Category Archives: I- Introduction

Two Year “Blog-o-versary” / ACS DetermiNation Dinner & Speech

So today is my 2 year anniversary of all my weight loss efforts, and of this blog. My “blog-o-versary”, if you will. What a difference 2 years can make. I’m still me, but my life is so dramatically different. I’m still holding strong at 200 pounds, roughly 130 lower then I was this time 2 years ago. I’m a new dad again. The blog is continuing on, and has come full circle. What I mean by that is all of this started because I got fed up one day and decided to make changes in my life, but I had no idea how to do it. I consequently turned to the internet looking for inspiration and not surprisingly, came out inspired. Now, my blog is one of the ones that other people who are searching for inspiration are coming across, and it’s helping to fuel their fire. See what I mean about “Full Circle”? It’s totally awesome and words cannot explain how gratifying that is to me) I am now dealing with “athlete problems” and not “dangerously obese” problems- working my way back from running related injuries, not attempting to lost triple digits worth of pounds from my body.  Like I said, pretty much everything is different, and I mean that in the best way possible. I am grateful for the position that I find myself in with the ability to share my story and experiences to help others. To that end: here’s the Year 2 recap of where I’m at right now.

I’m now associated with 2 different athletic based charities. The first is Charity Miles, a phone app based company that tracks your workouts and accrues money based on your mileage to your choice of approved charities. It’s pretty awesome and a way to leverage the workouts you’d be doing anyway to generate funds for those who need it. Who knows, the money that was donated as a result of your random Tuesday morning 5K might just be what puts food in the bowl of a hungry puppy (via the ASPCA) or helps researchers find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease (via the Michael J Fox Foundation). Very real and tangible results can come out of you downloading the app and hitting the start button before going for the run you were about to do anyway. So yeah, it’s safe to say I’m a supporter.

Additionally, I am associated with The American Cancer Society. In no formal capacity other then an active participant and avid supporter (but you never know what will happen in the future) I took part in a race through their athletic based fundraising program, named DetermiNation. Ever since then I was completely on board and looking forward to getting more and more involved. Again, it’s a way to take what you are doing for your own reasons and add an extra layer of meaning (and drive, and satisfaction, etc) to it all. Attending the DetermiNation functions such as the kick off meeting and the pre-race dinner you get to see exactly where the money you raise goes and some of the actual people and their support systems that it goes to help. This puts a face to what could otherwise just be a lofty ideal kind of goal and really drives it home. My running has done so much for me, and I am happy to say that I have been able to use it to do for others as well.

To further elaborate on the involvement with DNation, This past week I was asked to be the inspirational speaker and share my story at the recent pre-race pasta dinner for runners of the Philadelphia Full and Half Marathon. I was amazingly honored, humbled, and excited to be there, and it turned out to be one of the hardest things I’ve done to date surrounding my entire weight loss/ lifestyle change experience- up to and including losing the weight. I have written about it at length for 2 years now, given a multitude of interviews about it, but had never really “spoke” about it until now. That was surprisingly difficult and emotional for me. It’s much easier to hide behind a keyboard than to stand up in front of a room full of people and actually say these words out loud. Seems like a subtle distinction, but I can tell you it is a whole different world. I thought that putting everything out there on the internet left you with a feeling of being vulnerable. Dude, that is NOTHING to standing up there in front of everyone and talking about it.   Now, I feel like I had the deck stacked against me a little. I’ve never spoken about anything that I am so closely tied to and emotionally invested in. and in my defense, it was a very emotional night., I mean, come on…I was scheduled to follow up the Brain Cancer survivor and then the slideshow of people that all the athletes are dedicating their runs to. Read- loved ones who were either currently in the fight against cancer or who have passed as a result of it. (….and now here’s Andy!) I got up there, trying to hold it together, saw my daughter’s name on the paper as I glanced over everything, and then let the shaky voice and weepiness commence instantly. I’m very glad that I did it, but it definitely opened my eyes to experiences that are much more difficult than I anticipated, but to have the immediate feedback of audience members coming up to me after the fact coming up to me and thanking me for sharing was completely fantastic. I’m also glad I did it because writing a speech to be read to a room full of people who don’t know me was very different than a phone call to a writer who has read my blog and has frame of reference. It was a different way of telling the same story I’ve told countless times now. (in case you are interested, I’m attaching a copy of my speech to the bottom of this post in case you are new here or are interested in hearing what I read to that room of approx. 100 Philly Marathon/ Half Marathon charity runners and their families). I’m looking forward to continuing my involvement with DNation, so much so that I’m organizing a team for Broad Street and will certainly be looking to make things bigger and better every year. With any hopes, this is just the beginning.

