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The Challange

The first installment of my eight week journey. I figured to share ... maybe you'll share the pain or be inspired, hopefully not be bored.

The Challenge

My daughter handed me a slip of paper, a wry smile crossed her face as she placed it in my hand. Unfolding it revealed my mission for the next 8 weeks, I had no choice but to accept. In the corner, it was stamped with a Spartan helmet, the note thanked me for my entry into the Spartan Super which is an eight to ten mile race through the woods, fields and mud pits ,with 22 to 29 obstacles to navigate.

This was my Father’s Day gift. One part of me was excited the other hinted of suspicion. Cathy and Russ ,my two kids had just recently finished running the Spartan Sprint, which was 4 or so miles with the 22 obstacles, they ran as a team. I was proud that my kids, Russ at 35 and Cathy at 33 could enjoy something like this together. I had said "Wouldn’t it be cool to do something like this as a family," the suspicion came at my entry in the ten mile race rather than the sprint.

There, would be very little time for me to get ready, I am 20 pounds overweight, and it has been years since I have trained seriously for anything, at 57 I had my work cut out for me.
I had pushed my kids when they were growing up, both Russ and Cathy were good athletes both were very accomplished, it was my turn now to get pushed and they pushed back hard.

Cathy grinned when I mentioned my concern about my weight, “Dad it is just a couple of pounds a week, with eating right and working out, it’ll be a piece of cake.” I realized right then and there that there was not going to be any cake for me nor any cookies for another 8 weeks. I did not realize it at the time, but turned out to be one of the more difficult things in my new training regimen.

I started out with enthusiasm and confidence as I prepared for my first run down Catherine Trail. Figuring to keep it simple I would do 4 miles to start out. I normally jogged a couple of miles casually a few times a month, I would just take my time and get some easy miles in.

Stretching at the entrance to the trail a beautiful young blond came running down the path. I was just getting ready to leave so asked if she minded if I ran with her. I told her as we ran down the path about what my kids had done, and that I was old and worn out, but wanted to get back in shape, she smiled and we chatted. She asked what year my kids graduated, I realized after a few moments that she thought I was much younger than I was. I told her it had been many years since my kids went to school and that my son was more than likely twice her age, I was not far off the mark. April was 18. She set a fast pace, with an easy stride as we ran down the path. She chatted easily, after half mile or so I struggled to breathe. My pride and my ego where soon to be badly bruised as we neared the end of mile one. Twenty three years earlier, this used to be a gentle run… today it was killing me. As I panted and gasped for breath, I told April I was going to have to walk and catch my breath. I apologized profusely for holding her up, and told her to just run ahead. She patiently walked with me and said it was fine. We repeated this process a few times during our 3 miles together. She had run track and during each walking spell she would offer me advice about breathing and how to place my feet, passing on the wisdom of her coach. I apologized each time for having to walk using my age as an excuse. April looked at me after hearing me apologize one time too many times said, “My mom doesn’t run and your way older than she is.” I thank her for both making me feel old and better at the same time. While I still had my enthusiasm, my confidence had been rocked, it was the going to be the beginning of a long journey.


The first week:
After a demoralizing run the previous day I decided I would have to run my own pace and just finish my four miles without stopping. The original goal before being enamored with my new blond friend was the idea that I would do pushups long the way. Every third of a mile there is a bench for those on the waking trail to stop and rest and enjoy nature. I had planned on doing just 15 pushups at the start of the run and then 15 every time I came to a bench or the turn around a little over a mile away. Too out of shape for normal pushups, I did a sissy version of a real push up by leaning against the bench, this left me at a semi incline making them a little easier. I ran, I huffed and puffed but managed to get my 4 miles done at a slow pace while doing 270 pushups along the way. My time 51 minutes. Not fast, but at least I finished without walking. There was a sense of satisfaction and I now had the goal of lowering my time.

I ran only two miles the following day, 31 minutes doing 90 pushups. I was dead at the end, I could see the entrance and had the biggest desire to just walk and just get it over with, I shuffled on past the entrance. Again, I would have something to use as a benchmark.

I took the next day off, I have been working in the woods logging a small job about 25 miles from where I live, it is a side hill job and I am working by myself. The combination of logging all day and combined with the three previous days workouts left me feeling whipped. My son had offered me some advice before starting my work outs. “Listen to your body Dad, you don’t have time to get injured training and recover and still make the race date.” I listened and took the night off.

