Half Marathon Breakthrough

This morning I ran a half marathon in under two hours, 1 hour, 55 minutes and 40 seconds.  Back in April of this year, I was disappointed that I missed this two hour threshold by 2 minutes and 36 seconds.  So, I was focused on this goal during the last several months.  

All of this long slow distance seems to be having an impact.  In the 16 weeks leading up to this race, I ran over 500 miles of training runs.  This is more miles than Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 and Novice 2 full marathon plans include and these are 18 week programs, not 16 week programs.  

There were a few times during this training where I was sneezing a lot, perhaps because all of this training depressed my immune system.  I didn’t feel much fatigue, as one would expect when one catches a cold. But it’s hard for me to conclude that I simply had allergies in early August and again in the week leading up to the race.  A few days before the race I was worried that whatever ailment that was making me sneeze and blow my nose so much would hamper my race performance.  Fortunately, whatever is bothering me, I accomplished my goal for the race.  It’s just that in the future I would like to avoid this problem.  Maybe it’s just a case of needing to get more sleep and eat more green leafy vegetables and/or more fruit.  

I wonder, though, about this race.  I don’t think the half marathon course was USA track and field certified.  And when I finished my Garmin said that I only ran 13.00 miles.  When I ran the two half marathons in the spring, my Garmin said that I ran 13.14 miles and 13.26 miles.  So, did I really finish a half marathon in less than two hours?  Well, even if I didn’t do 13.1 miles, I did come close.  And I finished with enough room under my self-imposed two hour time limit so that even if I did have to run another quarter mile or so, I would likely have finished under two hours.  Perhaps it’s an accomplishment with an asterisk next to it.  

In six weeks I will run a much more popular half marathon, the Monumental in downtown Indianapolis.  Instead of the few hundred runners this race had, there will be close to ten thousand runners attempting either a half or a full marathon.  It should be fun.

Finally, Under 22 BMI

A few months ago I posted at the McDougall forum a thread mentioning the fact that despite being a reasonably strict McDougaller, I still weighed more than I would need to weigh if I wanted to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) under 22.  

Why is having a BMI under 22 important?  Well, I asked that question of Jeff Novick and he repeated what he mentioned in other threads, that the lower have of the normal BMI range is probably the healthiest, assuming one achieves this BMI with a healthy diet and reasonable exercise.  

I weigh myself often and I noticed that sometimes after a long run of about 10 to 15 miles, I would come in under 153 pounds, which is the equivalent of 22 BMI for someone my height (5 feet 10 inches).  But I knew that this did not mean I have achieved my goal.  

Until recently, that is.  

I started weighing myself many times each day.  Before a 5 mile afternoon run.  After the 5 mile afternoon run.  Immediately after getting out of bed in the morning.  Then again after eating breakfast.  I noticed that I often weighed the most after eating dinner.  

But recently, even at my highest weight of the day I would still weigh less than 153 pounds.  Often my highest weight of the day would be just a bit over 150 pounds.  So, I am going to wave the victory flag now and proclaim that I am now under 22 BMI.  

How did I do it?  Well, I do think that running an average of 30 to 40 miles per week for most of the past 4 months helped.  On this point Jeff Novick mentioned that all of this running is contrary to the principles of calorie restriction.  But I also stopped eating nuts, based on some discussions over at the McDougall forum about how nuts cause weight gain or at least make it difficult to lose weight.  I also started trying to eat more non-starchy vegetables.  

Maybe I should thank Taco Bell.  Taco Bell came out with a new item that includes lettuce, tomatoes, corn, black beans and rice.  Sure, they do put some unhealthy stuff on top of it.  But I decided to make my own McDougallized version of it.  I found this to be a good way of combining the low calorie density of a regular salad (assuming the salad dressing isn’t calorie dense) and the satisfying features of starches with the beans, corn and rice.  

I remember way back when, when I weighed 190 pounds.  My doctor told me that to have a normal BMI of under 25, I would have to weigh less than 175 pounds.  I just figured that this was impossible.  I looked in the mirror and didn’t see a lot of fat, mostly muscle.  Well, that’s a common problem we Americans have.  We don’t realize how much extra body fat we are carrying because the extra body fat gets blended in with muscle.  

It’s interesting, though, that I felt the same way about getting below 22 BMI until very recently.  I just didn’t think that the “under 22 BMI is optimal” actually applied to me.  Now, having reached that target, I believe that this is a healthy weight.  Maybe I’ll be able to run faster too.