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Living Gluten Free on Vacation

Posted by Cole Millen
Cole Millen
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on Tuesday, June 25, 2013
in Weight Loss

Eating only gluten-free products is an easy part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while at home.  Thanks to the added emphasis on health that is sweeping the nation, grocery stores and markets now provide an abundance of options that eliminate the need to stop eating many of our favorite foods simply because they contain gluten and other unhealthy products.  However, maintaining a gluten-free diet when it is time to go on vacation can present quite a challenge.  In addition to facing the temptations of exotic foods and the mental excuses one makes to break the rules of their diet, you can easily find yourself in situations where gluten-free meals or snacks are not even an option.  If you have pledged to yourself that you will not make sacrifices when it comes to the health of your diet despite the circumstances, then consider some of this advice on how to enjoy your vacation free of gluten.

The first challenge you will potentially face is food and snacks that are being served aboard an airplane.  Most airport restaurants and meals served aboard flights lack gluten-free options.  The vegetarian meals are a healthy alternative, but there is no guarantee that the specific ingredients will be available.  It is wise to eat a healthy snack or meal at home directly before leaving to board your flight.  If you are forced into eating due to flight delays or cancellations, then choose unprocessed food items that can only be served fresh such as fruit or salads.  People flying on a regular basis also find that it’s easier to maintain their diet when they pack healthy snacks that are free of gluten into their carry-on baggage.

The next place that one is likely to face pitfalls, are hotels along the way. Make sure to do your due diligence before hand to determine which hotels can accommodate your needs. I have found travel reviews to be the most honest and unbiased form of information in this regard. I recently took a trip out west and found a great site called Gogobot that offered reviews on every aspect imaginable. I was then able to find a list of reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding their amenities as well as restaurants in the nearby area that resulted in finding a complete gluten free restaurant. Tools like these make it easier than ever to maintain your lifestyle regardless of your destination. If you are one who easily succumbs to temptations and the whims of the small snack, avoid the temptation altogether by turning down the key to the minibar.  In this instance, we have another situation where packing gluten-free snacks from home can be beneficial.  Bring along instant soups and other food items that can be prepared using nothing more than the hot water from the coffeemaker.  Should you desire to prepare meals on your own in the hotel room in order to know exactly what is going into your body, pack a crock-pot that works with any traditional wall socket.  Stocking up on gluten-free products that can be prepared using this item allows you to take advantage of the healthy choices at the local grocery.

Eating out while on vacation is the kind of situation that provides the greatest amount of danger.  Typically, servers are not even aware whether or not the items on their menu contain gluten.  The first line of defense is to choose restaurants that have a healthy approach to the food they serve in general.  It will be much more difficult to locate an appropriate dish at a restaurant that is geared towards heavy meats and seafood than it will be at a place that is geared towards sandwiches and wraps.  Be discerning before you even walk in the door.  You can also save valuable vacation time by researching restaurants and hotels in the area online before you even depart.  The majority of good restaurants will post their menus on their website.  If you find yourself in a situation where you had to eat an extremely light meal in order to safeguard your diet, then be sure to have multivitamins at your disposal in order to supplement the minerals and vitamins you may have missed during the dinner service.

Cole Millen, is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life's best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate "experiences." Follow his blog at Cole’s Mill.

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Next Goal Race: New Hampshire Marathon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
in Road Races

This year has been a very enjoyable training year so far. With no big races in my future plans I have had no pressure. I have mostly ran 25-30 miles a week with only a couple of bike rides so far. I have been racing quite a bit as I recently just completed all 10 races of the Good Times 5k Spring Series and finished 4th in my age group. (same as last year) After finishing eleven 5k's in 10 weeks I was feeling it was time to take a little break and come up with a long term goal.

Several blog posts back I wrote that I usually get hit with an idea about a goal race during the winter months. I get all excited, sign up and start training. This is the first year that did not happen. Nothing came to mind and I didn't want to force the issue by signing up for a big event when my heart wasn't in it. Running in the Good Times Spring Series was fun but I still did not have any inspiration for that big goal race.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with my wife while having a cold beverage at a fine establishment about Newfound Lake in Bristol, New Hampshire. Every Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend for the last 5 years I have vacationed at Newfound Lake. The roads around the lake are great for cycling and you will always see a ton of people running or biking around the lake. I usually get a couple of really good rides in during the weekend and always try to swim/run as well. There is a 16 mile loop around the lake and I have ridden it over 50 times but have never attempted running the loop. I mentioned I thought it would be interesting to run the 16 miles around the lake some time. It would be a tough hilly run but would be fun. As the conversation was progressing it happened.....inspiration hit me! I should just enter the New Hampshire Marathon! The course starts in downtown Bristol and then circles Newfound Lake before returning to Bristol. Not only do I know the course extremely well but I have also filmed the race! (check it out here)   Perfect!  I finally have a big goal race!

I am super excited. I finally have a big event planned for 2013. Unfortunately I picked quite a challenge as this is not an easy course. This is a very hilly course with a couple of tough climbs. The goods news is that I know every inch of the course and the last 9 miles are rolling to downhill. Basically you just need to survive the first half of the course and then hopefully have some legs left for the last stretch of miles. I have always wanted to run around the lake and now I can do it in a race environment. You really will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful venue for a marathon in the fall.

To make this even more special I have talked my brother in law and sister in law into making this their first marathon. They have the marathon on their bucket list so I said why not this year? Tough course but easy travel, low cost, and they know the course as well as I do. In addition I think I have talked my wife into coming out of "marathon retirement". Once I made the decision to enter this race everything fell into place. On October 5th The New Hampshire Marathon will be my 8th marathon and my 6th state. Let the training begin!

Click here for the New Hampshire Marathon course video.

Click here for the New Hampshire Half Marathon course video.

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I Love the John Carson 4th of July Road Race!

Posted by Sarah Hardy
Sarah Hardy
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on Monday, June 10, 2013
in Road Races

The 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year.  It just so happens that my hometown, Chelmsford, Massachusetts is a great place to celebrate the 4th.  The John Carson Road Race is held on the 4th of July each year and brings out close to 2,000 runners. This year will be my 12th running of the race.  I'm usually joined by my husband, daughter and a whole group of family and friends. 

The energy and atmosphere at the start line of this race is different from most road races.  While there are serious runners who will cover the 2 miles in under 9 minutes, there are also slower runners and walkers who have come out with their friends and family to participate. As people wait for the starting gun, it's time to catch up with friends and neighbors. It is not unusual to see whole families running/walking in this race.

The race is a point to point course.  It starts on Parkhurst Road behind Hannaford and finishes in Chelmsford Center. The course is rolling and you'll feel some of the hills if you're sprinting. See the course video for specifics on the race course. One thing I like about this event is that each half mile is marked on the ground.  My goal is usually to finish the race under 14 minutes, so I try to keep each half mile under 3:30. 

The first half mile of the race is crowded, but once you turn the corner onto North Road it opens up a bit.  There is another benefit to hitting North Road...the fans!!  North Road is lined each year with spectators to cheer you on.  The reason for all the spectators is that immediately following the road race, the Chelmsford 4th of July Parade follows the same path down North Road. The closer you get to the Center the more spectators and the louder the cheers.  The last quarter mile is usually a blur for me with crowds 4 or 5 deep on both sides of the road. 

 

One of my favorite things about this race is getting to run in the middle of North Road.  A lot of my training runs take me down North Road, so on race day I take advantage of not being stuck on the sidewalk.  I usually run right down the yellow line. 

I think I first came to love this race a number of years ago when I was a 4th grade teacher in Chelmsford.  In June I would always challenge my students to run the race. I said I would buy an ice cream for any student who beat me. I always looked forward to seeing a few of them at the finish line, and I never was beat by a current student.  As the years have gone on, I often see in the race results the names of some of my former students, and I'm happy they are still running the race.  Now that they are older and faster a few have beaten me. 

The John Carson Road Race may be a short race at only 2 miles long but the benefit is it brings out a lot of people who wouldn't tackle a 5K. The entire event has a welcoming feel to it, and since it's the 4th of July everyone is in a good mood.  I know I always am because I'm looking forward to a day spent with friends and family, and maybe some fireworks to celebrate too.

