2013 Long Beach Marathon Weekend

2013/10/14 at 8:19 am | Posted in Cycling, Discipline, Exercise, Health, Inspiration, Life, Milestone, Motivation, Running, Victory, weight loss, weight loss blog | Comments Off on 2013 Long Beach Marathon Weekend
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First of all, my apologies if I have not posted here in a long time. I’ve just been sidetracked by other things and starting to catch up.

Secondly, before we get into this past weekend, I seem to have forgotten to mention that I did one more event in between then which was the OC Fair 5k in August. I had an overall time of 39:51 but this included the time I stopped to play a game and win a stuffed animal for Anthony, so you can probably deduct a good 5 minutes from that. In fact, my time was 33:47 on Endomondo with the time stopped.

At any rate, here I am with the stuffed animal, ready to throw it over to Anthony who was waiting for me.

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Shortly afterward I made it to the finish line.

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So that’s the one I forgot but the big news was what happened over the weekend.

Being that I’ve ridden in previous Long Beach Marathon events, I was part of a handful of participants who were eligible to register their child for the Aquarium of the Pacific Fun Run on Saturday for free. I asked Anthony if he wanted to do it and he said he was up to the task of running one solid mile around the aquarium and beyond, so I signed him up. In the meantime, he was proud of telling me about the “training” was was doing for the event while at school – running away from other kids. I told him sprinting is fine, but you’ve got to find your pace.

He did, and 11 minutes after the start, he crossed the finish line.

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He was sweaty, he was thirsty, he had his medal. He now knows the glorious feeling of crossing that finish line and having hundreds of strangers cheering him on. Yes, he is officially a runner! We’re so proud of him for what he did and he’s told me he wants to do it again, and I have no problem with that. Congratulations, Anthony. You did a fine job!

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Now onto Sunday. In this post I mention that this year I would tackle riding the VW Think Blue Bike Tour as well as running the 5k. I made the commitment and signed up for both without much hesitation and not knowing exactly what I had gotten myself into. With the bike tour starting at 6 am and the 5k at 8:30, I figured I had plenty of time to do both events.

But, as has been the case since 2010, the bike tour started about 20 minutes late. I would just have to step things up a notch to make it back in time to run the 5k. This would be easy since The Powers That Be decided to chop a whopping 10k from the bike tour route, much to the disappointment of myself and may other riders. Sadly, it was the most scenic part of the route but in order to accommodate the runners (as was the reason given), the tour was reduced to 20 miles.

The route also started in a different direction as well as through a smaller starting gate. This made for a traffic jam just as things got underway and many cyclists almost fell since they were clipped in and ready to roll. Not a wise choice by the organizers.

But with all of that out of the way, I crossed the finish line at 1:19:28 according to Endomondo (official times are not tracked).

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One down, one to go. I had just enough time to do some stretching and prepare for the 5k.

The 5k started at about 8:35 (or at least that’s when I started my time). I felt pretty good going into it but about 1/4 miles my legs started to cramp horribly. I walked a little bit then picked up the pace and again, more cramping.

This continued until about Mile 2.5 at which point I decided to not let it bother me anymore and jog all the way to the end. Once I saw that finish line ahead of me I turned it on and sprinted as fast as I could to cross it, proud of what I had just accomplished.

After waking up at 3:30 am, getting on the train to the event at 4:50, walking to the venue and arriving at 5:10, waiting for the bike tour to start then riding 20 miles at 6:20, then finishing up and running 5k at 8:35, I had set out what I planned to accomplish last year at this same time.

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Two events, two medals. Done and done.

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But more importantly, the joy of sharing the weekend’s accomplishments with my son.

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And before you ask, yes, I…well, WE plan to do this all over again next year! It was a great weekend and something the family would love to experience all over again.

Stay motivated, guys!

More pictures from this weekend can be seen on this Flickr set.

Yet Another Running Milestone: 7 Miles

2012/11/01 at 9:24 pm | Posted in Discipline, Exercise, Health, Inspiration, lifestyle change, Milestone, Motivation, Victory, weight loss | Comments Off on Yet Another Running Milestone: 7 Miles
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It seems like just last week I was patting myself on the back for what had been, up to that point, the longest distance I’d run on pavement.

