Thursday, January 6, 2011

A chubby kid grows up and tries to run the Boston Marathon

I've always been a chubby kid. One of my worst memories ever was during basketball tryouts when I was in the 6th grade and we had to go shirts and skins. This is every fat kids nightmare. As the coach stands there dividing up the teams all us chubbers try to figure out how to cover up our entire bodies with just two arms. I very vividly remember being in the gym at Kellogg Middle School when I was 12 years old and having kids shout from the bleachers that I needed to put a bra on and asking if I was sure I shouldn't have been trying out for the girls team. Unfortunately at that time, I hadn't yet developed quite enough self-loathing to take those remarks and turn them into motivation, determination and will power to lose weight...I liked donuts and pizza way to much.

I was cursed with my Dad's amazingly bad genes and amazingly tasty cooking. On my dad's side of the family, there's a long line of tubby bastards that also happen to be really good cooks. My dad makes a living as a cook and most of the meals we had at home came right off the line...chicken fried steak, breaded pork chops, prime rib...don't get me wrong, these were amazing meals (complete with vegetable of the night covered in butter), but they definitely lead me to developing a taste for the rich and salty.

Genetically, I have the metabolism of a sloth. I do all the cooking in our house, including packing the lunches so I can pretty much guarantee you I know exactly what my wife Brooke and I are each eating every meal of every day. She eats the same amount of calories as I do (if not more), exercises about once a week, and has has the body of a model. I exercise five to six times a week and look like a wimpier version of Kojak. Even standing here today, where I've been exercising religiously for over a year, I'm still overweight. Mind you, when I first began on this trek, I was REALLY overweight (I believe the doctors refer to it as OBESE and the kids refer to it as FATTY FATTY TWO BY FOUR). Thanksgiving 2009 I weighed in at about 205 pounds and over 30% body fat. Today I'm a not-so-svelt 164 and about 17% body fat. I've lost those forty pounds with a combination of things. The first of which was giving up most processed foods.

I now cook almost all of our meals from scratch. After reading Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food", I realized that if you're not cooking what goes into your body, you don't really know what it is that will actually end up in there. I get on my soap box a little bit about this stuff, so you'll have to forgive me.

The second thing was I started using the bodybugg, which is a body sensor you wear on your arm and it calculated how many calories you're burning throughout the day. You plug that into your computer, log all the food you ate and abra-cadabra, it tells you how much weight you should be losing. This has been a great tool for me for a couple of reasons. The first is that boys love toys. If you asked me to write down all my activities for the day and keep a meal journal, there's no way any of that would happen. Give me an electronic gadget that magically calculates my caloric burn though, and I'll play with that forever (it's been 58 weeks and I still love to plug the bodybugg in each day and calculate all the data).

The third thing I did was begin to hit the gym hard. After I'd lost about 20 pounds I hit a plateau and was having a hard time getting past it. I renewed my membership at 24 hour fitness and the membership I chose came with three personal training sessions. My first trainer was Andrew and after my first session I was hooked. I worked with Andrew once a month for about six months and he helped me get over the hump with a lot of great strength training work. I was down to about 170 pounds, but still not feeling quite there yet when Andrew told me he was leaving 24 hour. He knew I really enjoyed running and steered me toward Aaron, another trainer at the gym who was also a long distance runner.

During my first session with Aaron I told him I had a long term goal of running the Boston Marathon someday. He told me I needed to lose ten more pounds and he thought I could qualify this year. That brings me to today. It's a new year and as my cousin from England says, "It's time for Body 2011!" This year, I want to see my abs for the first time in my life and run a marathon in under 3 hours 10 minutes. This means I need to run 7 minute 15 second miles for 26.2 miles in a qualifying race.

I've penciled in three marathons this year to try to make that happen. The first is the Newport Marathon in June. This will likely be a gut-check race and I'm not necessarily shooting to run my qualifying race here. The second is the Portland Marathon in October and I'd love for my hometown run to be the one that sends me to Boston. If I don't qualify in either of those, the Seattle Marathon in November will be my last shot for 2011.

This blog will be my chronicle of Road to Boston. Let's see what this chubby kid from SE Portland can do!

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