Blimpman’s Blog-Running the Distance

Posted on 05/16/2014 by | AARP Colorado | Comments

Richard1Congratulations to Richard for being selected the winner of the 1/2 Marathon Life Reimagined Contest.  Follow his weekly blog as he begins to prepare for the 1/2 Colfax Marathon to be held on May 18, 2014 at City Park.

 

Coming to an end…

unknown (1)Blimpman is in a state of euphoria!  He’s just completed the Colfax Half Marathon in a personal best time of 3 hours and 3 seconds – more than a minute per mile faster than any of his prior training walks!

He’s especially thankful to all the folks that helped make this moment happen:

  • ·      Jeremiah Mora, Allison Snyder, and all the others at AARP Colorado who put together the 1/2 Colfax Marathon Life Reimagined Contest – the impetus to getting Blimpman off the couch and onto the running track!
  • ·      Julie Tubbesing from Body for Fitness, who was instrumental in getting Blimpman into shape for the marathon – she’s the best!unknown (2)
  • ·      Liz Easterly and others from Kaiser Permanente for sponsoring the marathon (and providing a really cool warmup jacket!)
  • ·      Kathy Bernard and the rest of the gang at “2 Boomer Babes” for the opportunity for Blimpman to be on NPR
  • ·      Steven Glaser and the rest of the Wish of a Lifetime group for their encouragement and connections to other marathoners
  • ·      Friends, family, and other supporters too numerous to count
  • ·      And finally, the incredible support and love of my gorgeous wife and fellow half marathoner!

And so, in this, the last episode of Blimpman’s Blog, Blimpman sits contentedly at home, resting with the assurance of a major milestone achieved, and resting with two icepacks on his knees!

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blimpmanphotoMay 16, 2014

On this dusty dirt road, heat waves ripple, causing mirages in the distance.  The desolate landscape is almost devoid of vegetation, with just a few stubby “bottle trees” and isolated clumps of grass interrupting the parched earth.  No animals are visible – not even a bird in the sky.  The air is still but palpable in its heat.

It’s early May, yet the temperature is well over 100 degrees.  Not another person is out in this sweltering furnace of a day to see Blimpman staggering through his daily run.  Not that the heat is the cause of his lurching gait – his jogging style is pretty much staggering/plodding as a matter of course anyway :).

Where is Blimpman that he’s experiencing such a cauldron?  Death Valley?  The Sahara?  No, he’s on vacation in the country of Paraguay, to attend the wedding of a close family friend.  Even though he’s over a thousand miles away from home, Blimpman has brought his jogging gear with him, so that he can stay in shape for the upcoming Colfax Half Marathon.

Because Paraguay’s in South America, it is mid-fall there when it is mid-spring in the United States, and we are in one of the driest areas within the country.  Blimpman’s prepared – he’s set up his cell phone so that he can call in case of emergency, he’s got energy bars, water, and sunscreen with him, as well as eye protection and wicking, light colored clothing and Foreign Legion style hat.   He has let family & friends know his route, and when he expects to be back.

As he finishes his run, Blimpman thinks, “That was a really good workout under tough conditions – thank heavens I packed lots of deodorant with me – I’m going to need it”!

 

Last week before the big race!

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May 9, 2014

Check out his radio interview 

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 May 2, 2014

Blimpman is standing alone, in a bare room that has only a computer screen and keyboard on one side of the room, and a solitary measuring device on the other side.  Atop the computer screen is a camera, pointed toward the far wall.  Blimpman answers a screenful of questions, and then is instructed to place himself atop the measuring device and await further orders.

What purpose does the measuring device have?  What is going on?  Is Blimpman caught up in some nefarious mad scientist’s experiment?

It turns out that Blimpman is at one of the many “Weigh and Win” locations in Colorado.   He is standing on an electronic scale, which will take his baseline weight.   Every three months thereafter, Blimpman will have his weight and picture taken.  For each 5% of that baseline of weight he loses, there is a cash reward.

To help keep participants on track in losing weight, this  program includes daily emails with encouragement and advice, fitness guides and how-to podcasts, and other resources.