It turns out that my PR only lasted a week because last Sunday, I pushed myself into running a solid 7 miles and like the week before, celebrated in the front yard when I got home. The run looked a little like this (click to enlarge).

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Again, I’m not exactly Usain Bolt but I was up to the challenge and I completed it. I refused to change my mind at any point during my run and just kept on going. In fact, my legs weren’t as sore (if at all) when compared to the previous week’s 6-mile run. Perhaps my body is getting used to or it I just happened to eat the right recovery foods.

Either way, and as I said in the aforementioned post, I’m continuing to add distance to my runs so that I can prepare for my first 10k next year.

As it turns out, I’ve already registered for it and can’t be more excited!

For the second year in a row, I will be running down Hollywood Boulevard and more as I participate in the second annual Hollywood Half Marathon event. Last year I ran the 5k and had a blast but this year I decided that it was time to kick it up a notch and stay true to my word.

If I keep running distances like this I’m pretty sure I’ll be in great shape to handle 10k when April 6, 2013 rolls around. This will be my 3rd event of 2013 with the 30-mile Firecracker Bike Tour in February and Coaster Run (which I still need to register for) in March.

And of course, there will still be the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour that I will be riding in for the 4th straight year. In fact I hear that registration begins in a few weeks and as you might have read, I’m turning it into a duathlon.

So the question is, how far will I run this Sunday? We’ll see!

New Running Milestone: 6 Miles

2012/10/21 at 8:23 pm | Posted in Discipline, Exercise, Health, Inspiration, lifestyle change, Milestone, Victory, weight loss, weight loss blog | 4 Comments
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When I was in the middle of my weight loss program, I would walk at least one mile during my lunch hour so that I could get at least a little bit of exercise in during the day. But as I continued to do this I soon came to realize that, while beneficial, walking was getting a little boring.

That’s when I bought the treadmill and started jogging on it at night. Not only was it something new but it was a way for me to kick things up a notch by going at a higher rate of speed. Not much higher but still faster than walking.

And that’s what weight loss and exercise are all about: trying new and challenging things to prove to yourself that nothing will stop you and that you can achieve lofty goals.

Today I challenged myself and met a goal I didn’t quite plan on: running over 6 miles.

Until today, I would run my standard 5k around the neighborhood on my predetermined path. But this morning I chose to mix it up a bit by running 5 miles on yet another predetermined route.

I hit the pavement at 7am knowing that 5 miles would be in the bag by the time I got home and that was nothing new. I had run 5 miles in the past without too much difficulty. But when I reached Mile 4, something inside of me clicked.

While jogging through the park I started to give myself a pep talk.

“Six miles…you can do six miles…four miles down…what’s another two…do it…DO IT!”

And with that I turned up the heat and started running faster, not knowing exactly which direction to go. I relied on the Sports Tracker app to keep track of my distance but as far as direction goes, I had no plans.

I just kept running until I reached the next major intersection and then started heading home. By then, I was at 5.25 miles so I kept on going. Up the street, down the street, back and forth until my app finally logged 6 miles.

In the end, I ran 6.06 miles or just short of 10k. This is good because I have made decided that 2013 will be the year I start running 10ks instead of 5ks (finances permitting).

You haven’t heard the best part of the story. At the end of my run, I jogged onto the lawn of my house I spiked my (empty) water bottle to the ground, clapped, threw a few fists into the air, and pretty much celebrated my accomplishment on my front yard. This was my first time running over 6 miles/nearly 10k and I was very happy about it.

There were a few neighbors outside when I was reveling in my personal victory and yes, as you can imagine, I was stared at by them. While it seemed like I may have been having a nervous breakdown or just going nuts in general, I can assure you that my reactions were solely based on the fact that I had just set a goal I hadn’t planned on – and I was pumped about it.

Here’s how it looked on my app (click to enlarge):

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Look at the stats. Am I the fastest on two legs? No. Is 6 miles the most amazing distance ever recorded? Not to some but to me it is and the fact that I was out there no matter how slow I may have been going at times doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a runner.

