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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fort Wilderness Jogging and Couch-to-5k....

Several months after starting my weight-loss journey, I felt inclined to get back into jogging.  I was a recreational jogger through high school ( a few 5Ks here and there but nothing too serious) and into my military years (One day I'll tell you the story of jogging on an aircraft carrier...not as easy as you might think), but as I gained weight and my fitness dropped, so did my jogging. Before getting to the fitness level where I thought I could run, I tested a 1 mile run, and while my body was clearly not ready to run, I was pleasantly surprised that I could in-fact run at my present fitness level. Based on some research I had performed, I came to learn about the Couch-to-5k training program.  I felt that if I used this program it would ease me into running with less injury and get my heavy body up to shape to run.  I was right on both counts.

During the Couch-to-5k program I discovered the adventure of running in various locations.  One such location that exemplifies adventure is Fort Wilderness.  Our family booked a vacation to camp at Fort Wilderness and when we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had a jogging route and literature to go along.  Not only did we use these paths for jogging but we also decided to walk during much of our activities.  According to Disney's Fort Wilderness website, "Enjoy a 2.5-mile-long pathway through Resort grounds. For a quick jaunt or to extend your workout, explore the 0.75-mile shaded fitness trail and bike path that connects Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground"-- Online Map -- .

 My daughter Gabrielle joined me on this run and we did it during the early morning hours when it was still rather cool outside (it was March at the time).  If you look closely, you will notice that we did not follow the path exactly.  As we approached the beach at the Fort Wilderness Lodge, we saw a path that followed the lake.  We took this path and later realized that it was the horse path since we were having to dodge the manure.  The lake is pretty but the manure is not.  Skip the path less traveled (by humans on foot) and stay on the recommended trail. The path mainly consists of cement throughout the campground and the transition over to the lodge but there are a few spots on softer ground; such as the location at the horse barn area.  Overall, there's plenty of running paths throughout the campground, even if you don't stick to the prescribed path in the running guide; and not all that technical.  What's great about this campground jogging (I use this term lightly since this is the Lexus of campgrounds, and in Disney style, there's few like it) is that one can get adventurous within the confines of the campground without feeling like they've wondered too far off the beaten path.  My only regret is that I did not take very many pictures.  A few selfies with Gabrielle and a video.  My immediate goal was a 5K, and at that point, I was happy to complete that and did not consider at the time that I would start blogging my progress.  Who would have thought that a few months later I would be contemplating a marathon?  I'm sure we'll be back and I'll take a more comprehensive survey at that time.

Here's a little video that I did thinking that I was going to combine this with a one week update.  No one week update so just a lame video: http://youtu.be/e5vUBxrSOoY

What's not lame is this report at: "Running at Disney (RAD)" entitled, "Wilderness Lodge & Fort Wilderness Exercise Trail"- http://runningatdisney.com/2012/02/05/wilderness-lodge-fort-wilderness-exercise-trail/ that includes such things aa photos and an account of the run.  I'm sure you'll enjoy this blog post so check it out.

Other good Fort Wilderness and Disney Resort blog posts:

Jogging at Disney

It won't come as a surprise to those in the jogging community, but Disney has a well thought out running program at the various Disney resorts (not that Jogging was their first thought in design of course).  

Disney Jogging Main Page: 
(Links Created on: 7/24/2013)

 Disney's Animal Kingom Resort Area Maps:
  • All Star Movies Resort - "This 1-mile-long, paved jogging trail connects Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, Disney's All-Star Music Resort and Disney's All-Star Sports Resort."
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - "This short loop circles Uzima Pool."
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort - "This 0.75-mile-long promenade loops around Lago Dorado. Extend your outing with a jogging trail that leads to the Ranchos and Cabanas and reveals an idyllic wetlands area." 

