Ok, so I haven’t posted on here in a while.  I’m still alive.  I’m still running.  I’m still working out.  I have gained some weight back, though.  My race weight for my half marathon in Chicago in September was 192.  Thursday, March 17, 2011, I weighed in at 213 in the morning.  After talking with Paleo blogger, John Durant, I decided to give it a whirl for 30 days.  Let me explain what the Paleo lifestyle consists of:

Eat like you lived before the Agricultural Era.  So, no processed food, no grains, no rice.  Focus on vegetables and meat.  Preferably lean meat that is free-range (although I don’t have the money to go free-range).  I will fully admit that, like most Americans I would bet, I am a heavy consumer of processed food.  Food that is wrapped with a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Oh, and the carbs.  How I love carbing out.  Well, I love it while I do it, but after the sugar level spike bottoms out, I live in regret.

Let me be clear, Paleo is not inherently low carb.  You can have carbs, just ones found in nature.  Fruits in moderation contain carbs, as do vegetables like sweet potatoes.  You are just not getting a daily infusion of carbs via grains (like bread, pasta, etc.).

That being said, the main reason I’m doing this is to give my body a reset.  I’m a carb-oholic.  I know that.  I realize, though, that I do need carbs, just not in the amount that I frequently ingest in a day.  Something else I realized is that I am totally addicted to caffeine.  Soda is not Paleo (even diet soda).  Coffee is an iffy subject, but it is agreed that if drank, it should be black.

Now, yesterday was my first day of Paleo.  While I did well as far as the diet went, I did not eat diverse enough.  Too much meat.  Need to focus on veggies.  As far the caffeine, I thought I could do it cold turkey.  Typically, I drank 3-5 cups of coffee every morning with multiple Equal packets, then multiple Diet Cokes throughout the day and night.  Cold turkey was a bad idea.  I woke at 4am, hit the gym with my dad.  Came home and had 3 slices of bacon, 3 scrambled eggs with orange bell peppers in them.  I drank only water.  After my morning fuel up, I was off to work.  By 10 am, my head was splitting.  By 11 am, my head became a submarine with tiny occupants readying the eye torpedos to fire.  By noon, I felt dizzy and nauseous.  By 1 pm, I quickly ran into a bathroom at a grocery store to empty my Paleo diet.  I vomited so hard that blood vessels around my eyes blew, puffing my face up like a poisoned bee sting.  I threw up 3 more times before I made it home.  I slept.  I wasn’t tired, per se, but it was the only thing that stopped the pain.  My wife ran to McDonald’s to get me a Diet Coke.  I drank a few swigs, went back to sleep.  Woke up, felt fine. Crazy.

So, perhaps dropping caffeine cold turkey was a bad idea.  I’m now weening off of caffeine while trying to stick to the Paleo as well as possible.  Day 2 (today) went much better.  Had 4 slices of bacon for breakfast, a few bananas throughout the day with some cold leftover turkey burgers around lunch time.  Afternoon brought me some almonds.  I came home, ran ~4 miles, then made a nice chicken stirfry with red and orange peppers, onions, squash, and chicken.  Had one cup of coffee this morning and a diet Pepsi in the afternoon.  Felt much better today, no headaches, no nausea.  And, I was down to 210 this morning.  Of course, that might be from all the vomiting yesterday.  Maybe.  Possibly.

I’m going to attempt to check in every day or every other day with progress reports on it.  Stay tuned!


