Monday, September 20, 2010

New home for my thoughts/musings

Please go to Big Guy Tri if you really care about anything that I say. You have all been great, but my life has taken some new turns and this format/location is a better fit. This is a complete website, but I still have a blog page that will look very much like this one.

As you will see, the site deals with what I see as the four major parts of my rebooted life:
  • My Faith Life ("soul food")
  • My Mental Health ("brain food")
  • My Nutritional Health ("")
  • My Physical Health (endurance sports)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prayer of St. Francis...time to pick it back up

I know it's been a LONG time, but it's time to finish it up. Stay tuned...gonna redo the last post, too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I am a Clydesdale

Clydesdale Triathlete Vince Palko at the DC Marathon.
I hope I look and race like him someday.

Most avid runners/triathletes can tell you what a Clydesdale is. They'll say something like "the big guys." Technically, a Clydesdale is a male endurance athlete that weighs over 200 pounds. Generally, there is a division for 200-219 and one for 220+.

The American Clydesdale Horse Society defines its namesake as follows:

"Male or female, a Clydesdale should look handsome, weighty and powerful, so that the impression is given of quality and weight, rather than grossness and bulk."

Compliment taken and appreciated. I'm currently working to reduce the "grossness" by reducing the "bulk." I think it is good that I can embrace this because it allows me to still be "Big Papa Jon" while working towards my goal of optimum health.

Some people feel that it's ridiculous that there is a weight class in an endurance race. They say that there are already age classes...isn't that enough? Some people will say that there needs to be a different class because we aren't racing against the little guys that run 5 minute miles. We're racing against each other.

I say it's a matter of pride. I'm proud of being big. I look forward to the day when I can be proud of being big and fit.

There's one for you too, ladies. It's called Athena and it's 150 pounds and up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The single most important piece of exercise gear that I own: RoadID

When I started exercising again I became very mindful of my safety. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that it's because people depend on me now...much more than before. Even people that are 6'5" tall and 280 pounds can get jumped, but accidents are totally nondiscrimanatory.
I live in a very busy congested and busy part of town. Metro buses go to and fro in front of my house every 10 minutes. I can be at Home Depot's front door in 4 minutes...walking. I can't even imaging the number of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles pass by me, behind me, or in front of me on a 4-mile run.

With that in mind, I started to research what I needed to do so that I am as prepared as possible to both avoid injury and, God forbid, that first responders have all of the information necessary should I not be able to communicate with them.

The very first thing that I did was order a RoadID. This ingenious little bracelet is perfect for everybody. All of their RoadIDs include a stainless-steel ID tag that can be used on multiple mounting applications. I own a black Sport, just like the picture to the right. That ID tag can be removed and added to a Shoe Pouch, a Shoe Tag, or an Ankle Band.

In addition to the RoadID Sport, they also have a swanky style called the WristID Elite that is on a rubberized watch-style band that could be worn all day, every day. The tag is a little different, but it has the same information available.

On the ID, you put your name, city, emergency contacts, any medical information, and any motivation that you may want for yourself. For those of you that have frequent contact information changes or that have complicated medical history, they also have and Interactive ID that directs the first responders and hospital personnel towards a 1-800 number or a website that contains all of your information.

Here's a comparison of the two types of ID:

The highlighted portion on the Interactive ID is not orange; it's just highlighted to show the difference. So, if you are a private person, someone who has frequently changing contact information, or someone that has extensive medical history, this is the ID for you. They only charge $9.99/year for the service. I think that we can all agree that is a very reasonable cost for the service provided.

In addition to their ID products, that have TONS of other road safety products. The one that I already used was the Firefly Supernova light. I was running behind the Target store by my house at about 10:30p (the only time that I'm free most days) and a car came around the corner. Being the cool-guy that he was, he only had on his fog lights, so he couldn't see me. He was coming right at me, so I started to get out of the way. About 25ft from hitting me, he swerved and slowed down. As he passed he shouted, "Nice light." I was sold.

I have formed a little relationship with them in order to help me continue to be able to pay for the races that keep me motivated as well as to be able to purchase exercise clothes as I continue to lose weight. If you or someone that you love exercises away from home, they need a RoadID. They are so inexpensive ($19.99 + $1.49 shipping) that you almost can't afford to NOT have one. They're safer than a piece of paper...what happens when that gets wet? I even wear mine at the gym. If I get injured and they call 911, they will be able to contact my wife immediatly and know that I have "NKA" (no known allergies).

If you order it after clicking through to the website through any of the links on this website, I get a small percentage of the purchase. I don't anticipate making a ton of money through this, but maybe I'll make enough to get a workout shirt or two per year. I've already gone from XXXL to XXL and now to XL. I'm halfway to my goal, so I'll get down to a size L at the very least.

So click and order...your friends and family (including me) will thank you.

Race Report/My Story - 4th of July Spectacular 5K

This is what I posted on the Runner's World Forum about last weekend:

On Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 I weighed 348 pounds. I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Two weeks early I had asked my doctor to write a letter of medical necessity for me to join a bariatric program (weight loss) and gotten to read how I was at risk of all of these “co-morbidities” and was “non-cooperative” when it came to health choices. I had hit rock bottom enough times to say “enough is enough!”