Chelmsford is the place to be on the 4th of July!


Click here to sign up for the Road Race.

Click here to see the course video.

Click here for the Chelmsford Parade website.

 

 

 

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Finding Motivation After Ironman

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Tuesday, May 14, 2013
in Triathlons

For two years (2011-2012) all I thought about was completing the Ironman. Everything I talked about in some way was related to my nutrition, training, or race day preparation for the big race. My complete focus was to fulfill my life long dream of completing the Ironman when I turned 40. The mental and physical effort required to train for and complete the Ironman was immense and all consuming. In less than one year I entered 3 Ironman distance events. (Clermont Aquabike, Full Vineman, and Montreal Esprit). Read my story here

After 2 years of training....I did it! I completed my goal! Finishing the Ironman was by far the biggest accomplishment I have achieved in my racing life. In my mind I have reached the top and there is no event that will motivate me anywhere near the level I needed to complete an Ironman.


OK....Now what? After racing for 22 years and completing hundreds of road races and triathlons of all distances now what should I do? Should I retire and become a golfer? Should I take up gardening? I completed my Ironman on September 9th, 2012. Since then I have done a few half marathons and a number of 5k's but my motivation just isn't there. Every year at the end of the racing season I usually would get an idea about a certain event or distance I wanted to do the following season. This winter that did not happen. I tried to mentally force myself to "want" to enter a spring marathon or get in shape for early season triathlons but I just cannot generate any motivation or true interest. I am truly content and it is a little scary.

That's not to say I haven't been working out. One thing I have learned is that if you don't have to do something and you choose to do it then it must be something you truly enjoy. Since the Ironman I have not swam one stroke. I have done a few easy spins on the bike trainer over the winter but until last week my bike was still on the trainer collecting dust.

What I truly enjoy doing is running. I have been running 25-30 miles a week this year and I am not signed up for any big events. I just run 4-5 times a week and typically run 5-9 miles each time. For me this is very enjoyable and keeps me in reasonable shape. I also have been running in the Good Times 5k Series every Tuesday night which is also fun and satisfies my craving for racing. I am having a great time!

 

So is this a problem? Shouldn't I continue to be super motivated and ready to tackle my next big challenge? How can I possibly be happy if I am not training for a major event? I think what I am learning is that I do this for fun and right now I am having fun. In addition to running I have re-joined my Friday golf league. I stopped golfing last year due to Ironman training. I forgot how much I really enjoy playing golf and enjoying the company of friends on the golf course. Due to Ironman training I basically alienated a certain group of my friends due to lack of time. I didn't have time for golf or any of my other interests. I think this is typical for many people training for a major event. You are either training or recovering...not much else.

After completing a major event like the Ironman I think it is beneficial to take a break. Too many people try to ride the "high" of completing a major goal and roll right into another event. Sometimes this works but many times I have seen athletes get injured or the whole process becomes a lot of work with no enjoyment.

I know I will get motivated to tackle another challenge but I am not rushing into anything. I will continue to enjoy my Ironman "high" and run/race for fun. I plan on getting out for a few rides and open water swims and re-connect with the enjoyable parts of triathlon training. The big difference from last year is that if it is rainy, windy, or cold I will not have to force myself to ride or swim...better yet I will go for a run instead!

In case you haven't seen my Ironman finish...check out the video below.

 


 

 

 

 

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View The Race: One Year Anniversary

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Wednesday, May 01, 2013
in News

 

 

May 1st is the one year anniversary of View The Race! For the past year we have created race course videos with the goal of allowing athletes to "View The Race Before You Do The Race!"....As we celebrate our first year in business I am proud to say we have created 136 course videos representing 9 states and Canada. It has been a busy and rewarding year, and we have big plans to continue to expand our course video library in year two.

 We have also attempted to inform/entertain our fan base with 61 blog posts over the past year. Subject matter has been varied and has covered juice fasting, weight loss, race reports, triathlon swim anxiety, and running tips just to name a few. We will continue to provide information through blog posts. I hope you have found a few of them informative or possibly just made you laugh or shake your head at some of the crazy ideas we discuss.

Special thanks to all of our 1000+ fans on Facebook, John Childs (MA RRCA State Rep), Claire Cloutier (Double C Racing), and some big events that really supported us in 2012....Vermont City Marathon, Manchester City Marathon, Maine Marathon, Feaster Five, Conquer the Bridge, Wallis Sands Half Marathon, Westford Road Race, and Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon. (just to name a few...we have had a ton of support)

Maybe you have seen one of our videos but are not aware of everything View The Race offers. We currently offer the below services to race directors to improve the quality of their event:

Course Videos

We film road races, triathlons, cycling races, and swim events of all distances from 5ks to full Ironman events.

All of our videos include:
- high quality video of race course
- course narration describing race and course by racing expert
- background music
- video page with race information and elevation chart
- free promotion of your race on View The Race calendar/website

How much does this cost? Due to the wide variety of events we film we do not have set prices. Our pricing is based on the length of race, location, and course requirements. Our prices range from as low as $150 (local 5k/5mile) to as much as $800+(long distance events).

Contact me for a free price quote!  ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Race Websites

View The Race also designs websites. Our websites are geared to providing athletes all of the information they need on race day. I have seen thousands of race websites and nothing is more depressing than being unable to find important info about your upcoming event. We ensure this doesn't happen by providing all of our race directors a questionnaire with all of the possible info needed for their event. We ask the right questions to ensure athletes will be provided with the right information.

Our high quality race websites are designed by our Creative Director, Jerry Paquette, who has over 20 years of experience designing websites. (including the VTR website) His extensive experience allows him to create a unique feel to every website.

After speaking with race directors we realized that many race directors have limited budgets and do not have the expertise to manage their race website. Due to this fact all VTR websites include complete website management as part of the sale price. After purchasing the website, race directors supply us with all of the information needed to create the website by filling out the VTR Website Data Sheet. After the new website is created all future changes are communicated by sending in an updated VTR Website Data Sheet or simply by sending us an email with the needed update/change.

Never again as a RD will you have to worry about finding someone to update your website or figure out how to make time to update your website. This allows Race Directors to do what they do best....Manage the Race! Let us take care of your website!

Our websites cost $600 and include hosting and a free domain name. Want to see a couple of examples?

http://www.endofsummerclassic.com/

http://lisasrun.viewtherace.com/

Race Registration

VTR also offers race registration. Now we know there are a lot of companies that offer this service. We are not the biggest company or the most experienced, but if you are looking for a company that can handle your registration needs and will respond promptly to your concerns/questions then consider using VTR as your registration provider. To help promote our new service we are offering our website at the low price of $149 if you use us as your registration provider.

Contact me today for more info! ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Want to see what our registration page looks like? Click on the register button on the website below.

http://www.endofsummerclassic.com/

Below is a video of some of the places we have been in year one. This is the video I am featuring at the RRCA Conference this year in Albuquerque.

 

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Good Times 5k Spring Series Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 17, 2013
in Road Races

After a day of tremendous sadness over the senseless violence that was inflicted on our beloved Boston Marathon, the Good Times runners towed the line on most likely the first organized road race after the horrific events of April 15th. Runners are a resilient group by nature and almost 400 showed up on Tuesday night to show support for the innocent people whose lives were changed forever on Monday. Race Director Dave Camire had some moving remarks prior to the start of the race and asked runners to observe a moment of silence.

Like many of you I was devastated by the news of a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately acts of senseless violence seem to be happening all too often. The sheer evil required to plan and carry out any of the recent mass shootings and the bombing at the Boston Marathon is beyond comprehension. There is no valid reason as to why someone commits these acts. Senseless violence doesn't make any sense. The only thing we can do is to hold the  perpetrator of each act accountable, increase our efforts on prevention, and make sure the victims of these acts have the full support of our nation.

 


The Race

This week's race was a unique event named the Rose Maguire's Great Mill Girl Chase 5K. In this event the women start the race first and 2:30 later the men start. The overall winner of the event receives $100, man or woman. This is a fun event for all. Even though I am not in competition for the $100, my focus is always to try to catch my wife before the finish line. I have done this race several times before and beat her for the first time last year.

