Monday, August 29, 2011

My 37th Birthday Challenge

I had never heard of doing a Birthday Challenge until a couple weeks ago on a training run for the Noble Canyon 50k. Some friends were talking about one of their friends doing a birthday challenge - where he would do 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours...

I thought that was intriguing so I came home and thought about what I could do to challenge myself for my birthday. I decided to do a birthday run - to run a mile for each year I’ve been alive - to burn off the years I left behind. It wasn’t anything special or very intriguing to others but it became some thing of a symbolic gesture to myself.

I lived a lot of those 37 years wasting away in a dark place and not really living but waiting to die. I wanted to go through those years in one day - and kind of move on from them (even though I have moved on mentally years ago and learned from those years) - I wanted to go out and sweat out those miles and remember how far I’ve come.

I’ve learned a lot these past 4 years of my life and I keep growing and learning as each year, month and day goes by. These last few months I’ve learned a lot about my eating habits and have changed the way I eat. I have been chasing my goal weight and yo-yoing up and down for these last couple years - forgetting I set this weight goal when I started out 4 years ago above 300 pounds.

I am a pound a way from hitting my goal weight of 200 pounds as of today.

Starting out four years ago, I never imagined where this life change would lead me and what I would be doing in the future. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I can achieve if I let myself just do what I set out to do.

I set a goal and chase that goal and accomplish it.

This simple chain of events changes your life - not only to achieve that goal, but the journey to get there will change you for good. You will come out of your journey a stronger and better person for going after your goal. I never truly understood this until I really worked for my goals.

I had goals as a kid to be a a pro-football player (among other things) but I truly did not put everything into it or work as hard as I should have. I let my weakened mind take me down - I never truly believed in myself so I would self-sabotage my journey. I know that now - I used to go after a goal, then just fall apart right before achieving it - then blame others or some circumstance for my failure to achieve that goal.

I have learned to work through that voice or that self-sabotaging inside of myself. I beat it down during my first 50 mile race - I came out of that race a different, better and stronger person. I’ve learned I want to inspire others who might have had a similar story as myself.

So this Birthday Challenge was to run through each year and think about how far I’ve come as a human being. The Challenge itself was exactly that - a challenge - but one I am totally happy I did for myself. I had some loving and awesome people help me along the way.

I started out at 6am in the morning running on top of the mesa we live on for the first hour, running around the Qualcomm campus trails and roads around it. I had time to think to myself and reflect on those first childhood memories I had as the sun rose in the eastern sky.

For the second part of my run, I had a friend who was meeting me at the Los Penasquitos Canyon. Christine met me at the parking lot and we embarked on a 13 mile journey though the canyon. It was so nice to run with someone while going through the canyon - it can get lonely and hot. Christine had just done a 20 mile grueling run the day before - so to have her come out and share a birthday run with me (and talk to and encourage me) was completely amazing! With her spirit guiding me I had a wonderful time. She showed me the ranch house and a lot of the cool sites inside the Canyon I had no idea about. When we got back to her car she had some food, juice and water in her trunk waiting for me. She was not only a great pacer she was a great crew :-). Thank you so much Christine for your company and your awesome spirit! She sent me on my way after pouring water over my neck and head. I left her at 18.5 miles down and 18.5 miles to go.

It was kind of crazy to leave and embark on the next few miles on my own - the third part of my run. I started thinking of the improvements I have made mentally and physically  over the last few months. I reflected on those years between age 18-24 and burned them away as each foot hit the pavement - on my way to meet my wife at Torrey Pines State Beach. She was meeting me there to finish out her brick training for the day - she is training for a Triathlon so before meeting me she had swam a mile and biked over 25 miles - she came out to run the beach with me and be my aid station for my run.

We met around my 24th mile and she fed and watered me and sunscreened me up. For the fourth part of my run, we ran to Del Mar and back on the beach. She stayed with me until I hit the 32 mile mark. We both reflected during this time and it felt good to have us doing something that just a few years ago we would not have been doing. We have been through so much together in the last 16 years - it feels good that both of us are growing and learning together. She is an amazing person to stick around all these years (with the person I used to be) - I appreciate everything she has done for me.

