Saturday, May 28, 2011

"I Did the Grid" - My new Memorial Day Tradition

This morning, "I Did The Grid".   This was a 4 mile race that was organized a few years ago in honor of a fallen soldier who was killed in combat while in Iraq, Cpl. Chris Scherer.  The race is held in Chris' hometown of East Northport, NY and is directed by his parents.  Through this race they raise funds for a scholorship in their sons honor as well as funds for other fallen and wounded soldiers who bravely fought to defend this country.

The race course is 4 miles of which there are over 20 turns thru a local community "the grid".  The things i really enjoyed the most about the race today:

1) Getting to run with a very good friend of mine, Dawn.  Today was her first time running in a race!
2) Knowing I was running in honor of true heroes!
3) The AWESOME community!  Kids and adults lining the streets of the community either to offer water, a splash, sprays from hoses, or even just words of encouragement.
5) Seeing member of the armed forces running the race in full gear with their M-16's!
6) Coming down the finish chute lined on each side with vets holding our great flag!
7) Nice T-Shirt and cool Pint Glass for running!

Things I didnt like about the race today:

1) The humidity!  It was unbearable almost, the race started at 9:30AM and the sun was out full blast and  this was my first time dealing with humid conditions, I definitely didnt hydrate enough prior.  The gatorade in my handheld barely kept me thru the race, even with a cup of water i grabbed towards the end.

I didnt PR this race, finished at 1:03:11 , but Ill take it as the humidity was pretty bad, and a new experience for me.

Overall, this race was a great experience, and is now going to become a Memorial Day tradition for my friend Dawn and I.  As long as they continue to do this race, we will be there as well!

The Starting Line

True heroes welcoming us at the finish line

Here I Come!

Dawn and I after a grueling but fun 4 miles!

Awesome Pint Glass!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time to start training for the HALF MARATHON!

Yes, you read that right....  As of today, I'm signed up to run a HALF MARATHON.  For those that dont know how long that is, its 13.1 Miles!

On October 16th I will be running in the Hershey Half Marathon @ Hershey, PA

To make things more interesting, the week after the Half, I have a 10K scheduled, and the week after that a 5 Mile race!

October is gonna be a rough month!!! But you know what?? Im gonna do my best and keep myself focused and push through it!!

Im going to be following an 18 week training program to prepare myself for the Half, and try not to kill myself in the process in order to complete the other 2 races afterwards.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walk It Challenge.... Then and Now!

This morning was the Walk It Challenge.  This is a 5K event that Weight Watchers promotes annually to try and get their members motivated to complete a 5K, many for whom is their first time moving this distance.

Last year I participated in this event after being on Weight Watchers for about a year.  At that point I was down about 80 lbs and around 400lbs.  I was able to complete the 5K, but it wasnt easy, and i had never walked that far in a very long time.  When I finished it, i felt a sense of accomplishment, and a glimpse of what the future may hold for me.  Maybe there was more for me out there then being just a couch potato.  Maybe i actually enjoyed being active?????

Since that Walk It Challenge in June 2010, I strived to keep building on the glimpse of the future that I had.      I started walking more and being it was the summer, I swam a lot more, played tennis, whatever it was, I kept myself ACTIVE.

Fast forward a year, today I got to the Walk It Challenge a different person from last years event.  I was 100lbs lighter and no longer did 5K seem a daunting task.  5K is something ive done several times, and have done it running!

But it wasnt just about ME, I was joined by another of my most cherished support groups, my friends from the Weight Watchers meetings.  These are the people who every Saturday are there to cheer me on and help me celebrate, who help me with some great advice, and are there to help me when I didnt have a great week.  I also met people who not only have touched me, but have come to ME and have told me how much I have touched THEIR lives in some way.

Yes today I completed 5K, running/jogging/walking, but it was the people I got to share the 3.1 miles with which meant the most to me, and make me remember that I am not on this journey alone, and as much sweat and tears I personally have put into where I am now, I also realize it wouldnt be possible without them either.

This blog entry is dedicated to my 9AM Saturday crew, rebels or not, I love you all and thank you for being there week after week, I look forward to many more celebrations with you!

Before and After

Sometimes pictures show it best...

Me at 476 lbs:

Me at 299 lbs:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I was inspired today!

Today I volunteered at the Brooklyn Half Marathon as part of my 9+1 fulfillment.  Honestly, even if it didnt count for anything, I wouldve been glad to have done it.

I was posted at the approach to the boardwalk in Coney Island,  right at the very end of the race.

