By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
September 10, 2015
After months and months of pain and misery, the never ending eternal hell that might be known as “summer” here in Tucson is finally starting to simmer a little bit. Yup, I did a silly pun just now, what do you think? Now naturally, the best part about the fall season is the fact just about anything “pumpkin” starts hitting the shelves. Some of my favorite things are pumpkin, namely beer and coffee drinks (though the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte is not vegan, so I don’t drink that…provided I am in the mood to drop six bucks on a a drink). Recently I tried a pretty delectable pumpkin spice beer from Shipyard Brewing, and now I cannot get enough of this stuff. It has the right amount of sweetness to make me forget I am drinking a loaded calorie bomb. Sure, I went back to the hipster liquor store du jour here in Tucson known as Plaza Liquors to get the stuff, but it is well worth the trip. It is where I first fell in love with Wasatch Brewing Company, who have one of the best pumpkin ales I have ever tasted. This year they tried churning out a pumpkin black porter, but I think they sort of miss the mark on that one. Don’t get me wrong, the logo is awesome, but the beer is kind of so-so. Now I made a trip to the store this past week mainly because fall is a good time for me to actually drink. Now I rarely drink anyway, so getting the chance to indulge in a beer or two is a nice little staycation. With the summer over, the threat of instant dehydration is not as prevalent of a threat, especially when the running weather at night hovers close to the mid eighties and is in the low 40-percentile in the humidity index. I’m not saying that is still good for all who try to run their way to fitness, but it is far better than running in 100-degree weather. I was having a fun conversation with my friend Andy this past week in regards to the weather, who lives down in the cesspool of heat known as Phoenix. He was taking a walk while I was talking to him, and he was happy as a clam by the fact the weather in the city had dropped to the mid-nineties! Yup, it is hot in Arizona. I saw an interesting story in Connecticut that stated the schools were shutting down early due to 95-degree weather. Now that may be nothing for someone like me, but for New Englanders, I’m sure that is something close to death (not to mention the humidity was in the high 70s). I especially loved all the knuckleheads who proclaimed we are coddling kids too much, that “when I was in school we dealt with it and had no air conditioning.” But you all still had fans….while living in Alabama or Florida or Arizona or some hot region…places where people are used to that weather. Anyway, I let myself get roped into the argument, stating the main reason for cutting the day in half is the fear of litigation. Trust me, parents sue school districts when their kid isn’t the lone valedictorian or when teachers criticize a student paper. I’m sure having your kid pass out from heat exhaustion or suffer the early symptoms of dehydration would instantly lead to class action lawsuits that would bankrupt any school district.
When you have to deal with the heat, the amount of water you need to intake certainly goes up, and this kind of reminded me in regards to the apocalypse. What will happen to the water supply? Of course, this came across my mind when I watched the deliciously bad movie “Turbo Kid” with my friends Scott and Leo this past week. Set in the style of a late 1970s early 1980s sci-fi post-apocalypse movie, water was kind of the most important commodity in the movie. People would scavenge for days trying to find objects they could trade for the stuff. Now only a couple movies before have really tried to tackle this potential issue, that being Solarbabies and Tank Girl, but Turbo Kid brought a much gorier idea to the plate (and truthfully, much more entertaining). An evil despot was killing people and found a way to separate the water out of dead humans (hence the great line “Your water is people!”). I liked the badness of the film, for it was quite obvious the French Canadians who made it didn’t have a firm grasp of English in regards to the script. And plus it paid homage to the No. 1 issue I always have with post-apocalypse films. Why doesn’t anyone ever use bicycles? I mean, everyone is desperate for gas or motorcycles or whatever, but how come no bikes? Now it was a little absurd when you see BMX chase scenes, but it made much more sense in my book! Not only will you get a killer workout, which would make sense why everyone in the post-apocalypse is buff, but you don’t have to worry about scavenging for gas, which doesn’t last forever. Now I love these kinds of films, for the the last few years ahas brought a fun revival of tongue in cheek meta movies like “The FP,” “Hobo With a Shotgun,” “Kung Fury,” “Zombeavers” and even “Sharknado.” (two references in two blogs…I should get paid for this).
