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Ready or not, the half-marathon is here

June 11, 2015 - Andy Flynn
Three good days. All I need is three good days to turn things around.

When I’m stuck in a rut, trying desperately to get my weight going down instead of going up, it’s time for a reboot, especially now that the Lake Placid Half-Marathon is on Sunday, June 14.

There are various versions of the diet reboot on the market. The most popular one today is the “Reboot with Joe” plan created by juicing mogul Joe Cross, creator of the film “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.” During Cross’ reboot, people spend a period of time drinking and eating only fruits and vegetables, herbal teas and water. That time can last from three to 30 days.

On the Lake Placid Diet, I’ve found that I only need three good days to kick start my health and get back on track, and I do it without juicing or other gimmicks. I call them three “good” days because for three days, I’m behaving myself. It’s as simple as that.

People who have been on diets know what that means: keeping your calorie count down and eating the right foods, such as fruits and vegetables. It may even mean juicing for part of those meals.

They also know what “bad” days are all about. For many, they start as good days but eventually turn bad. The evening — the toughest part of the day for me — is make or break time. The dangers include stress and emotional eating, celebrations and quick-and-easy choices for dinner.

Evening is also the time for excuses and rationalization. Even if you worked out at the gym today, it doesn’t mean you can eat a Fat Bastard sandwich at the Redneck Bistro or an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and still lose weight. Although it sounds delicious, that would not be considered a good day on the reboot.

I’ve been trying to have three good days for weeks so I can start losing weight again for the Lake Placid Half-Marathon. Once my third good day is over, I find it much easier to behave in the days to follow.

Life seemed to get in the way every time I tried to reboot this spring. It was one stressful thing after another. Eleven days before the half-marathon, I finally hit a low point. Although I hadn’t gained a lot of weight, I wasn’t feeling very good about my eating choices, and I could see things getting worse if I didn’t get back on track. So I dedicated the 10 days before the race to healthy living, and I began with a three-day reboot on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 4-6.

It worked. After three days, I lost 6 pounds, felt much better and had a successful training day on Sunday with a walk of 8 miles. It was my fastest long walk in weeks.

Now with my taper this week, keeping my diet in check is a little easier after the reboot. I want to make sure I’m eating enough so I can have a good race on Sunday, but I don’t want to eat too much or eat the wrong kinds of foods that could upset my system and ruin my day.



Now that I’ve finished my second year of training for the Lake Placid Half-Marathon, I can safely say that no matter how hard I try to stick to a regimen, life usually gets in the way. It’s like 14 weeks of dodgeball. I keep moving forward, ducking and swerving at life’s challenges while trying to sustain momentum and get to the finish line.

Well, it’s here: the finish line. On Sunday, only 13.1 miles separates me from completing my goal. Am I ready? Sure, why not? While I haven’t lost all the weight I wanted, I’ve worked hard for this moment.

I’m grateful for all the help I’ve received. My trainer at Fitness Revolution, Jason McComber, put me on a “Flynn It To Win It” program on the treadmill while taking the Fit Revolution weight-loss program this spring. Once I was ready to head outdoors, Bob Tysen and Gail Joseph at the Fallen Arch set me up with new sneakers and training tips. And my friends and family gave me the support I needed to get my body in shape.

That’s the big question. Is my body in shape? Well, it’s not as good as I want it, but even though I weigh 10 pounds more than I did a year ago, I haven’t had to train once with walking sticks. The only day I didn’t use the walking sticks last year was during the half-marathon. I’m off the sticks, and it feels great. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment.

One major challenge this spring was my blood pressure. It’s a little high, so my doctor put me on medication in early May, and my body didn’t react well. It drained all my energy, and I lost two weeks of crucial training before I took myself off the meds. I knew I should have waited until after the race to start the medication, but I wanted to do good by my doctor. It just didn’t work out. After the race, I’ll be working with her to find blood pressure medication that my body can handle while still being active. I have so much more left to do, including two more half marathons this year.

When I began my training for the Lake Placid Half-Marathon, my goal was to crush my time from last year, which was about 5 hours and 52 minutes, just shy of the 6-hour time limit. As long as I kept up my training and got my weight down to last year’s number of 390, I was certain that I could finish within 5 hours. But since I’m around 400 pounds and I missed at least two long walks and almost two whole weeks of training, I’m not sure I can do that. So I’ve lowered my expectations. If I can finish with 5 hours and 30 minutes, I’ll be happy. That’s still better than last year, and it’s within range of trying other half marathons with shorter time limits.


Natural energy

One of my goals this year was to switch from the chemical-based energy products — Gatorade or GU energy gels — to a natural way to get hydration, energy and electrolytes during a race. So I asked Wynde Kate Reese, my nutrition consultant at the Green Goddess Natural Market, for advice, and she gave me a simple recipe that works.

The ingredients for my homemade sports drink are water, maple syrup, lemon juice and salt. I take a 20-ounce bottle of water, drain a tiny bit out and add 2 tablespoons of pure Adirondack maple syrup, a splash of lemon juice and one-tenth of a teaspoon of salt. That gives me a sports drink with 100 calories, 30g of carbs, 30g of sugar and 232mg of sodium.

By comparison, the ingredients for lemon-lime Gatorade are water, sugar, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavor, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, gum arabic, glycerol ester of rosin and yellow 5. An 18-ounce bottle has 120 calories, 31g of carbs, 31g of sugar and 240mg of sodium. It also has 45mg of potassium, which my homemade sports drink lacks.

Since potassium is an important electrolyte, I decided to consume it a different way by eating raisins during my race.

A number of companies, including Gatorade and GU, manufacture energy chews. They’re light and portable, fit right in your pocket, and provide an extra energy boost. But they’re not natural.

One small, red box of Sun-Maid raisins has 90 calories, 22g of carbs, 20g of sugar, 5mg of sodium and 220mg of potassium. There’s only one ingredient: California seedless raisins.

By comparison, the ingredients for strawberry GU Energy Chews are tapioca syrup, cane sugar, maltodextrin, pectin, citric acid, leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), D-alphatocopherylacetate (natural vitamin E), potassium citrate, black carrot juice concentrate (color added), natural flavor, white tea extract (contains caffeine), fractionated coconut oil and carnauba wax. One serving size — four pieces — has 90 calories, 23g carbs, 11g sugar, 50mg sodium and 40mg potassium.

During last year’s half-marathon, I consumed non-caffeinated energy gels and water in order to get the hydration, energy and electrolytes I needed during the race. This year, I’ll have the raisins and maple sports drink.

The raisins are light and portable, so I carry them with me. I figure four boxes will be plenty for the half-marathon. And I will have several bottles of sports drink located at strategic places along the course so I always have a bottle in my hand. I don’t want a repeat of last year when I almost passed out from the heat. I’ve been training with the maple drink and raisins, and my body has adapted well, so I’m confident it will work.


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Runners compete in the 2014 Lake Placid Marathon and Half. (News photo — Lou Reuter)