Bringing it back to the anniversary of all of my efforts and the blog: in addition to trying to help others, there is one more common thread between now and that day I started 2 years ago. I have a plan in place for the next year that is set to challenge me with the unknown and take me into races that I have never considered before. I am talking about my 2014 race calendar and the three back to back to back Triathlons I am registered for.  It’s going to be a whole new world of training, scheduling,  balance, and pushing myself through limitations that I thought were previously impossible.

I’m looking forward to continuing to share everything with you all, and consider myself fortunate to have you along for the ride with me thus far. I’ll be talking all about my efforts to rehab my leg, my triathlon training, my fundraiser virtual 5K, and whatever else presents itself. I try to keep it interesting, please let me know if you have any feedback/ ideas/ etc.

Thanks for everything, and as always, till next time: take it easy.

Andy

———- DetermiNation Speech ———-
-As delivered at the American Cancer Society Philly Marathon Pre-Race pasta dinner on Sat, 11/16/13-

Good evening everyone. My name is Andy Aubin, and I am a DetermiNation runner, just like all of you. I ran my first Race with ACS last year at Broad Street, and by the time that race was over I was officially hooked on the entire charity running experience. I actually got to know John* after the fact, the first time we had a really substantial conversation was when he called to thank me for the fundraising efforts, since I ran a pretty successful Virtual 5K to raise money to meet my team’s goal. We kept in touch and spoke on a few occasions and he got to know my story. But I’ll be honest, when he reached out and asked me if I’d be willing to speak tonight, it was only after hesitating for a moment that I said yes. Reason being is that I feel a little out of place up here in front of all some of the people in this room. Marathoners. Running Coaches. People fighting with cancer and all their supporters. Survivors. Surviviors! People who went up against cancer AND WON. I mean: I’m just some guy who set out to fix the mess that I was in. A better way to say it might be this: Look, I would be remiss without starting this off by saying that even though I’m up here telling you my version of an inspirational story; I am standing in awe of all of you all as well. And as out of place as I might feel, I also feel oddly at home too, if that makes any sense. I look around the room and I’m surrounded by runners, and by that measure I am among “my people”. That’s something I never would have even dreamt of saying 2 years ago. Hell, that would be the punch line to a joke:  Being at home in a room full of runners. I would have broken out in a sweat just thinking about that. But here I am: here we all are: and that seems as good a way as any to transition into my story.
Looking backwards, I have always been a big guy. So much to the point where growing up my nickname was always “Big Andy”. I was not always super heavy like that, but I was always the big guy, taller and broader than all of my friends. About 10-15 years ago though, things changed on me. I very quickly went from being Big Andy the bigger that the rest of his friends guy to Really being Big Andy, ballooning up to 330-340 at my highest. I knew the name had taken on a whole new meaning, but I just dealt with it. I eventually came to embrace the name, and I almost hid behind it after a while. That brings me to that starting point 2 years ago, almost to the day.

So there I was, a 6’3”, 330 pound guy in his mid 30’s. My wife and I had just brought our first child, our daughter Tessa into our family the previous April, and the thoughts of my obvious weight issue and what kind of harmful repercussions it had for myself, and by extension my family were in the forefront of my mind. All of a sudden I found myself in a position where the way that I had been living comfortably for so many years was no longer acceptable. It was not acceptable for me to be so big that I risked leaving Tess and my wife Jenn earlier than I should, it was not acceptable because I did not want to set the wrong example for her growing up, and it was not acceptable because quite frankly, the thought of that little girl growing up and being held back in any way because I was too damn lazy to be in shape for her was just unthinkable to me.

All of this was playing very heavily on my mind, but I found myself in the all too familiar rut of wanting to do something but honestly not even knowing how or where to begin. Now like most habitually overweight people, I had tried the entire range of diet plans and gimmicks. Weight watchers, etc. I did this time and time again and even experienced some success, but it  always went the same way:  I would start out like gangbusters, but the a few weeks or months later I would fizzle out or get bored or whatever and then fall off the wagon, only to end up exactly where I started. This time, however, was different. It wasn’t about me. Well, it was, but the driving force had someone else at it’s core.  