Blimpman wants to continue to improve his health and fitness, even after the Colfax Half Marathon is completed.   By enrolling in this program, he is committing to keep journaling his activity and is motivated by the quarterly checkups to continue making progress.  He is working on adopting healthy habits towards attaining good health, including monitoring his state of health through annual checkups.

As he said recently to a friend who is also working on getting healthy, losing weight and getting fit, “I hope we see less of each other from now on!”

April 25, 2014

It’s a gray morning.   Not so early that it is dark outside, but still early enough that the sun’s rays haven’t appreciably warmed up the ambient temperature.   There’s a cold, intermittent wind that makes it feel much colder than what the thermometer reads.  It’s the type of morning custom-made for sleeping in, for tucking the comforter a little tighter and burying one’s head under a pillow for a little while longer.

But Blimpman is out walking the neighborhood, instead of enjoying the warmth of the bed covers.  What force has compelled him to venture outside and stick to his walking regimen?   What could be strong enough to overcome the powerful lure of the dynamic duo of the Duke of Duvet and the Flannel Sheets Kid?

It’s Blimpman’s Bunch – several neighbors that walk with him each morning at the same time.  Knowing that the others in the group will be outside waiting in the cold if he is late, forces him to be extra sure he wakes up promptly to be ready on time.  Each member of the group keeps each other accountable, and collectively insures that they get multiple hours of walking in each week.

Today everyone is walking a little more briskly than usual, yet not so briskly that an animated conversation can’t take place.   As many interesting topics are discussed, and everyone gets caught up on what’s happening in their lives, Blimpman reflects on how lucky he is to have such good friends, and how much their support has helped him get in shape.  He counts himself fortunate to have friends that write encouraging e-mails and texts.  And he’s especially thankful to have a wife who’s supporting him all the way, even to the point of training for, and participating in the half marathon herself.

April 18, 2014

Heads are turning throughout the neighborhood park, as people gasp and ask, “what is that… or… who is that?”  Others mutter, “I wonder if that fellow is color blind?”.

One bystander exclaims, “is the circus in town”?

Like a jubilant multicolored platypus, or an overjoyed clown, Blimpman is happily jogging down the trail in his lime green wool top, florescent blue gloves, black and silver running suit, and size 13 EEEEEE running shoes. P1100560

Gently murmuring in Blimpman’s ear (through bright orange earphones), a bevy of smartphone apps. RunKeeper is announcing every quarter mile milestone reached, as well as mapping out the route traveled, and various statistics such as minutes per mile and calories burned.  MyFitnessPal takes that run information and combines it with his food and exercise log for a complete picture of exercise and nutrition.

And Blimpman is rocking out!  With both PaceDJ and FitRadio available to play tunes with a predetermined cadence, he’s keeping a steady pace.  PaceDJ analyzes all the tunes that are already on his phone, and chooses just those that match Blimpman’s desired tempo.  FitRadio downloads a new batch of tunes each time to mix things up, and is especially good when Blimpman doesn’t already have enough tunes of a given pace.

When Blimpman has a day of exercise instead of running, he turns to his Suspension Strap Gravity Training videos app, which shows him scads of different ways to work with his “Gym in a Bag”.  Between the running and exercise training, he’s got the bases covered.  Now if Blimpman would only use the services of a fashion consultant!

P1100556April 11, 2014

Over the course of the last twenty years, Blimpman has lost over one thousand pounds!  Unfortunately, during that time he has also gained over one thousand fifty pounds!   Yes, it’s the familiar cycle again and again:

Stage 1: Total allegiance to eating less and exercising more. Several weeks elapse, during which time Blimpman feels very good about himself and the pounds just drop off.  He is rejuvenated, with abundant energy and a spring in his step.  People tell him, “you look different – have you lost weight?”

Stage 2: Fits and starts – some days the exercising goes great, but Blimpman can’t get past the buffet – other days rain, snow, or fatigue stand in the way of exercise.  The weight plateaus.  His energy levels decrease.  Several more weeks go by.