I achieved something that wasn’t on my radar for the day, which will make running 5k seem like a walk in the park. This is why you must challenge yourself to better because one day, whether you plan on it or not, you will be.

And trust me when I say that when you get there, you will find it hard to contain your excitement.

Now go out and set some goals for yourself – then beat them 🙂

2012 Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour

2012/10/09 at 7:59 pm | Posted in Discipline, Exercise, Health, Inspiration, lifestyle change, Motivation, Photos, Victory, weight loss, weight loss blog | Comments Off on 2012 Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour
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CAM01752Under normal circumstances, getting me to wake up at any unreasonable hour of the morning usually requires tons of pestering by anything or anybody. That or it takes being cajoled with the promise of donut holes for breakfast.

But there is one day of the year when waking up at 3:30 am is not only easy, it’s a welcomed change.

And rising long before the sun is exactly what I did on Sunday morning when I participated in the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour, my third year in a row of doing so. Not only did I wake up before my alarm went off, I was ready to go even before then. That’s how much I enjoy this 26.2 mile ride around the city.

To give you an idea, here’s how my day was planned:

  • 3:30 am: Wake up and have some breakfast
  • 4:00 am: Strap bike to rack, drive to train station
  • 4:30 am: Take train to downtown Long Beach
  • 5:00 am: Arrive at last stop, walk/ride to venue
  • 6:00 am: Start of Bike Tour

With the exception of catching the train at 4:30 (it was later than that), that’s pretty much how it all went down. Well, and the delayed start of the tour which was around 6:20 am. No big deal.

After arriving and roaming around a bit I found my place at the starting line and at that point it was still pretty empty. This was one of the first shots I took with my phone, looking toward the starting gate.

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Here’s one I took in the same direction shortly before we started…

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…and looking behind me.

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From what I had heard, there were over 2,600 participants riding the streets this year and as you can tell, it sure seemed like it! Helmets and lights as far as the eye could see. It was amazing.

Long story short, the tour of the city was just how I remembered it the two previous years but I seem to be forgetting about those inclines. I believe that’s why my time was about 5 minutes slower than last year’s total. That or I’m just getting older and the muscles are telling me “NO!” But in the end, I did finish in one piece and earned yet another medal for the wall.

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This year’s tour, however, seemed to take on a new meaning than the previous years.

As you know, the main reasons I continue to do these events is to stay in shape, prove to myself I can, and remind myself to never be the way I used to be: 300 pounds and lazy.

And as some readers may know, my connection with Dad remains strong despite his passing in 1976. If anything, the one thing I remember about Dad is his constant need to keep me happy and smiling, something these events also do. As a result, at the end of each one when I get my medal, I give it a quick kiss and silently dedicate it to Dad because I know he would be proud to see me finish – and smiling.

This year really emphasized that.

At the Health Expo the day before the event, and for the first time that I can recall since doing the tour, the folks at JetBlue had a banner on which runners, family members, etc. could write their notes of encouragement or in some cases political messages (look closely for “OBAMA 2012”). The sign, reading “1 MORE MILE – You’re nonstoppable” was to be placed at, of course, Mile 25.2.

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My message was simple. I found one of the few places left on the banner and wrote what my heart told me to.

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And when I saw that banner at Mile 25.2 it was as if Dad was standing right there cheering for me. It was all I needed to push myself through the final mile since I seemed to have difficulty with the previous 5 or so (cramping mainly).

When I walked across the finish line – cyclists must dismount before doing so – and toward the volunteer who handed me my medal, my eyes were starting to well up. I knew Dad was there more than previous tours. I thanked the volunteer for my medal, glanced at it for a second, gave the medal a little peck then thrust it skyward and said, “For you, Dad.”

Somewhere I know he’s smiling back at me.

With the sentimental stuff out of the way, let’s move on to a few not-so-serious memories from the event and Health Expo.

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It’s not uncommon for people to wear costumes to these events but take a look at this guy dressed in a Robin costume. I saw him before the bike tour outside the Health Expo. I hope he finds Batman.

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The mural covering the Long Beach Convention Center was done by famed artist Robert Wyland in 1992.

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The VW display had these blank bibs in which you could write a message. I chose to inspire people and get some free advertising at the same time.

