Race #1 – Hildebran RoyalFest 5k – 09/13/08

I’m just getting around to posting this photo on the 4th anniversary of this race. A lot has happened since then… As of 09/13/12 I’ve run 190 races including 41 half marathons and 2 full marathons, and have been the Running Journal Grand Masters Champion for two of the past three years (55-59 age group champion the other year). I’ve also lost 30 more pounds, got a tan on my legs, cut 6 or 7 minutes off my 5k time, and bought some new running clothes!

My mom lived in Henry River, which is just a couple miles from Hildebran, and she went to Hildebran school so it’s a special place for me. She died 49 years ago when I was only 7, so when I saw that there was a 5k race there I wanted that to be the first one I ran, so the timing was perfect for me. It was by far the smallest race I’ve been in with only 30 runners, but it was a lot of fun and if they do it next year I’m planning on being there for it.

I gave an extra 5 points under “Other” on this race because it’s the only race I’ve been in (8 so far) that actually had a photographer who took pictures that can be found on the race website.
4 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
3 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
6 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
5 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
4 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
5 — 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 71

Wow! — There’s a 5K Race EVERY Saturday?

With the risk of sounding like I’ve been under a rock somewhere for the last 30 years or so, I didn’t know that there were 5k races all over the place every week. I had heard about them occasionally but never paid much attention. I started checking some of the running websites and found listings for races every week within a 50-mile radius of Gastonia, and being able to run a race every week was just what I needed to stay motivated.

It’s been eight weeks since that first 5k race in Hildebran, and every Saturday since then I’ve been in a race. Six times I’ve placed either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in my age division, which is great but I know I’ve got a long way to go to be among the very best runners, even in my age division. It could very well be that I’m too old to really improve that much or just don’t have the natural ability, but that’s okay if that’s the case. Running is its own reward, and every time I get out there and run I think about how just a few months ago I was virtually unable to run any distance at all.

One More Shot at Running

Somewhere around the middle of August 2008, after I had lost 15 or 20 pounds it occurred to me one day that maybe I ought to give running another try. I ran just a little bit at first, but this time around I could tell I was lighter and everything felt better. In just a few days I made more progress than I had back in March and I actually felt good for the first time in years.
I started thinking about that 5k I wanted to run with my daughter next year and thought that would be something great to train for. Somewhere I heard about a 5k race coming up in Hildebran, North Carolina, which is where my mother lived when she was young. The race was just a few weeks away (September 13th) and I didn’t know if I’d be ready for it but I was excited about the prospects of running it if I could.
For the next two weeks I worked on running the 5k distance (3.1 miles). My best time in March had been about 39 minutes, but just a couple days before the Hildebran 5k race I timed myself at about 29 minutes — 10 minutes faster than before!
Race day came and I was excited about it since I had never been in a race before. It was a perfect start for me. The race was tiny, with only 30 runners, but there was this small-town friendly atmosphere that I was glad to be a part of. When it was over I had finished 11th overall with a time of 27:56 and I was hooked on running.

It Worked!

(Originally posted 11/01/08)

Despite my trepidation about going to classes about dieting (ugh!) and weighing in every week and paying to have somebody tell me I need to lose weight, my wife and I started Weight Watchers on June 25, 2008.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be and I actually learned a few dieting tips. The program allows you to eat anything you want as long as you count the points and don’t go over your allotted amount of points. It was easy to figure out and I don’t think I ever got hungry — just ate healthier food.
The great part was that when I went for the weigh-in the next week I had lost 3.6 pounds! Of course that hooked me and I lost an average of about 2 pounds a week every week for the first 13 weeks! I gained .4 pounds the 14th week but no biggy — I lost 1.8 the following week. As I write this it’s November 1, 2008, just four months after I started Weight Watchers. I’ve now lost a total of 32.4 pounds and last week became a Lifetime Member, which means I don’t have to pay anymore unless I go 2 pounds over my “goal weight.” My goal weight was 167, which was 25 pounds lighter than my starting weight, and I’m at 159.8 right now so I’ve got some breathing room. I can take it a little easier on the diet now, but I think I’ve learned enough good habits to keep the weight off permanently. I don’t mean for this to be a Weight Watchers commercial, but if you’ve tried to lose weight and weren’t able to, give it a shot.