Stage 3: Abandonment – in a few weeks of overeating and not exercising at all, Blimpman regains all the weight lost, and maybe / probably / almost certainly a little bit more.   Blimpman’s not feeling so good about himself any more.

What can break this nasty cycle?  How can Blimpman stay on course?

To the rescue: the Life Log!   Blimpman is planning out each day’s exercise and food intake, as well as all the tasks that need to be done over the next few days.

As each task is done, or meal is eaten, or exercise is undergone, Blimpman checks it off his list, and also adds comments, such as “ran an extra mile today”, or “good job at avoiding that cheesecake”!

On the days where temptation wins out, after crying “drats! foiled again!”, Blimpman reads through his log, finding similar times where he fell off the wagon, and jumped promptly right back on, instead of letting things slide for several weeks.  “Nothing will keep us down for long”, he declares,  “I think this afternoon would be great for adding in another run”!

And so off Blimpman runs into the sunset, with spirits high, and self-image restored, ready to take on another day!

P1100548April 4, 2014

Deep within a non-descript high rise building on H street, in our nation’s capital, Blimpman thinks about his next response.

In a quiet, small, soundproof room, behind multiple security checkpoints, Blimpman sits facing his questioners.  The large microphone in front of him momentarily captures his attention, as does the maze of multi-colored cabling snaking from the central console to the room behind him.  In that room, other personnel viewing through windows behind Blimpman observe the proceedings, occasionally giving follow-up suggestions to those asking the questions.  The control room is filled with computers, gauges, and a myriad of other electronic devices.

Is Blimpman being interrogated in the lair of some mad scientist?  Have they brought his wife (seated at his side, with a microphone of her own) in for some dark purpose?  No, Blimpman and his wife are being interviewed the hosts of the  syndicated radio show “2 Boomer Babes”, sponsored by AARP and appearing on many networks including Public Radio stations.

After the interview concludes, the hosts are kind enough to let Blimpman and Mrs. Blimpman observe the taping of the rest of the show, What an experience!  Between that and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bureau of Engraving, not to mention fantastic times spent with friends and family, this has been a great vacation.

Has Blimpman neglected his running during this time?  No sir!  In fact, he’s set his all-time distance record run/plod/walk of 11.75 miles (taking just under 3 1/2 hours) this vacation, and brought along his “Gym in a bag” for further workouts.

Maybe next vacation he’ll actually take them out of the bag and use them!

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March 28, 2014

Oh no!  Something must be seriously amiss!  Blimpman is gyrating wildly in the middle of the jogging trail. He’s weaving from side to side, leaping (or is that hopping?), spinning – what has gotten into him?   Is he under the spell or mind control of some nefarious enemy?  Has he suddenly been overtaken by agents of Colorado’s new reefer madness?  Is he just plain addle-pated? Well, if he is, it’s not germane to this latest inexplicable outbreak!

Upon closer examination, it appears that Blimpman has earbuds connected to some electronic device.  As one gets closer, one can hear music, a strange collection of music, playing.  Ahhh.. the picture becomes clearer.  After several miles of running, Blimpman is taking a break, dancing (if one could call it that) to folk music, jazz, disco – anything with a strong beat.

His energetic, but not necessarily graceful, flailing about, like a hippopotamus on roller skates in a high wind, serves several purposes.  It loosens up any tight muscles, gives him a bit of endorphins from the joy of dancing – which puts him in a good mood, and warms up any muscles that hadn’t been used much up to that point.

“Make it fun – mix it up” is Blimpman’s motto.  Sometimes he’ll add jumping jacks, skipping, or other calisthenics.  Occasionally you’ll see him jogging backwards or sideways.   Every once in a while, he’ll start walking on his tiptoes, or doing the yellow brick road walk.   Yes, there’s another benefit of this activity – warding away any contact with undesirables (for some reason, everyone is keeping quite a distance from Blimpman)!

March 21, 2014

blimpman6Blimpman finds himself plummeting to the ground, accelerating at g times 1/2 t squared, … or something like that. Physics class was many, many years ago for Blimpman – all he remembers clearly about that class is the way time increasingly slowed down as we got closer to the end of the school year, until minutes seemed like hours, and days seemed to last longer than years!