Like I said, all this was playing very heavily on my mind, and then one day, one random Friday I hit my tipping point. I work in Corporate America. In your standard, run of the mill office building. On the second floor. So on this random Friday, Nov 18, 2011 to be exact I go into the office just like any other day and get winded walking up the flight of stairs just to get to my desk. Really winded. Breathing hard, beginnings of breaking a sweat. From 20 steps.

But I’m glad it happened, because it was then right and there that I decided enough was enough. For me, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I mean, this was nothing new, it had happened to me before on multiple occasions, but that day I was just ready. I didn’t know how exactly, but I knew it was going down, and it was starting that day.  

I’m not embarrassed to admit I spent the better part of that day searching the internet for ideas and inspiration, and not surprisingly, I came out of it inspired. I came up with this crazy master plan that I was going to take my couch potato body and somehow transition it into a runner’s. I had a full year’s worth of activity laid out with the intention of becoming more fit and active. I decided I had 100 pounds to lose, and I was going to do it by running. I had every intention of literally running my ass off.

There was only one problem with that all of this: let’s not forget that even the thought of physical activity was enough to break me out into a sweat. I couldn’t walk up the 20 steps from floor 1 to floor 2 without breathing heavy. How exactly was I going to become a runner? Well, first and foremost, I’m a planner. So I decided to go with what I know…I did the research and laid out a plan. It was twofold at first. I was going to ease my way into running and I was going to utilize every means available to ensure that I forced myself to keep going once I fizzled out and wanted to quit. As for the easing myself into running: Well, I had tried the popular Couch to 5K program before and week 1, day 1 kicked my butt every single time, so I needed something more introductory to start. So after some digging I discovered a similar program called 4 weeks to 1 mile, which (just like C25K) does exactly what the name implies. Slowly builds you up to running a mile over a 4 week span.

As for the forcing myself to keep going, well for me that meant going public. To that end I decided to start a blog on the internet. I had tried to lose weight “in secret” countless times before, and I knew for a fact that it was entirely too easy to quit if there was no accountability. So I started it all. It was slow going at first, when I began I could not run ¼ of a quarter mile track. 1/16 of a mile was enough to make me feel like I was about to die. I will never forget my very first workout, and let me tell you: that was one heck of a first night. Not only did I break out in a heavy sweat and start panting immediately after running 1/16 of a mile, but when I was almost through what I will refer to as “that first mile of pain”, I fell off the treadmill. Fell. Off. The. Treadmil. Now, I am one of the clumsiest guys you’ll ever meet, but come on? Who falls off the treadmill on day one? I’ll tell you who….this guy.

Long story short, I slowly progressed through the 4 weeks to a mile program, and transitioned directly into the Couch to 5K. I just kept it moving right along. At the same time as this I also decided to start changing the way I ate as well by counting calories. I was not entirely unfamiliar with the concept because it was basically a food log just like I had done for so many times with weight watchers. Only this time I took it seriously and did not look for creative way to cheat or give up. This also added another way for me to measure my success. If I had a crappy week on the scale but completely rocked it on the treadmill -or vise versa- there was still some positives to be drawn. I progressed through the couch to 5k, and while it certainly was not easy I was able to push through, and for every ache, pain and lung burning run I was also rewarded with progress. Progress on the treadmill, on the scale, and mentally as well. I swear to you, I would walk out of that gym absolutely amazed more times than not that I had actually completed the run I just finished. I would go into it thinking that there was no way that I could pull it off, and then somehow managed to get through it and get ready to push it even harder the next time. I got the chance to run my first 5K in Early February of 2012. I never even gave a thought as to what the running conditions would be in an early February 5K, all I knew was that I was scheduled to finish the program at that time, and I WAS RUNNIG IN A 5K RIGHT THEN AND THERE. Yeah…so it snowed. So there I was, the most novice of novice runners heading out for one of my first outdoor runs ever in the snow. If nothing else, it was guaranteed to be memorable. I can’t say I ran the entire thing, but I finished in 35:00 flat and I will never forget the feeling of coming into that final stretch and crossing that finish line. It was enough to hook me for life. It took me another solid month of training to be able to run a full 5k and actually run the entire thing, but just like before it was steady progress and like I said, there was no stopping me at that point.