Epcot Resort Area

Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Downtown Disney Area & More
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resort - "Jog along the tranquil Sassagoula River on a 1.7-mile promenade connecting the Riverside and French Quarter Resort areas."
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa - "Run on paved pathways through this spacious Resort hotel and along the manicured greens of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. Designated jogging trails include 1.44-mile and 0.8-mile loops"
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort - "Beginning at Conch Flats, the 1.37-mile-long path winds along the shimmering canal and the fairways of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course" 
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort - "Breeze along Hourglass Lake and through the iconic Resort hotel on a 1.1-mile or 1.38-mile loop." 
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort - "Jog on the 1.38-mile trail that curves along Hourglass Lake, passing colorful courtyards inspired by Walt Disney and Disney•Pixar classics CarsFinding Nemo, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid."

If you have a Disney Resort blog summary that you would like to share, please respond in the comments below.
Thanks for dropping by and make sure to check out my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/tminus110

Best regards,

~Jason Furtak~

Monday, June 24, 2013

Snakes, frogs and flies... Oh, my....

Man, do I enjoy going out for a nice summer run during the cool of the evening.  There were days this past winter when I was certain that my running in conditions like snow was insanity brought on from frost bitten brain-matter, and I was more than welcoming of the summer months. My daughters and I run a local greenway.  The greeways here in Georgia are simply beautiful, and I'm starting to enjoy the novelty of checking them out in various locations (outside of Georgia we also did a greenway in Greensboro, NC). Try Googling your own area, you may be surprised to find these gems in your own town.
When Spring came upon us, I also began to enjoy the various wildlife that has come out of the woods and say hello on every occasion. There's rabbits that continually try to prove that they're faster than the turtles, owls that are annoyed by noises during their bedtime and frogs that are skilled at camo even with man made structures (this one above on a bridge support made of recycled plastic boards).

While these creatures have been delightful, here lately, it seems that there are some that are coming out to play that I would rather stay in their hides.  This past Saturday, this snake slithered onto our path and was determined to prove to me that he was faster than I.  I was more than welcome to allow him the honor.  I'm guessing the rabbits don't mind loosing to the turtles every now and again when these slimy sinisters come out. Frogs and turtles and even snakes I can avoid but there's one menace that seems to be well attracted to the scent of a sweat soaked tech-shirt, and that's the blood-sucking horse-fly.  My wife tells me I'm sweet, but I kid you not, I've been bitten several times this week by this over-sized entomological favorite.  On last Wednesday, my daughter Alexis swatted at two of them on my back at the same time.

My question for the running community at large is, what dangers do you run into on your daily grind?  Are there seasons where this gets more intense?  Am I the only one that encounters snakes and horse-flys?


~Jason Furtak, Fly Hunter

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Friends & Family Support -- Vital Component of any Marathon Training

In light of yesterday's confession, let us lighten things up a bit.  Have you considered how important friends and family are to your marathon training?  I recently watch Spirit of the Marathon II out in town with my wife and I think the thing that resonated most, outside of the amazing stories of triumph, were those supporting roles played by family and friends.  I'm not just talking about those that support you from the sidelines of a race but those that are with you day in and day out.  When I think about my own journey towards my first marathon at Walt Disney World (WDW) and my journey towards 110 pounds of weight-loss, I can only but highlight the vital role my friends and family have played and continue to play in supporting these efforts.  Allow me to give you some examples.  Literally within hours of my public announcement concerning my 314 lbs. weight and my intentions to loose weight via my social media sites like FaceBook  ( http://www.facebook.com/tminus110 ) and YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com/tminus110 ) two very good friends (Robert Moody and Chuck Brown) were calling me with encouragement.  Since this time, I am humbled by the response that I have gotten from family, friends and complete strangers via my Tminus110 pages and the continual encouragement that I receive.

In the snapshot above, are my second family, the Moody's and their children, and my wife, Debra,
and our children (Madisynne my 2nd daughter is taking the picture).  My wife at this point in the picture had already been through six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation and was approaching a major surgery the following week.  Doesn't she look good?  Talk about support!  I dedicated this race to my loving wife and her fight with cancer, and despite her own fight, she continues to support my efforts the best way that she can. I love you Debra!

