I almost didn’t write this entry at all, because aside from being so horribly-planned that I ended up running 10 miles before my speed mile, nothing all that interesting happened on my run. I didn’t set a new personal best, I didn’t injure myself, and I didn’t find five dollars. But then I realized that I had license to brag about something, and I sat down to type away with a renewed vigor. Without further preamble, please allow me a moment to puff out my now-slightly-more-svelte chest and provide a quick update on my dieting experiment that I outlined in a previous post earlier in June. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but by all metrics, my revolutionary/visionary/game-changing diet of “Hey, maybe go easy on the binge-drinking, and stop eating like a dickhead” was a rousing success. I began the month with my weight fluctuating between 197-199 lbs., and when I stepped on the scale just before lunch on July 1st, I was greeted by this rather surprising number looking back at me:
Over the course of one month, I lost about as much weight as I had in the previous 15 months combined. Yes, it helped that I started up my “official” marathon training program at the beginning of June (which called for increased weekly mileage), but the truth is that most of the pounds I shed were a direct result of the elimination of a bunch of awesome things that I know are bad for me. I gave up fast food, fried foods, hard liquor, and excessive beer-swilling for a solid month, and the somewhat obnoxious lesson that I learned is that this was clearly a decision for the best. Fun things kill you. Just about the only change that I made to my daily routine in June pertained to what I put in my body, and for someone like myself that clearly has this otherwordly performance sports-car physique, I apparently needed to start putting in premium fuel rather than plain ol’ unleaded. Now, I ain’t goin’ soft anytime soon, but the correlation was startling. When I finally shaved my patchy/terrible beard this past Sunday (see below for the “before” shot), it looked to me as if all the weight I lost came directly out of my face…both figuratively and literally, it felt like I was looking at a different person.
And so now, the challenge becomes managing this new balancing act between work and play; between dedication and indulgence; between pragmatism and revelry. I lost 10 lbs., and I don’t intend to put the weight back on. This is a balancing act with which I am slightly unfamiliar, since I’ve generally only concerned myself with living life in the moment and doing what feels good. Whether I look back on June 2012 as just a blip on the radar or the tipping point for something big remains to be seen, but I certainly feel much better about where I am than I was 30 days ago.
That being said….June 30th was OUTDOOR SPEED DAY, so let’s get into it.
THE RUN — 11.70 miles in 1:43:33 (08:51/mile pace — fastest mile was 06:30, in the 11th mile)
I had the best of intentions going in, but this ended up being my most poorly-planned run of any kind to date. Before noon on Saturday the 30th, I had to fit in the following things:
- Run my fastest possible mile
- Run my prescribed 9 miles with my CARA training group (Chicago Area Runners Association), a group run which left from Montrose Harbor at 6:30am
- Attend Pilates class at 11am (yes, that’s still a thing that I’m doing)
I hadn’t been able to run with my CARA group for the past two weekends, due to being out of town one weekend and then working/volunteering in the morning both days the following weekend. I didn’t want to miss another group run, and I decided my best chance of fitting in both a long run and my fast mile before
doing something, anything manly Pilates was to do my speed-work first, on the way to Montrose Harbor, and then join up with CARA for the long run. That would require an early start to my day, would have meant waking up in time, which did not happen. I barely made it from my apartment out to the lake shore path in time to intercept the CARA group that was running south, much less get in some speed-work on my way to the designated start point. And so I plodded along with the group at a leisurely 09:00/mile pace, wondering just how tired I would be by the time it was all over. The pace of the training run wasn’t an issue (if pace is an issue for your long runs, then you’re going too fast), but how fresh is anyone after running 9 miles under a hot sun?
After a sprint up Cricket Hill near Montrose Harbor to end the workout (this is designed to simulate the notorious Roosevelt bridge that all runners must scale just before the final downhill home stretch of the Chicago Marathon) and a freeze-pop from the CARA hydration station (!!), I turned around to head back home and muster up what I could in the now-90-degree heat. My shirt was already soaked through from the 70+ minutes I’d been out on the path, and to make matters worse, I really had to use the bathroom, and there were no port-o-johns in sigh. Whatever, let’s do this.