All told in that first year I trained for and ran 4 5Ks, a 10K, a Mud run, one planned Half marathon (the Philly Rock and Roll Half) and then I noticed that there was a second Half marathon that fell exactly one year to the day of when I started everything. One year exactly to transition from a guy who was sweaty and breathing hard from walking up a flight of stairs to a guy who was sweaty and breathing hard after running for 13.1 miles for the second time in a matter of months. I had to do it. That race, coincidentally, was the Philly Half Marathon. It meant the world to me then for so many reasons and this race will always be near and dear to my heart.  

So all this time as my running progressed and my fitness level went up, my weight was going down. All told, those hundred pounds that I had planned to lose over the span of the full year actually came off in 6 months. Even when I stopped counting calories so aggressively after I hit the 100 pound mark and let things “level off” so to speak, I still lost another 20 pounds on top of that initial 100.

Nov 18, 2011, 328.8 pounds, my official starting weight. Nov 18, 2012, 205 pounds.

Needless to say: It was one hell of a year, and will long be remembered as the year I completely changed my life.

In the time from then till now, I have focused on maintaining the healthy and active lifestyle and trying to help others do the same. I ran the last one of my initial goals, Broad Street last spring, and like I said, did so with DetermiNation. Additionally, I got in a great group of races, and focused on the blog which I mentioned earlier.

I honestly started it as a way to keep myself honest and accountable throughout the process. I figured it would add an extra layer of motivation when the going got tough and I wanted to quit, figured it would be a great way to look back at everything once it was all said and done. I thought it would serve as a way for those in my inner circle, close friends and family and such who wanted to check my progress to keep tabs on how was doing. What I did not anticipate, however, is it taking off like it has. So it turns out that when you are setting out on an effort like this, people come out of the woodwork who are looking to support you. Friends, family, casual acquaintances, even complete strangers went out of their way to keep me motivated and on track.

 I never set out to be an inspiration; I was just a fat guy trying to fix the mess I was in.  I think my brother said it best when we were talking about it one night: I was mentioning about how the blog was starting to take off and how I was getting a bunch of messages from people telling me that I have inspired them. He summed it up with the following statement. “People like you and your story because you’re just ‘some dude’. No personal trainer or dietician or fitness resorts, you are the same guy who has to get up and go to work every day and then come home and take care of his family” I like to think that’s true, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being “just some dude”. In fact, I prefer it that way: if nothing else it provides proof that this kind of thing can be done. I love the feeling I get from chatting with a new runner about beginner’s questions or discussing the combo of diet and exercise. It’s all great stuff and if it helps somebody get started in any way, then all the better.

So that pretty much brings us up to date. So here I stand, and I’ll ask the question that I would want to know if I was in your seat right now. “So if you are this great weight loss /runner guy now, how come you’re not running with us tomorrow?” excellent question.

Two reasons. One, with my new son AJ being born in August, so the free time that would be required to train has been all but removed. I’ve traded my running shoes and compression socks for diapers and pacifiers lately. And Two, I am working through 2 separate injuries/ problems. I have IT Band issues on one leg for the first time ever that I am working through, as well as a crappy arthritis riddled knee on the other leg so I am dedicating this entire fall & winter to improving myself as a runner  (which ironically means a whole lot of not running), but it’s all ok. After you prove to yourself that you can shed the weight of the average 15 year old boy, the prospect of having to strengthen your legs, hips, and butt really doesn’t seem all that bad anymore, you know?

So that’s it, that’s the story of how I turned from 330 pound couch potato into the 200 pound runner who stands in front of you now. I am proud of my accomplishments, definitely for me but even moreso for what it means to my family; and I’m proud of the fact that I have been able to help others take some of the same steps for themselves so they can see some positive change as well.

Personally, I’m now comfortable calling myself a runner. I love running, and it’s true that it really does give more than it takes. If I never get to run another mile again in my life, I’ll have gotten back tenfold what I have put in. I’ve gotten confidence, energy, a new outlook on everything- of course in terms of fitness, but that also carries over into “real life” as well- work, relationships, etc…all of it. And most importantly I’ve gotten more time: more healthy years to be the dad and husband my family deserves; and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

That being said, I’m certainly not done yet. I won’t be running tomorrow, but I will be out on the course rooting each one of you on. If you see me, throw me a high five as run by, I’ll be living vicariously through you and having a great time doing it.