This race is challenging to me for a few reasons. It is not just the 2.5 minutes that is tough to make up. I am used to starting in the front. When you start in the front and typically finish in the top 20 there are not usually many people in your way. In this race the men need to weave through many of the 200 woman that started ahead of them. There are many narrow sections of the Good Times course (check out the course) and this is always challenging and can really slow you down.

The race started and I waited the interminable 2:30 before I could begin. After running sub-par times for the first two weeks I decided to run without a watch. I like to run by feel in the shorter events. In a 5k I'm always running a 100% effort, so seeing my mile splits doesn't help me run faster. I caught up to the first large group of women fairly quickly and had a tough time navigating for about half a mile. At one point I was flying down the left side of the road third in a line of three men. There was a large group of women in front of us and the lead guy quickly went further left only to find 3 benches blocking our way. Much to my surprise he jumped up on the first bench and then jumped from bench to bench, hit the ground, and kept running. I have never seen someone do this in a road race before. This was impressive but must have taken a lot out of him because soon after he was dropped.

I suffered for most of the race. I finally broke free from the crowds and tried to focus on maintaining a fast pace. At one point on the course as you cross the Aiken Street bridge you can look to the right and see the runners ahead of you going underneath the bridge. As I got to this point on the course I looked and saw my wife about 20 seconds ahead. Unfortunately my legs were close to the red line of effort and I didn't have much left. I tried a surge on the last straightaway in an attempt to bridge the gap. Up the final "S" curves I could see her just ahead of me but the bottom line is I just couldn't do it. She ended up beating me by 4 seconds. However, I did run my fastest time of the season 19:58. Good Times!

 

 

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Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 10, 2013
in Road Races

Yesterday I unfortunately experienced a very scary medical situation. Let me give you some background. First off I need to say I am not a doctor nor do I have any medical experience. In addition I do not recommend anyone use my actions as a guideline for handling similar situations.

On Sunday I started feeling run down and had a few bouts of sweats and feeling light headed. I didn't do much and went to bed early. On Monday I felt OK in the AM, ran 7 miles, and did some errands. After the run I had lunch and then started feeling really run down and had a bad stomach ache. I battled extreme stomach pain all during the Red Sox home opener. The pain slowly subsided and I went to bed early again. Yesterday I woke up with pain and tightness in my chest and was still feeling run down. I worked for several hours in my home office and started feeling light headed and still had the tightness in my chest. Around 11:00 AM I started making lunch and broke out into a sweat and started feeling faint. The bottom line is that I had pain and tightness in my chest, had the sweats, and was feeling faint. I couldn't believe it but I thought there may be a possibility I was having a heart attack. Me?

To make matters worse I did not have a vehicle as I had let my daughter take my car to school as I didn't plan on going anywhere yesterday. I considered calling 911 but thought there is no way this could be happening. Unfortunately I couldn't deny the way I was feeling and knew I needed medical attention ASAP. So what did I do? I quickly threw on my running shoes and walked to the Walk-in Center a half mile from my house. I was feeling very faint and weak and thought more than once on the way over that if I collapse this would turn out to be a very dumb decision.

Once at the Walk-in center I was quickly examined and the doctor told me based on what she was seeing I needed to go to the emergency room ASAP. I had no car but it didn't matter because they said I also needed to go via ambulance. To make a long story short I ended up being at Lowell General Hospital for the next 5 hours undergoing a whole battery of tests on my heart. I was examined thoroughly and I would like to thank the great staff at Lowell General.

What were the results? I had a surprisingly lengthy conversation with a cardiologist who explained to me that after all of the tests my heart was fine. They do not know what caused my symptoms but it wasn't heart related. I was probably fighting something off and maybe I strained a muscle in my chest...not sure. Regardless I was glad to hear that I did not have an issue with my heart. During my discussion with the cardiologist I mentioned I was a runner and in fact I had planned on doing a 5k road race later that day. Here is a snippet of our conversation heavily paraphrased:

Doctor: After all of these tests we do not know what caused your symptoms but it is not heart related.

Me: So my heart is fine?

Doctor: Yes.

Me: So there is no reason why I can't run in a 5k tonight?

Doctor: Well, I can't tell you what to do once you are discharged but your heart appears to be healthy.

Me: Ok..Thanks.

 

 You have to understand that after a lifetime of running and racing one of the scariest things that could happen to me is to have a heart condition. We have all heard of fit runners having a heart attack. It does happen. Once I heard my heart was fine I was instantly injected with relief and knew I was running in the Good Times 5k that night. I left the hospital at 5:30 PM quickly changed and went to the race. You see, I can deal with feeling faint, weak, sick, etc. Many long distance events I have completed at some point I have felt that way during the race. I wasn't feeling at my best (obviously) and completed the race in 20:22.

The moral of the story is that if you feel you are having a heart attack it is better to be safe than sorry. Know the warning signs and by all means call 911...don't try to walk a half mile to the doctors. A heart attack is survivable but only if you get immediate medical attention. If you have the symptoms and feel it may be happening don't wait and become a statistic....call for help. I also don't recommend running a road race after leaving the emergency room.  Smile

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest Discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

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So This is Spring?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 03, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the 10th update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 

 If you have read any of my previous posts you know that I have not exactly been losing weight fast. I have been enjoying my post-Ironman off season. (Maybe a little too much) After focusing on Ironman for the last two years I am having a difficult time getting back to that same level of motivation. Finishing the Ironman was a life long dream and everything else seems irrelevant. That is not to say I haven't been working out. I did run 125 miles last month and rode the bike trainer for an hour once a week. I enjoy running but I just have not been able to generate the internal motivation needed to tackle another major event.

So where am I? With exactly 10 days to go before my self imposed weight loss deadline of April 13th I am far off the mark.

Current weigh-in:    180          Goal Weight: 169

I have lost exactly 9 pounds this year. According to my math I would have to lose 11 pounds in the next 10 days to reach my goal. My brother-in-law Mike already reached his goal 3 weeks ago.

In case you are wondering the picture on this post is what I call my Poster of Shame. I started this years ago whenever I needed to lose some weight. Basically I write my weight on a poster and hang it up in my office so I have to look at it all day. Even this tactic has only had minimal impact on my motivation to lose weight. Not to blame the weather but it is hard to get motivated when it is snowing in March.

Even the Good Times Spring Series has been affected by the terrible weather. I look forward to running in this series every year and was hoping the competition would increase my motivation. Well, last night was the first race and guess what....Coldest Good Times ever! Thirty-something degrees with a heavy wind...I had to wear my winter running gear...Winter will just not let go....check out the story and video here. (your VTR host placed 17th)

The good news is that we are now in April and the extended forecast looks much better. (Of course as I write this post the windows of my house are rattling from the wind and it is freezing out) As soon as it gets warmer I will start to get some outdoor rides in and running will be much more enjoyable. Good weather is motivating for everyone. The first day it is 60 degrees on a weekend day you will see a ton of runners and cyclists on the roads. It makes you wonder where everyone has been for 6 months.

The bottom line is that training without a goal is tough. If I didn't truly enjoy running I would have slacked off big time. With no impending events that "scare" me, I don't feel like I have to get serious. We will see what happens....for now I will run in the Good Times Series every week and see if I can be competitive in my new age group.

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Weight Loss Success Story

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Saturday, March 16, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the ninth update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 

 My Results


With exactly 4 weeks to go to reach my goal I am still losing weight at an extremely slow pace. I now weigh 181. I have seen 180 on the scale numerous times over the last few weeks but the facts are I have only lost 8 pounds since January 1st. I think I was confused with the contest. I thought it was who could lose the weight the slowest. I still have 4 weeks to go....I won't bore you with the details....Focus on Mike....He's the man!

Starting weight: 189   Mar 16th weigh-in: 181   YTD loss: 8 lbs

Mike's Results

I did it!!  169!!

For what is is worth, I would have won the biggest loser for the second year in a row. Check out my weight loss blog from last year to see how I lost over 60 pounds and won the biggest loser competition at my work in 2012.

