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DonRocks (Sonata)


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Checking in at 12 pounds since January 1st, and 19 pounds since Thanksgiving. With just days to go, it's obvious I'm not going to make my goal, but that's okay. "Should" I have done better this go-round? Of course I should have. But you know what? I didn't, I'm not going to beat myself up over it, and it's never too late in the day to write a beautiful song.

Cheers,

Sonata.

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Checking in at 12 pounds since January 1st, and 19 pounds since Thanksgiving. With just days to go, it's obvious I'm not going to make my goal, but that's okay. "Should" I have done better this go-round? Of course I should have. But you know what? I didn't, I'm not going to beat myself up over it, and it's never too late in the day to write a beautiful song.

Cheers,

Sonata.

I like what you wrote before the edit better.

Congratulations!

Al

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I like what you wrote before the edit better.

Congratulations!

Al

So what did he write before the edit? I have always admired Don's mind and the way it works, though quite twisted at times. Anyone care to share his original post? C'mon!
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You never know when or where you're going to struck by inspiration. Mine comes from a touching story involving a little ten-year-old girl who has struggled with Juvenile Diabetes since she was three. I doubt I'll ever meet her, but she's the impetus behind an eight-week program that I'm starting on, today.

On November 3rd, I'm going to accomplish a relatively modest goal - I'm going to run a 5K at a pace I haven't done since the 1990s. It's time.

Getting there is going to be a challenge. I'll keep you updated each Sunday with my progress.

Wish me luck,

Rocks.

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You never know when or where you're going to struck by inspiration. Mine comes from a touching story involving a little ten-year-old girl who has struggled with Juvenile Diabetes since she was three. I doubt I'll ever meet her, but she's the impetus behind an eight-week program that I'm starting on, today.

On November 3rd, I'm going to accomplish a relatively modest goal - I'm going to run a 5K at a pace I haven't done since the 1990s. It's time.

Getting there is going to be a challenge. I'll keep you updated each Sunday with my progress.

Wish me luck,

Rocks.

Good Luck! Any source of inspiration is great---but maybe knowing the story would be an impetus for others as well. Care to share a link or summary?

Are you doing on organized 5k, or is this just a goal you've set for yourself? I thought maybe you were referring to the American Diabetes Association's "Step out to Fight Diabetes" but the DC function is Oct 27th--unless you'll be in OC to participate on Nov 3. And I checked the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's "Walk to Cure Diabetes" in DC but it is not until May next year.

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Good Luck! Any source of inspiration is great---but maybe knowing the story would be an impetus for others as well. Care to share a link or summary?

Squids, I wish I could, but I'd be violating a friend's privacy.

Are you doing on organized 5k, or is this just a goal you've set for yourself?

It's not an organized 5k; this is a personal issue between me and the track. (You guys can come cheer me on! Let's talk in seven weeks...)

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You never know when or where you're going to struck by inspiration. Mine comes from a touching story involving a little ten-year-old girl who has struggled with Juvenile Diabetes since she was three. I doubt I'll ever meet her, but she's the impetus behind an eight-week program that I'm starting on, today.

On November 3rd, I'm going to accomplish a relatively modest goal - I'm going to run a 5K at a pace I haven't done since the 1990s. It's time.

Getting there is going to be a challenge. I'll keep you updated each Sunday with my progress.

Wish me luck,

Rocks.

I got through week number one, with moments of great difficulty which came not primarily when I was exercising, but afterwards.

Five days on, two days off. On each of the five days, I'm also going to the gym, working an upper-body regimen of only four sets, but with each set having a minimum of 50 reps. I'm alternating workouts between abs, chest, triceps; and lats, delts, biceps (extra set chest and delts, yes I have an ego).

Seven days a week, I'm stretching one hour per day.

On Sunday I went for a 4 mile slow jog. This shouldn't be a big deal, but I'm just not used to the pounding of distance running right now - I have to think that in four miles, you're hitting the pavement at least 5,000 times. That, in and of itself, is taxing if you aren't used to it, especially at the snail's pace I'm currently using - longer strides mean less strides, and what I'm doing now is basically hopping up and down, somehow moving forward about 3 inches with each hop, eventually finishing several miles. I took it really, really slowly, and I'm glad I did. Between the gym and the run, I was so hungry that I opted not to watch Federer finish off Djokovic, and ended up scarfing a whole 12-inch pizza at Paradiso. Later that night, I had opened a beer, and was lying in bed with my laptop, but I was so drained that I didn't even want to reach over to take a sip. I slept well.

