Monday, December 31

Healthy 2013!

If one of your resolutions for 2013 is in any way associated with losing weight, getting into better shape, or just becoming healthier, I've got some brief advice – take it or leave it, as I’m by no means an expert

Put a premium on what you eat over working out.

Notice I said what you eat as opposed to how much you eat. Calories are a meaningless metric when it comes to losing or gaining weight. What is more important are the types of foods you ingest and how they direct your metabolism (burn fat, or accumulate fat). As long as you’re eating the right foods, eat until you’re satisfied. That’s it.

Now, let me be very clear:  I’m not saying don’t work out. I don’t think the guy who is an obsessive triathlete and marathoner could ever in a million years say that with a straight face. All I’m saying is that if the very rare [probably non-existent] situation presented itself where you had to choose between eating healthy and exercising, I’d go with eating healthy 100 times out of 100.

Many folks will get back into the gym on January 1st with a goal in mind to lose weight.  Many of those same people won’t make adjustments to their eating habits and will see zero – not minimal, not a little bit – but zero progress. Too many people at this day in age think they can eat whatever they want and then hop on the elliptical for 1hr and ‘burn it off.’ The fact is that it’s just not true.  There’s so much truth to the old adage that “We are what we eat.”


Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2013!

Thursday, December 27

Whole30 GroupMe

Hey guys! For those that don't know, “GroupMe” is a pretty cool application that can serve as a group text through your cell phone, or a private chat room through your tablet or laptop. For the January Whole30, Jessie and I figured we’d give this a try!

We’d love to offer something similar and figured GroupMe could serve as the platform. It’s free, private, you don’t have to give out your cell phone number to folks, and it doesn't take up as much data like SMS can. Also, you can manage the alert settings so you’re not getting pinged when you don’t want to.

If you’re interested in joining to be a part of our January Whole30 GroupMe, click the following link. Feel free to pass it off to anyone you know who is also doing a January Whole30. 

Some people have complained of receiving both SMS text messages and alerts via the GroupMe application on your mobile device. If you're experiencing this, skip to the bottom of this page where we outline a fix. (Thanks to Scott for the tip!)

A few tips regarding GroupMe...

After you click the above link, be sure to follow the step-by-step instructions on installing the application on your mobile device or tablet. You'll want to sync your phone by verifying your cell phone number. It also makes things easier to connect with your Facebook account.

You don't have to be alerted each time a message comes through. To turn off notifications, when you're in the group chat, slide the screen to the right. You can turn the radio button on the bottom right on and off to receive notifications. 

Notifications Off
Notifications On

You can launch GroupMe through your computer as a chat room; you don't have to be on your phone to utilize it. Simply go to GroupMe.com and log-in.

For general support, go to GroupMe's site here

SMS Fix

  1. On a computer or via a web browser on your phone (not in the GroupMe application on your mobile device) visit the GroupMe website.
  2. Click 'Log in' and put in your credentials (or log-in via Facebook if you initially signed up that way).
  3. Once logged in, click your name (e.g. Freddy, Casey, etc.) in the upper right corner and then click 'Profile.'
  4. Scroll down the bottom of the page and click 'Stop SMS Service.'


Tuesday, December 18

Quest to Boston Part III: Third Time Not a Charm

My attempts to qualify for Boston by running 26.2mi in 3:04:59:

1.       Chicago Marathon – October 9, 2011:  3:10:52
The theme: Excitement and pride. “It felt great to fail” as you may recall.  I didn't hit my goal, but I PR’d by a whopping 20min. I had overcome some anxiety and absolutely loved running in Downtown Chicago.

2.       Chicago Marathon – October 11, 2012:  3:10:25
The theme: Disappointment, but more than that, anger. One year later everything was just right. I was in better shape, more confident, more experienced and the weather was perfect. I came away from this race pissed off and ready to avenge my shortcoming on my home court in Dallas.

3.       Dallas Marathon – December 9, 2012: Did Not Finish
The theme: Too much too soon. With the Chicago Marathon a mere two months prior, I may have overextended myself to try and BQ here.

After debriefing with my coach we determined that I wasn't tapered/recovered enough for the race. Granted I knew from the get-go I was rolling the dice on Dallas. It often takes weeks to fully recover from a marathon.

