2015 brings new loftier goals in health and fitness, and new lessons to be learned hunting.
In the summer of 2014 I went for my annual physical, and through blood work my doctor found that my cholesterol was high, as well as my triglycerides, and my A1C was borderline high, which he stated was a precursor for diabetes. He said, well, you're not fat, which means I can't just tell you to eat right, because it doesn't look like you're eating all that bad. He asked how much sugar I was eating and I told him not much, so he said, well, make it none. At the time I thought, this guy is crazy! I did tell him that I thought I could get my cholesterol back in check with diet, so he gave me until November to get it straight or he was going to have to put me on medication.
I started looking into diet changes, and had considered going into a more Paleo type of diet, but figured that wouldn't help my cholesterol before I started doing some research. I basically took the next 3 months to research and think about how I was going to attack this, and in October I started the "Whole 30" diet - which is more of a body reset. No alcohol, no dairy, no legumes, no pasta, no grains for 30 days, along with some other limits on ingredients. Then you can start adding stuff back in and see how you feel. This is not easy at all. It's very tough finding what you can eat, especially at first. I am lucky that I hunt and have game meat in the freezer, and we have a garden with plenty of fresh vegetables. I was never able to get away from the evening "snack" of frozen blueberries, but even though not recommended, it wasn't off limits, and it was my weakness. Evening snacks were and still are a hard habit to break. Anyhow, on November 24th I had my bloodwork done again with the following results.
- Total Cholesterol - 194 down from 229
- HDL Cholesterol - 44 up from 41
- LDL Cholesterol - 136 down from 142
- Triglycerides - 69 down from 231
- A1C - 5.1 down from 6.1
- Weight - 184 down from 195 (this was Oct 24 - Nov 24)
Wait, what? Yes, this was diet alone. No exercise changes. Kris wasn't super convinced when I started it, and has become quite the advocate after seeing the results. Including the clearing up of the snuffy noses for Kelleach our 12 year old son, and the acne on Brogan our 15 year old son. For Brogan it was dairy, and Kelleach seems to be mostly gluten and dairy. I have added things back in, but can definitely tell when I go off too far. Grains and dairy seem to hit me the hardest and take the longest to recover from. Sugar is just addicting. That's it. There's no way around it. When I fall off the sugar wagon, and I still do, it's hard to get back on track. Sugar in my mind is one of the most addictive substances in the world, and causes you to desire it more. The only sugar I allow myself now is honey in my coffee, and a very occasional dark chocolate bar, but even that has to be limited.
So - once getting my health in check somewhat, and agreeing to go to Colorado in September and be the videographer/photographer for Kim Womer's high country mule deer rifle hunt, the decision was made that even though I was in good shape for the 2014 mule deer hunt, it was time to get in great shape for 2015. Kim was asking Jeff at Antler Quest to give us the best chances of a 200 inch buck, no matter what we physically had to do to get it. I told Kim whatever he needed me to be able to do, I would be ready and we started planning. I mentioned to Kim that on the last Saturday of our hunt, there was a race that I always wanted to run. The Imogene Pass Run (IPR) goes from Ouray Colorado to Telluride Colorado. Running up 5000 feet to go over a 13,000 pass and then down into Colorado. It's a 17 mile race and has been on my bucket list since I learned about it. Kim was fully supportive and said I had to do it. He said he'd be waiting for me at the finish with a beer.
Having never run further than a half marathon, and never run that kind of elevation, I signed up for a couple of the tougher local races, including the Frozen Snot, which is a 14 mile race in PA which climbs 5400 feet over the length of the race. For a precursor, I ran the Frozen Assets race, which is typically a snowshoe race, unless there's not enough snow, which was the case this year. It was a 23 degree morning, and with little snow on the trail I ran my first race of the year on January 3rd.
I decided that my goal for 2015 was not only to run the Frozen Snot, and the Imogene Pass Run, but to also try to run a half marathon every month.
The Frozen Snot took me about 6.5 hours, and was a good lesson. A few weeks later I did the Cast A Shadow snowshoe race, and ran 14.6 miles in snowshoes in around 3:55. Both of these races were a very good idea of what was coming. A 13 mile road race is nothing compared to what these races had held for me, and if I had any dreams of a 4-5 hour IPR, then I needed to do some serious leg work. This would also help me immensely with all of my running, and with the whole reason for getting serious about my running - Kim's muley hunt!
So - with 180 days left before we leave NY for Colorado (September 2nd), we have big plans. Kim has been working out like a madman, and I have been ramping up. I have been doing some running, and just got back to the gym last week, and have been snowshoeing with Kris up back. I'll be in shape. Right now I am reading a book by Loren Cordaine about the Paleo Athlete, and combining the Paleo diet with the athletic lifestyle to maximize your training.
So this leaves us with the lessons to be learned.
Since my first half marathon in February of 2010 I have learned quite a bit. I did my jaunt with cycling, and distance cycling and triathlons, and running, and now I am looking to the woods for my hunting and my running. It's a different type of running and demands your attention at all times, but is very mind clearing with the fact being that there isn't a lot of room for doing much other than paying attention and enjoying the view. I've learned a lot about training, how if I want to be faster I have to do speed-work, and if I ever want to be a good Snowshoe racer, or trail runner, I need to do some serious legwork and hill work which overlap each other in benefit. So there are fitness lessons.
I am waiting for delivery of my new Panasonic HC-VX870 4K camcorder, and have busted out the Contour Roam and my D300 to start working on my photography again. Kim and I will be sitting down with what we have and seeing where we are with things. Kim has a line on some GoPro cameras which will also help out with things, and I believe we're going to sign up for a video class with Campbell Cameras being held on the 21st of March in PA.
The next level of learning for me will be hunting with a new person. This is always a lesson in life. To see how different hunters approach things. Many times small changes in how things are approached can lead to different levels of success. Additionally, Kim and I will be hunting similar to the way I hunted last year for mule deer, but in the same way, quite differently. We will be hunting more of a specific animal. Possibly going for a single deer. That one buck in the area that exceeds all others. It will take time and patience, and fitness. It's going to be a great experience. Additionally, if things go well enough, it may give me the time to get off the mountain before my race and possibly get my first elk. Even if it's a cow. I wouldn't mind bringing home a whole bunch of meat for the freezer.
Time will tell.
Next race is the Cooks Forest Half Marathon that Kris and I will be running on March 28th.