Honey Milk Review

In an effort to find a suitable recovery drink for post-run nutrition, I’ve tried many things. I’ve used chocolate milk, Gatorade Recovery 03, and protein powder shakes.  All have pros and cons to them.  While I love chocolate milk, finding some that do not have high fructose corn syrup is difficult.  Albeit, chocolate milk is cheap, easy to find, and tastes great.  Gatorade Recovery 03 is expensive and tastes bad.  I’ve tried it 2 or 3 times to the tune of $3-4 a piece.  I just don’t have that kind of money to spend on something that tastes so bad.  Protein powder shakes are economical when purchased in bulk, but lack the convenience of something pre-made and easy to stash in your car or duffel bag.  Also, if you don’t mix them correctly, they can be quite chalky.  What I do love about protein powder is the fact that I can get some with a mix of whey and casein proteins.  For those who don’t know, whey protein is quickly absorbed into the body.  Within an hour of digestion, whey protein has been used in protein synthesis or oxidation.  Good for a quick recovery for your taxed muscles.  Casein protein, on the other hand, has much slower absorption and helps regulate amino acids in the blood stream.  Both have their benefits.

Enter Honey Milk.  I talked to a representative of Honey Milk on Twitter about wanting to try it out.  Unfortunately they don’t have a local retailer in the St. Louis area.  Honey Milk offered to send me a sample case to try them out for review.  The case came with a mixture of flavors in both their normal version as well as their “Light” offerings.  I saved them for post-run nutrition.

Here’s the nutritional facts for Honey Milk:

Regular Honey or Vanilla flavored 11.5oz Honey Milk

Vanilla Honey Milk:

240 calories, (30 from fat)

Total Fat: 3.5g (2g Saturated Fat, 0 Trans Fat)

Cholesterol 15mg, Sodium 120mg, Potassium 340mg

Total Carbohydrates 26g (Sugars 26g)

Protein 26g (contains both Casein and Whey)

Vitamin A 15%, Vitamin D 40%, Calcium 80%

Ingredients: Filtered lowfat milk, cane sugar, honey, vanilla, lactase enzyme, sodium polyphosphate, carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate & Vitamin D3

The honey flavor has slightly less potassium.

As for the Light flavors (Coffee and Chocolate) same size (11.5oz)

Chocolate Light Honey Milk:

150 calories (30 from fat)

Total Fat: 3.5g (2g Saturated Fat, 0 Trans Fat)

Cholesterol 15mg, Sodium 140mg, Potassium 750mg

Total Carbohydrates 14g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 11g)

Protein 20g (contains both Casein and Whey)

Vitamin A 15% • Vitamin D 40% • Calcium 60%

Ingredients: Filtered lowfat milk, cocoa processed with alkali, cane sugar, honey, vanilla, lactase enzyme, sodium polyphosphate, carrageenan, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, Vitamin A Palmitate & Vitamin D3

The chocolate also has the added benefit of antioxidants from dark chocolate.  Thecoffee has caffeine (as well as antioxidants) but has lower potassium and no dietary fiber.

I, personally, love all of the flavors.  Chocolate is a bit rich for me, but I’m not a huge cocoa fan anyways.  The vanilla and honey taste like a thin milk shake.  None of them have the chalky taste that you have to stomach with protein powder shakes.  Honey Milk also is free of the nasty high fructose corn syrup, which is always a good thing!  Check your local stores and ask if they carry Honey Milk.  If they don’t, no fear.  You can easily order from their website http://www.honeymilk.com/store.  A case of 12 of any of the flavors is $34.99.  For the math-impared, that is less than $3 per shake.  While it might not be necessary for your mid-week miles, after a long run, your body will appreciate the clean energy and protein boost.  While it is hard to measure the post-run “feeling” of recovery when trying out a new product, I do believe that Honey Milk helped my muscle fatigue following my last half marathon.  Now, if they only had an elixir for plantar fasciitis….



Yesterday I finished the St. Louis Frostbite Half Marathon on my 30th birthday.  It was an adventure, to say the least; an adventure I shared with my brother-in-law, Ray.

Honestly, it was not the best training cycle.  Training for a long distance road race over the winter in the Midwest is just stupid.  Yeah, I said it.  Stupid.  Being a busy guy with work, school, and family to preoccupy the majority of my time, the mornings before I go to work is the optimal times for me to get my run in.  Unfortunately, that is also the coldest part of the day.  Some days when I got up, it was in the single digits with the windchill in the negatives.  The treadmill was used whenever I could, but I had to get used to the cold weather for the race.  I would do a few runs after work, before dinner when I could.  By the time Christmas came around, I had a decent base.

