31 January 2008

Half-Marathon Training Check In (January)

I love January, not only because it's the month of my birthday, but also because of the feeling of a clean slate given to each of us for the upcoming year. I know that any day of the year can be like that, but January in particular seems to hold extra promise.

This, my friends, was a good month. When I realized on my birthday (the 6th) that I have not lost a single pound in a year, it dawned on me that the solution to losing weight was not running more, but eating better (not necessarily less). Of course, I have known this for years, but actually doing it is the rub. As you will see, I ate better, and I went ahead and ran more anyway.

Here's how January went (last month's numbers in parentheses):

Miles run: 80 (50.25)

Weight: 213 (225)

Pounds to Goal Weight: 18 (30)

Miles run this year: 80 (last January: 43.5)

Days to the Flying Pig Half Marathon: 93

Basically, I just limited myself with two criteria: 1) eat 1500-1600 total calories a day, and 2) stop eating out...except on Sunday. Sundays were free days, and boy did I take advantage of them. The first Sunday I had IHOP's all-you-can-eat pancakes for lunch (comes with a side of sausage, eggs, and hash browns), and Papa John's for dinner with about 4 cans of Dr. Pepper thrown in as well. (Did you know that one slice of Papa John's chicken BBQ pizza is 340 calories and has 40% of your daily recommended sodium? Yikes...I had five slices that night.)

The calorie limit, although probably not the best way to diet, forced me to make better choices. Salads with a can's worth of tuna on it and fat free Zesty Italian dressing replaced a 1 from Wendy's. Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper (and various other diet drinks) replaced my beloved DP (except on Sundays - don't worry, Doc! I still love you). Water intake went up. And so on happily ever after.

Finally, I think I have settled on this program for my training. I like the days off, and it has good (but not too much) mileage. My first day of training is Feb. 25th.

See you next month!

29 January 2008

Some Random Quotes I Like

“in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out. I leave in God’s hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy.”
- Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?, p. 93
"God's love is an action toward us, not a reaction to us. His love depends not on what we are but on what He is. He loves because He is love."
- David Seamands, Healing Grace, p. 115

"The Lima Bean Gospel"

In the most recent issue of Christianity Today, Mark Labberton wonders whether our gospel is too small and bland, like a lima bean. The church is often bland, he argues, and "the fruit of this vine appears to be lima beans." Here are two paragraphs for you to chew on:

"Rather than seek the God who spoke from the burning bush, we have decided the real drama is found in debating whether to podcast our services. Rather than encounter the God who sees idolatry as a pervasive, life-threatening temptation, we decorate Pottery Barn lives with our tasteful collections of favored godlings. Rather than follow the God who burns for justice for the needy, we are more likely to ask the Lord to give us our own fair share. A bland God for a bland church, with a mission that is at best innocuous and quaint - in a tumultuous world."


"The apparent smallness of our gospel is directly related to the smallness of the church's love. When prominent Christian voices call for protests and boycotts over things like our freedom to say 'Merry Christmas,' the gospel seems very small indeed. If, by contrast, such voices called the church in America to give away its Christmas billions to the poor and needy around the world - as an act of incarnational love - that would leave a very different impression of the faith we profess, and offer a far greater hope for a love-hungry world."

I'll leave it at that, without further comment other than to say that this guy needs to get out more and see what the church is doing in the world. Chew on it and let me know what you think.

21 January 2008

Not Sure How to Train

I've been shopping around various half-marathon training programs, and I'm not sure which one to choose. The one I'm currently planning on using (from coolrunning) looks good but has a high amount of running (peaks at 35 miles a week). Another one has only three days a week of running: one speed day, one tempo day, and one distance day and peaks at about 24 miles a week. And a third site matches up perfectly with the days I want to run and the days I don't want to run (Sunday and Tuesday), peaking at 26 miles a week. Lastly, Hal Higdon has a novice training program that looks easier but still sufficient.

My concern is that if I go with the higher mileage, I might increase the likelihood of injury by over training, especially considering I'm still over 20 lbs heavier than I should be. The second site almost seems too easy; however, it is put forth by RunnersWorld.com, a trusted source, not some guy who thought it would be funny. Hal Higdon's looks good, too, and I'm already running at about the demands of week four.

I'm pretty sure, therefore, that I won't be training with the coolrunning program. It seems a little advanced for me, as well as possibly a little too much running for my knees and hip and lower back.

I've tried taking one-minute walk breaks every mile (as recommended by Jeff Galloway, marathon stud who also has a regular column in RW). This might be the way to go for me. The walk breaks only add about 20 seconds to my mile pace, and they sure make 13 miles seem less intimidating by chopping it into 13 one-mile segments. Knowing that at each mile marker I get to walk for a minute helps psychologically. Galloway says that it also helps speed recovery and lessens the strain on the joints.

So, fellow runners (especially you fellow half marathoners - Shannon and Courtney!), let me know what you think and what plan you are using.

PS - I'm excited about the next training check in. I'm running more and eating better (vegetables, fruits, grains, and lots of protein - and no fast food [except on Sundays, when all bets are off!]). I anticipate some numbers (distance) to go up and some (weight) to go down.

17 January 2008

Of Wedding Gifts and Coming to Faith

I bought a book from Half Price Books the other day, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. That I bought this particular book is not important (although it's got a great title); what intrigued me was the card left inside of it. Apparently, Grandma and Grandpa bought Jess and Brian the book as a wedding gift, writing the following in the card: "Hope you'll read this book for yourselves. It is a difficult, tough read/only for the brightest and best. We are so thankful that we could come to your wedding. Hope your honeymoon is full of fun. We love you both. . . ."

It's not difficult to figure out what happened. Jess and Brian read the title (apparently they are atheists or at least not Christians, whereas Grandma and Grandpa are Christians), rolled their eyes, and tossed it in the pile of stuff to take back. They probably kept it in the house, hidden, for a good year or so before deciding to take it to HPB.

This is not the first time I have gotten a used book that had some sort of message in it. Last year, I bought a book from Amazon about the death of children and infants (I worked it into a teaching series on Heaven), and in the front was a message to a lady who had lost a child to miscarriage.

What I get from all this is the fact that sending someone a book does not change much. If giving someone a book to read, or actually reading books, really accomplished what the giver/author intended, there would be very few problems left in the world. The Bible, anyone?

Bringing someone to faith in Christ involves more than a presentation of facts, be it in a book, a discussion, or some other method of sharing the gospel. There must be (caution: trendy word ahead) authenticity, an evident and consistent genuineness of one's faith. The world will know two things when we live what we believe: 1) because of Jesus, new life is available to everyone, and 2) belonging to Jesus really does make a difference. Jesus himself prayed, "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-21).

01 January 2008

Half Marathon Training Check-In (December)

Okay, this photo was taken today, but close enough.

December: not so great. Here's how it breaks down (last month's numbers in parentheses)

Weight: 225 (224)

Pounds to goal weight: 30 (29)

Miles run this month: unsure - stupid coolrunning.com changed to a new sign in system and I haven't been able to access my running log. I changed to logyourrun.com, so I can tell you that from Dec. 13-31 I ran 29.1 miles.

Days to the Flying Pig Half Marathon: 123

See you next month!