Since January 1st I have lost 13% of my body weight.  At that weight I would have been runner up overall in last year's competition (and I still have three weeks to go and weight to lose).  I am writing this on the eve of my March 16th weigh-in, and to be honest I did not want to get off the scale this morning.  I saw a weight I thought was impossible to ever see. I know I talked about it a lot.  A real lot for anyone that would listen...possibly too much (sorry family).  But I said it, and kept saying it until it happened. This morning I was at a predictable 170.8. I know I have been talking about 169 for a while now, but at 170.8 I feel I accomplished what Dave and I set out to do. Tomorrow I will wake up and I will be 169.  But at the end of the day, a number is just a goal, an ideal.  

When I see success, I do not see it in black and white.  In my life I have seen that successful people understand this.  The "Success" they set out for is rarely what they end up with. It usually is close to the original form, but not exactly. Happiness is realizing this and growing into new adventures. 

Since I won the Percussion biggest loser competition last April, I have lost another 25 pounds. In the last year I have lost over 75 pounds and kept it off. People say that I inspire them, but frankly, I would not be here without the support of those who reached out to me and told me I encouraged them. You are the inspiration that drives my success!

 Continued success is not resting on the triumphs of the past, but pushing on to new outrageous goals and adventures, repeatedly claiming the new goal until it becomes reality.  My old goal is met. Life is fully available to those who take it by the horns, I may hit it or I may not, but anyone that knows me knows that I believe that true failure is not pulling yourself off the mat. I will acknowledge my success, cheer on Dave (as I always do) and set my new goals.
 
When I graduated from high school, I was 165 pounds.  June sounds good, I will be 40 then.   160, get dressed up in your best suit, I will see you soon....

 Starting weight: 192.5   Mar 16th weigh-in: 169.8  YTD loss: 23 lbs

 Next Update March 30th!

 

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Do You Race to Win?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, March 11, 2013
in Road Races

Leprechaun Leap 5k 

Why do you race?

A race is by definition:

Noun

A competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.
Verb
Compete with another or others to see who is fastest at covering a set course or achieving an objective.
 
I think runners run in road races for many reasons. A race is a competition. For a small group of runners the competition is for 1st place overall. This would include elite runners and typically the best runners in a geographic area. Another larger group of runners compete for the age group awards. The competition for these awards varies greatly. At some races it is very difficult to place in your age group and at other races just finishing with a half way decent time is enough to place. If you are not fast enough to compete for awards then runners can still be competitive by competing against friends or competing against themselves by improving their time at a particular distance or on a particular course.
 
So now that I have explained racing...Why do you race? What if I told you that you would place 6th overall and 1st in your age group at your next race? Would you consider that event a success? Would you need me to tell you what your time was? If so...would you care?
 
Runners can be funny people. Yesterday I ran in the Leprechaun Leap 5k in Nashua, New Hampshire. This is the third week in a row that I have raced. As I mentioned last week, I am really excited about getting back to racing in 2013. I did not know very much about this event but I chose this race due to the close proximity to my house. Unfortunately I woke up on Sunday morning not feeling at the top of my game. On Saturday night I attended a surprise 40th birthday party for a friend of mine in Worcester, MA. For all of those Seinfeld fans I will describe what happened as.. I went to the party and yada...yada...yada... I did not feel great on Sunday morning. I struggled to the start line with basically no warm-up. Since I didn't know much about the event I was unpleasantly surprised to be greeted with tough hills on both the 1st and 2nd miles. The third mile was mostly flat with a good downhill but the damage had already been done. As you would expect I had no "zip" in my legs and the entire race was a struggle. My splits were 643, 704, 641 with a finish time of 20:56. Now normally I should have been just under 20 minutes on a tough course like this so I was not happy with my time. In addition last week I ran 20:18 and thought I had a bad race. The big surprise came with due to the small field (115 runners) I ended up finishing 6th overall and 1st in my age group and won a medal.
 

 

Now as I analyze the results I had no chance to win the overall race even if I ran my PR so 1st place in my age group was the best possible result. In addition the course was hilly so even if I was in great shape I would never be able to PR on this course so that wasn't an option either. So the question is...Why do you race? Do you race to win? If my best possible result was achieved why should I care what my time was? Would I be happier if I PR at an event and finish 10th in my age group and win nothing? I guess it really depends on why you enter events. Placing overall in an event is not realistic for me so placing in my age group is the best I can do. In my opinion if I end up getting an "ugly" win it is still better than not placing at all.

At the end of the day we are all trying to improve our race times and winning a meaningless age group medal doesn't make my time any better. Even though that is true, I do strive to place in my age group at every event. Whether you believe medals/trophies are meaningless or not, running is our sport and that is what symbolizes success at an event. I don't know about you but I like be called up to receive an award. Why would I cry about my time and downplay my award? I showed up, ran the race, and reaped the rewards...case closed.

I have met a lot of people that never seem to be happy with their race times. No matter what success they achieve they are always upset and claim they should have done better. I am going to make sure that person is not me in 2013. I plan on entering 25-40 events this year and guess what...I am going to have some good ones and I am going to have some bad ones...If you race a lot that is the reality. I only hope that regardless of my race times I get a chance to win more medals!  See you out there!

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Freeze Your Buns Off 5k Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, March 03, 2013
in Road Races

 

 

One thing you should know about me is that I love racing. I especially love running in 5k road races. (check out my race history here) Over the past couple of years I have been focused on Ironman training so I have missed out on a lot of 5k's and sprint distance triathlons that I really enjoy. Despite the fact that the weather was terrible and my performance wasn't great, I think running in the Hyannis Half Marathon last weekend started to get my racing juices flowing. I have to admit that after last week I was not excited to sign up for another half marathon but I started to get excited about getting back to racing shorter distances.

I am really excited about the Spring Good Times 5k Series in Lowell and I knew I needed to enter a few 5k's before the series starts on April 2nd. (see the course here) Now I have no illusion as to my current conditioning. I am in the words of the famous movie "Full Metal Jacket" quote a  "disgusting fat body". When I am feeling out of shape and overweight I always think about the below several lines of dialogue from that movie when the drill instructor found a jelly donut in the barracks. This really has nothing to do with the 5k I ran today but if you are wondering about what I think about during the race this is it.

 

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Holy Jesus! What is that? What the f%#k is that? WHAT IS THAT, PRIVATE PYLE?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, a jelly doughnut, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: A jelly doughnut?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: How did it get here?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, I took it from the mess hall, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Is chow allowed in the barracks, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Are you allowed to eat jelly doughnuts, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: And why not, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, because I'm too heavy, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Because you are a disgusting fat body, Private Pyle!
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Then why did you try to sneak a jelly doughnut in your footlocker, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, because I was hungry, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Because you were hungry...
[turns and addresses rest of platoon]
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Pyle has dishonored himself and dishonored the platoon. I have tried to help him. But I have failed. I have failed because YOU have not helped me. YOU people have not given Private Pyle the proper motivation! So, from now on, whenever Private Pyle f*&ks up, I will not punish him! I will punish all of YOU! And the way I see it ladies, you owe me for ONE JELLY DOUGHNUT! NOW GET ON YOUR FACES!
[rest of recruits get in front-leaning-rest position, Hartman turns to Pyle]
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Open your mouth!
[shoves jelly doughnut into PYLE's mouth]
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: They're payin' for it; YOU eat it! Ready! Exercise!

First 5k Race of 2013


Since the racing juices were flowing I wanted to enter a 5k close to home. I wanted a quick and easy fitness test to see what kind of shape I am in. The Freeze Your Buns Off 5k in Nashua, New Hampshire is a no frills, well organized 5k race series managed by the Gate City Striders. This race was exactly what I needed today. The race only costs $5 and has a simple rolling course around Nashua High School.

After a nice warmup I hit the start line. Conditions were not bad for winter...30 degrees and snowing. Not snow that sticks to the ground,  just nuisance snow that goes into your face and eyes. Certainly the weather was a lot better than last week's pouring rain. I ran a hard but controlled pace for the entire race but didn't have the fitness to maintain my pace. I won't bore you with the details but my splits tell the whole story:

Mile 1-  6:19

Mile 2- 6:34

Mile 3- 6:53

5k Official time:  20:18  (6:32 pace)

Not bad for the first 5k of the year and a decent starting point. For me I always think if I break 20 minutes in a 5k then I had a decent time. Over 20 minutes sucks...I plan on entering a few more races this month and continue training for speed. The cool thing about racing short distances is that you can race every week if you want to....I am looking forward to the 2013 racing season!  See you out there!