Also at the VW display was a photo booth that was powered by two stationary bikes connected to generators. Pretty cool. The problem was that when we entered the booth, I soon realized that Anthony was too short and couldn’t be seen by the camera. I had to lift him a little bit to get him in the picture.

Unfortunately that didn’t work, either.

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I wasn’t aware that there would be this giant ad at the bottom and the monitor inside the booth does not compensate for that so all you see is his forehead. Kind of reminds me of that scene from Sixteen Candles.

Fortunately, the booth was moved outside for the marathon and bike tour so I was able to get at least one good shot emailed to me.

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After that, I relaxed and cheered on the runners for a bit.

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All in all, another excellent day in Shoreline Village and beyond. So will I return for my fourth tour in 2013? You bet I will. And this time I will be coming home with two medals.

That’s right. For 2013’s event, I have decided to ride in the Bike Tour and run the Forrest Gump “Run Forrest Run” 5k which takes place at 8:30 am, just enough time to transition out of cycling mode and into running. It’ll be a kind of duathlon which is something I’ve been wanting to try. So watch out. Next year I will be wearing two bibs and ready for more action.

The 2012 Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour was once again memorable and continues to be one of the most organized events I’ve done. From registration to finish line it cannot be easier and before I forget, I have to take a moment to thank the volunteers. If not for them, this event would simply not take place. They do an amazing job and give up a lot of their personal time in the process so they need to be recognized, which I did plenty of along the way by pointing, clapping and thanking them as I passed them.

Thanks a million to all volunteers. You rocked!

Another special thanks to all of the spectators along the route who had their cowbells, signs and from what I heard, donut holes for runners. They are also some of the event’s unsung heroes because what they do is important if you are struggling mentally or physically.

As one sign read, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.”

Indeed it is. See you in 2013, Long Beach!

The Suite Life

2012/07/26 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Discipline, Exercise, General, Health, Motivation, Victory | Comments Off on The Suite Life
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© 2012 Los Angeles DodgersAs my readers know, I started this blog when I was about 250 lbs. to chronicle my progress on my way to my goal of 200 lbs. By then, I had already lost 50 lbs. but wasn’t blogging yet. I did this not only for my own motivation but also as a way to inspire others to do the same thing.

And I have to admit that making such a commitment put a bit of pressure on me. I set my goal and so as not to look the fool, had to ensure myself that I would make it. Of course you know the results of my hard work and hopefully my readers have achieved their own success.

What you may not know is that I’m also a Dodger fan and up until the All-Star break, was so happy to see them doing so well. As of today, well, things are sort of not going their way but that’s fine. There’s lots of baseball left.

While watching a game a few weeks ago, I saw a promo for their Dodger Digital Series which is touted as a “one-of-a-kind social media experience built to create a Dodger experience tailored to fans’ hobbies, interests, and / or passions.” I decided to give it a better look by visiting the website and that’s when I saw there was a category for Fitness Influencers.

So I thought I’d take a shot in the dark and see what it got me. I filled out the form, submitted it, and pretty much forgot about it.

That is until I got an email today from the Dodgers.

In the email, it stated that I was chosen to be part of a select group of 20 other fitness influencers to attend the Dodgers’ July 31st game which is also Kirk Gibson Bobblehead Night. As if that wasn’t enough, we get to watch the game from the Dodger Digital Suite, get free VIP parking, and watch the Dodgers take batting practice – a rarity indeed since they do it well before game time.

So not only has my weight loss scored me some free samples and an iPod nano (which I have since sold), I now get to see my Dodgers from a suite at baseball’s most beautiful stadium and watch them take batting practice on the field.

The suite life indeed!

Naturally, I will take lots of photos and post them when I get home or, as is the case these days, post them as they happen. Should you wish to see the events unfold as they happen, follow my personal Twitter account @aeromat since that is the one connected to my Instagram account (my username there is also aeromat). I’d like to keep the images on one account rather than spread them all over the place.

It’s going to be a good time!

UPDATE: Images and words are up at my personal, non-weight loss blog. And here’s a photo of all the winners.

 

I’m third from the left. How cool is this? 🙂

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