With her driving off and me having 5 more miles to get home, I was amazed at how good I was feeling and I think it came from the fact that the last 4 years of our lives have been some of the greatest we’ve shared. My legs felt great as I started the fifth part of my run. I was still running strong and it felt nice to finish the run and not fall flat on my face. Today as I write this I still feel great - a little sore but I felt like going out and running... but it was my birthday so I rested.

I attribute how good I felt to a number of people
  • to my friend Keith for his training runs and his nutrition advice - especially now that I am plant-based and plant-strong eater
  • to my friend Gaby who makes the tastiest bars I can stomach during a run GABYBARS
  • to Christine for being one awesome lady and being there for me in the morning and helping me out after you ran with me
  • to my wife Rachel who is the most amazing woman and person I have ever met. You are one amazing human being Rachel. Thank you for coming out and believing in me during my life and this run. You’ve always been there for me.

I am 1.2 pounds from my goal weight and I feel like I’m in the greatest shape of my life. I’ve worked the hardest for it and I now know what it means to set goals and go out and accomplish them. There is nothing like it people - I mean nothing like it...

If you do one thing in life, set a goal - one lofty goal - and go out and achieve it! I bet you will come out one hell of a different person - not only for achieving that goal, but for that journey you went on to get to that goal.

I feel great and I recommend that everyone to chase those dreams and goals. Don’t forget to live - and live the life you want to live.

I hope that you turn the impossible into the probable and conquer your goals.
Healthy Day

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

La Jolla Cove - Sea Lion Encounter

by Rachel

When I go to La Jolla Cove, it's because I know that I'm more than my fears - there is such a big world out there, and we will never experience it if we hold on to the fears that our mind blares at us...

I'm getting more comfortable swimming at the cove - I'm really beginning to enjoy it! Every time I'm there, I see wildlife - little neon orange fishies, many other kinds of fish, lots of sea plants, giant kelp plants, osprey, pelicans, cormorants?, and sea lions!

It's really very very beautiful there - and there's always snorkelers, divers, swimmers, kayakers, paddleboarders - lots of people out enjoying the beauty of it - lots of people just watching and enjoying from land too!

Yesterday I went out for a swim around 6pm - the water was choppy, and around 66 degrees. I planned to go swim out to the 1/4 mile buoy. I swam out, and as I got about halfway to the buoy, I started seeing deep yellow suds on top of the water - not a ton, but enough to make me a little nervous about swimming through it... so I decided to turn back before I got to the buoy. (I learned later that this was likely algae - it was not tons and you couldn't see it from shore - I did report it but the lifeguard didn't seem concerned)

So, while I'm swimming back, I'm looking down into the water, and I notice some movement... to the side for a breath, and when I look back down, I see a sea lion under me! 3 more strokes, to the side for another breath, and the sea lion is still there, swimming along with me and then it looks up at me - swimming with me...

I mean really - that was so cool/awesome/crazy/weird/make-you-stop-and-think and when I watch nature documentaries I think that kind of thing is so cool - but ALWAYS from a spectator point-of-view. I never thought that I would experience something like that - swimming and hanging out like that with a wild animal...

It only lasted for a few seconds - then it was off to check out some other swimmers - but it's hard to put into words what that was like. I just loved it, and I will be swimming at LJCove for years to come and I love that place!

Week 13 Tri Training RECAP!

I don't know what to say about last week - I had some REALLY good days, and some ugh crappy days - but I pushed through it all to have a really good week!

bike to work (8 miles)
hill run (3.28 miles)
workout (pushups, crunches, back extension, lunges, ankle strengthening)
pace for my run was 8:44 - totally weird

bike to work (8 miles)
swim (1 mile)
swam at De Anza Cove - really weird - each 1/4 mile lap was pretty much exactly 8 minutes - so I ended up with 1 mile in 32:07!

bike to work (7 miles)

bike to work via Torrey (29 miles)
BRICK run (1 mile)
Woke up extra early today and got out for a 25 mile bike ride before work - started IN THE DARK and it was a really good ride! My avg pace overall was 14.8 - which isn't that great for a 25 mile bike ride, but when you put the Torrey Pines hill into it, I'm actually really happy with that average :)
nutrition was 1 toast w/ pb and applesauce and banana beforehand (with coffee/almondmilk) - during was water w/ 1 scoop Perpetuem, and 4 dates
1 mile run after the bike and I didn't get an exact time - but it was under 9 minutes !