Somehow, Blimpman manages to arrest his fall, and with a burst of energy hurls himself skyward.  But that brief negation of gravity only lasts a few seconds – back down he goes again.  Will he crash ignominiously to the ground, or will he again defeat gravity and once again rise victorious?

Unlike school days, time is racing quickly for Blimpman – he’s already halfway through his training for the half-marathon, with only 8 weeks to go until the day of the race.  Why is time going so quickly for him?   One reason is that TerrificTrainer continually changes Blimpman’s workouts – he’s doing something different each day.

And today, he’s doing something quite different, indeed.  Anchored to a doorway are two nylon straps with handles, from which Blimpman’s upper body is suspended inches above the floor.   As he does pushups, flys, and other exercises that raise and lower his body from the floor, his own body weight and that always pesky gravity conspire to give Blimpman extra challenge and a new look at ordinary exercises.

At the halfway point, Blimpman has lost 20 pounds, reduced his blood pressure by about 30 – down to 110/70, and is feeling empowered, energetic, and all-around great – especially since there are no pop quizzes, final exams, or formulas to memorize on this journey to fitness!

March 14, 2014

The cold wind is gusting directly into Blimpman’s face.  He is in the middle of mile 4, with another mile to go.  Blimpman is tired, seriously tired.  Yesterday’s run went so well, too, setting personal speed and distance records.  Yet today it feels as if he’s struggling against a malevolent power. Each plodding step feels heavier and more leadened than the last.  What could be wrong?  Are his powers sapped?  Has Blimpman met his match?!

blimpman1As Blimpman trudges along in a fog of discouragement, he starts to figure out what’s up.  First of all, having started off that day with a burst of energy and exuberance, he ran at too fast a pace for the first mile.  Also, this is the first time that he’s run long distances several  days in a row.  No wonder Blimpman’s tired!   Then he starts to take assessment of his surroundings.  It may be cold, but it’s gorgeous outside!  It is on the cusp of winter and spring, with grass starting to green up, raucous geese flying overhead [Blimpman thinks to himself: watch where you're running], and the tips of bulbs and flowers are just breaking through the earth. Why, it’s a glorious time to run!

Blimpman glances down at his watch – somehow, several minutes have elapsed while he was admiring nature!  Goodness, let’s try that again, he thinks.  So, Blimpman lets his mind wander [not a difficult task for this absent-minded professor type of guy].   Look at the time fly by – why, it’s time for the cool-down walk already!

As Blimpman walks back to the warmth of his house and his ManCave, he thinks “Having one’s mind wander never helped in school, work, or conversations – but it’s a lifesaver when running!  Well, at least for almost everything – I’ve got to make a note to myself about those geese!”

March 7, 2014

It’s late afternoon, on an unusually warm day for this winter.  The clear skies belie the ominous foreboding: will this day conquer Blimpman?  As Blimpman trudges through the nearby park, he’s feeling a little more fatigued than usual.  The temptation to stop, just for a little while, to pet that friendly nice dog, is great.  Maybe today is just too hot/nice/different to put in all the miles that were planned, a little voice whispers.  Oh no, it’s TemptationMan, one of Blimpman’s arch enemies, doing his usual insidious dirty work.

P1100256“NO”, Blimpman says to himself,  facing TemptationMan directly head on and blasting him to smithereens. “I’m going to push past this – it’s not that much farther to go”.  Indeed, he finishes his run for the day, feeling even a little more virtuous than usual.

That evening, after a full day of activity, Blimpman is tired, seriously tired.

Blimpman thinks of junk food – wouldn’t it be nice to have a bag of potato chips sitting right by you, TemptationMan whispers again.  “Geez Louise”, thinks Blimpman, “didn’t I blast him to smithereens in the last paragraph?!”.  Oh well, never mind, because Blimpman has already thwarted TemptationMan -  Blimpman has removed all the junk food from the house already!  Hah to you, TemptationMan.