Anyway, my fitness seems to be improving as the heat index continue to inch down to a more livable number. While I am still sporadic with my running, I feel I am getting back into the groove. The summer months have always been my downfall in terms of maintaining fitness, so I feel like I can push it a little harder than normal when it comes to running. And I’m gonna need it. The Ragnar Las Vegas team seems to keep having monkey wrenches thrown into the mix, where we do have twelve runners or we don’t. It’s a day to day mess that makes me wish I was filthy rich and could just pay for the whole darn thing myself. So I need to keep myself ready for the impossible once again. When Ragnar Del Sol kept running into problems, I had this crazy idea in regards to running six legs, which would have totaled out to maybe 31 miles of running. Yeah, I was so nuts that I even packed six changes of clothes, anticipating some mass sweatiness. Fortunately that didn’t happen and we filled the van, but this might be the same problem all over again. At the moment, I might be looking at an extra leg to run in the race, already adding to my 18 miles I am slated for. But this is what happens when you try to do these sort of things. Now I know I can handle it, because it seems to be I am doing nothing but two-a-days the last few weeks.
After a long three day weekend of work (I will usually put in 36 hours in three days), I have to overcome the lack of running I did over the weekend. Tuesday was one of those days where going for a run might have been a terrible idea. Jon put a lot of work on my legs that day, starting with a combo workout of tire flips and deep kettle squats while standing on the tire. I was using the 88-pound kettle we have, just in case you were wondering. Anyway, we would count down from ten in regards to reps, and this was pretty easy enough for me. You see, I am pretty good at both those exercises, so I really had no trouble getting through them. But it was the next part that really brought the hell on me. I had to do a triple combo of workouts; overhead presses, burpies and push-ups. The way this one would work is I would start at 20 reps apiece, and then drop two reps for every round. To put it simply, I was doing 110 reps for each exercise. Now the toughest part was always the burpies, which no matter how fit I get, are still a troublesome workout for me. Then came the overhead presses, which I did at only 95 pounds. Trust me, the weight makes a huge difference, and since Jon wanted me to power through the sets without stopping, we took a lighter weight as a way of ensuring success. It wasn’t like it was easy or anything, for even when you do all of those exercises at a lighter weight, the cumulative effect will make it quite difficult to accomplish. Now I tend to have a bad habit of racking the bar when I get tired, and let me tell you, I really wanted do it this time around. But Jon had the ultimate motivation for me. No, he wasn’t threatening me with a barrage of Taylor Swift music…he was going to film me. So I had to make sure I did it a good pace and take my time, because I didn’t want get caught on camera. Now he did this for a couple rounds, filming while I did the 20, the 18 and the 16. I didn’t really want to fail, even though doing this exercise as many times as I did in a row is not easy. But something had really come over me that day. I really wanted to succeed and get this thing don the right way. So with each rep count, I never did rack the bar. Not even when the darned burpies and tired me out and the push-ups were making me tire out my arms. But I did them all, even if it did take a few extra minutes than I had anticipated. Now you would think I would be done after such a workout, but you are wrong!
After a hearty lunch and a few hours of rest, I opted fora run. I have to tell you, getting your run on after a tough workout is one of the toughest things to talk yourself in to. I kept kicking the idea around, telling myself no, and I can run tomorrow. But I ultimately just decided to do it. You see, with the weather a little ore permissive, I was able to churn out a good 48-minute run. Right now, I am just trying to keep myself above 45 minutes in the running department, and next week I will start making an effort to go 50 minutes or longer. Each week I am getting al little stronger, for the south side routes I take near my home are much tougher than most sides of town. Like I have mentioned many times before, the south side of Tucson is rather poorly designed in regards to all things road related. I intend to put together another two-a-day to day, and I will once again try to put together a 45-minute run later the evening. But here is where the kicker begins. Since I really didn’t do any two-a-day running for Ragnar Del Sol, I’m going to try and do it on Friday. I figured a good run on Thursday evening, followed by a three-mile run on Friday morning and another three mile run on Friday evening might be a good idea. Hopefully, if I prepare a little better this time around, I won’t be such a stressed out mess like I was at Ragnar Del Sol.
Now some might think this kind of workout schedule is crazy, you have to remember I don’t get much time to myself on the weekend. With work being as hard as it is, I usually get home with sore feet and broken body, which means doing anything will make it hard on me. But that is where resolve has to come in and take over. I found out I have been rather stagnant in weight so far this month, having not dropped a pound. I guess this means my 235 goal at the end of the month might be for naught. But on the other hand, when I went out to see that movie with my friends, I discovered by best pair of jeans are fitting me better than ever. Even the jeans that were al little tight on me were fitting better. So in that case, I found some good motivation in spite of the lack of weight loss. I have come to the conclusion that I might not hit 230 by the time of the race, and I am not going to kill myself to do it. But I know for one thing, I’m gonna get close!
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.