Friday, February 26, 2010

True Life: I'm a closet-competitive-eater

I think I just found my calling: competitive eating. You see the July 4th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest in New York, NY where Kobayashi's reign is no more thanks to American Joey Chestnut. You see Tim 'Eater X' Janus wearing painted masks on ESPN, tearing up any and every competitive eating contest across the nation (this guy will literally any anything). There's even a lady in the mix who makes closet-competitive-eaters want to register for an event just to meet her.  

With the number of calories I burn every day working out and running (500-1500 calories per run, depending on distance) I tend to eat a lot. Like all day. I used to pace myself with 3 meals and about 3 snacks a day. But this no longer works! Now after breakfast an hour later I'm hungry...if I eat when I get hungry, that increases my number of snacks a day...which costs money I don't necessarily have! My new eating plan is a protein shake at 7:00a, breakfast 8:00a, snack 9:30a, lunch 11:30a, snack 1:30p, snack 3:30p, protein shake 5:00p, dinner 8:00p, and then snack, snack, snack... This collision with food is quickly increasing my grocery shopping budget, but oh well. I'll have to make sacrifices somewhere else. Like taxes. Yeah, I'll just stop paying taxes!

I know what you're thinking. Way too much eating...why is he not fat? Well, I'm partly blessed with a decently high metabolism. But as I get older I see the pounds don't shed away as easy as they used to so I have to work out more intensely and with increased frequency. If I don't eat much throughout the day, I feel like I can't do anything--like a car without gasoline. After reading The Abs Diet (a must-read. Ladies--don't let the writer's position as Men's Health editor-in-chief scare you away--the book's info is not gender-specific. But if you are scared, this one seems to be geared more towards you.) I realized it's okay to eat a lot throughout the whole day, as long as you're portioning correctly and fueling the fire. If you keep it stoked, you're constantly burning calories and DON'T gain weight. Finding that appropriate balance of calories is a tricky task in the first few weeks, but eventually you start to see what works and what doesn't...and as a result, you'll love the way you look and feel. Your clothes look better on you and you walk taller. Plus you're making an investment in your future--your health in 20, 30, 40, 50 years--now. Yes, this is a non-monetary investment that will pay non-monetary-yielding dividends. Actually scratch that, this will save you money in the future (by reducing the number of health-related visits to the doctor) which is just like making money! 

What these successful IFOCE guys do is workout, with the exception of Joey Chestnut. I don't mean they go do 30 minutes on the elliptical...I mean these guys WORK OUT. I saw a documentary on MTV years ago about Tim Janus and Kobayashi's lives. They know that having a healthy, lean, muscle-toned body only aides them in their eating conquests. So you could say, I'm preparing myself for my future in competitive eating! I've got the work-out regime down...I already eat like food is quickly becoming scarce...let's put it together and see what happens! My friends have always been amazed at how I finish my lunch/dinner before they're even half way into their meal. It's never been a trait I liked, but I think I see can see how to use this to my advantage and be proud of it...finally!

First up, the Passaic County Fair in July...just ~20 miles down the road from New York City! They've got a few different non-IFOCE events so it'll be a great way to step into the game. The biggest draw? Jello pudding eating contest! If you know me, I mean really know me (because I don't divulge this to just anyone), then you know I have an addicition to dark chocolate jello pudding

I could make an entire day's calorie count eating nothing but this wonderfully tasty treat and be just fine. More than just fine, I'd be in heaven. They also have a watermelon (which I love) contest that looks like it's mostly made up of kid competitors! I can totally beat a kid win over a kid in an eating contest...

In other news, I was ecstatic last night checking my old email address when I found this:

Then the next day they sent a follow up email that corrected it:

How do you tease a tech-geek like that Best Buy? How?! I was on the verge of running to my nearest store and buying something stupid with my $530 in reward certificates :/

Thursday, February 25, 2010

45 degree weather + fresh air = great running & tasty snot-rockets

So my 7-miler turned out to only be 6.6ish tonight. I must've made a wrong turn somewhere, but I wasn't worried.  I mainly wanted to see what my current 10k time was (48:20) in preparation for this weekend's race.  I finished with a decent time and pace:

[image above from] For those of you on Nike Running, feel free to add me as a friend so we can encourage (or make fun of?) each other. Because encouragement rocks.