As soon as I started running I felt that something was off. My HR was way higher than it should have been given my pace and previous runs (symptom of not being fully recovered). I ignored it and stuck to the plan. Through mile 14 I was feeling positive, and then I took a turn into the wind at White Rock Lake. At this point my legs started talking to me. Talking soon became yelling, and before I knew it I had fallen victim to 'run-walk, run-walk.' I gutted it out to 19 and then after doing several cost-benefit analyses determined it wasn't my day. I jogged to 21, saw my family, and pulled the rip chord. No sense in struggling through 5 miles to get a medal. I've done the completions; this was Boston or bust.

Someone said to me after the race, "It's a live and learn sport." So true. Amazing how much you learn about endurance sports and more importantly yourself through the training and then the racing. It also occurred to me exactly what it is that I'm trying to do. Trying to qualify for Boston isn't like taking the GMAT. If you get a lousy score you can't just re-schedule and try again the following weekend. It's not like golf or tennis; a coach can't tweak your back-swing or suggest a different follow-through that you can implement and try immediately. Marathoning takes time, and it takes a ton out of you. If I could sign up for another marathon tomorrow and try again I would... or would I?

I also realized through all of this that will power is a muscle.  And like every muscle that you utilize, you also have to rest it. I had been so laser-focused on Chicago for months, and then immediately went back into focusing on Dallas. Recovery is not only essential for the muscles to come back stronger, but for the mind as well. Which is exactly what I'll do through the Holidays. Back at it in 2013.  Until then...


Thanks for all the support, I'm incredibly blessed.  Jessie, Mom, Dad, Kylie, Sadie, Small Group, Family, Friends, Coach Mike, Coach David, SWA, etc. God is good.

Tuesday, November 13

Our First Whole30

31 days ago Jessie and I started a diet called the Whole30. The reason for doing it was more or a less a question of “Why not?” Why not see how the body responds when you eat a ‘clean’ diet? Why not give something a shot that is grounded in scientific research? Why not try something that promises good outcomes? It’s only 30 days. Why not?  

So we did it...

Today is Day 30, the official mark of the end of a successful program. I'm proud to report that there was no cheating whatsoever. I haven't had a grain in over a month. No cream in my coffee, no popcorn at the movies and no beer at happy hour. As preached by the crew over at Whole9, the idea is to be all-in. No half-ass'ing the program. Do it, but do it right, and then yield results.

What is the “Whole30?”

The shortest answer:  Paleo.

The longer answer:  A way of eating that strips out grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol and anything with added sugar/artificial sweetener. It stresses the importance of high-quality proteins and fats. The source of everything is critical: grass-fed beef, pasture-raised meat/eggs and tons of plants (vegetables and fruit). 30 refers to the amount of days the program challenges you to make it in order to see any substantial difference.

So, did it make a difference?

Yes. 100%. My energy levels have sky-rocketed, I no longer hit any sort of afternoon slump. I’m happier. I’m falling asleep faster and waking up feeling better. My allergy symptoms are completely gone. I’m recovering faster from my workouts. I no longer crave unhealthy garbage. I burn more fat for fuel as opposed to relying on carbohydrates. And, despite my best efforts, I lost 10lbs.

The word “diet” has many negative connotations, one of which being that they typically involve calorie-restriction. This diet did not. As a matter of fact, I ate more calories on average during the last 30 days than I had prior to starting the program. For most of my breakfasts, as an example, I would consume around 1,000 calories, 60% of them from fat (raw, canned coconutmilk is delicious)!

(**Note:  I could write so much more on the concept of fat efficiency, the damaging effects of grains, and a lot more of the science, but I’ll save that for another post in the near future.  In the meantime, check out the Whole9 website and poke around – they've got a ton of great reads and valuable resources.)

Observations/Lessons Learned

It wasn't easy, but it got easier. The first week was miserable as my body adapted to less sugar and began the switch over from a metabolism that relied heavily on carbohydrates, to one that tapped into fat as a fuel source. I was cranky, tired, my stomach felt jacked up... things just weren't good. And then something happened: I started feeling better.  Not just better compared to the first week, but better than I had felt in months.

The hardest part was the planning and cooking. Take a moment and think about how much of the food you eat on a daily basis consists of grains (bread, crackers, cereal, oatmeal, etc.). Now, imagine taking that out. Tough, ey? It took a lot of planning and preparation to make it through, but it got easier as time went on. (Props to Chef Jessie, without her, I would have been eating eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Eating Whole30-approved is by far a healthier way of living. The proof is in the paleo-pudding.