Monday was a rest day.

Tuesday was a 1 mile fast run, "fast" being a relevant term at this point - it began as a canter and quickly devolved into a jog. Still, it was an easy day, especially after resting the day before.

Wednesday was a very slow 5 miles - it was pretty hot out, and I did it in the middle of the day, so it was taxing. I hadn't run 5 miles in 5 years, and coupled with the earlier workout, I was wiped out. I remember getting out the shower, plopping down in bed, and watching the clock go by. 6:30 ... 6:45 ... thinking to myself, 'um, it's dinner time Don,' ... 7:00 ... 7:15 ... I made it out eventually.

Thursday was a 3-mile fartlek, and I felt surprisingly good for most of the run. I have a good course and use power lines as my markers to speed up and slow down. This type of run fits in pretty well with my general level of fitness (tennis involves lots of sprinting, but with periods of rest in between). In general, long, constant distance has never been kind to me - give me a rope and I'll jump 2,000 times without stopping, and probably without missing. But for whatever reason, I've just never been a distance runner, and never will be.

Friday was a much-needed rest day.

Saturday was interval training, with 4 400-meter "sprints" (again, a very relative term) interleaved with 4 recovery laps. This really took a toll on my wind, and I wasn't recovering during my recovery laps, even though they weren't any faster than a walking pace. It was like a colony of gnats had taken up residence inside my respiratory system, but instead of flapping around with wings, they had little shards of glass attached to their bodies. Even though it was only two miles total, I was exhausted on Saturday evening - combining the weight training left me zonked.

My appetite has increased enormously. My quadriceps have not gotten unsore yet, though that should happen this week - nothing hits my quads like distance running does. Potential problems are going to be generalized wear-and-tear on my always-hurting right hip (which translates into other little aches and pains throughout my right side); the risk of small tears on either side of my groin (it's Russian roulette which side it would be), and this could easily happen if I try and slip something like this into my relatively stable back-and-forth-motion jogs; and then there's the change of seasons, with everyone in the gym getting the sniffles and sore throats. If I have to postpone things, it will most likely be for one of these three reasons; it won't be for lack of determination.

Week two wrap-up next Sunday. Wish me luck, Rocks.

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Same thing as last week, except on Sunday I did 5 miles instead of 4, and on Saturday I did 6 x 400 intervals (with a recovery lap in between each), instead of 4 x 400.

Sunday's run was surprisingly pleasant and almost enjoyable! The weather was glorious, and I was out on the W&OD trail. Right at the halfway point was mile marker 2.5, and right when I turned around I looked up, and right in front of me was a bridge running over a stream, the name of the stream written on a sign: Four Mile Run.

I turned around, started back, and said to myself, "Nope, five mile run."

I'm valuing my Monday rest day and my relatively easy one-mile Tuesday nearly as much as I'm valuing my ever-dwindling bottle of Advil. I hate stretching and I'm being somewhat wishy-washy about it, but I'm still putting my hour in each day.

Thursday's interval run still came easy for me, since it gives me something to think about (I really should get an iPod or something, but I find them a nuisance). Plus during the slow portions of the interval, I can plod if I need to.

Saturday's 400 intervals continue to be very difficult and taxing, and I'm convinced that my accompanying workouts in the gym are taking their toll on me. Even though I'm isolating only three specific muscle groups each workout, they're doing something to me at the cellular level which makes me really tired. It also means I have to physcially drag myself to workout twice each day.

There's no question that week two was easier than week one, but today is the first day of week three, and I am exhausted once again. I've been to the gym, stretched, and even went out and played baseball with Matt, but now it's 4:30 and I'm staring down a distance run that I just don't want to do. All I want right now is NOT to run. I fear I'm becoming run down and probably could use a couple consecutive days of rest - yesterday afternoon in the car I swore I felt a muscle tearing in my upper hamstring just because I pushed down the gas pedal.