Do you want to know how crazy my daily support system is?  The other day, I went out to my local green-way for a tempo run with two of my daughters.  About 2 miles into our run, we got pelted with severe weather.  Not only did these young ladies continue to run their run but they doubled back after they finished, when they could have kept going out to the car, and caught up with me to encourage me through the torrential rain.  If you have children like me, invite them, they may actually take you up on the offer and discover for themselves that this stuff is fun.  Gabrielle and
Alexis have been along side of me the whole way in snow, heat and now torrential ran.  My 10/yo son Joshua also comes out in support at the green-way with his mountain bike, since he's only good for about a mile of running.  He's a catcher in baseball so we'll let that "slide".  I'm also a proud father to have my oldest daughter, Alexis, (in this picture) joining me at WDW Marathon in 2014.

Finally, let's talk about complete strangers.  How cool is it during a race when complete strangers are cheering you on?  People I don't even know are invested in my effort and it feels great!  I also wanted to thank the complete strangers who have been joining me on my social media sites.  Running has a unique community of people who understands the struggles of another and are completely open to sharing support.

Please tell me about your story.  Who are the people that support you most when you pack those essential items into your fanny packs, back packs and jogging belts. Who gets up with you early on race day, hold up signs in the crowd and nurses you through your injuries when it's all over?  Who are those friends that are closer than a brother (or sister) and support you when everyone else could care less?  Who are the complete strangers you remember the most during a race?

Yours truly,

~Jason Furtak~

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I want to be "Overweight"....

I have to be honest with you, I'm fighting some demons right now.  One of the biggest is this one of image.  I took a look at this picture from this past weekend's 5K and I'm feeling pretty bad about the way I look.  If you never met me before or knew of my previous high weight of 314 lbs., you would still think that I'm a fairly fat guy, right?  I've told myself all of those self help things like "it's all about the health, don't worry about your image" and "look at how far you have come and look at how good you feel".  I guess where I'm struggling is that I've been working hard at this since last November and I'm still a big guy, and I'm still hitting many of the road blocks that comes with weight.  By way of example, I went into a running store a couple of weeks ago to buy a fitness belt to store personal items and carry a water bottle.  It was pretty embarrassing that even after the salesman tried to expand the belt it didn't fit me. Not even close. I came to the realization that running stores don't cater to fat people.  After all, fat people don't run, right? As another example, one of the perks of running road races is the shirt that comes with the race, unfortunately, despite getting the largest size that they have offered (2X), these shirts still don't fit me.  I'm now starting a collection of shirts that I'm hoping to fit into one day, but in the meantime, it's a constant reminder that I'm still fat.

I just want to be "overweight" on the BMI scale. Even though I've made great headway, I'm still obese.  I may not be in the morbidly obese category any more but I'm still obese and that's depressing against the backdrop of all of the hard work. I know that BMI isn't a real good measuring stick, however, fat is fat and I'm still there.

I don't share this with folks very often but I struggle with depression and these feelings of self image get strong sometimes and add to my weight-loss struggle.  I'm just tired of being fat and can't loose weight fast enough.  I do worry, however, if I don't get this image thing under control that I won't ever be satisfied, whether at 244 or 195, and that's a scary notion.
On the positive side, I went into the office on Monday and Tuesday after being out for several months (I'm fortunate to work for a mobile work-styles company that allows full time remote working) and it was a great pleasure seeing people's reaction.  I've never had people say to me, "Wow! You look good!  I've had complements before but one guy was so loud that it drew attention.  It's a good feeling when this happens but I can't live on this response as it will eventually go away, and later if I don't get this response even though I know that I've lost weight, I fear that I might get more depressed and stop my progress.  It did feel good though!

Does anyone else that struggles with weight have these same feelings?  I would love to hear your thoughts.


~Jason Furtak~

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Zulu 5K - Race Recap...