New Years Eve brought about the drive for me to take my running a little more serious.  I wanted to be as regimented as possible leading up to my race so I could perform well.  My run on the 3rd of January ended with me clutching my right calf.  A strain, same as last training cycle.  I knew what this meant.  7-10 days off of running, if not more.  All of my base-building long runs in the weeks prior to the race would not happen.  The 13.1 mile race was going to hurt.  That was something I was looking to avoid.

A week prior to the race, my actual calf was feeling better, but I had a dull ache in my lower leg.  It wasn’t always there, and never extreme, but it just lurked.  I was wondering if I had a stress fracture.  I did a really easy 5 mile run with a DailyMile friend, Jason Smith.  He was nice enough to run at my pace versus his pace.  By the time I finished, I was very nervous about the race.  At this point, 6 days from the race, there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.  There’s no catch-up, no make-up, no extra credit.  It is a pure reflection of the hours you put in.  Decided to rest for the week.

The weather on the day of the race (and the day of my 30th birthday) could have been a lot worse.  We had worse around here the few days prior.  Driving to the race with Raymond, it was 22 degrees Fahrenheit at 7:30am.  The race began at 9, so we might see a few more degrees before then.  We parked, registered, then chilled out before the race.  We met up with Michael Yoon and his friend Jenny, both local, accomplished runners.  We had to run back out to the car before the race began for me to get my belt and drop off my money and ID.  Decided to call an audible on my choice of running clothing.

Originally, I had on my Saucony Kinvara Vizi-Pro’s, short running socks, Zensah calf sleeves, Starter tights, Adidas shorts, C9 baselayer, long sleeved-tech shirt, Old Navy running jacket, Saucony Neckwarmer, and Saucony DryLete hat.  I decided I didn’t need the tights.  So, back in the car, I shed the tights.  I can tell you that taking tights off inconspicuously in the passenger seat of a Mazda 6 is not easy.  I kept the Zensah calf sleeves on as a means of keeping my legs warm as well as compression for my calf.  We met up with my wife and kids, Ray’s wife, and our mother-in-law, all of which were braving the cold to cheer us on.  Ray and I said our goodbyes and walked down to the starting line, which was about 1/4 mile from the parking lot.

Waiting for the race to begin, we run into Michael and Jenny again.  We take a group picture, and Jenny convinces us to move to the front.  The race was small (800-1000 runners) and gun-timed.  Basically, we all had race bibs with chips in them.  The time started for everyone when the gun went off, regardless of when you crossed the finish line.  The time stopped when you ran through the finish chute.  So, Ray and I move closer to the front.  The gun goes off, and we have 90% of the racers run past us.  Awesome way to start.

Like most people, we started out to hot.  Both Ray and I decided to run between 11-12 min/mile pace for the race.  The first half mile we ran close to a 9 min/mile pace.  Kind of got caught up in all of the hoopla.  We pass by our families 1/2 mile in and go around the first loop.  We pass by the families again at mile 2 and head towards the large part of the loop.  The big part of the loop was 4 miles of rolling hills.  I didn’t really know there would be so many hills.  There were 4 hills in the 4 miler part.  Up and down – flat – up and down – flat.  We pulled back in by the families around the 6 mile mark, feeling ok.  Well, I was a little haggard.  We did the small loop and came back by the family spectator area.  They weren’t there.  Bummer.  Last time around the big loop, then we were done.  Let’s do it!