bike to work (8 miles)
tempo run (3.1 miles)
had a company picnic to go to at lunch, so I woke up and ran in the morning - ick! I felt like crud, but ended up with a 9:18 average anyways


swim (1 mile)
long run (6.87 miles)
I swam at La Jolla Cove today, and then ran from the cove all the way up to UCSD and then back down to Sorrento Valley - long distance trek! I did it in 1:13:13 - which averages 10:39/mile - but I feel really good about it because that includes the hill at La Jolla Shores Blvd, which is NO JOKE!
nutrition was regular breakfast - swim didn't start until around 11 or so - after swim my goo (1 scoop Perpetuem, tbsp chia seeds, tbsp applesauce, tbsp cocoa powder, water), then took 1 bottle water w/ Perpetuem on my run, with 4 dates

Weekly Totals:
swim: 2 miles
bike: 60 miles
run: 14.25 miles
pushups: 60
lunges: 80

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 12 Tri Training RECAP!

This week was crazy! I ran so fast this week, the fastest that I've ever run!

I don't know what changed... but I have been able to push faster than ever and I'm completely surprising myself with every run now!

bike to work (8 miles)
hill run (2.78 miles)
workout (crunches, pushups, lunges, back extensions, single leg balances)
9:21 avg pace on my run!

bike to work (8 miles)
swim (1/2 mile)
Swim at La Jolla Cove - it was more than a 1/2 mile but no way to really measure for sure. Beautiful swim and I swam up to two sea lions on my swim and they just hung out in front of me for a minute - was awesome!

bike to work (7 miles)

bike via Torrey Pines (14 miles)
BRICK run after bike (1 mile)
Brick run after my Torrey Pines 10 mile bike to work - ran it in 8:35!

bike to work (8 miles)
tempo run (3 miles)
workout (pushups, lunges, crunches, back extensions, single leg balances)
Ran up to the track (1 mile), ran on the track (1 mile), then ran back (1 mile). Avg 9:18 pace! Oh, and my second mile (on the track) was my fastest EVER, 8:23!!!


BRICK swim then run
swim (1/2 mile)
long run (10K)
Early to La Jolla Cove and got a good swim in - out past the 1/4 mile buoy and back so it's more than 1/2 mile but no way to measure...
Then got ready and set out for a 10K - very flat which is the first time I've been able to run a 10K during training that will be that flat (needed to do at least one because the race is going to be flat)...
Got to use the Garmin so here are my splits :)
mile 1 - 9:03
mile 2 - 9:06
mile 3 (1.1m) - 8:53
mile 4 - 9:07
mile 5 - 8:57
mile 6 (1.14m) - 10:36
Total - 56:41 - avg 9:05 pace!!!

Weekly Totals:
swim: 1 mile
bike: 45 miles
run: 13 miles
pushups: 120
lunges: 120

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Engine 2 - 28 Day Challenge - Summary

Now that I've had a few weeks to mull over the challenge, and recover from all the blog writing, I can look back and say that I really enjoyed the 28 Day Challenge, and learned quite a lot from it!

Before the challenge, the last major food-changing event that happened in our lives was when I happened to read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. This book ultimately found its way into our eating habits by us eating and buying as much organic food as we could - for two reasons. One, because we didn't want to be eating pesticides and herbicides, or eating food that is being monkeyed around in a laboratory on... and Two, because I feel that it is important to "vote with your checkbook" - that is, buying organic tells the stores and companies that I, as a consumer, feel it is important to grow food in a sustainable way - not killing us and the earth with chemicals and chemical unknowns.

Over time, that very strong opinion has eased a bit, but it's still there in a very real way. We had been regularly buying organic food, eating out but I'd say less than the norm, and eating much less meat than the norm. But we were still very much into dairy, and Paul (and our 14yo) had very much just gotten into a love of carne asada burritos since we moved to San Diego :)

When Paul started getting into the ultrarunning scene here, he started hearing about the Engine 2 Diet as a way to lose weight. So we took a look at the website,, and found the plan for the 28 Day Challenge right there on the website! We did not buy the book - and this is mostly because I do NOT read cookbooks anymore. I look for recipes online, and read foodie blogs - I have not cooked anything from my cookbooks for years... so I apologize in advance Rip - but I really relate to and love the ideas behind the Engine 2 Diet that are online!