Feeling fresh for my next workout my wife accompanied me on the trail, she would walk I would run and do my pushups. I felt good, I felt strong with a day off to rest up. I finished my 240 pushups and 4 miles in 27 minutes and 44 seconds. As I walked back the last mile or so with my wife as a cool down I told her I thought there might be hope for me yet.

My diet has at this point taken a drastic change. No more Sweets no more junk food, sensible breakfast, fruit and yogurt for lunch, salad for supper. I am hungry all of the time. :{ I now weigh myself every day, though I see some progress I realize I have a long way to go. I started out at 208 pounds. Years ago I was a competitive kickboxer and trained at 175 and fought at 165. I am just 6 feet tall and if I was any heavier back then it seemed as though all my opponents had much longer legs and arms than I did. My weight was more out of survival than it being the perfect weight for me.

During my next workout I decided to run in the woods behind my house. I live in a very rural place with a creek and woods that go for miles. I knew of some trails and old logging roads and made up a loop through a combination of these different surfaces. I ran and looked, but really didn’t have clear route, one part was so covered with thorns that my legs were covered with blood by the time I left the clearing. I had tried to find a way around this clearing, but the gorge walls were too steep for me to enter into the creek, some more engineering would be required to figure this out.

I have one of those GPS watches it said I went 3.3 miles I got back to the house and felt good, the change up in surfaces plus the change in elevations really seemed my easier on my body, my knees thanked me.

Friday I went and did my two mile run on the walking trail with 90 pushups, it felt good I managed to knock my time down to 27 minutes 14 seconds while not a big improvement I felt better and stronger at the end.

Saturday was a weight training day, I have a home gym and spent some lifting and hitting the heavy bag doing the best I could to keep up my heart rate. This would be my first day of running and no pushups, I did three miles and walked the last one with long strides to try and stretch out my muscles which now seemed to ache.

Sunday, the start of a new routine instead of pushups I will now be doing what they call burpees which consist of jumping down, doing a push up springing to your feet and then jumping up in the air. The goal is ten at the beginning and ten at every bench plus ten at the turn around a total of 60. At the start of my run it wasn’t too bad by the end of my first mile I was whipped when I got to five I struggled to finish my set of ten. My time for 2 plus miles and 60 burpees was 37 minutes. Again, I now had a benchmark.

At the end of my first week, I have lost 6 pounds. I miss the food, I miss the cookies!
You can do it Bob!
I have faith you can do it!!!

See! At your age, you can do burpees? I can only BURP.

I am excited for you!
Nothing better than a challenge which extends your boundaries! You can do it! Proud of you! <3
that opener wouldn't be out of place in one of the forums. Wouldn't make a bad entry in side-trips, and i think the word is regimen.:wink:

Nice one, enjoying your adventure.

that's one helluva workout. Seriously.
The Grindand why goals are important.

I am now in week four of training 11 pounds lighter and in better shape. The last two weeks have been a combination of highs and lows which is to be expected.

While it is often said that goals are important this past month has been a true test of both spirit and desire compounded by injury and fatigue. I have found that it would be easy every single night to have an excuse not to work out, each day there is an excuse to eat something I should not. The goal, in this case being able to run 10 miles through the woods and do 30 or so obstacles and not let my daughter down is enough to make me turn down the sweets and make me gorun and work out even when I don’t want to. Cathy who would normally run in the elite class will be running in the open class with me as a partner. My son Russis running the same event but still in the elite class so he will finish earlier than we will. My goal is to be able to keep up a respectable pace and be able to give everything I have and be happy with my endurance levels.

The good stuff this past few weeks has been working out with both of my kids. Runs in the woods, lifting weights and being able to share with each of them the days workouts over the phone has been agreat way for us to bond and really connect with each other. The boring stuff that no one else cares about, how many miles we went or what work out we did and even worse how were eating and were are weight wise in kind of cool to share.

The bad, pulling a calf muscle losing a few days of work outs only go back running too soon to re-injure again. I am now mountain biking 14 miles a day then fast walking 2 miles one day 4 the next witha combination of burpees and pushups. I am hoping to start running on either the flat or down hill sections of my woods course by Tuesday.

The grind of losing weight and getting in shape contains nothing glamorous, nothing exciting, but amounts to being willing to commit to a goal, no different than anything inlife worth achieving.

Cathy and Russ at their last event, the next one should be a picture of all three of us.


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