So in closing I just want to thank you for listening to my story, and as one final thought I’ll give you the same sendoff I give every one of my friends as they head into their races:

It’s Go Time.
Good Luck.
Have Fun.
Kick Ass.

Thank you very much, have a great run tomorrow.

* NOTE: The “John” I refer to the American Cancer Society Staff member who organized the entire fundraising campaign and series of events associated. One heck of a great guy and super supportive of me and my efforts.

Advertisements

Welcome!

Welcome!

My name is Andy, and this  is my story. I started out to lose weight and get fit because I was fed up and needed to make a change in my life. I found myself horribly overweight and out of shape, and realized that my daughter and wife deserved better than that from me. So, as a 330 pound man, I decided to try the impossible and start running. (Well, walking and running. A LOT more walking than running at first and then slowly worked my way up.) That, coupled with watching what I eat by counting calories has helped me to lose 130+ pounds, get myself back into shape, and completely change my life. (that’s the quick and dirty version of my story, anyway; if you want to take a look at a much more complete and detailed version, check out my very first post and introduction HERE)

I started this blog in the very beginning to keep myself accountable and honest throughout the entire process. Since I started I have trained for and raced everything from 5K, 10K, 10 Milers, and Half Marathons, and I am now slowly pushing forward, continuing the distance running and learning how to balance it all with “real life” along the way.

What you will find on this blog is a first hand account- a two and a half year snapshot of my life during this time. I am now at the end of my public weight loss efforts, but in the beginning when I was heavy into the weight loss efforts I would post close to 3 times a week, and once I hit the goals and started progressing into maintaining, racing, and product reviews, the frequency dropped to once a week or so, but all in all it’s a very consistent view of what was going on in my head and in my body during that time.

The story ends with me losing the weight, and altering the way I pretty much look at everything. This weight loss and blog have changed my entire life, and I could not be more grateful to all the readers, old and new who stop by and check out what I have had to say.

I have decided that as of June of 2014 I will not be regularly updating the blog anymore, but I am leaving it up for the sake of any other people out there who can still find some value in the chronicle of my weight loss. I will check back in from time to time, but if I can leave you with some parting words I want them to be this:

You can do it. believe me, if I can do this, you can too. I was the laziest couch potato there was, but once I hit my tipping point and decided to try it for real, I can serve as proof that hard work produces real results. One of the reasons I love running so much is because it provides me the way to surprise myself by accomplishing things that I honestly thought were impossible, even a short time beforehand. It’s an amazing feeling and I genuinely hope you get to experience it too. Hang in there, and keep at it, we’re all in this together.

I’m proud to share my story with you and hopefully it can inspire some more people out there to try, because it can be done!

 

Here We Go: Introduction & A Little History

Ok, this first post is a big one, but stick with me, there was just a lot to get out this first time…

Well hello, not sure exactly where to start with this, so I guess I’ll begin with a little bit about myself and why I’m writing all this in the first place and putting it out there.

My name is Andy, and I am trying to document my efforts and experiences while getting myself back into shape. I’m doing it to keep myself honest, keep myself accountable, and use it as a way to remember exactly what I am going through so that whenever I feel myself slipping (and I will slip), I can look back at everything i’ve done and use it as a tool to keep going forward. If someone else out there can relate to what I’m going through, all the better…

So where to begin? Like I said, my name is Andy; I’m a 6’3”, 330 pound, 34 year old guy living in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I’m a husband to a spectacular woman who truly is (pardon the cliché, but damn if it’s not the truth) the love of my life and my best friend (Jenn), and an amazingly proud father to a 6 month old daughter, (Tessa). Jenn & I just recently celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary in October, and back in April, my life (actually, both of our lives) changed completely when Tess came along.

For me, that was the game changer.

