Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year, It Must Be Time to go to the Gym

Happy New Year everyone!

I'm going to try to write more this year.  I have a handful of topics on mind to write about as we kick off the new year.

First, what seems to be the common topic in a significant majority of my Facebook feed and a good portion of the news website these days are all devoted to fitness.

One of the reasons I haven't been writing as much is that I've spent a lot of my spare time over the past few years putting more time and effort into exercise.  For the first 19 1/2 years of my career in the Navy, I was in the same cycle of running and fitness.  I've never been a fast runner, and I've always had to work at it to get ready for the semiannual Physical Readiness Test (PRT) or Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA).  Some people are on the 3-miles-per-year running plan.  They show up for the fall PRT and run 1.5 miles, and they show up for the spring PRT and run 1.5 miles, and that's it for them.

I wish.

I've always had to work at it.

I got into this cycle of oh-crud-the-PRT-is-2-months-away run, run, run, run, run, run, PRT, whew!  I would always claim to have the intention of running year-round and breaking the cycle, but inevitably I would finish the PRT run, go get my celebratory carne asada burrito, and say to myself, "Self, you can take a break this week.  Start running again next week."  Four months later, I would come to the realization I was 2 months away from the PRT and start running again.

About two years ago now (wow, time flies!), I decided I needed a longer-term goal to shoot for in order to break the cycle, but I didn't think I could ever run anything like a marathon or even a half marathon.  In the fall of 2013 shortly after I returned to the Pentagon, I heard about and saw Facebook posts of people running the Army Ten Miler.  I thought, hey, 10 miles is farther than I've ever run (I once did a 10K), but that's an achievable goal to shoot for. 

So I decided to register for the 2014 Army Ten Miler.

I'm thankful for the inspiration and example my dad has provided me.  He had taken up running relatively recently and had been running insane numbers of miles and lost an incredible amount of weight.  Just before spring break in 2014, he challenged me to try running 5 miles per day.  I wasn't sure I could do it, but I figured I'd at least give it a try.  If he can do it at his age, why shouldn't I be able to do it at my age?  Much to my surprise, I WAS able to do it. 

Eventually, I settled into a weekly running routine.  When the spring PFA came around last April, it was a breeze.  I was actually a little annoyed that the PFA interrupted my regular running schedule getting ready for the Army Ten Miler.

In October 2014, my dad flew out from Oregon and we ran the Army Ten Miler together.  It gave me a great sense of accomplishment, and I was glad I got to do it with my dad and with four of my friends from church, too.

Since having a long-term goal like that worked out so well for me to keep me running through the year, I signed up for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in April 2015.  That was a BEAUTIFUL run in PERFECT weather.  It was just a little hazardous with all the runners stopping spontaneously along the course to take selfies with their cell phones with the cherry blossoms in the background.

Before I ran the Army Ten Miler, I would never have thought a half-marathon was achievable for me.  However, while training for the Army Ten Miler, one of my training runs ended up being 11.5 miles, and I said to myself, "Self, you could easily run another mile and a half and finish a half marathon."  So I signed up for the Marine Corps Historic Half down in Fredericksburg, Virginia in May 2015.

My dad and I continue to run a lot and encourage each other through the MapMyFitness website.  He said he wants to do some sort of major run together every year, so this year we ran the Navy Air Force Half Marathon together in September 2015.

After taking four members of my church with me on last year's Army Ten Miler run, interest grew and more people wanted to run it with us this year.  I was excited to organize two full teams - one men's team and one women's team for a total of 16 people running the Army Ten Miler.  It was a great time running it with so many friends.

As my team was preparing for the Army Ten Miler, I sent out regular emails with information and encouragement, and I think a few of those emails could easily have been blog posts.  This post is long enough as it is, so I'll save more to write later, but I plan to write some blog posts coming up about injury prevention, running fuel, gear, and my favorite running routes around DC.

In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy New Year!

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