Race started at 7:00 AM and at 8:04 the first runner came ZOOMING by, each step that runner took looked EFFORTLESS!  I was in total amazement that a human being is capable of such speed after running 12+ miles.

Soon after all the elite runners finished up their race is when I truly was inspired...  I saw men and women shooting for their personal record, some in pain, some looking like they could go another 13 miles easy!  I saw teenagers and I saw the elderly.  I saw a blind man being helped along.  I saw people of all shapes and sizes.

I cheered out loud for all of them, and I even got many thanks and high fives in return.  I was letting them all know the finish was near and that they could do it and to finish strong!

As much as these people may feel that they were thankful for ME, i was equally as thankful for THEM.  Watching and seeing everyone completing their journey of 13.1 miles today kept the fire inside of me burning.  Inspiring ME to keep on doing what I'm doing and I know that one day soon it will be ME completing that half marathon, and ultimately one day achieving my dream of the FULL marathon!

Goodbye 300's, Hellooooo 200's!

I had set a goal for myself to reach the 200's by my birthday (June 11th).  Well today I reached that goal with a few weeks to spare!  Stepped on the scale and weighed in today at 299.4!!!!  Wooohooo!!

I honestly dont remember the last time I was in the 200's, most likely it was at some point in High School because I was already over 300lbs when I went to college.

To date I have lost 177 lbs, and I already have my eyes set on the next goal...

By the end of the summer I hope to be down 200 lbs!!!!

Thanx for everyones support including my family, friends, and those of you following my journey.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Small Changes

A fellow Weight Watcher reminded me this morning of something very important, and a helpful reminder for anyone looking to lose weight or improve their health.

When starting out, whether it be to lose 20 or 200 lbs, or to run a 5K or greater, you may seem to think that you will need to adapt some sort of BIG CHANGE in your life in order to attain that goal.

I can say without a doubt, that in order to get where I am now, it didn't involve any BIG changes, but rather a LOT of small changes!

To get to where I'm at now, down 175 lbs, was to take small gradual steps to improve my overall lifestyle.  Gradually learning how to change my eating habits, not by STARVING myself, but learning its OK to enjoy food, but to not let the food control me.  Learning that its not eliminating the foods I like from my diet, but just eating less of it.

To get where I'm at now as far as running, I didn't just get off the couch one day and start running 5K's.  That's whats so great about the C25K program, and I highly suggest it to anyone thinking of running for the first time.  When doing the C25K, you start off gradually, and build up the endurance to run a 5K.  Again, no BIG change, just several SMALL changes to attain your goal.

So just remember, there is nothing wrong with thinking BIG when it comes to setting goals for yourself, but just keep in mind that rather than needing to make any BIG changes, its just gonna take many SMALL changes to attain those goals!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wall Street Run - Part 2

First Mile took us right past Ground Zero which i took a short walk break to salute and say a prayer. We then turned into the financial district, first mile marker was right before Wall Street, clocked in around 14:30.  Second mile was mostly winding thru the streets eventually getting to Water Street, clocked in around 30:00.  Final Mile took us past the Staten Island Ferry, and Battery park, final stretch running up the Hudson River.  

I definitely wasnt looking to PR this course because of a few reasons:

1) I was really enjoying the course
2) Although traffic was closed off, pedestrians werent, and had to weave around people crossing the streets at several spots (including a pregnant lady who almost got trampled!)
3) Potholes!  Yes, the streets of downtown manhattan suck bad, and the potholes can be dangerous, so was careful to avoid them!

Official finish time was 46:19

Im so glad I got to run this race, this was definitely my favorite one so far!  As a native New Yorker, it really was a profound feeling for me to be running thru the streets of downtown Manhattan.  I kept thinking back to when I was almost 500 lbs, and even passed the building I used to work at, and I would remember how much of a laborous task it was to go for a walk 2 blocks during my lunch break!

Can You Eat That????

One of the things that people say to me, and probably to anyone who may be on a "diet" is, "Can You Eat That??"

I really get a kick out of it when people ask me this because I LOVE being able to respond, "well yes, I Can!"

What a lot of people dont realize that being on a "diet" or trying to lose weight is mostly in my experience, not WHAT you eat, its HOW much you eat..

Im not saying that you can go out and eat whatever you want, because that got me to be almost 500lbs.  What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with going out and enjoying something once in a while as a treat.

One thing I would NEVER give up is Pizza. I still go out and have pizza for lunch/dinner.  Not all the time though, and when I do have pizza, im not eating half of a pie!

So basically, what Im trying to say is, if you are trying to lose weight dont be afraid to treat yourself with foods that you wouldnt normally consider eating on a "diet".  Rather treat them as well, a "treat" and have them once in a while in moderation. 