The hills seemed to have grown since the last time we came through.  Running an average pace around 11:30 min/miles, Ray had the idea that we would start gunning it around mile 11.  By mile 11, my legs were shot.  I told him he could go for it if he wanted, but my foot was aching.  We had picked up a couple of other runners near the back of the pack suffering with us.  Four of us in total counted down the remaining mileage and hills.  One hill down, one hill (and 1.5 miles) left.  I had to take two walk breaks in the last 1.5 miles.  The last walk break with 3/4 mile left in the race helped tremendously.  I was ready to be done, I started to run.  The final 1/4 of a mile, I managed to hit a 9 min/mile pace.  I ran through the chute with my family cheering me on.  I slumped over a trash can to give my legs a relief from gravity and pressure.  Turning around, my eyes caught Ray sauntering through the chute less than a minute behind me.  Both of us finished in 2:29 minutes.  It was Ray’s first, and a PR of 8 minutes for me.  After some stretching, we both chugged a Honey Milk on the way to McGurk’s Irish Pub.  Had some lunch, I had a couple beers, then home to nap – for 2 and a half hours.  Basically, I passed out for the same amount of time I ran.  Don’t know what I’ll do if I ever move up to an ultra….

All in all, a successful run and a great birthday.  My foot is still aching with some PF type pain, but I’m hoping for that to subside within a few days.  Oh, and as for a birthday cake, my wife made me a good one.  What do you think?

Saucony Kinvara Cake

Back at it

Hey everyone, long time no post.  So for those of you that don’t keep up with my podcast, Geeks in Running Shoes, I am still running.  In fact, I’m less than 48 hours away from my second half marathon.  My cohost/brother-in-law, Raymond and I will be running the St. Louis Frostbite Half Marathon.  True to the name, it will be wicked cold on Saturday, not to mention the 8-12″ of snow on the ground in St. Louis right now.  Why do a half marathon in the winter in the midwest?  Good fricking question!  Saturday is not only the race, but also my 30th birthday!  Woohoo!  So my plan is to run the race at 9am, be at McGurk’s Irish Pub at noon, nap by 2pm, and start partying around 6pm.  We shall see how that works out.

I’m going to try to be more active on my blog again.  I think that it really helped me stay honest with my eating habits and running.  Frankly, the reason I stopped blogging so much is because the podcast was a weekly outlet to talk about my life.  That helps (somewhat) with keeping me honest with my running, but I need to get back on the wagon with my healthy eating.  The last few weeks I have been doing better, but I’m still up in weight since my last half marathon in September.  My race weight was 192.  Currently, I’m hovering around 202-205, which I don’t think is horrible.  I can do better, though.  So, I’m just trying to make the best choices nutrition-wise during the day.  I’m really going to try to blog more often, so hopefully, you guys will come along on the continuation of my journey.



This was the first major race my sister-in-law and I have done.  About a month ago, I did an impromptu 5k, but that was a last minute type of thing.  So the race was in Chicago, of course, and so I took the train up there from St. Louis.  The train ride is 5 1/2 hours and boring as hell.  I came up on Friday.  Raymond (my cohost and brother-in-law) picked me up from Union Station around 12:45.  We grabbed some lunch (Five Guys) and went back to his place to wait for Lauren.  She got home around 5, showered and changed, and we all went up to the race expo.  Being that it was Friday night, it was not too busy there.  Packet pickup was easy, and the three of us looked through the dozen or so stands there.  Not many deals to be found.  We went home and cooked up a big spaghetti dinner to get some quality carbs in.  That seemed to make everyone tired.  By 10, everyone was sleeping.

Saturday morning I got up early as I usually do (6:30am) and just relaxed.  Being a married father of three, grad student, and full (plus) time worker, I don’t get to do this very often.  There’s always something to do at home.  I wanted to make this weekend about me as much as possible, so I just relaxed.  Lauren and Raymond were up and moving by 8:30 or so.  We got cleaned up and decided to go see an early movie at the theater.  “The Other Guys” seemed like the only choice that all three of us would enjoy.  I had been hydrating as much as possible (maybe too much).  By the time the movie came on, I was 4 bottles of water into the day.  Needless to say, I had to hit the bathroom numerous times during the flick.  Afterwards, we stopped into Subway for lunch, then Dick’s Sporting Goods for last minute gear check.   We returned to the condo and started getting ready for the live show.  Surprisingly, it went smoothly.  Being constantly plagued with audio problems, one recording that goes easy is nice.  The show went great!  My wife, mother-in-law, and parents all got to watch the show.  We had more people tune in than we were expecting (not a bad thing at all).  By 6, we had taken apart the impromptu television studio and started our dinner of brown rice, chicken breast and peas.  To get in the mood for the race, we all sat down and watched “Spirit of the Marathon”.  What an inspiring movie!  It was especially meaningful since it follows Chicago runners.  By 10, we were all trying to find the elusive sleep.  Unfortunately, Ray had to do some work from home from midnight to 2am.  Lauren and I were able to sleep though.