30 Extra Pounds — All Belly

This is me a week before I began Weight Watchers. My wife Linda and I decided that maybe we should give it a try despite my hesitance because of the meetings and weigh-ins and 40 bucks a month ($80 for two people!). Nicole got tired of me complaining about the money and said, “Dad, if the money’s such a big deal, I’ll pay for it!” Of course I couldn’t let her pay for it, so then I felt like I needed to join WW just so I didn’t look like a cheapskate. I could always drop out if it didn’t work.

We had planned a vacation to fly to Las Vegas and visit my son Chuck and then drive to the Grand Canyon and then down to Tucson to visit my son Joe, so we put off joining Weight Watchers for that week, but I promised Nicole that we’d start as soon as we got back.

How About Losing Some Weight?

(Originally posted November 1, 2008)

It was kind of an inside joke with the family that every time we got together I would talk about going on a diet first thing Monday morning, and usually I’d make a half-hearted attempt at breakfast on Monday but most of the time by the end of the day I was back to eating too much as usual.
I had a little bit of success with the Atkins diet, dropping maybe 5 or 10 pounds before gaining it all back in a carb-starved frenzy.
Then there was the calorie-count.com website, which is great if you stick with it. If you’re looking for a free program it’s unbeatable, but my head wasn’t really in the right place so I was up and down until I finally just stopped trying altogether.
Every time I mentioned my latest failed diet attempt to Nicole she’d say, “Dad, I’ve tried almost every diet known to man and the only thing that ever worked for me is Weight Watchers. Not only that, but of all the people I know, the only ones who have kept the weight off did it with Weight Watcher.” I would cringe at the thought of meetings and weigh-ins and 40 bucks a month! Not a chance!

My First Attempt at a Running Program

According to the running log I started on March 4, 2008, here’s how the first day of my running program began. My entry read:
“Beginning running program. Run-walk on treadmill. Ran .1 mile and walked .1 mile for 30 minutes.”
That week I ran a total of 6.2 miles, and feeling pretty good about myself the following week I ran 9.3 miles — three different 3.1 (5k) runs with times ranging from 38:30 to 42:30.
The following Tuesday was the final entry: 3.1 miles at a time of 41 minutes.
As I remember it, I had painful shin splints that had me limping the whole way. I talked to Nicole on the phone and gave her the news that the old man was just too old to start a running program and wouldn’t be training for a 5k after all.

Hey Dad, Let’s Go for a Run

From the half-hearted running log I started on my computer, I think it was the week of my 56th birthday in late February 2008 that my daughter Nicole was visiting from New York. I don’t actually remember if Nicole invited me to go run with her or if I invited myself, but we drove a couple miles to the Gastonia Greenway to do our run.

It was a beautiful day for running — sunny and unusually warm for the time of year. We decided that since I hadn’t run in a long time I would dictate the pace, so we would run for a while then when I was tired we’d walk until I was ready to run again.
I had always been a skinny kid, and even as an adult up until about the age of 30 or so I was still pretty skinny, but over the years I picked up a pound here and there, and here I was now at the age of 56 weighing 193 pounds, which is probably about 30 pounds more than ideal weight for my body frame.
As we began to run that day the extra 30 pounds quickly took their toll on me. It wasn’t only the extra weight but also the general lack of any meaningful exercise that had me gasping for breath after just a few steps. I’m not sure if we would go 50 feet or 50 yards before I’d have to stop, but it wasn’t much. We’d walk a couple more minutes so I could get my breath back and do it again. Nicole mentioned that if I got into shape the next time she came down we could possibly run in a 5k race together. I promised her that I’d try to get in shape by running several times a week.

Welcome to my runner’s blog!

The world certainly doesn’t need another blog — running or otherwise — and I don’t need yet another distraction from getting my work done. Having said that, after having become a “runner” just a couple months ago at the age of 56 I’ve had some great experiences that I don’t want to just forget, and hopefully I can provide a little inspiration for some others who would like to be more active but think they’re too old to get started.