Yes, Blimpman muses, sometimes it pays to face temptation directly head on and vanquish it immediately.  Other times, especially when you know you’ll be at your lowest energy and unable to fight temptation, it’s best to take preemptive measures so that you can’t act on that temptation, no matter how overpowering it feels.

We leave Blimpman resting up for the evening, thinking “I might be tired right now, but boy, do I feel good!”

February 28, 2014

rich6Today we find Blimpman caught between the two warring factions: the DesireForLatestExerciseEquipment mob, and the WishToAvoidFinancialInsolvency gang.   How can he escape the cross-fire between these formidable foes?  Possibly there’s a solution within reach –  what materials do we have here in the BlimpmanManCave?

Let’s see, in this cubbyhole are all the hiking clothing we own – aha – these lightweight wool shirts and pants will be perfect for jogging.  They’ll wick away the moisture and have a wide range of temperatures in which they are comfortable.

Hmm: here are Blimpman’s ever-patient wife’s exercise ball – that’ll be great for stretching out the back, can act like a bench for bench presses, and is wonderful for all sorts of core work.   Her yoga block and mat will come in handy for pushups and situps.  Back in a closet, gathering dust from many years of non-use: a set of hand weights and a stop watch – it’s all starting to come together now!

Blimpman’s cell phone, enabled with the RunKeeper app, will help keep him on track with the running.  And, if it’s rainy outside or if Blimpman needs an extra challenge, there is always jogging up and down the basement stairs.

So, as this chapter in the Blimpman saga ends, we leave him lurching up and down the stairs like a drunken rhinoceros fleeing a hungry cheetah. Yes, just using what’s available and at hand will be more than sufficient for Blimpman’s training needs – crisis averted!

February 21, 2014

blimpman3When Blimpman signed up for the Colfax Half-Marathon, just 16 weeks before the race day, he was only able to jog less than a block before some part of his body gave out.  Since a half-marathon course is approximately 157 blocks long, jogging, walking, or even crawling that distance seemed like an insurmountable task.

How will Blimpman overcome that daunting prospect?  What can he do to bridge that enormous gap between his current pathetic level of endurance and what will be needed to continue going for four hours of forward motion?

To the rescue once again, came the amazing TerrificTrainer,.  In analyzing Blimpman’s stride, she notices that he is coming down hard on the heel, instead on landing on a flat foot.  No wonder Blimpman is suffering from shin splints!  As soon as he starts jogging on the sole of his feet, his shin and knee pain disappears – Hallelujah!

Of course, now that SoreKneeMan and TheShinSplintKid have been vanquished, another vile foe, TheVacuumator has appeared on the scene.  His fearsome  superpower:  the ability to remove all the air from his opponents lungs, leaving them gasping for air after just a brief run, looking like a newly beached flounder.

Blimpman realizes that there is no quick solution to thwarting TheVacuumator.  It is going to take time to build up lung capacity and endurance – thank heavens there is still 3 months to go before the Colfax Half Marathon!

As Blimpman jogs towards the horizon, he reflects on how important it is to have expert advice when starting up an exercise program, and what a difference it makes to be able to exercise pain free!

February 14, 2014

P1100200Four times a week, inside laboratories all around the world, puzzled seismologists gaze at their sensitive instruments.  “It’s happening again!”, they excitedly cry.  Once again, a strange series of tremors are detected, on for two minutes exactly, then off for one minute.  Again, on for two minutes, off for another minute. On and on, they repeat for almost an hour, and then, with no warning, there is a sudden and total cessation of the tremors until the next day.

After much frantic analysis and consultation, the scientists narrow down the origin of the tremors to the vicinity of tranquil Cook Park, Denver.  But with no tectonic plates in the area, what could be precipitating this strange activity?  Can fracking or some secret government project be the cause?   The seismologists continue to work around the clock, perplexed as ever, but remain no closer to coming up with an answer.

Coincidentally, Blimpman is slowly jogging, or would that be slogging, around the mile-long periphery of the park, his size 14EEE shoes pounding the pavement with super-blimpdom 260 pound force.   In even more of a coincidence, his training program is to jog for two minutes, then walk for one minute, and repeat that until two miles have been covered.  With a mile warm-up walk before, and a mile cool-down afterwards, Blimpman is covering four miles a day.