Tessa has completely rocked my world, in all of the best possible ways. I am so in love with her and she gives me strength and drive that I never even knew existed. It’s not about me anymore, it’s all about her and while I am doing this for myself, my driving force is the two ladies in my life. I need to make sure I am healthy and around for them. (Plus Tess is going to be mobile soon, rolling and crawling and such, which only leads to walking and running, so it’s important to me that I be sure that I can keep up with her, I don’t want to ever come across a situation where she is held back in any way because I was too damn lazy to be in shape for her)

A little history on me: I’ve always been a big guy. As a matter of fact, my nickname has always been “Big Andy”. In the beginning, it was always because I was just a big guy, taller and broader than just about all of my friends, not heavy, just a big boy. Over the past 10-15 years or so, however, the nickname has come to take on a whole new meaning. I ballooned up by approx 100 pounds, bringing me to my robust current state. I honestly attribute it to my being content and lazy. I met Jenn about 10 years ago, and when we started dating and I fell pretty hard and amazingly fast for her. And once I was with her, happy and content, the weight just started coming on slowly and I really didn’t even notice till it was too late. Fast forward to today, I’m Big Andy still, only difference is that now it’s because it’s much nicer and less offensive to say than “Fat Andy”. Not that anyone would actually say that, but you know what I mean. Now, I’ve accepted that name a long time ago, and I actually used to wear it as a badge of honor, I’m guessing after I realized I was heavy and it had a dual meaning, I stuck with it as my way of dealing with the fact I was so big or whatever… but those days are over, and it’s time to make a move on this. I am no longer content with being fat and lazy. I was ok with it when I was responsible for just me, and I was still ok with it when it was me and Jenn, but now with Tessa in the mix, it is no longer acceptable for me to be in this shape.

So as with a lot of people who have been heavy over a long period of time, I’ve been down the diet road time and time again. I’ve joined weight loss programs, had some success, then fell off the wagon time and time again. I know they always say that “it’s a lifestyle change” and all that, yadda yadda yadda, but damn if it’s not the truth. I can say this with certainty because every time I let my guard down or fizzled out on the program, I packed the pounds right back on. Here’s how it went with me: every time I was going to start, I would completely pig out the week or so beforehand, (because you know, I was about to give up all the bad food for good, right?) Which resulted in me giving one last minute beef up to my weight before I even started. I’d go on the diet or plan or whatever and follow it hardcore (with success, I might add) until I ran out of steam a few weeks or a month into it, and then I’d fizzle out, and slowly gain all the weight back. Then repeat the cycle, over and over again, with months, usually years in between. I’m not one of those who will sit there and say “I gained it all back plus some”. I always seem to settle back at the 330-340 range and fluctuate around there. So here I sit, right at 330, and honestly sick of it. So screw it, if it takes a lifestyle change, then it’s time to change up the lifestyle.

OK, so I’ve given a little about me, a little about how I got into this mess, and a little about my successes (or lack thereof) with weight loss thus far. The only thing left is to lay out my plan to fix it and then just get on with it.

I’ve given this a good deal of thought and this time around I’m doing things a little differently, at least in the way that I am approaching everything. I am not going to focus on just losing weight, not going to be hyper-focused on just the number, but moreover I am going to focus on getting back to being physically fit, because I believe that the two are linked anyway, and with one will come the other. I’m sure you will read this and think it’s the same thing, Po-tay-to/Po-taa-to, but it’s my way to get my head right going into this, and you know what they say: Free your mind and your ass will follow. (or something like that)

So the plan came about as a direct result of me finally getting completely disgusted with my current condition. It’s a shame that it takes me getting absolutely disgusted with myself to make a move like this, but that’s the way it worked out. (On a side note, I can’t guarantee some great insightful significance to come out of my writing all this, but I can guarantee honesty, even if it’s not the most flattering to myself) Now I am typically a pretty happy guy, I have a great family, a wide circle of friends, and I have always been very quick and eager to meet new people and will often start up a conversation with anybody I come across, which is why my being so fed up is kind of a departure from my normal disposition and how I knew it was time. That’s the only answer I can give my closest friends and family when they ask me the inevitable “why now?” question. Quite simply, It’s just time. …Sorry, back to being disgusted. I’m pretty sure that the last straw was my getting winded while walking up the stairs in my office building. We’re not talking about a lot of steps here, I work on the second floor, and it’s got to be 20 or so steps max. (Hence my disgust)