And yet, if I deviate from this program today, then I'm done for: I'll find another excuse to deviate from it tomorrow. I'm tired, tired, tired. And yet, as I'm sitting here typing, I'm reminded of my inspiration for this torturous regimen to begin with - a little ten-year-old girl, who must take blood from her finger every single time she eats. So I'm finished complaining for the moment, and off I go. When I'm not on the website between the hours of 5 and 6, you'll know where I'll be and what I'll be doing. Please send me thoughts of encouragement - I could really use some right about now. God I don't want to run today.

Until next week,

Rocks.

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Sunday's run was surprisingly pleasant and almost enjoyable!

Remember that! It will feel good soon!

Thursday's interval run still came easy for me, since it gives me something to think about (I really should get an iPod or something, but I find them a nuisance). Plus during the slow portions of the interval, I can plod if I need to.

You are running without an Ipod? Good lord man, you are a glutton for punishment. Make the plunge. It will become so much easier to run with some music to distract you.

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Seven days a week, I'm stretching one hour per day.

Jeebus, how does one stretch an hour a day? I don't think I have that many parts to stretch.

Keep up the good work. I'm thinking of getting my ever-expanding self off the couch and joining you soon. I need to get back to the Adonis-like physique I had when I was six.

Keep on fartlekking,

Mike

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Keep at it, Donny Boy. You can do it! Hell, you've seen how fat I am, and I was able to run a half-marathon back in February. It takes a lot of dedication and a goal, and you have both. And make sure you have the best shoes money can buy. They will be life (and leg) savers.

Deano

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I'm sorry to bitch, and I'll delete this post later, but I don't want to run today, damn it.

I want to dwink!

I want to lounge in a hammock!

I want to sip pina coladas while dipping my toes in a swimming pool.

I want to be on a roller coaster.

I want to be in a chalet somewhere in the Alps with a cold breeze coming through the window.

But I don't want to run. Not today.

Off I go.

Blah.

HATE IT.

Go for it Rocks! You're not alone. I resumed my workout program last week. Wanna know why? Is it because I deeply committed to health and fitness? No! It's because last Sunday I saw a number on my scale that I hadn't seen since we started the fit for summer challene ten months ago. Oh, the horror! Also, my college reunion's in two week. So, i've been working out like a crazy person. My legs are killing me, I haven't been out to eat in a week, and i'm pissed off that i gained this weight, but I had to start somewhere. So, keep up the good work and the posts. They're inspiring.

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I'm sorry to bitch, and I'll delete this post later, but I don't want to run today, damn it.

I want to dwink!

I want to lounge in a hammock!

I want to sip pina coladas while dipping my toes in a swimming pool.

I want to be on a roller coaster.

I want to be in a chalet somewhere in the Alps with a cold breeze coming through the window.

But I don't want to run. Not today.

Off I go.

Blah.

HATE IT.

Get your ass off the couch and go for a run. My favorite run in DC is to get on the Mt. Vernon trail and just go. Reward yourself with a beer after the run. No matter how fast you run, you're still faster than anyone on a couch.
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Get your ass off the couch and go for a run. My favorite run in DC is to get on the Mt. Vernon trail and just go. Reward yourself with a beer after the run. No matter how fast you run, you're still faster than anyone on a couch.

Better yet get on the Metro with enough change for a one way fare. Find a stop that is roughly the distance from home you want to run and is a route you haven't run before. Change of scenery plus the motivation to get home makes for a great run!

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Well, I survived week three, with the same regimen as week two, except that on Sunday I did a six-mile run, and on Saturday I did a three-mile pacing run instead of 400-meter intervals.

The six-mile run last Sunday was the slowest I've ever run, no faster than a brisk walk. Someone looking at me from a distance might vaguely see a human form moving up and down, but there would be almost no discernible forward motion.

I was so, so tired that day. Monday rest day was not just a luxury; it was something close to a necessity, and I really enjoyed a good, one-hour stretch - even went to the gym to do it.

Tuesday's mile was a huge mental boost, a relatively fast pace for me, and on the last lap I started to speed up. The last 2/3-lap I started going faster, and faster. Yes I was breathing hard, but where was the pain? I crossed the finish line not in a sprint, but in a fast canter, and broke out into a huge smile because I knew I couldn't have done this just two weeks before.