Losing weight to me is all about Moderation NOT Deprivation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wall Street Run - Part 1

So this morning when I woke up,   I seriously didnt think I would be running anywhere tonight but HOME after work...  Maybe that had something to do with the fact that it was thundering and lightning and got drenched on the way to work...

But I guess the weather gods heard my prayers, and someone upstairs said LET THERE BE LIGHT!

Son of a gun, when I got off the path train and made my way to the starting area, I saw a sight i hadnt seen in a few days, the SUN!!!!!!!

Shortly after, my wife and my friend Troy came and met me before the race..  Below is me and Troy

Around 6:30 I made my way to the starting area to wait for the start of the race:

Check back tomorrow for the rest of the race report... Official time hasnt been posted yet and honestly, its been a long yet exciting day, so I'll have tonight and tomorrow to gather my thoughts for a great race report!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Choosing Your Hard!

People ask me all the time, "Was it HARD to lose all that weight?".

My answer is simple, YES, Losing weight IS Hard, but then again, so is NOT losing weight.

Lets see, at almost 500 lbs :

Walking is....  HARD
Climbing Stairs is.... HARD
Fitting in most seats is.... HARD
Dealing with "fat jokes" is.... HARD
Fitting in clothes is.... HARD
Flying in an airplane is.... HARD
Going on rides at amusement parks is.... HARD

Whats involved with losing weight and why is it so HARD?

Measuring/Tracking what you eat
Exercising on a regular basis
Cleansing the kitchen and keeping a supply of HEALTHY foods
Replacing clothes 2 or 3 or 4 times, sometimes more
Financially taxing (Replacing Clothes and Buying Healthy food isnt cheap!)

However, take a minute and compare the two options...

Go ahead and CHOOSE YOUR HARD!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Launching the NEW site!

Today I launched the new and improved site!

It is still a work in progress but after taking a look at the site, I hope that everyone enjoys the changes Ive made so far.

Some changes besides the overall look I would like to point out are:

-Easier Navigation
-Direct Link to the blog
-Advanced Event Calendar 
   -Check the dates on the calendar and click on the individual events to find a link to that event's details
-Contact Me form which can be used to send me any sort of questions/comments/feedback

I will be adding other pages and content in the coming days/weeks/months

Please let me know of ways I can improve the site or things you would like for me to add!

Im also gonna be blogging more, so check back here as well!

Thanx for all of your continued support and encouragement!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Run Across America with Dean Karnazes

Just got home from my run with Dean Karnazes.

Got to the beach at around 6:30 and waited until about 7:30 for Dean to arrive.  He came and gave us a pep talk before the run, sounded off the bullhorn and we were off!

After about 1/4 mile in (glad i didnt have my ipod on) I heard Dean coming up behind me with some people.  He jogged at my pace for a few moments, and we talked!  He remembered me because I had posted on his facebook page which he had responded to.  He told me he was inspired by ME...  DEAN, isnpired by ME!  And when he asked how much weight I lost, and i told him 171 lbs, his mouth dropped and said that was a lot more then he weighed!! He told me never to give up, and to finish strong!  He then proceeded to leave me in the dust!!

I was hoping to see him at the finish, but by that point they already whsiked him off (more to come about that soon)  I DID however have the lady doing the PR stuff call me over to the mic after i finished, and she asked me about my site, and about my story, and the crowd applauded me, I cant even describe how that made me feel.  I had people come up to me and asking me about my story and about how I got started.  Amazing..

I then got to meet Dean's parents, who actually came up to ME, and they were great people, so glad I got to meet them.

So I then find out that he was whisked away because he was going to a local Walgreens for a book signing/1 mile walk.

We got there about 20 minutes before Dean got there, and then he took to the podium to talk about his journey across America.  During his speech, he said "inspiration goes 2 ways"  he mentioned how he learned about so many different stories on his journey that keep him inspired and then singled me out!  He told everyone about how this morning during the run who had lost 170lbs and has a goal to run in the marathon!  

I then got my book and race bib signed by Dean and went on the 1 mile walk with him.

As far as the 5K run, it was an untimed fun run, and I was so caught up in everything, i never bothered recording it on the Nike GPS, but a rough estimate would have me finishing around 44-45 minutes.

Today is a day I will never forget, and will have this story to tell for the rest of my life.  And for all the people who dont like Dean, I say this, Meet the Man, talk to him, Dean is one of the most down to earth and friendly "celebrities" I have met.  

Thanx for reading this! This day meant a LOT to me, and will carry these memories all the way into the NYC Marathon!