Sunday morning, alarm went off at 4:45.  We wanted to take off by 5:15 (which we did).  The race started at 7, but 20,000 runners in Chicago presents quite the parking issue.  Luckily, we found a spot within a mile of the starting line.  Nervously, we walked to the start, jumping immediately into the Porta-John lines.  It was a good call, emptying the bladder before the trek.  Last thing you want to do is wait in line at the 3 mile mark or have to pull up a tree.  Raymond, armed with his Canon DSLR and my Flip camera, took a few pics of us, wished us luck, and went to get into position.  We lined up with the 2:20 pace group.  Neither Lauren or me really had a time goal in mind.  We really just wanted to finish.  If I could finish with a 12 min/mile average or better, that would be icing on the cake.   The race started on time.  Being near the back of the pack, it was a good 12 or 13 minutes before we crossed the actual starting line.  Lauren and I started strong.  I wanted to stay with her as long as possible.  It was Raymond’s idea that we do this race.  Lauren joined in when we signed up.  Then, Raymond suffered a stress fracture.  So, in his absence, I wanted to support Lauren as much as possible.  I knew that we could finish, I just wanted to be there to remind her as often as possible.  She had been having some knee trouble on her long runs, so we were just hoping that they would hold off as long as possible for the race.  I had been having calf and hamstring issues here and there, but I was hoping clean eating and proper hydration would keep my cramping to a minimum.   By the 3 mile, Lauren’s knee started flaring up.  We took walk breaks every 4-5 minutes.  We had shared some Sharkies (organic fruit snacks) at the 5 mile mark, hoping to get an energy burst.  By mile 6, she seemed worried.  She was moving slower and felt like she was holding me back, so she gave me the go ahead to take off.  So, off I went.

I passed the 2:45 pace group, then the 2:30 pace group, and caught up with the 2:20 pace group.  Around mile 8.5, I realized that taking off quick like that was a mistake.  I had used up a lot of my energy doing that.  Rookie mistake, I guess.  By mile 10, I had slowed down back with the 2:30 pace group.  I took a Gu with some water at the aide station.  This is where my knee issues began. I have been very fortunate through my training to not really have any joint issues.  My damage has always been in muscle or tendons.  All of this changed after mile 10.  This was the furthest I had run in my life, so I was in uncharted waters in my endurance.  By mile 11, I was into a 5:1 run/walk cycle.  By mile 12, 3:2. My knees felt like they were made of cement that was cracked.  Each foot fall felt unsure, feeble, and painful.  3/4 mile to go, I was visualizing how far that would be during my normal training runs in downtown Belleville.  Ok, 3/4 mile to go, so I’m near Auffenberg Ford, running down 159 towards my house.  1/2 mile to go, I’m at the gas station on the corner of 159 and the South Belt Line.  1/4 mile to go, I can see my house from here.  I go around the last right turn towards the finish line.  Raymond was on the sidelines yelling towards me.  I ran by and gave him an update on his wife, then went to finish my race.