And I know I'm making overall progress, because on Wednesday I decided to "slip in" my five-mile jog before picking up Matt at school. I didn't have time to do it, but did it anyway so I wouldn't have to do it later. Instead of procrastinating, I just got it over with and I'm glad I did. The last mile was very tough, however, and I was late picking up Matt.

Thursday's interval run was uneventful, but on Friday I made the mistake of playing a couple sets of tennis instead of taking a full rest day. I really, really need two days of NO exercise, given that between the gym and running, I'm going at it a couple hours each day on average. Playing tennis didn't make me "tired," but it's unfortunately tough on my hip joint because of the way I hit my forehand, and as I type this I'm pretty much hurting constantly.

Saturday's pacing run was fine. Overall, I'm getting stronger and stronger, becoming less painfully winded, am no longer sore, have not been injured thanks to stretching, but I fear that the wear-and-tear on my hip is starting to kick in, and since this isn't something you can't "stretch your way out of," it may end up being the showstopper. But not yet.

Yesterday was the beginning of week four, and I'm convinced that Sunday's distance runs are the hardest of them all, and also that I'm capable of running slower than a turtle can crawl, an earthworm can wiggle, and a sloth can slithe. But I'm also getting f-a-s-t in the shorter intervals!

See you next week,

Rocks.

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You never know when or where you're going to struck by inspiration. Mine comes from a touching story involving a little ten-year-old girl who has struggled with Juvenile Diabetes since she was three. I doubt I'll ever meet her, but she's the impetus behind an eight-week program that I'm starting on, today.

On November 3rd, I'm going to accomplish a relatively modest goal - I'm going to run a 5K at a pace I haven't done since the 1990s. It's time.

Getting there is going to be a challenge. I'll keep you updated each Sunday with my progress.

Wish me luck,

Rocks.

Hey, Don --

Funny that your inspiration to get fit has come in great part from a little girl with diabetes. One of primary underlying reasons for the creation of Rock Creek and its sister, Rock Creek at Mazza, is my niece, Haley, who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 5. Haley, who is now 13, comes to eat at Rock Creek and says, "Aunt Judy, this is the only restaurant where I can go and pick my own food and know that I cannot get myself in trouble." Listing nutritional information -- and not using sugar -- are both the direct result of watching this wonderful child cope in a world that does little to give her the information necessary to keep her blood sugar stable.

So good luck. Come have dinner with us!

Judy Hammerschmidt

Co-Owner, Rock Creek and Rock Creek at Mazza

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I made it through week four!

Sunday was a seven-mile run, or I suppose you can call it a run. I knew it would be awful, but I also knew I had to do it. It took longer than I can ever admit, and I paid a stiff price for it, too. My right hip was hurting for much of the run.

Monday rest day was a reality check - I knew that the pavement-pounding was starting to take a toll on me. I hadn't run seven miles in probably six or seven years, and I was remembering why I hadn't.

Tuesday's fast mile is supposed to be easy, but this was hellish. It wasn't a fast mile; it was a four-lap jog, but I couldn't have done it much faster.

And look at this! Wednesday's five-mile run was heat-of-the-day, but for whatever reason, was also my first really strong run of the week. I felt good for most of it, before withering in the last mile or so.

Thursday was a 3-mile interval, and absolutely my worst performance of the four weeks. I was worn down, worn out, and hurting.

I knew at this point that I'd need to make a change in my 8-week regimen.

I went ahead and did my 4 x 400 intervals on Friday rather than Saturday, because I knew I was going out off town for a couple of days. I did it in the cool of the evening, and ran f-a-s-t! Truly, I felt like a runner for the first time in four long weeks, as opposed to a blippo out on a dawdle. My last speed-lap I was really kicking it, speeding up towards the end of the lap. Gosh it felt good.

Again, five days running, five days in the gym, seven days stretching. I was completely spent on Saturday, a rough, sleepless night on Friday not helping things at all.

I was halfway there, and yet I knew that Sunday's seven-mile run had done me in. My hip hurt all week, and as I type this on Tuesday, it still hurts.

I decided to turn my 8-week program into a 9-week program, with a full week off for rest. No running, no gym, stretching whenever I feel like it, tennis as needed, maybe some light walking, but no real exercise. Stretching has prevented any soft-tissue strains, but my hip feels like it's done for.