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Runners Can Eat Anything They Want, Right?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Saturday, March 02, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the eighth update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 

  I have learned over the years that unfortunately just because you exercise a lot doesn't mean you can eat anything you want. Does exercise allow you to take certain liberties with food and drink? Absolutely...I am the perfect example of someone who if they stopped exercising would immediately gain 20 lbs. The thing about exercise is that burning a ton of calories makes you hungry. In addition in order to keep up a big exercise schedule you need to continuously fuel your body to get it done. What happens (at least with me) is that since you are hungry all of the time you inevitably end up eating more than you are burning.

I have several examples over the years where I have trained for a marathon and ended up gaining weight. The most frustrating part is that after all of the training I ended up running the marathon at my heaviest weight of the season.

In 2010 I started training for the Disney Marathon in August and weighed 174. Over the next few months I had some great training, never missed a workout, and ended up weighing 185 on race day. Ouch! I ran an average of 160 miles a month September-December and gained 11 pounds! How does this happen? I am not a doctor but I truly believe there are a couple of factors.

1) If you eat more than you burn you will gain weight. It doesn't matter if you burn 5000 calories a day. If you eat 6000 then you will not lose weight.

2) I think after running for almost 25 years my body is so used to the exercise of running it just doesn't take many calories to get it done. It is almost like I don't burn any calories when I run. That doesn't mean I am fast...it just means I have to find other ways to lose weight.


My Results 

Since our last update I have not lost any weight. The goods news is that I didn't gain any weight. I could definitely try harder in the eating/drinking department but I am averaging about 26 miles a week of running and cycling for 30-60 minutes a week which I thought would be enough to continue losing. The beat goes on....6 weeks to go...it's not easy.

 Starting weight: 189   Mar 1st weigh-in: 182   YTD loss (2 months): 7 lbs

Mike's Results

Two Months...Melancholy success. Losing weight in the winter in New England is exhausting.  Everything about it is terrible. Cold dark mornings, snowy freezing evenings, snow covered roads and sidewalks, freezing buildings, your body just craving the warmth the extra 5 pounds brings. Weight loss is possible though, with hard work, perseverance, and a plan. With April right around the corner, it is now possible to see the clearing through the weeds.

Exercise season is right around the corner (the time when normal people decide to lose weight).  I think the work Dave and I have done over the past two months puts us in a good position for running, which was the goal all along.  Any weight loss is the right direction in these months and even staying the same weight could be considered progress. So the last two weeks I really only practiced yoga and mostly plateaued with my weight loss. With only one week until spring ahead, I think I should be more focused on the positive direction of my success, but winter is long in Massachusetts. Over 20 pounds in two months and I am tired. I am looking forward to the renewed energy running outside brings. Time to lace up and start running, only six weeks until my first 5k.

 Starting weight: 192.5   Mar 1st weigh-in: 172.4   YTD loss (2 months): 20.1 lbs

 

Next update March 16th!

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Hyannis Half Marathon Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, February 25, 2013
in Road Races

 

Yesterday I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon in Hyannis, MA. This race is the first opportunity of the year to run in a half marathon or marathon in New England and brings in as many as 3,500 runners.

After enduring a week of ominous weather predictions before the race I arrived on Saturday to a seasonably cold and cloudy day. The storm track kept changing seemingly every 12 hours and by Saturday it appeared that the Cape was going to be spared from the snow. Game on! I picked up my race packet, checked into a nearby hotel, and then hit the British Beer Company in downtown Hyannis. After having a great meal and a few pints with friends I turned in for the night ready for whatever race day would bring.

I woke up Sunday and tentatively looked out the window hoping the weather forecast was correct and the snow had held off. I was happy to see clear roads but unfortunately it was pouring rain and windy. The good news is that I knew I could deal with the rain but the bad news was I knew it was not going to be fun. After a leisurely breakfast (the race starts at 10 AM) I headed to the start. The rain and wind actually relaxed a bit right before the race but I was already wet just walking to the start.

It was a cold rain so I decided to wear my full winter gear for the race. But as the race started I almost immediately started to feel uncomfortably warm. By mile 2 I took off my head wrap and wished I had worn shorts. The rain continued to fall and the roads were completely covered with puddles due to all of the pouring rain and the snow melt. Dodging puddles made it almost impossible to get into any kind of rhythm and my legs felt sluggish right from the start. The puddles in the road were so bad a few sections of road were impassable forcing runners to run in the front yards of houses or on the grassy sections on the side of the road. I was soaked and to make matters worse I grabbed a cup from a water stop, went to drink and had the cup "explode" in my hands all over the front of my jacket. Fun!

I was soaked and for parts of the race I felt warm and others I felt cold. I tried to maintain some type of pace but felt like I was struggling the whole time. It was a real battle. Right after Craigville Beach there is a tough hill that leads up to the 8 mile mark. I knew it was coming so I purposely reduced my speed and ran a comfortable pace up the hill. I made it up the hill but soon after I started to feel like my legs were giving out. By the time I ran over the "speed bumps" after mile 9 and turned on Route 28 my legs were dead.

The last 5k was a real struggle. I had decided before the race not to wear a watch and there were no clocks on the entire course so I had no idea how I was doing. I wanted to run by "feel" and the last 5k I felt terrible. Running through the last two side streets before the finish felt like it took forever, and I finally started my finish line sprint up to the line. The cool thing about running without a watch is that as I rounded the corner to the finish I had no idea what the clock would say. I crossed the line to 1:43:32....7:54 pace. Not a great time for me but with the tough weather just finishing is a victory.

As soon as the race was over I instantly felt freezing cold. Not sure if it was adrenaline or the effort of running heating my body but I didn't feel that cold during the race. I think I can speak for everyone and say I was very happy to warm up and change out of my soaking wet clothes.

Despite the weather this race was a "fitness check" and I think I did OK. I am behind where I was last year but with a few more weeks of training I should continue to improve. I am really looking forward to the Good Times 5k Series in April and plan on working on my speed over the next month to prepare. First race of 2013 in the books!

If you are interested in running this race or the marathon check out the course video here.

 

 

 

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Do You Have the Winter Blues?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, February 19, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the seventh update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 

Dave's Week Seven Summary and Results:  

You know what? Getting serious about losing weight is no fun. Why is that? Because everything we enjoy in life involves behavior that is detrimental to weight loss. That is why you need to change your behavior in order to lose weight and keep the weight off. 

Last week I had a case of the "winter blues". Maybe you are familiar with it...sick of winter, sick of cold, sick of snow, sick of the treadmill, etc. I ended up eating out a couple of times last week and made some bad food choices. Luckily I didn't miss a workout but every workout was a struggle mentally, and I felt like I was right on the edge of losing my motivation. When this happens I am usually rescued by my inner voice which tells me..."Stop being such a baby and get it done" or something like that. Sometimes there is an inappropriate adjective in front of the word "baby" as well...The bottom line is that if you are committed to an exercise/weight loss program you need to get it done. No excuses. I have mentioned this in previous weeks...if it was easy everyone would be fit and thin instead of unfit and fat.

I ended up losing another pound last week so I have continued my 1 pound a week average. So far I have lost 7 pounds in 7 weeks. Nothing special but I continue plodding along. I am hoping one of these weeks I'll really kick it in gear and speed up the process but it hasn't happened yet.

Exercise Totals: Ran 24.5 miles and biked 40 minutes on trainer

Results:

Starting weight: 189   Feb 19th weigh-in: 182   YTD loss (7 weeks): 7 lbs

 Mike's Week Seven Summary and Results:  

 A friend of mine once said you only have a certain amount of will power, and once you use it all on something you have nothing left for other things. When something that can be normally considered bad happens, your mind goes to processing it. Well when you are in a competition and something happens, it is best to process it quickly. This weekend my diet consisted of potato chips, beer, and french fries. I just lost it. My mind was processing something out of the ordinary and I had no will power left for eating right. I would hope that my rational side would have kicked in and my eating habits would remain unchanged, but Ruffles covered in Sriracha squeezed from the bottle, are way better than the lays rendition. All this good food coupled with video games, what a healthy lifestyle.

