Week 104: 2 Years Later

It has officially been 2 years since my decision to get fit.

Just two short years ago I was allowing my health and fitness to operate on autopilot and that got me to 325 pounds. That’s when I decided I decided that enough was enough and that it was time for a change.

I decided that I was going to lose over 100 pounds in under a year and I wasn’t going to give up anything I liked. I wasn’t going to follow some fad diet. I was simply going to focus on the basics and trust the process. Essentially I was going to use project management and data to conquer my long-time obesity.

Two years later and you already know how it turned out. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Now I am entering my third year of focusing on being healthy and happy. My focus has shifted a little bit to maintaining my own progress while helping others achieve their own goals. While it was a lot of hard work it still stuns me how easy it was to tackle one of my biggest problem areas and sources of embarrassment. I am sad that I waited so long to try and just as easily could have never tried. That would have been tragic! I don’t want anybody else to fail to try and I want everybody to be successful with their biggest goals.

I want to build a world where no goal dies of loneliness.

I am doing my part to make this happen. I am committed to helping provide the inspiration, motivation and tools needed to help people use project management to live their healthiest and happiest lives. This started with my blog, continued with my book (Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year) and I have lots of other things in the works. Plus my new day job will be focused on using project management to help people live healthier.

Project management can change lives why can’t it change yours?

Maintaining… Mostly

I am entering my third year and I am still going strong. While I have moved into “maintenance mode” I haven’t stopped tracking my daily food intake, exercise and other key metrics and I don’t know if I will ever stop that. The easiest way to make sure not to slip back into autopilot is to be aware of my numbers every day.

My numbers haven’t been amazing over the past six months but that is just how it goes sometimes. My brain isn’t wired to be ok with numbers going the wrong way but it is important for me to keep reminding myself that this is a journey and that I have to look at all of the numbers together in context.

My average weight has ticked up a few pounds. I am currently averaging 200-202 pounds per day versus 198-200 pounds about three months ago.

A portion of my weight uptick can be attributed to my increasing muscle mass. I know my muscles are getting bigger and I am getting more definition. One way I know this is that, big surprise, I am tracking my numbers. My biceps are growing at a rate of about half an inch every three months. So I know that some of my weight increase is “good” weight”

Unfortunately not all of my average weight increase is connected to muscle growth. I know that a portion of my uptick is related to trying to maintain the appropriate balance between calories in and calories out. That is a daily effort now that I am not actively creating a big calorie deficit in my diet. I know this is the case based on my latest body fat percentage measurement. Over the past three months I have increased about one percent body fat to 13.8%. This one percent isn’t completely apples-to-apples because it was measured after a workout instead of before but I have increased at lease half a percent.

Maintenance is definitely not easy but it is a heck of a lot easier than losing 130 pounds in 18 months. It just requires continued tracking of my numbers, adjustment when needed and for me to be patient with myself.

Second Annual 5k

As a celebration of my first anniversary of my decision to get fit I hosted and ran in my very first 5k race. A group of friends and supporters joined me to run an informal 5k that was also a fundraiser for a local nonprofit, Central Community House. This was a great way to celebrate such a big achievement and to “officially” kick off my running career.

Fast forward one year and I celebrated my second anniversary with another Operation Melt 5k race.

About 10 friends and supporters joined me for a repeat running of the same 5k course.

We all had a great time and raised $280 for Central Community House. That is just under $1000 that we have donated in 2 years!

My personal results were very good too! I cut my average pace time from 10:35 per mile to 9:32 per mile, over one minute in a year. Unfortunately I ran a little faster than my body wanted me to run (the downside of being competition driven, right?) and ended up with some pain afterwards. So I just need to rest my body for a few days.

After the race some of us headed out for a big brunch at one of my favorite restaurants.

My thoughts have already started turning to next year’s Operation Melt 5k. Save the date for 6/13/2020!

Year 3

Now I am moving into year three of my Operation Melt journey and trying to figure out what comes next. I am working updating my goals for the second half of this year and my third year of my journey.

I know that I want to continue to maintain my weight but I am already doing ok with that. I also want to keep growing both in muscles but also in my skills, my confidence and my impact to others. I need to find my ideal running pace and force myself to stay there – which means that my personal records need to become a thing of the past.