So...I'm starting to see the benefits of living outside the city. No, don't get me wrong. I'm not a born-again suburbanite. I'm just saying I see more pro's now. Take tonight for instance. I'm running down the street (the running trails aren't lit and are therefore too dark, so I brave the shoulder of the road with a flashlight and my stupidity) in amazing weather and I'm rocking a decent pace. I don't feel any stiffness or joint pain (is it the shoes? I'll get to that in a moment)...I'm zoning-out with ease, escaping to my musical land of thoughtlessness, full of awe! The weather would be the same downtown, but downtown you have to breathe in a little bit of car exhaust and smelly Braes Bayou. In the boonies, you've got fresh, clean air to breathe. You can look up and see the stars! Google Sky Map is actually worth having on your phone out here:

You couldn't see any stars in downtown...the city lights were just too bright. The traffic isn't too bad out here. I did travel one of the more heavily-traversed roads in the area, but the shoulder was a good 6 feet wide so I felt okay. Whereas in the city, you had to run on the uneven sidewalks and risk twisted ankles or your life coming to an abrupt halt. People were inconsiderate of runners (and bikers too) when you tried to cross intersections or drive-ways downtown. But in the boonies? People are thoughtful! They stop and wave you on with a smile on their face. Maybe they felt sorry for me because I looked like a miserable bum in 45 degree weather. Maybe they're just friendlier up here where everyone takes things a little slower and enjoys life a little more.

Maybe they thought: "wow, his so-fresh-and-so-clean-clean Asics GEL-Cumulus shoes are the bee's knees. he's gotta be a cool fella...i think I'll let him proceed first at this intersection of life we've both converged upon at the same point in time."

If the third assumption was the case, and I whole-heartedly feel was the case, I'd like to let you guys know about a great product (or two) that I love to use. Even though I'm not the recommended user according to Runner's World, after almost 12 miles of running in them...I like them! They provide more cushion than I'm used to, which may be a bad thing potentially...due to the studies showing that having too much cushion can be the cause of ankle and foot injuries in runners. But I can't deny how nice it is to run on a pillowy sole! And I was worried about the stability, but this has been a non-issue so far. These are my first non-Nike running shoes I've sported in a while, so I stopped by my local Luke's Locker at the beginning of my run tonight to buy a sensor pocket for my Nike+ sensor.

It helps that this location always has cute girls working...

I'm not a pro-Nike fan or an anti-any-brand person. I just go with the shoe that feels the best to me once it's time to retire my old running shoes. I've had New Balance's, Asics', Nike's, and Reebok. Yikes. Okay I can say I'm an anti-Reebok person. The first pair of Reebok running shoes I had were in junior high and they were terrible. Plus they were fugly. But I do like my Nike+ Sportband for tracking mileage and pace! I know it's not exact because it doesn't have GPS, but it's close enough for me. I think if you're okay with having a rough estimate then you're good. Plus it's only $60...a great price for those of you just starting out running (or broke like me). Having something keep track of your mileage online is a great motivator. You see the mileage add up and it makes you want to just go-go-go! I can't see myself saving up $300+ for a sweet Garmin watch just yet. Though one day you will be mine, Garmin day!

I also sometimes rock a SPIbelt to carry my car keys, Hammer gel for longer runs, debit card, ID, cell phone, or whatever needed. You can get toggles for it as well to attach your race bib so that you don't ruin those sweet running shirts with safety pins! There are other brands of belts as well (that yes...all look like mini-fanny-packs...get over it and see the benefits already!) like iFitness. I went with SPIbelt though because a) they're from the ATX (what. what) and I've gotta give Texas companies my business and b) it's smaller than the iFitness belt so I'm able to hide it under my running shirt with ease (and not look like a complete dork). I think the iFitness belt is maybe meant for iPhone peeps, but that's just an assumption because of the i-name. If you want a kick-A review on the iFitness belt though, check out Danica's post. Actually, while you're at it...check out all of her posts. She's a bronze-level marathon-maniac, which makes her awesome and clinically nuts.