The finish line was surrounded by people.  After finishing, there was a long corral full of photographers, bananas, bottled water, chocolate chip cookies, and tired people.  I kept walking for fear of my legs locking up.  I collected my medal, ate a Clif Bar, cookie, and downed a bottle of water.  I went back to wait for Lauren near the finish line.  Around 30 minutes later, she came across the finish line with Raymond running next to her.  He had joined her for the last 1/4 mile.  She was hurting pretty bad.  But she made it.  And I made it.  We did it.  We ran 13.1 miles down and back Lakeshore Drive in Chicago.  We wore our medals proudly.  The three of us made the impossibly long walk back to the car.  Funny how the mile long walk from the car wasn’t as bad (or seemingly as long).   After going back to the condo, we ate some delicious Gino’s East pizza, a Gatorade, a beer, and well-deserved naps for us all.  5:30 rolled around and we left for the train station.  Right now, I’m halfway home on the crowded train bound for St. Louis.  (Of course, I won’t be uploading this until the next day)  Here’s to the first of many races! Chip time, 2:37.

A run through the park

Hello all.  I guess I’m just getting into the rhythm of updating the blog on the weekends.  That seems to be when I have time to do it, especially since school started back up for me.  Well, I would have liked to have gotten in two runs this week then a long run for the weekend.  Due to my schedule and an ear infection, I only got one five miler in after Tuesday night class.  SIUE has an indoor track that’s open until 11pm.  I hit that up on Tuesday night for five miles in around 56 minutes.  Good enough for an 11 min/mile avg with some change.  It was frustrating considering I had to do 40 loops with no GPS availability for my iPhone.  Just kept repeating the count in my head.  Let’s just say it was a long hour of running.  I definitely need to find a different place to run after school.

So yesterday (Saturday) I had 8.5 miles scheduled.  My sister-in-law is in town (who will be running Chicago with me), and, due to lack of injuries, she had 9 miles scheduled.  So, I picked her up at 5:15, and we were on the trail at a local park at 5:30.  The run went well.  I got to try out my new Coleman camel back (which leaked all over my ass) and a Gu.  I don’t know if it was the Gu or poor nutrition from the night before, but I had some stomach issues around mile 7.  My sister-in-law was experiencing knee problems around mile 5, so she stopped and waited for me to finish.  I made it through the 9 miles in 1 hour 44 min with an average pace of 11:33 min/mile.  I felt good still after the run, which definitely help build my confidence for the half marthon.  Next weekend I will be visiting family in Iowa, so I will get a chance to run again with my sister-in-law.  This time, 10 miles.  Going to try to get two 5 milers in this week, 10 miler next Saturday, and maybe a couple of 3 milers the week of the race.  14 DAYS!

Long Run and 5K

Wow, yesterday (Saturday) was a long day.  I woke up early because I wanted to get a good breakfast and warmup before my long run.  Up at 10 to 5, out the door at about 5:20.  There was an intense thunderstorm overnight, so I came outside to find it surprisingly cool with the streets still wet.  Fine by me.  I used MapMyRun to find an out and back route to get my 7 miles in.  Unfortunately, it seems to be off by almost a half of a mile.  I ended up passing my street and running a little further down the highway to make sure I had my 7.  All in all, the run went well.  I averaged between 12 and 13 min/miles for the run.  Came home, showered, and went about my day.

Now, later that night, I went and picked up pizza for dinner (I did burn 1000 calories in the morning, so I needed to refuel, right?) and remembered on the way home that the Hecker Tiki Trot 5K was that night.  We ate around 6:30, and I was out the door at 7:20.  I arrived 10 minutes before the race started, just enough time to register and get to the starting line.  That’s pretty much how it went.  I just did the non-competitive 5K run/walk because I didn’t know how my body would feel after doing 7 miles 13 hours prior.  I took off a little fast and slowed myself down around the first mile mark.  It was a nice, flat out and back down a tar/chip back road lined with Tiki Torches.  Very fun!  I kept a 10 min/mile pace the whole time with a little hamstring pain near the end.  Finished up around the 31 minute mark, said “Hi” to a few people, and went and got a beer.  Finished my beer while watching a woman passing out from the exertion or the heat or the exertion in the heat.  Walked over to my car, drove home.  Long day.  10.2 miles total.  Can definitely tell that I exerted my legs when I woke up this morning, but I’m not injured or anything.  All in all, a successful Saturday.