I am not sure what the future holds but I know I am going to be setting and crushing goals for the rest of my life!

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Life Can Be Amazing

Life can be truly amazing sometimes.

The picture on the left was me just 2 summers ago. I was 325 pounds, I had terrible self confidence, bad health and a poor view of my own self-worth. On the right is me picking up my The Capital City Half Marathon packet for my second half marathon in 6 months and of me signing my first ever autograph on my book.

If you will allow me one moment of bragging: holy shit I have accomplished so much in less than 2 years! I am so proud of what I have done and have such an improved view of my purpose, my calling and my power.

I sincerely hope that me sharing my journey helps other people discover the feeling of accomplishment and happiness with life that I have found.

Now…. let’s crush this race!

100-pound Anniversary

One year ago today, I woke up, stepped on the scale and had a big surprise. Then I wrote the following in my 3/13/2018 blog post:

I have lost 100.2 pounds since 6/15/2017 – that is less than 9 months! As most of you know, my goal was over 100 in under a year and I did it in far less time.

I didn’t really know how I would feel the day I hit my goal. I can tell you that my first feeling was utter surprise. I expected to have lost a bit since yesterday, but honestly thought I wouldn’t be past the 99 pound mark. So, it was a huge shock!

Me, 3/13/2018

So much has changed in my life through this journey and since hitting the 100-pound mark. I am so happy I did this and can’t wait to celebrate this anniversary today.

In a very short time, a matter of days really, I will be launching my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year. The good feelings that I feel after achieving this milestone are why I wrote my book. I want to help other people feel this way after achieving their big goals.

Thank you so much for continuing to follow my journey and for supporting me along the way. While my weight loss journey is over my fitness journey and my life journey is just getting started.

I am more powerful and capable than I ever thought!

My Layoff Anniversary

I know that Wednesdays are my normal Reflections on Leadership day but not this week. Today I am going to post a special edition of my blog saluting a milestone day in my life. Not to worry though because I will finish my How Not to Be a Jerk series (see part 1 & part 2) tomorrow.

One year ago today I was in the middle of a personal transformation with my weight loss journey and that is when my life took another unexpected turn. The result was that I turned was already a big transformation into a truly life-changing experience.

One year later I wanted to share how my life has changed.

My Tuesday surprise…

“We are making some organizational changes today and, unfortunately, you are one of the people who is impacted. We are eliminating your position effective immediately.”

That is how the meeting started on that cold Tuesday morning at the end of January. Then, in a matter of minutes, my ten years at my company was done. We finished the paperwork and I was walked out by my HR partner leaving the building for the last time.

It would have been pretty easy to be angry, sad and hurt at that moment — but I wasn’t!

My company had simply made a difficult, financially-driven business decision. They needed to eliminate several positions to match the size of the staff with the available budget. Plus they treated me very fairly on the way out. I was grateful for my HR partner of many years who had to deliver difficult news and did so in an empathetic and respectful manner.

It was the best possible execution of a crappy situation.

My surprise reaction…

As I said I wasn’t angry, sad or hurt, my reaction was a little more unusual …. I was excited and almost a little giddy! 

I was ready to move on and the universe knew that. 

I was no longer satisfied with my job and was ready for a new challenge. I was being given a rare opportunity to pause after ten years in stressful roles at the same company (on top of 10 years of continuous post-college employment before then) and take a breath. I had a few months to explore, reflect, de-stress and consider the next chapter in my career. 

Put simply I was at a turning point and was given the gift of time!

Now what?

So I had some time on my hands and needed to decide how I wanted to manage it.

I knew that I didn’t want to panic and immediately jump right into a new job. While I wanted to look for a job I wanted to choose wisely and look for something that was perfect for me, no compromises. But I also had other things that I wanted to do separate from just looking for work.

I decided to take some time and give myself a sabbatical – though I didn’t initially figure out that was what I was doing or immediately start using that term.

If you don’t know what a sabbatical is here is one particularly relevant definition I found online: a sabbatical usually refers to a full-time employee’s extended leave or career pause of at least two months. In general, employees use it to complete some body of work, such as research or writing. Sabbatical comes from the word Sabbath, which literally means “rest.”

What were my goals?

Like any other aspect of my life I wanted to se some goals for this time away. Some of the things I thought that I wanted to accomplish during my sabbatical included:

  1. What next: Get closure from the old job and figure out what I wanted to do as my next chapter.
  2. Job hunting: this was definitely still a priority because a sabbatical can’t last forever.
  3. Network: related to my job hunt but really bigger than that I wanted to reconnect with people I hadn’t talked to in a while.
  4. Hit my goal: I wanted to finish my weight loss journey. I was already down about 80 pounds versus my goal of 100 so I wanted to finish my “over 100 in under a year” journey.
  5. Run: Train for my first 5k.
  6. Write: Write my book to tell the story about my weight loss and how I did it.
  7. Live: I wanted to take some time and just live life without having a tight schedule every single day.

I say all of that but I was also completely ready to jump right into a new job if the perfect thing fell into my lap. Unfortunately I had no idea what the perfect thing was so that was going to be unlikely!

What did I do?

So I shared the goals that I built for my sabbatical and now I want to share what I did and how I spent my days over the nearly 5 months I had off. Most importantly there was not a single day where I wasn’t active and focused on my goals. This was not a vacation this was a gift of time that I didn’t want to squander away!

  • Wake up early. Just because I wasn’t going into an office didn’t mean that I let myself sleep in every day. I set my alarm every night and got up early every morning. I had things to do!
  • Daily workout. Nearly every day I would start at the gym with a workout. These workouts ranged from a quick treadmill session to multiple hour full body sessions.
  • Tending to business. Each day I would spend time sending and reading emails from my network, looking at open positions and tracking progress against my project plan. Yes, I created a project plan for my sabbatical.
  • Meeting with people. I tried to schedule a breakfast, coffee, lunch or drinks with somebody nearly every day. I continued to interface with people from my network daily. I even continued the mentoring relationships I had with people and helped people wherever I could.
  • Writing. Almost every day I would write. I wrote my book. I relaunched my Reflections on Leadership series. I blogged and shared my expertise everywhere I could.
  • Walk, run, explore. Many days I would spend time walking or running around the streets of Columbus and at our metro parks. I got fresh air and exercise and kept moving.
  • Sought knowledge & inspiration. I would find ways daily to soak up more knowledge and/or to find sources of inspiration. Reading, podcasts, art, music, journaling and much more. I even went to the Columbus Startup Week conference to learn about how to start and grow a business. I wanted to grow my brain and shrink my body through this time.
  • Cooking and tending to the house. I would often cook lunches and dinners and take care of housework because I wanted to make sure I was doing my part at home especially because I wasn’t working and my wife was.

This was a busy time in my life and, for the first time ever, I was busy with things that were important to me and were my priorities.

What did I accomplish?

All of this focused effort and keeping myself busy every day resulted in lots of accomplishments during this time. I am pretty proud of everything I was able to do.

  • Got a new job. Let’s start with and important fact that may be pretty obvious – I got a new job. I joined a consulting firm in a project working for the State of Ohio. This project lets me use my knowledge, experiences and skills to help drive innovation for a project management office. I get to help our government accomplish big goals in new ways.
  • Achieved my weight loss goal. On March 13 I stepped on the scale and it told me that I had achieved my 100-pound weight loss goal. That was an amazing moment! It meant that I not only achieved a personal BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) but I did it in only 75% of the very aggressive timeline that I gave myself at the beginning. But I did NOT stop there, I continued focusing on my weight loss and was down a total of 117 pounds at the end of my sabbatical. Plus I had started working with a personal trainer halfway through this time and started seeing myself change shape and improve my abilities.
  • Became a runner. When I started my sabbatical I was beginning to mix a bit of running into my walking but I would never have referred to myself as a runner. By the end of my sabbatical that had all changed. I was a runner and could comfortably complete a 5k run and more. I was ready to run in my first organized 5k which was the basis for the next accomplishment.
  • Hosted a 5k. I mentioned that I wanted run my first 5k. After becoming a runner and training I decided to approach my first 5k the way I approached the rest of my journey – I did it my way. So, the weekend after returning to work, I hosted and ran in the Operation Melt First Time 5. About 15 people participated in this race which was a fundraiser which raised about $650 for Central Community House.
  • Launched Operation Melt. I had already started OperationMelt.com and a blog when my sabbatical had started but it was pretty limited. During my sabbatical I really established my blog and associated social media channels. I built followers and really began engaging with others to help them achieve their goals.
  • Launched Reflections on Leadership. In my old job I sent a weekly email to my team called “Reflections” that would share my ah-has from the prior week. As I was nearing the final days of my job I had stopped producing these emails. During my sabbatical I relaunched this as a public series about my reflections on good and bad leaders. I have produced an issue weekly ever since.
  • Wrote a book. Once I hit my 100 pounds lost goal I wrote my book about my journey. The goal of the book is to tell my story, share my process, share my lessons learned and help other people experience the same success. The book just finished the editing process and needs just one more chapter to wrap up since my weight loss journey is done. Then I need some help with layout and production and then I will launch!
  • Explored the city on foot. Almost every day I spent time walking and running around the city and explored nearly every inch of the inner city area by foot. In total I walked and ran 863 miles over this time. Some days I covered more than 10 miles!
  • Rekindled relationships. I rekindled relationships with many people in my network who I hadn’t talked to in a very long time.
  • Supported friends going through struggles. I am happy to say that I was also there for several friends who were going through work and personal struggles during this time. I like to think that I made it a little easier for these friends to succeed.

In short I became a runner, an athlete, healthy, a superhero, a writer, a consultant and a better friend, a blogger and much more during my sabbatical. I don’t know many other people who can say that they accomplished all of this in just over 4 months. I am super happy with what I was able to accomplish during this time.

But there is one more thing…

I made a new friend!

During this time I had one other big accomplishment – I made a new friend. I made friends with somebody who I hadn’t been friends with for a while and had become kind of estranged from over the years.

I became friends with me!

I learned a lot about myself during my sabbatical. Most of all I learned that I am pretty amazing and I have lots to offer this world. I learned that I have superpowers the primary of which is my ability to achieve goals.

As a manager I used to say that getting let go from a job can be the best thing that ever happened to them. I mostly believed this but I never really thought it would happen that way for me – my job was too big a part of my identity. But that all changed over the nearly 5 months I spent hanging out with myself.

I can honestly say that getting laid off and spending time on this life changing sabbatical was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Week 71: 325 Pounds to Half Marathon

Last weekend I completed the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon, my first ever half marathon. I completed this half marathon just 16 months after weighing in at 325 pounds and kicking off my fitness journey. Fast forward 16 months and 130 pounds later and I completed this major athletic achievement!

As a reminder, here’s my before and after…

In lieu of my normal weekly blog update, I wanted to do something a little special in honor of my accomplishment. I am publishing this recap of the day full of ups and downs in hopes of sharing the experience with you.

I know this post is a little long but it was a really big day packed full of excitement and agony….

Saturday: Bring on the Carbs

After a full week of resting and minimizing exercise, my half marathon morning really started the day before.

I started my Saturday with a long leisurely walk of 4.5 miles. I was trying to get some exercise and keep my muscles ready for the big day but to also not overdo it. My other goal was to work off some of my nervous energy that had been building all week. For much of the week the marathon was the ONLY thing my mind could focus on and it was really distracting.

After the initial exercise the rest of the day was focused on rest and relaxation and nutrition.

I tried to fuel my body with sufficient food to carry me through the big day. The best way to do this is to load up on the carbohydrates while being cognizant of the other nutrients in my meals. By doing this my body can store up the fuel and draw on those reserves when needed during the race. This isn’t a normal practice for me before runs, but my runs are usually 4 miles or less and I needed the extra energy.

My brunch consisted of delicious French toast:

My dinner was a smothered roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes:

The goal of both meals was high carbohydrates with low fiber to help guard against digestive issues. Plus nothing heavy with fats like pizza covered in cheese. Plus I made sure to constrain alcohol intake and maximize water (200+ ounces) to prevent dehydration.

Early to Bed

I ended my Saturday night pretty early around 9:30. I set out my clothes for the morning and then headed to bed.

I set my alarm for 5 but really didn’t sleep all that well? My fitness tracker said that I only got 7 minutes of deep sleep through the night but I got some sleep nonetheless.

Early to Rise

When my alarm went off I sprung out of bed… it’s race day!

After a quick stop in the bathroom and freshly brushed teeth it was time to get dressed and eat. I semi-nervously put on my race clothes.

Next up I ate some toast with peanut butter, sweet potato butter and a banana on the side. I drank 36 ounces of water and brewed some coffee.

When 6:00 rolled around I was out the door and in my car with a fresh cup of coffee. I was bundled up for the 33 degree temperatures and wind chills in the 20s.

A long, cold walk…

I parked about a mile from the starting line and walked along the Scioto Mile to the course. My goal was easy parking where I would be free from race traffic when I was done. Plus I wanted to take a long walk to start getting my muscles stretched and warm. Unfortunately the 28-degree wind chills made warmth very hard to find!

The minute I got out of my car the gravity of this event started to hit me. I could hear the music playing at the finish line from across downtown. This started getting me into pump up mode and I actually enjoyed the walk with my coffee to North Bank Park. The last stretch of this walk was through the final stretch of the course near the finish line.

Things get emotional

I got into my corral at the start line around 6:30 or so which was an hour before race time. I stood around taking it all in, looking around and listening to the pre-race pump-up music.

As I am standing in the corral mentally running through my strategy the moment starting hitting me like a ton of bricks. I was preparing to run a half marathon. I am standing in an “athletes only” area and they mean me, I am an athlete.

I have worked so hard for 16 months to get fit and healthy. I have whittled my way down from 325 pounds and a life of obesity to being under 200 pounds. Plus I was 100% confident that I would be finishing the half marathon. Plus I was getting the final round of “good luck” and “proud of you” text messages and social media posts.

That is when I noticed that I had a few tears running down my cheek. It was all just so overwhelming! And this is just the starting line, what’s going to happen when I finish?!

And…. We’re off!

The festivities all kicked off right on schedule. Some opening words, the national anthem and then the gun to start the wheelchair racers. Plus a plethora of fireworks.

Next was more fireworks as the first group of runners got started. Then the whole pack starts moving and, before you know it, I am running with the pack of athletes.

My buddy Bryan was a corral ahead of me and fell back to meet up with me and we ran together… for a while.

We were pointing out the fun signs to each other and observing some of the other people and their running styles. It was a great time.

Segment 1: My 5k

Bryan and I ran together for the first 3 miles, or a 5k. I was feeling good through this entire time and running a bit slower than normal which would help guard against running out of gas. It was going great.

However, this meant that I had already deviated from my training and my strategy. My plan was to alternate miles of running and waking and I had already run 3 straight miles. So I told Bryan to go ahead and I was going to slow to a walk. Time to get back onto my plan.

I shed one of my layers of clothes (I was sweating) and plugged forward.

Segment 2: Adversity – Miles 4-6

I walked a few blocks and that is when I had a problem. I developed a serious cramp in my left thigh. It hurt so much!

I stopped for a minute at a port-a-potty to use the bathroom and rest for a minute. I stopped to stretch. Unfortunately nothing seemed to help.

This is when I started to doubt whether or not I was going to be able to finish the marathon. I seriously considered stopping and wasn’t sure how much further I was going to go. I wasn’t really sure, if I stopped, how I was going to get back home or to my car. I also didn’t really want to stop though I thought my body was going to force the issue.

But I kept pushing forward as best I could but it was slow.

Then I discovered that running made the cramp subside. It felt much better to run than it did to walk. I am convinced that the cramping was related to the cold. When walking my muscles would cool down and cease up. When I would run they would get warm and loose.

Suddenly I had a new strategy. I was going to run as long as I could to make the pain go away and then walk a bit until it started coming back. Unfortunately I had not trained to run for more than half the distance so my new strategy my cause different issues later in the race – exhaustion.

But I was halfway there!

Segment 3: Back on Track – Miles 7-10

With the cramping finally done I was comfortably moving again. Not only was I comfortably moving I was feeling good. I was running through Old Town East and was moving at a fast pace with my run.

I was enjoying the entertainment along the course and all of the sights including the kids cheering on the crowd around Children’s Hospital. I found my trainer Teresa along Livingston Avenue with a sign cheering me on and I even stopped to hug her.

With all of the support and the fast pace I was feeling good that I would finish this thing! In fact the remaining route is something that I have at least walked dozens of times and I was confident. The absence of pain really helped too!

Segment 4: Adversity Again, But Worse – Miles 10-11

When I got into the 10th mile the pain came surging back with a vengeance!

The last time I had pain it was a cramp in my left thigh and it hurt to walk but running made it subside. This time it was my right thigh and the pain was even worse. Plus running didn’t really make the pain subside this time. In fact the pain was so bad that it felt like it may be more serious than just a cramp.

I was limping down 3rd street in German Village and was only 2 blocks from home. Nothing I did made the pain better even when I stopped to stretch it out. I still had 3 more miles to go and wasn’t sure that it was possible to continue. It would have been so much easier just to pull the plug and walk home.

In the final leg of the 10 mile mark I was doing a lap around Schiller Park and approaching the last minute to decide to stop. That’s when I slowed down to get some water at the hydration station and the cramp finally started to break.

I started running again and felt the cramp start to get better. So I kept going into mile 11.

Segment 5: The End is in Sight – Miles 11-13

Mile 11 of the Columbus Marathon is called the Angel Mile. It is a salute to the kids who didn’t make it through their illnesses and died. There were parents and others with pictures, names, details and very short birth/death dates. It was really sad and enough to make tears start forming for anybody.

On top of the emotions (all the feels?) from the Angel Mile there was something else that happened in mile 11 that brought the emotions. I could see all the way up High Street through downtown Columbus up to Spring Street which is where the finish line is. I could literally almost see the finish line from where I was.

Even if I had to crawl though the pain I was going to get to the finish line. Oh my god, I was on track to finish a half marathon! I still had some pain but it was getting better with every few steps and my confidence was increasing.

Another random runner slowed down to join me and talk to me. I was wearing a bib saying that it was my first half marathon and that made lots of people give me encouragement. This is the first person to stop and join and ask how I was doing. He told me it was his 49th marathon and that the first time is really hard. He said he had seen me stop to stretch and told me that he knows I can finish. He was so supportive! Then he took off and ran ahead of me. This semi-elderly runner just left me in his dust.

Between the random supporter and the crowd that was building as I approached the finish I knew I could make it.

Segment 6: Sprint to Finish Strong

When I reached the fork in the course where the full marathon runners continued forward and the half marathoners turned I knew I was in the home stretch. I also pondered how in the world anybody could reach that spot and want to run that whole distance a second time!

I started running down Spring Street which was the last quarter mile or so. That is when I started hearing the finish line announcers and fans. I started seeing bleachers along the route and I knew this was something special.

In the finish stretch I was still running but I was a little slow and getting passed by lots of people. But I couldn’t care less, I was going to be crossing the finish line. That is when more tears started flowing down my cheeks but I was doing a pretty good job holding them back.

“You still have 45 seconds to get across the finish line in less than 3 hours!” That was what I heard the announcer saying. I was shocked! How did I end up taking 3 hours? That is a lot slower than I thought I was going.

Suddenly the 3-hour mark was a barrier that I was going to conquer. I used all of my remaining energy and started to sprint. I was down to around a tenth of a mile and I could easily sprint that in less than 45 seconds. So I started hauling ass!

When I crossed the finish line it dawned on me that the 3 hour mark applied to the people who started in the first group of runners. Turns out that I started 15 minutes later than those people so I was 15 minutes behind that point. Sometimes I am not very smart!

I crossed the finish line at 2 hours and 44 minutes….. I had just finished my first half marathon!

Oh my god! I had just finished a half marathon!

Just a Bit Further

Right after crossing the finish line there is a flurry of activity.

First I stopped to get my medal. Once the medal was around my neck the emotions really started to build. But no time for that because there was more to do!

Next I came to the support staff members who were passing out mylar runners blankets. I was still hot and sweating and decided to pass on the blanket. Never do this! This is a mistake! Always take the blanket! Your body temperature WILL start falling!

The next stop is something that I have been calling grown-up trick-or-treat. I was handed a clear shopping back sponsored by White Castle and wasn’t sure what it was for. I walked ahead another 5 feet and the mystery was removed… it is for food! So much food! Glorious food!

I went through the line like a zombie and AT LEAST following things were put in my bag:
• Apple
• Banana
• Granola bars
• String Cheese
• Chocolate Milk
• A Bagel
• A quarter Subway turkey sub
• Doritos
• Lays potato chips

Once I got through the food line I arrived at the “family reunion” area where I didn’t expect to see anybody I knew. I just wanted to get through it and start to eat and relax. But I unexpectedly found my sister-in-law there waiting on another person I knew who was walking it. It was good to see a friendly face. I mentioned to her that I just wanted to go sit down and she warned that I may not want to do that quite yet.