At the last minute, I decided to do another 5K race as a training run.  I found a race in Dunwoody, GA that had race morning registration.  Gabrielle decided to do this race with me and Alexis decided to sit this one out (a decision she later regretted after seeing the awards results). Zulu ( http://zuluracing.com/ ) is a race organization that provides timing services and other race organization functions.  They are a Christian faith based organization and this particular race was hosted by the Christian runners organization ( http://www.christianrunners.org/ ).

The goodie bag had some nice gifts including this soft hand towel.  I found it quite helpful in wiping sweat during the run (later I would enjoy this towel on many a practice run).

Gabrielle and I bib'ed up, took a candid and then lined up for the race.

I smashed this course with a PR and an official time of 34'15. I also had a personal best mile at 9'24. I'm proud of Gabrielle who joined me on the this race and was my pacer. She came in a little ahead of me at the finish, despite having ankle pains. Debra, Alexis and Joshua were our sideline fans. I can't tell you how much joy it gives me to share these moments with my daughters, and in this particular race, I got to share this moment with Gabrielle.

These training races are becoming a valuable learning opportunity for the marathon.  In particular, I learned the hard lesson of letting the race adrenaline and the other racer paces getting me off too fast.  I got off real fast and found that I was wiped out at mile one.  You'll notice in the course summary above that my average heart rate was 165bpm.  This is the max of my running.  I'm comfortable at 145 BPM and pushing myself at 150 so to be averaging at 165 was way too much.  I have learned that I need to run my own race and pay attention to my pace at the start to ensure that I'm not getting off too fast and that I'm at a comfortable pace.  Something my watch and heart monitor help out with.

One other note, I took the opportunity to try the Galloway run/walk.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I kept a good pace and even hit a PR.  I may try this throughout my training to see how things go.

As Alexis has become accustomed to doing, she made a quick recap video: Zulu 5K on YouTube .


Monday, June 17, 2013

My Journey

It seemed fitting as my first blog that I would give the nature of the title, "T-minus 110". 

It may help to provide a little background first.  All of my life it seems I have struggled with weight.  Even as an athlete in grade school, I struggled with weight and often fought against my genes and natural propensities for size, and the added influence of growing up in a family with long, and often unhealthy, cooking traditions.  These struggles followed me into high school and off to the military where while in the Navy, I continually struggled to stay within weight standards.  Ironically, and much to my amusement today, I weighed 185 lbs. and when measured against the BMI scale, I was over weight. Fast forward a number of years, a career in technology and the cooking of a wife enabled with a culinary education, I suddenly found myself pushing 300.

In the past 12 plus years, I have been on a roller coaster of weight-loss.  I received the equivalent of a Doctorate education in nutrition through the practical application of every diet on the planet.  Some of those diets included Body for Life, South Beach, Adkins, The Maker's Diet, Low Carb, Low Fat and Low everything else.  I've seen them all and I can attest to them all working to one extent or the other, but I have been on a perpetual cycle of loss/gain for quite sometime.

In December 2012, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. During one of our earlier trips to the hospital, I found that I could not make it to the emergency room without stopping for a breath. And when I say stopping for a breath, I mean that it felt as if I had run around the block 15 times.  I felt faint, and honestly, I was afraid with the fact that I could not properly care for my wife.  My weight was at an all time high of 314 lbs., and I was experiencing many physical warning signs typical of being morbidly obese including high blood pressure, regular headaches, sleep apnea, chest pains and regular shortness of breath.  Simply walking out to the car from a grocery store was laborious and I would often sleep on the couch so that I would not have to climb the 25 or so stairs to my bedroom.  I had to get my weight under control, and better yet, I had to loose my weight to the point of being healthy again.

On the day that I decided to take control of my weight and start a new journey unlike those in the past, I stepped on the scale at 305 lbs.  I figured that my ideal weight is 195 lbs. so that equaled a weight-loss of 110 pounds from my present position, thus creating a count down of T-minus 110.  "I thought you said, 314 lbs. was your high weight". That scale was broken and inconsistent and when I bought a new scale, I was actually 10 lbs. heavier. No sense changing the websites I had already created.

One evening in November, I made these intentions public by launching several pages in the social media space:

and now...

~Jason Furtak~