Eating Whole30-approved is not sustainable for athletes involved in high intensity exercise/fitness. I found myself lagging at certain points on some days because of hard (high heart rate) workouts. I'm sure it's possible to adapt entirely to rely on carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables to fuel high-intensive workouts, but at this point, I'm not there yet. If my workouts were less intense and more endurance-focused, Whole30-eating would be perfect. (Fast-forward 9 months to see how this concept has evolved in my life. Spoiler alert: I qualified for the Boston Marathon on this diet.)

The bottom line is that I absolutely recommend this. It's amazing how fast the 30 days went by and how much benefit I got from doing it. It's a measly 4 weeks out of your life.  And in all seriousness, it's changed the way I look at food. I'm not saying I'll never have bread again, won't drink some beers or indulge in some desserts, but I will undoubtedly be more aware of what I'm putting in my body (the quantity doesn't matter as much when it's the right stuff!).


There's never a perfect time to start.  There will always be a dinner that comes up, a party, happy hour, occasion, whatever.  I'll be the first to raise my hand and say it would have been nice to have a couple of cheat-snacks at the Halloween parties I attended, or shared some beverages with pledge brothers I hadn't seen in a while at SMU Homecoming. So that's why you pick a day on your calendar, and you go. Give it a whirl. See what it's like to eat clean, give your body a metabolic reset, repair the lining in your stomach, and all the other benefits you can get from doing this. Or if none of those reasons are enticing, perhaps your reason should be the same as mine and Jessie's:  "Why not?"

Monday, October 15

Quest to Boston Part II: Closure on Chicago

One week ago today I was still in Downtown Chicago, sipping on some coffee and eating a [guilt-free] donut with my mom and Jessie at our hotel.  I was re-hashing the race over and over again on what went wrong.  How on earth, I thought, did this happen again?  You see in 2011 I had the same goal at Chicago: Qualify for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:04:59 (7:03/mile pace).  In 2011 I came up short, but was pleased with the result.  This year yielded the same result, but I was far from pleased.  In fact, I was pissed off.

One year is a long time in the world of training.  One year gives you more experience and room to grow as an athlete.  The fact is that I was better prepared for the 2012 Chicago Marathon than I was for the 2011 Chicago Marathon.  I was stronger, faster, and more experienced, not to mention, the weather was about 30 degrees cooler outside.  Everything was in my favor, yet I posted an almost identical time compared to the year prior.

Similarly to last year, the wheels came off at mile 23.  Up until that point I was on track, holding at about a 6:50/mi pace, running with the 3:00 marathon pace group.  I saw my family right about mile 23 and gave them a thumbs up.  I had been mentally battling for the last 5K but at that point I thought I could gut it out to the finish.  6:50’s gave me a buffer zone, so slightly slowing wasn't a big deal.  About 800m after the thumbs up my body said “You're done.”  I became disoriented, slightly dizzy and my legs felt like someone had beaten them with a baseball bat.  The pain isn't sharp, but incredibly dull and achy (magnified to the extreme).  That was it.

See the downfall?


After post-race debriefs galore and analyzing the hell out of my performance, it was determined that two main factors were at play in my failed attempt to BQ.  The first was my nutrition, and probably accounted for 80% of the crash.  Pre-race (the morning of and the day before) fueling was sub-par at best, and fueling during the race was only slightly better.  When I finished the race I was dizzy and "out of it."  Felt like my eyes were looking in two different directions.  Two Sierra Mists and a couple of chocolate chip cookies later, and I could have gone out and ran more.  Lesson learned.  The second was mental.  It's very rare you see an athlete push beyond their physical capacity.  The logical portion of your brain usually stops you before any real damage can be done.  I was no where near any serious medical trouble, yet my brain pulled the rip chord at 23.5.  This is something I can work on, this idea of mental toughness and pushing past pain.

All in all, I was dumbfounded.  As I jogged to the finish line I couldn't help but almost shrug my shoulders at the running gods: "What just happened?  I'm at a loss for words here."  But I know what happened.  And I know what to do in order to fix it.  Adjust, press on.

So now what?  I'll spare you the details of my decision-making process and cut to the chase.  On December 9th I'm going to make my third attempt at qualifying for Boston a charm, and what not a better place than my own backyard?  How nice it will be to run the same course that many I know will be running that same day.  How poetic, too, that this was my first-ever endurance race.

Dallas Marathon:  I'm coming for you.
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