After a warm-up mile (I’d already run 9-ish miles to this point, so I don’t know why I did another “warm-up” mile? I’m also not sure why I ended that sentence with a question mark, but I’m going to leave it in there instead of editing it, so it feels authentic?), I took off. I quickly passed a group of very fit-looking girls running in sports bras who were all extremely impressed with my pace, I told myself as I ran away. With every hundredth of a mile that ticked away on my watch, I reminded myself that I was another 1% close to being done with this stupid mile. After about 1/3 of a mile, I was pacing for around a 06:20 mile, and when I maintained that pace through the half-mile mark, I felt reasonably confident that I could keep it under 7 minutes even if I bonked. I had to weave through a lot of runners out on the path (which was a bit crowded by this point), but I didn’t encounter anything that caused an abrupt drop in pace. In the end, my fast mile came in at 06:30 on the dot. I was pretty pleased with my time, given the heat and my poor planning.
When I got home, I weighed myself before I stepped in the shower, as I had done before I left my apartment to go on my run. Even though we’d taken frequent water breaks during the CARA run, I’d lost nearly 3 lbs. of fluids in the hour-and-a-half that I was out on the path. I have no idea how there are any fat people in the south, where it’s hot pretty much all the time.
THE CHUG — 4-ish seconds (No official time, b/c my chug was shot-gunned out of a can of PBR)
There were 3 glorious things about the 30th of June:
- I finally got to eat Taco Bell again
- I finally got to shave my stupid beard
- My roommate Mike rented a trolley for his birthday barcrawl.
I can’t speak for how prevalent this happens in other cities, but rented trolley barcrawls are effectively a rite of passage if you live in Chicago. Especially among my group of friends. I’ve never understood the Chicago thing about people not putting ketchup on their hot dogs (which is just the dumbest thing ever; ketchup is literally the perfect condiment for a Vienna Beef hot dog), but I do firmly believe that you’re not a real Chicagoan until you’ve gotten drunk at 50 mph while barreling down Lake Shore Drive in a vehicle that doesn’t have any seatbelts or windows. Call me old-fashioned.
The reason you’re seeing a few people wearing a coat and tie isn’t because we’re classy, but because a number of guys decided to go with the “sartorial mullet” for Mike’s birthday: coat-and-tie (business) up top, and jorts (party) down below. I did not participate in this, because I already had a stupid appearance of my own going on. Earlier in the week I had bought Mike a large bottle of Delirium Tremens on his actual birthday, but for the final part of his birthday present, I told him that he got to choose the style of facial hair that I would be rocking for the night of his trolley. After quickly vetoing a Hitler ‘stache (in Mike’s defense, that’s probably what I would have picked for him if the roles were reversed), we settled on the following:
ATTENTION: YOU ARE NOW ABOUT TO LEARN SOMETHING THAT WILL SAVE YOU FROM EMBARRASSMENT AT YOUR NEXT REDNECK SOCIAL GATHERING. I want to take great pains to explain that this noble style of facial hair is known as a “Horseshoe” mustache, and NOT a “Fu Manchu.” A Fu Manchu mustache is grown from the upper lip ONLY, and the sides of the mustache are grown out and allowed to hang from the upper lip at the sides of the mouth, all wispy and shit. The sides of a Fu Manchu are not connected to the face, but rather they hang down. The Horseshoe mustache is completely attached to the face, and does not hang and flow in the breeze. Hulk Hogan has a Horseshoe mustache, not a Fu Manchu. Everyone makes this all-too-common mistake, but now you don’t have to be that person.
You just learned something! Let’s move on.
In lieu of a timed chug, we went with a 9:30 group shotgun, which is a tradition carried over from our fall football tailgates. Those tailgate-related shotguns always occur at 9:30 in the morning, but this was no time to pick nits. Anyway, I think it took me about 4 seconds to crush my PBR terrible selection of beers, by the way, but that’s what was handed to me), and by my count I was the 2nd out of about 10 participants to finish. Because these things are important to keep track of and post on the Internet.
All in all, a nice little Saturday — 11+ miles, and far more than 11 beers.
One final note about running in summer heat with a beard: Don’t do it. Just don’t. It’s like having a fur coat that you wear on your face, only you can’t take it off while you’re running. There’s a reason why Chuck Norris only ran in short spurts on Walker: Texas Ranger, and it’s not because Carlos Ray Norris was out of shape. Just don’t do it.
And now click on that link for the greatest Walker: Texas Ranger clip in the history of the show, or you’re a bad person.
…by the way, I never know how to end these things. I always figure that I’ll be typing along, and then at some point I will think of something poignantly brilliant to close with and then just sto-