Last, but not least, is my running beanie! If it's 50 or colder...I'm definitely wearing this thing when I run, made by Mountain Hardwear, even though it was designed to be worn under helmets. It's definitely designed with cold weather in I'm thinking under ski/snowboarding helmets. But the thinness that's great for being under helmets also has it's benefits for a speedy runner--similar to a swimmer's cap...aerodynamics! Plus it keeps my ears warm, and that's all that truly matters. Gotta keep those extremities warm, right?!

That's it for tonight...hope my suggestions were helpful to some. Peace be with you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!

Even at an early age I was a runner. I wasn't fast, but I always had the endurance of a kid 5 years my senior. If we ran short distances, I would get smoked. But longer distances? Muah-ha-ha (my evil laugh!) Those were my specialty. Don't get me wrong...I had every aspiration of going fast, fast, fast!  If you know me well, you know I like to go-go-go...I enjoy being fast-paced! It means I get through quicker and move on to something else.  Speaking of guys who just want to go fast:

I am SO paralyzed! haha Great clip...had to throw that in the post today!  Back to my story... In elementary school P.E. class, we had to run one lap around the school grounds before we could play on the playground. Now kids, this was back in the day before the cool playground equipment existed with nice pea gravel to run around in and draw-bridges and zip-lines. All we had were monkey bars, balance beams, and a jungle gym! Ya know, playground equipment that actually made kids be active? 

You might ask, "What did you do when you got bored with what little equipment you had?" Well...we played in the dirt (sand-covered, east Texas clay to be exact). We played 25 on 25 soccer games that usually involved the 3rd graders beating us 2nd graders up...a tradition we proudly continued the next year! What?! Don't tilt your head in disgust at me. It was a right of passage! We played pick-up basketball games on asphalt that usually involved bloody elbows and torn jeans. We were active, plain and simple.

After using Nike Running's Map-It (you have to create an account so you can log in and access the Map-It feature), I see that one lap was a half mile. You can either walk or run this mandatory half mile--your choice. But if you walked, it meant less time you got to play on the awesome playground equipment. If you ran the lap, you had first dibs on balls and jump rope. But the most awesome benefit to running it? A chance at finishing FIRST. If you finished first, you had bragging rights on all those losers! Also if you think about it, how many times in life do you get a legit shot at finishing first? I think this is where I found my competitive spirit that I still retain to this day. I go all out or I go home...none of this half-assedness!  

I also can't say I didn't eat up the admiration I got from the other kids who thought I was fast. My little secret was that I wasn't! I just didn't give up. I would sprint the whole thing and get a high-five from my P.E. teacher at the end...not being able to breath! I took this mentality with me into my fun runs. (Well.....I don't know if it was as much a mentality that I concentrated on or if it was more so that I didn't have any proper training!)  

In the one-mile fun runs I would do in conjunction with some longer distance events my dad would run, I would just sprint. The whole mile. I was a consistent 7:30-miler kid because I wouldn't jog. Even though I was a young kid, I wouldn't dilly-dally (or piddle-fart?) around. I would try to leave the other kids in my dustttt! But because I never trained or practiced running for these events, I would cross the finish line and throw up in the storm drain. Some kids scoff when they first hear their junior high coaches yell "you're gonna run until you puke!" as if it doesn't really happen.  Trust me, if you go hard enough and long enough (that's what she said)'ll regurgitate everything that hasn't fully digested. And it'll feel great! You just destroyed every other kid on the course and at what cost? Last night's sloppy joe's dinner and the inability to replenish your oxygen-starved lungs? Pfffft! Peanuts. It all pales in comparison to the satisfaction and high you get from finishing a race.