You see I've always had a very small leg-length discrepancy, my right leg being maybe 1/4-inch shorter than my left. It's not visually noticeable, not even to me, but decades of tennis-pounding and running have turned a subtle pronation (is that the right term when the outside of the foot hits the ground first?) into general right-side malaise, running the whole length of my body, from neck to foot, and all joints in between except, curiously, the knee, everything centered at the hip joint, which is no longer perfectly round, or so I've been told. I merely acknowledged its existence when I was in my early 20s, but at this point, I cannot avoid it playing a major role in my athletic "career."

Between a two-day vacation, crazy sleep patterns, a nutso heat wave, and a lion's resolve to eat like a bear, this is the perfect week to do nothing but take a week off. And so I'll have nothing to report next week except, hopefully, I'll be starting up again this Sunday, October 14th, with everything pushed back a week.

The physical changes have been remarkable in just four weeks. I look in the mirror and smile now, because the visual difference is substantial. I don't have a reliable scale, but when I weigh myself on unreliable ones I'm skeptical that I'm as light as they say, even though I surely have more muscle than I did four weeks ago.

As I type this on Tuesday, I have four more full days of rest before beginning again. I honestly don't think I'll be jointly (that means "of or pertaining to the joint") ready to begin again, but I'm going to begin anyway. Whatever happens, happens. I'm laying it on the line and going for it, my friends.

I'll check in next week as a confirmation that I've started again, but hopefully the only news I'll have is that I'm no longer hurting as much.

Until then,

Rocks.

P.S. I'm telling you, it's worth it. My running abilities, wind-wise, have improved dramatically, and I'll come right out and say it: I'm starting to look GOOD again!

jpschust sent me this a couple weeks ago. Only certain items will resonate with any given person, but they'll resonate loudly - I've taken about five of these away with me and kept them in my mental pocket.

The 53 Runner's Commandments

by Joe Kelly

1. Don't be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.

2. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run.

3. Don't make running your life. Make it part of your life.

4. During group training runs, don't let anyone run alone.

5. Keep promises, especially onces made to yourself.

6. When doing group runs, start on time no matter who's missing.

7. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.

8. Keep a quarter in your pocket. One day you'll need to call for a ride.

9. Don't compare yourself to other runners.

10. All runners are equal, some are just faster than others.

11. Keep in mind the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is

that you won't run.

12. For a change of pace, get driven out and then run back.

13. If it was easy, everybody would be a runner.

14. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you

are to be there.

15. Getting out of shape is much easier than getting into shape.

16. A bad day of running still beats a good day at work.

17. Talk like a runner. "Singlets" are worn on warm days. "Tank tops"

are worn to the beach.

18. Don't talk about your running injuries. People don't want to hear

about your sore knee or black toe.

19. Don't always run alone.

20. Don't always run with people.

21. Approach running as if the quality of your life depended on it.

22. No matter how slow you run it is still faster than someone on a couch.

23. Keep in mind that the harder you run during training, the luckier

you'll get during racing.

24. Races aren't just for those who can run fast.

25. There are no shortcuts to running excellence.

26. The best runs sometimes come on days when you didn't feel like running.

27. Be modest after a race, especially if you have reason to brag.

28. If you say, "Let's run this together," then you must stay with

that person no matter how slow the pace.

29. Think twice before agreeing to run with someone during a race.

30. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring

people who run.

31. Look at hills as opportunities to pass people.

32. Distance running is like cod liver oil. At first it makes you

feel awful, then it makes you feel better.

33. Never throw away the instructions to your running watch.

34. Don't try to outrun dogs.

35. Don't trust runners who show up at races claiming to be tired, out

of shape, or not feeling well. They get strong when the starter's gun

goes off.

36. Don't wait for perfect weather. If you do, you won't run very often.

37. When tempted to stop being a runner, make a list of the reasons you started.

38. Never run alongside very old or very young racers. They get all

the applause.

39. Without goals, training has no purpose.

40. During training runs, let the slowest runner in the group set the pace.

41. The first year in a new age group offers the best opportunity for trophies.

42. Go for broke, but be prepared to be broken.

43. Spend more time running on the roads than sitting on the couch.

44. Make progress in your training, but progress at your own rate.

45. "Winning" means different things to different people.

