 
      So, here I am with a plan. I'm calling it my own 30 Day Challenge. The idea behind it is simple. I can do anything for 30 days. I just need to clearly define my goals. 
      For 30 days, I will get to the gym for at least one hour of cardio each day. It can be running, elliptical, or the bike, but it has to be every day and it has to be a minimum of an hour. 
      For 30 days, I will use the Spark People Nutrition Tracker to record my food intake. 
      For 30 days, I will drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. 
      For 30 days, I will not drink caffeine after 5pm. 
      For 30 days, I will not drink alcohol. The empty calories are bad enough, but when drinking, I often make poor eating choices. 
      For 30 days, I will make healthy eating choices. That means portion controlled, nutritious meals. 
      For 30 days, I will get enough sleep to allow my body to recover from each day's exercise. I will not stay up too late. I need at least 6 hours each night. 
      For 30 days, I will make myself a priority. I will reset my attitude on physical fitness and health, and I will emerge on the other side of this with a renewed sense of accomplishment and a seriously improved attitude. 
      For 30 days, I will remember what it feels like to be the best person I am. 
      It worked before and it will work again. Perfection is too lofty a goal to maintain for a lifetime, but it's achievable for a single month. With no further ado, I give you the Perfect August Challenge:
      • I will run three days a week according to my Runner's World SmartCoach training plan.
      • I will do a non-running activity (biking, walking, strength training, etc) three days a week.
      • I will not eat fast-food meals. I will make healthy, nutritious choices.
      • I will track my calorie intake through My Fitness Pal
      • I will drink at least sixty-four ounces of water each day.
      • I will not drink diet sodas. My caffeine intake will be restricted to coffee or ice tea and no later than 2pm each day.
      • I will not drink alcohol, with one exception. I'm running the San Diego Beer Run on August 11th and will enjoy my celebratory beer after the run.
      • I will get enough sleep to allow my body to recover.
      • I will blog daily to help me stay focused and on-task.
      There it is. My challenge for the next month. August, are you ready for me? Because I'm coming!