Another wise friend once told me that it is OK to be angry, but remember this. "Be angry for a day, a week, a month, or a year, but when you are done being angry, you will have to pick it up and start from that point. In other words, don't waste too much time being angry". When you are not really mad at anything, or anyone, it is harder to let it go, but you have to.  So I allowed myself two days to process it, and then rationally let it go.

The best opportunities I have been involved in have come from conventionally bad events. So I picked myself up yesterday, 90 Minutes of Bikram yoga and 75 minutes swimming later, I am back on track and not as mad. It may still be a few days mind you, but I am squeezing my will power to things I have control over and trying to move in a positive direction.  174.8..despite my let down I only gained a half pound...I can't wait to sweat this salt out of my veins.

 Exercise Totals: Elliptical 90 minutes +  biked 1 hr + swam 2.5 hrs + yoga 90 minutes

 Results:

Starting weight: 192.5   Feb 19th weigh-in: 174.8   YTD loss (7 weeks): 17.7 lbs

 

              Next weigh-in will be the 2 month mark.....March 1st!

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Surviving the Tough New England Winter

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, February 10, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the sixth update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 Dave

 Week Six Summary and Results:  
Surviving the tough New England winter and maintaining your fitness is extremely difficult. Let's be honest...you have every excuse in the book to miss workouts. It's freezing cold and there is 2 feet of snow on the ground. Time to cash it in and wait till spring, right? If you allow yourself to fall into this trap you will be very unhappy with what you look like in April. If you want to get in shape to perform well at spring road races or just want to look good at a Florida beach during April school vacation week the time is NOW to start losing the holiday weight. Don't wait! No excuse! There is no snow at the gym and if anything, it is too warm not cold.

Last week was a good one for me. I mentioned on my last post that I had a bad weigh-in, and I think this week's results prove that. I dropped 2 pounds last week, and I am still going strong.  And it's going to take some mental toughness over the next few weeks.  As the picture above shows, the New England winter dumped close to 2 feet of snow yesterday. It looks like I will be forced to complete all of my runs on the treadmill indefinitely, but I am mentally prepared and I will get it done.

 Exercise:

Sunday- ran 6 miles tempo

Monday- off

Tuesday- ran 5.25 miles easy

Wednesday- ran 10 miles (long run)

Thursday- off

Friday- ran 10 miles (another long run to beat the storm)

Saturday- off...if you call shoveling for hours a day off

Totals: ran 31.25 miles (first time over 30 miles in awhile)

 Results:

 Starting weight: 189   Feb 10th weigh-in: 183   YTD loss (6 weeks): 6 lbs

 

                                                                      Mike

 Week Six Summary and Results:  
Every great athlete will usually have the old adage "finish strong" drilled into his head from the time they first start competing. Finishing strong and pushing through the pain at the end of a game or a run is essential for realizing your best as a competitor. Hitting heartbreak hill and pushing through, or making sure your splits are faster in a 5k, both take practice and discipline. When I finish any training run, I usually am running uphill. I try to go as fast as I can and after I cross the finish line, I want to have nothing left for the day.

 The same is true when losing weight. The beginning is easy, you can see fast results, get caught up in the adrenaline of the "race", but after the pack weeds out, that is where it gets hard. Losing weight is like running, you are alone, most often racing against your own time and goals, keeping focus over long periods of time.  

 

 Like running, the only way losing weight works is to make it a lifestyle choice, not a goal.  When I was new to running, to finish a 5k was my first goal. When I finished my first 5k, I didn't stop because I met my goal, I just kept running. Do I train the same every day, week after week? Truthfully no, but I wish I did. Some weeks I am busy, some weeks I have other things I just need to do, and still other weeks, I find myself in "running burnout". Losing weight is a part of something bigger, being healthy. Like running a race is part of being a runner. So even if I have a bad week, bad weigh-in, or get sick, it does not matter. I have had slow races or have run injured, just to keep up the practice. And I have taken it easy, but have gotten back up and run faster or stronger.

 

Now I am approaching the end of this particular goal, and this is where the focus has to be greater, and I have to remember that losing weight is part of a lifestyle choice. The weight is not my ultimate goal, it is to be healthy.  Bell lap, under 5 pounds to go...174.2, see you at the gym!

Exercise:

 Sunday- 1 hour elliptical

Monday- 75 minute run

Tuesday- off

Wednesday- 1 hour yoga

Thursday- 1 hour spin

Friday- 1 hour run

Saturday- 1 hour run

Totals: 1 hr yoga + 1 hr cycling + 1 hr elliptical + 3.25 hrs running

  Results:

 Starting weight: 192.5  Feb 10th weigh-in: 174.2  YTD loss (6 weeks): 18.3 lbs

 Week Six Recap:

 Losing weight is a marathon not a sprint. As we get closer and closer to April, the key is to know you are on the right path and continue moving forward. You have to maintain focus on your goal day after day week after week. Mike survived his vacation last week and has returned to juicing. He is determined to hit his goal weight ASAP...he isn't content to wait until April like I am. Since I was training outside for most of my runs the most recent blizzard will put more pressure on me than Mike to maintain focus. Training indoors is tough and gets boring quick, especially for long runs. We will see what happens....

As you can see from the results of the past 6 weeks Mike's strategy is extreme but really works. He has lost over 18 pounds in 6 weeks. If you would like more detail on what he is doing check out his blogs from last year. He used this strategy to lose over 60 pounds in 2012.

Mike's Story

 

Next Update February 19th!

 

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Week 5: Exercising on Vacation

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Sunday, February 03, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the fifth update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 

 Dave

Week Five Summary and Results:  
Back to Back solid weeks! I think I am finally over my sickness. Last Sunday was the first time I was able to attempt a long run outside and it felt great despite the 15 degree temps at the start. I was able to complete all of my workouts and ran a solid 27.5 miles for the week. I ended up only losing a half pound this week but that was due to an ill-timed, late Mexican dinner last night. All week I have been showing 1-1.5 pounds of loss until of course...weigh-in morning. I will make sure I don't sabotage my weigh-in next week.

On the diet front I also had another good week. I have continued drinking tea to curb my appetite and I am beginning to get used to the smaller portions at meals. Losing 20 pounds takes time and every week just builds on the last. Losing 1-2 pounds a week is about all I can ask for without going crazy like Mike. I am happy to continue plodding along week after week sticking with my strategy. It is pretty clear to me at this point that my sickness and the antibiotics definitely held back my weight loss at the beginning of the month. Not sure if there is a medical reason that prevented me from losing weight or maybe it was my body holding on to the weight to protect itself. Who knows?  I finally have my energy back and that is all I care about.

 Exercise:

 Sunday- ran 10.4 miles (longest run this year!)

 Monday- off

 Tuesday- ran 6 miles (tempo workout)

 Wednesday- ran 5.1 miles (60 degrees...Wow!)

 Thursday- off

 Friday- ran 6 miles (30 min of it was track workout)

 Saturday- biked 40 minutes easy on trainer

 Totals: ran 27.5 miles and biked 40 minutes on trainer

 Results:

 Starting weight: 189   Feb 3rd weigh-in: 185    YTD loss (5 weeks): 4 lbs

                                                                      Mike

 Week Five Summary and Results:  
If you can't measure it, you can't improve. It has been said in business and it is true in training.  Sure, when I step up to the start line in a 5k, I am watchless, but as I look to increase my speed, I will measure everything. Carefully keeping track of my progress allows me to see what works and what does not. I am tracking every workout now using time (not distance), as speed and distance will come with a good base.

So here I am on vacation, no scale.  One of the best ways I have found to lose weight and keep focus is weighing myself every day at the same time. I know that when I eat sushi, I gain 1.5 pounds, mostly as my body keeps in water to flush out the salt. I also know that after my long workout on Saturday (my fasting workout), I weigh myself and if I am disciplined, I can reach that weight by the following Saturday. No scale is good and bad. No daily reminder that I am losing weight, but no real penalty if I eat a little too much for enjoyment. So, I take a break from weighing myself, but not from losing weight.