So this was all on my mind and I was talking to one of my buddies (I’ll call him BB), and I was telling him what was new with me and what I was thinking about lately, namely, my big fat ass and how I am recently dedicated to losing it. I was saying that I knew it would be a ton of work, be hard as hell to do it, and I wasn’t even really sure how to start yet. This is where he saw the proverbial “open door”. BB launches into this little idea he’s had for a while now, but, and I’m paraphrasing here, “He hasn’t found anybody stupid or crazy enough to do it with him yet”. He goes on to tell me about the Tough Mudder. A 10-12 mile event that is less a race and more a military style obstacle course. (www.toughmudder.com) And it’s not enough to just do one of those obstacle course races, oh no, this is the one where you crawl through mud, jump into ice cold water, run between bales of hay on fire, carry logs up hills, run through live electric wires, etc…So it’s the most Badass of all the events I’ve seen. As a matter of fact, the whole point of the Tough Mudder is not to finish with the best time, it’s just to finish, period. Now I’ve had friends who have done “Mud Runs” before, and they have a lot of similar stuff: mud, water, cargo nets, the walls to jump over, etc… but the best way I’ve heard to describe it is that the Mud Runs are a “Light” version of the Tough Mudder.

The Tough Mudder has events all across the country, and it comes back to our general area in October of 2012, so I have approx. a year to change from completely out of shape to fit enough to complete that madness.

This works for me because I always work better when I have a specific goal (no matter how insane it may be) that I’m working towards (as opposed to the broader “getting into shape and losing weight” accomplishment alone, with no measuring stick to gauge my success or failure) and having this hardcore goal will give me something to work for.

Ok, so I have a goal, now I just have to get there. The only way I am going to pull this off is to set incremental goals for myself and work up to it. I am starting my first run tonight, and beginning with the “4 weeks to one mile” program (http://tinyurl.com/c7uahf5). This will allow me to pick up the “Couch to 5K”( http://tinyurl.com/4gtmz) running program as soon as it ends, and allow me to run my First 5K on Feb 11th. (I’ll be running the Cupid’s Chase 5K in Philly- http://tinyurl.com/c7krea6 ).Now I have Step 1.

My plan is to not stop, just keep pushing all year, so as soon as I hit the 5K, transition right into training for a 10K, and run that on May 19 (the Kennett Run 10K in Kennett Square, PA. http://tinyurl.com/7e66a5g) It’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere in relation to where I live, but the dates line up to where I’d like it to be, so I’ll haul my ass out there to run it. There’s Step 2.

The Third Step comes on June 9 with the10K MS Mud Run in Philly. This will be my first taste of the mud, water and obstacles. Good news is for that one, you can put together a team to run with, and I’ve already started to reach out to a bunch of friends and family that I know I can’t back on to do it with me. (Team Morning Wood- “we run hard”, I know it’s kind of toilet humor, but still pretty funny, right?) This is a way to make sure I’ve got strong people to help me if I need it, and also to guarantee that I will do it, because I sure as hell can’t back out on my brothers or cousins now that we said it’s going to happen.

Step 4 will be very similar to 3, with the Down and Dirty Mud Run in Philly. Date is still to be set, but looks like July. Same deal, 10K run with obstacles to serve as a tune up for the mudder, doing it with a team.

During the months of June, July, and August, along with the mud runs I want to train for and complete my Step 5, a half marathon in Sept, The Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Philly and finally the Tough Mudder on October 27.

Extremely Ambitious? Hell yeah. Is there I chance I will fall flat on my face, fail, and not complete all of this? Of course. But like I said, It’s time, and I am ready go get on with it. So no more talking about it, it’s just time to start moving this big body and see if my ass can cash the checks my mouth has been writing.

So there it is, or in a much more clear and succinct layout:

11/2011- Train for 5K

12/2011- Train for 5K

1/2012- Train for 5K

2/2012- 5K (2/11)/ Train for 10K

3/2012- Train for 10K

4/2012- Train for 10K

5/2012- 10K (5/19)/ Train for Half Marathon

6/2012- 10K Mud Run (6/9)/ Train for Half Marathon

7/2012- 10K Mud Run (??)/ Train for Half Marathon

8/2012- Train for Half Marathon

9/2012- Half Marathon (9/16)

10/2012- Tough Mudder in NJ (10/27)

So here we are, thanks for reading this very long winded introduction and hopefully you will join me as I go through this insane challenge. I’ll keep updating as I go along, and try to give you an honest account of what I’m going through. Until next time, take it easy. -Andy