Monday, August 20, 2012

My Favorite Olympic Moments

After watching several hundred hours of athletes doing things I can't and some things I'd never heard of, the least I could do is turn it into a blog post on my favorite moments of the Olympics.

These are completely subjective based on how I felt when I watched them, whether it was live, where I was, how annoying my kids were, and how annoyed my wife was that I was watching 12 hours of TV each day.  I plan on doing zero fact checking, so if I make a mistake on a detail or two, so be it.

Men's 10,000 meters.  This is hands down my favorite Olympic moment in 2012.  I didn't even mind that Galen Rupp got beat by a Brit.  Considering an American hadn't medaled in this event since 1964, a silver one is worth celebrating, and if the British start bragging about this victory, I'll just bring up the American revolution and tell them to shut up.  By the way, I really like that Mo guy who won the 10,000 and 5,000.  His looks of disbelief as he crossed the finish line along with his smile displaying either intense pain, extreme jubilation, or both makes him the most likable English guy since Adam Ant.

Other men's distance events.  The United States usually sucks at any event more than 400 meters, all of which happen to be my favorite events and the only ones where there's at least a chance that more than half the field isn't on steroids, HGH, or EPO.  Along with Rupp's silver in the 10,000, Manzano got silver in the 1500 giving the U.S. second and fourth in another event an American hadn't medaled in since 1964.  Bernard Lagat also got 4th in the 5,000.  I don't care that he's from Africa.  He's American now.

The men's gymnastics high bar.  The odds of this being my third favorite event of the Olympics before the games started were about the same odds that none of the Jamaican sprinters took performance enhancing drugs within the past year.  At the time of the men's high bar, the U.S. was battling China for medal dominance, so when Chinese gymnasts grabbed the top two spots due to spurious judging, all I could do was root for Germany.  Although it was difficult putting aside my bitter feelings from World War II, I had to.  And the German delivered the second best high bar routine I'd ever seen.  The best high bar routine came next.  Some guy from the Netherlands pushed the sport to new levels.  Gold: Netherlands; Silver: Germany; Bronze: China.  The Netherlands' gymnast buddy who hugged him after winning the gold just might be the ugliest Olympian in history, making the victory even sweeter.

Classy American athletes.  These athletes comported themselves with class and dignity (with the exception of the U.S. women's soccer team who comported themselves like 1990s U.S male sprinters mixed with the 2000 Olympic basketball team).  You gotta love the decathletes paying homage to past American champions and to the greatness of their country without being arrogant.  I love the female sprinters and their appreciation for the opportunity to compete.  The swimmers were obviously having fun while destroying the rest of the world.  The basketball team, now led by classy athletes like LeBron James and Kevin Durant have made Olympic fans forget about the me first elements of past teams (with the exception of Kobe "Ball Hog" Bryant who still thinks he can hang, but can't).

David Boudia.  He was the last diver to qualify in the men's 10-meter springboard (the only diving event worth watching), finishing 18th in the preliminaries.  He fixed whatever was wrong in the semifinals and easily qualified for the finals.  He nailed dive after dive, put pressure on the Chinese pair who couldn't handle it, and finished the round with a flawless dive to shoot ahead of the British pretty boy and narrowly beat some Chinese guy who was obviously worried about his family getting shot by an angry Chinese Olympic Federation official.  Luckily for him, he had already won a gold medal and would probably be let off easy with a few lashings while being forced to watch human rights violations the Chinese government is so good at.

Michael Phelps.  Just when we thought Michael Phelps wasn't the dominating swimmer of the past, he made us all eat our words.  Hopefully, he'll celebrate a bit more discreetly this time or at least find a designated driver.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sweat Your Thorns Off 5-k Race Report

The concept is to train slow to run fast. I'll admit it sounds least I thought it did until I set a 5-k pr on a hilly course in 95-degree heat.

Result: 23:42 (Technically, it's five seconds slower than the first half of a 10-k I ran back in January on a flat course in 60 degree coolness.  I used that as part of my 10-k pr though.).

Average Heart Rate: 171

Maximum Heart Rate: 194 (I didn't know my heart could beat that fast)

There were two options for the race: (1) Hang out in the back of the pack with my virtual friends; (2) Set a pr against my virtual friends.  Because I didn't get out of the house until 9:40, it looked like option 1 was the choice.  In fact, when you're doing aerobic base training, you're not supposed to do any anaerobic runs.  When my feet started moving, the plan was to run it slow.  About .1 miles in I changed my mind.

I have three months until the Really Big Free Half Marathon in Henderson and I plan to do only aerobic base training until then.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to Lose Five Pounds in a Week

First of all, I'm not calling you fat.  I'll leave that to your mother-in-law.

I weighed 178 when I started marathon training.  I weighed 183 during the marathon.  After numerous weeks of summer travel, I weighed 186.  It was time to lose weight.  Training for another marathon was obviously not the answer, at least not the way I was training.

If you're like me (and for your sake, I hope you're not), your marathon training encompassed fast runs, long runs, and recovery runs that weren't really recovery runs because you ran them as fast as you could but were too tired to run within 2 minutes of your hoped for time.  If you're like me, your training runs--especially the long ones--were followed by gorging on refined carbohydrates and sugary treats.

I gained weight because I was training too hard, too much and eating like a four-year old without parental guidance.  Here are the changes I made.

  1. If you follow this blog (I'm speaking to all three of you), you may remember I started using a heart rate monitor to slow myself down.  Other than one race, I've kept my heart rate under 142, which has forced me to slow way down.  It's also taught my body how to burn fat instead of sugar for energy.  I've also incorporated some P90X 2 workouts in as well because I need to feel like puking during workouts at least once per week.
  2. Because I'm not completely exhausting myself every run, I don't feel it necessary to pig out every meal.  I have seriously reduced my intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar.  I still ate a cupcake and had pasta at three meals last week, so by significantly reducing I mean not eating refined carbs every meal.  I also ate a cupcake on my daughter's birthday and a chocolate covered banana on mine.
  3. Because I didn't eat refined carbs every meal, I needed to replace them with foods that filled me up.  This was accomplished by drinking more water,  eating more vegetables, and consuming better fats.  After workouts, I drink a mixture of this green powdery substance made from vegetables, chia seeds, and water.  That's the only loopy kind of thing I do.  I follow this mixture up with two fried eggs a couple hours later, a decent lunch in the afternoon, and pretty much whatever I want at dinner.
  4. Because accountability leads to success, I keep track of what I eat.  It's a simple system based on Weight Watchers.  I get a certain number of points per day + whatever I earn from exercise.  I chalk up a certain number of points after EVERYTHING (I've never done all caps before.  This is exciting!!!!!!!!!!!) I eat.  I tally each 16-ounce cup of water I drink until I reach 8.  I tally up every serving of vegetables until I reach 10.  I just mark it on the white board next to the telephone in the kitchen.
  5. I eliminated diet soda.  That was tough.
I have no idea if this will work for you.  It's worth a shot.  At the very least, you won't be tempted to click on the "How to eliminate belly fat" ads that appear all over the web.