Traveling and eating right is difficult to say the least. Ordering a salad with no cheese, no egg, no dressing, no oil, only to have it come out with salt and pepper..(who salts and peppers a salad?)  I guess people will be people. It is a sign of how terrible our eating habits have become. I am sure the chef felt that the vegetables needed "something" on them to make them taste good. So that "something" gets added to everything we eat, and we really don't need it. Anyway, adding another 60 minutes outside running in California is not bad. Hopefully the added exercise will make up for the eating.

One final note, as I was getting ready for a drop-in yoga class, the instructor said she never thought of visiting a yoga studio while traveling. One of the best parts of vacationing is changing up your workout routine, running in new places, dropping in on a different style of yoga than you are accustomed.  If you stay poolside drinking a tropical drink, you lose out on experiencing what could be the best part of traveling, running on a new road...

 Exercise:

 Sunday- 1 hour elliptical

 Monday- 1 hour yoga +75 minutes swimming

 Tuesday- 45 minutes yoga + 1 hour spin

 Wednesday- off

  Thursday- 1 hour run

   Friday- 90 minutes Yoga + 45 minutes run

   Saturday- 1 hour elliptical + 20 minutes bike

 Totals: 3.25 hrs yoga + 1.33 hrs cycling + 2 hrs elliptical + 75 mins swimming + 1.75 hrs running

 Results:

 Starting weight: 192.5    Feb 3rd weigh-in: vacation  YTD loss (5 weeks): 15.7 lbs

 Week Five Recap:

Even though I didn't have the results to prove it I had a great week. I am feeling stronger and stronger and with Mike on vacation this week I have to think I am gaining ground. Losing weight takes time and hopefully I can build on this week. 

As you have seen both Mike and me approach weight loss and exercise in a completely different way. What works for Mike would not work for me and vice versa. Everyone's body responds to diet and exercise differently. In addition everyone has different personalities and ways of staying motivated. I hope that lesson learned is that you have to do something....If you have been on the sidelines take that first step today to improving your health and fitness. You will be glad you did!

Next Update February 9th!

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Cold Weather Running

Posted by Sarah Hardy
Sarah Hardy
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on Wednesday, January 30, 2013
in Training

 When the temperatures drop into the teens, running outside can be uncomfortable.  Many runners opt to use a treadmill when the mercury sinks that low.  Being a runner in New England I try to avoid the treadmill whenever possible.  I really don't enjoy it.  When I saw that the weather forecast for Sunday morning was calling for temps in the low teens, I had to decide if I would hit the roads or head to the gym for my 12 mile run.  It wasn't really a hard decision.  I layered up and set out into the cold and wind.  I knew I might be uncomfortable and sluggish, but I'll gladly slog along wearing multiple layers of running clothes than face 12 miles on the treadmill.
 I know not all runners agree with me. I can see how the treadmill has its benefits. It is nice to run in shorts midwinter. You can set your pace, put in your ear buds, and zone out.  There's no doubt that you'll work up a sweat.  However, I think there are a few benefits to running in cold weather that you can't get from running on the treadmill.
 
 -The added weight of your clothing makes you stronger come spring.  Even if you have the top of the line technical gear, you will feel bulky. Your head, neck and maybe face will be covered to block the cold. All of this means more effort to move. When you take away the layers on that first warm day in March you'll feel free and fast!
 -Running in the elements toughens you up.  If you race in New England, you need to be prepared for all types of conditions on race day, so you should train in them too.  Even if you don't race, running through the cold and the wind gives you natural resistance. Every step you take is just a little bit harder than usual. You work harder, so you get stronger. You can't get that on the treadmill without a wind tunnel.
 
 So I managed to run my 12 miles and enjoy them (mostly)!  I have had some miserable runs in the cold, but over the years I've figured out what works for me with cold weather running. Here are a few tips for running in the cold.
 
 1) Wear thin layers that wick away moisture.  For your outermost layer try something that will break the wind and hold in heat. Don't overdress. Use a short run as a way to figure what cold weather running outfit works for you. In general, it's okay to feel cold when you start out. You should start to feel warm within 10 to 15 minutes.
 2) Cover up, head to toe.  Any exposed skin is going to allow heat to drain from your body. If you're wearing a hat, make sure it goes down low enough to cover your ears fully.  Face masks can be helpful, but a neck warmer is a great alternative. You can pull it up over your nose as needed.
 3) My toes are always cold, but I discovered one trick that helps. Before I put on my running socks I put a light coating of vaseline on my toes. It helps hold in heat. Just don't overdo it or your feet will feel slippery.
 4) Run with a friend or a group. The conversation makes the run go by faster. And you have someone to complain to about how cold it is. 
 
 Running in the northeast is always a challenge during the winter months. Although there may be times you will be forced to run indoors due to the weather don't totally eliminate running outdoors. With the proper dress running outside in cold weather can actually be more comfortable than running in the heat of summer. We still have a few months of winter left so if you haven't ran outside in awhile get out there! I guarantee your next run will go by a lot faster than on the dreadmill...(sorry treadmill). Laughing
 
 
 
 
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Drinking Tea for Weight Loss?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, January 27, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the fourth update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 

Dave

Week Four Summary and Results:  
This is the first week this year that I felt fairly close to normal. I have been sick and on/off antibiotics since December 18th. Crazy! I am still congested but I finally got rid of the constant malaise and lack of energy that has been killing my workouts. I had a strong week with 2 really good runs (long run and track).

On the diet front I also had a good week. I have started drinking tea during the day which seems to be suppressing my appetite and has replaced some of my need for daytime snacking. I am drinking decaffeinated tea, mostly green tea and classic black tea. I now drink at least two cups of tea a day. I would recommend giving it a try if you haven't done so in the past. Especially during these cold winter days, sipping a warm cup of tea fills you up and can have less caffeine than a cup of coffee.

I also did a good job at reducing portions and did not eat out this week. On the negative side I did go out for drinks 3x  for meetings which added unnecessary calories. I ended up losing 2 pounds this week! About time! I look forward to building on this past week and start catching up to Mike!

 Exercise:

 Sunday- off

 Monday- ran 8.5 miles

 Tuesday- biked 40 minutes on trainer

 Wednesday- ran 5.7 miles

 Thursday- off

 Friday- ran 6 miles (30 min of it was track workout)

 Saturday- Ran 4.15 miles easy

 Totals: ran 24.35 miles and biked 40 minutes on trainer

 Results:

 Starting weight: 189   Jan 27th weigh-in: 185.5    YTD loss (26 days): 3.5 lbs

                                                                      Mike

 Week Four Summary and Results:  
I used to eat 100% of the time for enjoyment. Every bite of every meal was to satisfy my taste buds; overwhelming them with rich, salty, fatty, sweet foods. Eating was a constant search to find food that tasted better than the last meal. One year later, I have learned that eating is more of a survival mechanism, the fuel that your body needs to survive day to day. Fat is simply a storage mechanism your body uses to store calories for the day it has no food. So when I was overeating, my body simply stored the extra calories for that rainy day, waiting patiently to serve a purpose.

I have found if you eat for survival you tend to look at food differently. You end up choosing foods that are high in nutrition and not refined. Refining food concentrates calories, so you get more out of the same bite of food. Food, in its natural state, is almost impossible to consume in quantities that would cause weight gain. You see bread is NOT a food in its natural state, whole grain oatmeal is. Olive oil is NOT a food in its natural state, raw olives are.

Now do I think it is wrong to eat for enjoyment? Absolutely not. That is what happened last week, the night before the weigh-in I ate for celebration. I went out and had a great time with family and friends. Eating right has to have some component of eating for enjoyment and celebrating life, but remember, "its not a party if it happens every night..."  176.8. Looks like 6 pounds this week, but it is actually 3 pounds a week for the last two.