As I stepped off the scale, I knew that I was going to be making radical changes in my life. I knew that I was going to lose weight…I just didn’t know how I was going to get healthy and stay healthy.

I’m 31 years old and have a 4.5 year old son. As a father, I have the opportunity to break the cycle of obesity in my family. So far so good…he’s active and healthy. He eats well. However, I know all too well how easy it is to change direction.

The first two weeks I lost a total of 19.6 pounds. Week 3: down 1.2. Now, I’m not saying that I was disappointed in losing 20.8 pounds in three weeks. What I realized that day was that someday my weight loss would stop. Someday in the future I would step on this scale and cross off that last pound. Someday I would hit a 36” (or whatever) waist, wear a Large Tall shirt, and not shrink anymore. What I needed was something upon which I could measure my health progress and motivate myself in perpetuity.

On April 28th, 2010 I was sitting at my desk at work praying. I had been racking my brain for something that I could do. There were ideas, but none of them hit home; none sounded interesting. I was praying to God for some kind of guidance: “Help me find some way to motivate myself for the rest of my life because this time, Father, I’m not failing.”

When I finished my prayer and looked up to start working again two slips of paper tacked to my office wall caught my eye. I had pinned them there a year or so earlier when I had subscribed to a daily bible verse email. After they started to pile up unread in my inbin, I unsubscribed, but I left those two verses up. There was just something from each one that grabbed my attention.

The first is Psalm 119:105. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

The second is a little longer, but it was the one that caused the initial “A-HA” moment. It comes from the first letter from Paul to the Corinthians:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1Co 9:24-27)

It hit me like a ton of bricks: run. I’ve never been a runner. Obviously, the 350 pounds for a prolonged period of time kind of put a dampen on that. Add to that the fact that I am 18 months post-op from a lateral release surgery on my right knee.

I searched online and came across the “Couch-to-5K” program (C25K). It looked to be right up my alley and ability level, so I started it on May 5th, 2010. Since then my weight loss, fitness level, motivation, and overall lifestyle have improved dramatically. I feel and look better than I ever have in my life…and I’m just getting started.

On Sunday, July 4th I ran my first 5K race. The 4th of July Spectacular 5K is run in Colerain Township just northwest of greater Cincinnati. My reason for choosing this event was their inclusion of a Clydesdale Division and the fact that it fell on my very last day of my C25K training.

I ran the race with a good friend who paced with me the whole time. We actually ran the route the week prior so that I’d know where the hills were and what to expect. It took me 38 minutes that time through.

It started with a mass downhill start at 8:00am. “Downhill start” sounded good to me at first, but then I saw all of the people that used it to set their pace. This is just another reason why I love, love, love my Garmin. It has been crucial to my success.

I wanted to beat 30 minutes, if possible. I knew that it would be hard, but I thought I could do it. Accordingly, I set out at a pace of 9:30-9:45/mile. It was evident early on that the heat and humidity would be an issue…even for an 8:00am start. Around mile 2 I started to feel it. I slowed my pace to 10:00/mile, hoping to make up the difference in the last half mile.

However, the one-two punch of the heat and humidity on the blacktop finally did me in and I slowed just before mile 3. It helped that my wife, son, and aunt were cheering me on for the last 2 tenths. My 4 year old actually came out and ran the end of the race with me. My aunt, who is battling brain cancer with Ali-like skill, was also a big push for me.

I finished with a time of 32:59 and was very pleased. Just like most runners, I’m sure, I started to beat myself up for walking for those 2-3 minutes or slowing to 12:00/mile going up the last hill. Then, I realized that I’m not training for the Olympics, Boston, or even The Flying Pig…I’m training for my life and I just met the first of many goals.

I signed up for my first 10K this morning. I’m training for the next 6 weeks and can’t wait to start. I had my stuff laid out and my alarm set for 5:00a (just like I have for the last month), but I slept through it. I’m very bummed. But, I’ll just start tonight instead. I’ve never run at night and then again in the morning, but you have to do everything for the first time once, right?

Some things I’ve learned for my first few races:
-Decide your pace…and then add 30 seconds to it. You can always bump it up later if you’re feeling good.
-Ask more friends to cheer you on. They’ll come. Have them spread out on the course…it helps.
-Don’t try to follow the uber hot girls in spanks. They are always too fast.

In the interest of legality:

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Biblica.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Feel Lucky

This is a wonderful article that sums up how I feel about running. I'm doing it for my health, but also for my aunt Maria. More on that later.

Feel Lucky About Your Next Run at Runner's World

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This website is great for anyone that walks, runs, bikes, hikes...whatever. By using a great web-based map system, you can create routes for your exercise/commutes. It shows elevation changes, mileage, and will provide turn-by-turn directions. They even have an iPhone and Droid App.

An added benefit for me is that it interacts with my new Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch. I can upload created routes to my watch or download routes that I've run onto the system. This will also allow me to create maps of my hikes in TN later this month.

Here's an example of a route that I'm running tomorrow: