The start and finish to my Firehouse 5K race.
Exercise, Running

Firehouse 5K – Great First 2 Miles, Terrible Last Mile

The inaugural Firehouse 5K run was held today at Santa Clara University. I had heard about it only a week before and signed up just days before the event. The last organized run I had done was the Tortoise and Hare run in 2008 with my friend Felix. And, before that, my last official race was the San Dieguito Half Marathon back in ninth grade! Suffice it to say, I didn’t have much experience to draw on for today’s run.

Most of my runs over the last several months have been of the 5K distance, and I was gunning for a sub-20 minute run, which I thought would be very doable based on a successful sub-20 at the end of July and several sub-21 minute training runs (during which I know I could have pushed myself harder). On Friday, I biked the course, making mental notes at the mile markers. Starting at the entrance to Santa Clara University on Palm Drive, runners turned right on El Camino and right on the Alameda to reach the first mile marker at Market Street. From there, runners continued down Market until turning right on Jefferson. Half a mile later or so, runners turned right at Harrison Street for the second mile. They then continued until hitting El Camino, where they turned right and headed back to Palm Drive and into Buck Shaw Stadium for the finish. The circular nature of the course reminded me of my regular neighborhood route, except that all the streets would be closed off to vehicular traffic (my route has two signals and multiple driveways to watch out for). The conditions and route seemed ideal for a sub-20 minute run and possibly even a personal record. Due to these factors, I was very confident in my abilities leading up to the race.

Waiting for the start of the Firehouse 5K run.

Waiting for the start of the Firehouse 5K run.

At 7:30 am, I lined up with runners of all ages a few rows behind the starting line. I could see a couple of adults in the front who looked very fast, and I wanted to see if I could keep pace with them. When the gun went off at 8:00 am, I found myself spending a lot of energy navigating through the throng of people ahead of me, which you can see in the video below. Once I got through the crowd, I sped up and passed a number of people. The two fast runners at the beginning were way ahead, and I focused my efforts on staying behind what looked like a father and son duo running a sub-6 minute pace.

Five things made the run less than optimal:

First, and most important, I went out way too hard in the beginning of the run. Strava said I completed the first mile in 5:55 and two miles in 12:27, both personal records. Unfortunately, I paid immensely for this effort, because the last mile was done in 7:45! My mental state weakened to the point where I slowed to a walk three times for just a few seconds, allowing several runners to catch up and pass me. I knew that a sub-20 was out of the question, and I would have to struggle just to achieve a sub-21 minute run. I was sad in that final mile since I knew I could do so much better. My training runs were much better than this run!

Second, I developed a sore throat the night before on Halloween. I felt that horrible itchy feeling in my throat and was concerned that it would affect my breathing. I woke up this morning with a layer of mucus in my throat. 

Third, I got a nasty blister on my right foot, despite wearing double socks and applying lotion on my soles. After the race, I could not apply any pressure on that foot. It’s still pretty painful twelve hours later!

Fourth, my shoes were pretty worn down after nearly 400 miles of running. My left shoe had a sizeable hole on the left edge due to my supinated running style. I was concerned about my shoelaces coming untied, so I double-knotted them in the morning. I have yet to learn the Ian Knot, which is supposed to be much better at not coming undone. I’d like to have a pair of H Streets that I can just race in, but the shoe is currently discontinued. Please Puma, bring back the H Streets!

Does the H in H Street mean hole?

Does the H in H Street mean hole?

Finally, I felt that I spent way too much time waiting around for the event to begin. We arrived at the race expo just before 7:00 am, so we spent forty minutes milling around. Just after 7:30, all of the runners were led to the start on Palm Drive, where we waited another 30 minutes for the race to begin. Normally, when I run, I just go out the door and start, little to no warmup required.

Ultimately, I have to be happy that my pace over the first two miles had me well under a 20-minute 5K.

Despite the disappointing end to the run, there is a silver lining. The results have come in, and I came in first place for my age group at 21:17 (6:52/mile) and ninth overall. We had to leave early to go to a birthday party, so if there was any podium ceremony by age group, I missed it.

All’s well that ends well. Although I am personally disappointed with how the last mile went, I am satisfied with my age group and overall finish. I’ll chalk up the final mile as a learning experience to avoid the next time I sign up for a race. And, for the next 5K race, I’ll be able to draw on this experience to improve on my time.

The Firehouse Run Podium

The Firehouse Run Podium

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My body-fat composition as calculated by BodySpec
Exercise, Running

I Got My Body Composition Analyzed by Body-Spec’s DXA Scanner, and Here are the Results

On Saturday, I went to the Brick House Fitness center in San Jose, where BodySpec was conducting body fat, muscle and bone scans using a General Electric dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scanner (DXA or DEXA) housed inside the BodySpec RV.

I spoke with the Co-Founder and CEO of BodySpec, Jason Belvill, prior to my scan. He was impressed when I showed him my photos of my 30-pound weight loss and openly wished that I had gotten a scan before losing all that weight. I agree! Unfortunately, I didn’t think about getting a body composition baseline while I was in my chubbier state.

The process of being scanned was painless and relatively quick. Ari, the x-ray tech, had me close my eyes in the beginning as the scanner started head-first. Over six minutes, I lay still as the scan head passed over my entire body; now I know what it’s like to be a piece of paper in a Xerox machine! I was a little concerned that the results would be skewed because the whole truck would shake each time the scan head moved; fortunately, the results don’t seem to have been affected. Bringing the DXA to the customers was a good idea on the part of Body-Spec. The company charges $40 for the initial scan ($55 for each scan thereafter), and it sells packages of up to four scans at a discount.

Read more about my body composition analysis »

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A before and after photo of my weight loss journey.
Exercise, Running

Fit at 40… Before and After a 30 Pound Weight Loss

This post serves as a marker for my weight loss journey as I say goodbye to my 30s and say hello to my 40s. Regular readers, friends and family will note that I’ve been running and doing pull-ups like a madman over the past 8-9 months.

At my heaviest, I weighed 166 pounds. Before, I used to joke with Rae that I had a 5-point Photoshop stroke of blubber around my body. I told her that the lean, muscular Adam was always there, but he was hidden and waiting for the right moment to reveal himself. The shock on the scale, some poor health markers and the impending arrival of our son signaled to me that the time was now to get back into championship form.

As you can see, the hard work has paid off, and the difference in body composition is dramatic. Today, I weighed in at 136.8 pounds.

I might be pushing out the gut out a little bit in the before image, but the stomach had definitely gotten a little paunchy. It's in a much flatter state now!

From the side: I might be pushing it out a little bit in the before image, but the stomach had gotten paunchy. It’s much flatter now!

Read more on how I lost 30 pounds »

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Wear on the New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez versus the 10v2 Trail Shoes
Exercise, Running

New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail Shoe Review

At the beginning of this year, I replaced my venerable Puma H Streets with a pair of New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez shoes. The weight of the Hi-Rez shoes was amazing, even when compared to the already light H Streets. The sole was made up of these rubberized pods that were glued onto the bottom of the shoe. I was curious to see how durable the shoe would be. My H Streets always developed a hole along the outer edge of the shoes due to excessive supination when running. Sadly, my fears were confirmed when I saw holes forming in the Hi-Rez shoes after less than 100 miles. As with my H Streets, I tried using gaffer tape to cover the holes over the next 100 miles of running. In the meantime, I also started looking for a new pair of shoes. I came across the New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail shoe at the local Sports Basement. The 10v2 has a Vibram sole which provides more durability over the Hi-Rez.

There’s this band that runs along the top of the shoe which presses against the top of my right foot, and I had to adjust the lacing pattern on the both shoes to alleviate the top pressure.

So far, I’ve run over 230 miles with the 10v2 and the soles are holding up for now. The wear pattern is there, but no holes have formed as of yet. I figure I’ll be able to get another 100 to 150 miles out of these shoes before I need to replace them.

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Water Fountain at Shoreline Amphitheater
Exercise, Running

First Self-Supported Marathon Run Recap

It was after the third or fourth consecutive self-supported half marathon run that I realized I was actually doing training for a full marathon. I had been doing some serious running (and to a lesser extent biking and swimming) over the past two months, coupled with changes in my diet, in the effort to lose weight. My last half marathon run saw me conquer my personal best time set when I was a freshman in high school. I honestly didn’t think that I would be able to do that so quickly, but that’s what happens when you put in the effort and time towards a worthy goal.

This past week, I had been talking to Rae, Felix S. and Felix W. about the possibility of running a self-supported marathon. I had been checking out possible routes, and I found one that would take me past my regular Levi’s Stadium/Highway 237 route to Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. I decided on Friday that I would at least try to run it; up until then, the longest run that I had done was a 15.3 mile run on June 14, 2014. A full marathon would be 11 more miles! Could I do it? Felix W. had no doubt, writing to me in an email:

Awesome, Adam! I have full confidence you can do it! Today will be an exciting day indeed!

My belief was strengthened hearing this from someone who has completed many marathons, centuries, double centuries, and even the Tour Divide. With good thoughts coming my way, I woke up at 5:30 am on Saturday morning to begin my marathon preparations. While eating my morning banana, I assembled my gear for the run.

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Levi's Stadium 49ers
Exercise, Running

Running, Half Marathons and Weight Loss

When I was a freshman in high school, I ran the San Dieguito Half Marathon. I have only a few memories from the race. First, it was cold and rainy that day, and I wore a very thin cotton t-shirt with a giant Peace symbol on it. Second, immediately after crossing the finish line, I remember collapsing into my father’s arms and being completely drained for the rest of the day and week. The last few miles in the rain were tough, and I was probably suffering from┬áhypothermia. Finally, my time was 1:43:14, which translated to a 7:51/mile pace — not bad for a 14-year old kid — and 500th place out of 1035 participants.

Date Distance Pace Moving Time
February 4, 1990 13.1 miles 7:51/mile 1:43:14

The longest training run that I had done prior to San Dieguito was maybe 10 miles. The extra three miles, the cold weather, and my poor choice of running wear contributed to me swearing off long-distance running for many years. It wasn’t until I met Rae that I ran another half marathon (as part of our personal triathlon training). Last year, I began running more regularly, completing twelve self-supported half marathons:

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The Minimus shoes are remarkably lighter than the already light H Streets.
Exercise, Journal, Running

New Balance Minimus HI-REZ Shoes

For the past several years, my running shoes of choice have been the Puma H Streets. These are a favorite of the POSE running crowd, although they were never meant to be used as running shoes. Today, they are harder to find in my size (women’s size 10, since I can’t seem to find the men’s version anymore). So, when I finally decided that the holes in the shoes were getting too big (check out the photo below), I started looking for a new pair and brand of running shoes.

Felix was telling me that a few of his friends were using New Balance Minimus shoes, so I went over the NB site to check them out. The Minimus is actually a series of lightweight, minimalist running shoes, and the one that struck my eye was the Minimus HI-REZ. The specs show it to be lighter than the H Streets, 3.7 ounces versus 5.8 ounces. Judging solely from the photos, I liked the thicker sole in the front; one drawback on the H Streets was that the bottoms wore out so quickly. I tend to strike the ground on the outside front part of my foot, and that’s where all the holes formed.

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