So, I have already written two other summaries of our experiences:
Engine 2 - 28 Day Challenge - what we learned
Engine 2 - 28 Day Challenge - By the Numbers

and Paul has written a summary of his experience:
Thoughts and lessons learned on the Engine 2 28 Day Challenge

And a quick update - we started the 28 Day Challenge on June 20th - got done on July 17th. Since we have been done with the challenge, we have basically stayed the course - I have been meal planning for the week, and we have been eating vegan - with a few rare exceptions. Paul ended the challenge at 220, and is now at 209! I ended the challenge at 120, and have been between 117-120 since!

Here is the 28 Day Challenge, in condensed form and I hope that our experiences help some of you along the path to plant-based health!

28 Day Challenge - Main Page
I should caveat this by saying that I used each week's Meal Planner from the website. However, I did not use the Grocery List from the site - I wanted to look at each recipe, and built my own grocery list so I was more in tune with what I was buying and why. I also did not stick 100% to the Meal Planner - if I knew we wouldn't like a certain dessert, or I didn't want to buy what was required, or if I knew of something else I wanted to experiment with, I went with it and substituted. I believe Rip would approve!

Week 1 - Plan
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Week 1 Highlights -

Week 2 - Plan
Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14
Week 2 Highlights -

Week 3 - Plan
Day 15 Day 16 Day 17 Day 18 Day 19 Day 20 Day 21
Week 3 Highlights -

Week 4 - Plan
Day 22 Day 23 Day 24 Day 25 Day 26 Day 27 Day 28
Week 4 Highlights -

Recipes from others that I really enjoyed:
loveveggiesandyoga Raw Vegan Coconut Oil Chocolate with Almonds
loveveggiesandyoga Coconut Cashew Butter
exploitsofaveganwannabe Black Bean Spread

I'm really glad we did this challenge - it's a turning point for us! Also, I'm really glad I'm done with this blog post because it means my blogging responsibilities for the challenge are now officially 100% accounted for and done!!! YAY!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Week 11 Tri training RECAP!

by Rachel

This week I introduced bricks into my training. For those who don't know, a brick is where you do one event right after the other. The most common one (and the one that triathletes most need to practice) is to bike, then run immediately afterward. This gets your body used to running on tired legs and mimics what you will be going through on race day. So it's a MUST for someone training for a triathlon to do at least a couple brick workouts before the big day!

My back is 100% better and SOOO glad for it! This week I noticed, however, some numbness two different times in my left fingers... I am left-handed, and have had bouts of carpal tunnel pain several times in the past, and I'm pretty sure this is related. I really hope it behaves!

OH - and I hit my ultimate runners weight goal (115) on Sunday after all my workouts lol - even if I only saw it once and then it went right back up after a family bbq (lol) - who wouldn't be excited about that?? We'll see if it returns by the time race day rolls around :)

bike to work (8 miles)
hill run (3.35 miles)
workout (pushups, crunches, planks, lunges, back & ankle strengthening)
Ran out to check out the beach/cliffs and got 5 good hills in - 9:25 pace

bike to work (8 miles)
swim (1 mile)
first swim in my new WETSUIT!! I ended up doing 1 mile in under 34 minutes and so I continue to lower my mile time every week - although I will attribute some of it to the wetsuit this week lol
I ended up with a rash on my neck from a rubbing spot on the collar of the wetsuit, and a couple of red spots on my back... I think I will survive :)

bike to work (7 miles)

bike to work via Torrey Pines (14 miles)
BRICK! run after bike (1 mile)
Biked up Torrey with a 14.1 avg speed for the 10.3 miles - which is my fastest yet :) - then dropped off my bike and ran a mile right after... in 8:40! Crazy fast for me, and it felt GREAT!
It was also my first test of long distance nutrition - I ended up doing 3/4 scoop of Hammer Perpetuem (cafe latte flavor) in my water bottle, and 2 seeded dates. I made sure to drink my entire water bottle on my bike, and eat the dates (which were nice and soft! - easy to eat)
I really liked this combo and will continue to build on it - I think this will work awesome for me!