The ingenious plan that Blimpman and his cohort TerrificTrainer have come up with: each week, he will gradually increase both the total distance covered daily, as well as the duration jogged before taking his minute breaks.   By starting slowly, he’s been able to set and meet achievable goals, which has left him feeling encouraged and hopeful of achieving the next goal each time.

Will the scientists ever figure out what is going on?  Will Blimpman succeed at jogging ever-greater distances?  Tune in next week to Blimpman’s Blog to find out!

February 7, 2014

In this episode, we find Blimpman striding his way through a vast watery expanse, somewhat like an ambulatory manatee out for an early morning stroll.  Where is he going, and more to the point, what is our corpulent hero doing?

rich2One of the challenges to Blimpman overthrowing years of tyranny of the SedentaryKing is that his knees were in a state of incipient rebellion after many years of carrying 250 or more pounds.  They were not happy about the percussive aspects of a running (or in Blimpman’s case, plodding) regimen.

To the rescue: the local fitness center, which in addition to a multitude of treadmills, ellipticals, and many other such devices whose use is a mystery to your chronicler, has a heated swimming pool.  Early each morning, Blimpman can be seen there, walking laps in the pool for half an hour, surrounded by impossibly fit good lookers.

It took Blimpman a while to overcome the embarrassment factor – of being a whale in the midst of dolphins.  But, after just a few visits to the pool, conversations ensued where he discovered that everyone there has similar objectives of being healthier, more physically fit, and having more energy – we’re all in it together!

So, as the sun rises at the end of the morning workout, we leave Blimpman in the fitness center hot tub, with all of his body parts, even his knees, in a state of contented, relaxed accord.

Tune in next week for the next episode of the Blimpman Blog – Running the Distance!

 

January 31,


When last we saw Blimpman, he was trapped by ComfyReclinerGuy and BigScreenTVMan in their infamous lair, the dreaded “ManCave”.   After many attempts at escaping their clutches through short-lived diets, and being often bested in matching wits with the AllYouCanEatCartel, Blimpman was starting to think that there was no escape from a life of blimpdom.
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P1100112But… who’s that we hear riding to the rescue?  Yes, it’s the lithesome and ebullient mastermind, TerrificTrainer, also known as Julie Tubbesing from Body For Fitness.  Her ingenious plan: transform the ManCave lair into a fitness center, right under the noses of Blimpman’s nefarious captors.

First, she assessed the situation, by taking vital statistics (6′, 3″, 263.5 pounds – oofdah!, and waist, hip, and other measurements). With a starting fat content of 45%, seemingly akin to that of beluga whale blubber, Blimpman realized he had ensnared himself pretty deeply, and was very glad to have both his lovely wife of 27 years and TerrificTrainer in his corner.

Next, she ran Blimpman through some benchmark tests of strength and endurance to see what level of training was appropriate, in which he tied a personal record of six, count them, six pushups.  He also was doing magnificently in the sit-up category, attaining 34 sit-ups in 38 seconds, until an untimely hip cramp stopped him in his tracks.

Once the training session was over, Blimpman felt an urgent need to reacquaint himself with his long-time friend, MiddleAgedManMiddayNap.  Feeling greatly rejuvenated thereafter, and only a little sore/stiff from his exertions, Blimpman is very optimistic about the next 16 weeks of preparation for the Colfax half-marathon.

 

January 25, 2014

When last we saw Blimpman, he was ensnared in the clutches of his arch-enemies, CheesesteakMan, PizzaKid, and the nefarious SuperSizeMeDude. Deep in their fiendish lair, the infamous “ManCave”, our hero was daily subjected to the dirty work of their fearsome associates: BigScreenTVMan and ComfyReclinerGuy.

Can Blimpman, also known as mild-mannered Richard Myers, be saved from the clutches of his vile foes through daily exercise, eating right, and training for the Colfax 1/2 Marathon? Follow our blog and find out…

 

[Photo courtesy by Vickers Myers]

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