I moved on to “Celebration Village” and tore open the chocolate milk and chugged it. I needed calories quickly! My normal 13 mile distance usually meant a calorie burn of 1200 calories or so which is a lot. But this time, with the extra running and cold and pain and adrenaline, my calorie burn was close to 2600!

Food = good!

A Ton of Bricks

There I was in “Celebration Village” drinking my chocolate milk and stretching a little bit. That is when I turned into a mess!

It hit me like a ton of bricks that I had just finished a half marathon 16 months after being 325 pounds. This was a big f-ing victory! This was a clear win in my journey. I couldn’t believe how far I had come. That’s when the tears REALLY started flowing.

I was crying in Celebration Village!

The crying was only exacerbated when I listened to another runner on the phone with his family behind me. He said “mom, I am going to Boston! I qualified!” He was so pound of his accomplishment and I was proud of mine. We were all winners in that village! We were all athletes!

My next step was to the “Personal Record Gong”. If you just completed your first half marathon or marathon or if you set a personal record you got to ring the gong in celebration. I am happy to say that I rang that gong with gusto and everybody heard it! I think I actually dented it.

Then I started walking around aimlessly and taking it all it. The people around me were hugging, crying, celebrating, stretching, resting, partying and just enjoying life! I was enjoying it too! Though the tears may have made it look otherwise.

The only problem at this point was that I was FREEZING! The wind chills were in the 30s, I was cooled down after the run and I didn’t have a runner’s blanket. I asked lots of the volunteers and there were none to be found in the area. So I had to buy a VERY over-priced sweatshirt to help warm me up. Unfortunately I made that decision with runner’s brain and the expensive sweatshirt really doesn’t even fit me. So….

On to the Next

After hanging out for a while it was time to head home. Just one problem, my car was over a mile away and there was only one way to get there. I had to walk!

So I slowly walked through downtown. My body was super exhausted and my muscles had been pushed past their limits. Every ramp and curb I scaled was painful. But I finally made it to my car and that is when I finally sat down for the first time since 6:15 that morning. That meant I was on my feet for about 6 hours.

Home Sweet Home

I walked into my house after slowly removing myself from my car. That’s when I started stripping off layers of clothes since I was finally in the heat. My wife came downstairs to greet me and I was stuffing my face with food from my goody bag like a crazy person.

That is when I recapped the past 6 hours to her in like 3 minutes. The excitement made me almost unbearable! Plus she was going to get to hear the story like 10 more times through the afternoon and evening.

My next stop was the shower. I took a very long very hot shower and started getting the feeling back in my extremities. I got dressed and was full of energy and ready for a day full of fun.

Celebrate Good Times, C’mon!

We went to brunch to get real food and I stuffed myself! Eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuit, potatoes, bloody mary, beer and more. It felt good to get real food in me. My friend Bryan came and met up with us and we all celebrated together. It was awesome.

Later that night we went to dinner with some other friends who had been major supporters through my preparations and even cheered me on in the cold. I ate so much food and am not even a little sorry!

In all I ate more than 4000 calories for the day and burned about 6000 calories.

One Week Later

It is a week later now and I am still riding the high. I am so happy that I completed my first half marathon.

I have already signed up for my 5k runs and will be signing up for my next half marathon soon – the Cap City half marathon in April.

This week has been physically rough as I have been recovering. My body was really push to and beyond its limits and requires healing. I took pretty much the whole week off from running and ran again for the first time on Saturday. I learned that I was clearly not fully recovered and it was a difficult run. But any run is easier than the half marathon.

I have to keep running though because I am training for my next race.

Big thanks to all of you for reading this post and all of my posts along the way. I really hope that some of my experiences can help you with your own goals. I want everybody to have the chances to feel like I feel now

Last week’s stats (10/15-10/21):
Distance walked/run: 48.6 miles (+6.6 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 25,409 (-3,839 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 18,096 (+3,198 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -7,313 (+7,037 vs. LY)
Weight change: 3 pounds GAINED (+5.3 vs LY)