bike to work (8 miles)
tempo run (3 miles)
workout (pushups, lunges, planks, back & ankle strengthening)
Paul ran up to meet me at work today - so I waited until he got here and ran with him! 1.5 miles out, hang out for a few minutes, quick kiss, then run back! :)
9:01 avg!


swim (1/2 mile)
bike (let's call it 13 miles)
run (6.4 miles)
Woke up early to kickstart the day - drove down to La Jolla Cove for a morning swim! Let me tell you it is AWFUL to try and find a parking spot at the cove around 9am! I drove to a spot I learned about a few weeks ago and hiked in to the cove - only took me about 10 minutes to walk over.
Didn't find anyone to swim with, so I went by myself, with others leaving before and after me - swam out to the 1/4 mile buoy, swam around out there a little bit trying to find someone to swim back in with - found two ladies checking out a school of fish :) - then finally saw people making their way back so I hitched a ride with their group and swam back in lol
No time for my swim - I didn't have a good way to time it - but I felt pretty good about it considering I was at the cove, swimming more or less by myself, and I didn't freak out!!!
Next up was my bike/run brick! I decided to spin on my spin bike for 50 minutes before taking off for my 10K long run - this is the first time I've ever used my spin bike lol - the seat is just a tad crooked so that continued to bug me throughout the whole ride - I'll have to figure out how to fix that... but watched a good episode of Top Gear while I biked so can't complain too much lol
Took about a 10 min break to map out my route and get my butt in gear - then off for my 10K which ended up being 6.4 miles and I averaged 10:06 - to be honest, the fact that I biked beforehand didn't bother my body at all! I was mucho relieved :)
Nutrition was:
pre swim - toast w/ PB, applesauce, and banana - and coffee w/ soymilk
during bike - water bottle w/ 3/4 scoop of Perpetuem, 2 dates
pre run - gel made with Perpetuem, chia seeds, applesauce, and water
during run - 1/2 a water bottle
I felt pretty good with the eats/drinks I planned out - the gel was an experiment and it seemed to work out pretty well - I didn't bonk out on the run and that's the point of all of it right?

Weekly Totals:
Swim: 1.5 miles
Bike: 58 miles
Run: 13.75 miles
Pushups: 120
Lunges: 130

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week 10 Tri training RECAP!

by Rachel

This week was hard - I started having lower back pain on Sunday, and by Wednesday I went to the doctor just to see what could be done - somehow I did something to my SI joint and my muscles on the opposite side were trying to compensate for it...
home from work on Wednesday resting my back, Thursday no workout (even took the bus to work), then Friday tentative return to exercise - and Sunday was back to it!
Conquered the back pain and now I'm ready for Week 11!

bike to work (8 miles)
hill run (3.2 miles)
no workout (well I did 4 pushups then childs pose for like 5 minutes lol)

bike to work (8 miles)
swim (1 mile)
my back was KILLING ME by the time I was done with my swim - the arching of my back is what killed the most.

complete rest day - didn't even go to work - doctor, then muscle relaxants and ibuprofen...

Didn't even bike to work - I did walk to the bus station and back, so I did get a little exercise, but even that did not feel too great...

bike to work (8 miles)
test run (1.9 miles)
back to biking to work, and my back is feeling better so I decide to go out and run a test run to see how it feels - ended up 1.9 miles and I felt pretty good!

Shopping, and DATE NIGHT!

long run (5K)
swim (1 mile)
I set out to maybe run 6 miles, but for some reason as I'm running I start going faster and faster - probably because I'm wearing the Garmin (which I hardly ever do). I end up doing a 5K and I'm dead after that lol - mostly because I have no water with me, and it's mid-day. But I'll take a 5K over nothing, and NO BACK PAIN so it's a good run in my book :)
avg under 10 min/mile - my second mile was 8:47! whew no wonder I was poopered!
Went out and swam 1 mile at De Anza Cove - took another minute off my time - 35 and change!

Weekly Totals:
swim: 2 miles
bike: 24 miles
run: 9.2 miles
pushups: 4 lol