 Exercise:

  Sunday- 90 minutes elliptical

  Monday- 1 hour yoga + 80 minute spin class

  Tuesday- 1 hour yoga + 75 minutes swimming

 Wednesday- 1 hour yoga

 Thursday- 1 hour yoga + 60 minutes bike trainer

 Friday- 1 hour rock climbing

 Saturday- 1 hour yoga + 1 hour elliptical

  Totals: 5 hrs yoga + 2.33 hrs cycling + 2.5 hrs elliptical + 75 mins swimming

 Results:

Starting weight: 192.5    Jan 27th weigh-in: 176.8  YTD loss (26 days): 15.7 lbs

 Week Four Recap:

Although I had a decent week losing 2 pounds Mike is totally kicking my butt. The real difference is I am taking a balanced approach and haven't been real serious about my diet until this week. Mike is a very extreme person and has no middle ground. Since the beginning of the year he has either been juice fasting or eating only vegetables. In 26 days he has lost 15.7 pounds! How can I compete with that? Hopefully now that I have turned the corner on my illness I can start to catch up. I don't think there is anyway he can continue this extreme dieting. I am hoping I can lose another 2-3 pounds next week and start to narrow the gap. Of course if he continues to lose 6 pounds a week I am all done.

Next Update February 3rd!

 

 

 

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Dealing with Weight Loss Setbacks

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, January 21, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the third update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

Dave

Week Three Summary and Results:  
As I write my third update I feel like the last three weeks have just been a continuous string of excuses. Now, don't get me wrong. My excuses are legitimate and completely make sense. The problem is excuses are the reason people gain weight and also are the reason it is difficult to lose weight. The last ten days I have actually gained a pound. During this time I was still sick and on antibiotics, was on vacation in Florida for 5 days, and had a couple of late nights out. You could say that only gaining a pound during a vacation along with my other excuses was a victory. The problem is I could come up with legitimate excuses every week. The bottom line is that three weeks deep I have only lost 1.5 pounds.

 Exercise:

 Sunday- ran 4 miles easy

 Monday- off

 Tuesday- off

 Wednesday- ran 8.35 miles

 Thursday- ran 5.25 miles with a couple of pickups

 Friday- off

 Saturday- Ran 5.1 miles easy

Sunday- off

 Totals: 22.7 miles of running in 8 days

 Results:

 Starting weight: 189    Jan 21st weigh-in: 187.5     Total weight loss: 1.5 pounds

Mike

 Week Three Summary and Results:  
Well, week three was rocky. In the last 8 days I have only lost .6 of a pound. Transition from the juice fast, two Patriots playoff games, and a scheduled annual bar crawl. If you know anything about me, you know that I know any success has its share of failures. The only separation between failure and success is picking yourself back up. During the first Patriots playoff game, I kept telling myself I only want to eat because I am stressed, so I didn't. Success. The bar crawl started out good, but drinking and weight loss don't really mix in my opinion. Finished the night with French fries, but it was an example of the 5% of the time I feel I can eat for enjoyment. Failure. Two hours on the Elliptical and probably at least three days to wash the salt and bloat out of my system. So here I am at the end of week three, still at it, and excited to get to running season. I am looking forward to a three hour event in June and then a seven hour event in September. But for now, I will drink water, clean up my system and get back on the mat. About 10 pounds to go in two months.

 Exercise:

 Sunday- 40 minutes elliptical

 Monday- 75 minutes swimming + 45 minutes yoga

 Tuesday- 1 hour spin class

 Wednesday- 90 minutes elliptical + 1 hour yoga

 Thursday- off

 Friday- off

 Saturday- 1 hour run

Sunday- 2 hours elliptical

 Totals: 1 hour of running + 1 hour spin + 1.75 hours yoga + 1.25 hours swimming + 4.2 hours elliptical in 8 days

 Results:

Starting weight: 192.5   Jan 21st weigh-in: 182    Total weight loss: 10.5 pounds

Week Three Recap:

The last 10 days were not what either of us wanted. Both Mike and I enjoy having a good time. The challenge is how do you enjoy life and lose weight at the same time. The problem is most of the fun things in life are not conducive to weight loss. Eating out, drinks with friends, and big family dinners are not the recipe for weight loss. So what do you do? Stop having fun? Finding that perfect balance of moderation is the key to a happy and healthy life. Setbacks are a fact of life and moving forward is the only way to deal with a setback. After a devastating Patriots loss last night the only positive is now I won't have to write a post explaining why I gained weight during a Super Bowl party.

Next Update January 27th!

 

 

 

 

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Week Two: Staying Motivated After New Years

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Saturday, January 12, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the second update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 

 

Creating a weight loss plan can be fun and exciting. Starting the plan and then sticking to it is a lot less fun. Since we are only in week 2, hopefully it is not a struggle at this point to stick with your plan. Take your plan day by day and try not to get short sighted. You didn't gain the weight in a week or two....Even to lose the 20 pounds I need to lose I expect months of behavior modification.


Dave

Week Two Strategy and Results:  
This week unfortunately I had a relapse of my bronchitis I suffered with at the end of 2012. I ended up going back to the doctors on Tuesday and have been taking antibiotics, cough syrup, an inhaler, and Advil all week. Strategy out the window...I have maintained my portion control but I have been sedentary most of the week. A couple of days I barely left the couch. Not a good week. The good news is I didn't use this as an excuse to overeat or completely throw away all of my workouts. I still managed some weight loss and I will push on to week three.

Exercise:

Sunday-40 minutes on bike trainer

Monday-ran 4 miles easy

Tuesday-Ran 5 miles with 4 "pickups" of 1 min

Wednesday-on couch all day

Thursday-on couch most of day

Friday-Ran 5 miles (9 x 2 minutes at 10k race pace at 2-3% grade)

Saturday- Ran 4 miles easy

Totals: 40 minutes on the bike and 18 miles of running

Results:

Starting weight: 189    Jan 12th weigh-in: 186.5     Total weight loss: 2.5 pounds

Mike

Week Two Strategy and Results:

Every war is won before it is fought, I heard someone in my sales bullpen say this week and it is true.  Strategy and preparation are the two things you can control going into any situation that will have a huge impact on the outcome. As I moved into my second week of the juice fast, I kept strong in remembering what Dave and I are working towards is a goal weight that will make our times better than last year. Being ten pounds lighter alone will knock 20-30 seconds off my mile time, and the confidence of being under 170 will carry me a long way in speed training come April.

Today, I come off my juice fast and will continue on my controlled calorie, single ingredient diet.  Last year I lost more weight eating that way than when I juice fasted. These last 13 pounds will be very difficult to take off, so I have no illusions of any more rapid weight loss. I anticipate months of focusing on the goal at hand. Some ask how I can spend 90 minutes on the elliptical in January, don't you get bored?  To them I say "the under 22 minute 5k I will run in May will be worth it."

Exercise:

Sunday-90 minutes easy on treadmill (running)

Monday-75 minutes in the pool (swim class)

Tuesday-60 minutes spin + 45 minutes yoga

Wednesday-yoga 45 minutes + elliptical 80 minutes

Thursday-yoga 45 minutes + 45 minutes treadmill

Friday-elliptical 75 minutes

Saturday-60 minutes treadmill

Totals: 3.25 hours of running + 2.6 hours elliptical + 2.25 hours of yoga + 1 hour spin +

1.25 hours swimming

Results:

Starting weight: 192.5    Jan 12th weigh-in: 182.6    Weight loss: 9.9 pounds

Week Two Recap:

After 12 days you can see the results..Mike has lost almost 10 pounds and I have lost 2.5 pounds. Believe it or not I am actually happy where I stand. After being sick for the entire week I still managed to drop a pound. It would have been very easy to end up gaining a pound of two or to skip a few workouts. I have to give credit to Mike...he has started the year hardcore with a 10 day juice fast and he worked out all 7 days last week. Kind of hard to compete with that....It must be nice to drop 10 pounds in two weeks! If you would like to see details on how Mike manages his juice fast check out his juice blogs from last year.

The next update will be 9 days out and I think it will be a very important status check. Both of us will be three weeks deep and hopefully we will both post some nice numbers. Can Mike continue this torrid pace? Can I finally post some decent losses or will I continue plodding along at a pound a week?

 Next update January 21st!

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