46. Unless you make your living as a runner, don't take running too seriously.

47. Runners who never fail are runners who never try anything great.

48. Never tell a runner that he or she doesn't look good in tights.

49. Never confuse the Ben-Gay tube with the toothpaste tube.

50. Never apologize for doing the best you can.

51. Preventing running injuries is easier than curing them

52. Running is simple. Don't make it complicated.

53. Running is always enjoyable. Sometimes, though, the joy doesn't

come until the end of the run.

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Well as I decided the week before, my "8-week program" turned into a "9-week program," and wisely so.

The seven-mile run two weeks ago ground my hip joint into a pulp, and I never recovered that week. It's not actually something you "recover from," it's simply something that needs to heal.

So I took the whole week off, from Sunday through Saturday, with no running, no weights, minimal stretching, a couple hours of tennis, but most importantly ...

For the first four weeks of my little regimen, I decided to experiment with diet as well: I ate 100% vegetarian (with cheese) every meal, for four consecutive weeks. I made one exception each week as a reward, but they were BIG exceptions: Week one was an entrecote at Montsouris, week two was the giant steak at Buck's Fishing and Camping, week three was all-you-can eat at Fogo de Chao, and week four was a Woody Allen (with a supplemental order of tongue) at Carnegie Deli at 1:30 AM where, to the amazement of the 4-5 tables there, Don King came strolling in, having clearly enjoyed the earlier part of his evening, and started hooting what a wonderful place Carnegie Deli was, walking up to tables and shaking peoples hands, before disappearing into a back room where he was having a private party.

Dining vegetarian was incredibly easy for me, because I dine so well. The biggest problem I had was at the worst restaurant of my four weeks: Houston's in Bethesda, where vegetarians are held hostage to their lousy spinach dip. I ended up getting a stuffed baked potato (no bacon) for my main course. It takes a lot to make me "miss" Artie's, but dining at Houston's did just that.

This week I'm back on plan, but without the vegetarian component - staying vegetarian was a useful exercise for me, challenging me to order differently in restaurants, really getting a feel for who's taking it seriously and who isn't.

As for my hip? It still hurts, but the week off helped. I remain as determined as ever - please wish me luck during this, week number five.

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"Are you hurting right now?"

I was asked this question last night.

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, why?"

"I hurt 24 hours a day."

I made it through week five, but not by much. Sunday was my final seven-mile run of the program, and I could only do it because I had taken the previous week off. It was distressingly slow, as usual.

Monday was my rest day.

Tuesday was a one-mile limp.

On Wednesday, much to my surprise, my five-mile run was easier than running a mile just a day before. I got pooped during the final mile, however.

Thursday is supposed to be my four-mile interval run, but I was so busy that I simply didn't have time to exercise, so I used it as my rest day, and did the four-mile run on Friday.

Saturday was six quarter-mile "sprints" interleaved with six quarter-mile jogs. I was hurting, but it was only three miles total, so I made it through pretty well - ran it on a soft track. Pretended to sprint, but didn't.

So week five is done, with five workouts in the gym, seven hours of stretching, and 20 miles of running. Now, the program begins to wind down, but not by much.

It's Sunday, and the beginning of week six. I made it to the gym this morning, but need to finish stretching, and am procrastinating for my distance run.

I'm tired at my inner core, and I hurt constantly from the pounding. But I'm over the hump, and if I can get through this week, I think I can finish. Week eight is an easy week, so just two more tough ones to get through.

In case you think I'm cruising through this, think again - I'm overtraining, denying myself enough rest, and am probably doing more damage to my hip than is worth it. I'm tired all the time.

But my conditioning has improved a lot, and I've probably dropped a couple pounds even though I've gained muscle mass. I'm actually down over 25 pounds from where I was last Thanksgiving (about 19 from the beginning of the year). And I think I have every bit as much strength as I did then, maybe more. When I get through this, and give myself proper rest, I'll probably feel great.

I'm lying in bed as I type this, flat on my back. It's in the upper 70s, and I don't want to run.

You're probably tired of hearing me bitch, but I'm going to bitch some more.

I don't want to run today, but I'm going to go soon to get it over with. And I'm going to down a few brewski's tonight when I'm done, looking very much forward to my rest day tomorrow.

I'm already aware I won't meet my ultimate goal (of best-ever three-mile time), but I'm turning a blind eye toward that and pushing ahead.