This is one thing I love about running--the immediate satisfaction of accomplishing something you set out to do. If you're a part of the instant-gratification generation like me, this is something we all love!

The big ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run is this weekend! I've not really trained as much as I feel I should have, but it's only a 10k.  I think I've maybe put in 13 miles of running in the last 6 days with my gym workouts? Ha....nothing to write home about!  But the weather forecast looks decent for the next two days so I'm hoping to shoot for a 7 miler tomorrow and a 5 spot on Thursday. I want a sub-48! My last three runs I've averaged anywhere from 7:52/mile to 8:04/mile, so I'm not sure how realistic my goal is. And it's not too late to sign up for the race--they have late registration starting tomorrow for only $27. Remember, the money raised goes to Texas students as HLS&R scholarships so come out for a great day of sunny, 50ish degree weather!

Let's get it started!

My name is David and I'm a mid-twenties runner.  I've completed two halfsies, with hopes of some day manning-up and doing a full marathon.  I've done more 5k, 5mile, and 10k's than I can keep track of.  (Oops! Already ending a sentence with a preposition in the first blog post? Yikes... I can picture my junior high English teacher slapping me on the wrist with a ruler!)  I enjoy working out at the gym to improve my gun-show.  I also have hopes for one day being able to save money on washing machines via my dormant washboard stomach.  I love to travel and I love music.  This blog will encompass my thoughts on it all!

My running background goes a little something like this: I was a typical teenager in high school athletics...I only ever ran for basketball conditioning or because I was being punished for some guy not making all 5 free throws in practice.  Running was immediately molded into an activity 'for the birds' and not something I wanted to do for recreation/health.

It wasn't until mid-way through college (TAMU-CC alum represent!) where I would take a break from my gym workouts by taking short jogs around the island that was our campus.  Running free, at my own speed, on my own time, to great music, with no one yelling at me to hurry up?  Heaven. The stresses of college tests and thick-accented Egyptian professors melted away as I slipped into la-la-land.  This quickly became my favorite part of the zone-out period.  It was like a drug!  Only cheaper, and legal.

The runner's high you get can only be described as transforming.  The realization you just did what so many can't, what so many won't....amazing.  You have to cherish never know when tragedy strikes and you can't do it anymore.  Or worse yet, your life ends.  If you could look back down on your earthly body as you pass, would you be disappointed in the way you lived this life?  That you didn't do nearly as much as you could have?  Don't wait.

This leads into a huge theme for my life: no regrets.  I don't want to look back on life wishing I'd done something when I'd had a (better) chance at it.  Why wait until you're 60 to realize you're unhealthy and decide you should start working out or eating healthy?  Why wait until you're retired to travel the world?  Why wait until you have kids to go to Chuck E. Cheese's?  Why wait until next time to ask that cute girl out?  If it's the right thing, start doing the right thing now.  If it looks like fun, start having fun now!

A good friend of mine would always say "I'll let future (insert name here) worry about that!" in a joking manner.  Even though it was masked in lightheartedness, the truth was still there.  Now I'm not saying go crazy like this and rack up debt in the process (lesson learned!) or drop all responsibilities as an adult, but yes...go have some fun!  Because after all, what's life for?  I don't think it's a coincidence a higher power gave us so many options.  We're meant to make the most of this life!

Now for my disclaimer as I try to wrap this inaugural post up, as two writers once put it, "all that I'm after is a life full of laughter."  Yes, sometimes corniness will prevail on this blog.  I love sharing what makes me laugh and what entertains me.  I fully realize I have a fairly odd sense of humor that's hit or miss with most people, but I always have high hopes that it can make someone else laugh too!  This is my first crack at expressing myself digitally via the blogosphere, so this thing may get interesting...or it may crash and burn. These posts are my rants and raves, my advice and reviews, and my collection of he said/she said's.  I promise to make it awesome.