Fitness, in my opinion, is a mental exercise more than just physical.

Building a better self

So you want the whole story? Not just the TL;DR? You came to the right place.

I'm a 49 year old web developer living in the Netherlands. Previous to living in my home country I lived in California for almost 7 years (2003 - 2010). This is were I started running. I remember I was fascinated by the Nike+ running pod. A simple device you put in your (Nike) running shoe and it would send data to your iPod. I thought this was really innovative but I never ran before. Next morning I went to Fleet Feet in Santa Rosa to get my first pair of running shoes. The running Nike+ running pod I got at footlocker. Got some running gear and was good to go.

California

At that time I was living in Santa Rosa CA and it had this beautiful trail right across the street from were I lived. You could run along the Santa Rosa Creek all the way to Graton. For the time being I just stick to a C25K podcast. I would run 2.5K, turn around and finish my routine at the point were I started. After halfway through the program I discovered this trail in Santa Rosa: Howarth Park. The run was kinda hilly with two lakes in between. One full round was 5K. At this park I finished my C25K. I now was able to run a full 5K without stopping. In the meantime I made my own podcast with a friend of mine. He was a voice actor for some big videogame titles and he had this really motivating voice.  We made audible cues of when to start running and when to start walking. Really helpful.

After finishing the C25K I started running 5K's three times a week. Sometimes up the creek, sometimes at Howarth Park. Each time I was extending my run. 5.1K, 5.2K, until at one point I was running 6-7K. 

Clearlake Oaks

The financial crisis of 2007 started and I was forced to move out of Santa Rosa. I moved to Clearlake Oaks were I lived in a fifth wheel camper. My girlfriend's dad had one stalled in the backyard, a property of an acre. We painted the camper and made it suitable for living. I was making money doing some freelance webdesign jobs and other then that I had plenty of spare time. I first started running in the backyard. One round was half a K and at that time I was able to run 10K. So every other day I was running 20 laps. I got bored by running the same lap over and over again and soon I was running in and around Clearlake.

I needed a challenge. This is when I signed up for the San Jose Rock 'n Roll half marathon. I was upping my millage every week and my long run was 18K. I was ready for it.

San Jose Rock 'N Roll half marathon

The San Jose 1/2 marathon is part of the Rock 'n Roll marathon series. These are fun to run. Every mile there will be a band playing and the audience is really enthusiastic (I guess this is the case with all marathons/sports events). The day before we arrived in San Jose, picked up my BIB and got a little familiar with the track. It's a mostly flat race so not too difficult.

After a good but short night I showed up at the start. It was pretty hectic. Loud music. Runners warming up. Long lines in front of the porta potties. Runners looking for the right start section. You could see all kind of runners: short, tall, big and small. Most important thing I noticed: everyone seemed to enjoy this. So was I! From running 5K next to a creek to running a half marathon!

No matter how good you prepare for your first race there will always be something that comes along you didn't think of. In my case it was nutrition... Sounds like a no-brainer but I studied the course meticulously days, months before and made a mental note of the gel stations next to the road. I completely missed it and about 16K into the run I really felt hungry. I saw gel packs on the floor left and right and realised I missed the station. No way I was turning around looking for the gel stand. I was on my own. I asked a lady next to me if she had any left. She didn't...

My saviour was standing at 18K. It was this little boy with his dad standing next to the road with a huge platter full of homemade chocolate chip cookies! I stopped and munched away a cookie. They were so good! I asked if I could grab three(!) more and the kid just smiled. I guess he was happy someone ate some of his cookies. Months before the race I read an article with a tip not to drink or eat from the audience (you never know what they offering) but I couldn't care less. These cookies made me finish my first half marathon...

I really enjoyed running this race and my tip for first time runners is to soak it all up. Don't aim for PR's. Simply run and enjoy yourself. Below a short video of my last K to the finish. Excuse me for the potato quality. It was after all 2009... 

Aftermath

So I ran and finished my first half. I felt sore the day after but managed to run a slow 3K. Shortly after the marathon I moved to Cobb mountain. Yes, I moved to a mountain. Training was nearly impossible. Too many steep hills and the nearest 'flat' track was a 20 minute drive. Needless to say my running aspiration went South. This was also around the time I was going back for a vacation to the Netherlands. Little did I know I was moving back to my home country less then a year from then.

Rotterdam

In 2010 I moved back to the Netherlands. I ended up in Rotterdam, the city my SO was living. I was to occupied with getting my life back on track after the move I barely had time to run. There were some efforts but after a few weeks I simply gave up. In 2012 our twins were born. Raising kids is a whole new ballgame and at this time running was out of my system. After moving around a few times we finally settled in Maastricht. We both grew up in this region and it was the obvious choice to raise our kids here. We both found jobs and life was good.

Fast forward to today. After not running for several years my weight exploded to 103 Kg (227 lbs.). After returning from our holiday in Italy I felt something had to be done. My digital scale would notify me: obese. That same week the Iron Man Maastricht was taking place. I got up at 06:30 to see the start of the race which was around the block. All these fit bodies triggered me to become a better self. The same day I signed up at my local gym (just 200m from where I live). The gym is open 24/7 which is awesome. Time to not only change my fitness but my overall health as well. Getting back into shape means changing your lifestyle. Losing weight means working out and a healthy diet. Not just short term. This is for life... 

Building a better self

I love data. I love today's technology in retrieving this data. In 2009 I was intrigued by the Nike+ running pod. Nowadays I rely on my Wahoo TICKR X and several other apps. I'm using Lifesum to track all the calories I'm eating. I'm using Wahoo Fitness to record my workouts which I then sync with Strava. I also signed up with the Nerd Academy. The academy gives you complete workouts designed for your fitness level. It has also has a little gamification build into it. Kinda nerdy (hence the name) but I like it.

So that's my story. As of this writing I'm into my second week of the C25 program. I'm spot on with my diet (high protein) and religiously get up around 05:00 AM to start my morning routine. Next week holiday is over and the kids go back to school. It will shift my program a bit but for now I'm sticking to it. Also checking /r/loseit and /r/progresspics keeps me motivated. Want to read all about my progress? Read my blog! You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Let's do this!