The ice pack is in the freezer, and the Advil is at the ready.

Tired. God I'm tired. Wiped out. Off I go.

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"I'm off to run - this is the day I injure myself, the left groin."

I wrote that to a friend last Wednesday before going on my five-mile run. I got through week six, but my focus has shifted from running a blisteringly fast three miles, to simply completing the program and avoiding injury. I'm running conservatively, and would absolutely abandon ship at this point if I weren't so far into this.

This week, the final "heavy" week, I'm waging battle with another foe. On Sunday evening I remember just sitting there at night, thinking to myself, 'why is my throat starting to get sore?'

And now I have my answer: Because the weather got colder, and I picked up something at the gym. This is running a very typical course based on my past experiences with gym viruses - they always start with a sore throat, morph into congestion, and eventually take up residence in my joints where they decide to vacation for a week or so. And now I ache just walking up a flight of stairs.

I was beginning to think of five miles as "easy," but today it seems impossible. I put the odds at 50-50 that something adverse will happen during my run today. Nevertheless, I'm not going to stop unless injury or illness stops me, and unless I have a clear muscle pull, or faint on the trail, I'm going to finish. I don't care if it takes ninety minutes, I'm going to finish, and I'm not going to walk.

Last Wednesday, I thought I was done for also, but when my friend wrote me back later in the day, "Did the left side of your groin survive?"

I was able to answer: "It survived and THRIVED! I took a VERY hot bath beforehand."

We'll see...

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The day before I started this program, I played in a tennis tournament. It was very hot outside, in the 90s, with no shade at all on the court, and I was playing someone I should have cruised through.

I went up 4-0 in the first set, but I also knew I was in trouble: I haven't played much in recent years, I was working way too hard to win points, and I was becoming exhausted. The guy I was playing was young and in good shape.

I starting losing games, and I knew that if I lost the first set, the match was over. He went ahead 6-5, and I was fading fast. Late in the first set, he pissed me off by hooking me on a couple line calls - as well as questioning one of my own - so I summoned enough adrenaline to get to a tiebreaker at 6-6.

But I was completely spent, and lost the first set 7-6. I walked up to the net, shook his hand, and told him there was no way I could finish the match. It was the first time in my life I've ever retired because of fatigue.

Later that evening, I "met" the little girl who was the impetus behind this program. It made me realize I was ashamed of myself for having become so complacent during the past five years. I'm not saying I didn't have my reasons, but enough was enough: I had finally, after innumerable false troughs, hit bottom.

I got home that night and Googled for an hour, finally deciding on this program - an eight-week regimen for advanced runners. I knew full well that, at this point, I wasn't an advanced runner, but I didn't care. I began the next day.

The final week was stretched into ten days, mainly because I had overtrained while being sick during week seven. In particular, the intense weight-training really compounded the fatigue, and the thought of two-a-day workouts became a monster when I wasn't feeling well.

During the second half of the program, I started eating meat again and actually gained 2-3 pounds back. Still, I now weigh almost 25 pounds less than I did a year ago, and I'm just as strong. Stretching saved me from a soft-tissue tear, although I became lax during the final couple of weeks. My hip is killing me as I type this, my internal rotation being nearly zero right now, but that will subside in time.

But what about my goal of fastest-ever three miles?

I knew awhile back that I wasn't going to make it, and was considering not even timing myself because, honestly, I was just so happy to survive the program that I felt I had already tasted victory. I brought a stopwatch anyway, mainly out of curiosity, and just as I thought, my time is still slower, a lot slower, than it was ten years ago - you don't undo five years of neglect in just eight weeks. I still weigh ten pounds more than I did in 2002, and really, I'll need to lose closer to twenty if I'm ever to become a serious, competitive athlete again.

And guess what? I'm going to. After some much-needed rest this week, I'm going to concentrate on sprints, upper-body endurance, flexibility, and getting back into competitive tennis - and I'll not walk away from a match ever again.

There aren't many things that I can say I'm genuinely "proud of myself" for, but getting through this is one of them. Not because it was any great physical accomplishment (it wasn't a great physical accomplishment), but because I REVERSED THE COURSE that I had been on for so long. The final goal changed along the way, but the spirit behind everything never wavered. I did it! I finished.

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